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Thoughts on the End of 2016

31 Dec

Last night I saw the new Mike Mills film 20th Century Women, starring Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, and Elle Fanning.  At one point in the film, Fanning’s character remarks that she believes the best quality a person can possess is strength.  Looking back on the last few years of my life, I can easily say that strength is what has brought me to the present day.  A few years ago, I moved to LA after the death of my boyfriend Dave.  I was thoroughly depressed and lost.  I was unsure of what the future held.  Things got even worse for me when I entered an abusive relationship, the worst details of which I have never shared with another soul.  Fast forward to the end of 2015, after breaking free of those horrifying bonds.  It look me a few more months to completely rid my mind of the negative thinking associated with being in such an insidious situation, complete with emotional and verbal abuse.

In the year that has followed, it has been my strength that has truly emerged as my most valuable quality.  It was strength that allowed me to move forward when I lost my best friend to death; it was strength that pushed me to find freedom from someone who had broken me; it was strength that allowed me to forge a new life in Los Angeles.  Strength is what propels me forward; we can all be more strong.  In the upcoming year, we will have to be.

2016 was a great year for me.  I accomplished many things in stand up, including performing in my first major festival and making my debut on Roast Battle, which lead to other amazing opportunities.  I feel my growth not only as a comic, but as a woman.  At the age of 27, I think I really began to feel like a real woman.  I became someone who had seen things, felt pain, known heartbreak, felt despair.  Throughout my life (beginnging in childhood I’ve been pushed down by others, insulted for things outside of my control, and hurt.  But I can say that I always get up again.  I will keep doing the same thing in the future.  Strength is the most important quality of all.

As I head into 2017 and my 30th year, I have a great life.  I have family and friends who love me. a great job that provides for me, a blossoming career in stand up, and I’m dating someone who treats me with total respect.  A lot can change in a year.  Have faith that it will if you are in a low place.  Get back up and keep moving.  Be strong.  Blessings in 2017 and beyond.


Going Clear and the Obvious Narcissism of L. Ron Hubbard

4 Apr

Tom Cruise Scientology Cover Photo

I just finished the new HBO documentary Going Clear, and all I can say is: my, oh my.  This terrifying documentary exposes more about Scientology than I ever knew.  What is most clear to me is that Scientology, as a whole, is a product of narcissistic abuse.  If I were to hypothesize anything about its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, it’s that he most likely qualified as someone suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder of the cerebral variety.  Hubbard, who started as a pulp fiction writer, eventually wrote Dianetics, which would become the basis of Scientology and an exploration of what Hubbard called “the modern science of mental health”.  This man made the presumption that his book could overturn centuries of development in the arena of mental health.  When that did not happen, he invented his own religion.

In the last year or so I have been in deep research mode of Narcissistic personality disorder.  The reason for this is because I was in a romantic relationship with someone who I very much believe to be a narcissist.  Within the first few minutes of this documentary, we hear excerpts of letters written about L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology by his second wife, Sara Northrup.  Sara asserted that she only married Hubbard because he had threatened suicide.  This is a very common manipulation tactic for narcissists to use in order to get their way.  She also detailed an account about how Hubbard awoke her from her sleep because she had been smiling, setting him off into a rage because he took it to mean she was thinking about another man.  After they had a daughter, Hubbard took the little girl with him and called Sara to tell her that he had chopped their daughter into tiny pieces and thrown her into a river.  It doesn’t get much more abusive than that.

Going Clear also touches on how the church’s two most famous members – John Travolta and Tom Cruise, became so involved with Scientology.  John Travolta was extremely young when he became involved, and he linked his success in acting with his involvement in Scientology.  The use of “auditing” also becomes very important in the case of Travolta, as it appears that the Church of Scientology threatens members with the release of their deepest secrets collected in such sessions.  Obviously the Church of Scientology has something pretty big on Travolta that keeps him there.

Scientology’s biggest star and supporter is Tom Cruise.  Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman is a major focal point of his story in Scientology.  The documentary mentions that Nicole Kidman’s father was a prominent psychologist in Australia, which David Miscavige, the head of the Church of Scientology, viewed as a threat.  Any psychologist or mental health professional, or any person associated with a mental health professional is deemed to be a “suppressive person” by Scientology.  Scientologists therefore aim to “disconnect” from these suppressive people, of course at almost any cost. Nicole, therefore, was deemed a suppressive person, and her divorce from Cruise was apparently orchestrated by the Church of Scientology.  I have heard further rumors that Cruise’s marriage to Katie Holmes was staged and under contract, but the documentary goes no further than discussing an arranged relationship between Cruise and an actress named Nazanin Boniadi.  There were also rumors that one of the reasons why Holmes divorced Cruise was her fear of their daughter Suri becoming involved in Scientology.  Going Clear also notes that Cruise was not really involved in Scientology during his marriage to Kidman, but in recent years, he has been the absolute most treasured asset of the Church.  Cruise is one of the biggest movie stars of all time, if not the biggest, and Scientology depends on him in many ways.

