invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

beauty in tragedy June 27, 2009

i must admit. i really miss writing. but life has been hectic lately, to say the least.

i am in the middle of therapy at a local sexual assault center. it’s a wonderful place and i’m finally getting the ‘right’ treatment. trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy. so, 21 years this summer since I was brutally raped. the mask is off. the walls are coming down. and i am healing. finally. no more doctors pushing the dangerous medications…just a loving environment focusing on the trauma in my life. and there is a lot of it.

my therapist asked me last week if there was anything in her office that made me feel unsafe. the simple fact that there are no pharma reps pimping their latest drugs is good enough for me. i didn’t say that but she knows how i feel about them.

i have found beauty in tragedy there. i see children playing (they are big on play therapy) outside the window of my therapist’s office in the yard or in the sand box. i see paintings and drawings from children ages 2-14 covering the walls in the hallways and my therapist’s office. and i cry. i cry tears of joy and pain. but mostly joy. i know why these young girls are there. i stared at a girl around age 7 in the waiting room one day and my heart was heavy knowing why she was there. (this center only sees victims of sexual abuse) and yet i also felt joy knowing this girl (and others there) are getting the proper help now versus 21 years later like me. something tells me their life will be less painful and a little easier. and i cry…thankful for places like this.

i sometimes sit there and stare at the children and think….if only i had found the right treatment earlier. and then i remind myself i blocked out my rape for nearly 4 years and then spent years of escaping…listening to the wrong doctors and therapists, allowing them to label me with every ‘mental illness’ in the book. allowing them to medicate me, believing it was the only solution. and yet, i do not live with regret. it took 21 years to come to this place for a reason. i don’t know why but there is a reason and someday i will know. i think i probably already do and just can’t express it right now because there is so much going on. i have not been reading blogs or the news…still. i miss my friends and readers here. but….my husband’s father is dying. quickly. cancer in his liver. stomach. colon (which they removed) and lymph nodes. we have been out of town. my husband is making peace with the man (his father) whom he had not seen in 14 years for a very good reason. and now, we wait. well, he waits for the phone call. it may come today. it may come in 4 months. but it will come and it saddens me. i wish i were in a better place to comfort him during this time. it’s something i am working on.

i don’t want to get too much into the details…it is not my story to tell. but sometimes when one is on their deathbed there is often much regret for the horrible things they have done to loved ones. i do not want to have that regret someday. and so i will continue on my path of love, compassion and honesty.

in regards to my family, they are waiting for me to call them and ‘mend’ things….and although it hurts….i will do it, eventually. sooner rather than later. because, again, i do not want to be on my deathbed someday with regret.

i will continue to seek the beauty in tragedy. it is all i know to do.
peace to you all.

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compassion April 26, 2009

I’ve been wanting to write about my beloved dog, Foxy, for quite sometime. She passed away a few years ago although she’s still here with me in my heart. She had been in my life for 12 years, since she was a sweet puppy. She was a Shetland Sheepdog and one of the kindest pets I have ever had. When I lived with my parents, she usually slept with me or nearby. Her coat and features were not as “attractive” as her husband, our other Shetland Sheepdog, but her beauty inside is what made her so special. I told Foxy things I felt I could tell nobody else in fear of receiving the standard response, “Cheer up, move on and forget about your past!” It wasn’t until I started this blog and then got married that I was able to ‘open up’ and express my feelings fully to human beings. But, for the longest time, Foxy was pretty much my only true friend and confidant.

She had a real gift with people. At one point, we were living in a small town and I remember bringing her to a local nursing home over the holidays. The sight there was horrific. I overheard nurses mocking their patients and complaining about cleaning up “their messes” and well, you get the picture. I wish I had reported them because I saw some very ugly things. However, at that moment in my life I was very lost and depressed and I simply wanted to share my dog’s love and gift with others. I would dress her in a santa hat and scarf and we would visit very lonely patients. I was shocked how many of them never received visitors from their own families. They had been sent off, forgotten and left to die alone. It was tragic and an eye-opening experience for me at that point in my life. When I would enter a room with Foxy, I would watch the patient’s eyes light up. She would kiss them and love them-it was such a beautiful thing. They always looked forward to her visits. It is my hope that she brought beauty and love into their lives or reminded them of the beauty and love in life before they passed on. And, oh how I miss her so.

