Category Archives: fear

Robin Williams Lived

There by the grace of God go I….this could have been me, this is me. By posting this article, I reach out my hand to another person with mental illness, a brain disorder, trauma or depression. It’s time we make our families and neighbors talk to us. We won’t survive in silence.

Please take my hand and hold on,  stay with us. If you can, please stay.

We can share this together, the dark and the light, eventually circling the world with love and the new definition of who we are.

We will circle the world until we are whole and dancing again.

Sarah Griffith Lund

Robin Williams lived a life that brought laughter and joy to millions through his comedy and acting.

He died at his home from suicide on Monday, August 11, 2014, at the age 63. He battled a brain disease that included severe depression. Even with treatment, support from loved ones, and a successful career, mental illness still can be a deadly disease, especially when paired with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

I remember when I first learned that Robin Williams had a mental illness and I was encouraged by his openness. I loved his work in Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam, and his role as Mork from Mork and Mindy. My favorite work of his was stand-up comedy.

He had a brilliant brain. And he had a brain with a disease. He richly blessed us with his life.

May all of us find ways today…

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Make BPD Stigma-Free! words of poetry…..

There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness~Rumi~

 

 

This post is about highlighting the work of a woman who is making it her mission to dispel the myths surrounding Borderline Personality Disorder as well as mental health issues in general.  I find most everything she writes about spot on as far as the struggles the traumatized face in their journey to become whole.  Joyce maintains a blog, Make BPD Stigma-Free!  on WordPress as well as a Facebook page.  It is worth taking a look-see if you or someone you love fights the good fight against mental illness.

And I would encourage readers to take this one step further.  Look deep into these words.  Try to see past the fear you may feel when reading such powerful messages from a dark place within a person.  See if you can connect with their fears, desperation to express and be heard, deepest desires to be whole and worthy.  I believe we can begin to work past our fears of mental illness and all its implications by reading poetry such as Joyce’s.  Inside, there is a beautiful being speaking some tough but enlightening truths.  If you can get past those fears, see the traumatized person with love, the outcome can be the highest expression of divine compassion.

*****

Every morning, I put on my armour,

To protect me from their poisoned tongues,

Each arrow pierces my soul,

 

With each one I die a little more each day,

How much dying can one take till they are truly dead?

 

I am not full of life,

I am not dead,

I am numb and feel nothing.

I am past feeling the pain,

Eventually you don’t feel anymore.

 

How does one feel so hollow, so empty?

A shell of a person?

 

How do you get past pain to nothingness?

How do you feel less than nothing?

 

What a curse it is,

To take on the world’s pain upon your shoulders,

Their anger, their fear,

 

To feel the darkness of a million souls,

All screaming in your head,

And filling your heart.

 

To feel it as your own.

 

And you can never stop the floodgate of emotions that wash over you,

Consuming you,

Draining you.

 

Dragon flames licking at your heels,

As you try to climb out of the hell that’s your life,

Only to be pulled back by your demons to be tortured anew,

When will it end?


– By Joyce Savage.


love story in there….somewhere….

girl and dragon

There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.

I seem to have made it through the latest chapter of dark times.

Hopefully.

When I started this blog, I felt lost.  Then I found myself through writing and gave myself a voice that I’d never possessed before, at least for myself.  I’d been championing for others for decades; animal rights, women’s rights, diversity, environment.  It had become painful apparent to me that a great deal of time had been spent advocating for others and not myself.  That was a game changer.

Writing this blog has enabled me to find my voice through writing but look several issues squarely in the eye.  Honoring myself was one.  A simple bumper sticker noticed by the artist, Terri St. Cloud of Bone Sigh Arts.  Honor Yourself.  Simple words that were nearly impossible to integrate.

The next issue was that I couldn’t wrap my thinking around the fact that someone, anyone would want to read what I had to say.  In my mind, my words had to be profound, a literary masterpiece before putting them out for the world to see.  Shouldn’t I get a MFA in writing or something or some sort of artistic approval before being so bold as to put my words, my life, my history into words?  Well, that answer came soon too.  Survivors trickled in, slowly at first, some stumbling and fragmented, some already having honed their beautiful craft of expression.  All were worthy and I felt so blessed to be a part of a counterculture emerging for survivors, men and women, who were taking back their power.  I wanted to be a part of that.  For me, it was coming home.

