Daily Archives: August 26, 2015

Commit Love


 
 
The other night, I was over my friends’ house for dinner.  A last minute invite: they had been out to the farm to pick tomatoes, boxes and bags of tomatoes, and needed to eat them, or some, that night.  The farm.  My insides tumbled.  Not their farm (they don’t have one), but the Yoder farm, the Amish family who grows all the vegetables for the CSA started up, in part, by my ex-husband (with my intermittent help).  In married life, I used to drive out to farm with C. and the kids, pick a trunkful of tomatoes, and spend days processing sauce, salsa, and bags of whole peeled Romas.  And chat with David, the farmer, and his wife, and their giggly half-dozen kids.  We even had them over for an Amish-English dinner party in our formal dining room.  One daughter, six or seven at the time, thought it was so fancy because I’d lit candles and put them in gleaming crystal holders shaped like stars.  Wedding gifts.  But in divorce, some friends get divvied up, just like the wedding gifts, which meant for two, go to one or the other.
This is not about the loss of wedding gifts, but the loss of friends.  The real loss.  Last week, one of my friends committed suicide.  Impossible to imagine (and I try not to) because she was always suffused with joy, at least when I saw her.  She owned the yoga studio where I practice.  Her smile was a stabilizing force and she inhabited her body with a grace I can only hope to achieve.  And yet, she is gone now.  A strange, legalistic phrase: “committed suicide.”  One commits crimes or commits to a relationship.  But suicide?  Perhaps initially as a cause of intended action.  But wholeheartedly?  That seems impossible, and I know since I once committed myself to such a course.  But gratefully I woke up in the hospital bed, my life, while not intact, given more time for repair.  Even in the pain and inside the intention and in the bottle of pills I swallowed, even in my irrational thinking, unable to see any other possibility, I don’t think I believed for an instant that I wouldn’t wake up at some point, even if that meant years on out, and see my daughter and son and husband again.  A faulty, fleeting solution to the pain of now, a decision, in its execution, that seemed temporary.  Except so often, it isn’t. 

Sorrow for my friend in her pain and the consequent devastation.  It is not easy to resist shutting down for good.  Sometimes, I wander into thinking that might be the only way—not as often as I used to—but still, what I imagine as a blank, dark quiet can seem preferable over the angry, hopeless noise in my head.  And then, my daughter emails me a sketch of the two of us, disguised as her invented cartoon characters.  The mother has her arm wrapped around the daughter’s shoulders, and they gaze at the other as if besotted. 

 
Love keeps me here.  Friends, too, and their tomato bounty.  So I commit love, then.  R. sliced up platters of enormous tomatoes marbled through like steak, and decorated them with mozzarella, feta, basil, salt and pepper.  We joked they were as big as the brains of small children or swollen hearts or alcoholic livers.  A way to counter sad mortality.  The three of us sat at the table, spearing tomatoes with our forks, juice and olive oil dripping from our chins.  We mopped up our plates with warm pita, spoke of our friend who was gone, and moved into the restoration and warmth of laughter.  That was our meal: the joy of summer’s bounty and the pain of its end, and friendship that could make a feast from what seemed like so little.        

 

   

Commit Love


 
 
The other night, I was over my friends’ house for dinner.  A last minute invite: they had been out to the farm to pick tomatoes, boxes and bags of tomatoes, and needed to eat them, or some, that night.  The farm.  My insides tumbled.  Not their farm (they don’t have one), but the Yoder farm, the Amish family who grows all the vegetables for the CSA started up, in part, by my ex-husband (with my intermittent help).  In married life, I used to drive out to farm with C. and the kids, pick a trunkful of tomatoes, and spend days processing sauce, salsa, and bags of whole peeled Romas.  And chat with David, the farmer, and his wife, and their giggly half-dozen kids.  We even had them over for an Amish-English dinner party in our formal dining room.  One daughter, six or seven at the time, thought it was so fancy because I’d lit candles and put them in gleaming crystal holders shaped like stars.  Wedding gifts.  But in divorce, some friends get divvied up, just like the wedding gifts, which meant for two, go to one or the other.
This is not about the loss of wedding gifts, but the loss of friends.  The real loss.  Last week, one of my friends committed suicide.  Impossible to imagine (and I try not to) because she was always suffused with joy, at least when I saw her.  She owned the yoga studio where I practice.  Her smile was a stabilizing force and she inhabited her body with a grace I can only hope to achieve.  And yet, she is gone now.  A strange, legalistic phrase: “committed suicide.”  One commits crimes or commits to a relationship.  But suicide?  Perhaps initially as a cause of intended action.  But wholeheartedly?  That seems impossible, and I know since I once committed myself to such a course.  But gratefully I woke up in the hospital bed, my life, while not intact, given more time for repair.  Even in the pain and inside the intention and in the bottle of pills I swallowed, even in my irrational thinking, unable to see any other possibility, I don’t think I believed for an instant that I wouldn’t wake up at some point, even if that meant years on out, and see my daughter and son and husband again.  A faulty, fleeting solution to the pain of now, a decision, in its execution, that seemed temporary.  Except so often, it isn’t. 