I was recently reminded of Foxy while watching the tail end of an Ellen Degeneres episode. I do not watch much network television but when I can, I do watch Ellen. I adore her. She had Sirdeaner Walker on her show whose 11-year-old son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, committed suicide on April 6th after being bullied by fellow students at his school. This story is heartbreaking and his mother is an amazing woman.

Here’s the interview:

Anyway, Ellen said something that has stayed with me:

“I feel like there needs to be a class taught every single day in school that’s compassion. You have History, you have Math, you have English, you have Compassion. Every single day kids should be taught kindness to other kids.”

Ellen’s words are so very important. Compassion does need to be taught in schools, especially when so many children are not taught this at home. Compassion is a very powerful thing and without it, we are nothing.

So, I’m dedicating this post to my sweet Foxy who was very compassionate, to Ellen Degeneres, to Carl and his mother and to all of the compassionate human beings in this world.

Memorial contributions for Carl Walker-Hoover may be sent to:

Carl J. Walker Trust Fund
c/o Hampden Bank
19 Harrison Avenue
Springfield, MA 01103

 

Quotes April 15, 2009

Filed under: hope,life,love,pain,peace — clementine @ 3:59 pm
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My posting will be sporadic for awhile. Most of you know where to find me. Peace to you all….

“People who cease to grow can’t inspire others. Leadership begins with challenging oneself.” ~Daisaku Ikeda

“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“Friendship is the only cure for hatred, the only guarantee of peace.” ~Buddha

“When you love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable, you’re free.” ~Bernie Siegel

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~Henry David Thoreau

“Physical gifts will break or fade, but your gift of love will last forever.”

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” ~Buddha

“How sad it is that we give up on people who are just like us.” ~Mr. Rogers

“Love all, trust a few. Do wrong to none.” ~William Shakespeare

and something from one of my favorite films, Ordinary People:

“A little advice about feelings kiddo; don’t expect it always to tickle.” ~Dr. Berger to Conrad

 

lost and confused December 30, 2008

I just watched a video thanks to an entry at Beyond Meds.

*this video runs about 10 minutes and I hope you watch in its entirety-Dr. Breggin has some interesting things to say regarding children and psychiatric medications towards the end.

this video is powerful, informative and yet i feel… lost. confused. deceived. this video has triggered so many emotions. i don’t even know where to begin.

i’ll start with this. age 13. telling my parents i wanted to die over and over until….a trip to a psychiatrist’s office and i left with a diagnosis of depression. i have repeatedly discussed here my rape at 15 which i assumed only heightened my depression. it was so brutal, i blocked it from my memory for nearly 4 years. during my early 20s, i checked myself into a mental hospital because i wanted to feel normal. instead i was given dixie cups filled with medications and then kicked out because my insurance company would only pay for three or so days. at 30, five years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar. and I have seen several psychiatrists since then that agreed with that diagnosis.

after watching this video, my mind…is spinning. you see, I have ALWAYS believed I have a mental illness. and now, i question that. is there such a thing as a chemical imbalance? i believed so and now i have doubts. i cannot describe to you what that feels like. there are millions of us with a ‘mental illness’ and all we’ve ever really wanted was to be understand and loved unconditionally. unfortunately our behaviors tend to push people away or scare them. they may very well be incapable of understanding, therefore, getting too close is impossible. that has usually been my experience with some family members and some friends. if there is not a name behind this, like, mental illness (even with its misunderstandings) i feel i will never be understood, only by those that are either open-minded or like me. again, my entire life i have wanted to be understood. my sister has a rare disease. it has a name and people understand, they comfort her, doctors care for her. what if mine does not have a name? what if it is much deeper than i ever imagined? my gut and my heart are both telling me right now (and I should probably listen) I don’t need a label, I just need to live my life. (more…)

