Paris Jackson, Paparazzi, Rolling Stone & The Limelight

I’m sure its been mentioned once or twice, but full disclosure: I am a huge Michael Jackson fan. So huge in fact, that I met him a couple times in the 00’s by traveling across the friggin’ ocean just to catch a glimpse of him (and thankfully they were much more than just that).

After he died, I would say my fandom died a bit. Well, I didn’t/don’t love him any less, but there is really nothing to “follow” and I wasn’t one of those fans who transferred my feelings for him on to his children. I have been fairly uninterested in his children and all of their endeavours because I really feel that MJ wouldn’t have wanted their lives splashed around the press until they were old and mature enough to deal with it.

Clearly things didn’t work out that way and over the years I’ve briefly read things about his daughter (mostly) and can’t help but to feel for her. I have a soft spot for that tiny little girl back in 2002 who slept soundly on her Daddy’s chest as he pressed his finger to his lips and waved me over to his car (before I got knocked on to my arse by some… er… matronly German girls who proceeded to scream in his face and motivated him to wind up his window entirely) as if I was silently promising to not wake her.

Paris jackson

Paris Jackson is a gorgeous 18 year old now and while I don’t frequently read Michael Jackson websites anymore, I often have read comments judging her tattoos her boyfriends her clothes… everything — coming from MJ fans themselves. It is no secret that after a suicide attempt, she got sent away to a turnabout school for troubled or problematic teens. I don’t understand that while knowing that she has dealt with mental health issues, people still think it is okay to continually judge from behind their keyboards without realising their weight of their words; as if she could never possibly read the things people feel the need to tag her in on social media.

This morning I read an article for her latest Rolling Stone magazine spread and felt a great weight of compassion and sadness for her; the solidarity of going through the rest of your life without the person who loved you the most; who was the entire world to you. Granted for her, it has been much harder, losing a parent at an early age would be catastrophic.

She spoke about being thrust in to school after being home schooled her entire life – where she began using drugs and hanging around with bad influences and was suffering anxiety and depression – even touching on a sexual assault that happened at 14 and I can’t help but to wonder where the hell her guardians were and what on earth they were doing? After the death of a parent at 11, why wasn’t there counselling for the kids? Why weren’t they correctly supported? Why was a 14 year old left to her own devices? Why at 18 is a young woman tattooing herself to cover track marks left from heavy drug use after being clean for a number of years? (Honestly, what the fuck?).

Paris jackson

Perhaps her story is similar to so many that I know and love — I found it heart breaking to read — at the base of the article a very young, lonely girl resides trying to find a place in the world just like the rest of us were at 18, with the added peppering of world-wide judgment from not only the general public, but from Michael Jackson sycophants who think they know what he’d want for her; who care so little about her feelings that they let their own perceptions of who Michael Jackson was, shape who they think she should be.

I loved and followed Michael Jackson since I was 5 years old and my fandom was intense until the very day the man passed- but I was never fooled, I didn’t know him. I had a perception and an idea of who he was and I am sure he was that person genuinely, but he was also multi-faceted and real. He was someone’s brother, someone’s son, a little girl’s father and a father to two other boys — based on the fact that he was both a little and big brother, I can imagine that at times he was a shit-stirrer and a petulant asshole. He was probably a good friend but if you upset him, he would have probably written you on to his shit list forever — that’s human. He was human. And his most humanifying job was being a father.

Paris jackson

I don’t have an issue acknowledging that he probably had mental health issues — that Paris has obviously dealt with (if not dealing) with mental health issues – but that doesn’t give people a right to question her decisions or to assume everyone in her life (her boyfriend, manager, friends) is trying to lead her down a garden path or that they are ‘bad news’. It doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t embrace the opportunities that present themselves to her.

This morning I saw this video of Paris being mobbed and harassed about her father’s death and it absolutely gutted me;

What the very fuck is wrong with people?

My mum passed away in November 2016. If a single fucker ever dared ask a single question in such a way about her passing, I would have knocked a person out. And then, at the end there is some soft-voiced bitch making a comment about how it’s okay Paris. Condescending, rude, punch-worthy. Salt a wound and tell her how to act….

