Guest blog by Nik!
WHEN DID WE ALL GET SO MEAN?
As a culture we have become incredibly mean and snarky. We’ve become cruel and malicious and we keep trying to pass it off as a big joke.
People on Twitter and bloggers say something they think is super cutting, biting and hilarious but really it’s just mean and shitty. Nobody is laughing because if you’re truly doing your “A” material from your cell phone while taking a dump it’s not “A” material at all. The stuff you think is funny is usually tried out in your living room. You know, where most regular people say things in front of others. By “others” I mean friends and/or family. If you were truly brave you might want to try your snarky blog entries and tweets at an open mic night in front of strangers. Now that’s scary. Imagine how all the tweeters and bloggers would eviscerate YOU and all your super funny concepts. The snarky, mean tweet/blog doesn’t really resonate because you are all alone while writing it. Nobody hears your pithy insights because no one can stand to be in a room with you. Hence the “toilet tweet.” (Hopefully you’re alone, unless that’s your thing. If that’s the case then go with God.).
Now it’s expanded to commercials. We’ve all become so fucking nasty. It used to be that whispering voice telling you, “We’ve replaced all the real coffee with Sanka.” Or Postum or whatever the hell it was. The hidden cameras caught the looks of surprise and little giggles when the costumers were told that it’s not coffee they’re drinking but a delicious and down right preferable replacement.
Today they act like parking lot hijackers and bind ‘em and blindfold them like hostages and shove the consumer into an unmarked van that has been filled with fish bones (not the band, that would be awesome) but actual fucking fish bones and hot garbage and a sack of farts and a few festering errant eyeballs rolling around. The voice over guy say’s, “Hey scared weirdos, whos day we just ruined, what do you smell?” The blindfolded hostages say, “A field of wild flowers and ocean breezes!” Which makes the situation even more absurd because you can tell just by looking at these Kmart shoppers that they have never been further west than Baker where they went just to see the world’s largest thermometer. These people have no concept what a field of flowers or ocean breezes smell like.
It’s devolved even farther. These giant companies tell couples they are going on a romantic, weekend getaway. Moments before the kind folks arrive they fill the cabin with rotting liverwurst and human carcasses and lunchmeats. Which by the way, freshly opened lunch meat is one of life’s most unbelievably foul smells. Who knows why but we still forge ahead and slap it on a giant gluttonous hoagie and eat it as fast as we can. We totally put out of our minds that the very meat we are eating had us retching only moments prior. I suppose you could liken it to how we make ourselves forget the pain of childbirth so the human species doesn’t become extinct- which occasionally, these days, I think might not be such a bad a bad idea.
But I digress.
After a weekend together, the couple in bliss, because they can’t get enough of the aromas of lemon verbena and pine, are shown by the creepy company, “Ha Ha Ha! Under the bed, under the couch, EVERYWHERE you’ve been, we’ve hidden excrement and vomit and a couple buckets of lye. Not lye because it has any particular scent but because we thought it would be a laugh if one of you accidentally knocked one over and had to be rushed to the E.R.
But that didn’t happen so SURPRISE! You’ve been sleeping and fucking in a human garbage dump! Now, What air freshener are you going to choose?”
Sadly, all these confused people act like they’re so amazed and they will never be able to live another day with out the gift of the plug in air freshener. Obviously these Febreze people are ruthless and have no compunction when it comes to kidnapping or larceny or perjury or murder.
I’m not saying the plug in air freshener companies are murderers but let’s be honest. That human corpse in the cabin had to come from somewhere and it wasn’t from my trash bin.
As for these stupid commercials (although I know commercials are certainly fresh fodder for jokes) well, I’m just clawing at a metaphor for the tree of cruel, which grows. It’s not very smart and it’s about a million miles from where original lives. But shit, as tweeters and bloggers know, it’s always easy to pick the low hanging fruit. In addition, I ain’t so bright. However, I am fully aware, as I peck this keyboard arduously, and with one finger at a time (I would be a horrible, horrible, horrible court stenographer) that I am no better. I am using one of my husband’s computers, as I am the proud owner of none, to be critical and unkind. I am not recusing myself from the unwanted ugly opinions of which I speak. With each word, I am sealing my own fate as guilty. I am only doing this because I am married to a man that loves me and finds me clever, because, well, he loves me, and he wished for this to appear on his blog. I am no better. COUNTER – criticism is truly just criticism wearing a fucking hat. So, dear reader (I’ve always wanted to write that, huge Nabakov fan) I suppose this is just a request. A plea if you will- to me, or to anyone who deems worthy my brain droppings (always wanted to use that too. Huge Carlin fan). Maybe, just maybe, we could all try and be a little nicer.
