invincible summers

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

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

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a new year and new beginnings December 31, 2008

this is what i do know:

1) i am a simple girl and cannot write as eloquently or intelligently as so many of you out there. i am (kinda) okay with this.

2) i am 35 and for 15+ years of my life I have been on/off psychiatric medications. not one of them worked long-term. many (too many) of them had horrific side effects and long-term side effects that I will be dealing with for the rest of my life, possibly.

3) Big Pharma is not there to help the mentally ill, cure us, or even make us feel better. Big Pharma=Big Money in their pockets. Whether it be a Prozac Nation or an Atypical Antipsychotic Nation, they do not want a Healthy Nation. In simple terms, they would lose a tremendous amount of money since psychiatric medications are their best selling drugs.

4) Doctors are becoming more and more corrupt. The Joe Biederman’s and Charles B. Nemeroff’s of the world are proof of this. Doctors in the mental health field seem to both listen and care less. We are becoming numbers, not patients. I know this from experience. A therapist who dozed off during our session (a session I was paying good money for!) Numerous psychiatrists that write multiple prescriptions without even blinking or thinking. with no warning of the drug’s side effects or withdrawal symptoms. We see doctors prescribing multiple medications to children while their brains are still developing and they are not willing to figure out what’s really going on with these children. It’s all about the quick fix regardless of the severe and damaging consequences.

5) We need more science. period.

what i don’t know and the rest, after some soul-searching, i have decided to travel my own path. i will figure it out along the way. i will continue to do my own research. i will try new things like meditation, yoga and supplements. and revisit things that have worked for me in the past, acupuncture, keeping an open mind. all in hopes of finding a balance. my center. i will continue writing as it the best form of therapy for me right now. i will attempt to face a past traumatic experience and figure out how to let it go. its grasp is still there after so many years and can be crippling at times. i will attempt to stop seeking understanding from those that may never understand and instead, live my life. after all, it is my body, my mind and i don’t know how long i’ll be here on earth. i need to make the best of my life, no matter how difficult it may feel or get at times.

i will seek more love, forgiveness and peace in the new year.

and i’m wishing a happy new year to all of you!

 

lemonade award December 13, 2008

Filed under: hope,love,mental illness — clementine @ 2:48 am
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lemonadestand-300

Stephany at soulful sepulcher very kindly awarded my blog with the Lemonade Award. It was quite a surprise and a true honor coming from her. I sincerely thank her. I have enjoyed reading her blog for a year or so now. she reminds me of Erin Brockovich-although on a somewhat different journey, Stephany, like Erin, is a fighter. she fights for truth and justice and peace. but more importantly, she fights for her child. she fights and lives for love. and she never gives up. she is truly gifted and is able to find so much beauty in a (sometimes) ugly world.

this is a little more difficult than i expected. you see, as i type, i long for understanding from my mother. i have her love. but she turns her head when it comes to my illness. for many reasons. her mother was mentally ill and i know i must be a reminder of things unknown to me but possibly sad, tragic events from her own childhood. my mother sees my behavior and actions and does not “see” the illness. my mother chooses to not talk about my illness and feels she must walk on eggshells around me. i understand. i can be unpredictable and most definitely emotional. i take many things personally. but that is who i am. i remember when i checked myself into a mental hospital over ten years ago…my family and then friends did not know what to say or how to act around me. i felt safe and loved only by the people i met at the hospital. since then, things have changed. i lost touch with the girls at the hospital. but my parents still love me, unconditionally and that’s all i can ask for. these days i am very fortunate to have friends who listen to me and love me unconditionally. today i spent time with two of those friends. they have been helping me get through the past few weeks, listening to me and loving me. and i am grateful for the internet and the ability to connect with so many people that do understand me.

Stephany has been to hell and back. she has the scars to prove it. and mostly all for her beautiful daughter. she is a rare flower. there are very few people in this world willing to stick around, listen, understand, love and fight for such a long time. i can think of numerous people that have called me over the years asking me to call their mentally ill friend or family member because they didn’t know what to say. they were tired of trying to understand. they were giving up. and so, thank you, stephany…for never giving up.

