Category Archives: Mental Health

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

I miss clothes shopping. There is no money in my budget to do this with. The truth is I own 17 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of dress pants, 5 blouses, several shirts and several jackets. I don’t need anymore clothes. To think I can wear a different pair of jeans everyday for a week and a half is mind blowing. And I don’t grow out of them. My weight is stable.

People think I’m naturally thin. This is not true. I work at it. If I had my druthers, I would eat cake with butter cream frosting on a daily basis. I love butter cream frosting. I always go for the flowers. If a cake has whipped cream frosting I am disappointed. Cake is an elixir. Cake is a joy. At Safeway Grocery there is four different kinds of cake, single serving of all, in the same container. Whoever thought that up is a genius! And yes, I would eat it all at one sitting.

I also exercise a great deal. I’ve been lifting weights and walking on the treadmill for years. Guy, my ex, is a personal trainer and set me up well with this. Currently, I weight train with Christy for an hour four times per week and walk on the treadmill six times per week for 50 minutes. Believe it or not, I don’t like exercise. I wish I could send my body to the gym and leave my mind at home reading books.

I’ve been thinking about homelessness a great deal, lately. My sister did telephone me. She is homeless. I asked her where she slept, hoping she would say a shelter. She didn’t; she sleeps on the street. Maybe there’s a park nearby. There is a big park by the library where I work. People commune in the grass. People sleep in the grass.

I wonder about little things being difficult. Where do you charge your phone? You’re on FaceBook…where do you use a computer? How do you shower? How do you maintain your clothes? I mean, c’mon, I have 17 pairs of jeans and they’re all laundered.

I have a full refrigerator, a stove/oven combo, and a dishwasher. I don’t use my dishwasher, but I do have one. I also have a microwave I use to heat water often in order to make coffee. I have coffee, by God. No, God has nothing to do with my coffee, but God has given me life; I’m talking spiritually. I say in respect to my sister, “there but for the grace of God go I.” I spend time in the hope of growing my spiritual condition. If I were on the streets, would I do this? Probably not. Where is God in my sister’s life? Maybe that’s not a question for me to ask.

I love easily today. I love my life today. Any problem today is a luxury problem. And have I mentioned?…I have two cats who curl up to me as I write in bed. Heaven.

Today is May 14, 2017. I am alive and well.

Is it too cliche to write about mother on Mother’s Day? I do it anyway.

My mother has been dead for a long time. I miss her more today then I did when she first died. I have more life experiences to share with her. A whole tablet full of life; sentences that breathe…I had a boyfriend for fourteen years who left me for another woman and moved to Florida. Mom was not familiar with me having boyfriends. She knew me to have girlfriends. She hated the fact that I had girlfriends.

Mom died from a liver that stopped working. Yes, it was an alcohol related death. I knew she drank too much, but I didn’t know it was signed up to kill her. She was walking around as usual on Thursday and then in a coma that night. The second to last thing she said to me was from a psychiatric urgent care. She was acting crazy and her roommate called crisis. Crisis took her to the urgent care. She said to me she trusted “all the wrong people.” I’m certain she meant my father for one. He ran away with another woman the same month that both mom’s parents had died. It was tragic. It was a river stopped by a damn beavers had made. The flow interrupted. She asked me one morning to go to my father’s apartment to catch him with the other woman. My father was living in an apartment for work and would go home on the weekends until he wouldn’t anymore. I refused to go catch him.

The psychiatric urgent care wanted to clear my mom physically before treating her mind. They thought she looked bad. She fell into a coma in the ambulance on the way to Lincoln Memorial hospital. Honest Abe. The honest thing to say about her death is that her alcohol consumption killed her. She was a drunk. I tell her story with the hope that other people will put down the bourbon, knowing that alcohol is “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” A person can’t direct what heavily drinking will do. The alcohol is the beast with all the power.

I visited her at Lincoln Memorial. The last thing she did was sit up and stare at me. I told her I loved her. I told her I knew she loved her daughters. She laid back down with a sigh. And that was it. She died without waking again. She was only 58. Five years more than I am right now. Five years I have to set the world afire doing my thing. What is my thing to do? To write. To read. To work. To love. To write.

I miss you mom. When the cats are both staring at the entrance to my bedroom, I choose to believe it’s you who has come to visit. You give me strength. You taught me to be courageous. I will always be your daughter. I will live past 58. I hope you are proud of me. I love you like I do walking. I walk forward with you on my mind. You, leading me to water. Thank you.

