Wednesday, June 29, 2011
For one thing, I don' t even know if it was known back then whether or not SZ was communicated from mom to child at a higher percentage chance that a normal mom would have of giving birth to a child with this illness. The line of thought back then was that SZ was more environmental (nurture) rather than genetic (nature)...And also the biggest problem was that if you asked me "Do you have schizophrenia?" I would have replied "no." I was deeply in denial for many many years...in fact it is only in the past five years that I have accepted that I have this disease...although I do admit, even now I often feel that there must have been some mistake in my diagnosis. Never mind that probably 50 doctors had independently decided that my problem was schizophrenia. They were simply all wrong! So it is not surprising that I did not take the consequences of giving birth too much into consideration prior to conceiving.
But what is the general feeling amongst people with this illness? What, if any, consensus is there amongst people with schizophrenia in regard to the question of whether or not to propagate? As far as I can see, from being around a forum for such people, where the topic does fairly frequently emerge...the field is split. True, MANY of the people there have a parent (somehow it is usually a mom) who has sz. But despite that fact there are a number of us who have or want children. Of course you must first have a partner in order to do so...and for some people with this disease, that is not something that comes easily. Relationships are something that we do not do well with....(just ask my husband :) )
However those who have decided to refrain from the choice to have kids, are quite adamant and passionate about it. Many do not want to curse their child with the illness. Others know, (showing a fair amount of insight; more than I had) their limitations and feel that they are not capable of being a good parent to a child...and so have decided, in all fairness, not to conceive...or to father a child. And it is also across the board that the people who have children are glad they had them...but I've talked to a number (there are a few exceptions who would do it again in a heartbeat) who, had they been more informed, would have chosen otherwise. I have to confess that I am in that last group. Although my daughter tells me she doesn't share this sentiment, I do not feel that I've been as good a mom as I would have been had I not been ill. The frequent hospitalizations and absences from my daughter have also harmed her and she struggles with trust and a huge amount of separation anxiety. Never mind the fact that my face is almost always expressionless and I am terrible at giving displays of affection.
But I think all in all, that I did the best I could with what I had. And although my daughter has several mental health diagnoses, she has thus far, escaped having any major mental illness. I pray God will continue to spare her...and also that he will her acute recall of the good times, and soften the blows of the bad times.
There is also, before I close, one other issue...and that is the fact that it is not at all desirable for a person with sz to go off of their meds for the 9 month gestational period. I was put on Loxitane ---a drug that has never been proven to cause birth defects....and took a very low dose of that while pregnant...but I've heard horror stories of people whose doctors pulled them off of all their meds once they became pregnant...which is a recipe for disaster...especially with the hormone changes and the stress of pregnancy. So this must be carefully weighed as well.
There are no clear cut answers...I think it must be worked out on a case by case basis...however, I would desire there to be more information available or contact with others who've already had children ...both those who are glad and with those for whom it didn't work out well. In my case, pregnancy had a very stabilizing effect...whether due to hormones or to my great desire to do well and to keep my head clear so that I could care for the baby; I do not know. My current psychiatrist believes it to be the latter. I summoned all of my power with in me to stay relatively stable for those 12 years or so...and then , when my energy ran out; all hell broke loose four years ago...up until just this past year. But with sz nothing is predictable...not even the mood from moment to moment...so great consideration should be given to such a vital matter.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
call their psychiatrist or a suicide hotline or call the police.
Your friend needs help immediately--it can't wait until tomorrow.
When I was in college, in my Sophomore year (which would have been my Senior year were it not for the fact that I'd had to drop out of college for two years with the onset of severe mental illness. (see my story in the Pages entitled Who I've Been and Who I Am. for more on this). The onset of this illness was profound, and included a massive depression which was so painful and intolerable to me that I could only see one way out: Death. And I ended up attempting suicide in my Freshman year and when I survived, had to leave school and spent the majority of the successive next two years in the hospital. While in one of these hospitals, I met a young woman, who, I was delighted to discover, attended the same small Catholic private women's college in Westchester County NY as I did. And we became fast friends. When S. was discharged from the hospital where we met, we temporarily lost contact with each other. However, two years later when I returned to school, I was ecstatic to discover that S. was also there that year...she, in her Senior year.
We spent a lot of time together. It was a difficult time for me, struggling with horrible symptoms, taking medications which didn't really help my symptoms and which made me tired and sick....I had a really hard time focusing on the reason I was there. Rather, my life outside the school was really more important to me. Down the street from the school lived a younger girl, whom I'd also met at that same hospital in the year prior.... The three of us spent a good amount of time together. S. struggled mainly with depression as far as I could see. She also struggled with the urge to hurt herself, as I did too.
One night there came a knock on my dorm door. It was S. She sprawled on the bed next to mine (which was empty...I had the room to myself). And she began to talk. Quietly. In an expressionless voice with an expressionless face, she said calmly, "Cynthia, I've decided that I'm going to kill myself., I have been saving my antidepressants up and now I have enough."
Now, as I look back on this event....I know just how sick I was at the time, because I listened to her dispassionately. I accepted what she said as a logical solution to her anguish...because, after all, was I not myself, daily weighing the option of death as a real possibility? Yet I knew enough to know that IT WAS MY JOB to try to talk her out of it. But as I sat there, I couldn't think of one, single argument for life. I did say, "What about going back to the hospital?" She shook her head and explained that the hospital hadn't helped and that without insurance as she currently was, she would be forced to enter the awful County Hospital nearby. I'd been a patient there myself. Recently. And it was a place I wouldn't send my worst enemy, let alone a friend. So. Because I'd divorced myself then from the Love and Hope that God offers us, I didn't have a clue what to say to her. So we sat in silence.