Sorrow for my friend in her pain and the consequent devastation.  It is not easy to resist shutting down for good.  Sometimes, I wander into thinking that might be the only way—not as often as I used to—but still, what I imagine as a blank, dark quiet can seem preferable over the angry, hopeless noise in my head.  And then, my daughter emails me a sketch of the two of us, disguised as her invented cartoon characters.  The mother has her arm wrapped around the daughter’s shoulders, and they gaze at the other as if besotted. 

 
Love keeps me here.  Friends, too, and their tomato bounty.  So I commit love, then.  R. sliced up platters of enormous tomatoes marbled through like steak, and decorated them with mozzarella, feta, basil, salt and pepper.  We joked they were as big as the brains of small children or swollen hearts or alcoholic livers.  A way to counter sad mortality.  The three of us sat at the table, spearing tomatoes with our forks, juice and olive oil dripping from our chins.  We mopped up our plates with warm pita, spoke of our friend who was gone, and moved into the restoration and warmth of laughter.  That was our meal: the joy of summer’s bounty and the pain of its end, and friendship that could make a feast from what seemed like so little.        

 

   

Commit Love


 
 
The other night, I was over my friends’ house for dinner.  A last minute invite: they had been out to the farm to pick tomatoes, boxes and bags of tomatoes, and needed to eat them, or some, that night.  The farm.  My insides tumbled.  Not their farm (they don’t have one), but the Yoder farm, the Amish family who grows all the vegetables for the CSA started up, in part, by my ex-husband (with my intermittent help).  In married life, I used to drive out to farm with C. and the kids, pick a trunkful of tomatoes, and spend days processing sauce, salsa, and bags of whole peeled Romas.  And chat with David, the farmer, and his wife, and their giggly half-dozen kids.  We even had them over for an Amish-English dinner party in our formal dining room.  One daughter, six or seven at the time, thought it was so fancy because I’d lit candles and put them in gleaming crystal holders shaped like stars.  Wedding gifts.  But in divorce, some friends get divvied up, just like the wedding gifts, which meant for two, go to one or the other.
This is not about the loss of wedding gifts, but the loss of friends.  The real loss.  Last week, one of my friends committed suicide.  Impossible to imagine (and I try not to) because she was always suffused with joy, at least when I saw her.  She owned the yoga studio where I practice.  Her smile was a stabilizing force and she inhabited her body with a grace I can only hope to achieve.  And yet, she is gone now.  A strange, legalistic phrase: “committed suicide.”  One commits crimes or commits to a relationship.  But suicide?  Perhaps initially as a cause of intended action.  But wholeheartedly?  That seems impossible, and I know since I once committed myself to such a course.  But gratefully I woke up in the hospital bed, my life, while not intact, given more time for repair.  Even in the pain and inside the intention and in the bottle of pills I swallowed, even in my irrational thinking, unable to see any other possibility, I don’t think I believed for an instant that I wouldn’t wake up at some point, even if that meant years on out, and see my daughter and son and husband again.  A faulty, fleeting solution to the pain of now, a decision, in its execution, that seemed temporary.  Except so often, it isn’t. 

Sorrow for my friend in her pain and the consequent devastation.  It is not easy to resist shutting down for good.  Sometimes, I wander into thinking that might be the only way—not as often as I used to—but still, what I imagine as a blank, dark quiet can seem preferable over the angry, hopeless noise in my head.  And then, my daughter emails me a sketch of the two of us, disguised as her invented cartoon characters.  The mother has her arm wrapped around the daughter’s shoulders, and they gaze at the other as if besotted. 