Going Clear is a truly terrifying look at how Scientology is essentially the result of an egomaniac’s own desire to control others.  This documentary is one of the first looks at some of the extreme abuses allegedly committed by David Miscavige and the Church of Scientology.  Perhaps what is most revealing about the Church of Scientology is its financial value (over one billion dollars) and its real estate investment prowess.  I have driven by the Church of Scientology on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, and it is a menacing sight.  A few people I know have gone inside to take the prerequisite personality tests “as a joke”.  After watching Going Clear, I can say with certainty that there is nothing funny about Scientology and its abuses of its members.

On Depression: It’s Not a Choice

26 Oct

Depression is not a choice.  One of the few people with whom I shared my diagnosis of major depressive disorder told me, “that’s no way to live your life.”  I have no choice in this matter.  As little as I know about my family history, depression runs on both sides, and I am yet another unwitting victim to the cycle of depression and the continued denial of mental illness.  Having depression does not mean that I am always sad and upset.  It does not mean that I am broken.  It does not mean that I am a bad person.  What it means to me is that my world runs over with great possibilities of succumbing to darkness, and that I will recurrently enter that abyss on my own. Depression is a feeling that is difficult to describe.  Perhaps the best way to describe my depression is a feeling of infinite emptiness and an almost tangible hopelessness.   It is also one of the most isolating illnesses.  You are alone in your head.  Your internal thought processes are broken, and you feel as though the cycle will never be broken.  No amount of love or concern from others will fix it.  You walk alone.

I first started feeling sad on a regular basis when I was in middle school.  At least six years of being mercilessly teased in school finally caught up with me.  Simply thinking of some of the names I was called and the things that were done to me sends a shock of pain though my body.   At the age of thirteen, I told my parents that I wanted to kill myself.  They took me to a therapist, who in turn told my mother that I was simply too smart for my own good.  The problem would get worse a few years later.

My second major episode of depression came following the end of a long romantic relationship.  I thought that I would be with him forever, as silly as that now sounds.  I can still hear some of the cruel things he said when it was over.  The last time I saw him, he held a scrapbook of our pictures in his hand: “if I give you this, you’ll never get over me,” he said.   Little did he know, that was not the problem.  The problem was internal rumination, and the inability to brush off cruel words, another symptom of depression.   I did get over him, but it took a long time.  A long time filled with crying fits, a thirty pound weight loss, and a year of being almost continuously drunk.

The third major episode began with the death of my on-again and off again boyfriend and best friend, Dave.  Since his death, my mind has been in a fog.  I have started caring less about other friendships.  I now know what death does to those who are left behind.  It changes a person, from the inside out.  Despite his deep flaws, he was the most emotionally supportive person in my life.  And now I am here without him, more broken than I ever was when he was alive.

When my depression is at its absolute worst, I feel as though I want to die, but then I suddenly think that I do not want to die, and my mind duels with itself in a devilish dance.

I want people to call me to ask to spend time with me, but then I realize that they will not want to spend time with me.  Hardly anyone can stand me due to my depression, my dark mark.  It does not make me fun to be around.  It makes my narcissistic traits bubble to the surface, as there is something inherently narcissistic about being wrapped up in one’s own depression.  How I wish I could make it all go away.

Despite these horrid feelings that ebb and flow within my cortex, I manage to make it every day.  I function – perhaps almost too well – and I go to work, I freelance for extra money, I manage to get onstage to do comedy at least five days a week, I piece together a full-length screenplay that is moving slowly but surely.  I will not give up.  I will not go gentle into that good night.

The stigma against depression remains thick in this world, and especially in the United States.  A bootstrap mentality pervades this land, and no one wants to hear about feelings – those messy, unknown things.  A conversation on mental illness seems so far away at this point and time, and for those of us struggling with the realities of what it is to be human, to face your frailty on a daily basis, the problem persists.

If you know someone who is struggling with depression, please check in on them regularly.  It will mean everything in the world to them.