I know it’s crazy.

I don’t want to write a tribute to J.D. Salinger. I don’t care about his literary merits or his reclusive lifestyle. I’m not good at literary analysis anyway. I know that Holden Caulfield is a hated literary character, and kind of a jerk, but there’s a part of me that’s still like him.

Even though I’ve grown out of teenage angst, in adulthood I still feel isolated, alienated and like I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do. I see a lot of the social world around me as totally pointless and unmoving, and a good deal of human behavior confuses and bothers me. Being a catcher in the rye sounds just as good to me as anything else.

When it comes down to it, reading The Catcher in the Rye just makes me feel less alone. That, I think, is precisely the point of writing, of music, and of art. Because, really, we’re all alone. Even being able to temporarily connect with someone (or their thoughts) on a non-superficial level is rare. We have to take what we can get.

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” -Holden Caulfield
via J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 22

To lose their lives out on a limb…

[1] Brittany Murphy died a few weeks ago at the age of 32. I do not mean to exploit her in any way. The speculation surrounding her untimely passing just provides an example of a social problem that I feel needs addressing.

When news broke of Brittany Murphy’s death, there was speculation about drug use and/or an apparent eating disorder. This type of speculation always happens when a celebrity dies. Her husband and her mother did an interview this morning on the Today Show.

Let me say first, I don’t think they should feel the need to speak about their wife/daughter’s death. It’s personal for them and just because Brittany Murphy starred in movies (and, my personal favorite, was the voice of Luanne), it doesn’t mean that the public has to have an explanation of her death that goes beyond the public record/coroner’s report.

During the interview, her family denied that Brittany had either a drug problem or an eating disorder. I don’t doubt that they believed these statements. Brittany Murphy was frighteningly thin at some of her last public appearances, but this could be due to a lot of factors, only two of which being drugs or an eating disorder. I don’t know if either of these were the case, and I’m not going to speculate.

What does bother me is this:

Almost no oneĀ in this situation will ever admit that their loved one has/had a drug problem, an eating disorder, or any type of mental illness.

What are we so ashamed of?

There is still an unfortunate stigma attached with problems of the mind, and it’s disheartening. One shouldn’t be ashamed of an eating disorder or a drug addiction or depression or schizophrenia or any such “problem.” Nor should family members try to deny it, for whatever reason. It’s not your fault if someone you love has a mental illness of any sort. Nor does it mean that they cannot live a reasonable life or gain any sense of well-being. They just might need some help.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The problem is that we see these things as “illnesses” that carry stigma in the first place.


[1]Title taken from “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley… yes, I know it’s in poor taste.