The Past Lasts A Long Time

This post was submitted anonymously.

I’ve been bullied in school, for several years. Not just by people I knew – some of the bullies recruited others to call me names and act as if I were ridden with some disgusting, contagious disease. There were times when I was hardly able to open up to anyone, as I could not feel safe any longer; everybody could be on their side now.

I was singled out for being a little poorer, a little weirder, a little geekier, a little less pretty, a little more religious. People said I was from Alpha Centauri (which, by the way, is a sun, not a planet). In class people threw more than just words at me – pieces of chestnut, broken ball-point pens, and once, a little rock.

They constantly let me feel I wasn’t worth as much as them, that I didn’t have the right to be wherever I wanted to be. This still haunts me. It took me many years to feel somewhat comfortable walking across an open place, and to this day I struggle with running criss-cross through gym halls. I’m closer to thirty than to twenty and somewhere in the back of my brain subconscious lessons still haunt me.

Back then I felt so helpless I resorted to aggression, trying to hit and kick people. I still have to deal with the residue of this aggression. Fallout lasts a long time.

The fact that I didn’t have a lot of support from family and church “friends” didn’t help. On the contrary, even in youth group I had to deal with people of my age who acted like friends and after two years, suddenly told me how annoying I was. I was told by one person not to talk to them, not to reply to their nasty message. I experienced something neither me nor the other person involved would have labeled abuse back then, but now I do. They held emotional power over me, giving me comfort one day and withdrawing it at will. Combine this with a subtext of gender stereotypes and you end up with a messed up sense of self.

All of these events robbed me of my self-esteem and parts of my future. I’ve made it through, I’ve moved away and will receive the final result of my master’s degree in a few short weeks, but I can’t forget. Sometimes I feel better, thinking I’ve escaped, but then I relapse.

I don’t think I’ll go to our class reunion when our 10th anniversary of finishing school will come up. I didn’t even comfortable congratulating one of the nicer girls via Facebook when she got married, as she married one of my bullies. They had already been together back then, but even though she’s always been kind I just can’t tell her I’m happy she got to marry him. I’m sorry.

Even at university I experienced superficial people. Once I was told to buy myself a less ugly winter anorak. This may seem like a little thing, but to me it was a continuation of the pattern I experienced in school. Luckily things changed when I graduated from the bachelor’s programme and entered a master’s programme. I was surrounded by people who were more like me, who were okay with my geekiness and not fitting in.

At church in this place things are a little better, I even found a few people who really care about me. Some can relate to my troubled mind because their pasts weren’t that glorious and full of happy teenage memories as well. I found a loving husband who doesn’t care I’m a little odd and supports me in my decision to skip make-up and all these things I used to be told I needed to make myself prettier. He is strong enough to deal with my fits of anger.

But what truly is healing me, little by little, is the loving acceptance I experience in capoeira. Instead of belittling me for getting things wrong or breaking down and crying they teach me to become stronger – some gently, some in a well-meaning “get your shit together” attitude. No “girls can’t / aren’t supposed to this or that,” just “what are you waiting for, do it, try harder.” Being with them helped me to improve my usage and reading of body language. Once three of us stood at a train station at night while we waited for the guy in our group to finish smoking his cigarette, and they listened to my rambling. In the last few months, people I got to know in class started to tell me I was a really outgoing person. Yes, I am now, at least when I am in a place where I feel comfortable. But inside I still feel anxious about whether people really like me or whether they pretend and everything will come crashing down someday.

I’m becoming stronger. I’m trying to become kinder as well. Some days I fail, but I won’t give up now that I’ve made it so far.

Don’t Be a Troll

The following story was submitted anonymously.

I cannot tell you much about the person that sent this in. What they asked me to share was they are female, a college student, and someone close to me.

She asked that I add she is not a WordPress user or a writer. She is simply someone passionate about suicide prevention and anti-bullying.

I knew a lot of girls in high school that had problems with people online.  My best friend talked about killing herself once after someone bullied her on Facebook. I asked her to tell me what happened, but she didn’t want to talk about it.