My most recent absence is due to my utter confusion and re-entry into that dark place.  You see, I thought I’d been through it and had emerged complete, or at least complete enough.  I thought I was finally, finally in that safe cocoon where I could share my story of abuse and survival with the clarity of hindsight.  I was wrong, at least sort of.

This summer I separated from my husband.  My fairy tale crashed and I felt that I was a fraud.  How on earth could I write stories of hope and love when I had failed at my own love story?  Slowly, I moved through the hazy days of summer with my tool bag (purple of course) of rest, solitude, meditation, reading and dark chocolate.  I cried when I felt like it, wandered through the library, raged at Grandmother moon in the wee hours of the morning when sleep eluded me, slept any time I felt fatigued and tried, oh how I tried, to find joy anywhere I could.  I picked flowers and herbs from my beautiful garden and gave them to anyone I could think of; my church for Sunday morning service, the women at the convenient mart on the corner who are always so kind and make me laugh every time I’m there buying chocolate, my dear friend’s mother who was passing this summer, a friend who works long hours and commutes into the city each day.  I gave them just because.  Just because in the absence of my own joy, I needed to create that precious spark of joy for someone else and live vicariously off of that until I had my own.

Many, many people supported me though this passage, you will find them on my blogroll and Facebook page.  I simply couldn’t have weathered this without logging on to see their daily posts on love, writing, poetry, painting, nature, food.  I traveled with several as they made major changes in their lives too and hope that I provided them a wee bit of support also.

Slowly that spark began to burn again.  Now I have more words and more insight into myself.  I tip my hat to the dark side, purpose well served.

I still live a love story.  Really, there is a love story in here somewhere.  One that, once again, must begin with myself.  With or without a partner, my daughter, my dogs, my house.  I can write words of hope because now I’ve lived them again.  I’m not a fraud but an innocent person who stumbles and trips often, sometimes sitting in the mud puddle I fell in, squalling and crying.  But then there are times, when I laugh and dance around with a soggy tutu.

It’s all good.


my spa day at the psych hospital

imagesIt’s been over a month since I made the pilgrimage to the psych hospital for an evaluation.  My emotions have settled down a bit and I’ve had contact with all the practitioners in my life who require a visit after such an incident.  I’m also able to write about it with a caustic and a wise ass dark humor that I lacked in previous weeks.  I suppose on this matter too, I’ve found my voice.  I should know by now that given enough time and perspective, I usually do find my voice.

The prompting incident was another perfect storm containing all the ingredients for me to “drop my basket”.  In Rebecca WellsDivine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Vivian Abbott Walker has a breakdown and is hospitalized in some asylum for months.  She won’t discuss the issue for a long time but eventually coins a phrase to describe her mental collapse where she hallucinated, beat her children all the while forgetting how to chew food and pee in the toilet.  Months later, she finally confides and describes to her Ya-Ya’s how she “dropped her basket”.  In the absence of a better term, I’m going to borrow hers.

In a 6-day rampage of unmanageable BPD symptoms, gross lack of familial support and triggers out the whazoo, I finally consent to let a friend drive me to one of several major hospitals in St. Louis for an evaluation.  I had nothing to lose.  I had been crying for days, couldn’t remember when I’d eaten last, only slept because of the inordinate amount of anxiety medication combined with several other chasers of alcohol, Vicodin and Benedryl.  It was a sure-fire combination to collapse into something resembling sleep but a losing combination in terms of maintaining equilibrium and optimal functioning of the body.  Unconsciousness is the desired state for me when I’m so grossly triggered finding my reality irretrievable. No matter how many DBT skills, prayers, affirmations, walks in the woods, music and every other distraction skill I applied, nothing was working.  I was scared shitless and needed a person.  A real, live, breathing person to sit with me while I piggybacked off of their energy and found my center once again.  And to make matters worse, I had been left alone for 5 days, scorned for the burdensome person that I was which was the tipping point to my basket drop.