And so today I remembered why not to read the comments section — questioning her sexual assault; not being able to get over the fact that she considers herself to be bi-racial and the biological daughter of Michael Jackson. There were comments saying that if she should be used to the limelight or that she should have expected this kind of backlash after being interviewed by Rolling Stone.

Victim blaming is okay when it applies to people who have notoriety, is it?

It kind of shocks me. Do those same people question their best friend when they say they’ve been assaulted? Do they snort and chuckle about hairy predicaments that their loved ones have gotten in to? Do they take glee in seeing other people fall? Paris Jackson grew up in the limelight, but she was not in the spotlight – it was her father and a child would entrust her safety wholly in to that guardian.

Do I think Paris Jackson is ready for a career within the showbiz industry? If I’m going to make a judgment based solely upon the paparazzi video above? Probably not – however, just like my fandom and perception of Michael– I saw one single facet of who he was and same goes for Paris. I am sure there is more depth to her than one can gain from social media posts or moments of tumultuousness when she is simply in transit. She seems so sensitive and easily upset — that is not a bad thing to be, but it might not be a great mix with fame. Would I judge her decisions as if I know her or her family? No.

I just watch all this from afar feeling empathetic toward an 18 year old who looks as bewildered and lost as I felt at 18 (though I don’t think I had a real reason to feel like that) and I feel shame for the rest of these despicable humans that feel like they should all get a say or a piece of her for the sake of being funny, seeming knowledgable about MJ or for their photographic pay day.

I hope if Paris does decide to extend herself in to the limelight – that she will take it on with great armour and know that people are assholes and that opinions of both MJ fans and the wider public don’t matter – that you can’t make everyone love you. It is my hope that her ups and downs will resonate and be able to help others by continuing to be herself and being the voice for those who have been through similar losses and issues that she has endured.

I think that would be something her father would be incredibly proud of.

Under Rose Tainted Skies – Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Under Rose Tainted Skies is a unfiltered look at a life consumed by the rigours of mental health issues.

Norah has OCD and agoraphobia. This book chronicles her daily struggles and turmoils of dealing with invisible medical issues.

This book resonated with me for two main reasons:

This is not an overly-dramatic, tragedy-on-top-of-tragedy style novel.

Mental health issues aren’t always caused by a specific trauma or event that you can connect right back to the first time you encounter anxiety (not saying it doesn’t, but its not even nearly always the case). I hate to read books where 62 thousand awful things have happened to the main character that has led them to the point where they’re dealing with issues only when the author can be bothered delving in to them.

In Under Rose Tainted Skies, Norah’s initial mental health issues were not brought on by some kind of tragedy. Even during the small positive moments that run through her subconscious, she is ruled by her illnesses. They never fleet far from the story and are written so acutely and finely that I found myself crying within the first few pages. I have never read myself so accurately before.

“I stand at the top of the stairs, close my eyes and try to make my mind go blank.

Don’t go back. Don’t go back. You don’t need to go back.”

and then,

I march back to my room, push the book in to its rightful position and then hate myself.”

I have written, in great detail, what my brain goes through on a very, very tough day — but maybe the passage written above is probably jus the tl;dr version.

It is very hard to find some kind of ‘entertainment’ medium that I find relatable to what I’m going through so when I come across it, I take hold and clutch it close to my chest and treasure it. Maybe it’s the whole misery-loves-company thing or maybe its the relief of finally being understood — either way, Under Rose Tainted Skies hits that chord with perfect precision. Louise Gornall is genius.

And, I’m not talking like, one of those flimsy Apple Fake Geniuses either…

the other main reason I loved Under Rose Tainted Skies so much;

Norah, the character of this book is not saved by a boy/man. 

I read one book about agoraphobia and anxiety recently (I won’t mention titles, you can read it and work it out if you like) and I wrote what I felt like, was a very kind review when I actually wanted to convey sheer irritation.

Boys cannot solve our fucking world of mental health illness. If anything, they generally bumble for the right thing to say and end up making it worse – much less, teenage boys. In the other book I read a boy came along and pretty much resolved the main character’s entire worldly issues including the deeper issue (the mother) as a subplot.

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The boy that comes in to Norah’s life doesn’t serve as her saviour. He serves as her friend; someone to speak to, someone to inspire her to take very tiny baby steps toward recovery. Luke is awkward, Luke says a couple of stupid things and he even does a couple of stupid things — but at least it’s realistic and Norah doesn’t suddenly seem to shed her OCD or agoraphobia the second she sets her sights on him.