 
Love keeps me here.  Friends, too, and their tomato bounty.  So I commit love, then.  R. sliced up platters of enormous tomatoes marbled through like steak, and decorated them with mozzarella, feta, basil, salt and pepper.  We joked they were as big as the brains of small children or swollen hearts or alcoholic livers.  A way to counter sad mortality.  The three of us sat at the table, spearing tomatoes with our forks, juice and olive oil dripping from our chins.  We mopped up our plates with warm pita, spoke of our friend who was gone, and moved into the restoration and warmth of laughter.  That was our meal: the joy of summer’s bounty and the pain of its end, and friendship that could make a feast from what seemed like so little.        

 

   

Commit Love


 
 
The other night, I was over my friends’ house for dinner.  A last minute invite: they had been out to the farm to pick tomatoes, boxes and bags of tomatoes, and needed to eat them, or some, that night.  The farm.  My insides tumbled.  Not their farm (they don’t have one), but the Yoder farm, the Amish family who grows all the vegetables for the CSA started up, in part, by my ex-husband (with my intermittent help).  In married life, I used to drive out to farm with C. and the kids, pick a trunkful of tomatoes, and spend days processing sauce, salsa, and bags of whole peeled Romas.  And chat with David, the farmer, and his wife, and their giggly half-dozen kids.  We even had them over for an Amish-English dinner party in our formal dining room.  One daughter, six or seven at the time, thought it was so fancy because I’d lit candles and put them in gleaming crystal holders shaped like stars.  Wedding gifts.  But in divorce, some friends get divvied up, just like the wedding gifts, which meant for two, go to one or the other.
This is not about the loss of wedding gifts, but the loss of friends.  The real loss.  Last week, one of my friends committed suicide.  Impossible to imagine (and I try not to) because she was always suffused with joy, at least when I saw her.  She owned the yoga studio where I practice.  Her smile was a stabilizing force and she inhabited her body with a grace I can only hope to achieve.  And yet, she is gone now.  A strange, legalistic phrase: “committed suicide.”  One commits crimes or commits to a relationship.  But suicide?  Perhaps initially as a cause of intended action.  But wholeheartedly?  That seems impossible, and I know since I once committed myself to such a course.  But gratefully I woke up in the hospital bed, my life, while not intact, given more time for repair.  Even in the pain and inside the intention and in the bottle of pills I swallowed, even in my irrational thinking, unable to see any other possibility, I don’t think I believed for an instant that I wouldn’t wake up at some point, even if that meant years on out, and see my daughter and son and husband again.  A faulty, fleeting solution to the pain of now, a decision, in its execution, that seemed temporary.  Except so often, it isn’t. 

Sorrow for my friend in her pain and the consequent devastation.  It is not easy to resist shutting down for good.  Sometimes, I wander into thinking that might be the only way—not as often as I used to—but still, what I imagine as a blank, dark quiet can seem preferable over the angry, hopeless noise in my head.  And then, my daughter emails me a sketch of the two of us, disguised as her invented cartoon characters.  The mother has her arm wrapped around the daughter’s shoulders, and they gaze at the other as if besotted. 

 
Love keeps me here.  Friends, too, and their tomato bounty.  So I commit love, then.  R. sliced up platters of enormous tomatoes marbled through like steak, and decorated them with mozzarella, feta, basil, salt and pepper.  We joked they were as big as the brains of small children or swollen hearts or alcoholic livers.  A way to counter sad mortality.  The three of us sat at the table, spearing tomatoes with our forks, juice and olive oil dripping from our chins.  We mopped up our plates with warm pita, spoke of our friend who was gone, and moved into the restoration and warmth of laughter.  That was our meal: the joy of summer’s bounty and the pain of its end, and friendship that could make a feast from what seemed like so little.        

 

   

Young Adult Mental Health

Last Friday and Saturday, I alternately volunteered at and attended the NAMI California Conference. You can purchase CDs or MP3s of the California conference held last Friday and Saturday in Newport Beach, the NAMI National Convention held in San Francisco in July, and past conventions here.

As I mentioned in my last post, attending the conference, like all social interaction, overstimulated me, and I’m still trying to slow myself down. Coloring helps.

***

The first session I attended was on transitional aged youth (aka “TAY” which should be called young adults or adolescents and young adults, because calling an eighteen-year-old legal adult a youth is insulting, really).

The facilitator was Gustavo Loera, EdD. He spoke of the importance of young adults telling their stories. Storytelling leads to purpose. Your story can make a difference. YCMAD: You Can Make a Difference.

***

DeAndre Evans shared his story of growing up in Richmond, California. He opened up the conference with an awesome spoken word performance. DeAndre works at RAW Talent in Richmond, CA. He is an actor and spoken word performing artist whose work is featured in the documentary Romeo Is Bleeding, and he has written the screenplay Poverty, Poetry & Paradise.

