Boomer Judy checks the casting notices daily. Blood pressure medication is required.
“Brand Ambassadors: 22-53“
Seeking brand ambassadors for a high-energy indoor sporting event that benefits rare cancer research.”
Seeking brand ambassadors for a high-energy indoor sporting event that benefits rare cancer research.”
“there will be no sitting positions this year. All staff must be okay with standing the entire time.”
OOOOOOOH, of course! THAT explains the seemingly random age cap on this one.
Usually, the rude and ridiculous age limit is a round number, and I’ve been recently BOOMERJUDY-ING (yes, it’s a verb, a gerund, for you grammar freaks) the usual nonsense of limiting the age of perfectly capable AND EXPERIENCED actors at 50, or if the gatekeepers are in a more expansive mood — or possibly speeding down a highway checking out the MPH — 55. Yesterday I railed against a post that decided no one over the age of 40 could possibly be qualified to act in their non-union, non/unprofessional project. But what’s with the 53? Does something suddenly happen to the human body on the 54th birthday that I don’t know about? And most importantly, did it happen to me? Without my knowledge, let alone consent?
Look, I’m not suggesting that the inexorable (but arguably somewhat correctable) pull of gravity doesn’t pick up speed right around that time, but geez, that’s a bit specific, isn’t it?
Back to the weird ad: the event they want to staff with the “53 and under” crowd is for a “high-energy indoor sporting event,” so the AA (ageist a-hole) might suggest that’s why they picked that number (still random, ffs!) but this is for STAFF, not participants.
Okay. They then explain (probably as a way of justifying their ageism) that whomever they hire will have to stand throughout the event. Ergo, anyone born before March, 1965 does not have the ability to remain vertical throughout the entire course of this “high energy sporting event”
Look here: the event is actually going to “benefit rare cancer research!”
Elementary, Emma Watson! The rare cancer hits on the 54th birthday in the knees, preventing cronies from standing! NO! Because according to Ms. Welsh (I buried the name here, tee hee) no one over the age of 53 need apply, so that means it’s not a rare cancer. BUT, since it’s a charity, I’m going to ask some of my close friends if they’d like to help at the event, you know, the way celebs like to do.
[5 MINUTES LATER] GUESS WHAT? THEY ALL SAID, “YES!” MY WHOLE SQUAD said they’re delighted to help out at this exciting high energy sporting event benefiting rare cancer research, because they are charitable, philanthropic and they all have gorgeous new designer duds they’re dying to twirl around in! It’s a win-win! And hang on, Shellie, I saved the BEST for last! GUESS WHO has agreed to be a SUPER SPECIAL GUEST? Okay, wait. I’m over excited. First, here are all my besties that are super excited to show up at your super exciting event:
ROLL CALL: Lizzie! SJP! Vivi! & Lil Tea!
My TEAM! We’re called FOX FORCE FIVE cuz we FIERCE!
OH, NO! SHELLIE! We were just about to order our stretch Hummer Limo (cuz if you’re gonna do it, you might as well tear a bigger hole in the ozone, amirite?) and then FOX FORCE FOUR (that’s what they call themselves when I’m flying around fighting ageism) saw that your arbitrary age cap excludes them! They all have the horrible misfortune of no longer being 53, in fact, in a weird coincidence, they’re ALL 54!
And, OH, NO, AGAIN! My super secret special surprise guest who was all ready to show up and bring her ball and chain with her (cuz he stans her just like we do) can’t come either, because she happens to be three years past your arbitrary age limit! Darn it! And the “ironic” part (in the Alanis sense of the word) is that my girl can STAND! On both her feet! For a very, very long time! Despite being so critically past your cap.
Too bad, so sad. But I’m sure you’ll attract a staff of highly professional, attractive and of course most important YOUNG people to work your event. Especially at your (sadly) adequate pay rate of $18 an hour. May you have all the luck with this event you deserve, Shellie, and please consider from now on not putting a limit on the age and instead using a plus sign after the lowest age like this: 18+. It’s that simple! And it’s SMART, GODDAMMIT, not just because Boomers are constantly discriminated against, making it close to impossible to find work when we need it most, but also so you don’t have to suffer the Wrath of Boomer Judy!
Now I have to go call my other bestie and tell her that you won’t let her work your event because she’s too old. How sad she’ll be. But that’s okay. She’s got other stuff to do.
Anyone else still have one?
AND SO… a brave soul stepped up and became the first victim, er, recipient of my so-called advice. I urge the reader to remember that the following is worth exactly the amount you’re paying.
It’s unlikely that there is a person breathing around here that isn’t in some way personally affected by clinical Depression. With the capital “D” I’m referring to the diagnosed illness, as opposed to the blue feeling that comes with events and passes with time. Clinical Depression is different, and go ahead and google it if you’re not familiar with the symptoms, etc., but as mentioned above, we all either know someone who suffers, or are intimately involved, since almost 15 million people in the US suffer, and here’s a fact that I just learned: the median age at onset is 32, which is right around the time C. says he was diagnosed.
C. calls himself an open book, but I’ll protect his privacy by using his initial. On his ‘about me’ page, he describes himself as, “a husband, a dad, a grandpa, a Soldier, a son, and most importantly to me, I’m a Christian.”
