Monday, May 31, 2010

The Sting of Stigma: Conclusion

Kate's and Kristin's experiences is one that too many of us have faced in this journey.

So is Mels and Julies, Steves, Rebekahs and every other wounded warrior who has fought the fight to exist in a world that treats them often as though they don't exist and are in some way "defective" instead of "injured" , "ill" vs "overwhelmed" and "mental" instead of "developmentally" traumatized.

In my own personal observations and life experiences it is this kind of treatment that fuels the isolation, shame and sense of hopelessness and helplessness that leaves some folks unable to continue to travel their life path, opting instead to hide their pain in addiction and other avoidance behaviors including acting out against others, or acting in in the way of self harm, depression, dissociation or even opting for that very permanent solution of suicide to a problem that is not at all as hopeless as we have been led to believe.

It is often said that a loving, supportive environment with clear boundaries is the one thing that makes a difference to someone struggling with the emotional and cognitive distress related to what is termed "mental illness".

But how often does this actually happen within home and family - or community? Even in the medical, mental health and social welfare systems "consumers"issues - from foster children to senior citizens - are often dismissed as attention seeking or med seeking and very often life threatening issues are dismissed as in the story of Mel's friend Julie or being "unheard" as in Rebekah's story here or the family rejection as in Kristin's comment in the post about Rebekah's journey.

So what's the solution?

Join me here next week to take a look at a paradigm shift from "mental illness" to "mental wellness" beginning with the idea of creating the life we want...on purpose:)
*** Stigma; a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation.Medicine/Medical: a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease

Q: What's your take on the solution to the "mark" of "mental illness"?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

In Memory - Life is a song....Patrick Park

This is a repost in memory of the friend who suggested this song to me.

Walk on and be in peace, my friend. May your spirit ride the wings of eagles and rest within the warmth of your pack.

Originally posted March 29 2009.

You say life is a dream where we can't say what we mean
Maybe just some roadside scene that we're driving past
There's no telling where we'll be in a day or in a week
And there's no promises of peace or of happiness

Well is this why you cling to every little thing
And polverize and derrange all your senses
Maybe life is a song but you're scared to song along
Until the very ending

Oh, it's time to let go of everything we used to know
Ideas that strengthen who we've been
It's time to cut ties that won't ever free our minds
From the chains and shackles that they're in

Oh, tell me what good is saying that you're free
In a dark and storming sea
You're chained to your history, you're surely sinking fast
You say that you know that the good Lord's in control
He's gonna bless and keep your tired and oh so restless soul
But at the end of the day when every price has been paid
You're gonna rise and sit beside him on some old seat of gold
And won't you tell me why you live like you're afraid to die
You'll die like you're afraid to go

Oh, it's time to let go of everything we used to know
Ideas that strengthen who we've been
It's time to cut ties that won't ever free our minds
From chains and shackles that they're in
From the chains and shackles that they're in

Well life is a dream 'cause we're all walking in our sleep
You could see us stand in lines like we're dead upon our feet
And we build our house of cards and then we wait for it to fall
Always forget how strange it is just to be alive at all

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pssst...Run With The Wind

May I tell you something? Will you allow me whisper something to you...I just wanted to tell you what a wonderful being you are...simply because you exist.

Now go...and run with the wind.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Sting of Stigma Part 4: Kate's and Kristin's Stories Stigma; a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation. Medicine/Medical: a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease

A few weeks ago I posted a story that I found at Beyond Meds, The Wind Never Lies by Steve Morgan; and the comments have been coming in at a steady pace from all over the world via this blog, Twitter and at Facebook.

And the message I'm hearing is this; "Thank you for bringing up this subject, this happened to me too."

Below are two more comments; one from a Facebook friends, Kate, who agreed to let me share it with you and Kristin...

Last week Kate left this message in a comment on the post The Sting of Stigma - Part 3.

"I noticed that no one gets flowers in the psych hospital. As the central office secretary for the school district, I ordered dozens of bouquets for employees, spouses and students when there was an illness or injury. People in my small town have fundraisers, bottle drives and public suppers when someone has surgery, but when I had a psychotic break and landed in the psych ward? Not so much as a card. No one would talk about it, people avoided me. No one noticed when my car was repossessed - by then most of the friends I though I had faded away. Some people even accused me of making it all up, for attention. Funny, I never heard anyone accuse someone of making up a gall bladder attack or cancer..."

