I watched her on Stand Up Spotlight and in A League of Their Own and then she got her own talk show, that Rosie, I loved everything about her show. It was a throwback show. She wanted just good stuff. happy things. she would have all your favorite A-list celebrities on and also sitcom stars from the seventies and she would fling Koosh balls at the audience and she generally was just happy. she would make silly banter. she would give away things to her audience.
She was the first. Not Oprah. Not Ellen. It was Rosie who would want to surprise somebody with a college education or a new car or tickets to a show they’ve been dying to see. I watched the entire run. I watched her start sharing more of herself. It was on her show that I saw Martha Manning for the first time, a psychologist who lived with depression and who has written a book that has helped me so much through my struggles.
I would watch her show every day in my dorm room with my friend Michele, who would send Rosie letters trying to get Rosie just to say “hi” to me on air.
Rosie would go off TV and she would do projects here and there but her classic show never came back. She started showing that she wasn’t all bubbles and sunshine and people don’t know what to do with that. They want to see you as either good or bad. They don’t know what to do with the mix of who you really are.
About 10 years ago Rosie would get a website and have a feature on it called “ask ro” where you could send her questions. I would write when I was pregnant with my son Rafi and I was worried about being a mom with depression. At that time I was healthy but I worried what do I do when the disease comes back and I’m a parent and she replied to that question with just one quote, a Leonard Cohen quote that has gotten me through many rough moments. “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
I, like many fans, long for the Rosie from the nineties, the silly fun show we watched and it exists now in the name of Ellen.
But there’s something about Rosie and who she is now. Things I identify with so much.
I see so much of my journey in the fact that when the darkness came in, how people had trouble with it. People just want to see sunshine. People will support you to a point but at a certain point it gets to be just too much, too scary, too not what you want. Nobody is at fault. Its just how it is and it’s rough.
As I moved into my apartment I found a lot of my Rosie stuff, her CDs that she put out, a poster from when she was in Grease on Broadway, the copy of the note that my friend Michele sent her.
Rosie’s been in the news as her daughter is struggling. I felt for both of them reading the story. Its so weird to have feelings about someone you really don’t know at all but that’s how life is and I wonder how Rosie thinks about her life and wanting it to be like it was when she was on TV at the beginning and it was all sunshine and smiles or does she know that’s never possible and she struggles her own way to make it through wondering why the person she was then got more love than the person she is now.
I for one am grateful for rosie opening the crack and letting the light in. Anyone can toss a koosh ball but Rosie, is willing to take the harder things that come her way too, and share as a human, not a celebrity.
“We cause a hell of a lot of the problems, us neuro-typicals, because we don’t get it. We just jump to false assumptions. We even kind of congratulate ourselves on our knowledge that, for example, kids with autism prefer to be on their own in the corner lining up their toys in a line and they’re happiest there. No they’re not. They want the human interaction, it’s just we’re so lousy at understanding how to do it that we get it wrong, thereby driving them into the corner. We confuse our wrong actions with their preferred behaviors and they can’t point it out because they have autism, what a fate!”
In my limited experience, teaching improv to kids with autism, and talking to parents of kids with autism, this is very true.
The line that “We confuse our wrong actions with their preferred behaviors,” struck me very hard as it also applies how we treat someone struggling with mental illness, especially crippling depression. We often thinking they want to avoid social interaction or be cheered up, getting frustrated when those don’t work.
Though we can point it out, we are often too worn out, too annoyed to have to ask for what we need.
I am healthy right now though, so I can ask, though I don’t speak for everyone, I can tell you, when stuff is bad, I need someone to sit in the dark and uncomfortable with me and abandon any idea of making it better.
So I have shared this, and I hope we all find ways to be of service to others by understanding, not ignoring or trying to fix something.
I believe 97% of people who have tried to help me, have the best of intentions but that doesn’t mean they know what to do, and maybe this will be helpful guidance for someone who wants to be there for someone.
My son and I didn’t watch the Star Wars trailer last night. I forgot about it till he was in bed and I figured he would enjoy watching it with his dad.
