A Mental Health Day…

January 19, 2007 at 11:27 pm 24 comments

That’s what we used to call the days Princess didn’t want to go to school, but wasn’t sick.  It makes me laugh now that she’s in college studying to be a psychiatrist.  Everyone has left for work or school, its snowing but not enough to worry about, both cats and the dog are sound asleep.  The only sound in this room is the blowing furnace and the tap of fingernails on my keyboard.  That suits me fine today.  A chance to feed my inner introvert. 

Princess is studying abnormal psychology this quarter and has decided that I’m borderline agoraphobic.  Last quarter she diagnosed me as borderline manic depressive.  Its a wonder I get through my day I’m so mentally deranged.  What she’s too young to understand is that there isn’t a soul my age walking around without some mental damage, its the price of life, but we also have coping mechanisms to keep the symptoms at bay.  Mine is to withdraw for awhile.  Something I have in common with the Grandmother I’m named after but never met.

Grandma Katherine was married at fourteen.  She had six kids, boy-girl, boy-girl, boy-girl.  My mother was her fourth child.  Kate died of pneumonia in 1932  when my mother was 12.  The height of the depression.   This family of eight lived in a one room sod hut on a windswept prairie in Oklahoma.  My grandfather was always up to some scheme or other, most of which failed, so to call them poor would be elevating their status in life.  So destitute that my mother and her siblings went to school only sporadically because they could never come up with enough clothes to get all six kids to school on the same day.  According to legend, when the stress of kids constantly underfoot, no jobs, no money and no food became too much for Grandma Kate, lacking a room she could disappear to, she’d flip her apron over her head and mumble.  The family assume she was praying under there, but I’m not so sure.  I certainly know what I’d have been saying under that apron. 


Entry filed under: Ancient History, life with kids.

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24 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Hammer  |  January 19, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    My grandmothers family was the same way. It’s frustrating to watch all the kids complaining about trivial stuff these days when they have no idea what what suffering went on a few short generations ago.

  • 2. J.  |  January 20, 2007 at 1:26 am

    That’s too cute. The apron thing.

    But how sad that not too long ago, people could pass away from something like that.

  • 3. Gawpo  |  January 20, 2007 at 2:13 am

    Doesn’t anyone study normal psychology any more? As a borderline agoraphobic myself, I have some anxiety about crossing all way the over the line into fullblown agoraphobia. The thought of it makes me break out into a sweat. It’s safer just this side of the border.

  • 4. katcampbell  |  January 20, 2007 at 3:34 am

    Hammer – I can’t even imagine a life as hard as my grandmother’s was. The amazing thing is what her children and grandchildren have accomplished since those dark days.

    Jan – I think it was more about money than anything with my Grandmother. If they would have had access and funds for medicine and a doctor, she probably would have lived.

    Gawpo – The agoraphobia in me I agree with. I don’t worry about it much since I consider it just one of the side effects of introversion. Too many people in my life for it ever to grab hold and affect my life in any way.

  • 5. Mr. Fabulous  |  January 20, 2007 at 4:42 am

    My coping mechanism is to write mean poems about kitties…

  • 6. Linda  |  January 20, 2007 at 4:43 am

    We’re all mad here in wonderland. I really don’t know a single person who has never been depressed or have some other mental thing going on. A large number of people I know have been medicated for this disorder or that, including myself. I wish that retreating to themselves did it for more people, I wish that it did it for me. I hope the solitude does some good for you!

  • 7. katcampbell  |  January 20, 2007 at 5:47 am

    Mr. Fab -LOL! So THAT’s what prompted that perfectly wicked poem about innocent little kitties. Whatever it takes to keep you happy I guess!

    Linda – Thanks for your good wishes. I feel like a new person after my day of solitude and slovenliness. I hope you aren’t having the baby blues, they are just the worst. You not only have to feel bad, you have to feel guilty.

  • 8. Gela the city dweller  |  January 20, 2007 at 5:59 am

    lol. Your family is so interesting Kat. Today I was in my office engrossed in some work and was startled by a colleague looking in to see if there was someone in there with me or I’m really talking to myself.

    Didn’t even realize that someone could hear me.

  • 9. QuillDancer  |  January 20, 2007 at 7:29 am

    Yes — I know what I would be saying under that apron, too!