Three months later my friend tried to commit suicide. I felt like I should have asked her more questions. I should have done more. There was nothing I could do. She still gets therapy for this incident now.

Last year there were five kids in my town that committed suicide because of bullies online. Internet bullying needs to stop now more than ever. It’s getting worse. No one seems to be doing anything about it in the schools. People are dying. It all upsets me so much.

We have to do something before it’s too late.

STMND Notes from: Daydreams

I’ve heard these stories from our anonymous poster before. Like I said, this is someone close to me. We’ve often exchanged these horror stories over the phone and in person.

Some of you may know I’ve had my own experiences with internet bullying. Some of you may not. What I can tell you about it is it’s one of the chief reasons I remain semi-anonymous online.

What happened to me a few years back changed my life and taught me a valuable lesson. Not only do words hurt, but they could quite possibly push someone way over the edge. Perhaps, even towards suicide. This wasn’t the case for me, but I certainly came close.

Before Rara left, I remember her doing a story about internet trolls. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term, an internet troll is someone who belittles, bullies, or just bothers someone else online simply for their own amusement or attention-seeking behavior. They are often lonely people that would never say these horrible things to anyone in real life. They feel strong behind the safety of a computer screen.

These are the bullies a lot of the time. They are the reason some of these teens and young adults go through with this. Other times, it is someone close to the person being bullied, and they simply “hide” under a false name online. Whatever the case, our anonymous poster is right – this needs to stop.

If you or anyone you know is being harassed or bullied online, contact your local law enforcement to take the proper steps first.

Then, please browse through our updated Resources page here on STMND. You will find helpful links for suicide prevention and much more.

Anger Pangs

The Comfort of Home

On Thursday, you sat down for a story that mentioned being a terrible friend. Today, I’m going to share the events that lead up to why.


I’ve vented about the conditions where I live before. That was only the tip of the iceberg. If there was a list of the chaos, we would be here all day reading it.

The Backlog

Since we’ve moved here, it’s been issue after mind-numbing issue. Termites, flooding, broken appliances, failing utilities, you name it – we’ve probably dealt with it. Everything I can think of (short of the roof collapsing) has occurred here at some point. Why not just leave? People say to us over and over. See the referenced link above for my thoughts on that.

The Current State

Recently, our landlord fell ill. The future of this place has been in limbo. We were told they’ve discovered end-stage lung cancer in him and he will never set foot on these grounds again. His children have been handling some of the maintenance here (poorly) and as of recently, have barely set foot here themselves.

Flash forward to this morning. As I rushed to get our son ready for school, we discovered termites again. They were destroying our bedroom windowsill. I was livid and immediately started to enter high blood pressure panic mode. I couldn’t tend to them right away because our son would have missed the school bus.Forget Her Not

I despise insects. It’s a guaranteed source of anxiety for me but, we had to continue our day. So we finished getting ready and bolted out the door.

Upon my return, I sobbed as I vacuumed up countless termites. You may be wondering “Why didn’t she call someone in charge?” Well the answer to that is simple. We’ve been through this so many times before with other problems here that we know no one will show. (Or if they do show, they will do an incomplete job and the issue will arise again.)

We just have to go. This urgency is becoming clearer every day.


Home is supposed to be a place of comfort. A place where when you come home from a long day, you can relax. We cannot do that here anymore. This is no longer home. This is just a place where we put our belongings and sleep.

Dealing with this current situation, it brought me back to thinking of our friend, Rara. She must be so far out of her comfort zone as well. When you’re institutionalized, albeit jail, prison, or mental hospital, everything is very much about routine. It’s becomes difficult (if not impossible) to feel any sense of home. It made me realize just how important the proper living situation is to our mental health. Now the question is just how. How on earth are we going to up and move out of here by summer? (We’d like to be out of here before our son starts a new school year in September.) How will we do it with our limited funds? Ever since my gallery closing and the long list of expenses that seem to keep racking up, it seems unreachable.