C. then says he was diagnosed 4 years ago, and although the illness doesn’t define him, it’s a bigger deal than he thought. He thought he might shake it. Now he’s trying to, “find the old guy again, or reinvent a new one.”
So C. has drawn a picture of himself, and what he believes he needs to do, and I’d like to take that picture and put it in a new frame. That’s my sneaky way of “reframing,” which is a way of addressing anything differently than the way you’re doing it now, without having to use the pretentious word, “paradigm.” Sneaky, eh?
Let’s start with trying to “shake it off.” First, because now we can’t use that term without thinking Taylor Swift, which breaks the ernest mood I’m trying to create here, and second because trying to “shake off” clinical depression is like trying to shake off cancer. Or diabetes. Add to that the stigma of mental illness, top it off with the masculine ideal of ‘toughing it out,’ ‘sucking it up,’ and, yes, ‘shaking it off,’ and you have a recipe for a chronic illness that not only won’t just go away, but that will worsen with time and lack of treatment.
It’s scary to admit that we’re sick, especially when we are seen — and want to be seen — as the rock, the provider for our family, the problem-solver, and it takes more courage than most men have to say, “I need help.”
But what a difference that makes! Treatment is here, and it may take weeks or even months to find the right meds or cocktail of meds that work inside your brain, but once you do, the clouds can lift, the side effects dealt with, and you can own your life again, instead of your depression owning you. So that’s the biggest, baddest (in the good sense!) tool in your tool box: the right meds, and it’s also proof that you need to change your thinking about what you’re dealing with: it’s an illness, not some haters who are gonna hate, hate, hate…
‘Soldier’ suggests a veteran status, and if this is the case, there are issues specific to your situation, like PTSD, and also conditions to the type of treatment you get. I’m useless here, but the internet isn’t, and if you need help navigating or handling paperwork, I’ll be happy to help. And speaking of helping… if you have the option, head over to your local VA Hospital and talk with the men and women there, be a part of a support group, or even call out the numbers in a Bingo game. It feels good to have value to others, it’s distracting in a positive way, and it just feels good to give. And if you’re a vet, who else can understand what you’ve been through?
Finally, there is God. And how lucky you are to have your faith! There are thousands of articles and books online that address the relationship between God and depression, and atheists and agnostics don’t have that tool in their toolbox. Ask Him for help and listen to Him. Find others who worship and share this illness, and commune with them, and live in the Fellowship of His Word, because there is no room for the ‘black dog,’ as Churchill called his depression, when you are in service to Him.
Your illness should not be a secret. “We’re only as sick as our secrets,” is one of the many slogans of the Twelve Step program, and letting it out can be as liberating as starting to feel the effects of your meds working. There’s even a website, http://www.postsecret.com that celebrates the sharing of secrets, and it creates a warm, communal feeling with strangers who share together every Sunday.
If Mom and Dad are Old School, you don’t have to share with them, especially if that’s where you got the “shake it off,” attitude. Share with those you can trust won’t judge, and the others? Fuck ’em. If you just can’t handle them (anyone you feel won’t ‘get it,’) on a Sunday afternoon, it’s because of your sinuses, or a pulled muscle. You don’t need to be around people who judge. Except for Mike Judge: Beavis and Butthead, for a retro laugh.
Some days, revel in the Glory of God, other days, let the grandkids climb all over you and soak in their joyful faces. Some nights, read or listen to stories of brilliant and courageous people who have battled round after round with the Beast and share their pain and success, and some nights lie in the arms of the woman who loves you no matter what. Who loves you until you can love yourself, which, given time, the right meds, and the tools, you can and will do.
And before we finish with reframing, let’s take a look at your attempts to, “find the old guy again or reinvent a new one.” How’s this for presumptuous: don’t.
Depression bleeds you of your most precious resource: energy, and to try and find who you were is frankly, a waste of that limited commodity. And so is trying to reinvent the old guy. There’s no point to moving backwards, and what you’re really addressing is the idea of finding the ‘you,’ that isn’t deep in the pain of this illness. By using the tools, in time, that guy will emerge, but he won’t be the old one. He’ll be the new, improved, battle-scarred one. Stronger in the broken places, and filled with gratitude and a renewed appreciation for his family and the world around him.
Stay still, or move forward, at the pace you can. Push yourself a tiny bit and see how it feels. Treat yourself like you treat your grandkids: with unconditional love and infinite patience. And treat your wife that way, too. Don’t look back yet. Look forward, or up. Or close your eyes and take a deep breath, and maybe a nap. You’ll get there.
Peace and love to you and yours,
There are few things my brain will do faster than whip up a clunky portmanteau, so much so that when I smash two words together to make one, my daughter actually says, “Oh, god, Mom, portmandon’t!” which is both funny and extremely meta of her.
I thought I made up “midolescence,” but of course, many clever, struggling mid-lifers have come up with it before me, as Google so rudely pointed out. It’s an obvious idea: combining the well-documented struggle of those painful teenage years with the new horrors and discomfort (to say the least) of middle age. Great, or even middling middle age minds do think alike, although there’s one guy who decided to try and coin the term to define a 26 year old, and it’s pretty obvious that the 26 year old is a problem that doesn’t need to be defined as much as thrown out of the basement.