Tag Archives: mental-health

Mental Illness Doesn’t Discriminate, but People Do

I just left a group I had recently joined, under the impression that people who were intent on erasing the stigma of mental illness would be, well, more open-minded. I am a somewhat naive person in some respects; I will admit that. Possibly because I’m hopeful. Possibly because I’m gullible, to an extent, and I want to believe the best of people. Especially ones trying to erase the shame associated with mental illness because, after all, it’s not something a person can help.

I was surprised, then, to find a posting after the shooting at the recruitment centers, describing the shooter as having an “extremist personality” and one of the women who’s daughter had bi-polar saying, “her daughter didn’t act that way.” I was furious. And very disappointed.

I responded that if the young man hadn’t been Muslim, this wouldn’t even be a topic of conversation, and apparently the idea of mental illness being a stigma was based on race and religion, not the reality of mental illness, which doesn’t tend to pay attention to those lines. It doesn’t discriminate. And as for the woman whose bi-polar daughter not acting that way, I said knowing one person with mental illness is knowing one person with mental illness. If we were all the same, one pill would magically cure all of us and yay, the world would be a happier place. But it doesn’t work that way. We are all individual chemical factories with unique brain chemistries and genetic predispositions. That’s why there are so many drugs out there that don’t work for so many different people, or cause paradoxical reactions (the complete opposite of what they’re intended to do).

I said I didn’t want to be associated with people claiming to want to erase the stigma of mental illness, selectively. What do they think society is doing to them? Exactly what they were doing and patting themselves on the back for. Oh yes, “Extremist Personality,” my therapist pointed out, isn’t in the DSM. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, which is what the United States uses to diagnose people. I should note the DSM-V has been highly criticized. Which doesn’t have anything to do with this. I asked how do they expect to change things when they are being so close-minded themselves?

But what do you do when the people claiming to try to make things better for people with mental illness, and I should add that at that point, it was only a few people who were agreeing with this anti-Muslim sentiment, hardly the whole group, are spouting the sort of nonsense that some people do against any person with mental illness, that keeps the stigma alive? I should have not left the group in a huff, I should have seen if what I said actually made a difference. I was hasty, but I doubt what I said made a difference. Because people’s beliefs are ingrained, and that’s the sad thing. “We don’t want our children with mental illness to be stigmatized, but if you happen to belong to a religious group we normally label as terrorists, don’t expect any sympathy?”

We need a lot more love, and a lot less hate.

p.s. I realized I should add an addendum here. I met some really great people in the group, and I hope they know who they are, because I still communicate with them, and I really admire them and what they are doing, so it isn’t as if the experience was a loss–hardly. I learned a lot about schizophrenia, as well, which I didn’t know much about. It was this one exchange that upset me.

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Post-Partum Depression

I think it’s very important for women to understand that if you feel depressed after the birth of a child, you aren’t alone, and that there are people for you to talk to who understand, and that, possibly even more importantly, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re hardly alone. I know just from having depression that it’s easy to feel isolated and alone, and when I was really depressed, it was all I could do sometimes just to take care of my cat. Taking care of a baby? I can’t even imagine. But there’s hope, and there’s help. Post-Partum depression is understood better than it was before, and recognized as something legitimate and treatable, and something that isn’t the mother’s fault. It just happens. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother or you’ve messed anything up. It’s just something you need to talk to someone about.

I saw this poster at the gynecologist’s office and then found it online, because I think it’s something really important that often gets overlooked and I wanted to post it here. It’s from WellMama and I think they did a really good job.

WellMama

For people out of this immediate area, I also found a website called Postpartum Support International at:

http://www.postpartum.net/

This is quoted from their resources page:

“Postpartum Support International has many resources to help families, providers, and communities learn about the emotional and mental health of childbearing families. If you are not able to find what you’re looking for in the blue menu on the left of your screen, there are three ways to find more options: You can do a search by typing keywords in the search box at the upper right of your screen; access the whole website site map HERE to get a listing of all pages; or contact the PSI office for assistance at psioffice@postpartum.net or 503-894-9453.”

They have links to other webpages and it looks like a good site to check out.

So reach out and find some help, for you and your baby, because you’ll both feel better, and you’ll both be happier, and because it’s just so much nicer knowing that you’re not the only one that feels that way.

Big hugs.

 

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Be Stigma Free

mhm-stigmafree-badge

Die Augen Schließen

Die Augen Schließen

 

Because I may seem lost does not mean

I don’t know where I am.

Because I exist does not mean

I know who I am.

At this moment, flaws and graces,

I am me,

And I am learning.