Kate continues...

"I was taught from infancy that I was bad, I was worthless and caused trouble for those around me, so it was a natural conclusion that my symptoms represented more evidence that I was defective. It is a huge paradigm shift to move from "I am defective/sick" to "I was abused". It is an even greater shift to conclude that others abused me and that I am reacting to that injury - I am not, in fact, defective, but responding appropriately to very inappropriate events.

Thanks for your post - it is a great perspective."

And here is what Kristin, Mom to a young woman who fights her own battles each day, has to say in the comments of this same post...The Sting of Stigma - Part 3.

"lifeisterminal is am so sorry. It is so unfair. Your post is great, Susan. Thank you. Even in my own family the stigma reins. My daughter is "spoiled" not mentally ill. The book I wrote about her struggle and our family's fruitless search for help should be put under the bed and forgotten. Or, better yet, destroyed. And, on the count of three, smile - everyone, no exceptions...

Only, it doesn't work like that for my daughter and trying to explain why she doesn't feel like smiling is impossible because no one believes me. Like I made up mental illness to cover for her "bad behavior". It is disappointing but I hope that the more people talk openly about mental illness, the more the stigma will fall away. xx Kris"

Kris added this on another post...

"This reminds me of why my daughter once said to me, "I wish I had cancer." It was a devastating choice - to choose to have cancer over mental illness but I could totally understand her point of view. And, here is the proof that she was right; people with cancer do get the attention that she was looking for. The kind of caring approval that has been missing from her life. xx Kris"

You can find Kristin at her blog Borderline Families.

Stigma: Stigma; a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation. Medicine/Medical: a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease

Stigma sucks.

Remove the "mark" - remove the shame.

It's that easy.

Next week we'll conclude this series The Sting of Stigma...and begin a journey into the idea of a new paradigm - an idea, a thought, a change - about shifting away from the shame related to "mental illness" toward a new paradigm of claiming and creating a new world for ourselves...a world full of empowering solutions.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What is Love?

Recently I posted a touching story about the "Sting of Stigma and Unconditional Love" here.

And for the longest time I've thought about writing a post on the idea of "What is Love"? Well, Mel's story about her friend Julie's journey and death following her diagnosis of "mental illness" seemed the right prompt for this post as we approach the end of "Mental Health Awareness Month" for 2010.

There are two things that truly suck about this struggle to maintain psychological integrity - the first is being given that free, lifetime membership to "Club M.I." without asking for it. That stigmatizing "mark" that goes with the label of "diagnosis" that often leads to discrimination or being treated differently, sometimes as "less than".

The second is how this label affects relationships with the people who could make the biggest difference in the life of someone who is struggling with mental health issues from family and friends - to Medical Providers, Doctors and Therapists.

These are often the people we turn to when we are needing that "soft place to fall" when life's journey hits a rough patch. Unfortunately these are oftentimes the same people who can compound the problem by offering "conditional" love and acceptance vs the unconditional love that Mel gave her friend, Julie, as she was dying from a disease that may have been curable - had she not been labeled "mentally ill" and her physical needs gone unmet. (In the comments of this post you can read how Suzanne nearly died when her physical complaints were attributed to her being a "hypochondriac" and "delusional" - click here to read.)

In Mel's story I noticed first her attitude toward Julie as being one of acceptance of Julie as she was with no inkling of judgement or attempt to minimize Julie's experience or effort to influence her in order to make Mel feel more comfortable...

"She was so amazing. Funny thing was I always told her I didn't think she was bipolar, some would view her as acting crazy at times but strangely I saw it as being in another dimension or something."

And I saw compassion for her friend's situation...."I never told her that seeing men in trees was her imagination, just that I couldn't see them."

So what is "love" - I mean true, selfless love? Love that put's another's needs before my own?

It's the love that says "in all your muck, your crap, your issues....I will stand beside you through it all..."

Q: What does "unconditional love" look like in your world?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This Weeks Ratings...

April 3 2010 "Budding Tree, Cityscape"

This week you have a voted with your clicks and told me which of the recent posts that have caught your attention!

Here are the ratings!

#1 Your Nuts, Not Traumatized - Life Sentences Schizophrenia A "rantish" look at the evidence that speaks volumes on the debate about "Nature" or "Nurture" as it relates to even the most serious of "diagnosis" related to "mental illness" that one can be given.