P.S. If you dislike this and feel compelled to respond negatively, please know that I was born with less than one ounce of self esteem to begin with (Why the hell else would someone choose to become a child actor in the first place?) If you do respond negatively well, then, we have something in common. We both hate me.
That said- as an old kind man intoned to me as a teenager : What people say about me behind my back is none of my business.
FINI (I always wanted to use that also. Giant opera fan.)
Mental health in athletics..
My name is Jay Mohr and I host a nationally syndicated sports talk radio show entitled, “Jay Mohr Sports” on Fox Sports radio. I am also a comic, an actor, a father and a husband. I also suffer from panic disorder and am a recovering alcoholic. After scanning the radio dial on my week off with my family, I noticed far too often that some athletes with mental health issues have been the topic of fodder and sometimes derision for some radio hosts. It has to stop. I am by no means a whistle blower. I am simply a man that has a microphone in front of me everyday and I have also suffered from some of the afflictions that have been hidden by many athletes for years. Why wouldn’t they hide them? I hid my panic disorder for as long as I felt like I could live with it (it wasn’t long). I tried to “ride out” my brain telling me to run out of restaurants or to start fist fighting strangers whenever my fight or flight mechanism kicked in at indescribable, irrational, life saving levels. I cannot for the life of me imagine suffering what I suffered while standing on a pitcher’s mound in front of forty thousand people. I cannot begin to fathom what it would be like to have a panic attack while standing in a huddle. I was lucky. I was a civilian.
These athletes we celebrate are certainly not like us. They possess an extraordinary amount of skills that only the upper one percent of the upper one percent of humanity will ever accomplish. However, while afflicted, athletes are very, very common. For far too long mental health has been low hanging fruit for a punch line. Herschel Walker with multiple personality disorder, Zack Grienke with Social Anxiety Disorder. Brandon Marshall with Borderline Personality Disorder. Lawrence Taylor and hundreds and hundreds of others with their addictions to alcohol, crack, pain killers and whatever they could get their hands on. These men are not to be mocked (nor pitied). These men should not have a question mark next to their scouting folders. These men are to be COMMENDED for coming forward, being brave, and simply telling a doctor, “I need help.” That’s the rub with mental health and addiction (if I am able to put addiction under the umbrella of mental illness.), your brain keeps telling you to “deal with it” and to “get over it”. You convince yourself that if you do come forward, it’s a weakness because as a man, you couldn’t fix it yourself. Men love to fix things.
I had the great, great fortune of seeing a psycho pharmacologist when I was on Saturday Night Live named Dr. Noel Taylor. In very simple terms, that I was able to understand, she informed me that I had a sickness. She pointed to her PDR books (Physician’s Desk Reference) behind her desk and told me that Panic Disorder, Bi-polar disorder, Depression, Alcoholism, Schitzophrenia and Multiple Personality disorder are listed in those books right along side of bronchitis, shingles, mumps and migraines. I was told by my doctor to surrender and accept that I had an illness. I was prescribed a drug called Klonopin, which I still take to this day and it saved my life. I take a one milligram in the morning and one milligram at night. It doesn’t make me high. The drug doesn’t make me loopy or woozy. For me, at this dosage, Klonopin does its job of stopping the flooding of my brain with endorphins and adrenalein at inopportune times. It makes me feel normal. The euphoria of simply living is something that people with mental health issues never, ever take for granted.
Unfortunately, there was no magic pill for my alcoholism. My sobriety had to come more arduously. Immediate and complete abstinence and following a program and staying in constant contact with other sober people that could re-assure me that what I was feeling and/or what I was craving was part of the process and that I needed to either go to a meting or stay on the phone and keep talking to them until I was able to simply not drink THAT NIGHT. The reason there are so many clichés associated with addiction is because they are all true, they are all to be implemented and they all work. “One day at a time.” “Keep it Simple”. “Let Go Let God.” Aren’t just bumper stickers you see while driving around town. For millions of Americans they are constant reminders of how to think simply and how to retrain the brain to get, “Back to Basics.”