Even touching hands with Luke for the first time proves to be traumatic and true to someone who suffers all of the issues that encumber Norah.

Impressively, Luke isn’t a means to an end of Norah’s mental health issues, he is helpful in terms of showing her that she is still worthy of being loved and proves to her that not everybody is going to label her or judge her for what she is going through.

I think what I loved the best about this story is that perhaps recovery is possible for some; but usually not for everyone and this story holds true to that. Norah does not magically get better. There is no skipping to the future to see her running outdoors with Luke to fly a kite or some shit, but the reader is left with a tiny grain of hope that the main character is taking all the positive steps forward to get along with life and cope with her illnesses the very best that she can.

This is what we all hope to be able to do when we feel debilitated by our very, very bad days — to just be able to cope.

Under Rose Tainted Skies is going to get a five out of five for me. Louise Gornall is my new hero.

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Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – Book Review

Audrey

 

Finding AudreyFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Audrey 14 years-old and suffers some unnamed anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder. She wears sunglasses because she can’t bear anybody to see her eyes.

Her mother is bat-shit insane and her Dad couldn’t be less interested in the family if he tried. Her brother is obsessed with video games and her younger brother fills a couple of pages here and there with his cute-and-tantrum-y antics.

This is a book about a girl who is going through the motions of mental health issues and trying hard to beat it. I chose to read it because I have been looking to find fictional novels that can accurately document a person(s) fight with mental health that doesn’t necessarily have to have a happy ending.

This is Sophie Kinsella’s first Young Adult novel and I felt like it was an easy read and I wanted to keep going to see how it would all unfold.

But honestly — I’m surprised with how fast it became a romance novel (but I’m not surprised that it was a romance novel, the blurb pretty much made this clear). Audrey meets Linus, a friend of her older brothers. Linus has a ‘crazy’ grandmother therefore he is able to be compassionate to Audrey’s ‘crazy’ ways.

It moved really fast. Audrey went from having anxiety attacks each time a new person would walk in the door — to pashing Linus in her den, where she spent time in the dark trying to relax. It seemed that she went from not being able at him, to sitting in his lap and going for it in a matter of a few pages.

That to me, kind of cheapened the idea of her mental health issue.

However, what this book did justice was bits and pieces of how people respond to their own mental health. When Audrey started to feel good, she took herself off her medication — something of a vicious cycle for anyone who has had to be medicated for their mental health. Set backs; this is a realistic part of having mental health issues — you feel wonderful and then you don’t. When you’re up, you’re very up and you feel like nothing can bring you down.

Until it does.

All this happened to Audrey which was an accurate depiction of mental health illness

My issue with this book was that while Audrey spent a lot of time in therapy, the only time she made progress with her anxieties was when she realised a boy was interested in her. All of her challenges in stepping back in to the real world were because she felt as though he was her strength. Considering that Audrey is just fourteen and her boyfriend is fifteen, this is unrealistic and irritating — it’s nice to have a romance, but I couldn’t help but to wonder how just that alone forced her in to getting better and just how quickly the slip would be if something were to go wrong.

did love this book and maybe I was overthinking it, but I am a little bit tired of YA novels where the cute boy saves the day. How about an ending where Audrey gets better because Audrey pushes herself rather than finding the strength in someone else to push her?

Audrey was definitely a loveable character and this book was cute and fluffy just like all of the Sophie Kinsella books that I have previously read.

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Hospital Stayz — they’re not as fun as you think

hospitalI am pretty sure I have a hospital phobia. This fear of hospitals isn’t without reason, mind you.

On Tuesday I began to develop a bad back pain in my lower / mid back region. I complained to my partner and even asked a work colleague to massage it through the day. In the evening, I was winding down to go to bed for the night when I felt a gripping pain in my right flank, lower back and shoulder/neck each time I inhaled.

Obviously, I figured that I was having a heart attack (despite the fact that due to the case of my missing left lung, my heart is tucked nicely beneath my left arm-pit). I endured the pain for around an hour and felt as though it wasn’t going away, if anything getting more severe. I started to panic, because that’s what I do — I can’t be logical when it comes to my own body and pain.

