Friday, February 27, 2009

My Nervous Breakdown

Do you remember back in the old days when people sometimes experienced things they referred to as "nervous breakdowns"?

It's been a while since I've heard anyone use that term but I've been thinking about it lately and wondering if nervous breakdowns still exist. If so, what exactly do they consist of?

You see, I am fairly certain that I am due a nervous breakdown of my own, I just don't know how to go about pulling one off.

First of all, I need to know what symptoms I should exhibit. Do I unexpectedly collapse, sobbing in a heap on the floor? Do I shake uncontrollably? Do I scream and pull a knife on anyone who comes close to me?

Start talking back to the voices in my head, maybe?

If at all possible, I would prefer not to have to make a "scene" in the process of having my personal nervous breakdown. I prefer to maintain some level of dignity. I wonder if I couldn't simply make a list of the symptoms I feel like displaying and give them to the doctor. Surely he'd take my word for it and treat me accordingly!

Will my nervous breakdown necessarily involve the use of a straight jacket? If so, I don't think I'd like that very much. I hate to have my hands restrained. As my father always said, I can't talk without using my hands, so that wouldn't work at all.

How about drugs? I'm pretty sure that people who have nervous breakdowns get good drugs. That would be nice. "Take a trip and never leave the farm", so to speak. What kind of drugs do people who have nervous breakdowns get?

Will they lock me away in a rubber room somewhere? Take my shoelaces away and feed me only soft foods like green jello and oatmeal?

I don't eat green jello but do indulge in a good bowl of oatmeal now and then. So, other than the green jello part, the rubber room might be enjoyable, especially if I get good drugs to go along with it. A certain amount of solitude mixed with sweet oatmeal and some pretty hallucinations might be fun.

How long does a nervous breakdown take? I don't have a lot of time to spare and I'm not sure when I could work one into my schedule. It would definitely work out better for me if I could have my nervous breakdown over a long weekend.

I have so many questions and so few real answers.

I remember one of my college professors saying that nervous breakdowns aren't real because technically, nerves can't "break down". I'm not so sure about that. My nerves definitely feel as if they are about to crack lately. Just because we can't see them doesn't mean it's not happening!

So don't tell me I can't have a nervous breakdown! Doggone it, I've EARNED one! I swear I will wear "google" out until I find the answers I need.

And then, I will have the perfect breakdown! Just you wait and see!

Heck! If you come visit me at the funny farm I may even knit you a nice pot holder or make a pretty finger painting for you.

Stay tuned!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Just Becky

Bill, Juanita, Becky Jean, and Connie Jo Sheets. circa 1971

My name is Becky.

Not Rebecca or even Becka.

Just Becky.

To make matters worse, my maiden last name was no more exciting my given first name, so I went through my entire school career bearing a very mundane, boring identity. It didn't help that absolutely every class I ever sat in contained at least one other "Becky" (although to them it was almost always a "nickname") Because of that, I inevitably ended up being referred to as "Becky #2"

Talk about adding insult to injury!

As fate would have it, I married a man with what turns out to be one of the ten most common surnames in America. That came as a surprise to me, because I didn't know many "Taylors" in southern Ohio where I grew up. To the contrary, here in Georgia, I've noticed that there seems to be more "Taylors" than there are "people"!

So, that's my name. Becky Taylor (yawn). There isn't much chance you'll ever see that one up on the silver screen!

Neither does it carry much of an initial impact in the business world. "Becky Taylor" doesn't exactly scream, "powerful", "strong","bold", or "successful". I've attempted to remedy that fact by adding my middle initial to the mix, however, "Becky J. Taylor" sounds only slightly more grown up and serious.

The truth is my name is very "girl next door". A status that, over time, tends to become diluted to "What ever happened to whats-her-face?"

At best, when my name is spoken it's likely to be followed with the question, "Which Becky?"

I'm not sure what my parents were thinking when they named me, except there's no possible way they looked at their little bundle of joy and saw anything past an eight or nine year old girl with pigtails and freckles. They certainly had no foresight concerning the adult their newborn daughter might someday grown up to be.