Wheel of Overwhelm

I know somehow we’ll figure out a way. We always do. But I worry. I worry for our future and I worry about our health. You already know what I deal with if you’ve read my posts here, but I worry for my other half and our son as well. I stress that our son who already has a lot to deal with, is starting to show signs of anxiety. As much as we try to shield him from all the crap in the world, he is smart. He sees everything and is starting to become effected by it.

We had a health scare a few months back and it got me concerned for all of us. Conditions like this, if dealt with for too long, can have adverse effects on our overall physical health as well. We are a resilient bunch, but more than the physical, I am concerned for our mental well-being in the long run.

If home is where the heart is, mine is broken.

Author’s Notes:

If you or anyone you know is dealing with severe anxiety, we have some new resources that may be of some help. Please visit our Resources page for the updated sections and links under the “Anxiety/Stress” sub-category.


Nurtured by Them

“I love you, too! And I’m so bummed that I won’t be there to see you blossom in the care of and caring of the others. I know you will nurture the group, tending to them as individuals and the whole.”

When I opened this letter and began to read, I slowly started to sob.

Rara has been one of my closer friends online since I started CardCastles in 2012. She entered my life as a fan of my artwork. Once I did a little digging, I was astonished at what a blogging celebrity Rara was, and even more so that she liked my work. We became like family over the years and when I first heard the news, I was saddened to the deepest parts of me.

That same morning we all heard, I received an invitation in my e-mailbox. It said that I was invited to be an administrator over at Stories That Must Not Die, a new site that Rara had created. Clearly, our girl had something up her sleeve. I was a little busy at the time and knew it would be a challenge, but I accepted. I would have done anything in my power for Rara, especially now.

In our first few weeks, the team here was all in shock. Some of us were grieving. Some of us were angry. All of us wanted answers. And then something “wondrous” began to happen.

We became friends. We started to function as a unit. We helped heal each other.

“- and I’m hoping you will allow yourself to be nurtured BY them. There’s so much wisdom, strength, compassion, and drive in the group and I am (all at once) excited for the future of y’all and sad I will be missing it.”

She couldn’t be more correct. We’ve said many times amongst one another, that Rara knew exactly what she was doing when she brought us together.

I sobbed as I read her words because I just couldn’t conceive how a soul as bright as hers could be all caged up in some dingy, dreary place. When I first wrote her, I sensed something, and I let her know all about it. I drew her rough sketches of something only she would understand at the time. It was a picture of a sun and a moon with faces. The significance of it all had to do with a children’s story I wrote and illustrated a while back. Rara loved that story and I knew it would bring her some calm in a bad situation.

My senses hadn’t failed me. I knew Rara would receive my letter when she was having a particularly difficult day.

“Your intuition did not fail you. Your letter arrived on MY HARDEST DAY HERE. We were moved from 2-man cells to what they call “the tank” – a 40-man dorm. It’s loud and unruly and happened after my court date where I stressed all day about the 3-year sentence term. At least 5 panic attacks were pushed back that day, but the smile you sent me pushed it away for good. I slept easy that night, with my sunshine and moon in my hands.”

I’ve been a terrible friend. After that, Rara asked how I’ve been. I wanted to say “terrible dear, my world keeps falling apart…” but how could I? My constant, unrelenting issues seemed like not as much compared to what she was going through. How could I sit there and unload when she was the one who should be unloading on me. Then I remembered something Goldfish said about trying not to always “measure the bad” and instead just realizing that all pain is pain.

A lot has happened since February. So many more unfortunate events and it seems like every time I get the spare time to write something heartfelt back to my friend, another major catastrophe takes place. Still, I made a promise to her, that I would care and look after this place while making sure all of us are okay. I haven’t broken that promise.

If all goes well, Rara will be home by summer.  I miss my friend. I cannot wait for her to be back here with us where she belongs.

