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.

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.

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.

View all my reviews

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.