#2 The Sting of Stigma Part 3 PTSd Rebekah shares the discrimination she faced once she was given her "diagnosis" of "Bi Polar".

#3 Facing the Mountain and Let it be Both of these posts ranked similar in number of clicks so I thought I'd post them together. Both talk about the internal work that we do to find our finding our peace...and our strength to go on.

I want to thank everyone for dropping by to visit over this past week and invite you to stay tuned as we approach the end of "Mental Health Awareness" month and take a look tomorrow at "What is Love" in the context of what is helpful, unconditional love that supports mental wellness?

Wednesday we'll read about Kate and the loss and isolation she faced as she began her own painful journey thought the emotional and cognitive distress we have learned to call "mental illness" and Kris's struggle to support her daughter while her family passes judgement.

Q: What has been your personal "high point" this week in your own journey?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Facing The Mountain

It's in the climb that we learn where our strength comes from as we push ourselves, never giving up, always moving forward. Sometimes we stumble back a step or two; but in that climb, in every step, every stumble we learn to see what worked to move us forward and what got in the way that caused us to slip or step backward as we regained our balance to once again continue that climb. And once we reach the summit of each mountain that we face in life, we may feel dirty, dusty, exhausted, famished, thirsty we step to the edge to view the beauty and wonder that lies before us....we suddenly realize that we are poised and in the perfect position - to begin to soar. ~Susan

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Sting of Stigma; "The Wind Never Lies" Part 3 PTSd Stigma; a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation. Medicine/Medical: a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease

This post is a follow up to a very real issue that anyone who is labeled with the words "mental illness" faces; the discrimination that comes with the stigma of being "marked" as different.

Here is a link to "The Wind Never Lies" part 1.

Here is a link to The Sting of Stigma and Unconditional Love; The Wind Never Lies Part 2

Below is the continuation of this very important conversation during this years "May is Mental Health Awareness Month"...which seems to me a tad ironic since it's not "Mental Health" that is stigmatized but those who bear the mark of the beast - "Mental Illness".

This experience of stigma, shame, discrimination is more common than many realize. Once given this "mark", the label of "mental illness" the battle becomes not just one of learning to cope when our internal resources are clearly depleted - but also a fight for ones basic rights to be treated with dignity and respect and oftentimes a battle just to be heard.

Rebekah at Facebook left this comment about Part 2 of this series and gave me permission to share it here:

"I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 5 years ago and was on meds for all of that time and went through the emotions that Steve talked about (The Wind Never Lies) and no one would listen to me after I was given that label and hospitalized twice, and they still dont, but I know that what I REALLY have is PTSD, and no amount of mood stabilizing medication makes that better, misdiagnosis is so common and so many people just take the meds and dont question it, but now I am finally dealing with the REAL problem and things are getting better. Thank you Susan for posting this :)"

Thank you Rebekah, for being willing to share your story with us.

Stigma; a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation. Medicine/Medical: a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease

If you've had a similar experience I'd like to invite you to contact me if you would like to share your story in some way.

You can leave your comment here or reach me via Facebook here or Twitter here.

Q: How has the label of "mental illness" affected your life - good or bad?

Monday, May 17, 2010

You're Nuts Not Traumatized - Life Sentence: schizophrenia

May is "Mental Health Awareness" month so for the balance of this month I thought I would continue to post along those lines that began with the post "The Wind Never Lies". Today's post discusses the basis of environment being the recognized catalyst for major "mental illness" diagnosis and my "rant" on how this is overlooked and victims of family "tension" are often re-victimized when their capacity to cope exceeds their available inner resources. Wednesday is a continuation of the discussion of "diagnosis" and the experience of yet another woman who experienced that "Sting of Stigma" and early next week we'll take a look at that idea of conditional vs the unconditional love that Mel gave to her friend Julie who lay dying after a serious physical illness was overlooked very possible because of her diagnosis of "Bi Polar Disorder". We'll end the month with a look at the difference between enabling and dependence vs. empowering solutions that might allow each person affected by mental health issues to create and live their best life in spite of "diagnosis".

Today's post: You're Nuts, Not Traumatized - Life Sentence: Schizophrenia

The onset of "mental illness", the "trigger" or preceptor to the onset of "mental illness" is often a major life stressor event.

