Thursday, October 18, 2012

Living with my Cape On

So, this week’s Blogger Idol play-at-home challenge was to write about a day in your life as though you were a superhero.  So, first I was thinking of being “Super Bitch,” so I could use my “super awesome bitch powers” to say: “What the fuck? Who came up with this shit?  We already did a day in the life prompt.  Creativity and Originality Fail!”  Then I figured that it’s probably not my best idea to alienate any more potential readers than I already did  when I declared in my very first blog post: “Send me money, bitches.” 

Therefore, I’m taking a slightly different twist.  I’m not going to tell you about a day in my current life as though I were a super hero.  I’m going to tell you about all the days and moments I really did believe I was a hero and tried desperately to save the whole damn world … one neglected, troubled student at a time.  In doing so, however, I often neglected myself. 


Another missed day of work.  It’s already 16 minutes after 3 – in the afternoon, and I’m still in bed – for the third day in a row.  I’m really starting to get quite rancid.  It may be my own awful odor that eventually breaks this depression for me.  The love of my family and my job haven’t been able to do it.  This is not because they are not enough as both loves are infinite, but bipolar disorder is a snotty little brat that covers her ears and hollers “Na-na-na-na; I can’t hear you!”  It didn’t matter how loud I tried to challenge her.  My family loves me, and my students need me; I want to be at work.  “No!” she yelled louder than I could, “You’re staying in bed again! You’re staying in bed and crying, and shaking, and hyperventilating with overwhelming anxiety.  Oh … and you should probably self-injure yourself because you deserve the pain, you worthless bitch!”  Fuck you Miss Manic Depression! You’re the bitch -- a lying, sniveling bitch! I’m going to be better! I’m going to help those kids!

And then the depression would eventually break … for no apparent reason.  There wasn’t suddenly sunlight.  I didn’t hear or read some profound motivational phrase.  No one said, "Look on the bright side of things," for the very first time, suddenly saving me because I've never heard that fucking miracle phrase before (sarcasm font required).  It just came and went, because bipolar is also a mysterious little missus. So, when she was gone, that’s when I would directly put my cape back on and return to the vicious battle ground of today's high schools.
Josh needs to talk to me because his mom kicked him out again.  I need to make sure he has a place to keep his backpack and help him get his homework done before he leaves the building because I don’t know where he goes from here. I need to let Alexis know she’s beautiful because her mother is more interested in the cocaine and alcohol than she is in her fifteen year old daughter – her daughter who tells me on an almost daily basis, “I wish you were my mother.”  Kyle needs someone to talk to who isn’t going to discipline him and judge him because he’s already been through rehab twice, and is only a sophomore in high school.  Breanna needs answers to all the questions she has about her current pregnancy – replies that I can actually give her, unlike her other lingering question of who the father is – and every other adult is afraid to be honest with her for fear that their transfer of knowledge might be perceived as acceptance of teenage pregnancy.  Dylan needs someone to help him correctly spell even the most basic of words like “hurt” and “angry.”  It takes approximately thirty minutes for him to write three complete sentences. Matt doesn’t know who else to talk to because he finally got the nerves to come out as homosexual to his mother, who replied that it was “probably just a phase.”  And Krista just rolled up her sleeves as she sat sketching anime figures in the back of the classroom, only to reveal freshly self-inflicted scars.

I wanted, and still want, to save them all.  I believe I can save them all, and they know that I will listen without judging and try to give them my secret superpower – one that few other adults here unfortunately possess.  My secret superpower is acceptance.  My power is the ability to listen without judging.  My secret superpower is that I admit I can’t solve the problem fully – but I don’t lie to them and say “it will all be okay.”  My power is honesty; “yeah, you’re right, that sucks – but now let’s figure out a way to deal.” My secret superpower is hope – allowing others in on the secret that I fucked up along the way too, and people fucked me over in many of the same ways, but I chose strength and that’s why those same students looked up to me as a role model.  I was living proof that life can get better – no masks.  The masks are part of the fucking problem. 

I am not faster than a speeding bullet.  I am not more powerful than a locomotive.  But what I do have is the power of love, of acceptance, of hope, of peace of mind.  All of these gifts I was able to bestow upon others – rather than hording them away for myself in the hope of some narcissistic megalomaniac superhero fame.  I cannot bend steel with my own two hands, but I can bend a hardened heart and give knowledge, faith, comfort, and courage to those individuals.  Like Superman, I intend to fight a never-ending battle for truth and justice.
But another unfortunate truth is that it’s not easy.  It’s an exhausting battle, however touching and rewarding.  So, when I become ill again and disguised not as a mild-mannered reporter, but a victim to my bitch of a mental illness, my mother will often remind me that all my attempts to save others often end up leaving me feeling hopeless and powerless.  On such days, she will say, “Take off your cape, Angela, just take off your cape.” 

I know you make this request for the love of me, mother, but I’m keeping my cape. I bet you Superman will never hang his cape on the hook for good, and neither will I.  But, who’s going to save me from myself when I need the help?  What superhero will come flying down to kick depression’s ass the next time my arch villain wants to hang around far too long?  Seeking superheroes.  Will you strap on your hero boots to help others too and help me by ending the stigma surrounding mental illness?  Please join me in fighting for truth and justice.  Superman, me, and you – let’s see what we can do!


Author’s Note: All student names have been changed to protect individual rights.
Also -- these magnets are awesome gifts I received from students.  You can buy these, and other fun and inspirational products at the Curly Girl Store:


  1. I wish we all had the super power of acceptance. It must be a rare ability because too few people seem to have it.

  2. You. Are Fucking. Awesome. An as a lurker, never a commentator, this speaks volumes. I love this, and reading your words. you are indeed an inspiration, and your students are blessed beyond belief.

    1. Thank you so much! Unfortunately, I wad laid off with the passage of Wisconsin's Act 10.

  3. Very well done and very well written. Your spin on what most people thought the contest was about is a testament to your convictions.