Now I wonder what was going on in S.'s mind. Was she appalled by my lack of protest?? Did that further harden her resolve and her belief that no one cared or was there for her?? Or did she really really want to die and felt maybe comforted by my acceptance of the idea with such equanimity? Did she choose to tell ME of all people because she knew I wouldn't blow the whistle? Or did she choose me because I, of all the people she knew, cared most about her and could maybe save her??
Well those secrets went with S to the grave. Because the next day, as some friends and I sat in my room, we heard many many sirens going to the dorm next door. We assumed it was a fire drill and remained unpreturbed....However , moments later someone pounded on my door and screamed , "Cynthia, come quick! It's S.!"
That moment is burned into my memory forever. All the air was sucked from my lungs and the realization of the wrong that I had done, began to hit me between the eyes. I jumped from my bed and ran down to the dorm across the street. There was a female police officer shooing curious onlookers away from the entrance to the building. I grabbed her wrist and screamed, "It's S. My friend. I know what she took..Is it too late??" And the woman grasped both of my wrists and led me into the building where I was interviewed by detectives and officers. As I told them what I knew, they finally admitted to me, It was too late. S. was dead.
The officers and detectives all looked at me in dismayed disbelief as I confessed to knowing and not doing anything. The shook their heads in disgust at such a horror.
I was sent to the Nurse's house where she was to keep guard over me for that night until they decided what to do with me. There was no sleep that night. The nurse fed me cup after cup of tea which I drank woodenly. I was numbed by horror and disbelief. No tears fell. I was in too much shock and plunging too deeply into psychosis to respond with any normalcy.
The next day, miraculously, I talked my way out of further incarceration and agreed to leave the premises of the school for the next period of several weeks, while I came to terms with this event that seems too terrible even now to come to terms with or to believe. I threw some clothes into my car and took off on a stint of despair, traveling from one place to another, from friend to friend and often sleeping in my car, driving aimlessly from place to place...seeking a peace which never came.
Upon my return to the school, as the Sisters interviewed me, they discovered that I was not in better shape but worse, and shanghaied me for an interview, ironically, at the very County Hospital where I'd hoped to keep S. from going. And, not surprisingly, I was admitted, to my very loud screams of protest.
Why do I tell this story now?
Because I've discovered the truth of a statement made to me by S.'s psychiatrist who paid a visit to me in the hospital, (to my great dismay). He told me, "Where there is life, there is Hope. When life ends, Hope too, ends."
I am an example of the truth of this statement. Despite many fervent attempts to end this life., my life has continued. And down that long path of many years, I caught a glimpse of the Hope that that Doctor was talking about...And I'm living proof that NO ONE is beyond help.
So if you or someone you know is thinking of ending this life. Consider that statement. How do you know that down the road, you may not receive, help, healing and love? It does happen. I swear.
...just scroll down and you will see it.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I really did NOT want to grocery shop...but it was either that or starve as old Mother Hubbard seemed to be the one who'd done the organizing in my cabinets of late. So now, --way too much money later,-- the fridge is bulging with veggies, the fruit bowl is full, and I have a list of menu possibilities for my husband and myself to share. But the trip came with a price. And that pain is what is keeping me up tonight.
Tomorrow (or rather, today, as daylight is a mere two hours away) I am determined to "start over" on my Spark plan...at SparkPeople.com...That is how I lost 60 pounds last year. And the way I've gained 10 back is by doing just what I'm doing at this moment: Munching. And the plan is simple. Eat healthily and get your butt moving. Being active is the core of Spark People...many of the members have become runners....Even people who'd weighed 300+ pounds, now, hundred(s) of pounds later, are entering 5K's and half marathons and some even doing marathons.
I confess: I'm jealous of the people whose good health allows them to run...And maybe someday, I will get to the point where jogging isn't out of the question (although I want to RUN; to FLY),...but it won't be with a mouth full of bagel as mine is at the moment. I'm heartily regretting my purchase of these round bread donuts of destruction at the moment. I only wanted six but there was a "buy 6 and get 6 free" sale. So natch I got 12.
But I--toad-swollen 48 year old mama that I am, coughing with asthma (as I am at the moment)--need to take maybe a little different of an approach. And that approach will mainly involve SHUTTING MY MOUTH to sweets, breads, and all things in abundance. I will have to quite severely cut back on my intake and strictly monitor my choices. NOT that I am not allowed to have anything I want to eat on SP..I just , for myself, am choosing to eschew sugar--because that is my weak point; that and breads. So I am going to amend my choices, monitor my serving sizes...and be as active as possible. Even if I am lying in bed...no reason not to heft some light weights, right?? Or to do leg raises and bridge-ups and crunches in the bed.