So, I called the Nurse on Call (a service for Victorians, I’m pretty sure in the case of every phone call, they’ll tell you to go to Emergency). I described my symptoms, went through my medical history and she assured me that if it was a heart attack, the pain wouldn’t change upon shallow breathing or deep breathing and that it was constant — but actually could be a lung issue, go to hospital as soon as you can and call an ambulance if you have no one to take you.

Uh oh.

Ignoring all medical advice, I tried to go to sleep, but the pain got so bad that I was almost in tears. I woke my partner up and we went in to all the different scenarios that could be the issue and decided not to go and wait for ‘hours’ at Emergency for something that might not be serious.

I got out of bed at 4:30 and announced that I was going to Emergency because the pain was too intense. I was almost hysterical because this is the first time I’ve had to pull up my big-girl pants and go to the hospital alone. Any other time, my Mum would have been with me making light of the situation with me and telling me not to be stupid when I express my extreme fears.

I know it sounds dumb, but really and honestly, this is the first time I have ever had to do something like this totally alone. And you never truly feel alone until you are actually alone. I have had so many hospital encounters in the past and the only time my Mum wasn’t with me, I was lucky because it was nothing for my best friend’s mum to wake up in the middle of the night to take me and even stay with me until after 6 in the morning.

But I did it. And the long wait was non existent. Turns out when you have respiratory/heart issues, you are seen to immediately. I was found a bed. I had an ECG, an IV line, blood tests, examinations by both drs and nurses — who by the way, were amazing. Their bedside manner was exactly what I needed to get me through such a shitty experience.

So after being poked and prodded and tested for lung and heart issues. I was told that nothing was wrong with my heart — that calmed me down a lot. Further tests went on and it was found that I had an incredibly bad UTI that has made its way to my kidney which was causing such pain radiating from my right side. I stayed under observation for a few hours, was given a shot of antibiotics and was sent home on bed rest until the nausea, pain and fever symptoms subside.

I slept solidly all day. I went to bed at around 7pm last night and woke up properly after 9 this morning. I’m still in pain and in some moments its excruciating. I woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night and then went back to sleep and woke up feeling so nauseous because I was so hot. My body is all kinds of messed up.

I managed a shower and a hair wash and spent a long as shit time trying to get off that disgusting adhesive that the ECG thingos left on my skin… and I’m tucked in to bed trying to medicate my pain away.

And I’m proud that I did it alone… I’m sure if the hospital was awful and if I encountered nurses or doctors who were shit in terms of their bedside manner, it would have been entirely traumatic — but I was lucky. Hopefully it will be a long while before I ever find myself in this situation again.

Book Blog and how I came to be…

I don’t always blog about books. If you go through my previous posts, you’ll see a few things about life, my family and my own internal struggles, but predominantly what you’ll read here are posts and reviews about the books that I’m reading.

If you go back on my blog a little over a year ago, you’ll find the few posts I made with my Mum’s returned cancer in her lungs. You’ll read the posts where I alluded to bad news but didn’t confirm it ’til a few posts later. It’s been a long, hard road over the past few years and more tears than I’ll ever allow anyone know.

You’ll also read my struggles with general anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Some days those issues are triggered harder than others. And generally my OCD symptoms change dependant on what has triggered it.

Quite honestly, there’s not a lot of things that can make me feel normal for a period of time where I can forget the parts of my reality that can sometimes feel overwhelming or upsetting. Sometimes I play play station because it requires all of my undivided attention and other times I binge-watch TV shows until my butt is sore from not moving.

But the one thing that feels calms me in a failsafe way are books. It requires all of my attention to read and I can suck myself in to an alternate world where I am looking inside other people’s worlds, giving me a reprieve from my own.

This is not to take away the fantastic love and support from my family, friends and partner, but sometimes there is only so much that they can do or say to make me feel any better. If anything, the situation is just as helpless for them as it is to me. I hate bothering people with my devastation and my tears, so I focus my energy on all of the books that I enjoy reading, in reviewing them and working on this blog.

As I’ve written on this site earlier: words are so powerful and when I am not reading, I am writing. In the same essence that writing sucks me in to another world, my own fictional writings make me create a world that I wish I could be a part of or one that helps me cope with the world that I am a part of.

