Why you need honest valentines this year
Discovery: health & stigma
Hostile Witness to disparities and issues related to health: mental, chronic, physical, and community health. I used to write about cancer (fucking cancer) after I was diagnosed with the breast variety in 2012, but that seems like it happened to someone else. Still, I slip in posts about boobs on occasion, just to keep it real.
Hearts are cute made from most anything. It’s like Put a bird on it logic. Thus, inspired by an unusually large accumulation of non-skid hospital socks, I handcrafted honest valentines. One woman’s trash is another woman’s recycled material to glue on bags I delightfully named Valenbarf bags. I used medicine boxes, pill wrappers, Band-aid packaging, 10 year old thong pantyliners, stale tampons, bandage gauze, and hospital pants from a recent MRI. She’s crafty!
I usually celebrate Valentine’s Day by snubbing my nose at newlyweds and people whose teeth shine naturally in photos. Who can relate to the cuteness of “Be Mine” candies or the tenderness of a teddy bear glued to a felt doily? I need honest valentines, and so do you. I’m not the only fool shouting curse words when passing Jared’s. Heavy sigh. Who am I kidding? My eyes roll instinctively year round at overt sentimentality, not just in February. If that ring has a blood diamond on it, just say so. I can handle the truth, just not the cliché. My mental health depends on honesty.
Lately, though, I’ve become predictable about my disdain for sap and specifically, Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, I loathe being predictable. Cynicism, on the other hand, is always on tap at my house. Whereas I’m too cynical to believe kisses begin with Kay, I know my best friends aren’t diamonds. My best friends are far more precious. My friends (and the family I like) deserve so much more than regular Valentines. Even if I stuffed the envelope with chocolate Ambien. OMG I WANT AN AMBIEN-FILLED HERSHEY’s KISS.
I’ve decided I can have my confetti cake and eat it too. Cynicism doesn’t have to ruin Valentine’s Day sentiment anymore. The two can work in tandem. Sentiment can do the heavy lifting to inform Cynicism. Symbiotic relationships are my favorite kind. This Valentine’s Day, I declare honest valentines to honor reality while also respecting the pageantry of the dumbest pretend holiday. Reality can be poetic as fuck, if done well. Also, it turns out chocolate martinis and Champagne cocktails CAN make the medicine go down! A heart-shaped basket of peanut brittle covered with mood stabilizers can serve multiple purposes. Heed caution, though. Be sure to have your EpiPen handy. Kudos, if you can afford it.
Honest Valentines = mental health uppers
My friends and I don’t live in a world of infinity bracelets. Moreover, we don’t want to be reminded of that fact by getting personalized rose-gold infinity bracelets. Seasonal skittles don’t hold a candle to the practicality of a Band-aid when you’re bleeding. Since you asked, we want truth with our cookie bouquet. My friends and I want to be seen. And heard. And validated! We deserve frequent traveler miles for Urgent Care visits and double points for filling prescription anxiety medication. Who’s in for college credit for the hard work we’ve been putting into uninsured therapy sessions.? I deserve bragging rights for how many boxes of Kleenex my family’s snorted throughout the year.
I demand literal brownie points for the thankless hours spent arguing with insurance companies over medical reimbursements. No amount of gourmet gummy bears can ease the absurdity of an insurer authorizing one stinkin’ month of year round ABA therapy for your autistic son. There aren’t enough Twizzlers to offset the health industry’s notion that autism can be addressed like a round of antibiotics treating The Clap.
A heart-shaped basket of peanut brittle covered with mood stabilizers can serve multiple purposes.
If I could add up all that realism, I’d have enough loyalty points to finally take my children to Antarctica like I keep threatening to do. Life is hard, and so much harder without healthcare and insurance. Don’t insult my intelligence by handing me a cupcake and pretending everything is okay. Not even for one stupid day in the dead of winter. It’s okay to say you aren’t okay. In fact, it’s okay to say it’s been hard lately. And by “lately” you mean “for as long as I can recall”. You aren’t actually paranoid if people are out to get you. That’s self-protection.
Three out of five nuclear family members cumulatively spent 16 nights in the hospital over the last 12 months. To be clear, the actual hospitalizations were the least stressful part. We’ve ingested antidepressants like free tea refills. Hundred Grand bars ain’t gonna make those sleepless nights easier to swallow. Scratchy lingerie gives me no escapist joy. Also, I shouldn’t have to pretend otherwise. I find warmth from a new pair of socks that match and haven’t lost their youthful buoyancy. Real talk, I earned that.
We all deserve credit for the grit gained from counting how many non-skid medical booties scored from hospital visits. We should get paid vouchers for teardrop heart tattoos at the ink joint of our choice for that shit. Instead, we’re scrambling to cover insurance deductibles. Turns out they don’t take novelty helium balloons as payment. Put that in your Valentine’s Day bong and smoke it.