This is the truly horrible part about Borderline Personality Disorder, which I probably have as a result of early onset trauma.  It forever changes how our brains work and makes us a scary group of people to be around causing this paradoxical conundrum where even though your loved ones don’t want to hold onto your psyche at this particular moment, its about the only thing that actually works for me.  The DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric Association classifies BPD with a list of symptoms that the candidate will have at least 5 of the 9 listed.  And even though, there were many symptoms, BPD related or not, swirling around in this muck of 6 days, it was one in particular that probably defines most of my issue of that time.  #1 on the list is “frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment”.  Yes, my efforts were frantic.  I called pretty much everyone I knew in person as well as sought out online friends and even a guy standing outside the convenience store smoking in an effort to make some physical, face to face contact with someone.  Pretty pitiful, huh?  And yes, my abandonment was real AND imagined, I had both to contend with.  And damn, I didn’t do well and definitely “dropped my basket”.

Enter Cindy and Kathy, my two saviors of the weekend.  They sat with me one night until I felt well enough to be in my house alone.  They brought food and conversation and did a fabulous job of distracting me, giving me some solid ground to stand on.  That lasted one day before I was back in the muck; crying, not eating, mixing meds and smoking cigarettes, a habit given up over a decade ago.  When, in 3 more days, I still hadn’t emerged whole, it was Cindy who declared it time to go for an evaluation.  I didn’t argue, just packed a bag and grabbed my insurance card and off we went to the psych unit of her choice.  Now, it sounds like I’m gonna start doggin’ on the state of psychiatric options and hospitals in general, which I’m not.  For at this particular moment, I was damn grateful that I lived in a city where I had an actual choice of which one to go to and that I had insurance to get in the door.  There were certainly patients in the waiting room who didn’t possess the golden ticket of primo insurance that I had, which made me cry even harder.

I was led down and around several corridors which I realize later put me way in the back of the ward in some sort of lockdown room.  I was asked to undress into paper scrubs which is a far cry from the old paper gowns that didn’t close in back.  My clothes were taken from me and within minutes a team of interns with a doctor arrived in a hysterical entourage of tall, rolling, podium like things with computers mounted on top.  When they were speaking to me, all I could see was the back of the screen, not their faces, which made them look like a team of rectangled shaped droids with lab coats and feet.  I found this really amusing and wondered if this would qualify as real or imagined abandonment.  Let’s just say, given the situation, a friendly pat on the arm or some eye contact would have gone a long way.  After giving them all their pertinent information, I was then left alone and I mean left alone.  I didn’t see anyone for hours until I peeked out and told the nurse that finally looked up from her desk computer screen (Is there a theme here?) that I had to go to the bathroom, could she point the way?  She promptly walked me back into the room and opened a low set of cabinet doors which popped out a toilet seat.  She assured me that it was much more convenient for me to pee in this little toilet in the wall than to have to go down the hall but I knew better.  This was the upscale version of a jail cell.  My bladder and I made peace with our given situation as I didn’t feel that as I was shoeless and in paper scrubs in a lockdown room, that it just wasn’t a good time to fuss.  I settled onto the exam table, curled in a semi-fetal position, pulled out my iPod from my purse (which by the way, still was in my possession and contained several prescribed controlled substances) and began to listen to my relaxation tapes.  More hours went by but again, I had my entertainment and a potty, so I was pretty good.  The nurse had given me a cup of water and a few graham crackers from her stash of snacks.  Plus I’d seen a few people who seemed relatively caring and I felt a sense of relief that if nothing else, I was among people.

Then, whack.  As I’m achieving a blissful state of relaxation and calm, thanks to the tools I brought instead of what was offered, the door slams open with the salty, seasoned veteran of the social work brigade.  Now again, you think I’m gonna complain about her but I rather liked her.  She took one look at my iPod declaring it a weapon of mass destruction and exclaiming how I could hurt myself with that.  She took it really well when I told her if I wanted to do that, I would have done it in the three hours prior.  Out she went to scold the graham cracker nurse then charged back in with her exasperated intern following behind.  “Are you suicidal?”, she asked.  “No, I’m Laurel”, I replied as I extended my hand to shake hers.  This didn’t faze her as she went on to rapid-fire questions faster than the intern could write them down.  The poor thing didn’t have a robotic scooting computer podium, so I slowed my answers down to accommodate her pace.  No, I didn’t harm or cut myself.  No, I haven’t harmed anyone else.  No, I don’t abuse alcohol or drugs.  She proclaimed me fit to go home unless I opted to stay for the accommodations of graham crackers,  tap water and the potty in the wall.  I declined and called another friend to please come get me.