I can honestly say I had no need to watch it but I just purchased our tickets and figured I should check it out, especially since I’m sure my boy will quiz me, cause quizzing me on Star Wars is without a doubt one of his favorite past times.
I am still trying to process what just happened when I watch it which is probably why I am writing.
I cried the whole time.
I’m not sure I even got the plot but it was like I was at somebody’s birthday, watching a video scrapbook, and I found myself saying the names of everything I was seeing, like they were photos of family members or friends,
Tie Fighter! BB-8! Han Solo! R2-D2! Storm Troopers!
It went on and on, of course ending with me having a moment with my gal, Princess Leia.
It literally (the right meaning of literally) felt like my son’s spirit and excitement was inside of me as I watched.
So here we are, this movie he is ecstatic about, tickets bought.
For a date seven weeks away.
Another forward motion when I’m struggling to go in that direction
But the trailer ends with me being told to just let it in and you kinda got to listen to what movie trailers tell you.
After all Dirty Dancing’s trailer guy told me to get ready for the time of my life and that dude was right on.
For a friend, family member, or partner of someone with depression the first and best thing you can do for them, and more importantly yourself, is to take away any idea that you can or are supposed to cure this disease.
Let go of that false, burden-filled notion .
If this person had MS, or cancer or diverticulitis you wouldn’t think it was your responsibility to cure the disease. You would think it was your responsibility to support them through it.
I have been feeling a little bit better and I’ve been doing a lot of positive things in life and I want to make one thing very clear.
I am not better because I have been doing positive things. Rather, I had to get better in order to do positive things.
And then, yes, making positive choices helps but there is a low point where that is just not part of the equation.
Even when I am at my worst I do make choices, to walk, to get out of bed, to be there for my son, but the fact is that I make those choices because even as bad as stuff is, I happen to be able to do those things.
That’s how the disease manifests for me.
But for other people they are not able to get out of bed.
And they are fighting just as hard as I am
When we see someone who is struggling with depression, we feel we need to encourage them to make healthy choices, exercise, eat kale, count your blessings.
But the most important thing we can do is encourage them to get the professional help they need because then, hopefully, they will get a little bit better and they will be able to make those life affirming choices.
Frankly, when I am at my worst, one of the only reasons I walk everyday is so when somebody says to me “Hey, you should really exercise, that’ll make you feel better!” I can say “Yes I already did! and I still want to die!”
There is no one cure for depression. There is no one tool. This disease, like many others, requires patience and building up your resources as much as you can so when stuff is at its worst you can get through.
But that is the job, in many ways for the person with the disease, and the best way they can work on building up their resources is by having people who support them through the disease, even when it is at a standstill, and who are not just trying to get them past it.
It is scary to not be able to solve something that seems like it is something you should be able solve. So let go of the idea that you should be able to solve it and let yourself know that your goal is to just be there.
The person suffering, and you, will be better for it.
Last year I begged two nurses at the psych hospital to let me stay up late and watch the season premier of SNL. The very kind nurses made it happen and then right before the show started, NBC stopped working on that TV, which amused me.
This year I will watch SNL in my apartment, staying here by myself, for the first time.
I am viewing this as triumphant even though or maybe even more so because I am probably in the same state of mental health as last year.
People have inquired before if writing so much about wanting to die keeps those thoughts festering in my head. The quick clinical ansewr: No.
My answer: I write so i can live.
Unless you’ve lived this, I don’t know if you could ever understand what it feels like to believe at your core you’re not meant to be here. That you are wrong for being alive.
So I write these thoughts but I live opposite to them
There is something very disconcerting about signing a one-year lease when you are struggling through each moment, but I did it.
I’ve had a week ridiculously rough by any standards. A finalization of a divorce, a death of someone else who suffers from this disease, I moved out of two houses; the one I grew up in and the one that I lived in with Leon, the place where I was pregnant, brought home my son, watched him grow alongside his dad, someone I care about deeply.
And now I will sit here in this new place with the goal of making it through tonight and watching the Not Ready For Primetime Players, continuing to try and find the deliciousness in the ambiguity that the fabulous Gilda talked about.