The rules of this award are as follows:

* Put the logo on your blog or post.
* Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
* Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
* Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
* Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

and here are my ten nominees, some know what it’s like to fight and survive in a world full of stigma. some know what it’s like when the darkness is both comforting and disturbing. some chose a path without medication, knowing all too well that most psychiatric medications do not work. some speak out against the pharmaceutical companies that are poisoning our children, friends and the elderly. some take these very medications to stay alive. some are still trying to figure out their own path. and all of whom are very brave souls.

beyond meds

…salted lithium

tilting at windmills

polarcoaster

if you’re going through hell keep going

experimental chimp

storied mind

chunks of reality

bipolar recovery

the trouble with spikol

one bipolar life

 

she is gone March 30, 2007

Filed under: depression,life,love,r.i.p. — clementine @ 1:47 pm
Tags: , , , ,

i put my cat to sleep yesterday. it was the hardest thing i’ve ever had to do. several days ago i started a blog about whether or not i should keep this website. and now i think i will. it’s been a healthy outlet for me. and at 5:30 in the morning, awaking for the third time crying i am here. i can hardly see the page. but i’m here. my eyes feel nearly swollen shut. and i want my cat, kinsey, next to me right this second.

i decided i did not want children. living with a mental illness has not been an easy road for me and i did not want to bring a child into what will probably always be a roller coaster life. and kinsey was my child. i’ve had her 16 years. and for most of those 16 years it was just the two of us. she’s been that one constant in my life. oh, i wasn’t ready for this. i thought i was, but who is?

it wasn’t the food that killed her. it was cancer. of the liver. a large tumor and she was in pain. her body was so swollen and full of fluid that the doctor had a hard time finding her veins. after the second injection- i could no longer look into those eyes that couldn’t close. i had to leave the room. my swain stayed with her, crying, as i screamed crying outside. it was the third injection that finally put her at peace.

we buried her at a friend’s house nearby. with beautiful trees and a bench. and flowers. her food dishes are gone. her litterbox, gone. her toys, the favorites, are with her. along with that silly red christmas bow i think she loved. i hear the birds chirping. i’ve been feeding them, and they are my new friends. i know life goes on. and it will. it just hurts right now.

 

i’ve been ready for this my whole life December 6, 2006

Filed under: life,love,mental illness — clementine @ 8:17 pm
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yesterday i read a post by a young girl struggling with her mental illness and those dreams that never seem to become a reality.

the problem of pain is this: it weighs us down. the things most people don’t think twice about doing, it may take someone with a mental illness days, weeks or years to do. and when we finally attempt to do it, we might fail. we might fall. and it’s not that the “other” people don’t fail or fall, they do. they just get up quicker. when we fail or fall, it may then take us days, weeks or years to try again. what we see as failure weighs us down.

right now the film rudy is on tv. as a small child rudy would watch the notre dame games on tv with his dad and his brothers. he dreamed of attending the university. after 3 rejections from notre dame, his dream finally came true. and then he went after his second dream, to play football on the notre dame team. rudy walked on the team under the coaching staff of ara parseghian in 1974. he played his guts out and treated every practice like it was a real game. rudy never quit and won the respect of his team mates. it was this enthusiasm that eventually got rudy in the game. the movie rudy is a true story. rudy’s dream was real, the tackle was real, the carry off the field was real. the struggle was real. rudy was 5′6″ and weighed 165 lbs. he played on the field once. and that was enough.

a friend of mine worked on the film in chicago. he told me stories that rudy was an asshole and i cringed. but this was coming from a man, bitter and miserable, working in the film industry. a few years later my friend quit the film business. he roamed about the country for a while and then went for his dream. he applied to over twenty law schools. he received several rejections. this year he packed up his amazing apartment in chicago and found a tiny studio apartment in a small town, just blocks from the law school he is attending. he’s in his mid-forties.

it’s now the scene when rudy shows his father the acceptance letter into notre dame. his father is yelling, “my son is going to notre dame!” rudy leaves the steel mill where his father worked. where he once worked.

eight years ago i was working for my father. he owned a foundry. they made grey and ductile iron castings. it was a dirty place and the work was hard. i was his office manager and i was miserable. i saw an ad in the local paper. a universal film was about to start shooting in my town. i sent my resume with no experience…not even a video or commercial. the casting office thought my father’s company was a film casting company. once in the interview, they realized i had no experience. i did not want to walk away without the job. i made that clear. i told them it was a dream, a life-long dream to work on a film. they hired me. i walked away from that foundry just like rudy walked away from that steel mill. my father’s heart broke just a bit, but he was happy, so happy for me. i cast my father, he worked as an extra in the movie. on set, my dream was suddenly a reality to him and he cried. the movie was october sky. another true story of a man, homer hickam, from a small coal mining town in west virginia who dreamed of going to space. he dreamed of building rockets. today, he works for NASA.

did rudy ever want to give up? absolutely. homer? yes. my friend? sure. did i ever want to give up? most definitely. but we didn’t. and two of the above have a mental illness. imagine the feeling rudy must have had running out onto that field. imagine the feeling homer must have had that first day he walked into his NASA office. imagine the feeling my friend had the first day of law school. and i can tell you what it was like my first day on set. looking around, the sets. the cameras. the actors. the first time i heard “roll camera!” my heart felt like it was going to explode. that’s what dreams are all about. but they can be realities. you just have to keep dreaming and keep trying. and you must continue to get up when you fall.

i have no idea how we’re going to pay our rent or my health insurance. but i’m still dreaming. my swain and i are writing a script. i’ll send it to anyone i think might be interested. and then i’ll send it to strangers. it might not sell, people might not like it but i’ll give it my best shot. sometimes a mental illness will keep you on the sidelines. and that is OK. but know in your heart someday you’ll be on that field. even if it’s only once. and i’ll be on that field again, because like rudy said, i’ve been ready for this my whole life.