 

W. Clements

A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System

Reblogged from takingthemaskoff.com

This is an excellent post on one scenario of how two people, simply due to the circumstances of their birth, end up on two separate paths. I know that sounds trite and like every other story, but please read this one

A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System.
A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System
November 30, 2014 125 Comments

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“You know in this hotel room they have food every day and I knock on the door. Every day they open tha door to let me see the party, let me see that they throwin’ salami, throwin’ food around telling me there’s no food. Every day. I’m standing outside tryin to sing my way in- “We are weak, please let us in. We’re weak, please let us in.” After about a week that song is gonna change to, “We’re hungry, we need some food.” After two, three weeks it’s like “Give me some of that food! I’m breakin down that door.” After a year it’s like, “I’m pickin’ the lock, comin’ through the door blastin.” It’s like, “I’m hungry”

– Tupac Shakur

It is my hope that we have a silent army building. The revolution will not be televised. But I see the replies I get, and it gives me hope.

I saw an article in the New York Times basically saying there would be less shootings if the mentally ill had less privacy and were more easily forced to be hospitalized. This is the New York Times! Who are the sick ones?

I’m going to tell a story. 2 stories, of 2 different people. They are both true stories. Then you can see how this all begins and becomes a problem. I’ll go back and forth between the stories until their paths meet.

Here’s Dusty, I don’t know, age 3 to 5. Happy kid, plenty of love. Just loves everyone and loves the world. He doesn’t see color, sex, religion. He has nokind of discrimination, all he sees is love.

Here’s the second story. This is my cousin Donald. The man he is with is my father. Donald also loves the world, he sees no race, sex, and discriminates against no one. He is a very loving and giving kid.

Dusty gets older. He still loves everyone and everything. However, Dusty grew up in a home that was infested with cockroaches, and had been condemned 2 to 3 times. There was about 7 or 8 kids living there, they had no food. Dusty was the kindest of the group. He got beaten by his brothers, picked on, and thrown around. He was told “You are a loser, give me your money, do my work.” He did not understand, he gave whatever he had to others.

When I met Dusty he was about 8 or 9 years old. He had 4 brothers and sisters, they all smoked pot, drank, and never went to school. Everyone walked around this place with almost no clothes. They had only 2 bedrooms. The house was full of smoke.

Cockroaches were all over. They had no shower, and a bathroom with only a curtain covering it. The old guys would come around drinking, smoking weed, and getting physical. The older kids were getting worse also.

There was something special about Dusty, his heart. He was born with an amazing heart. He loved everyone, and gave all he had. To tell you of this kids strength, words won’t do it justice. As a 9 year old, he was growing up in a house in which every adult was punching, smoking weed, drinking, and stealing. Also, the gangsters knew where the weed was. THE house, that’s where they were. But Dusty, at age 9, he refused to smoke weed or drink or do any of that. However, being sweet and sensitive, he was an easy target. He did not stop loving though, he still loved them all. He saw through it, through everything, even as a kid. So what happens when you are extra sensitive, caring, and loving? You get pushed down, forced to create a mask, his was the goofy guy. This is the same house where I met Joe. Dusty and Joe were cousins and best friends.

Here is Donald. He is my cousin. He was a great kid. His father was a doctor in a small town, he made lots and lots of money. That doesn’t make Donald bad, and he is not bad. In fact, he’s a wonderful human being. I know this story puts him in privileged category. But, that is not his fault, he is still a caring, kind, and considerate human being. His father, my uncle, was once in jail for stealing cars and grew up to be a doctor. The thing about Donald was, he was born gifted, and extremely smart. He was above the genius level. He may have skipped a grade, I can’t remember. He was and is not a bad person.

However, while Dusty was seeing what he saw, Donald was going on trips, and getting the best life had to offer. He worried for nothing, he could be a kId and thrive.

Thrive he did. He is a talented, smart, and funny guy that had charisma. He didn’t have to worry about gangsters, getting food, getting raped, or having mice and cockroaches sleep on him. He had a huge bedroom, went on vacations, had all he ever wanted. He had great parents. Now another thing I noticed about Donald was that when I went to spend 2 weeks with him when I was 12, was that in this small town everyone drank, and did drugs, at age 12. Which is common for a small town. They were 12 and flung this. All of his friends.

One time we went to his friends house, the kid was sleeping and the kid woke up, and lifted his pillow and there was jack daniels. They all smoked and drank, except Donald. His parents taught him this.

Dusty did it on strength of character. Donald friends said “man your dad is always getting thanked in the paper.” That was true, small town legend.

Donald’s pressure was to follow his father, and that is a different kind of pressure. One that is often not considered a problem, the gifted child.

However, that is just as hard as raising a troubled child. People don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. What they both had in common was they were gifted.

Dusty then ended up going away for a while after missing so much school. His brothers would go just enough to not get sent away. Dusty was the extra sensitive one, he didn’t care. Me and Dusty and Joe had a bond, we all loved each other and saw behind each other’s masks. One time, on the phone, Dusty had called his mom and said, “tell mike I lo, well never mind,” he wanted to tell me he loved me, but he was afraid. I stopped hanging out there.

That’s another story, this isn’t about me. Dusty eventually surrendered and started using drugs. Then, they had a guy from Arizona living at the drug house, his name was Carl. He had packages of drugs delivered to the house all the time. The police got involved, and a sting was set up. So the package is delivered, they all have Dusty answer because he is kind and wants to help. So he always does, and he did on this case as well.

