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.

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.

View all my reviews

Girl In Pieces – Kathleen Glasgow: Book Review

You can check over my reading history – you’ll see that it’s rare that I give anything a 5 star rating.

I don’t give things five star ratings in most cases because I am a no-shit, hard-to-please bitch.

I have so many things to say about this book and I’m not gonna lie to you, they’re mostly good and they’re real things and maybe it’s going to be personal, so if that’s gonna make you uncomfortable, stop reading now.

To quote the words of the only woman that I would ever truly turn officially gay for, Mariah Carey; Thank God, I found you I was lost without you. My feelings for Girl in Pieces are that real.

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Kathleen Glasgow is amazing. She is amazing for a whole bunch of reasons, but I think we should celebrate the most important reason and it is this; she was brave enough to write something so raw and what would be so personally challenging and probably emotionally exhausting.

Girl In Pieces was about a young girl, not even an adult, who by circumstances, finds herself in situations that no person should have to endure; her coping strategies are self-harm which is where the book begins, 17 year old Charlie’s stay in a mental health facility, trying to deal cope with all of her issues and struggles.

This book reads like the mind of anyone going through a mental health illness and I have read similar books of the same nature that are written in the same way — it is pretty much an accuracy of dealing with mental health issues – it’s how the mind works; fleeting thoughts, repetitive feelings, anger, sadness, upset, calmness; rinse, wash, repeat.

I have read a few previous reviews for Girl in Pieces that angered me; I’m not looking to disrespect anyone, but all I’m saying is don’t do the book a disservice by rating it low because you don’t ‘connect’ with it. You’re not ‘connecting’ and you’re pulling it apart and saying that it’s too much bad stuff, because you haven’t dealt with real, debilitating and serious mental health issues because if you have/did, you would understand, that as Glasgow put it to me over twitter (yes, I know, I was a little fangirly about that) ‘some girls do not have an easy life.’

It’s true.

Girl in Pieces was realistic and an accurate portrayal of someone who is struggling with and who has struggled with mental health illness and still requires help after the hospital stay is over, after the doctors have concluded that you are no longer a threat to yourself. Girl in Pieces is about how sometimes we think we are going so well but can’t see the tiny bits of backsliding that are slowly but surely happening. This book is about the process of recovery – about how it isn’t and will never be perfect and that a cure is not within the realm of possibility.

Thank God for this book.

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It brings truth and comfort to those who suffer mental health illness.

I have been on the search recently for fictional books that will accurately describe mental health issues and I have read a few that I didn’t bother reviewing based on how disappointed I was. Mental health isn’t a journey whereby the person is only sick until someone comes along and saves them and carries them off in to the fairytale sunset.

Whatever struggles encumber you, you will endure probably for a long time — it is just that with constant care and recovery, your coping skills become better and you live on the hope that all the things that you see in others will become a part of your life too; calmness, joy, happiness, laughter and a rational sadness that won’t spiral out of control.

As if it couldn’t get any better, I came across this quote and almost cried with relief;

“There’s nothing wrong with you, Charlie. Not one thing. Can’t you see that?”
But that’s a lie, isn’t it? Because there are so many things wrong with me, obviously and actually. What I want Mikey to say is: There are so many things wrong with you and it doesn’t matter.”

Fuck. Yes.

Sometimes this is the only reaction I want. For someone not to disregard flaws or fears or imperfections; to address them but to accept them unconditionally anyway. It’s okay to acknowledge that something is wrong; it’s truth, it’s not okay to pretend they’re not there to avoid discomfort.

This book had a realistic ending; not a fairytale ending.

And the personal authors note at the end of the book sealed the deal. Kathleen Glasgow was honest about her own experiences and offers hope and advice to those who are struggling.

Girl in Pieces is a hard read, its a dark read and it probably isn’t the book for some; it could even present as a trigger to someone going through something; but if you have mental health illness and you want to feel like you’ve been understood and fairly represented in terms of thoughts and feelings; I recommend this book to you. Maybe it won’t speak to you the way it spoke to me, but I hope that it will.

