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.

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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?).

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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.

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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.

Mental Health Awareness

So JennyInNeverland is dedicating an entire week to posts regarding mental health awareness. I feel like this comes as a really timely reminder for those that I love to take care of themselves and do all that they can do to make sure they are not only physically well, but mentally well too.

This also applies to me.

Truthfully, I have been reading so much to block out just how trying and difficult things feel at the moment. We, as people who deal with MH issues can sometimes find the whole thing so shameful that we neglect to share any of that info with anyone — including the people that we love. And when someone does finally suggest help to us, we seem to bat it away, telling those around us that we know how to cope.

Until, we don’t know how to cope anymore.

I stopped going to a psychologist last year because I felt like I had the tools and strategies that I needed and I didn’t like the inconvenience of having to attend sessions in the hours that I wasn’t working. I didn’t like talking about how I felt, I didn’t like facing my most real fears head-on and I certainly didn’t care for crying uncontrollably in front of someone who is really just a stranger.

My panic attacks are triggered sometimes multiple times a day. They are triggered by sometimes seemingly innocuous things such as someone saying something to make me think bad thoughts. It might be a fleeting thought, a worrisome comment and so forth… And when the panic sets in, the OCD sets in and unfortunately the OCD takes form in about a thousand different ways now.  I’ve described my many forms of OCD before and how debilitating and exhausting it can be when I’m in the middle of it; and how illogical and hilarious it can seem when I am having a good day.

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Last week I felt a sense that I’d forgotten something. It felt as though I left my keys behind or my purse. I went through a mental checklist — but I knew it was nothing physical. It was like trying to scratch something I couldn’t reach. It drove me crazy and each time I went through the mental checklist for a physical item (keys, purse, phone, keys, purse, phone, repeat) but I knew that it was more psychological. I endured that feeling for two days straight of high anxiety until I calmed down to realise that only one thing could make me feel better and that was to actually go and see my Mum and if she was okay, then I’d be okay.

And it was.

The anxiety that these routines catapult me in to are senseless and harmful and incredibly intrusive and more than anything, exhausting.

The most common issue with medicated mental health illness is that when people feel okay, they stop and then the cycle begins again. I am personally not medicated at this point, but I know many who are and this seems to be something I’ve heard. I have never understood it since I don’t take myself off antibiotics or stop when I feel better…

However… I realised that I was doing the exact same thing with psychology. I feel okay, so I stop. And I know I feel better when I do go, but when I’m in a bad place, its the absolute last thing that I want to do — grovel back to a psychologist and shamefully explain that I need help again. Because each time I have to reach out, it feels like I’ve failed and I’ve let everyone down.

What’s upsetting is that this illness isn’t who I am and I don’t want it to define me, but it’s so consuming that most days it feels as though it already has. We, who suffer these kinds of MH issues, become masters of disguise. We hide our anxieties, compulsions, depression — whatever — so well that others can’t usually tell.

What I find triggering is how often I hear someone talking about how we make a choice to be happy, a choice to make a difference in our lives — but it is infuriating because if I could make a choice, I’d take away all of these intrusive and compulsive thoughts.

Fuck, some days I don’t even feel like I have a choice in whether or not I can get myself out of bed in a timely manner because I’m exhausted by how little sleep I’ve had the night before, or how intrusive the thoughts are…

So, I was inspired by two people in my life who took charge of their headspace and decided to get help. I was inspired by JennyInNeverland‘s Tweets to finally call a psychologist and start getting the help that I need rather than frittering away inside my blanket fort with far too many books while swearing to never leave until its safe to come out.

I will report back when I am of sound mind.

5 Things That Aren't Always In My Control

1. Weight and Looks

We can’t all look as unrealistically inproportionate as Kim Kardashian and have everyone fawning all over someone’s brazen and natural photoshop skills.

I have struggled with my weight for almost four years now. I feel rude saying that given that I haven’t ever hit the 70kilograms mark, but I am also less than 5ft tall and unfortunately when you have curves and you don’t have access to a ‘waist trainer’ and a bunch of people to prepare and feed you the exact right thing to ensure you don’t shed any less than a kilogram a week, you end up just looking like a chubby short chick.

Its infuriating to me each time I step on the scales after doing two weeks of solidly clean-eating and exercising on a daily basis and I see that nothing has changed. It might fluctuate up and down over a couple of days, but the number always ends up around the same. Infuriating because I am saturated over Facebook with how well all these diets/life style changes work for other people.

When nothing changes, I go back to eating good stuff, you know, food that I don’t have to pretend that I like; food that I actually like. And then I go back to being sad about my appearance.

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Really, I should be focusing on the important thing; and that is that my heart is healthy. Anyone who has a heart issue is told that they should be walking a minimum of 30 minutes per day on top of their regular daily movement (so its cheating to count that in to your walking around the house, etc). I also should eat healthier because I don’t want a premature clogged artery (and I don’t eat that badly for the record). So instead of counting calories and freaking out about going over, and feeling the tips of depression when I don’t reach some insane goal weight, I’ve decided to do away with the scales. They are my biggest enemy.

I am exercising daily through a couple of different measures and I am eating healthily. That isn’t to say that when I want something a little bit, shall we say, less healthy, I am going to pass it up. I think that’s the issue with diets, the part where you binge eat because you haven’t had fun food in awhile.

Each time I walk in to the bathroom, I am slightly tempted to step on the scales, but I keep resisting. Hopefully when I get a bit more fit and carry all the exercise out as routine, I will start seeing the changes in my body, but until then, the scales need to be left alone.