Well, he signed, and he gets arrested, and now he has a felony. They knew it was not him, he gets interrogated, and interrogated. Does he give Carl up?, nope, never. This was when Dusty was 19. That’s his booking photo. He went to jail, then he just got off probation recently.

This is someone you may see in jail, or at the shelter, or with the dirty clothes. That’s what you see, but this is what you’re missing when you make that judgement. These are the kids that come into our neighborhood, come to school, to church. We say get them out, those dirty kids with no manners. We don’t want to look at them, it’s like clutter in our clean house. We don’t want to deal with it, we want to pretend it’s not there. Then we may have to do something. So we ignore them and label them and call them losers or dirtbags. That’s much easier, isn’t it?

But that is how we all are part of the problem and we ask are co responsible for the inequality. You see these kids, these people, and no action is am action. Silence is consent.

Here’s Donald at age 19. He had a child. Now that’s a disaster if he’s in Dusty’s situation. However, Donald had great supports in place. His mom and dad helped the teenagers adjust, made sure everything was taken care of.

Donald was able to go to school and while Dusty was in jail, Donald was excelling. He finished college in 3 years and went on to medical school and finished. He’s a doctor. Now again, he’s not bad, not a superstar yet, I don’t think.

He is now starting to isolate, he is on a different level than others and he gets told that alot. So he believes it, so does his wife. So now the good doctor moves and starts dominating the medical profession.

They told me his iq is 156. I’m sure they told him too. He then joined the army like his father and got lots of medals and accolades.

Which is not bad. This is simply to show how we start to label and separate.

Here is Dusty taking care of his dying mother. He gets out of jail, meets a girl, and they have kids. He didn’t know how to have a relationship, he is on his own with no college, no skills, no understanding of life. Just love.

Then you have Donald with his 500 thousand dollar house that got egged.

How do I know this? Well his wife posted on Facebook that someone egged their 500 thousand dollar house but she wasn’t worried because they had security cameras all over the house. You know, to keep the “bad criminals out.”

Like clutter, she didn’t want to see that.

I also saw her post once that she was very upset with the mayor in the town they live in because he allowed a Wal-Mart to be built by their house. Her quote was “who else has to look out their 500 thousand dollar house and see a Wal-Mart, someone needs to stop this guy, do not vote for him.”

See as the separation is almost complete. What did dusty do to be placed below donald?

Nothing. But we see them each walking down the street and we treat them differently. That’s how we all contribute.

Dusty getting older, he split with his kids mom. He suffers from depression, severe depression. He feels rejected all the time, he smokes weed to forget, to not be himself.

He talks about suicide all the time. He misses Joe more than anyone. His heart is broken. Dusty and Joe spent all their time together. They even moved 2 blocks down from me for 2 years. I would drive by and wave. Really? Yes. I was no better than Donald. Even worse, because I drive by, and we still talked from time to time, but I was trying to get my life together. I could have said hi.

The doctor and his family. Now this is not an attack in Donald at all. It is about how we create separation. He worked hard, he’s caring, and he is a good man. He just started to believe he was different and better. He got told lies.

Lies we all believe, like, you need this huge house, cars, medals, and everyone to see how awesome you are.

So he fell in the trap. Here we are, the “look at us” photo.

You know how the native americans defined mental illness? They said anyone who lives in excess of what they need is mentally ill.

The doctors wife at the ritz.

Dusty and his kid at the laundromat.

The doctor and his boat.

Dusty at the playground. Having fun.

The doctors daughter with one of her trophies, she had special tennis lessons, beauty pageants, and she going to Oxford college on scholarship.

Same thing as Donald, smart talented kid. No fault of her own, the cycle continues. She is being brainwashed like he was.

He had a mask on as well. Still does.

Dusty being a dad and loving. He never knew life would be so hard when all he wanted to do was love.

The doctor is now continuing to serve and get accolades. To bad it’s all a lie.

Now this part is not real, but an example of what would likely happen from what I’ve seen in my years being in both worlds……

Now what happens if Dusty walks into Dr. Donalds office? How in the world can the doctor understand what Dusty is saying. Dusty says “Life isn’t worth living, I need to smoke weed.”

The doctors response is usually, “He just doesn’t care, he doesn’t want to work, he wants disability.” The thought process I’ve seen a million times. All the time, it’s the rule, not the exception.

So, let’s say Dusty had attempted suicide 2 times, and keeps coming back. He has to in order to get benefits and to get housing for himself.

The doctor is frustrated, in his mind he’s trying hard. That’s what life is, you just don’t behave like that in his opinion. In his world, you get up, work hard, and get it done. He can’t understand why Dusty complains that no medications work, yet continues to use drugs, and goes to the hospital.

He thinks Dusty has children, and he’s not taking care of them, he’s a “Predator” or a “Manipulator” or “Gamey.”