I’d like to leave a message here for her for when she gets out: I have a confession. I was institutionalized at one time around 2007. This was two years before I had my son. I know I hinted this to you before. It was like hell on Earth. Even though it was a life-altering experience, I grew from it. I became stronger. One of the friends I made inside there said something on one of those darker nights that stayed with me. “Sometimes when you’ve had so much bad, the bad doesn’t seem so bad after all.”

What they were basically trying to say was, time eventually softens the blows. I know you may need some adjusting when you read this, and your heart may be a little sore, but you’ve nurtured us too. Now let us nurture you.

I made a joke

The following post, submitted by Rae from I Will Not Live in Vain, and is an excerpt from her published memoir.  This is a powerful story, well worth the read, we are honored to share it with you.  It is not a happy story, though, and there are possible triggers around death.  For those who venture on, please welcome Rae to our little community and show her the support we are famous for.


9N was hard work, but that is not why I transferred from the unit. I had started school by this time, and they would not work with me with my schedule. I knew there were several other units that would work with students, so after nine months I started looking at internal listings.

There was a job on 6C in the Childrens Hospital. 6C was also a critical care unit. It was Paediatric Cardiology. I was unsure if I could handle the emotional side of working with primarily babies that had a relatively high chance of dying. I decided to go for it, I was curious as to if I would like working with kids as it was. I would be contracted to stay a whole year before another transfer would be allowed, but as was common to say at Vandy “You can do anything for a year.” I got the job.

Unfortunately while working on this unit, I did know a handful of kids that died. Every one of these children deserves to be remembered, but I don’t have the space to add them all into my book. Most of them died at home, or in the ICU. They rarely happened actually on our floor. The whole time a worked there, I only actually saw two deaths. I’d like to tell you about one of them now.

In 2011 I went on maternity leave for four months. On my first night back, I fell right back in the groove – I felt like I had come home.

At the beginning of the night, I got report from the day shift. I was told about a patient that had been there for a while, but she was new to me. She was seventeen. She had a heart condition. She decided that she just didn’t want to take her meds anymore. She was embarrassed that she had to when her friends didn’t. Her heart stopped. CPR was performed, and she was taken to the ED. They got her heart working, but then she had a stroke. She was nearly brain dead. Her mother signed a DNR/DNI. This means we cannot intervene if she starts to die.

“God, Georgia. Thanks. Giving me a patient that is gonna die on me my first night back!” I made a joke, we laughed. I made a joke, and we laughed.

It is not unusual for hospital personnel to have a dark sense of humour. You need it sometimes just to get through a shift. If you don’t laugh you will cry.

I made a joke.

3 AM. A mother’s scream.

“Nurse! I need a nurse!”

The alarms hadn’t even started ringing yet.

I reached the door at the same time as Emily. Within seconds the alarm started ringing. Emily took the mother by the hands, looked her in the eye. “Do you know what is about to happen?” The mother nodded. “Do you want to change your mind?” The mother said “No,” tears already streaming down her face.

Suddenly the monitor went to Asystole. No heartbeat. A big white zero and a long, flat line. This girl took her last breath. No more than two minutes from the mother’s first scream, and it was over.

I made a joke.

The first thing I thought was “I can’t believe I said that to Georgia.”

Her sister arrived after hearing the news. She screamed. She screamed for forty-five minutes straight. They couldn’t get a hold of her father. It took two hours until his brother had gone to wake him up. The father thought we were all making a fuss. Of course his daughter wasn’t dead.

He came brusquely down the hall. He stood in the doorway and snapped her name. He told her to “stop playin’.” He went to her bedside and grabbed her arm to shake her. It was ice cold. I saw the realization in his eyes. He dropped to his knees with a yelp. He screamed at the top of his lungs. A few moments later he stumbled towards the hall. He stopped for a moment and turned to look at us at the nurse’s station. I will never forget the look on that man’s face.

I held it together all morning. Nope, no tears for me. Not until I was safely in my car, with my door shut. Now I was the one screaming. I was raging. I didn’t know where these feelings came from. I didn’t know her. It was best this way, why was I crying? Why did I cry over this girl, and not the other babies I had known that had passed?

