For those of you who “live under a rock” (as Barbara Fox would say) “Winnie-the-Pooh” is a children’s book written by English author A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H. …
For those of you who “live under a rock” (as Barbara Fox would say) “Winnie-the-Pooh” is a children’s book written by English author A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H. Shepard. Published in 1926, it is a collection of short stories about an anthropomorphic (look it up!) teddy bear and his friends Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo. It is the first of two story collections by Milne; the second is “The House at Pooh Corner” (1928).
I don’t recall if my mother read those stories aloud to me at bedtime (a regular thing when I was growing up) or if I read them myself with a flashlight under the covers, but it really makes no never mind. Naturally, Walt Disney actively pursued acquiring the copyright to Pooh and company in 1961 and as a result the entire gang that resided in Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood has been beloved members of the Disney family ever since.
As a kid playing Winnie-the-Pooh (Wikipedia insists on hyphenating it, so…) I always imagined myself as Christopher Robin, the boy with the wild imagination, constantly leading the pack of rag-tag characters who revolved around my personal world; but nowadays, I think I was in denial.
Always one for due diligence, I turned to the almighty internet and learned more than I could have imagined was out there. I discovered a site called pooh.fandom.com, which had a lot to say about the denizens of Milne’s world, including an entry conceived by “The Canadian Medical Association” (CMA) titled “The Disorders of Characters in Winnie the Pooh.” Uh oh.
According to the CMA, Winnie has “an eating disorder—is addicted to honey and has an obsessive compulsion about it.” Piglet “has anxiety disorder, is always nervous and stutters because he could have had an incident where his self-esteem was weakened.”
Tigger “has ADHD because he cannot sit still and rapidly switches moods,” and Kanga has “social anxiety disorder because she is extremely overprotective of Roo.” I’ll let you explore the remaining diagnoses—are they nonsense or something deeper?—on your own time, because this is, of course, about me. Apparently, I’m not Christopher Robin at all—he is described as schizophrenic “because his ‘friends’ appear (and disappear) depending on his mood”, but instead I’m Eeyore—who “suffers from depression and is always sad.”
You might not see me that way, because when I’m out and about, I’m doing my best to be full of good cheer and having a good time. I’m not faking it—I love being an active part of the community, celebrating this or that—but at home alone with always-faithful Dharma the Wonder Dog at my side, I’m often secretly morose. That’s even more surprising now, after spending three years seriously afraid I was dying of a serious illness and have been given a reprieve through exhaustive tests and surgery, something one would think I’d be celebrating. But I was so sure that the end was nigh, I’m at a loss for how to proceed from here.
“What would Eeyore say?” I wondered, so I looked it up. Yet another website (“The Eeyore Syndrome”) attributes these words to the one who is always looking for his tail: “People always know why they’re sad, but might not want to tell you the reason.” Well, that’s true for me, but I’m not sure that A.A. Milne wrote those actual words.
Another sad donkey quote (sometimes attributed to a Disney writer) claims that Eeyore once said, “I was so upset, I forgot to be happy,” and that sounds more like me.
I think (but don’t hold me to it) that Milne himself actually wrote these words of wisdom: “Sitting alone in the darkest and dankest of caves, Eeyore was reminded that there is not love of life without despair about life. Overcome by the latter, though desperately lacking in the former, he could do little more than let out a long morose, echoing primal bray: ‘Heeeeeeeehaaaaaw’—the sound of true donkey depression.” And source of his name, which I just learned today. Big duh, right?
I found another Eeyore-related statement that I’m sure Milne did not pen, written by Effat Saleh for a website called “Islamic Quotes” but which I found fitting nonetheless. It illustrates the power of Milne’s indelible characters, all based on real stuffed toys owned by his actual son Christopher Robin.
“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect,” Saleh writes. “There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions, so what? Get started now,” Saleh suggests. “You will grow stronger and more skilled with each step you take.”
Author Anne Moss Rogers (www.facebook.com/theidealist) wrote these words about my alter-ego that have always struck a chord. “The awesome thing about Eeyore,” she theorizes, “is that even though he is clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends. And they never expect him to pretend to feel happy, they just love him anyway and never ask him to change.” I don’t think that all of my friends see it that way—and they’re entitled—for one reason or another, but it would be sweet if that were true. In My Humble Opinion.
Eeyore Fun Facts: Debuted in 1966, “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree.”
Role: Melancholy stuffed donkey
Hobbies: constantly losing his tail and moping about.
Favorite phrase: “It’s not much of a tail, but I’m sort of attached to it.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues, contact NAMI in Sullivan County at 845/794-1029, or in northeast PA at 570/342-1047.
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