My core and my arms have gotten sorely flabby after the tight niceness at which I was last fall. I have probably regained even more inches than I have pounds....as fat weighs less than muscle...and takes up more room. And even as I make these plans there is the Voice of Doom which whispers in my ear (or is that my mother??) "You'll never do it. You are sick. How can you go outside and risk walking again? Wasn't it all your exercising which caused your dislocations last year??. and I have to answer that voice with Truth, which means admitting that no, it wasn't the exercising. It was my laxness with the Hip Precautions. Because I bent to the floor when something fell which was out of my reach. Because I believe my recliner is a great culprit in causing me to break precautions as it involves a decidedly verboten position in order to get up off of it.
And the scary thing is that just in the last week, I've begun to, once more, occasionally do these things. And I've felt the pull in my hips. And an occasional slip where the joint starts to come apart -holding breath--and breathing again as it once more slides back into place. WHY??? Why is it so very hard for me to be obedient and compliant to these three rules of position and motion?? There are really just three things which I must avoid. Unfortunately they are necessary for a million activities and are sprinkled liberally through our daily lives. And my rebellious, impatient, independent self revolts against these constraints and ....CHEATS...here, there, once , twice....three times a day. And I know I'm only buying trouble for myself. And my weight gain and loss of muscle strength too are all deficits to my hips' optimal and safe performance.
So, here and now. I am pledging myself to cooperation. Both to my hip precautions, and to the healthy lifestyle I am choosing. Here. Today. Now.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
There is nothing more bitter and unhappy than a complainer; someone who feels gypped out of something they deserve...someone who is constantly discontented. God has filled our hands with good things. And He asks only this of us: to be thankful for these gifts.
"But" someone will say, "what about when He hands us suffering or disaster?" That is where trust must enter the scene...the ability to HOPE and to have FAITH that God will be faithful to all of his promises to be working Good for us in everything (Jer. 29: 11; Rom. 8:28); to give us a future that outshines our most creative dreams. And the heart that KNOWS this to be true, can be unswayed by whatever storms come his way. He can take delight in the journey, anticipating the day when God will turn this tangled tapestry over and reveal to us the amazing complexity and beauty of His design. And this heart is and MUST be a joyful heart. Joy is the only possible response.
Am I always joyful? Not to the extent that I would like to be. I think that I have great PEACE in the face of the various trials that confront me. I do trust that the Lord is at work to bring me either to a place of more Christlike character or to bring me some other blessing - even the blessing of being used by Him in some way to suit His hidden purposes. And this does give me a glow of joy...WHEN I'M AWARE OF IT....Isn't it so easy to focus on the "I don't have"s rather than on the gifts God gives us daily??
Focus is so important. As long as we live in a sin-fallen world with the terrible side of sickness, poverty, war, death and suffering, it is going to be easy to look at them from an immediate point of view, rather than through eternal eyes. That is why Paul enjoins us to:
|... fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (I Cor.4:18) It is only when we have this long range focus that we can clearly see the present. It is only when we consider eternity that anything makes sense and can give us hope. And where there is Hope, Faith and Peace....JOY must tag along like a happy child holding her parents' hands.|
I think of the crucifixion of Christ. Certainly it was without precedent in it's violence and ugly sadness...if it were to be viewed only in that moment in time - which is how his disciples were then viewing it. They saw only the loss. But in time, God opened their eyes to the great inestimable benefit which would come from this death. ..Without a death, there can be no resurrection. There would be no victory over sin, without Death being given a trouncing. And when we consider what this does or can mean to us who are his kids....HOW CAN WE NOT BE JOYFUL?
So I must adapt my glasses to view the big picture instead of the moments of suffering by which I'm surrounded now...And to know that my God is using this suffering to refine and perfect me; to somehow further His Kingdom and maybe to teach the devil a thing or two...Regardless of which of those it is...I can KNOW that his plans are perfect; to give me a hope and a future. And therefore my heart whispers "thank you" and my soul rejoices.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
In the world of intractable severe pain, there is only one question worth asking....and that is: “when Lord,? When Is It Going to Stop???” Even the “why's?” pale to insignificance in front of that one.
When you crawl into bed, gasping and gritting your teeth in agony, having just returned home from a brutal outing to a store...from riding in the car with an insensate spouse who drives 95 mph in both city and highway....over potholes and round racetrack corners...bouncing, jarring and slamming your body (the one whose neurons feel like they are being boiled in oil or skewered over a barbeque because the pain is so intense) around the car like a ball in a tournament of beach volleyball. You get out, gasping and hoping to God your joints stay in their sockets as you struggle to raise your body from it's folded position in the compact car you had known he would and had prayed he wouldn't buy ...trying to ignore him standing ...not offering assistance, ...but foot-tapping his impatience and the oaths he mutters at your slowness....and trying -with teeth gritted – not to scream aloud at the pain which results.
Limping through the kitchen..you gaze ruefully at the pile of dirty dishes and the mail littering the kitchen table....and go, stripping your clothes off slowly, painfully (more often than not, hurting too much to bother with undressing—and merely fall straightway into bed, clothes intact---and closing your eyes at the sweet agony that results from the pain of relaxing your body into supine position -lying in an straight backed, straight arms and legged position....because every body part just refuses to fold again and falling deeply into the sleep of complete exhaustion – even though it's still several hours shy of ten.
