Photo on 2011-07-19 at 13.29 #2

Please click on the following links to read about why I have a blog and why it’s called The Not Me. If you want to know more than that about me (Francesca Milliken), scroll down for a list of other information.


I have always preferred to be called by my full name. All the truncated versions of Francesca are just bad. I have been told that my voice goes up a couple of octaves whenever I answer the phone. Telemarketers frequently ask me if they can speak to my mother. I have a hard time pronouncing the name Stuart. So, if I don’t want to slur the name into a one-syllable word, I really have to concentrate. I listen to NPR when I’m in the car, which is quite often as I spend a significant portion of my day chauffeuring my children around to their various commitments. My favorite shows are Fresh Air, This American Life, and–when it was still on the air–The State We’re In. I also listen to music, especially when I am drawing or skating, but I don’t know the names of most musicians and I can never remember the words to any of their songs. (Just to be clear, I am not skating or drawing while driving.)


I often think in images. My knowledge of geography, though, is woefully lacking and visualizing how to efficiently organize objects within confined spaces is not my forte (for example, loading the dishwasher can be sort of dicey). I am convinced that those last two faults are related. I hate having my picture taken and avoid it whenever possible. I have an unusually small head. Most adult-sized hats fall down over my eyes.


I rarely use charcoal or chalk pastels in my drawings because the feel of those materials being crushed on paper disturbs me. I have messy handwriting, even though, when I was in the 5th grade, my evil teacher used to make me stay inside during recess to practice it. I just read that you are supposed to hug people for at least six seconds to experience all the physiological benefits. That’s all well and good when you love or really like the hugger, but I have to say that six seconds—when you didn’t want the hug in the first place—can feel like a very long time.


I am macrosmatic, which means I have a strong sense of smell. Consequently, people who wear too much perfume or cologne give me headaches. Also, I think those stinky, cookie-cutter shaped, paper ornaments for your rearview mirror—sold at the carwash-—should be banned. But I love the smell of dried leaves, new books, rosewater, citrus peel, pine needles, and the grassy, popcorny smell of my dog’s paws.


I don’t eat mammals because I think furry domesticated animals are basically too cute to imagine chewing on their flesh. However, my feelings around this topic are not rational as I regularly wear leather shoes. I used to enjoy cooking, but the hassle of finding a meal that will satisfy my family’s varying tastes and dietary restrictions has dampened my affection for the time being. Peach pie is my favorite dessert and I think artichokes taste best when eaten raw.


I have depression. I am sure this colors my view, but, aside from my inability to think of more positive and appealing things about myself, everything on the list above is true.


9 thoughts on “About”

  1. My daughter is called Francesca and also doesn’t abbreviate her name. Sensible you. In The Production of Monsters you use a drawing by Kathe Kollwitz who is one of my favourite artists. See my cyberslog.wordpress.com/lestweforget.
    PS. I love your blog.Just settling down to read it. x


  2. Enjoyed reading through your blog. Wish you the best in your battle.


  3. Your transparency is refreshing and liberating. Thank you for sharing your life through your blog.


  4. Francesca,
    I’m not entirely sure why I’m reaching out to you today, except to tell you how deeply your blog posts have touched my soul. For several years in the late 80’s I lived across the street from you and yet I’m not sure our paths ever crossed in any meaningful way. Last night I was browsing Facebook and came across a post that a mutual friend had made about the HuffPost featuring one of your excerpts. I started with that post and then continued to read all of the others on your blog, practically without pausing at all. It feels trite to tell you that you are brave. So, instead, I will say that I admire your openness. In fact, I think it is profoundly significant. Those who have never felt crippling anxiety or depression often fail to understand that it is a disease, and no more or no less our fault than any other disease. There are genetic and environmental factors that impact all illnesses. That does not mean that we choose to remain ill, or choose to be well. It isn’t ever that simple. Your descriptions of what it feels like to live with such pervasive, persistent depression is tragic and yet beautiful in some strange way. You explain your reality so that even those who have never been depressed should be able to comprehend, even to feel what it must be like. I imagine this would be immeasurably helpful for the loved ones of those with depression, loved ones who carry around guilt for not being able to “fix” things. You show, with such clarity, that there isn’t necessarily a magical “something more” they should be doing. Depression is a complex, nefarious disease. It transforms reality and blurs boundaries. I have two relatively young children, 8 and 10. I struggle with guilt over the genetic and environmental burden I have shared with them. I can already see them struggling with their own demons and it terrifies me. I want to believe that there is something I can do to protect them from the pain, that I can affect their brain chemistry and alter their trajectory. But, when I’m honest with myself, I am scared that I’m not capable of making it better or easier for them – either because of my own weaknesses or nature’s strengths. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your stories. I hope that the good moments someday outnumber the bad and that you are able to feel joy in amounts that encourage you to keep treating your disease and fighting the fight. And, keep up the blogging, while you’re at it. I’m hooked.


    • Wow. Thank you for taking the time to write such an in depth and thoughtful message, and thank you for reading so many of my posts. I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your comment sooner. Please know that my late response is only a product of my current state of mind and the inertia that accompanies it. I hope that—if I can find a way to keep writing—you will keep reading and commenting. Whatever happens, it is really nice to know that you are out there.



  5. Francesca,
    I just read “For My Sister”…You deserve to feel any way you want. It sounds like you are only a couple of years younger than me. While I’m so glad you had your sister, I wish you had better experiences with the adults in your life. I hope from here forward, if you continue to share your story(or even if you don’t) you come across more people, like me, who would have done everything possible to protect you in a heartbeat.


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