After I calmed down, I was able to reflect. I realized that this was the first death I had ever actually witnessed. That is a powerful enough thing in itself, and I am a doer. We were not allowed to even try to save her. If we had tried and failed, well, alright then. But all I did was stand there and watch her die in her mother’s arms.

a fightin’ chance

Over the next two weeks (4/7, 4/9, 4/14, and 4/16) I’m going to post some notes, thoughts, comments and other awesomeness I’ve received in letters from our favorite Jail-Dino, Rarasaur.  Some of it will be uplifting.  Some of it will be a struggle.  And some of it will be silly.  But, that’s fitting, right?  Our lives, and our stories, run the full spectrum of ups and downs as we go about trying to survive and thrive, and prison life is no different.

While I have edited the following, I’ve kept her intent intact as much as I could.

These are her words, as she wrote them to me and to all of you.

These are Rara’s stories.


Today is my 42nd day here and I’m acting like it’s my 1,000th.  You know, no one here knows the significance of 42.  There’s no geeks here.  Sometimes I hear truly painful thoughts, like – “Hulk squish!” or “The only movie I liked Harrison Ford in was Sabrina.” Or “How did Martha Kent give birth to Superman anyway?  Wouldn’t he have destroyed her?”  Points go to the girl on the last one because she knew Martha’s name, even though she loses 7 million points for not knowing that Superman is an alien.

I cleaned the vents in the room today.  They were nasty.  Oh, the joys of simple days.  Right now it’s almost two, and I get nervous waiting to see if I’ll be called for work.  I don’t want to be fired for the first time in my life – in prison.  Ha!  But, it’ll be what it’ll be.  Whatever happens, happens.

There’s this Native American story I’ve been thinking of lately, about a chief who tells the shamaan that he has two wolves fighting in his heart.  One wolf is brave, strong, loving – but defensive of her space.  The other is angry, ferocious, anxious, and aggressive.  All the bad things.  The chief is worried and asks the shaman, “Which wolf will win?”  And the shaman says, “The one you feed.”  Simple.

So, I am dedicating myself to feeding the right wolf, the one fueled by good things like hope and faith.  I don’t know if I can starve away the bad wolf, but at least I can make it so the good wolf has a fightin’ chance.

This place is a trip!

Over the next two weeks (4/7, 4/9, 4/14, and 4/16) I’m going to post some notes, thoughts, comments and other awesomeness I’ve received in letters from our favorite Jail-Dino, Rarasaur.  Some of it will be uplifting.  Some of it will be a struggle.  And some of it will be silly.  But, that’s fitting, right?  Our lives, and our stories, run the full spectrum of ups and downs as we go about trying to survive and thrive, and prison life is no different.

While I have edited the following, I’ve kept her intent intact as much as I could.

These are her words, as she wrote them to me and to all of you.

These are Rara’s stories.


I am keeping busy, walking miles a day, over-caffeinating, and eating like a prize-winning pig after the blue ribbon ceremony.  Oink!  Sorry for the handwriting.  Gray always says that my hair and handwriting are the best visuals on my inner peace or torment, since I’m always smiling – even in my mugshot.  I have no idea what my handwriting is saying now, but I can feel how wonky it is.

The holiday season has hit this place hard.  I am desperately trying to remember how to fold origami “balloons” or other folds that are holiday appropriate.  Colored paper and Christmas/Thanksgiving paper stock is like gold right now.  Even just paper ribbons!  Gosh, I wish I had Google.  They do competitions here for best decorations.  “It’s getting’ real.”  The slang here is becoming my norm, including “gurllll” and “uh uh” as a sound of agreement.  I will have an odd everything when I’m finally out.

It literally just occurred to me that I will need therapy when I’m out.  Crazy.  This place is a trip!

