Don’t be a Thelma

By Mir
June 26, 2013

Given the news that’s coming out of the Supreme Court today, this feels kind of selfish and unimportant, in comparison, but… well, I’m thinking no one wants to see my victory dance or hear my scintillating commentary (mostly consisting of, “Hey, today I don’t hate everyone!”), so instead you get this.

This one was hard to write. I made Chickadee proof it for me and confirm that it was okay for me to share. I think it’s important, but I never want my child to feel like she has an obligation to be an object lesson for anyone. The upshot is that friends should be kind to each other, and that goes double for when you have a friend facing difficult and often misunderstood issues. Also, everything I ever needed to learn about how to be a reasonable human came from children’s books.

So please come on over to Alpha Mom today, because chances are your kids are eventually going to have friends struggling with mental health stuff, and I hope you’ll help them to be good friends rather than encouraging them to be judgmental jerks.


  1. Laura Duggan

    Writing about mental health issues, especially among teens, is never selfish or unimportant. My life is more directly affected by DOMA than this, and I still believe it is true.

    Thanks for sharing this piece, and thank Chickadee for her help. You’re both brave!

  2. Jennifer Morgan

    Shared with my daughter. An important lesson to learn for all of us, and I heart the thoughtful introspection you convey to your audience. Thank you.

  3. deva

    I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression since I was in my early to mid teens. It sucks when people choose to think it’s catching instead of recognizing that you are the same person you always were. I truly admire chickadee for her bravery.

  4. jenn

    Having recently dealt with a situation where one of my daughter’s friends was having mental health issues this is pretty fresh. I have a hard time understanding parents who advise their children to avoid the situation or forbid them to engage. My advice to my daughter was to love her friend through her problems, to provide her with a sounding board and to be the one to give good, careful advice.

    Admittedly, it’s scary. In my case, my daughter tends to get very emotionally involved but I felt like she and I together worked out a plan for her to be supportive without getting too pulled in to something that wasn’t ultimately her issue to fix.

    Sounds like Thelma might need to just drift away. Chickie is probably better off without that kind of “friend”

  5. Aimee

    Loved this post — I commented over there, but had to do it here too. Chickadee is so brave and strong, and so are you, my friend. xo

  6. Heather

    Your Chickie is such an amazing and special young lady. I love the work you do around mental health and opening the conversation and generally being awesome. You’re pretty. And your hair is sooooo shiny.

  7. Djurdjica

    I just want to say I admire the way Chickie has been open with these issues. Go Chickadee, you rock! :)

    It is difficult to gauge which aspects of a private story one might be comfortable with sharing, especially as we have no idea what reactions it might provoke.

  8. Kana

    Way less “& Louise” than I thought there was going to be from the post title…and yet, somehow, more feelings of precariousness for all that.

    It sounds like being on permanent tenterhooks, being a mom; Please treat my child well. Please may her friends, though unfinished little proto-humans themselves, have the kindness, the empathy or the grace to rise above adult-reinforced stereotypes and be good to their friend, my baby.

    Your faith in her, the space you give her…I am always so impressed that, even when it’s been really, REALLY bad, you still always have that grace of spirit and just keep believing in your Chickadee. You are such an amazing mom/person.

  9. 12tequilas

    This isn’t your point here but yes, the Frances books are great and timeless (except maybe for the spanking part in ‘Bedtime’). I keep wanting to bring a doily and a vase of violets in my lunch because how cool would that be?

  10. Kady

    Go Team ChickiMir!

  11. TracyB

    Mir, I think you are simply the best mom/friend any girl could have! I am going through the worse of times with my adult daughter right now and your words are comforting knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel and to “just be kind….or walk away” is some of the best advise I’ve heard so far. I learned a long time ago that every action causes a reaction and I am trying my best to have a positive reaction but so far, it’s not working. So, for now on, I’m just going to walk away…..quietl. That is going to be the hard part. Thanks so much for sharing your life experiences and those of your family. It really does help!

  12. Jessica (the celt)

    1. You are awesome.

    2. Your daughter is awesome.

    3. The thing that I love most about you guys is that you aren’t letting the stigma thwart your lives at all, which is spot on. When my mom finally started to feel less “weird” about her own mental health issues, she learned two things: (a) she’s not alone by a long shot and (b) the more people know, the less they tend to judge (mileage may vary depending on the person for this one, but I guess a third thing she learned is that the people who don’t “get it” once they know what’s up are the ones that she doesn’t want to be around anyway). There is no shame in getting help and there is no shame in having any kind of mental illness. To re-phrase you: there’s no shame in cancer, is there?

    4. Rock on with your bad selves! ;~)

  13. Daisy

    Having dealt with similar issues in my teaching career and having been faced with more than a few Thelmas in my profession, I’m glad you caution her not to share everything. A 6th grade student told two other girls that she had attempted suicide, but Oh! My! Keep it a secret. Of course the girls didn’t; it was too big a story to keep to themselves. Her motivation – well, it was complicated.

    Professionally, there are a few schools I will never enter as teacher because the hierarchy is based on a small group of bullies. Professional bullies sounds like an oxymoron, but these people do indeed exist. When I took a lengthy leave of absence for clinical depression, I told only a few people: those who truly needed to know. No one else, including the group of bullies, got any personal information regarding my leave.

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