Category Archives: family

Today is December 22, 2017. I am alive and well.

My short memoir piece installed over 4 blogs. Hospital Visit Number 19, final blog.

 

It is cool in the hospital. I am glad for my thermal shirt, jeans, and thick socks.

Bobby approaches me and says hi. I say hi back.

“Wow,” he says, “You can speak.”

I give him a smile.

“And Smile.”

“Don’t get too use to it,” I say with a grin the size of the Chesire Cat’s in Alice’s Wonderland.

Dr. Purewal arrives at noon. We meet for twenty minutes in which time he determines I am good to go home.

I am on the patio of the hospital. The Phoenix sun is strong, wood thrown onto an already burning fire. The heat reaches my bones. I will be released in an hour. John will go over my medications and aftercare plan.

My mind is a slow hum. The sound is soft like a T-shirt dropped on a tile floor. Today, my mind is my friend. My mind is something to pay attention too. It is a waterfall. Thoughts dropped entering into a pool of calm water, the ripples smoothing out and again returning the pool to calm.

I will go home today and feed my cats. I will sit in a straight backed chair at the kitchen table with my grandmother and eat soup with rye bread. My depression has lifted. I am able to wash the dishes in the sink, dry them, and place them in the cupboard. Exhaustion has lifted. I’m no longer surrounded by dust. Life is clean again, not just a mirage in the desert. I press my hand to my chest. My heart beats strong again. I will protect it, but not to the point of eliminating all relationships. I can be strong and vulnerable at the same time.

I am happy to have my psychosis end. It’s not me that is horribly affected by my loss of reality. It’s the people around me. I am oblivious. I am lost. Those outside myself are well aware. Are present. I am glad to hold hands with my loved ones again. We wish on the stars together and delight in the moon. My wish is simple, stay home and love.

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Today is December 18, 2017. I am alive and well.

My short memoir piece. Hospital Visit Number 19. Installment 3 of 4.

The hospital staff and Guy remind me that I have schizophrenia. It is something that does not go away. Not like the pain of a pulled rotten tooth. I cannot pull this from my mind. I am wired, attached to hallucinations. Why do they feel so real? I am the extension of the antennae on an old fashioned television set. Aluminum foil. Yes, it is rigged. I am rigged. Through medication and support of people, they are trying to make the rigged part go away. They are trying to help me stand even when I sense that I am falling. Not falling into sickness, but falling into a different me, one I can only understand with the help of medication and clean people.

I will fall asleep in the hospital once again. I wake for medication and meals and the occasional conversation with the doctor and staff. I wake for my boyfriend. Sadly, I wake to the voices, too. They are with me like loose sleeves on a jacket that is too tight across my chest. Occasionally, they drop through the wrists of the jacket. It is in these moments that I exalt. I can count ten fingers and ten toes. I can make peace with my God. And most importantly, I can feel the love from those who touch me, warm like a wet washcloth used to remove the dust from my cheek. I am loved and I do love. This slides into my thinking like a person sliding into home plate, scoring the winning run, beating out the baseball sent from the outfield.

My mind slowly gets better. A cake bakes at 400 degrees for twenty minutes. Eventually, the toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Eventually, my mind comes out clean. I am able to communicate in simple sentences not requiring a great deal of thought from the listener. My silence is no longer the result of a sickened mind hiding from the florescent bulbs of the hospital.

It is breakfast time. All of us gather in the main area and receive a tray. I am able to enter the rec room and claim a seat at one of the round tables. French toast and sausage. Cereal and a carton of milk. The voices are soft. Thy no longer berate me. Pick up the fork, they say. Eat, they say. It tastes good, they say. I’m okay with them repeating what it is I’m doing. It is much better than being told to die or told to call the fat man obese and the skinny girl anorexic. My voices can be cruel, can ask me to do cruel things.

After eating, I return the tray to the cart. John, the psych nurse, approaches me, clipboard in hand, like he does every morning.

“Good morning, Kristina.”

“Morning.”

“Are you feeling suicidal today?”

Only in a psych hospital would a person start the conversation with this question.

“No,” I respond.

“And the voices?”

“Still there, but not bad.”

“How was breakfast?”

“Good. I’ll be going home soon, I think.”

“Are you ready?”

“Yes.”

“Maybe so. Maybe so. The doctor should be in soon.”

John leaves me with this parting thought. It is up to the doctor as to whether or not I go home. Dr. Purewal really listens to me. When I am able to hold a conversation with him and let him know I’m ready to go home, he usually agrees. He knows me well. He has been my doctor in the hospital for years.

 

Today is October 27, 2017. I am alive and well.