 

burning the t-shirt October 29, 2006

Filed under: pain — clementine @ 8:03 pm
Tags: , ,

today i woke up feeling terrible. for several days headaches have been waking me from my sleep. and not just your average headache. head pounding. sensitive to light. i can’t focus. my only thought is, excedrin, make it stop, now. i thought maybe my sinus headaches were back but now i’m thinking it’s a side effect from lamictal. i’ve had them before but with acupuncture, they quickly disappeared. it looks like i’ll be returning for more acupuncture once i get paid.

the headaches coupled with it’s that time of the month…and a bunch of stress, i’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. the stress would be, me struggling…to let go of something that happened so very long ago. to this day it rears its ugly head and disrupts my life. it makes trusting someone extremely difficult and therefore causes problems in my relationship, my marriage.

i believe most mentally ill human beings are born that way. it’s genetic. that’s the case with me. because there is no other explanation for suicidal thoughts at 13. especially when life wasn’t so bad. my parents worked hard to make sure i had the best of everything. and yet, i didn’t want to live. life to me was hopeless. and that’s why at 13 i saw my first of many psychiatrists. and then just as life seemed painful enough a man entered my life. at a party. age fifteen. this is what i remember. a gravel driveway. my underwear ripped from me. hard thrusts. my head banging against a tire. a struggle. and then. a bathtub. i’m in it wearing only a t-shirt. and there was blood. on my ear. on my face. on my t-shirt. my friend since the age of four leaning over me telling me everything would be ok. except it wasn’t ok.

i was so far from ok that…that night and all memories of that night escaped me for years. it was as if it never happened. until one crisp fall day, four years later. it slowly creeped back. something triggered it, of course. i remembered the man and the night. i allowed the pain and the memories to overwhelm me to the point of escaping them. for years. drinking. alone. quit college. waiting tables. a brief stay in a mental hospital. never in a relationship. men used me and i was just fine with that or so i thought i was. i deserved it, it was how it was to be, i believed that more than anything.

there were periods of light. but mostly darkness. and then one day, i decided i was tired of spinning my wheels, lost. my dream to work in the film industry became a reality. and not by luck. i pursued that dream with all i had. some could say i’ve been successful. my list of credits is impressive. but all along, i was still lost. the work was yet another escape. for eighteen years i’ve been wearing the same t-shirt. it is old, worn and dirty. and yet, it has been comfortable, safe, all these years. until now. this year marked the year i let someone in. i opened my heart to a man and began to tear down the walls. the feelings of worthlessness. the fears. the anxieties. only, that t-shirt is still here. it’s not comfortable and i’ve replaced it with a nice warm sweater or a pair of pajamas but it’s still hanging there begging me to put it on, every once in a while. i want to burn that t-shirt. and i don’t know how. i need to burn it. i don’t know how. my only hope is that my strength will soon defeat this pain. i am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. i do not believe in turning back time, if only we could erase one moment. there are days i would like to, and this is one of those days. but…no, because we are who we are because of these pains. and i wouldn’t want to be anyone else but me.

i am reminded that i am so very lucky. my swain…my love is there, every step, every breathe, reminding me that i deserve this. i am worthy of this love and so much more. i believe it now, more than anything. but that damn t-shirt still taunts me.

 

it’s the great pumpkin… October 28, 2006

Filed under: life,love — clementine @ 1:55 pm
Tags: , ,

if i had to list my top three holidays they would be in the following order: halloween, christmas and thanksgiving. for many reasons, but mostly because they fall during my favorite seasons, fall and winter.

halloween is near…and it’s time to carve a pumpkin…

the jack-o-lantern custom comes from irish folklore. ss the tale is told, a man named jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked satan into climbing a tree. jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree’s trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree. according to the folk tale, after jack died, he was denied entrance to heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to hell because he had tricked the devil. instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. the ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer. the irish used turnips as their “jack’s lanterns” originally. but when the immigrants came to america, they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips. so the jack-o-lantern in america was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.

i’ve spent halloween, alone, or with friends, the last fourteen years. tonight, watching my swain carve the pumpkin brought tears to my eyes.