Books are important to me especially at this point in my life. Reality is important too, but books have always been an important escapism in my life and since I’ve always loved blogging, book blogging seems to be mutually exclusive.

I hope stories will continue to take me from my reality just enough to forget for a little while, or at least renew my hopes when I feel hopeless.

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Our Problems Aren't Everyone Else's…. Unfortunately.

mj

Some weeks you just wish you were able to bury your head under a pillow and will it to start over, or at least pass as quickly as possible without bothering you for a moment.

This week I’ve managed to cry on about three or four different occasions, which in hindsight were pretty superfluous reasons. I cried on my way home from work monday night, I cried in to my dinner on tuesday night and went to bed having a wet-eye over something else later that night. And then something happens that puts things in to perspective.

Then I cried yesterday because one of my close friends was delivered some awful news which made me come to a few realisations. We can never relax. Both our Mums have been sick in the past with cancer and with every doctors appointment, every lump and bump and oddity in health we panic. Anxiety bleeds in to our lives with every routine check up and for that week previous we will find it hard to sleep or find ourselves praying as we go to sleep, begging almost, for everything to still be ok.

When I was younger and I had some serious surgery, I was at an age where I started to understand mortality. As a result, every 6 month check up had me in the throes of full-fledged anxiety attacks. I could barely deal with it. I remember each time a specialist walked in for his morning check-up, I would stop hearing the doctor jargon, my palms got tingly and my heart rate began to soar. I would panic any time I had to go for an unrelated appointment including a GP. I could never relax. And that anxiety didn’t go away really for at least 7 or 8 years.

And its back again as an adult because of what I’ve dealt with with my Mum. And I know she feels it too. Each time she tells me she has a pain or an ache, we both start to panic. I am probably a lot more rational than she can be because I’m not living in her body, but its very hard to ever relax. Its just something that we have to live with now.

The frustrating thing about it all was that nobody cared. And I don’t mean that as though, “I had no friends, they were all cold bastards who didn’t support me,” because thats absolutely not true. I had great support. My partner who I had only been with for, not even a month (I don’t even think we were officially together), was the best. He was 100% the best support I could have asked for and I will always hold that very close to my heart and aside from him, as he was living it with me, others were able to say, “I’m sorry that you’re going through this” and then move on and their world kept spinning.

It sounds ridiculous and immature and during the time perhaps I acted a little that way, but I felt some days like screaming, “HOW THE HELL IS YOUR WORLD STILL SPINNING??? CAN’T YOU SEE MY MUM IS SICK AND IM SO DEVASTATED!!!”

And it hurt. At the same token, I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me or give me that look of sympathy, but I wanted something. I wanted someone to say the right thing, but as time has gone on I’ve learned that it was an impossible demand that I had as there is never going to be the right thing to say in this situation. Of course people’s world’s are still going to spin, the same way mine has when other people have shared awful, devastating news with me. I’ve felt bad, offered my ear, my prayers and have been sincere in my empathy but have still, essentially got on with my daily life.

If you’re not living it, you’re not seeing it and how can someone ever possibly grasp that pain without living it themselves?

So the other day I was crying because of work-related issues (nothing serious), I was crying because my body image is terrible at the moment and my self-talk is borderline abusive sometimes. I was crying because I missed my partner and I was crying because I have an upcoming cardiologist appointment that I’m anxious about — and again, something that after 30 years you’d think I would have adapted to, but no, I’ll never relax.  Some could be valid tears and the others tears were simply a free for all, a sort of, ‘stacks-on!’ game of problems. Either way, someone else can’t be held accountable for my emotions when they haven’t walked in my footsteps and lived my life in the same way that I can’t be expected to do the same for someone else.

But at least I can support the friend that, in the past, before my Mum was sick, I didn’t understand or know how to. I was one of those people who probably delivered a sincere well-wish and sympathetic thoughts, but walked away in to a world that was still spinning while hers was probably shockingly slowing right down. I don’t feel great that I had to go through what I did to understand, but I can at least now deliver the sentiments and feelings of empathy that I sometimes needed (which she provided to me) and can truly understand.

That’s something… While my world may still be spinning, it doesn’t drift far from my mind…

So this Holy Week, please pray for my friend and her family and also for my Mum and her continued good health and for using the right words to support those who are in need of someone, regardless of their circumstances.