My blog is delayed. I actually wrote a blog on Monday to post but decided it wasn’t appropriate. It was about my friend who lost her 93-year-old mom and my relative who attempted suicide by trying to slit an artery in her leg. Her attempt was fueled by alcohol.

I love these two people. It’s not always easy to know what to say. The best I can do is to say I love you. Which I’ve done.

We leave this world in all different ways. Death greets us fiercely. Except for near death experiences, death is blind; we don’t know what’s beyond it.

Some doctors feel like we’re not honoring death because we’re treating it like a disease. Doctors try to cure it no matter what. Keep the patient alive no matter what. Sometimes I believe we simply, or not so simply, need to let the person go so the suffering ends. As hard as that may be it can be the kind thing to do.

Sadly, my grandmother ended up feeling bad and responsible for my grandfather’s death. My grandfather broke his neck. He couldn’t swallow with the halo, so then they gave him a feeding tube. Then he got pneumonia. It was one thing after another. When they took off the halo, they discovered the bones had not fused together because of osteoporosis. By then he was too fragile for surgery. My grandmother decided to put him in hospice. The hospital had a floor for hospice patients. His room was nice. Warm. Even cozy. There was no medical equipment and he was in a regular bed, dressed in his own pajamas with a quilt as a cover.

My grandmother didn’t realize that they weren’t going to feed him. I do believe he died from starvation. He went peacefully. My grandmother was with him when he took his last breath.

My grandfather always raked the leaves that had fallen from the trees in the front yard. The morning after his death, I raked these leaves. Raking them allowed me to feel the presence of him.

Today I have a healthy fear of death. That was not always the case. I have many times sought death to no avail. It hasn’t been my time to go.

My last suicide attempt has been at least nineteen years ago. Since then, I have lived much life. My relationships with friends have deepened. I had a fourteen year relationship with one man who I loved with the whole of me. I completed an MFA and had a book published. A short memoir piece of mine is being published in the Delmarva Review out in November and currently on-line.

I have breathed life. My breath is steady like the clip clop of a horse in cantor. The raven soars with ease. I soar while having my boots keep me heavy to the earth.

Today is October 9, 2017. I am alive and well.

Exclusion is always dangerous. Inclusion is the only safety if we are to have a peaceful world.      Pearl S. Buck

There are three things I learned from someone to never talk about amongst people I don’t know. They are religion, politics, and sex. I am a spiritual being. I am a political being. And I am a sexual being. Yet, I don’t really address these things in my blog. Why not? I ask myself that often. Is it because I’m afraid of losing followers of my blog? Maybe. Is it because these things are deeply personal? Maybe, even though I write about things that are deeply personal like suicide, mental illness, and alcoholism.

My first time practicing exclusion happened when I was 18-years-old. I attempted to harm everyone close to me so that I had no one who loved me. I wanted to be free to die. Somehow, in my mind, I couldn’t take my own life if people were loving me.

I did reach the point of not feeling responsible to anyone. I did attempt to take my own life. I ended up in an intensive care unit. Upon awakening in ICU, there stood my grandmother and grandfather beside my bed. I will always remember my grandmother’s face. In that moment, it was one of absolute love. I had not been condemned by my decision to die.

Present day, I still exclude others from my life. I don’t mingle with people that hate. I don’t want to expose myself to that soul depleting practice.

Can I love these people from afar knowing we are all of this world? We all struggle. We all experience pain. We all dream. We all have people we care about or have cared about.

Can I love the man who just murdered 53 people, injuring 500 more in Las Vegas? No. I judge him. I am horrified by him. Can I forgive the likes of him? Big question. Answer, I don’t know. Although, I do know forgiveness is in my best interest. I don’t want my heart to harden.

I hope Democrats and Republicans and people of neither party can hold each other in loving thought and with respect while still believing vehemently in what they believe. I hope that all people are touched by a bit of the divine. Even petting a dog or loving a cat is simply divine. Certainly, praying to a deity who is not understood and cannot be defined is divine.

As far as sex, well, I’ll just say have fun, feel deep, and don’t get pregnant unless you want to. This includes everyone from heterosexuals to the LGBT community. We can all have some part in pregnancy.

Today is September 25, 2017. I am alive and well.

I committed blog suicide with my last blog. I painted myself as a selfish, self-centered woman with no time for personal relationships. I was brutally honest, yet I’m not all of that person. What did I intend to say? I have no idea.

There are two things I value most:  love and truth.

I am loved beyond the edge of language and I love beyond the edge of language. I have a large family mostly made of friends with a few blood relations added to the mix. God and my family provide me with the oxygen to get through a day. God in the abstract. My family in the non-abstract.

I love God like I do the rising sun or the humming moon. Like I do the energy passed between me and another. I love God like I do electricity or running water; all things beyond my understanding. I am a light in a lit world. Seemingly my own, yet belonging to something large, something brighter.