That’s what the doctors told me when I asked them why I felt so bad. I mean - I'd been in a bad marriage for 10 years and recently escaped. The church I'd belonged to during those 10 years had shunned me when I filed the restraining order, I'd just discovered my daughter had been drinking on campus at middle school all year and I'd just put her in her first of many long term treatment facilities, I'd lost my job because of the PTSd issues, my house was entering foreclosure and this was just the first half of that "year from hell" in 1993...and my foundation for coping with all of this was being raised in parental abuse and neglect.

So it was clearly stated that it was long term exposure to life stressors that had "triggered" the onset of "mental illness"...yet - not once was it ever discussed that this was a natural response to some extraordinary life events, some of which had me fearing for mine and my childrens saftey.

So something was "wrong" with me is what I was told. And it was bio genetic, incurable. I'd need "meds" for the rest of my life.

Recently a friend asked me about my viewpoint that "mental illness" is an emotional response that triggers the chemical changes in our body that in the end, affects our behavior. The conversation was about that god-awful and what to date is the "worst" diagnosis one can be given - schizophrenia. Below is just one of many quotes, articles and websites on the idea of where "schizophrenia" begins from an article you can find here.

"Crisis and Life Changes and The Onset of Schizophrenia: Abstract: Patients with an acute onset of schizophrenia and their relatives were seen separately to establish the frequency of certain kinds of crisis and life change in the 13 weeks before onset. A general population group was seen for comparison. The two groups differed markedly in the proportion experiencing such changes in the 3-week period prior to onset (or to interview in the comparison group). Long-term tension in the home appeared to increase the chances of patients becoming disturbed after such changes."

So even though it is common knowledge that even the most serious of mental health diagnosis is connected to serious and ongoing life stressors in the home - its not the family system that gets help to learn how to become a healthy family - it's the one who is unfortunate enough to have been exposed to long term family "tension"...and just can't cope anymore.

I mean - everyone has their breaking point and when you beat a dog long enough, eventually it starts to act a little crazy, doesn't it? It cowers, it shakes, it whines. If you try to contain it it may snap or bite. It may even develop some compulsive behavior like running in circles or if it was human, maybe it would wash it's paws obsessively, or be afraid to leave the house. And since the owners are upstanding and productive citizens we call the dog crazy, put it on pills (seriously - this is done every day to animals not just humans - you figure it out...) so since the owner "appears" to be a kind upstanding citizen we label the dog and dismiss it's behavior as "crazy".

Think Michael Vick.

So go figure. Environmental life events set off and are the indicator for the onset "mental health issues"; yet the response to these life events is somehow intrinsic - a time bomb in our DNA waiting to go off - and the only solution is to hand over a stigmatizing label and a lifetime prescription and be written off as being somehow intrinsically "defective"


I'm no doctor - but this is the 21st century, not the dark ages or even the 1600's when these issues were viewed as "demons" or "witches", or the 1800’s where some snake-oil salesman was selling a magic elixir guaranteed to "fix and cure all things human".

Yet we still are labeling, stigmatizing, discriminating and dismissing the often times hidden life events that influence our ability to cope and rebound.

And instead of support and being given a safe place to fall, folks with the kind of life experiences that can cause one to feel "crazy" and inhibit that “resiliency” necessary to cope and come out on top are sentenced to a life that often mimics the hell they came from to begin with.

I'm just sayin'...

Back in the the 1950’s and 60’s following the era of the invasive “lobotomy” and introduction of the “chemical lobotomy” where “meds” became the answer to all things “behavior” focused, parents united and revolted against the idea that environment was related to "mental health" issues and successfully advocated that somehow it was the children who were defective and it was the children bringing the disharmony to the home....”crazy”, “delinquent”, “damaged” but never “abused” were the terms used to describe those who didn’t fit within the “social norms” of easy compliance.

This subject is way beyond the scope of this post, but in conclusion - it just seems odd that while research proves that it is the "long term tension" in the home that is the trigger for even the most serious mental health issues, why is it that the victims of this in home "tension" are being given the various labels of "mental illness" and relegated to being re-victimized by a system that we turn to for help and who too often end up institutionalized in asylum or prison - or taking the extreme ticket to afterlife when they can no longer tolerate the hell they have been unfortunate to have been given as their life.

Thanks for listening.

If you'd like to read more about the idea that Schizophrenia and other "serious" mental health issues can be overcome, you can read Dr. Daniel Fishers story here - he is a psychiatrist who was once labeled "Schizophrenic".