  • 10. katcampbell  |  January 20, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Gela – Talking to yourself?! As long as you weren’t also anwering yourself I’ve hear its not considered crazy!

    Quilly – Its amazing what people can survive.

  • 11. rel  |  January 20, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Abn. psych. is just normal behavior taken to an extreme.
    My paternal grandmother died when my dad was three. He was the last of eleven children. She died of Bright’s disease (nephritis).

  • 12. bobciz  |  January 20, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Aren’t we all psychologically borderline everything? The trick is to stay on this side of the borderline.

  • 13. katcampbell  |  January 21, 2007 at 12:58 am

    Rel and Bob – My points exactly…Princess is very young and will eventually get tired of psychoanalying her mother.

  • 14. another kat.  |  January 21, 2007 at 1:38 am

    Way too much in common.

    My kids… their friends…and people in those circles of my life call me “kat.”

    Lauren is a freshman in college…at Christmas she announced that after one semester of psychology she is drop dead sure I suffer from panic anxiety disorder or something. Mostly cause I always want to sit on the end…or with my back to wall…facing the door…et cetera. Rhiannon (the college graduate) heartily agreed.

    Although I knew and loved all my Grandparents…my maternal grands were dirt poor while my Mama was growing up. I wrote something in my blog about how everyone thinks I am just like my Gramma.

    I am named katherine after two great-grandmothers and SEVERAL great aunts. Rhiannon has informed me when the time comes I will be called “Gramma Kate”.

    Come to think of it….I have an apron that use to be my Gramma’s stored in my cedar chest (which once belonged to my other grandmother….)

    We all call them mental health days as well.

  • 15. Velvet Sacks  |  January 21, 2007 at 2:15 am

    Except for special occasions, I make it a point to be by myself all day every Sunday. I never thought of it as a mental health day, but that’s exactly what it is. That one day of solitude totally recharges my batteries for the rest of the week.

  • 16. katcampbell  |  January 21, 2007 at 3:14 am

    Kat Too – I’ve been Kat to family and friends since I was 13, before that I was Kitty…

    Velvet – I just love alone days, they are definately recharging.

  • 17. The Rev. Dr. Kate  |  January 21, 2007 at 5:28 am

    Never been a “Kat” by my Dad has always called me “Katy-did” which I have forever hated! As for your daughter the psychiatric student. How funny – most of us (I am psychologist as well as priest) diagnois ourselves as we leanr the pathologies – not our family. Kind of like medical doctoral students getting every weird disease! And good coping skills (hiding under an apron or otherwise) are a necessary and mature reaction to the stress of daily life!

  • 18. John Linna  |  January 21, 2007 at 7:01 am

    My daughter has a Master’s in psychology and she knows we are all nuts. I too like to withdraw when stress gets high. I don’t think I could have survived in your grandmother’s house.

  • 19. tony  |  January 21, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    I’m at a pretty high stress level in my life right now. I think I’m gonna have to try the apron thing. Maybe I’ll write mean poems about kitties too. This post is great because I used to live in Oklahoma where all the Katy-did’s lived.

  • 20. katcampbell  |  January 21, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Dr. Kate – Princess diagnoses herself as well as me…I think she should be examining her seperation anxiety issues!

    Dr. John – I couldn’t have survived like that either. Our ancestors were strong stock weren’t they?

    Tony – find what works for you Buddy, just not mass murder or anything illegal. I should have guessed you were a midwestern boy at heart, such good manners you have.

  • 21. frothingatlemouse  |  January 22, 2007 at 5:54 am

    I love the apron trick. It’s brilliant.
    I just do nothing or only what I want to do when I’m either whipped or mentally depleted. This weekend I did only what I wanted to and virtually nothing else. Slept, read, blogged, tv. Took a bath.
    There is no normalcy. Which is really very heartening when you think about it.

  • 22. Catch  |  January 22, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    This was a great post Kat. I know what I would have been saying under that apron too! lol

  • 23. sunfloweroptimism  |  January 23, 2007 at 4:09 am

    Wow, read this when you first posted, but took some time to digest – unbelievable, the hardness of life. Each succeeding generation is a little better – or in the case of our kids, a LOT better.

    Hope your day alone helped.

  • 24. guyana-gyal  |  January 25, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Kat, I enjoyed this post.

    I’m borderline everything thank goodness. Life is never boring.

    Grandmothers back then really struggled and survived, didn’t they?


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