Then, at some point, usually sooner rather than later, you become aware of it...its throbbing like the call of the jungle drum that drives natives into fevered paroxysm: pounding and concussing your body into consciousness...the body that calls, no SCREAMS , to move...slowly, carefully (replete with gasps and muttered curses) yet IMMEDIATELY...without hesitation or delay....into a different position...very preferably onto a different surface altogether. Staggering under the burden of agony, you make your way the whole 3'-mile onto the recliner that stands ready and waiting. And sit. Knowing that sleep -the sweet respite of unconsciousness is gone now, for good. Or at least for this night...and the duration must be endured and dealt with via distraction and with frequent position changes...back and forth between the bed and recliner and you both pray for and dread morning's light.
In the morning, having perhaps drowned in another shallow puddle of sleep, you awake, to the great crashing waves of pain on your shores...You lie for a moment, hearing the roar and as the waves begin to break over you, crushing you face first into the ground, then you come up coughing and swallowing/spitting salt and sand.....It's gonna be a bad day. You try to rise to your feet ; to get your founding so that you can maybe make it to the bathroom or feed the hungry cat who right now is biting your toe to remind you of her hunger and need but then shards of glass join the waves and slice you to ribbons at the small attempt at rising....
Thus begins the quest: the prowl for relief...for comfort, which will lead you to alternately pace and then to move once more from recliner to bed or back—all motivated by two false assumptions. One of those is that somewhere somehow there must exist a place of respite---and that you have only to do the right thing or series of things, and you will find it. And the other is the belief that it must be the BED or the Chair or the Standing that is heightening your pain...completely ignoring the fact that your pain is alive...has a self sustained existence away from any visible cause and that you are the POSSESSION of this entity of foul intent. And that, no matter where you go or how fast you can run, you cannot escape the grip of this malevolent enemy which will will dog you and pursue you until you at last, exhausted and still hurting confess and “uncle” up to say … “I surrender...do what I will, I cannot escape or hide”.
Then Happily, having gotten what it wanted, the Pain then obliges....to make you more miserable than you'd previously understood misery to be.
And thus it goes...with little variation and less respite than none – day after day, week after week. Month after month, year after year, decade after decade...despite heaven's sympathetic apprehension of your prayers for a more speedy end.
this world has nothin for me.
This world has NOTHING for me.
I need you Jesus, come to my Rescue...tell me? Where else can I go??
Friday, June 10, 2011
Someone just made a comment to me on Schiz.com that he wondered if I really do have schizophrenia because I seem too normal for their website. My first response was to bristle…to go and get all records from 30+ hospitals (or I would if I could just recall the names and places of them all. lol) and to get affidavits from the probably hundreds of doctors who have treated and diagnosed me as “Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenic” or as “Schizoaffective, –depressive type, heavy on the SZ, and lighter on the Bipolar Disorder which is the other half that diagnosis (henceforth: Dx) At first I wanted to tell him of the years spent in psych hospitals and of the months spent in restraints….of abject poverty and hopelessness….Just to SHOW him and to defend my right to use the forum at Sz.com….
I know that people have their doubts about my Dx….I am, when I’m not sick, very high functioning–I can write well and know ‘big” words. So once I ‘d regained overt stability after the birth of my daughter, I’d pretty much convinced myself that the previous 15 years were an aberrant bad dream. Then four years ago, at the age of 44, the bottom fell out of my world….and I catapulted into three of the most bizarre years, filled with physical and mental illness so severe that I spent large portions of those three years, in the hospital. Somewhere during that time, I began to wonder if maybe something WAS wrong after all. (ya think?)… And wasn’t until I’d taken a picture of myself….dirty t-shirt, unwashed hair, 220 pounds, with the deadest, most psychotic eyes I’d ever seen…and realized that I’d not left my room, except to go to the bathroom, once in several weeks, that I began to realize that, “shoot–maybe I do have sz!” I’d just sat in my recliner, often in the dark, staring at nothing…being so unmotivated and listless and with my head full of crazy thoughts. ..or just filled with nothing. I then realized that I was having severe problems with what are called “negative symptoms”….symptoms like anhendonia (an inability to take pleasure in anything) and lack of motivation, poverty of speech and thought, reduction in creativity and the weight gain was due to the psychotropic drugs I’d been “encouraged” to take. And in fact my years and years of denial were, in themselves, a symptom of SZ.
I won’t bore you with the story of my illness…any more than that. As I told the “doubter” on Sz.com, I don’t have to or care to defend my diagnosis to him. From his mouth to God’s ear actually. I wish I WEREN’T sick with the dream sucking disease that has destroyed my life which once held such promise…and left me sitting here in this cursed room…wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday and slept in last night. And I was just thinking: WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD PRETEND TO HAVE SZ?? Who would even pretend to be mentally ill?? If I were going to live a life of pretense; I’d pretend to be someone famous or important…not some smelly, person with SZ sitting here for weeks on end.
And yet, I know there ARE pretenders….people who take a mixed bag of dramatic symptoms and get OFF on the attention it brings them. My daughter has a friend like this….and my husband says that it is in itself, a psychiatric disorder “Histrionic Personality Type. I don’t understand the possible gains of that. I mean, maybe if you’re in High School and needing lots of negative attention…but really NOT as an adult. I had an IQ in the 160 range, back in the days prior to SZ. And I think this has allowed me to stay “ahead of the game, at least as far as where the people at SZ.com find themselves. It helps me to outsmart some of my symptoms and it masks the increasing deficit of cognitive ability with which I am struggling.