Today is May 1, 2017. I am alive and well.

The first thing my sister said to me when I ran into her after 7 years of no contact was “Wow, you’re still alive.” And then my uncle said to me yesterday “I bet you didn’t think you’d see 53.”

It is true. I had no intention of living to 53. A driver has no intention of holding up traffic when her truck stalls out. I have had somewhere between 15 and 20 suicide attempts in my lifetime. The last one was in 1999. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to die since then; that’s simply the last time I attempted. Maybe the East Indian doctor with the soulful dark eyes, smelling of lavender, rubbed off on me. She told me at my bedside in the hospital ICU that I had a lot of life to live. That I had something special to offer. A five-year-old gets excited when she opens the door of the restaurant for her mother for the first time, offering entrance. I got excited about my book being published in 2014. It documented my recovery from schizophrenia and alcoholism. And yes, my time away from my last suicide attempt.

I have been free from the obsession to die for sometime now. That thought had plagued me like wanting a cigarette, needing a cigarette, in a smoke free coffee house. All thinking got set aside as I prayed for God to take me after swallowing handfuls of pills.

I am very bad at dying. It is hard to kill one’s self. I believe that those who do die from suicide were meant too….I can’t tell you why I believe this. Some ice cubes in a glass of tea float to the top while others remain at the bottom. I can’t tell you why all the ice doesn’t float to the top, getting in the way of the straw.

I am in the way of death. I have floated to the top. God removed my obsession to die. Life is new to me on a daily basis.

I remember the first time I tied my own shoes. I was excited to be able to do this on my own. On occasion, my shoe becomes untied while walking on the treadmill. I push the pause button and then bend over to tie my shoe. Ready to walk again, I hit a button and the treadmill resumes.

Life resumes. I love breathing. I love eating cake with butter cream frosting. I love that my cats woke me up this morning wanting kibbles. I take care of two living things. They thank me by curling up against me while I’m on the bed napping, writing, or reading.

There is no time to die today. Afternoon approaches. I know I will eat vegan chili, salad, and cornbread. I know I will wash my hair later. I will leave the house today to go to a sobriety meeting. I am 53 and loving it. So I say to my sister “I am alive and well.” She responds with a “thank God” and “it’s good to see you.” It is good to be seen. It will reach a 115 degrees here in the desert. And then there is air conditioning to be found inside.

Today is April 10, 2017. I am alive and well.

So I let my friend, Gloria, know that I would be posting a blog every Monday. Letting her know this makes me accountable. I’m a say what you mean and do what you say kind of woman. I will indeed make an effort to post every Monday.

Rather than write, I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of reading. Sometimes I flash back to 1998 and the two years I spent depressed, in bed, wishing I would never wake. When I did wake, I read. It was two years of chocolate cake, cheese danish, and reading. I was so sensitive to sound and stimulation that my grandmother’s feet shuffling down the hall outside my bedroom door infuriated me. I was the stalk of a sunflower who had lost all her petals and could only dream about the color yellow. The stalk I was, rotted. I had to morph into the roots of a potato, a yam, something of the earth that was sturdy enough to withstand long periods of drought. Waking was brutal.

I have an enormous fear of depression. I never want to find myself confined to a bedroom for long periods of time again. I don’t want to rot in my own mind.

I have a friend who is severely depressed. I share with her where I’ve been. I might as well be talking to a snail. She doesn’t respond to things I say, but then, I could not perk up from pep talks, either. I could not fathom that someone else could have been locked in the tunnel, also. No light. Little breath. Short gasps. And me, tucked beneath dirty sheets.

Thank God life has moved on since then. I read today and remind myself I am not chained to books. I can put the book down and fix myself a spinach salad. I can put the book down and shower, allowing the water to massage my shoulders. I can put the book down and wash my sheets, making myself comfortable in the family room. I answer the phone. I put gas in my Fore-runner. I drive to work. And I do work.

I may have a dark night, but I don’t have dark weeks. I am free to roam outside my home. I love being alive the way my cats love watching the wind rattle the bushes from their perch on the window sill. The light pours in. I am alive. I feel my cats rub against me and I do love.

Today is March 23, 2017. I am alive and well.