There’s an expression here that I love – “catch feelings.”  It puts a visual to it and explains, to me, why I get crushed on so often when I’m fundamentally average.  You see, I throw feelings at people.  In waves!  It’s how I communicate.  They are confused by how much they caught from me and it seems like more than what they caught from others so they think, “She must be special!” when in reality, I just throw more.  Feelings… they’re weird.

I think often about how geek culture/media would improve this jail community.  One thing I love about geek is the subtle emphasis on how being good is almost as important (and arguably more important) than being great.  There’s no Superman without Martha Kent’s love, no Batman without Alfred’s loyalty, no Spiderman without Uncle Ben’s patient wisdom.  At least, no great superheroes – just a lot of superpower grumps.  Being good, simple, loyal, kind, wise, and patient aren’t traits that people aspire to, which is weird.

… mind blown

Over the next two weeks (4/7, 4/9, 4/14, and 4/16) I’m going to post some notes, thoughts, comments and other awesomeness I’ve received in letters from our favorite Jail-Dino, Rarasaur.  Some of it will be uplifting.  Some of it will be a struggle.  And some of it will be silly.  But, that’s fitting, right?  Our lives, and our stories, run the full spectrum of ups and downs as we go about trying to survive and thrive, and prison life is no different.

While I have edited the following, I’ve kept her intent intact as much as I could.

These are her words, as she wrote them to me and to all of you.

These are Rara’s stories.

1/25 – 1/31/2015

So far 2015 has been a crazy year.  That seems nuts to say 24 days in, but truth is truth.

My situation here is hella messy and my language is barely educated anymore – ha!

Where should I start?

Tonight, we’re locked in.  We’ve been in our cells since 11AM today – it’s 8PM now.  We don’t get to know what’s going on – it’s an Institutional Lockdown so it could be anything at any prison – an escape, a suicide, a Fed raid, a drug bust – anything.  All seem quiet in RC, though.  Earlier this week, we were on IL because of threats made against our officers.  I was by myself.  Right now I’m grateful [my bunky] is here.

I am a people-person.  If ever I had doubt on that count, it’s vanished.  I am sure!

It’s now 8AM on the 31st and we’re still on lockdown.  They say we will most likely be locked down all weekend.  Crazy!  We just finished controlled showers, and controlled feeding.  Yep, it’s as glamorous as it sounds.

I only hope all of you know I’m safe.

I’ve only been here 2 months and I spend the VAST majority of my time in RC.  When I think of how attached I become in a short period of time, I’m … mind blown.

Last week, I had a breakdown in our auditorium and was super ugly to our awesome and kind trainer.  There was a bevy of reasons, but ultimately they don’t matter.  The point is, after it, I just wanted to come home.  “Home.”

Everyone who writes me tells me they’ve fallen off the ‘sphere to some extent or a full extent…  Just 5 more months, y’all, and I’m gonna be there to suck you all back in like a proper stalk-y octopus blogger.  Yeah.  Just 5 more months!

Let’s do this.

Over the next two weeks (4/7, 4/9, 4/14, and 4/16) I’m going to post some notes, thoughts, comments and other awesomeness I’ve received in letters from our favorite Jail-Dino, Rarasaur.  Some of it will be uplifting.  Some of it will be a struggle.  And some of it will be silly.  But, that’s fitting, right?  Our lives, and our stories, run the full spectrum of ups and downs as we go about trying to survive and thrive, and prison life is no different.

While I have edited the following, I’ve kept her intent intact as much as I could.

These are her words, as she wrote them to me and to all of you.

These are Rara’s stories.


RC became home to me and though leaving every place is hard on me, leaving RC was a softer sort of pain.  Is a softer sort of pain.  I only left yesterday but it’s like I’ve been transported to a whole ’nother planet.  I have an open invitation back there but walking that 200 feet might be near impossible given conflicting schedules.  I’m hoping I find purpose in this new place.

What I know so far is that I will only be working with 5 girls and that’s almost too many for the job.  We work for 5 captains and a chief at an onsite firehouse which acts as a Calfire dispatch and response center.  The work is mostly clerical and portering, with a dab of yard crew thrown in.  I’ll be doing firefightery stuff still – carrying ladders and hoses and learning about fire behavior!  From I can discern, the working environment is a hot mess – drama, backstabbing, and mischief.