Five friggin’ stars.

Like Breathing Underwater – Anxiety & OCD

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to explain to someone what anxiety or OCD looks like in a day-to-day way. Its even more frustrating when someone who very clearly knows nothing of what it’s like to deal with it, try to express their sympathy or try to quip that they relate because x y z thing happens to them as well.

No. Just… no.

Unless that thing dictates your entire day, enshrouds you like a storm cloud every single day and is constantly sitting in the back of your mind, whispering at you when you are trying to swat it away and live a normal life — you have no idea.

It is unrelenting and exhausting. So, so, so exhausting. You become frustrated and fed up and angry with yourself for not being able to control it and long to just have the constant thought give you a moment of reprieve. The ability to be able to breathe in and breathe out, doing away with the triggers would be so refreshing. It’s an itch you can’t reach, constantly there, constantly annoying. Only sometimes it goes from being annoying to being all-consuming.

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Thankfully most days I am able to cope without too much drama; I am able to just get through the day with the skills to know how to push away that feeling that can, on days like this, be all-consuming. Most days I can function quite highly without bringing any attention to myself, without wanting to crawl back under the covers and hide away from the world.

Let me paint a picture of how a bad day with anxiety and OCD looks.

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The best part of my day will be the moment that I open my eyes and feel weightless. I don’t fight the alarm anymore, I wake up to a biological alarm that brings me to lucidity at 6-6:30am. It’s that tiny little split interval of time between sleep and complete consciousness that will feel good because I don’t remember the stress straight away. When I remember though, that sickness engulfs my guts like when you have a fear of heights and you look down. And then you will the feeling to go away.

It doesn’t. Some days, even on a bad day, you’re able to ignore it.

Go through the motions, get dressed, play music immediately, understand why you hate silence. Pop music is my go-to; alternative style usually makes it worse. Sometimes I like to work out and on work out days, the compulsions aren’t as bad.

Then the compulsions start. The routine.

Check the back door. Check the oven. Check the (important) locks. Check the windows. Make sure the computer is turned off. Make sure all phone chargers are switched off at the wall. Make sure the TVs are off. Make sure the xBox is turned off. Did I check the oven? Check it again. Check the back door. Does the dog have enough water? Better make sure it’s clean. Yes, it’s clean. But, wait, what if it’s not as clean as you think. Better tip the water out and scrub the bowl and make sure it is, she might die of some unheard of (made up) poisoning while you’re gone if you don’t. Check the back door again. Check the bathroom, did you turn the taps off? Check the hair straightener, did you turn it off? Make sure it’s not hot, it could burn something. Unplug it while you’re there. Also, unplug anything else just in case. What’s the time? Shit, you’re a bit late. Okay, time to leave — hey, make sure you check that straightener in case you didn’t. Imagine, if you left it on, could start a fire and the dog is here, imagine if she burned up? Shit, did you put dog food out too? Better let her out, she could pee inside. Okay, good you checked the hair straightener again and it’s off. Maybe taking a photo of the hair straightener and the plug so you can console yourself when you leave the house to make sure that it’s really, truly off. Okay done. Cool, now best make sure the back door is locked. Pat the dog. Just make sure the dishwasher is off before you walk out the door. Should that bowl be there? Maybe just rinse it. Ok, now clean it with detergent. If you don’t, something bad might happen and you wouldn’t want that. Okay, cool, dry it off. Why does this bowl matter more than the other six sitting dry on the sink? Stop questioning it, you don’t want anything bad to happen, dry it. Ok done. Cool, can I walk out the house now? Stand there silently for a moment and go over every routine…. Ok awesome.