 

2. Other People’s Actions

You ever met someone that you know you instantly are not going to get along with? And its unfortunate because that person is going to be a big part of your life? And you can’t control their actions, their words, their dealings despite the fact that they are a part of your life? Yeah. Ignoring someone’s stupid and infuriating habits is one of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn to do as an adult. Its so hard not to take on someone else’s stress, guilting-tactics and attitude.

I made a decision this week, however, that a wall needs to be built so that I, myself, don’t end up as insane. I can’t deal with it. I don’t want to deal with it, and I am going to adopt a “today is not the day” to mess with me tactic, every single day. That way, I don’t have to be rude, mean or nasty, I can just go about my business being polite but firm and making the person understand that I am not a punching bag, a gossip line or a counsellor nor will I agree to wear any other hat that has been chosen for me.

Game over.

 

3. Mental Health Issues

I really debate whether or not to mention this here. Like all people who suffer mental health issues, we have a tendency to keep them at bay; well-hidden, so that no one can treat us any different nor will they see us as weak or embarrassing for sharing struggles.

As I keep joking with a friend; the struggle is real, son.

I’ve always had issues with anxiety before I was even a teenager and unfortunately it sometimes spirals out of control and then the issue of obsessive compulsive tendencies come in to play. I am lucky to be a very logical-thinking person that can discern emotional logic from intellectual logic. I know people always joke about OCD or when you mention an OCD tendency, they will try to tell you something that they do that is “OCD”, but no. It makes me want to punch them, actually, lol. You don’t have OCD unless that one obsessive thought is dominating your entire day to the point that you are awake in the middle of the night. I’ve driven back home before after making it around halfway to work just to triple check all the power points in case something happens while I’m gone.

When I leave the house, my little “security detail” game can take up to 20 minutes (or more) if I am feeling particularly anxious. OCD is not essentially about cleaning or counting or opening and closing doors a certain amount of times (though it most certainly can be) but it is more about an obsessive thought or behaviour that makes us feel like if we don’t engage it, the outcome will end in something unspeakable. Or at least that’s how it is in my case. It’s like having the responsibility of every single person that you love and care about on your shoulders and if you don’t carry something out correctly, you are compromising them. It’s irrational, its insane but its just the very nature of the illness.

Again, thankfully I am logical enough to talk myself around it on most days, or I have other people around to assure me when I’m being irrational. These things only occur for me when I’m feeling anxious, it all seems to go hand-in-hand.

Another great one that joins the anxiety & OCD party is depression. Someone once questioned the existence of depression in my life but really I’ve kept that part of me very well hidden for a very long time as most people who suffer depression do. I know the difference between being ‘down’ and being depressed. When you lay in bed and cry for days over nothing or, really something you can’t place your finger on, something is not normal. When you feel numb and have no emotion or no real concern one way or another about anything that is going on, you are depressed. When it lasts for longer than few days with no end in sight, you are depressed.

Again, I am lucky to be a logical thinking person who understands the cycle of depression, or at least my own cycle with it. It can be fleeting for me, I used to think it was hormones because I could set a clock by it at times, however, it comes with anxiety and the OCD and I didn’t link those two together before. I know that my depression bouts last for a couple weeks and there is always a tipping point where things feel okay again. Its almost like magic. For the past three weepy weeks, I went to bed three nights ago feeling upbeat and purposeful and relieved knowing its gone again and hopefully the periods between get longer and longer apart as they have been for the past few years.

But unfortunately I have no control over when or where or how my illnesses hit me, and its something that I have to accept. I am not embarrassed, I am not ashamed, but I really do need support during those awful, dark times that seem to take over me for short spells.

I really believe in voicing mental health issues, they are too isolating to deal with alone.

 

4. Insects.

I have come to live in fear of the constant surprise of spiders all over my house. Do I want to kill them? Yes. Am I afraid they are going to crawl through my mouth and hair and body while I sleep? Absolutely. Did I just see the largest cockroach in existence last night out in the yard? Why yes, yes I did.

Do I regret being an Australian for this very reason?

Sometimes.

 

5. Other people’s opinions.

Can’t pay people to think logically these days, can you? And I tell you, its a true shame. I have witnessed so much good shit on facebook this week, and by that, I don’t really mean good as much as I mean entertaining.

A nasty fight between two people over… well, I’m not totally sure. F-bombs were dropped, empty threats were made, a plague upon one’s house sworn by another… And I laugh. Laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. But the ones that rile me up the most are the inexperienced, incapable of opinion people who start shooting down those who follow professional advice/practices. I read a scary infuriating rant toward a person for taking a chemotherapy avenue. Cancer doesn’t exist, big pharma are out to get us, I know this because I saw the Michael Moore documentary once and so now I’m suspicious of everything because Michael Moore is a raging leftwing pinko with an one-eyed opinion so it must be true. Someone who needs chemo doesn’t need your opinion on what you think it does, that you think its killing them.

Cancer kills too as so evidenced by the millions of people who have died from it.

And anti-vaxers… I know I have no control over them, but I wish I could take them and their so-called google-founded research to a place huge field full children who have suffered communicable and fatal diseases and show them what their harmful opinions cause.

Arghhh.

 

And now that I’ve vented my spleen, I feel better and have to go to work. Be good, if you’re not okay, don’t be afraid to say it (but don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to hear whinging and complaining all my life, ain’t nobody got time for that).