Friday, May 14, 2010

Let It Be

Today I am feeling quite thoughtful.

I easily get caught up with the idea that there is some larger purpose to my life other than being "in the moment".

So as an exercise in practicing the same "mindful awareness" that was the catalyst for exiting the Alice in Wonderland type existence where I lived more in my head than I did in my day, I'm posting some things that remind me that I am on this journey...and this is what "is". This is my "now"....the moments, the things that give meaning to everything that I "do" by first remembering to "be".

I would like to thank Christine over at Blisschick for the gentle reminder that this journey is more about living and "being" and less about the "doing".

I wanted to share some of the photos I caught while taking a moment to breath and re connect with my life.

Let it be.

Q: How do you connect with your "now"? What is it that brings joy and peace to your day?

The Sting of Stigma and Unconditional Love: "The Wind Never Lies" Part 2

The comment below came from Mel, a friend on Facebook, who had this to tell me about a friends tragic journey through the mental health system after reading my post (an excerpt) from "The Wind Never Lies" - you can read the original and entire article here at Beyond Meds.

"Thank you so much for sharing this little treasure Susan! I'm still reading but there are so many things that jump out; ah ha...

Years before my trauma, when life was stable with good health my best friend was diagnosed with Bipolar. This was my first real intimate exposure to mental illness. Over the next five years I would visit her everyday during the 2 -3 times a year when she was hospitalized.

After 5 years from her diagnosis, she developed stiff neck and crossed eyed syndrome while we were on a weekend whistler trip. Within days she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She was given weeks to live.

Did she fall between the cracks of the medicare system? Who knows, they say bipolar can mimic brain tumors. They never investigated the possibility of anything other than she is crazy and lets load her up on pills and ECT treatment.

My point is, as she lay dying in the hospital, so many people began to arrive to pay their respects to her, her husband and family, the same people who made jokes and abandoned her years prior. The stigma attached to labeling someone can be so harsh.

Perhaps my exposure to how society views mental illness has contributed to my own isolation living with PTSD, fear of being stuck forever in this place which others say I cannot recover from and heal."

( Below is the response I got from Mel when I asked if I could publish her story here...this note is a true portrayal of what unconditional love looks like in action....)

"For sure you can post it. I love talking about Julie's story. She was so amazing. Funny thing was I always told her I didnt think she was bipolar, some would view her as acting crazy at times but strangely I saw it as being in another dimension or something. I never told her that seeing men in trees was her imagination, just that I couldnt see them. I spent the last 5 years of her life protecting her and not from herself but from the cruelty of society...

The cool thing about her case is a board member of opthamology in BC pushed the government to include eye care into the medicare coverage. He was really moved by her case and felt she could have been diagnosed earlier had she been to get her eyes checked regularly. "

Once given the label "Mental Illness" many become "marked" and treated as "less than". Once this mark has been given, it often becomes the basis for discrimination, abuse and neglect.

Stop the Sting of Stigma.

You can find Mel on Facebook here.

If you or someone you know has had similar experiences, I would like to invite you to contact me by leaving a comment here or...

Via Facebook here

Via twitter click here

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

She Didn't Call it Depression: Pema Chodron - The Doorway to Freedom

Pema Chodron didn't know what she was experiencing what we have been taught to call "depression", she didn't know she was "supposed" to take "anti depressant" pills, or that this was "supposed" to be a lifelong, bio-genetic "illness" that was "incurable".

You can view this video at Beyond Meds where I found it.

Here is a link to another post at Beyond Meds that highlights some of Pema's life wisdom.

I'm just sayin'.....somethin' to think about maybe.

Rock on.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Left Brain + Right Brain = Wise Mind

I used to be ashamed for being "smart"; I actually felt stupid because I was told I was wrong for using my brain especially in my attempts to find my way out of that dark place. In hindsight it was kind of like the mechanic that doesn't want you to know how to change your own oil or he will lose business.....creating dependency.

Each time I would find a seed of hope or insight....or disagreed on being labeled as "lifetime member" of Club MI....

My hand got slapped and I was typically told I was "intellectualizing" or being "difficult"

But part of using my "smart" is that I learned how to recognize when "being smart" and searching for my own answers became another "avoidance" behavior that was hindering rather than helping me along in my journey....