I am unconcerned and even a little eager – I see it as a challenge.  The 6 of us will be skipping and holding hands by the time I’m done.

All in less than 150 days.

Let’s do this.

in the end, it’s just an opinion

I am not an anti-vaxxer, nor do I religiously bow down at the altar of science.

I understand the societal benefits of herd immunity but I don’t like the idea of government mandates to require it.

I do not think that vaccines directly cause autism or other autism spectrum disorders, but I do find it interesting how the incident rate of these diagnoses are increasing right now.  Per the CDC, in 2000 the rate was around 1 in 150 children and in 2010, the rate was 1 in 68 children.  The current recommended vaccine schedule calls for 49 doses of 14 vaccines before the age of 6.    In the 1990’s there were only 9 recommended vaccines administered in far fewer than 49 doses.

Are our medical professionals better trained and is society more accepting of these historically stigmatized disorders, making the current percentages more of an accurate representation of the population that has always been impacted?  Or, is something else going on?  Is something causing more and more of our children to have autism than ever before?

I don’t know the answer.

And, neither do the experts.

 “This is harder than cancer because in cancer you can biopsy it; you can see it on an X-ray.  We don’t have a blood test [for autism]. There is no biomarker, no image, no pathology.”

Gary Goldstein, MD, president and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore

“There’s been a lot of progress in the last few years in terms of understanding the causes of autism.  We know a lot more than we did.  One number you see often is that about 10% of those with autism have a definitive diagnosis, a causative condition.”

Marvin Natowicz, MD, PhD, a medical geneticist and vice chairman of the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic

Only 10%?  That means up to 90% of cases have no known explanation…

I am uncomfortable with coming to any kind of conclusions based on those numbers.  And, yet, that is exactly what we constantly do as a society and as individuals for this topic, and most others.

Why?  Why do we do that?  Why do we judge others and allow ourselves to become so unashamedly arrogant, self-righteous, and combative when even the experts know very little?

I am often outspoken about media’s attempt to spin complex issues into only two views, right or wrong, black or white, conservative or liberal, but I am still just as likely to fall victim to their tactics as anyone else.  I understand why they do it.  Complex issues are hard sells, people will lose interest and turn the channel or read something else a browser click away, and that lost audience equals lost revenue.  You can’t run a business if you don’t make money, and news is business.  It is big business.  So, they take these complex issues and water them down to easily digestible sound bites that only hint at the true nature of the issues being discussed…

Where am I going with this?

I have a relative who was keeping her daughter, a happy and healthy child who was thriving by all accounts, current on vaccines according to the recommended schedule of doses and timing.  And then, after receiving the first dose of the MMR vaccine, her daughter changed.  She immediately showed signs that something was wrong.  Wasn’t happy and playful anymore.  Stopped meeting developmental milestones.  Stopped thriving.  And, eventually, she was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome.

Did the vaccine cause that?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Would she have eventually developed these problems anyway?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Perhaps the vaccine triggered something that might have remained dormant otherwise.  Perhaps the vaccine only hastened the outward symptoms of what was an inevitability.  Perhaps the vaccine had nothing at all to do with any of this, and the timing was purely coincidental.

But, as a parent, knowing this story, is it wrong for me to at least pause and consider the risks before I let the same vaccine be injected into my child?  My happy, healthy, and thriving child…

I won’t claim to have done all the research I should have done.  I won’t claim to be an expert.  I won’t even claim to know what is best for my child, though, as his parent, I will claim that I know better than almost everyone else.  I won’t claim that my child is more important than anyone he might put at risk if we choose not to vaccinate and therefore disrupt herd immunization rates, but, he is more important to me than the rest.

I will, however, claim that we need to be better about how quick we are to latch on to the sound bites we are fed via media and how quick we are to use those snippets of partial information to judge and blame and bash others…