Also I tend not to express myself in writing when I’m not feeling well–(other than an occasional journal entry…which, more often than not, is so incoherent it’s unreadable). If I KNOW I’m not doing well, then, I get embarrassed and don’t post. If I DON’T realize I’m sick; then I’m off doing other things…like driving cross country on some adventure….or lying on my bed in a dark room, staring at the ceiling and conversing with the voices in my head.
I don’t have a great love for pretenders. And as I said, I have better things to pretend to be than schizophrenic.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
I was thinking about those years as I listened to the music...The music was HAPPY...driving beats, sounding like freedom and optimism...because we were ALL going to be a smashing success you know. Especially me. And that feeling became weaker and more uncertain as every month passed in my 18th year and onward. The rest of my friends went on to "make it big"....Doctors...degrees from Harvard and Yale and Princeton...Lawyers, college professors. Every one of them.
I took a different track. I became.......................psychotic at times....and sick with schizophrenia.
I did have two other good times in my life. The first was after the birth of our daughter...My husband was never home, trying to get a new business off the ground... so it was just me taking care of that little screaming bundle. She had terrible colic. But I really think that this helped to bond us because I was the only one who could comfort her. And I was the only one she would allow to hold her. We had moved to a side by side duplex/townhouse near the Hudson River in upstate NY when the baby was just one week old (yeah...don't ask me how I survived that!).
My days and nights fell into a rhythm that comforted me as much as it did my daughter. Nights we paced the floor , me holding her in with her belly on my forearm and her head in my hand...It was her favorite position. Finally we would drop in the wee hours of the morning, exhausted on the couch or my bed....the baby on my tummy and sleep for a few brief hours. Mornings was bathing ,feeding and dressing. Then we would bundle up if needed and I put her in her carriage and we would walk....ALL OVER the neighborhood and down along the river banks....Usually with her raising such a ruckus that I would have to take her home...as even the neighbors commented on her amazing lungs!
And then...I leaned forward on the couch and felt it...the pain that was so familiar...The pain of a disc blowing. (I'd had major back surgery at the age of 27...and I was now 30). It turned out that two discs were shot...most likely due to a really difficult birthing of my little one. So it was again off to have surgery...My daughter was 4 months old...and that was the end of my nice time. The surgery went bad. I would be in the hospital for close to 4 months and come home wearing a brace on my leg....and in unrelenting indescribably pain...which would last----the rest of my life.
I had another (brief) time of happiness. I had just worked my way out of a wheelchair after being in it for two years due to damage to my muscles from steroids for asthma. And at the end of that season of being homebound (my daughter was now in 5th grade I believe), I began once more to draw and paint...having been away from it for a number of years. And after my slow recovery I was to join the Arts Commission in that town and had a solo show of my work and spent the next two years or more, traveling to paint and draw and to show and sell my work. I was quite successful at it...although, looking at that work now, I don't see why...There are only a few worth keeping. But people liked them. And I was happy.
I'm not happy now.
Then I had the worst psychotic episode of my life that lasted for three or four years. The end of that time was a year ago.
And nothing has been the same since.
...so if you are and you are in a "Good Place"...enjoy it for all it's worth....
Saturday, June 4, 2011
...what a depressing article from such an unexpected source. I'm not even sure where to start.
1) I do not believe we would be better back in the "asylum days". I think the abandonment of the asylum was a good thing.
2) Anti-psychotic drugs help people more than the author will admit.
3) I think an insurance system designed to keep you away from being hospitalized for "months to years" is a good thing.
4) The local hospital is designed to cover the crisis a patient is going through. It's not for long term treatment.
5) There are more legal constraints on a psychiatrist because they aren't dealing with visible physical injuries like a broken leg.They're also dealing with incarceration and often treatment against a patent's wishes. People with broken legs don't refuse treatment.
Jeez, I could go on because I disagree with almost ever thing this guy says. It's not that bad out there and people are getting better. Good lord is it better than the days of the asylums.
And here were my thoughts:
I agree with you...asylums aren't the answer....but if it takes a person longer than exactly 30 days to come out of an episode, there should be more options available....
I agree with you that long term hospitalization is not always necessary or desirable. When I was 19 I spent 14 months in a hospital and had, I think, two or three other 6 month long stays. The 14 month one was a waste of taxpayer's money...but actually, both of the 6 month-ers were pretty much necessary....so who's to say what the limit of time spent in hospital should be? There's a difference between receiving treatment and expensive housing. And it is a tough call for the insurance companies to make to determine which is taking place on an individual level. So I believe that rather than struggle with that question and the abuses and insurance fraud that I'm sure took place, they erred on the "safe" side (safe for them, note) and just said 30 days max. Period.
And yeah for some people, it sucks. And it puts pressure on social workers etc in the hospitals, often to arrange for living and treatment situations quickly...and I think that because of the difficulty of that, they just don't even really try to do that any more or to get heavily involved with the aftercare plan. And unfortunately, this may have resulted in a greater percentage of homelessness and suicides than would have occurred should adequate plans have been in place.
You're right , a lot can be said about it...on both sides of the argument (between long and short term care.) As far as "asylums" : I don't think ANYONE is arguing for that to return....except this article.
And as far as medical advances:? I had been treated on EVERY single antidepressant and antipsychotic drug available back in the 80's at unbelievably high doses.....to no avail....The drugs simply weren't available then which would help me. Thank God for the advances in this area....while not ideal, they are a far cry from the misery I was in back then.