For some reason being smart isn't allowed; compliance is what's expected - I often had T's and Docs that would tell me to stop using their "lingo" stop trying to "intellectualize" this stuff and "just do it" - with no instructions no less...

T: "you are co dependent" or "you need to set some boundaries"....yeah; thats kind what I'm doing here so how would you suggest I do that?....


That is exactly how I found my way out of the darkness.

Knowledge is power, and truth sets us free...

I had one person who encouraged me to use my intelligence to connect with my emotions.

And I did.

Left Brain + Right Brain = Wise Mind

So I drew my own map and began this awesome Journey!



Saturday, May 8, 2010

This Became My Truth

This was my "aha" moment 2.5 years ago...."If "mental" is thought. And "illness" is sick. That means that I can choose to learn how to recognize the thoughts that are making me feel sick...and change.

This was the turning point for me.

This became my truth.

For fifteen years I had believed that I "felt bad" because I had some hidden, mysterious "disease" or "illness" that was causing the emotional instability, the physical exhaustion and numerous complaints like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, severe anxiety to the point of getting a new label - "agoraphobic".

But even though the sun was shining, my kids were doing well, I had no life drama going on outside of me - I still felt like hell.

I sat there in my car because I was so full of anxiety that I couldn't go anywhere near people and tried to think through this situation rationally.

I had a new therapist who had set a clear boundary with me and had said very directly that as much as she wished she could "fix" me....that she couldn't.

It was up to me to make my life what I wanted it to be.


Yet awesome.

For the first time in my career as a "consumer" of mental health services someone was telling me there was a solution besides more "meds".

That I held the key to the life I wanted.

Within myself.

And this was the moment I stood at the top of that mountain, tears streaming down my face, my body trembling in fear...

And leaned forward into the wind

and knew

that something would be there for me to stand on or that I would


Q: What is your truth? Where does your power come from? What is it that you hang your hope on for a better tomorrow?

Friday, May 7, 2010

"A Journey" has been listed "In the News and On The Blogs" Roundup!

This week my post Black and White; the Zebra Effect was listed in "In The News and On The Blogs" over at BeyondMeds aka Bipolarblast !

Please take a moment to follow the above links to read view the rest of this post and the other awesome articles and site listed there!

I am honored (and a bit excited!) to have my work listed among the many other blogs of note and world news.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Wind Never Steve Morgan ((rant))

An excerpt from "The Wind Never Lies" by Steve Morgan as published at Beyond Meds

"...As I learned and integrated this information into my worldview, the glue that stuck mental illness to me loosened. I started to wake up to a different reality, one in which I used terms like experiences instead of symptoms, trauma instead of disease, problems instead of illness, and neuroplasticity instead of chemical imbalance. I engaged in a process of re-authoring my life story once again, casting off the disease paradigm and shifting my self-conception from I have Bipolar to I am fully human..."

Please go here to read the entire article about this mans journey through that dark place where the light is at the end of the tunnel but we are promised by the magicians that we are special somehow, and because we are special - will never be allowed to touch that light ourselves...even though it is clearly there and within reach. And we believe with our whole heart that the magicians are for, not against us, that a whole country - no; the entire world - couldn't be lied to; could it?

Yet...remember that issue last century with what was it called? Yes; that's right. Big Tobacco; the ones that had doctors writing testimonials of how cigarettes were good for you....but - that couldn't happen again. Could it?

This man, Steve Morgan, broke the spell, reached the light and fights the magicians and the giant with his own magical power of "self".

My Note: "Meds" may have their place in this journey, so please understand I am not totally against them. When someone has become a danger to themselves or others meds are helpful to stabilize a crisis situation. My issue comes from the fact that these drugs are addictive and the withdrawals symptoms are used to justify more drugs instead of supporting people through the long, horrendous physical, psychological and emotional pain of these withdrawals. Drugs aka "meds" I believe were originally intended to be a tool - not the life sentence they have become.

A few resources to learn more about this issue:

Whitakre "Anatomy of An Epidemic"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

To Let Life Unfold...Naturally

Today I can let go and let life unfold...naturally

Doing this means that I no longer have the need to carry the burden of fixing another's pain or problem or orchestrating life events that are not within my control to begin with.

It also means that when I let go I have the opportunity to allow my own mind, emotions and body finally begin to heal as my energy is now focussed on managing the one thing I can truly affect and change; me.

To allow life to be "natural" is to allow it to grow and unfold as it does, without undue influence. Much like a the National Parks....that are preserved, free of the influence, control and construction of mankind.