This is when I hear things like, why do they get free healthcare and we don’t. Almost a resentment at the patients. This is something that I see daily. The caring staff keep their mouths shut in fear.

So now Dusty has to be forced to take meds. He doesn’t get it, we have to help him. So we will put him on meds, and we aren’t going to listen to his side effects stories. We are going to force injections if he doesn’t comply with orders.

He can’t take care of himself. We have to in the doctors opinions.

Oh and, let’s charge insurance about 1500 dollars a day to do this. If the drugs give him diabetes, that’s too bad because he needs to be safe.

Good job young doctor, you’re saving the world.

Now Dusty has not been without weed for years, so asking him to stop is asking him to feel all these feelings that he has never felt before. Forcing him to take his mask off without support. The feelings he had been told to block his whole life, the feelings that have made him an outsider and not accepted.

Then give him a med that makes him feel no better for at least 6 weeks. Then it might not be the right medication, so we may have to start all over.

He will have side effects like drooling, sedation, diarrhea, and tremors. That occurs right away. Plus feeling all these emotions. Then when he sleeps too much we say that he is lazy, or non compliant with his treatment.

So we force him out of bed, and we make him go to groups with someone explaining all these “skills” he needs to use. Then he can’t participate due to the meds, the side effects, being off drugs his brain had coffee to rely on, and now having to freak with all these suppressed emotions.

So he is said to be non interested. So we need to give him more medications.

Of course we do.

Now he’s angry. No one listens, he’s sensitive, but he has had enough. He explodes from this and other patient’s likely taking advantage of him, and staff telling him when he can shower, piss, and treat him like a criminal.

Because, we say, look at his record, he is a felon. No one asks why or what happened, and they won’t believe him anyways, he’s a “manipulator.”

True story…

We had a young man admitted to our place the other day. I’ll call him “kev.” Abused age 1 to 3. A ward off the state at age 3. Picture a 3 year old being abused and taken from home, then a 3 year old in a privileged home, they’re is no difference, why do we seem to think as adults that there is? He was in foster homes his whole life, sexually abused, and beaten.Then at age 19 he committed an armed robbery, and he was shot 3 times. Then he Went to max security prison for 7 years. In prison, he cuts himself enough to need surgery, he has been known to swallow glass, and toothbrushes requiring surgery.

The assessment by “the team.” Is that he is “smooth, and manipulative.” He swallowed these things to get to go to hospital, a trip out of jail.

This is dangerous to call him manipulative. If I think you are manipulative then everything you do I take as a con. If we instead think of him as this kid who has a desparate need for acceptance and love, you will treat him differently. Then he will react differently. Then he gets better treatment. Our staff are young, impressionable, and eager to learn about psychiatry since it is romanticized on the media at times.

However if you work in government, they need to save the taxpayers money, they don’t want us spending “their” money. We have to hire inexperienced staff, because they are cheaper. We train them by what they see. The cycle continues.

So why would someone like Dusty shoot his doctor? It’s not so black and white if you look deep enough.

What’s the difference between…

This 19 year old young dad.

And this…

This young dad? (This is Joe and Anthony from last post)

The answer is nothing. Until we divide them. When we divide, we create class, uppers and lowers. When really we are all connected.

It won’t end. It can’t. Until people start fighting back. The battle is not going to be easy, we won’t see the end. We won’t see the victory. That will come after we’re gone.

But there is going to be a fight, we know that there is going to be a fight because we are going to start it. We will lose some, as we lost Joe. We won’t stop. Love always wins. Always.

If I’ve made you mad, then I’ve done my job. Happy people don’t create change. You have to be angry, you must have discontent to create change. So be angry. Then do something about it.

If 1 person reading this gets 1 thing and does something, that’s perfect. The ripple effect will be huge.

Love you Dusty.

The end.

If you want to see this in video.
Here it is..10 minutes I think.

 

Quelquefois (Armadillo)

Sometimes just sounds better that way, when the usual word is worn out.

I write terrible poetry. Be forewarned

That while the world is in a semi-fixed state I am not.

Not predictable like the tides; there are no little flip books to gauge the shifts in my moods.

I don’t know how others see me; I present a front–does it work?

I have few friends, it’s easier that way, to keep up the charade,

Because one thing I hate above all others is being misunderstood;

The fear of rejection, the fear of loss, the fear of holding on too tight.

Yet there are so few who understand, where it’s safe to be myself.

“Just suck it up, get it together, what’s wrong with you, you look perfectly fine.

There’s no reason for you to be so tired, it’s not as if you’re sick or anything like that.

There are people who have it so much worse than you, you should be grateful for what you have.

How long will all this take?

Do your part, get a job, contribute something to the world, to your upkeep, at least.”

If I stopped eating would I feel less guilty?

If I could sustain myself on the air, the same air I breathe to try to stay calm.

My focus, my attention, in altered states from new medications.

