December 2014

The Sister Who Saved Her Family

by Bill Brenner December 28, 2014 Family

My youngest sister, Shira Beth Brenner, was born 29 years ago today, sending rays of sunshine into a house that was in darkness. You might think it’s hyperbole for me to say she saved the family. We were surviving, after all. But we were surviving badly, reeling from the death of my brother barely two years before. Shira helped us smile again. Mood music: I was a bitter 15-year-old home sick with the flu and a Crohn’s…  [Read More]

Don’t Sweat That Christmas Pageant Performance, Kid

by Bill Brenner December 26, 2014 Adventures in writing

My kids participated in a Christmas Eve pageant at our church, and a highlight for me was one girl’s performance of the song, “Mary Did You Know.” The young lady’s performance made my neck hairs stand up. I saw her sing it twice: Christmas Eve, and at a rehearsal the night before. During the Christmas Eve performance, she sang a bit too high toward the end. She still sounded awesome. But she was pretty upset. As…  [Read More]

Woe-Is-Me Disease

by Bill Brenner December 18, 2014 Dealing with life

A funny thing about us OCD-addict types: When the going gets tough, we blame it on someone else. Call it the Woe-Is-Me Disease, where the sufferer is an eternal victim, forever screwed by everyone but themselves. Mood music: We all have people like that in our lives. They are clinically incapable of seeing their own role in the thing that goes wrong. It’s always someone else’s fault. They whine a lot, and when you suggest…  [Read More]

If People Treated Physical Illness Like Mental Illness

by Bill Brenner December 17, 2014 Depression

The cartoon below, posted on the Robot Hugs website, nails the misperception some people have about mental illness. For those lucky enough to be free of mental illness, it can be impossible to understand how the depressed mind works. That leads to a lot of unhelpful advice and opining about how the mentally ill should just get off their asses and stop feeling sorry for themselves. Maybe this will lead to better understanding.

Inside the Ruins of a Saugus Institution

by Bill Brenner December 16, 2014 Photography

Those who came of age with me in the Revere/Saugus area will remember Weylu’s, the imposing palace of a Chinese restaurant perched on a hill overlooking Route 1. The place closed some 15 years ago, but the building still sits there, slowly rotting away. North Shore photographer Brian Cummings went inside this past weekend and took some stunning shots of the ruins. Check it out here. And be sure to check out more of Cummings’ work…  [Read More]

Turning Mental Disorder into a Superpower

by Bill Brenner December 15, 2014 Coping tools

Instead of fighting some mental disorders, such as OCD or ADHD, picture yourself accepting and even embracing them. Then learn to use your disorder to your advantage. It’s kind of like Luke Skywalker learning to use and control the Force instead of it controlling him, or Superman learning to control his super-senses. Mood music: This won’t work for every disorder, of course. Some are more serious than others, like PTSD and schizophrenia. But Edward (Ned)…  [Read More]

Torture Was Another Bad Response to Fear

by Bill Brenner December 11, 2014 Fear and anxiety

The CIA’s use of torture during the Bush era was more insidious than previously revealed and did nothing to prevent terrorist attacks, the Senate Intelligence Committee says in a report. No surprise there. I’ve said it before: The fear that drove us after 9/11 led to a lot of inhumane behavior in the name of safety and security. And the American people — scared out of their wits — were perfectly fine giving government carte blanche to do what…  [Read More]

Remorse? I Have It

by Bill Brenner December 10, 2014 Communication skills for the crazy

Recently, I started exploring the feelings that EdditTheYeti’s art raises in me. On Monday, I focused on “Prayer” and “Pierced.” Today, I’ll look at “Remorse.” Mood music: “Remorse” This picture was created with ink, wine, lime juice, coffee, tea, cola, soy sauce, hot sauce, and, as Eddie writes, a thought about what has passed. The creature in the picture hangs its head low, eyes too mired in the past to see the present. Regrets? I…  [Read More]

To the Cop Who Stopped Dimebag’s Killer

by Bill Brenner December 9, 2014 Dealing with life

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the murder of Pantera/Damageplan guitarist Darrell Lance Abbott. For metalheads like me, the loss of “Dimebag Darrell” was painful. But for James Niggemeyer, the cop who stopped shooter Nathan Gale before he could kill anyone else, life has been hell. Mood music: More people almost certainly would have died that night at Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, where Damageplan was just beginning to play as the shooting started. Jeff “Mayhem” Thompson, the band’s head…  [Read More]

An EddieTheYeti Christmas

by Bill Brenner December 8, 2014 Spirituality

Every year, I have trouble finding my Christmas spirit. I’ve written a lot about why that is, and this year is no different. But I feel like God is throwing me more clues than usual. Mood music: The first clue came from my wife. We were discussing my father’s ongoing health problems and I noted how that was contributing to what I see as the same old pattern of shitty things happening during the holidays. Erin…  [Read More]