To "let go" and "let life unfold naturally" is to recognize that my need and efforts at controlling the people, places and things in my life is artificially influencing situations, circumstances and relationships that exist outside of the realm of of what I truly have the ability to control within myself.

And while that may "feel" better at the moment; often the end result is more drama and chaos as others resist my efforts to influence their thoughts, feelings and choices.

Today, I can recognize this behavior as that false sense of power that came with my efforts to claim power when I was truly powerless in the face of a situation or circumstance that was outside of my control - that place where I felt and truly was powerless by the actions of those who were meant to protect and nurture me as a child or in the face of an overwhelming life event that took control out of my hands for a time.

So today - I can let life unfold naturally and that includes acknowledging that perhaps I was once powerless but today I can claim my power - by allowing others to have their own.

Q: How can you take back your true power today by letting life unfold naturally?

Susan Boyle - Who I Was Born To Be

I am finally free..

I am who I was born to be.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Kyla's Question on The Zebra Effect: Meltdown or Mastery?

In last week's post Black and White - The Zebra Effect, Kyla brought up a good question on the thought about focusing on the labels that come with "symptoms" of a "diagnosis" can read the full comment stream at the original post here.

Kyla's Question:

Q: " ...I do have a question though, regarding what you were saying about symptoms, do you mean it's not good to focus on those? I was just curious what you meant"

A: Hi Kyla! Good question - you've been reading my mind! I was just thinking it was time to post about the subject....I'll do my best to answer you here though to start with...

"Symptoms" can be a double edged sword, I think.

On one hand, when my focus is on only the label of "diagnosis" or "symptom", I'm focussed on doing whatever I have to do to "avoid" "triggering" the "flashbacks", "nightmares", "hyper-vigilance", "depression" and so on - the stuff PTSd is made of:) and often the groundwork for additional mental health and physical diagnosis down the road.

Here, the focus is on the label and "managing" the "symptoms".

In this case, the presumption was there is no solution - so it was vital to be able to recognize what might "trigger" a "symptom" in order to maintain any sense safety and congruency of self. I studied, read and learned all I could about my "diagnosis" and how to recognize the onset of a "symptom".

I was effectively anticipating the onset of the next trigger and an increase in my "symptoms".

But - even with all the knowledge and understanding of "diagnosis" and "symptom" I couldn't make "it" stop; it was as if the "diagnosis" had developed a life of it's own and I took it on as "me".

"Hi; my name is Susan and I have _________(diagnosis)

Or "Hi; my name is Susan and I'm ______________(diagnosis).

I was taught how to "cope" and "manage"; but not to live without these "symptoms" that my life was built around and tormented me day and night.

In this mindset, I learned to do what I could to avoid the "triggers" and "symptoms" that came along with my "diagnosis". I did the best I could to learn to just "live with it", managing the best I could with the limited resources I had found. I was dependent on external resources to manage and cope.

I felt powerless.

Often I could not find relief from the "symptoms" and this is when the negative coping came into play. It was exhausting and draining to live this way and in time I was living with more mental health and physical illness "symptoms" from the unresolved stress response...I was "surviving" day to day...but I was not living the life I wanted for myself.

On the other hand if I'm in a situation and become aware that my body is tense, I feel agitated and on guard - I recognize the signs or indicators and have since learned how to use natural ways to bring down the stress response instead of being swallowed up by it.

In this scenario I'm learning to become aware of my physical, cognitive and emotional response aka "symptoms" of emotional stress and indicators of the emotional distress that we have come to know as "mental illness" and with this insight can choose to utilize healthy coping skills vs the unhealthy coping skills of avoidance aka dissociation, addiction, self harming etc....

I believe using the labels that come with diagnosis and symptoms can either cripple us - or become a tool we can use to consciously create the change we desire for ourselves.

In the past I was focussed on anticipating the symptoms and thus - the conundrum of PTSd - perched, ready to do anything to avoid triggering symptoms that had no end but...

today...these same "symptoms" can guide me down the path to self empowered healing when I view them as a map that will guide my journey.

Thanks for asking Kyla; this was a great question!


PS A final note - I've learned that if I am still "triggered" in a situation - I can use this as an indicator of perhaps I am ready to do some emotional healing related to the issues that come up rather than that of "it's hopeless".

Trusting the process :)