However I do agree that the term "Behavioral Health" is misleading in a very negative sense. It relegates a serious mental and physical illness to a matter of mere behavior, implying that perhaps all that's needed is a "smack on the hand" or retraining and the problem will resolve or go away. This is a fallacy; and a dangerous one.
It will not be until Schizophrenia is seen as a serious brain disease, that funding, research and a cure will be found....Too many people call mental illness "emotional illness" or "emotional problems " and think that it is an equivalent term. No amount of effort, therapy, or rehabilitation is going to cure schizophrenia or reverse it's damage. This is a common misconception and is reiterated by such terms as "behavioral health" and it perpetrates and perpetuates a common public misunderstanding of a devastating illness leading to even greater misery among the population who suffer from it.
Friday, June 3, 2011
So today I opened my devotional (Jesus Calling by SArah Young) and found, lo and behold, she's talking about the same thing. (for those of you who don't know, Jesus Calling is spoken as though Jesus were speaking to you, the reader. I highly recommend this book...it is soundly Scriptural so she never goes out on her own limb...and it is INCREDIBLE how often God gives me exactly the word I need for my day in the morning's reading.) So as I read it, I realized that God isn' t done with me yet on this topic....
So let's talk about it...and see where it goes.
She talks about Jesus being the center of our entire being...so that everything we do, say, or every choice we make is rooted in him....and says that when that is the case and we have our eyes FOCUSED on him, that worry and fear will find no place to land in our heart...though they may be swirling around us seeking a foothold, we will live in undisturbed peace.
So in this devotion today, Ms Young talks about being centered, having focus, being alert and vigilant, and guarding our hearts with Gratitude. At first that last item puzzled me...but then I thought, this is exactly what I was saying in my last post. If we look at all that God has given us and has already done, there is no place for discontentment or fear. We can only continually rejoice at his goodness and we can hold out our hands knowing that he will fill them with more of his goodness...and when the road gets dark, He will HOLD those hands. Remember the verse, " I am the Lord thy God, I will strengthen thee and uphold thee by my mighty right hand)? And there are numerous other references of God walking with us holding us by our hand. This hand-holding not only provides comfort, but SAFETY. Ever see a dad walking with his two year old child...holding hands? The child stumbles...and the father, lifts him right up in the air, feet dangling, so that he doesn't fall and hurt himself. This is how God walks with us.
He also walks with us in the quiet of our heart ("in the cool of the evening") holding hands like the Lover he is to us. We can tell him anything. We can know deep peace and security. We can wonder at his beauty.
The verses, Sarah shares at the end of today's devotion are especially meaningful to me. I will share them with you:
1 John. 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
My daughter has been in many bad relationships...ones that have scarred her soul and left her fearful of others. As her mom it breaks my heart to see this...Just as it breaks the FAther-heart of God to see us, his children getting hurt because we took our eyes off of him, or perhaps do not even know him...
She is with a young man now who has been kind and gentle with her...not using her or expecting anything from her. He seems to have made it his mission to be her friend and to allow her to heal from her wounds. My daughter is constantly amazed by this and told me that he keeps telling her "THIS is how a relationship...a normal loving relationship should be." "And the amazement of that is delighting to her...and yet still a bit fearful When will it end? When will he turn around and claw her heart out???
That's how we as humans are. We've been wounded and kicked down so often that it is almost impossible for us to believe in a relationship filled with peace, comfort and good things. So when God offers it to us, we say, 'Yeah, so where's the hitch?? When do you toss a thunderbolt and blow us to smithereens??" And we live suspicious, fearful, worrisome lives. Rather than a life of delight in our perfect Lover...and happiness and gratitude at the gifts he's given us. This breaks God's heart. Worry and fear are not to have a place in us...EVER. We are even told that we will be able to walk on hot coals and be bitten by dangerous snakes and be unharmed. That doesn' t mean to go out and try that. It means that should those things come our way...God will protect us and regardless of the way he chooses to do that , we need NEVER FEAR. Yes, poisonous snake and hot coal walking are painful hardships....but even in their presence, we are held in the arms of the Everlasting One and do not need to fear. Ever.
2 Thes. 3 : 16
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
This is Part Two of a series of Two Articles about Trusting God and the role of difficulty in our lives....How does God use our pain and our struggles? And what must be our response to them? If you have not already done so, please scroll down to the post preceding this one and read it first. Thanks.
In Oswald Chamber's devotional for June 1st, there is a quote which says, that "The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God had done anything for me. Is my own personal experience such a wonderful realization of God's power and might that I can never have a sense of hopelessness for anyone else I see?" And in the same article he mentions the dry bones of which God asked Ezekiel, "Son of man, can these bones live?" and Ezekiel's answer was not, "NO WAY, man! You've got to be kidding me!" It was simply, "Only you know, Lord."
I'd actually read this passage yesterday by mistake (I NEVER know what day it is!) so I've been thinking about it for two days now. And the stories I relayed to you in yesterday's post, are ALL TIED in here...so please hang on for the ride while I try to verbalize what God is showing me. As you may have picked up (if you are a spiritual sort who is not misled by verbiage); I have been struggling a bit lately. Yesterday, my husband told me that I'm (and I quote) "The nastiest, meanest bitch that ever lived" (Jezebel, look out, your record is under attack!)