People are bowls of fruit, oven baked bread, the proud sunflower. They are radios, televisions, and cell phones. People are smiles, frowns, and hard stares. Reaching arms and planted feet.

I love people like I do warm towels, down pillows, two scoops of chocolate ice cream. I love people with an intensity that matches the acceleration of a Lamborghini.

Keats wrote “truth is beauty and beauty is truth.” Truth/beauty are necessary to my life. I once had a friend tell me I shared too much. She was trying to protect me from adverse reactions to what I said. I talk freely about mental illness, alcoholism, and suicide. These things I have come to terms with. They currently don’t keep me from an amazing life. I told my roommate last night that there is freedom in having as long a piece of dental floss as I want. In the psych hospital floss is limited. I have not been to a psych hospital for eight years.

Telling the truth is not hard for me. Nor is accepting the truth of others. I am taught how to be in this world gracefully by others who have grace. I know when I do wrong and am able to right it most of the time. Life is sensational and intriguing. Thank God for standing in green grass.

Today is September 4, 2017. I am alive and well.

There ain’t no use in dyin’ ‘fore yer time. Lots of folks is walkin’ ’round jes as dead as they’ll ever be.   Alice Caldwell Rice

I know what’s it’s like to walk around dead. I remember clearly waking up from a night’s sleep, from a nap, from several naps and having nothing to look forward to, nothing to feel joy about, nothing to love.

I was a vessel with no oars, adrift. I didn’t know I could swim to shore at anytime. Getting wet was painful. It reminded me that I could take a towel to dry off. I could get into clean clothes. Neither thing appealed to me. Both things required too much energy.

My grandmother was afraid to leave me in the house alone. She was afraid of what I might do….I might try to take my own life. A balloon will pop if too much pressure is applied. The latex that is left afterward is trash. I was certain to leave trash. I was certain to leave a life not lived. Harsh, but true.

My grandmother had to go to the mountains to close up the cabin for the winter. She asked my mother to come and stay with me. My mother did. She created a space for herself in the family room in front of the TV with sheets, an ashtray, and a bottle of vodka. Mom whose petals have long since fallen off leaving only the unblinking face of a sunflower.

I didn’t mingle with her when she was there. We were both dying in our own ways. Maybe my life greeting her life would cause a silent flame that had no place to burn. A candle wick unlit saves the candle from melting. Maybe we thought melted wax was too messy and impossible to clean from the carpeting. Our lives were not messy. They were stale.

I don’t recall the day I began to walk back into the living. But I know that I did because I am here and have been here for quite sometime, unafraid of leaving little messes in my wake. I try to clean up as I go and am usually able to wipe the water spots from the mirror leaving a sweet reflection of a kind smile.

My mom didn’t fare so well. She died at the age of 58 from alcoholism; her liver stopped working.

I regret the love that went unshared between us. I believe the most valuable thing we have to offer is our time. I didn’t give my mom time. So, today I hope to spread kindness in this world. Walk into life with a smile for others. Corny, yes. Necessary, yes. I reach out today and am offered a bouquet.

Today is June 19, 2017. I am alive and well.

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.  -Thoreau

My dreams are not fancy. I dream about being able to purchase as many jars of jam from the grocery store that I want. I dream about dining out all week long. I wish to buy a Toyota ForeRunner to replace my 1998 with 252,000 miles on it ForeRunner. I dream of a house with at least two bathrooms and a yard and a baby Shi Tzu who my cats love. My second book would sell to great acclaim and because of this, people would  run to buy my first book. The fact that laundry just tripled with the new washing machines being placed in my complex would not bother me.

The things in my dreams are not outside human capacity. I don’t dream of flying, my body surfing clouds and traveling in sunsets. Reading minds is not something I would care to do just as I would not want to clobber people who are mean to me recently or ever. Oh yes, there was this one guy who was locked in the psych ward with me who called me a freak.

My dreams don’t move me to a national level or world view. I don’t dream of impeaching the president or reversing climate change. Getting rid of cancer and AIDS would be fabulous but I rarely think of these things, which reminds me of how self centered my dreams really are.

I do dream of my grandmother and mother returning from the dead in 50-year-old bodies. Sharing my life with them and my new found freedom from the effects of schizophrenia or other mental illnesses would be possible. Would happen. Both my grandmother and mother would know that I’m happy. It’s possible that they do know this even though they’re dead. Possible because my cats often times act as if someone I can’t see has entered the room, their gaze significant and penetrating.

Dreams are wonderful things. On some level, they bring with them hope. Longing does not make me sad. Longing propels me to live deeply. Say yes to life and life says yes back. It’s that simple.