Category Archives: Recovery

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 April 24, 2016. I am alive and well.

I don’t like my ankles to itch. Another lifetime ago, with Guy, I had two little dogs. Shih Tzus. They would come in from outside and bite my big toes. I don’t like my feet to tickle. I would discourage them from their activity by kicking my feet forward from the chair upon which I sat.

A lady bug flew in from the open window. She settled nearby. The little dogs went after her in a black, brown, and white fury, their paws the size of a quarter. The lady bug is sharp; she flies off before her impeding death.

I no longer fly away. My body is of earth. The bloom that I am flourishes with clean air. I no longer seek gas or exhaust.

I would wake to walk the little dogs. They vibrated with excitement as I clipped on their leashes. I can only wish to be that excited, to have my skin tingle in anticipation of connecting with the sidewalk, of leaving the safety of wood floors and lowly light for the far reaching sun.

Today is my new life. The little dogs are in Florida with Guy. The two black cats I have leave my feet alone unless I have on shoes. Then they sniff. I read that when they sniff shoes, they are discovering where it is I have been. I wonder what the grocery store smells like. I avoided the spilled peach juice while my hands got lost in the avocados, hoping just one would welcome my squeeze, give in to my fingers.

I’m certain the floor of the grocery is mopped regularly. It is not the produce at waist high that Grams and Annie smell, but rather the wax that leaves the floor shining.

I am connected to the sidewalk without the little dogs. My legs bend rhythmically, no march here. The military at one time called to me just as the nun in the cathedral. I was desperate for discipline, for a plan, for structure, willing to stay my virgin self or to muscle my way through boot camp. Neither manifested.

Today, I am disciplined. I have a plan. I have structure. I fill the cats’ bowls with kibbles. Often, I miss the little dogs but Grams too gives me kisses while Annie stretches on the bed, resting her head on my leg. I have grown use to their unleashed lives. I wake to walk myself, and walk I do for an hour. My heart pumping. My mind intact.

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.

Today is March 13, 2016. I am alive and well.

The following is the first pages of my book in progress, tentatively titled Emma in the Corner:  A Spiritual Quest of Someone Living With Schizophrenia and Alcoholism.

Foreward

This book follows on the back of Mind Without a Home. Much of Mind Without a Home was written when my brain felt sick. The writing is imagistic, metaphorical, not always lucid. In this second book, my mind feels healed. I still hear voices no one else hears. I still think things like “there is a plate in my head I need to dial into.” And yes, the other realities still exist.

When I write my mind feels healed. I have not been in a psychiatric hospital for seven years. I have held my same job with the library for five years. I have been in a relationship with one person for fourteen years, and am just recently newly single. Guy left me for someone else and I did not fall apart.

Because of this change in mind, my writing is more lucid, hopefully not to the point of being boring. Here is where I don’t necessarily know the difference between chaos, lucidity, and freshness. I really ask myself if I’m misrepresenting myself as having schizophrenia and alcoholism because I am doing so well. Then I am reminded to take it back a notch and remember that I have two illnesses that tell me I don’t have them.

If you are meeting me here after reading Mind Without a Home, welcome back. And if this is your first experience of me, hello and I’m glad you came.

Prologue

Emma. I named her Emma. The baby giraffe stands poised at eight feet, 250 pounds, in the corner of the psychiatric hall. I see her as clear as the lines on my palms. She is not able to hide among the Mimosa trees from which she eats. Her body, camouflage. A spotted stick at rest against a peeling barn.

Trees do not pop up from the gray industrial carpeting. I am the only one to see this stately, serene presence at rest in this tumultuous world:  the world outside this psychiatric unit with its loud honking cars, kids on the playground bullying the fat boy, adults bickering over bills, hate crimes inviting real artillery, artillery being used in seemingly random acts of violence.

My brain is dialed in. Emma is beautiful. I believe she winks even though I am fifty yards away at the other end of the hall.

Emma sees farther than other creatures. The Egyptian hieroglyph for giraffe means “to prophesy,” to “foretell.” I’m sad that I won’t always be dialed into Emma. But I will remember how she made me feel safe, feel cared for, feel loved. A ninety-year-old woman having her toes clipped by her granddaughter.

It is giraffe magic the way Emma can disappear among the trees. In the open, Emma stands out like an exclamation mark. It is too bad others are not dialed into seeing her. They too would feel a tremendous amount of peace radiating from her tail.

Emma’s cloven hoofs the size of a dinner plate can kick a death blow. However, giraffes almost never harm another being. They are devout pacifists with neither aggressive or territorial inclinations. They never lock the door to their home they do not have.

Giraffes have no tear ducts, but have been seen to cry.

Emma can spot a person more than a mile away with her bewitching softness of eyes, high gloss and sympathetic, framed by movie-star-lashes.

She moves as a galloping mare, and as silent as a cloud. I imagine her nibbling on stars when not taking care of me. I grow calm looking at her; my smile as large as a split watermelon.

She’s a symbol for people who just don’t fit in:  they may be too tall, or too eccentric, or simply too different from everyone else. She’s my omen of good fortune.

My six foot body reflects off her eyes. I am in love with Emma.

The nurse announces medication time. I will leave my vision, step into the common reality, assured that Emma will be in the corner when I need her.

I will be here when my brain rights itself.

Emma, me, we will live free.

The facts about giraffes I retrieved from the book Tall Blondes by Lynn Sherr.