No, seriously, those words hurt. And they made me think. And I realized that I've seriously lost my joy. I mean I can still be funny and laugh....but in my house...in private....I'm a pretty glum Gus. And this is caused by and results in the fact that I'm struggling spiritually. Now that may come as a surprise after reading of my victory in yesterday's post. But you know what?? The glow of victory usually doesn't last longer than the day in which you win them. Now it's true that in that case, I learned a valuable lesson....and I THANK GOD for teaching it to me so profoundly....because if I had to be in my life right now without that calm trust...I would be an awful mess. Even worse than I am.
But after one race is won, there comes another, harder one. After you reach the top of a long climb, there comes a valley and an even higher mountain to struggle up. And part of the struggle I'm having now, is doubting my fitness to be called a child of God. I am really seriously feeling unworthy of that title...and maybe, as my husband pointed out: rightfully so.
The reason this has been such an issue with me is that I've stared Death in the face now, for close to a decade...and every brush with it...brings it closer and closer. Now I do not fear death. I know where I'm going. But I often think...what awaits me there? Will I hear that "Well done, good and faithful servant...enter into your reward"??? Honestly, I haven't done all that much for God....not really. Not in the sense that I see others serving anyway. But I thank God that his grace doesn't rely on what I can do for Him, but in what He has done for me! But still these niggling fears and doubts. Is my life ready, should He beckon me to his Kingdom at any moment? Is my character “complete” - at least as far as it needs to be here on earth? Have I accomplished the work here that he set out for me to do??Can I be the person God wants me to be so that he can heap delight on my head and show me the beauty of his approving smile?
I And I hear God ask, "Cynthia, can these dry bones live?" And I know that these self-deprecating thoughts are both truth based and are attempts of the enemy to get me lost in unworthiness which can only lead to distance between my God and I. So all day yesterday and today, I've found myself whispering "Only you know, Lord. Only You know."
Here s a new area of trust for me. Trusting that I am fully accepted in Jesus. Trusting that I'm a dearly beloved daughter....And trusting for HIM to, not only take care of my present life....but to take care of my Eternity also. I have to trust him to love me, despite the sin that so easily entangles me... And here's a thought I recently heard that blew me away: That it is GOD who accomplishes the work of sanctification in my life and I need to TRUST him to do that. Maybe I am picking up a load that was not mine to carry??
In yesterday's devotion by Chambers, he quoted the verse later in that same “dry bones” passage: Ezekiel 37:12, “Behold,O my people, I will open your graves.” And all my soul resounded with a “YES! This is what God has been doing in me! He is raising the bar. Showing me the depths of the corruption of sin in me. Whether or not I am being “more sinful” at this stage in my life, is almost irrelevant. What I'm learning is that it is NOT IN MY POWER TO “FIX” MYSELF.” I need help. I need the Ruach who blew his life into those dry bones....to blow some life into mine. To blow away the dusting of sin on my bones....And I know that this work has already been accomplished at the cross of the Christ. And that he is just holding back and waiting for me to STOP writhing around in my muck and to stop trying to free myself in the quicksand o f sin by struggling....because as you know, struggling often only makes it worse. What is needed is for me to rest in his strong arms to pull me out.
Hardship and pain?? Yes, my life has been soaked in them. I read an interesting thing in Sarah Young's devotional, Jesus Calling (also in the June 1 entry)
“...expect to find trouble in this day. At the same time, trust that “My way is perfect, Even in the mess of such messy imperfection.
“ Stay conscious of Me as you go through this day....Let the Holy Spirit guide you step by step, protecting you from unnecessary trials, and equipping you to get through whatever must be endured.”
I was so struck by that last thought. That there are Unnecessary trials and there are Necessary ones. Some trials, like the false career educational paths and their abrupt terminations in my husband's life: they were Necessary ones...because through them, God was not only planning to bless E . with the knowledge he gained from them that would aid his career now; but He was planning to use that WHOLE scenario to teach me a valuable lesson about Himself. So the “necessary” can be defined by both concrete, practical use (or need) or by a spiritual necessity.
What are unnecessary trials?? They are the ones we cause ourselves by our own sinful responses to the necessary ones, I think. They are the drugs we reach for to obliterate our pain rather than going to Jesus with it. They are the nasty attitudes we develop out of the sense of entitlement we feel we have to be obnoxious just because we are in pain (pain of any kind). And these can - and should - be avoided. And, might I add, that it is against the Unnecessary ones that we should be praying both in our lives and in the lives of others. To pray against the necessary trials is to oppose the working of God in the lives of ourselves or others!! This is where we need spiritual discernment to determine what the will of God is in that person's life. This is what it means to pray “in Jesus' Name!” Is this a prayer that Jesus can sign his name to as a witness? As a partner? As a co-pray-er??
So many people have told me that my pain and my illness and suffering are “unnecessary.” And that God “doesn't want them for me.” And I have to raise my voice and object. Firstly, it is up to GOD to determine what is or is not useful and needed in the life of a person. And secondly who are we to infer that we know and understand the mind of God in the life of someone else?
I know personally that this pain has served to do several things in me. It has brought me down to the Valley of the Dry Bones. It has pointed out to me every sin and weakness of character that exists in my life. Through it God has been opening my grave....and showing me that “in me, no good thing lies...” It has brought out the grumpy grouchy and yes, profane Cynthia and exposed her for what she really is at soul level.