Lock the front door. Check the lock. 1, 2, 3 — check it four times, just the fourth time to be sure. Get in the car, sit for a moment and take a deep breath. If its before 9am, its all good. Call best friend so she can put my mind at ease by going thru a check list of just the important things to do before going to work. Some days I drive around the block like today to double check everything and take the straightener in the car because despite the photo, the fact that it’s not even warm, that it’s unplugged, it still might be an issue — and if I don’t something bad could happen as a result.

It’s not uncommon to check the locks up to 4 times and then go back inside to recheck and then come back outside and dead lock the door and check it four times again. Or even to get down the road, do a blockie and drive back in to check.

And then even though I know everything is “right”, the anxiety might begin.

Like today, having my heart race to the point of palpitations because I know I’m letting everyone down by being late to work. (Yep, couldn’t get my shit together to even get to work on time today). The most exhausting part is keeping up the charade of being ‘normal’, of going to work and counting money. Counting money. Count it once out of the drawer. Count it to myself. Count it to the customer — then like today, weigh it– just in case.

On a bad day, you feel so exhausted trying to bat off the stupid ‘games’ that your brain tries to play with you that you give up and feel like letting it consume you because the fight is too much. Then it becomes hard to breathe. I mean that in a physical and metaphorical sense. It’s as though the air is thick, or when you’re submerged almost entirely in water and you’re trying your best to tread water but are a little out of breath. And all the while, the compulsions are still there. Most of the time on a bad day, besides the morning and bed “routines”, I can get away with the rest of the day without them — but a very, very bad day like today, they’re around.

This whole thing is perfectly illogical because I am an overall unorganised person despite how badly I try not to be.

Even now after getting home from work and taking some medication to help me relax, I still feel it bubbling inside of me. And I struggle to keep my shit together as I write this. I coach myself in to the breathing exercises that a psychologist gave me a little while ago — but it can be like having a lung full of water, everything is gurgling away and it can feel as though ridding the toxic thoughts and feelings will never cease.

I am lucky because on most days I can joke about having OCD. I can even not roll my eyes when someone tries to tell me that they understand how I feel because they like things to be on angles. Unlike a lot of people with OCD, I am usually able to deal with it. I give it it’s time. I know that sounds weird, but I accept that this is something that is a part of my life. My psychologist recommended that I allot time to it. So for that fifteen minutes every morning, I literally let it go nuts – do its worst and then I shut it down and go to work and function — that way there’s less chance of it overtaking my day.

Today though, my OCD brain is telling me that I must not even publish this blog. I’m not going to let it win though, but it is work to keep my mind distracted from the niggling ‘rules’ and ‘conditions’ that it gives me.

It is really frustrating when someone tries to offer solutions to a problem that has no real coffee-cup answer. It’s the sort of problem that no words can fix and I don’t expect anyone to. It’s something I generally only trust two people in my life to talk about in too much depth — the people in my life that understand mental health issues who are also fighting the same battles. If suggested solutions were so easy, I would have ridded myself of this stupidity and nipped it in the bud when it began. But don’t worry, I’m very aware that people are just trying to help.

When I was watching youtube last night, I came across this video by Sia of Big Girls Cry — I felt like this video is such an intense and accurate description of how my brain feels when it is encumbered by anxiety that’s caused by OCD. Suffocating, confusing, terrifying, devastating, comical, and exhausting. In the deepest, abyss of my anxiety my brain feels like its in a complete state of disarray — my feelings are so confusing and maddening.

And no, nothing like your need to place things neatly around the house on a ‘just so’ angle. Until, of course, that ‘obsessive’ urge to ‘keep things neat’, is constantly dictating any thought you have and is threatening to set your house on fire, harm you or people you love and take away anything of importance to you unless you satisfy it.

Today I got home, crawled in to bed and let myself be sad. And it actually helped. I’m not the type of person who tries to maintain perfection. I am totally at ease with what goes on in my head; just that some days are a lot shittier than others and that stress makes it worse. But, it’s nothing that I can’t handle. I’m okay to accept that once in awhile I have to fall in to a heap and ride the feeling out.

Today was that day; but tomorrow is a new day.