As I said earlier, I had it easy, I was a civilian. For me quitting was a necessity because I couldn’t quit. Getting the help I needed for my mental health issues was as simple as finding a doctor that told me I had a “neurological glitch”. Some people get hives, the less fortunate get panic attacks, depression, borderline personality disorder or addiction. No matter how you want to look at these maladies, and make light of them, they are sicknesses. They should be treated as such not only by the patient but also by the employer, the coach, the media and the sports talk radio hosts. I cannot begin to imagine having the issues I had in a professional locker room. Alpha males rule the roost. The weak get weeded out early. What is more weak then asking a team doctor for help because when you pitch you get flooded with panic and you are certain you are going to die? Isn’t that team doctor going to red flag you to the rest of the team as being a “head case” or a “nut job?”
What is a faster way to show weakness than to tell your coach that you have borderline personality disorder? How weak would you look trying to explain Borderline Personality Disorder to that coach? The locker room mentality for more than a century has been, “Rub some dirt on it and get back out there!” Or the ever popular, “Walk it off.” How do you walk off thinking you’re going insane? How do you rub dirt on your brain? How do you explain depression to a manager? How can you walk anything off when your brain tells you it is completely pointless to even get out of bed because you are worthless?
The athletes that have come forward and received treatment are not to be made fun of. They are to be celebrated for their courage. The most Alpha male thing a man can do is to ask for help, especially in sports. To go completely across the grain and the day to day machismo of your surroundings and say, “This must stop” is far braver than making a tackle or shooting a basketball.
After the Lakers won their last championship, Ron Artest was being interviewed on the court as the confetti was still falling. The first person he thanked wasn’t his coach or any of his teammates. He thanked his psychiatrist. You may still chide Metta World Peace for being a head case but when you do you should know that he has seen more doctors than you have been to restaurants. Before you question Brandon Marshall’s focus during games, you should know that he has put in more work to better himself. Hell, simply to get himself into his uniform than you ever could in ten lifetimes. As for the addicts that you may make fun of, try for a second to know what it feels like to wake up every day with a giant hole in your insides that can only be filled with alcohol or drugs. Addicts/athletes (the addiction will always come first) can certainly be taken to task for not calling a cab or for hanging out at the clubs until the sun comes up. But before you speak, you should know that the addict/athlete you are talking about is waging a war each and every day to get out from under the disease that consumes all of his thoughts, all of the time.
Mental illnesses are just that. ILLNESSES. Would anyone go on the airwaves and mock Arthur Ashe for having A.I.D.S.? Does anyone tease Magic Johnson for contracting the HIV virus? Did anyone mock Michael Jordan for playing in the playoffs with the flu? Anyone recall thinking it was funny that Lou Gehrig had ALS or Martina Navratilova had breast cancer? Did sports talk radio hosts have a giggle about Hank Gathers’ Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. No, of course not. Those people were sick. Well so are we.
It’s time for a change in Sports Talk Radio. It’s time to acknowledge that for an athlete to come forward and ask for help is braver than performing in any Super Bowl or any Game seven. It’s time to celebrate these athletes that are doing their jobs after overcoming these illnesses. If Zack Grienke had a blood disease and was hospitalized we would all hope and pray for his speedy recovery. Yet the snide comments about that “thing” he went through persist. If Brandon Marshall had cholera and still went out on Sundays and played football we would all be amazed at his courage and determination. Yet the snickers and jokes continue.
My name is Jay Mohr and I live with a mental illness and addiction everyday. No one mocks me. People don’t take to the airwaves to complain about my job performance because I’m a nut case or a screwball or a flake.. It’s time we stop laughing about these athletes and their illnesses and start getting behind their efforts to live with them. It’s time we help them raise awareness about their diseases (these are diseases and sicknesses mind you). It’s time we promote their charities. It’s time we stand up and cheer them for being in the upper one percent of the upper one percent of their profession. It’s time we realize they are in the one billionth percent of that one percent.
These are the strongest athletes living today. These are men that had the strength and the humility to ask for help. I speak from experience when I tell you that the only thing more terrifying than thinking you have a mental illness is sharing that information with someone else.
Let’s not forget that the athletes that don’t ask for help will resort to self medicating and living in secrecy.
How many athletes have committed suicide? What if they had the courage to speak up and step out? They may be alive today sharing their stories and helping others.
If Brandon Marshall drops a pass in the end zone, by all means boo your lungs out. If Zack Grienke walks in the winning run, feel free to scream that he is a bum at the top of your lungs. Just try and remember that after these men walk off the field, the real work begins.