Sunday, October 20, 2013

Goodbye Facebook Games, Hello Real Life, yet again

It's been a few months since I've done a blog entry.  Months spent Facebook gaming, which is my habit when I just want to ignore real life for a while.  Lately the traumas and dramas of my real life have again become so profuse that they force me to look at them if I hope to survive.  The Facebook games become, of course, a nuisance, too far removed from real life that they indeed add to the angst.

So I'm taking a bit of a break from Facebook, at least the games, and back to looking at my "Life on the Edge" and blogging.   I don't know why I feel the need to always share it with others.  It's who I am I guess.  I can't help myself.  I guess I always figure it might help others in some way.

As my morning wake up habit has been Facebook for quite some time, I can't seem to fully stop for now.  This morning I shared on FB a news article about a man shot by the police.  A man with schizophrenia.  It bothered me that sharing that post might only make it another miniscule post that whips through your newsfeed for a second, perhaps you look at it, perhaps you read it, and maybe even comment on it.  'How awful', or whatever... but then maybe quickly forgotten.

Did anyone really get anything from my 'sharing' this horrendous incident?  And so I feel I must write this blog post... about my experience with schizophrenia, hoping that someone will read and come away with more understanding.

This all comes what what I have researched, learned through mental health communities, and real experience - such as being friends with people with a mental condition.  I hate the word 'illness'.  It is an illness, but it is just as much a societal problem that creates and maintains it.

I began this blog when Glenn Close started BringChange2Mind , an organization to give people a voice and encourage them to no longer be afraid to use that voice to advocate and educate others about mental conditions.  So when I can, when I have the courage, I do.

Schizophrenia  Schizophrenia is a true illness.  It has been proven that there is real damage or misfunctioning of the brain, different or changed chemical reactions from those of others.  Which is why when a person is first assessed by a doctor, they first look for and ask about drug use.  Everyone 'knows' that drugs are 'mind altering'.  This is true to the point of being physical and is now scientific fact.  Beyond that research is also being done for those that are 'born that way'.  Yes, born that way.  Many with mental issues (especially children) are born with their problem.

Like any illness, drugs are researched and prescribed to help deal with the physical problems and reduce symptoms.  With all that in mind, I'd like to move to the societal problem that creates, maintains, and worsens the life of those dealing with mental illness.

My metaphor is always one of diabetes.  If a person has diabetes, we know that their pancreas is not functioning correctly to metabolize sugar.  This can be a condition a person is born with, develops early (Type 1) and develops later in life (Type 2).  In most cases we do not blame the person or fear them for this, it is simply that a part of their body isn't working correctly.  We are pleased to see them get the help they need, fund research and charities to further understanding and a cure, and are glad when their illness is well maintained and their life more normalized.

Now lets look at what might happen if we took a different point of view.  People with diabetes are a threat.  They are to be feared.  What if we wrote books, made movies, and generally always spoke about people with diabetes in ways that always showed them as this threat, and beyond that even  evil?  Seen any good horror flicks lately?  Watched any cops shows or mysteries?  Who is more often than not the 'villian' and carted off to jail or killed, definitely ostracized.

So, you're a person with diabetes.  Would you be afraid to go out in public?  Let it be known that you have diabetes?  Afraid to get your medication or use it for fear that someone will come to know?  And what will they do with that knowledge?  Tell others?  Refuse to hire you?  Refuse to let their children near you?  Avoid you themselves and tell others to also out of their fear and ignorance?

Would you see, in many books, over the radio, on tv and in the movies a portrait of yourself that says you are a monster?  How would you feel about yourself?  And how would you cope with that day to day?  Do you think it might, in fact, make your life a 'living hell' and increase your fear and anxiety, make you more likely to hide, retreat from society, and fear everyone out there?

This my friends, is how it feels to have schizophrenia and many of the other mental illnesses that  people spend their lives trying to cope with.  These are the 'voices' that torment them.  They are more often than not the societal voices that we all cope with.  But they don't realize that.  Because the very real physicality of their brain problem often does not let them realize that, work it out, or experience it in the same way we do.

Imagine the worse nightmare you have ever had.  Now imagine that nightmare does not go away when you wake up.  It is in every moment of your waking hours as well.  Now try to cope with life.

Medications help reduce and alleviate some of this, reduce the manic times to make life almost managible.  But the stresses of life and the stresses of societal norms and the way they are looked at make every day a difficult day.  It's only a matter of how difficult.  

Please change your mind and love my daughter.  She is the most beautiful person on earth, always was, always will be.  But this illness and society work hard to keep her from being such and feeling such, no matter how hard she works every day.  