To sleep, and yes, to dream–quite vividly–a side effect, it seems.

I do have a sense of humor, a fairly quick wit; that’s not a charade.

My Kafkaesque armadillo to keep me safe.

(I think it would be difficult to get an armadillo into a straight jacket)

Does it work, my front? I don’t know how others see me,

With my invisible disabilities.

I’m Still Me Under All This (Part 2)

I never have felt like I fit in. People often don’t get my sense of humor, I do think in strange tangents, I’m odd. I’ve always looked, then, for that place I felt I belonged. I found one once online, which turned out to be completely artificial and ended quite disastrously. Many people were hurt emotionally. I wasn’t used to groups on the internet, or the way people took on personas and played ‘games,’ so I was just myself, because I can’t be anyone else, I’ve tried, with results that were just about as catastrophic. There was another person in this groups that had figured this out about me—that I wasn’t pretending and was more vulnerable because of my naiveté. The two of us had sort of slowly started talking. I thought he was funny, but was intimidated (he thought that was funny later) because he was very smart and witty. He finally did something silly, an alliteration or something, and I decided he wasn’t so scary after all, and started to talk to him. He’s now another reason I believe that there is a reason for the way life unfolds the way it does. The two of us are more similar than I would have thought I could be to someone without them being a twin, or, putting this tentatively forward, since I don’t know how he feels about it, a soul mate. I hope I offer him a quarter of the amount of comfort his advice and friendship gives me. He has patiently listened to everything I’ve been going through, while going through many of the same mental processes himself, dealing with his own hassles of a different health system than I’m familiar with—he lives in Berlin, he was born in Germany. In some ways our mental issues are very much alike. He just found a therapist that he thinks will work for him, an art therapist, and I started thinking, maybe that would work for me, too. Once I’m finished working with the therapist I am working with now (it’s through vocational rehabilitation), I need a new therapist. I need to do something different than I was. I need to process. Especially issues with my parents.

Let’s pretend, just for a minute, that we’re in biology, and we are going to dissect something (a very real looking 3D animation, not the real thing). The first is my little child kidney. It’s healthy, it hasn’t been around long enough to be damaged or hurt, given that I wasn’t born with any kidney abnormality (which I can safely say I wasn’t, given that I’ve had CTs and ultrasounds of my kidneys). The second is my adult kidney—me—with something damaged that needs to be figured out. It’s not working right. I’m not working right at the moment either. The two have a direct correlation. What happened between that first, child’s kidney, and the second one, my current one? I laugh and make jokes at the lab when I get tests done. As I’m handed the bag of equipment I need to take home with me to collect my 24-hour specimen, “Oh, look, it’s just like Christmas!”

Because what else can I do? I didn’t ask for any of this, mental or physical. All the issues that go along with kidney conditions—high blood pressure (last time I had it checked, 120/80), diabetes, being overweight—my weight has bounced around from the low end of my BMI two years ago to the high end, and now because of side effects of a new medication it’s going down again—none of them. I don’t have any of them. I did use a lot of Ibuprofen. I’m on prescription medications. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I never did drugs when I was younger. Not out of trying to please anyone. I just didn’t want to. So why? Stress? Some days at work I may as well have been as pressure cooker. So I keep myself in a stressed state in my search for acceptance and approval.

I was looking for a nephrite pendant because it’s first healing property is with the kidneys, and found a stone I’d never seen before. Eudialyte. It’s an amazingly beautiful stone, and I liked it immediately, but was drawn to one pendant in particular. The healing properties include healing and purifying the blood. Sounds good to me. It balances the root and the heart chakra (I really do need to learn more about those, but I think those are good things). “It can helps one to separate oneself from the anger, guilt, resentment, hostility, animosity, despondency, depression, anguish, and sorrow which limits ones self-love and the ability to give love to others; it is said to dispel jealousy and notifies us when our paths cross with our “soul mates”. My boyfriend thought anything to help re-establish self-love was a good idea. The whole perfection thing is very good for beating yourself over the head with. Hm. The site I found the quote from also mentioned something I didn’t find at any of the other sites—that it’s mildly radioactive. I’m not sure about the legitimacy of that. If I start to glow at night, I’ll know. I played with the test cores the US Corps of Engineers drilled out when they were looking for uranium on the reservation. That could explain some things.

I also saw mentioned on one page that Eudialyte was a good stone in terms of coincidences. Something along those lines. I received it in the mail yesterday and started wearing it. I started looking that evening for an art therapist, with increasing frustration, and finally found some listed under ‘play therapy’ instead of ‘art therapy.’ I found a woman I’m interested in meeting, who, strangely enough, has her BA in Art/German. She sounds like someone who would match my temperament, and she makes some really beautiful art.