Another hour later, I was given my iPod, my clothing including my bra which apparently posed a huge threat of strangulation to me here in the hospital.  I will have to draw some stern boundaries with that brassiere when I get home to never threaten me like that again.  The nurse presented me with my bill for the day and asked how I wanted to pay.  I told her that in my despair and turmoil, I hadn’t even considered that to which she replied that I could mail it back with payment.  A hundred dollar day that could have been spent at the day spa with seemingly better results.  I’m thinking a massage and a pedicure.

Again, I will practice gratitude that a clean, well staffed, teaching hospital was available to me.  If I was more chronic, the doctor explained, this might be the place for me.  Since I’m fairly functional with an acute crisis, under the care of a psychiatrist and therapist, there aren’t services there for me.  In other words, there isn’t a place for those of us in between.  One must be out of control, harming themselves or others and pose a huge threat to society before the psych hospital is the place to be.  OK, now I know that.  But I still wonder where then, does one like me go?  Where is the tribe of caring people who will help soothe the ravaged soul, bring tea and sing and rock me until my jangled self comes together.  Shouldn’t there be such a place?  I rely so heavily on myself for self nurturing and awareness but accepting my circumstances and limitations prompts me to always have a Plan B.  I’ll keep looking, it has to be out there somewhere.  At least, I know now where it isn’t.


a day of questions….

a day of questionsIt is indeed a day of questions. This particular day of questioning has been followed by weeks of questioning.

Its an awkward junior high dance of where to place my feet, what do I do with my hands, how can I stop sweating each nuance of my being?

I suppose each day brings me closer to my truth.  I’m not sure why my truth has been so buried.  Who decided that it was to be my life’s journey to dig through the muck and proclaim my findings a treasure?  Why is it taking so long?  My post it notes that line the area above my desk say to practice acceptance.  They also remind me that I’m entitled to make mistakes and that I can’t start the chapter of your new life if you keep re-reading the last one.  I wonder if I’m not assimilating the lessons of my life or if I just have too many post it notes?

Today’s biggest question is one of my voice.  Usually my biggest questions are regarding my voice; where it is, how loud is it, how do I use it to the greatest good?  But underneath those questions lie the deepest challenge I face today.  What do you do when it is apparent that your voice and message make those in your life uncomfortable?  Where is the line of discernment between how the individual should proceed when they form a part of a larger  group and what is their responsibility to the greater good? Should one compromise the group for personal benefit?  Does one pray for the fear to be released from the family/community/church/friends with whom you’ve made a life with or does one practice a life unspoken or better yet, a life carefully spoken to those only ready to hear?  And if so, how does one know the difference?

I’ve been quite drawn lately to the plight of the gay person who struggles with whether or not to come out.  I find this a struggle that is similar to mine in the sense that neither can reveal the story truest to themselves without wondering how detrimental or incredible the outcome might be.  How does one make that final, irreversible decision and action?  It’s a long standing fantasy of mine to be able to tell the story of an abused and compromised child only to break the shackles of shame and liberated by the act of coming out.  It seems as if it would be freeing beyond belief.  Not taking the steps toward fulfilling that fantasy is a sort of slow emotional suicide.  That scenario involves lots of pretending, not stating the obvious (well at least the obvious to me) and leading my life with as much rhythm as a flat line on an EKG.  A basically unappealing and empty existence.

Is the solution a matter of re-framing one’s thinking to accommodate only thoughts of gratitude and a positive nature?  Isn’t that denial?

Could the whole matter of avoiding the tough subjects in life some sort of grace that I’ve yet to develop?  Isn’t that fear?

Should I practice more acceptance of what is and isn’t in my life and resign to a life without unabashed celebration of my total self?  Isn’t that numbing and settling?

I’d love to hear from anyone who not only has had the same questions but any solutions to this personal crisis as well.  Wishing I had more answers than questions, I leave that to you.


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