She doesn't deserve this.  Nor does anyone else who has a mental condition.  But it is their life, theirs to live, and they are doing the best they can, often without the comfort of human kindness and caring.  And often, as seen from the Facebook posting I shared this morning, with the very real threat of violence being done against them, for no good reason, and out of ignorance.

And that is my 'comment' on the Facebook aticle I shared this morning.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Wedding Gift

It's not the object, but the person attached to it, that sometimes makes us cling to an item that others may see no value in.  Such is the tall cocktail glass that I lovingly washed this morning.

The glass was a wedding gift from my Aunt Arlene.  It's going on 37 years old now.  It's the last of a set of four.  Some of the detail is missing from its bottom edge.  But I love it and hold it to my heart like none other.

We've moved some over the years.  I still have boxes of odds and ends such as this that I find when I'm looking for some other needed but not often used item.  Over the last few years I've come across Aunt Arlene's glass a number of times.  It being only one, it often remained in its bubble wrap and got returned safely to the box, until I could figure out what to do with it.  But part with it I could not.

A couple of months ago Aunt Arlene's glass was the last item in a box that I emptied, and so, it did not get returned to the box, but instead got placed on a shelf (still in the bubble wrap) until I could decide what to do with it.  It sat on the shelf for these couple months until yesterday, as I cleaned, and decided that sitting on the shelf in bubble wrap is not how this glass should be.

Perhaps I should use it.  Warm memories of Aunt Arlene played through my mind each time I touched it, and I thought, that would be nice to experience a few more times in this Now.

Aunt Arlene was a delicate little lady, petite and of the short stature that is my father's side of the family and which I also am.  Aunt Arlene lived in Virginia and so only came to visit once every couple of years throughout my childhood.  Each time she came she brought me gifts.  Each time she came she taught me a craft, as she loved to do.  Christmas balls made from cutting out and pinning together on a Styrofoam ball small pieces of velvet, odd bits of old jewelry found at second hand shops, and completed with ribbon to hang from the tree.  Lovely they were.  Special the time we spent together.

Aunt Arlene is the only one from whom I would accept to be spoken of by the nickname of "Pammy".  Aunt Arlene said "Pammy" with a gentle smile and a soft voice that felt like a warm embrace.

As my acceptance of recognizing Spirit around me has grown, I have felt and heard Aunt Arlene's presence, especially this past winter when I was in the winter doldrums.  She was there, encouraging me to be strong, buoying up my sense of self, embracing me with her gentle "Pammy"; letting me know that those in Spirit were with me and loved me.

So this morning I washed Aunt Arlene's wedding gift to me - a lone, tall cocktail glass with the impish three monkeys on it.  Below each monkey could still be read what they say:
Hear no evil.
See no evil.
Speak no evil.
And it struck me.

I always wondered why Arlene gave me cocktail glasses with these silly little monkeys on them.  I always thought it just a 'little' odd for a wedding gift.

But today, the life lesson that only this lovely lady could impart (and often did) with such a gentle morality came clear.

And today I determined 'what to do' with this lone, single wedding gift cocktail glass.  It will be given a place of honor on one of my special shelves with my other treasures - so that each time I pass it - I will remember my wonderful Aunt Arlene and the message behind her wedding gift to me.

Hear no evil.  See no evil.  Speak no evil.
And my darling Aunt, I sincerely hope I can, each day live and move with the Grace that you have given me.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I AM So Blessed

This morning I pulled out my bag of journals, hoping to find and connect with the moments that Spirit spoke with me, brought me Peace and filled me with love and joy.  I haven't given up the thought of pulling some of the most inspiring together to make a book to share with others.

As I looked through the journals I found also the odd pieces of paper with a scribbled note, a song lyric, or long conversations - my fear thoughts, my inspired thoughts, the gifts of love and confirmation from Spirit.

I also found a card from Bethany, this amazing daughter given to me, so beautiful on the outside and beyond beautiful on the inside.  Beth sent me the card during a time of difficulty for our entire family.  It seemed that each one of us - Frank and I, Patrick, Neil, and Beth - were each struggling with issues that threatened our happiness and our 'life'.

Knowing that I sometimes come close to drowning in the fear and burden of worry for my loved ones, Beth wrote inside the card:

Mom,  Thank you for your love and understanding.  I hope there are happy endings for everyone - but if not - I hope we learn our lessons well and transcend all boundaries and holds formed by fear.  It's all in the love we give today.  I am grateful that you are in my life.  I love you.     Beth

I found the joy I was looking for this morning.  I AM So Blessed.