Link is for Eudialyte quote.

http://zoultier.com/gem-historical-metaphysic-zoultier/eudialyte-historical-metaphysical-healing-properties

What are we, if not

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peridot Dragon Garnet eye

I’m Still Me Under All This (Part 1)

What do you do when the fuzzy mess that has been your memory breaks open and things you thought you had put behind you years ago come rushing back to hit you in a tangled mass, bringing with them emotional chaos and feelings that suddenly your medications can’t deal with adequately? When you feel like you’ve been reincarnated but you haven’t died, and you have to live through the mistakes, circumstances, events from your childhood all over again in your adult life in an attempt to find some clue, some hint, anything that will link when your brain broke to the present moment. All to find out why you are making the same mistakes in this second half of your life. How do we go from being innocent, guileless, guiltless children to the insecure, self-doubting adult we are today, punishing ourselves for unknown crimes by attempting to be perfect, do everything just right, so things will be okay? The fear of not doing a good job, the fear of letting people down who are depending on you, like the ones waiting for you to edit their manuscripts.

The manuscripts. This was the job you wanted to do, for a long time, and now I can’t even begin to work on them. I look and the words make no sense. What used to be my natural ability to sense their flow is gone. It all sounds wrong, yet I can’t find the words through the void in my brain to give the advice on how to make it better. Take out this word. Replace this. Awkward. I can manage those. Deadlines loom. I’ve been working for months and I’m destitute, completely dependent on someone else to take care of me. Maybe it’s not a surprise I’m having a hard time finding the motivation, when I have to ask for everything I need, just like a child. There’s that child again. She keeps coming back.

I had a dream I was drowning yesterday. There was another person there. I don’t remember who. I didn’t drown. I was fine. Buoyancy, I suppose you could call it. In my dream I had it. Where is it now? Resiliency? I don’t know where that went, either. It’s lurking in my sometimes inappropriately gallows sense of humor, I suppose.

So many things are happening right now I’m spinning. I hate spinning, it makes me dizzy and I don’t like feeling dizzy. I’m clumsy enough as it is, always running into walls and doorjambs. I’ve perfected a maneuver for avoiding the doorjambs, most of the time. I’ve done a better job at avoiding them than my beloved cat, who just slides into them head first at full tilt, then sits there looking stunned before shaking his head and walking away. That’s resiliency. With the wall, it’s my arms that take the brunt of the force, to at least keep me from walking completely into them. My arm stops me before the rest of me follows. At least I’m not a zombie—I would have disintegrated into bits by now from all of my architectural collisions.

But why, then, after living forty one years, am I falling apart? First my accidentally self-inflicted editing injury, pulverizing my left ulnar nerve into neuropathy and my left hand into atrophy before surgery. My first surgery since childhood when I had tubes put in my ears. My parents thought I was ignoring them. I just couldn’t hear. Then my gallbladder decided it was ready to part ways and take its polyps with it. Next was a kidney stone, blasted into bits by laser like an asteroid. That one had to be done twice because of sneaky fragments that hid away, deciding my kidney was more inviting than wherever biohazardous medical detritus goes (probably an incinerator—I won’t tell it that). Between those were white blood cells in samples where they shouldn’t be, and a round of antibiotics. Finally, I thought, done with those things.

My kidneys have decided otherwise, determined to keep my life interesting. I learned about nerves with my elbow. Now I’m learning about creatinine levels, glomerular filtration rate (GFR), and stages of chronic kidney disease. My GFR last time, after a 24-hour sample, was 53. That puts me in Stage 3. It’s a very clever thing, this disease. It has a silent phase that can last for as long as 20 or more years. But it may not be CKD—I don’t know exactly what is causing this. Neither does my PCP or one of the other doctors at my clinic, so I’m going to see a Nephrologist. That sounds very scary and like something to do with death. Or Egyptology. It just means someone who specializes in kidneys. They’re actually fascinating organs, and do amazing things for the body. They filter your blood and keep it clean, basically. The lower your GFR, the more damage your kidneys have, so mine come in at, “kidney damage with moderately low GFR,” (taken from WebMD, which has a lot of good information on kidneys). It’s a figure out what’s going on and watch and wait stage. You can go down to a GFR of 30 and stay at Stage 3.

Whatever the case, I need to change my lifestyle. That means exercise. If I were a heroine in a novel, that would be my fatal flaw, my Achilles heel, the area I need to grow. I need to eat better. I’ll learn more about that—I’m learning now, but it’s a little tricky for a vegetarian to find protein that isn’t high in  phosphorus, who isn’t my friend.

My mind and my kidneys are unraveling comorbidly then. All the things I don’t want coming back are, and what I want to be healthy isn’t. My therapy for Self-Defeating Behaviors suddenly turned into my life cracking open over determining how perfection interferes with my life. A smaller thing, I thought. I have been in therapy for years and years, many different therapists. This one, though, she is a little like me. She’s the first therapist I felt actually could empathize with me, and wasn’t just nodding her head to encourage me to keep talking. She listens, and she asks hard questions. She made me start to think, and now I can’t stop. The timing isn’t very good—it’s like a one-two punch, but considering how much my thinking is bringing up, revealing, hooking together with little claws like Velcro, the events in my childhood to the events of my adult life—it had to be done. It’s similar to pulling off a band-aid, only it feels more like duct tape.