 

wise up December 27, 2008

Filed under: change,hope,life,love,pain,peace — clementine @ 11:33 pm
Tags: , ,

a clip from one of my favorite films, Magnolia

 

songs and what they mean to me December 16, 2008

Filed under: life,love,mental illness,pain,peace,stigma — clementine @ 4:12 pm
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Music has become a big part of my life. It brings out emotions when I need to feel them. sadness. happiness. love. pain. anger.

Here are a few of my favorite songs and why:
(for some reason wordpress will not allow me to embed the audio)

Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell
Sure, befriending her a few years ago has something to do with this. But more importantly her words speak to all of us. I listen to this song frequently and it has taught me a lot about LIFE.
click here to listen

Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen
I’m not that ‘music savvy’ however, I believe we can all interpret music in our own way. This song is very special. When I hear the lyrics:

It’s the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming ‘Let me out’
Pray tomorrow – gets me higher
Pressure on people – people on streets

I think of the mentally ill screaming, let me out! the people on the streets, the homeless. we are all just as important. I have a BIG, probably impossible dream of someday using all of my contacts in the film/music industry and putting together a large event with 50 or more actors, artists, musicians, etc. who all come together on one stage to send the message- WE ARE ALL ONE….LET’S COME TOGETHER AND END THE MENTAL ILLNESS STIGMA. I imagine several people singing this particular song and as I’m driving in my car listening to it, dreaming, it sometimes makes me cry. Who knows…maybe someday, anything is possible.
click here to listen

I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty
very similar to the above. this would be one of the songs played. why? when i listen to this song I think of one thing—I won’t back down, I will not let my illness defeat me. I will fight big pharma and the evil that surrounds them in the mental health world. For example, Stephany at soulful sepulcher is a true example of never backing down. And I dream of her being there on stage, with her daughter, singing along with Tom Petty.
click here to listen

Just Like Honey by The Jesus and Mary Chain
I just simply love this song. I haven’t quite figured out why. But it does remind me of a favorite film of mine, Lost in Translation.
click here to listen
(more…)

 

side effects and stockings hung by the fireplace December 6, 2008

those bloody side effects. (sorry, i recently worked with an actress from england and i love saying bloody) oh, according to The American’s guide to speaking British we should never say bloody!

Bloody – One of the most useful swear words in English. Mostly used as an exclamation of surprise i.e. “bloody hell” or “bloody nora”. Something may be “bloody marvellous” or “bloody awful”. It is also used to emphasise almost anything, “you’re bloody mad”, “not bloody likely” and can also be used in the middle of other words to emphasise them. E.g. “Abso-bloody-lutely”! Americans should avoid saying “bloody” as they sound silly.

sorry, made me laugh…which is a good thing! anyway, back to those…horrific… side effects. i’m not sure what is going on. definite slurred speech from the Abilify. my swain has been sad and told me he doesn’t like seeing me this way. the only way i can describe what i assume he means is…i am not myself, just a shell of myself. physically my body is here but emotionally i am somewhere else, actually not somewhere else. just emotionally NUMB. and that is precisely the problem i have with antipsychotics. if a low dose of Seroquel or Abilify can turn me into a zombie, imagine the thousands of children taking them…horrific…and who knows the long term effects.

the xanax works just fine i suppose. it knocks down any anxiety but they are certainly the addictive little pills. the celexa…i’m not so sure about. might be messing with my sleep schedule. for example, we started watching a movie last night (a movie i have wanted to see for a long time and was excited or as excited as a zombie can be) and i fell asleep before the opening credits finished running. woke up at 10:30pm and then to bed around 2am. woke up at 6am with severe pain in both arms/wrists/hands. took a few ibuprofen and fell asleep on the couch around 830a only to awake at 1050am and haven’t been able to sleep since. i googled carpal tunnel thinking maybe that’s what is wrong with my hands. or it could be one of the medications.

