Category Archives: mental illness

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 24, 2017. I am alive and well.

Two friends let me know they wanted to know how I felt in my last blog; how it felt when I broke my wrist and got called a boy. I thought how I felt was implied in the actions I took. They said not.

When I walked myself from the two teachers, without talking to them, to the nurse’s office I felt alone and my wrist hurt as if a big foot had snapped it in two. I was a shy third grader, too afraid to ask for help yet showing up at the nurse’s office like a colt on the way to a blacksmith for the first time.

Dressed in pants with my hair short and my body long I was mistaken for a boy. One particular time, I was walking down the street with my grandfather. We were heading home after getting ice cream. A neighbor called to my grandfather and asked if I was his grandson. My grandfather replied “granddaughter.” The damage was done. I was hurt and embarrassed; a small dog wet from a bath looking like a rat. My grandfather tried to make good by bringing up my report card. He said he was proud of me. All A’s.

I ran into my sister at my psychiatric clinic. I was there to get medication. I heard her say “Kristina.” Looking up from my book, there she was. She had deeply wronged me years ago so I had walked away from her. Until that moment, I hadn’t had any contact with her since my father’s funeral seven years earlier.

Seeing her was terrible. She looked like she was suffering. She looked haunted. A friend said of me decades ago that I look haunted. Now I know what she meant. It’s something to do with the eyes and expression of the face. A child waiting to be scolded for licking all the frosting off the cake.

My sister is a drug addict along with being mentally ill. It has never been more obvious. She no longer has her Sandra Bullock good looks. She is missing her front teeth and the teeth that she does have look rotted. Her face is tanned like that of a person who can’t get away from the sun, who has no shelter. Although it’s not cold, she is wrapped in a blanket. Her pants are hospital issued and her white t-shirt has seen happier days. It is no longer full of air and breeze like soft cotton is when new.

I give her my phone number but am not particularly kind to her. All said, she is still my baby sister. I wish I had been more welcoming. It’s been six days and she has yet to call. If anyone reading this knows her, please encourage her to get a hold of me. I am an older sister wanting to erase some of her strain, wanting to offer her a hot cup of coffee laced with vanilla syrup, wanting to embrace her in a hug that is intended. All said, I do love her. It hurts to know she suffers. It hurts like frost bite on a winter day, so unnecessary if simply clothed. There but for the grace of God go I…..

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 April 3, 2017. I am alive and well.

I’m reading a young adult novel The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall. A young adult novel because I’m interested in writing a young adult novel. And yes, the main characters in the book are ghosts.

One of my closet friends has been a ghost hunter, recording paranormal activity. Obviously, she believes, without a doubt, that places can be haunted. I don’t know that I believe this. I do know that I feel my grandmother and mother near me at times. I don’t know if that’s because they truly are or because I will them to be with all my might. My cats, Grams named after my grandmother, and Annie named after my mother, do often stare at space intently as if they’re watching something move about. Their ears prick up and their eyes focus. I imagine a gust of fog entering my bedroom like smoke trailing from a lit cigarette in somebody’s hand.

I’m  also listening to Andy Cohen read from his diaries. I wonder what makes his drinking coffee and buttering toast more interesting than someone else doing the same thing. Seeing as his diaries made it to fourth on the New York Time’s Bestsellers List he must be doing something right. The mundane becomes extraordinary. I wonder if he can make flossing teeth entertaining simply because he’s Andy.

I write memoirs. I must think, like Andy, that something I’ve done is worth telling. I’ve listened to people say “write what you’d want to read.” So I’ve done this. I’ve written about hope despite the fact that I have schizophrenia and alcoholism. My sweat is no sweeter than others; I’ve just managed to wipe my brow on page ten and change my socks for a clean pair on page eleven.

Writing about my life is hard, is fun, is something I hope to continue doing even if or when someone tells me I’m boring.

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.

Today is May 27, 2016. I am alive and depressed.

I am no mother for reasons I can list:  one, I’ve never been financially stable; two, I would have to come off all psych medications which would traumatize me and God knows if it would in turn, traumatize my fetus; and last, I would hate to pass on mental illness. I do have friends who have mental illness and have children. They are wonderful parents and their children glow.

My own mother died at the age of 58. Her liver stopped working. She went into a coma and died shortly after. Literally, she was walking around Thursday day and then in the early hours of Friday morning, slipped into a coma. I knew she drank too much but didn’t know that Jack Daniels would chase her into an early death.

I regret time not spent with my mom. Her last year, I was deep into a depression that often stole my mobility. It was like being a stone amongst stones and then being removed to sit on a shelf in a wealthy woman’s home, quickly being covered in a sheet of dust. Occasionally, a person would wipe me clean. The clean wouldn’t last. My shine would be ruined. Being depressed is intense. The world is not welcoming. A fly enters a car. The windows are rolled up. The fly is trapped indefinitely. I am underwater but eventually float to the surface in one big gasp. Depression leaves me. My mother is still dead.

Astonishingly, I was at my mom’s hospital bedside and she sat up and looked at me. Rather than tell her I loved her I said, “I know you loved us.” She smiled, huge smile, then laid back down disappearing into the folds of white cotton sheet.

I miss my mom daily. Sometimes, I will write a poem just for her. I choose to believe that when my cats eye a certain spot suddenly in my room, it is her looking out for me.

 

Today is March 25, 2016. I am alive and well.

In this blog, I have heavy opinions. I get concerned that I will lose readers when stating opinions whose weight are more than five pounds. I told myself to get over it and simply write. It is never my intention to upset anyone.

Kick-Ass Creativity and Assisted Suicide are books that were side by side on the book truck at work. I found this curious. I found this right. I believe in assisted suicide when the person wanting to die has already lost their life.

There was a show, which I never watched, titled 100 ways to die. I was appalled. I have attempted suicide at least nine times. I am terrible at dying. All I need is someone teaching me ways to die.

Suicide for the mentally ill, when the body is healthy, is to me the ultimate in self-centeredness. I do know that people, such as myself, are sick also when mental illness rears its ugly head. I don’t want to imply that suffering is any less than a person who is physically ill. I actually think in many cases, the suffering of people with mental illness is greater, but then, I have never had a debilitating physical illness.

Kick-Ass Creativity with assisted suicide is unnecessary. It seems pills are the only way that allows a person to die peacefully, with no pain. Or maybe through an IV like they do death row inmates. Or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Kick-Ass Creativity is great for those with mental illness. When I was at my worst once again, I got thrown into an art studio with others whom shared common experiences. I began painting and picked up drawing with charcoal. Creativity can come in the form of gardening or cooking, handshakes or smiles, art of all kinds to include mosaics, ceramics, etc., or writing; anything that takes one out of their self, placing them in the zone.

I have chosen the pen to be my axe and words to be my wood. The fact that I don’t dip into darkness that often is mind blowing. When I stared into my window at night only to see my reflection staring back at me, I was empty and tired and alone. At eighteen, I was done. No one could pull me out of the pit that surrounded me. The walls of the pit were made of packed earth. I could not claw my way out. Soft dirt did not exist.

This Sunday, the 27th of March, I will be 52-years-old. My life is full with spirituality as my guide. I love the people in my life and they, me. Seeing my reflection in a window does not bring me to the feet of despair any longer. I walk in light. I may not be able to hula hoop, but I can make soft boiled eggs. I can feed another person. Life is good to me and I to it.