So, they chose a name accordingly.

Just Becky.

How precious! (Grrrr!)

Sometimes I think it would be a good idea if parents waited until their children are old enough to have a say in the matter and let them choose their own names.

If that were the case, I wonder what I would have picked. Of course that would be dependent largely upon the age at which I was able to choose. I shiver a little to imagine what I might have ended up with had I been handed a baby name book and told to name myself in, oh say, third grade. Yikes! You'd likely be addressing me with something very tomboyish, like "Jamie".

Now that I think about it, "Jamie" is very much like "Becky" just not as "girly".

In Junior High School, I undoubtedly would have chosen something adventurous, probably from the Native American culture. I thought American Indian names were very cool and spent a lot of time daydreaming about being a Native American Princess.

I can imagine hearing my mother's voice calling now. "Come on in to dinner, Tenskwatawah!"

Hmm, "Tenskwatawah Taylor"?

It never would have worked out.

At an adult, I've most often thought "Sophia" might be a nice name to have. It's definitely not a common moniker. I can only think of one or two people I've ever met in real life named "Sophia". If only my parents had thought to give that name to me! I definitely never would have been referred to as "Sophia #2".

Neither can I imagine hearing anyone use the words, "Just" and "Sophia" together as a phrase.

The name "Sophia" has a way of drawing attention. Unlike "Becky", it requires a second glance.
It's surely no accident that the name "Sophia" and the word "sophisticated" have so much in common. For the life of me, I cannot picture "Sophia" doing anything as mundane as washing dishes or changing the kitty litter.

No, people like "Sophia" hire people named "Becky" to do that sort of thing for them.

It's no wonder I never became famous!

Oh, I'm only joking.

In reality, being "Just Becky" hasn't been all that bad. I dare say it actually has it perks and challenges.

My first name, when combined with my middle (yet equally non-dramatic) name can have a rather melodic sound if pronounced correctly. For instance, when one throws a heavy southern accent, such as my grandmother had, into the equation.

Grandma lovingly called me "Beckajean", allowing the syllables to roll very slowly and deliberately off her tongue. Sweet and thick like molasses, it came out ... "Beck-AHhh-jean"

That was actually kind of nice.

My Dad, cousins, and Aunts back home still call me "Becky Jean" only their pronunciation has a short clippy northern "bite" to it. That too, has a comforting feel, because it reminds me of "home". To the people who know me best and love me most "Becky Jean" is "who" I am.

None of them ever has to ask "Which Becky Jean?"

I suppose a name, like anything else, is what you make it. For instance, having a name like "Becky" allows an element of surprise. People hear my name and expect the "girl next door". What they don't realize is that "Sophia" lurks just beneath the surface. Unlike "Becky", "Sophia" is a force to be reckoned with!

Just ask my husband and he'll confirm that fact (or he will if he knows what's good for him!)

Being "Becky", I've had the fortune of never having anyone mis-pronounce my name when they speak to me. Neither have I ever, before meeting someone face to face, been mistakenly thought to be a male because of having a name that was unusual or non gender specific.

Now that I live in the south, I am often referred to as "Miss Becky" by the youngsters. Surprisingly enough, I must admit that I find "Miss Becky" to have a certain charm. "Miss Becky" is certainly a respected grown up here in the Georgia.

Those are all good things about being "Just Becky".

So, I'll resist any mid-life urges to run out and assign another name to myself. I was born "Becky" and "Becky" I shall remain.


The girl next door.



Down to earth.

Thoughtful and kind.

All American girl.

There's certainly nothing wrong with any of those traits!

Maybe Mom and Dad knew what they were doing when they decide to call me that after all. I only hope, when my time ends on earth, it will be said of me that I did the name justice and made my parents proud.

Go ahead, just call me "Becky". I like the sound of that!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Good Medicine!

My two youngest offspring ... they make me laugh!

I've been needing a break lately, so much so that I have contemplated running away for a day or two. The problem with that, however, would be the cost involved. It's one of those so called "catch 22'" dilemmas. A large part of my reason for needing a break is the financial stress we've been experiencing over the last several months, and of course it's a bit difficult to run away (at least with any degree of comfort) without the finances to support it

Suffice to say, I'm "stuck" where I am for now.