here’s what i hope. well, first, i hope the pain goes away. if it doesn’t in a few days-i don’t know what to do, i can’t afford to see a doctor. but, i hope when my 3 week supply of Abilify and Celexa are finished, I am done with them and I hope I won’t fall back into that dark hole. I will hang onto the Xanax (2 month supply) and deal with its nasty withdrawal symptoms later. I’m not exactly going against my doctor’s orders. She only wanted me on the Abilify for 3 weeks partially due to the fact I told her quite bluntly…I’m not stupid, I’ve been researching mental illness and their medications for nearly 10 years now…i know for a fact there is very little research and many unknowns on the short and long term effects of the pharmaceutical company’s hot, new, fancy drug (Abilify) used to treat all sorts of things from depression to bipolar to schizophrenia. I am sure there will soon be lawsuits similar to the other atypical antipsychotic (Seroquel, Zyprexa) lawsuits. and then, well…we’ll start seeing another hot, new, fancy drug advertised and doctors will be passing them out like Halloween candy.

Ok, I lied. Maybe not totally following doctor’s orders. I have been tempted to stop taking the Celexa (weight gain and loss of libido are big side effects) but I will give it a few more days and see what happens. I would also like to quit the Abilify. Before taking this I was already depressed and running to the store was a huge chore. But now, in my zombie state I can hardly function. you try working or looking for work, playing, enjoying life on any antipsychotic…trust me. I am positive when I see my doctor in 3 weeks she will want me to continue taking the Celexa and Xanax. But I hate SSRIs almost as much as I hate antipsychotics! I don’t know how I’ll continue that medication…but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Here’s the good and bad news. Suicidal thoughts-gone. Anxiety-gone. Depression-um, hard to say. But I’m so drugged up I can’t seem to focus on anything but just GETTING THROUGH THIS and getting better!!!! I called my parents because i miss them terribly and i wanted to begin repairing the damage because I love them so very much. I was immediately bombarded with questions about work. Have you found a job yet, etc… and i wanted to scream….LAST WEEK I WAS PLANNING A SUICIDE. well, not technically but i was thinking of how to do it, planning to write a list on how to distribute my belongings (i only got as far as my “C” diamond necklace to go to my niece and our dear sweet buddy to whomever could care for him the best) and then thoughts like, dear god…who will pay for my funeral. and more importantly…how selfish. and most importantly…there are so many people in this world i love SO dearly—I could not leave them. However, I have to realize my sister and my parents can’t talk about or understand any of the above. Instead I was told MSNBC is poisoning me! like that is really a concern of mine right now. I must figure out HOW to ignore and love no matter what. Oddly enough I have always loved people, all people i have met in this world and people i don’t even know…i have loved them unconditionally.

isn’t that what life is about…love? i think so.

Odd, reading through this “blog” I don’t sound like a zombie and I don’t feel like one right now. Maybe it’s the coffee. maybe i’m manic. maybe for the moment i’m just so darn happy the suicidal thoughts are gone. or maybe i’m getting better, again, for the 1,188th time in my life.

This is what I do know.
I was able to put up the Christmas decorations even though for the first time in 35 years I really didn’t want to. But I’m enjoying those Christmas lights and stockings hung by the fireplace. I know we can’t afford to buy christmas gifts and we mailed leftover christmas cards from last year even though one of my favorite things is buying christmas cards every year. And since I usually send personalized cards to family and cannot afford 10 or so at 4.99ish a piece we will be doing something different this year for the family cards.

I know that it is cold here and i’ve had a fire burning for nearly 20 hours.
And I know our cat is happier than he’s ever been.

buddy-in-front-of-fire