It has also awakened a desire for Heaven in me that roars at fever pitch. It has brought me to my knees....and to the lap of Y'shua. And now, it is showing me my complete inability to “FIX myself.” and pointed out my need to trust Jesus to hone and buff me to a sheen. It has taught me to rely on him fully to get me through long hours of suffering.
Will He blow life into these dry bones??
Only you know, O God....but I have a pretty good idea that you will.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
NO DESSERT BEFORE YOUR DINNER!
I know the title seems to be a bit of a paradox....and to those of you who know the Bible verse, "Be Still and Know that I am God;" you will see that it is also a bit of a play on words.
I want to talk a little about the paradoxical end of things. Actually I'm having a ton of things going through my head very quickly at the moment...making connections --and then forgetting them as quickly as I've made them.--and the result is a morass of writhing confusion. What should have been a moment of enlightenment, has instead been an exercise in frustration.
Let me see if I can back up and untangle myself.
My friend, Narky, (http://ifnarky.com) recently took a huge exam - a major milestone in the process of getting her MA in a difficult foreign language. For weeks---no! ---for months, she anguished, feared, panicked and eventually was in a state of hysterical fear. I've been talking with her via email....and eventually God did a beautiful thing in her life...bringing her to a new understanding of "ABANDONMENT" and TRUST in regard to a life spent with Christ. (for the story read this post and the ones right around it. : http://ifnarky.com/2011/05/23/abandon/ )
She learned that God loves her; is in full control over everything that happens to her; and EVEN if He allowed her to bomb this exam and even to not be able to pursue the line of work that she's been dreaming about for years...to trust that if that happened, then he had a good reason for it...and would do something even better in her life. Big lesson. Scary thing to do...to just let yourself let go of your dreams and put them into the hands of God and then fall yourself into those hands to allow him to carry you WHERE EVER it is that he desires to take you.
I know--Because I had to learn that myself.
At a time in my life when things were good. I was stable, in a nice condo. My marriage was in fairly good shape...and we had a healthy family and daughter.....I used to go to bed at night and literally get so panicked at the thought of the "what if's"...."What if the economy goes bust and Eric is unemployed??? We don't have a dime saved! What then?? What will happen if one of us should lose our health and have massive medical bills?? What then??? What if my schizophrenia makes a recurrence after these years of stability??? What will I do?? What if we lose our house?? our car?? OUR DAUGHTER???"
I probably don't have to continue because I'm sure that all these thoughts have occurred to you too at sometime...and whether or not you are conscious of the power of that fear....some part of you is...Your stomach?? Your anxiety?? panic attacks?? Fights with your spouse?? Too much drinking??? We all , I believe come to a point of crisis like this. And I struggled with mine, much like Narky. Because I was a Christian and told myself that I shouldn't be feeling this way...that I should just TRUST....I heaped a pile of guilt on top of the fear. It was a horrible time in my life....and i didn't have a soul to go to with it , but to God.
I cried, pleaded, confessed my fear and begged him to take it from me. I collected every tract and book on Anxiety and fear that I could find. I memorized verses like this one, "I am the Lord the God of Israel who says to you, DO NOT FEAR for I will take you by your right hand and help you." And little by little I began to grow into the understanding that I serve a very BIG, POWERFUL, and LOVING God. And that if he wanted to send a bird down from the sky with a steak in it's beak should I be hungry...well, he certainly would.(ummm. seems he 's already pulled that one off before for a starving prophet. )
And what finally sealed my peace is this. God began to do things for me. Some were little, others larger. And I began to write them and every other answer to prayer that i could think of into a book. Every time God bailed me out of trouble,...I wrote it down...and thought long and hard. I began to see that God is a supernatural being...unworried and unencumbered by the things that terrify us. And that He loves me personally. Me , Cynthia...this mess of doubt and fear... And the verse in Jeremiah 29 did me in verses 11 and 12, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster....to give you a future and a hope. In those days, if you pray, I will listen...."
Finally I saw. My God is good. Apart from what ever crap this life throws at me: MY GOD IS GOOD AND WILL DO GOOD FOR ME IN IT. And I began to relax into this trust. I realized that a God who had provided for our every need through long years of Eric 's schooling and then directed him from a career program which would have been a disaster from start to finish...through what at the time seemed to be a terrible catastrophe, into the PERFECT career path for his gifts and personality. And not only that but paid the way for us to get there. And not only that but used every bit of learning that he'd acquired in his two other false starts...to be a huge boon and advantage in his field...putting him way ahead of the game in being successful at his job. AND when our money dried up completely on the week he graduated from college...he got a great job offer and has been there happily for the past 14 years. As I thought over that long road....and the struggles and the times we thought we were at the end of the line....And GOD MADE A WAY THROUGH EVERY HARDSHIP AND BLESSED US THROUGH EACH OF THEM AS WELL.
HOW COULD I NOT TRUST AND LOVE A GOD LIKE THAT/??
And since that time....the hardships did not stop. Nope. Almost every single one of those "What if " fears that I'd had...have actually occurred in our lives. And you know what?? My anchor holds and grips the solid Rock. (as an old hymn says). I don't think I've ever had more than 5 seconds of worry or fear...even in the worst possible events. Because I've learned Who it is that I am serving.
So why the title? I can be still in my heart and go forth in my life in perfect confidence and without fear. yes, I have other lessons I'm learning. But that one, I learned. And I learned it GOOD.