My search for perfection didn’t just start with the difficulties I was having at work for the past couple of years. Or, as I reflected, quite a few of the jobs I’ve had, once I stopped to think about it. My reincarnated adult self started making connections, and then couldn’t stop. The overused cliché that hindsight is 20/20 isn’t always right. For one thing, I wear progressives, and even then my eyesight can’t be corrected to 20/20, so things are still a little fuzzy. Maybe that’s all right, though, because things don’t repeat themselves in exactly the same way. The way we do things as children and the way we do them as adults changes, which is why, when you first look back, similarities might not seem obvious. It’s not precisely the way we do them that’s always the important thing, though, it’s our motivations behind what we do that are the penultimate answer. Why do I try to do things perfectly? And why do I keep trying, when I never get the result I want? I’m still working on that. “Why,” as my counselor asked, “do I feel the need to keep that level of stress in my life?”

My boyfriend believes strongly in the healing powers and properties of stones and crystals. I want to. When things are already set in motion, can belief in something stop them? I believe some people are so closely attuned to things they do react immediately—a little boy I worked with who had autism loved being outside, so I started showing him different stones. I’d bring a new one every day. He would put them, unerringly, exactly on the chakra they aligned with. I asked my boyfriend about it afterward, out of curiosity because I don’t know much about chakras, and he confirmed it. This little nonverbal eight year old boy innately knew about the stones from the metaphysical level. One day he took one and wouldn’t give it back. I thought, if he feels that strongly about it, he can keep it. It was a stone listed as being very good for people with autism.

Random Particles and Chance Encounters

Particle Collision

Picture from https://plus.google.com/100033957943902398154

This is a picture of atoms and particles after the atoms who managed to escape the atom smasher (please forgive my oh-so-technical scientific terminology here. I’m an English major, not a miracle worker). The man whose page I borrowed the picture from used it for a different purpose, comparing it to a business model.

I’m looking as it as people, because part of his model coincided with human nature almost perfectly. The straight lines, are, I believe, atoms–if there are any physics people or other science oriented geeks out there who are going to giggle, please just do it quietly. They keep going on their usual paths, not knowing they just escaped being crushed into particles. But their paths are…I won’t say boring, I’ll say comfortable. They have their routine and they stick to it. They are the ones who make the world work. People who work in offices and stores and do all the important jobs that society would fail without.

The ones looking like dizzy little spirals (maybe waving from great heights) are the particles, light enough that they have a hard time following the straight lines, the forward path. These, as Andy Proehl called them, and as I was thinking as well, are the innovators, the thinkers. In the not business world he used as a model, the creative ones–the people who don’t quite fit in. The people who may try but simply can’t stay on the road. We spin off on our own paths of thought. To us, the road is a stifling place where the asphalt sucks ideas out through our feet until we’re stuck in tar and we hope someone comes along to save us. Some of us are quite melodramatic. I can be horrible, and if it’s a sunny day and I’m stuck outside in the asphalt, it very well could be the end of the world. The large white truck that always speeds down the road in front of our house might be my only salvation.

But to exist as a society, we need both kinds of people–well, more than two kinds–this is very much simplified. The ones who keep us going, and the ones who create what to give us to move forward to. But consider this if considering which type of person you’d like to be. Remember in Aladdin, when he tricked Jaffar into the lamp? “Infinite cosmic powers, itty bitty living space,” the Genie said after he’d trapped him. Now, this is absolutely nothing like that, but consider that many people who are the sproingy spinning particles are also that way for another reason entirely. Mental illness. Start looking into it, great poets, authors, artists… severe depression, bi-polar, anxiety-disorders… It’s not just the famous creative people, I have mental illness, enough so that it’s counted a disability. An invisible disability, because no one can tell. That’s why it’s so insidious. I know so many authors with depression, bi-polar… it’s just something we deal with. Not every creative person has this, of course. Just something interesting to think about, along with the which came first, the depression or the creativity? Part of the reason I bring this up is that it’s National Suicide Awareness month. I haven’t really said much about it, which I should have, as I have had two people close to me commit suicide. There are medications, which some people won’t take, or resent so much they won’t take them for that reason. I’ve gotten over being angry at it. Try this med? Sure. We have to live together. I can tell people about it now, which I think is important–they don’t know until I tell them, but I don’t want to go on a slightly manic high then hit a low–that can be distressing for all of us. But often until people have a face to attach to something, it’s hard to put a disorder in context, to relate it to someone they personally know. They realize I don’t carry around a butcher’s knife and even though I’m a writer I don’t type “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over on the word processor (that’s too much work–I’d just use cut and paste–see, even that sounds creepy). I’m sure there’s an easier way to do that but I’m not that good on the word processor. I don’t know what brought that up, but it certainly wasn’t a coincidence, and really doesn’t have anything to do with my working on trying not to be a perfectionist. It must have been two random particles colliding.