I haven’t posted a blog in several months. I was unable to got on Word Press. Thank you to all who have recently become followers. And always, thank you to those who have been with me for quite some time.

I just started looking for an agent to represent my second book. My query letter is as follows:

Emma, the Giraffe at the end of the Hall, follows my book Mind Without a Home: A Memoir of Schizophrenia. Kirkus Review called Mind Without a Home “inventive, jaggedly lyrical, and disturbing.”

Emma is my continued journey away from the crippling effects of alcoholism and schizophrenia. Unlike years ago, I am addicted to life. Life shows up in good form and in bad. The dark isn’t a terrible thing; it’s simply a moment waiting for batteries. My mind is treating me well; dust stops at my ears. I am moving like a swan in sneakers without webbed feet. I am a little beetle surfing the air on a green leaf.

I make a home outside the psychiatric hospital with a lover, Guy, and two Shih Tzus. Seven years go by, and I remain hospital free.

I lose the lover and dogs without losing my mind. Guy was good to me for as long as he could be.

Today, I am comfortably single with many friends to be responsible to. I am loved beyond the edge of language. A great sense of peace occupies my days. This is what this book is about; my journey to peace and love.

I’ve had one rejection stating that she “wasn’t grabbed.”

I appreciate any opinion you might have regarding my query. Hope you’re having an inspiring day.

Kristina

Today is July 11, 2016. I am alive and well.

My struggling has scuttled away on the back of a cockroach (this is imagined, I don’t have cockroaches in my condo). I brush my obsessions into a small box with a lock and throw the key down the garbage chute. The key clangs as it hits the metal of an empty bin.

One of the things I know about living a sober life is that things change. My thoughts are not clinging to my brain waves like the keys of a piano in the fingers of a beginner playing chop sticks, after chop sticks, after chop sticks. Things have shifted. I am at peace.

I just finished listening to the audio book The 27 Club. It talked about the fact that musicians Brian Wilson, Jimmi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse al died at the ago of 27. All deaths were linked to heavy alcohol and drug abuse. I find this bit of trivia astounding. The world mourned their passing. The world lost major talent. The world was robbed of beauty.

I think of my own suicide attempts. As being no celebrity, my death would be a quiet one. After one attempt at suicide, an East Indian doctor came to visit me in the Intensive Care Unit of Scottsdale Osborn Hospital. She was petite. Her hands delicately hung at her sides. Yet, there was a power to her. She said to me, “you still have something to do in this lifetime.” Her words were kind–unlike the treatment I was getting from some of the nurses. I met her gaze and realized she was not kidding or saying something for lack of saying something else comforting.

I do remember as a kid looking into the mirror and saying, “you will speak before audiences and make more money than you’ll ever need.” I have spoke before audiences while telling my story of sobriety. I have read from my poetry manuscript during my defense for my Master of Fine Arts. I have read at a local bookstore parts of my memoir, Mind Without a Home. I still have yet to have a good deal of money, but don’t doubt that it may happen.

So, it is miraculous again to be at peace after a couple of trying days. I am blessed. Thank God for this wave of linen bellowing from a clothesline.

Today is July 4, 2016. I am alive and struggling.

I stopped taking my anti-anxiety medication three months ago. I had been on it for at least ten years. The doctor said my body had probably gotten used to it and it no longer was doing what it was intended to do. For two days, I have been riddled with anxiety to the point of being paralyzed. Anxiety is like having all the nerves outside my skin, pulsating with fluorescent lighting. It is having a brain obsessed with what could go wrong:  my truck could get a flat tire again or die in traffic; someone could have logged into my checking account; my home could get bed bugs; and the new, cheap products for my face could cause me to break out in a rash. Silly. Nonsense. Whatever it may be called, my mind doesn’t drop my obsessions easily. They pin themselves to me as easy as pinning a name tag just above my left breast.

I have been hiding out in books. No writing. No shaving my legs (I’m a hairy Greek girl). No cleaning my condo. I talk my way through grocery shopping and laundry, grateful that I’m able to do those things.

Maybe the solution is to take anti-anxiety meds again. That seems too easy, like filling an empty ice tray with water. Today, I choose not too. I am happy to be free from one of my seven medications. The others my brain needs–I don’t want to fall off the scale again. Here’s to weight keeping me stable. I am heavy enough not to float away with a lopsided mind. This is good.