Last night as I lay in my bed fighting the nagging thoughts of discouragement that raced through my head and kept me tossing and turning, I decided I really had no choice but to come up with a feasible alternative remedy for my current state of disgruntlement.

Yes, it was most definitely time for "Plan B"!

"Think on those things which are GOOD ..." I reminded myself in a conscious attempt to re-direct my thoughts back to a more pleasant frame of mind. One by one, I methodically sorted through my data base of happy memories, eventually constructing a conglomeration of only the best on which to concentrate.

Before long, a sweet flood of wonderful thoughts began rushing through what had only moments before been the parched and thirsty riverbed of my spirit. Like a grainy old 8mm film, the scenes were displayed one after another before my minds eye.

There were the hot summer evenings spent picnicking a the lake when I was a little girl, followed by memories of my children when they were small, lot's of thoughts involving my crazy friends ... and on to those of my silly little grandchildren who've most recently given me reason to smile.

And smile, I did, as I lay there in the dark recalling nearly forty-eight years worth of unforgettable events which have left permanent impressions on my heart. Oh to capture those things and keep them alive forever! It would be the perfect cure for what ails me now.

In the process, it occurred to me that my very best memories share one common factor. I realized what exactly, has been the missing piece of my life's puzzle in recent weeks.


I love to laugh. It's a gift I inherited from my father's side of the family. I dare say, they made it an art form. I've never met anyone who could laugh quite like Dad and his four sisters. A healthy dose of humor could be found in just about any situation (or no situation at all) if they were involved. Once they got together at our family functions, everyone knew it was only a matter of time before uncontrollable laughter would break out and take us all hostage.

It was a literally breath taking and wonderful experience.

Man! What I wouldn't give for some of that now!

It isn't that I've not laughed lately. Seldom does a day go by that I don't find something worthy of a chuckle or two. Just yesterday I got tickled at my son when the doctor asked him what kind of green vegetables he liked and he responded, "Green Skittles".

But that's not the kind of laugh I need! I need a big ol' belly laugh! One that makes me snort and double over, holding my sides while tears roll from my eyes.

I need to laugh like we all laughed forty years ago when my aunt Leora ran to rescue her grand daughter who'd fallen on the patio, only to slip in the same puddle of water she'd fallen prey to and topple right on top of her.

I need to cackle and cry like my daughter Emily and I did when my then five year old son, Adam David, after discovering the significance of his name, subsequently choreographed his own personal "underwear dance" and proudly performed it for us, stripped down to his little white briefs while singing, "I'm dancin' in my underwear! I'm dancin' in my underwear!"

(If you don't "get it", read the story of King David in the Bible)

The performance got such rave reviews that he continued encore appearances for anyone who visited our house over the next couple of years, each time evoking the same wonderful response from his audience ... he never stopped until the tears of laughter flowed! (My aunts would definitely be proud!)

I could even go for a good dose of the painful hilarity that erupted when my friend Debby and I were goofing off at her house two years back, and I stumbled backward and landed flat in her living room floor. It turned out that laughter wasn't the only thing that broke out that evening, as I almost immediately realized I'd also fractured my arm in the process!

I'll never forget sitting there in the floor cradling my incredibly painful forearm against my chest, never-the-less laughing so hard I could barely enunciate the words, "I think I'm gonna need some ice!"

And yet, the memory of the experience is indescribably funny even today. (ok, so maybe you really had to be there to fully appreciate the humor surrounding the situation.)

It's true. Laughter is "good medicine". Just thinking about laughing is a refreshing thing! I proved that to myself once again last night.

Wouldn't it be great if we could all laugh today? (uhh.. while the situation I described above was extremely funny at the time, I would not recommend that you break any appendages in your attempt to accomplish this task)

My personal assignment for this weekend is to have a good belly laugh. What an amazing way to forget about my current predicament and retreat for a while!

Best of all, (barring the unfortunate occurrence of fractured limbs) it won't cost a dime!