But how, you might ask, do these so called random particle people ever connect? I’m sure more do than the two that are the most obvious–the first two from the right that make the figure eight shape. Those two particles found each other. A woman I’ve been working with says there is no such thing as coincidence. We control the things that make us miserable. We disown them as belonging to us, as being someone else’s fault or something else’s fault, but refuse to take responsibility for them ourselves. We dismiss things as coincidence the same way we disown our self-defeating behaviors. Why would we want to keep self-defeating behaviors? We don’t know what to do with out lives if we don’t have them, if we don’t have that level of stress in them. For creative people, it’s a chokehold that I, at least, am putting on myself. I can’t spin freely with the other particles until I have made a good effort to shed what’s holding me down. Every single thing I attributed to coincidence she said, “Not necessarily,” to. Despite the fact I get dizzy quickly, I’d still like to spin for a little bit. Preferably wearing something light and floaty and gauzy in different shades of mauve. It wouldn’t matter if I have the grace of a buffalo, and it would be okay if I ran into another spinning particle. Whoever it was may have kept me from spinning into the street or a revolving door. I heard a comedian the other night: “Have you ever tried to slam a revolving door?”

So while I already contemplate whether some things in my life were chance encounters, random particles bumping into each other in some sterile accelerator–two particles ineffably drawn together who needed each other without knowing it, through fate, whatever name you want to give it, wasn’t something I had been expecting. It was, however, something whose absence I had felt.

 

 

 

Das tut mir leid.

Peridot Dragon Garnet eye

Taking Steps Ahead, or Moving Away from the Past

cropped-kuksi_imminent_utopia.jpg

This is somewhat of a follow-up post to some of the posts starting with When Groups go Wrong. I have been having issues with that whole event, one of them being letting go.

Letting go of things is difficult, for many reasons. It can be something we’re used to and we don’t like change. Check. It can hurt. Check. (But it already hurts, so then, what difference does moving away make?) The voice of reason–not mine–interjects–disengage. See, luckily I have some voices of reason, because I haven’t been reasonable at all times. In fact, I’ve been downright obstinate in my refusal to be reasonable. Why? I trust the people giving me advice. “Just stop dealing with the people who are making me miserable.” “Stop going back.” That is the absolute best advice anyone can give someone in a situation like mine. I wasn’t in the place to listen to the words. I could hear them, but I wasn’t listening.

One of the people involved in the whole debacle I considered my friend, and I cared about him. Whatever the situation is at Headquarters in terms of identities, people, numbers, reality, I considered him my friend and I was determined I could make him see reason and we could be friends again. I did crazy things things I normally wouldn’t do. I asked a friend on the board to contact him, and he was horrible to her. That should have been a clue right there. I felt terrible about that–she didn’t deserve to be treated that way, and he owes her an apology. I tried to send couched messages through my blog. I thought, he read it once, maybe he still does. “Not very likely,” my stalwart friend told me. He’s realistic. I’m better at deluding myself than I thought.

The thing that really hurt, the reason really keeping me back, was that my supposed friend hasn’t made any contact with me whatsoever. He had, on the “sage advice” of the “moderator,” blocked me as soon as things started to happen. Anyone who reads this or knows me knows communication is incredibly important to me. This silence from him, my complete inability to contact him, made me appreciate a little more what it must be like for some of the students I worked with who were nonverbal but had so much to say. I still went back and read the posts, and after a sadly long time I realized something, and I confirmed it with my friend, who agreed, so I knew I wasn’t going crazy.

My friend was changing. He is using phrases he never used to use, acting in ways he never used to act, saying things he never would have said. I have never divulged his secrets to anyone. If anyone has, its on his side. But they’re his secrets, he can tell the world if he wants. Now, sadly, it seems he won’t have to. On the very slight chance you are reading this, are you happier now? More fully realized as…an individual? Is this what you wanted? Because you’ve succeeded, and it’s a tragedy. Which is better: having more people like you on a superficial level, or fewer people like you for who you really are?

Sometimes we hold on to things so tight, we want things so badly, and then the truth hits so hard and so suddenly at first the realization is a relief. What I held on to was my old friend, the person I wanted to talk to was my old friend, not this new person using his name. I don’t like him. I want nothing to do with him. If I met him in real life, I’d think he was a jerk.

So there it ends. First I was grieving for the loss of a friend. Now I’m grieving for the death of a friend, at least that persona, that identity. But there’s a finality to that. That ends.

Please get help. There are links on the right side. Use them. 

And this, hopefully, will be the last of this series of posts. It is time to move forward. Enough is enough. My brain has been re-aligned, and will stop moving in circles but drive forward, except for the occasional times when it wants to do wheelies for fun. I am very grateful to have good friends who are patient enough to deal with my temporary insanity and give me good advice as well. I don’t know how I got so lucky. It was just a good connection at the right time.

Peridot Dragon Garnet eye