***

Ellen Frudakis, co-founder and Program Director of Impact Young Adults (IYA), a non-profit created and run by young adults for young adults seeking mental health. She spoke about the need to create a bridge from in the storm to out. IYA has a social focus to overcome isolation. When isolated, thoughts get distorted. She recommended Stan Collins’ Directing Change Project, a student film contest promoting the mental health of California students.

***

City Fall by Amanda Lipp
“City Fall” by Amanda Lipp

Crayon artist (her work inspires me to pull out my tub of crayons), videographer and public speaker Amanda Lipp (like me, creative, bipolar and more) moderated a panel of fellow young adult mental health advocates: Chris Allen, Ronny Choe and Troy Mondragon.

***

Chris Allen is a former Marine who suffered PTSD upon his return from combat and was for a time homeless. He now works for the California Veterans Assistance Foundation, helping fellow veterans and their families as Program Director of Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) Priority 2 & Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP), Transition in Place (TIP), Step Up, Rally Point & Shelter Plus Care. Thank you, Chris, for all you do for veterans and their families.

***

Ronny Choe’s brother has schizophrenia. Ronny spoke of the need to reach out to the Asian American community and offer caregiver support. As a UCLA teaching assistant, Ronny reaches out to young adult students by finding what they are interested in, then tying mental health into it. Ronny’s passion is for neuroscience, so his research may someday help those of us who struggle to maintain our mental health.

***

Troy Mondragon was diagnosed as bipolar at fourteen-years-old, and just got his MSW from Cal State San Bernardino. His success is due to early intervention. He organized a positive response to the campus police killing of a bipolar student. He spoke of the need for systems, a medical response team, and crisis intervention team (CIT) training to move forward with hope and healing. Troy calls himself a social entrepreneur and challenges us to embrace the change to be more effective advocates.


Filed under: NAMI Tagged: Amanda Lipp, California Veterans Assistance Foundation, Chris Allen, DeAndre Evans, Ellen Frudakis, Gustavo Loera EdD, Impact Young Adults, NAMI California Conference, RAW Talent, Romeo is Bleeding, Ronny Choe, TAY, Troy Mondragon, Young Adult

Life’s Been Good To Me So Far

I have never really had a negative experience regarding people and my bipolar disorder. When I first attempted suicide, the...

The post Life’s Been Good To Me So Far appeared first on Pretending to be What We Are.

After my vacation…

IMG_8098 IMG_8176IMG_8113 IMG_8129

It was a wonderful vacation, a perfect vacation. Nine out of ten beach days! The best part was to have my son with us, he is so sweet and funny and intelligent! It is just a pleasure to be with him. It was also wonderful for me because I didn’t have to worry about him. I worry about him much too much. The beginnings of an anxiety disorder? I don’t know. What I do know is that he is fine, but I still worry about him and of course I miss him a lot. I know all about how children have to separate from their parents to individuate and grow up. I’m not sure I quite buy it though, I think families are meant to stay together, not in the same house, but close by, perhaps in the same town, so they can stay in touch and be there for each other if the need arises. But the American culture is all about individuality, about the nuclear family and not the extended family. It’s about individual rights. It separates us instead of bringing us together. As a mother, there is nothing that makes me happier than to be with my son and know that he is happy, healthy, well loved and living a productive, self sufficient life. That is what I wish for all my friends and family and their children as well.

Yes, our vacation was wonderful, so coming back has been difficult. Yes, I am dealing with emotions, the downfall for those of us who have mood disorders. Separation from my son and the ensuing anxiety are definitely triggers that plunge me into an anxious, depressed phase. Other triggers can make my adrenaline spike and possibly contribute to an angry, manicky response. Yes, I have to start my “Choosing to do Something Different” course with Pema Chödrön again. It was truly helping me when I was reading a section daily. It’s really a matter of use it or lose it. Must keep at it, must keep practicing. I will start again tonight and start posting about it again.

Also one of my triggers which is really simple to avoid is hunger. Yes I said hunger. When I am hungry, my anxiety can get to pretty high levels pretty quickly. For example in a well fed state (haha) I might find someone like Donald Trump (ugh) mildly annoying. But expose me to this annoying boor in a hungry state and I will react much more strongly, maybe even call him a gargantuan fool… which he might be… but what’s important here is my reaction to something, not the something. My reaction, that is what I am trying to control with Pema Chödrön’s course. Of course I won’t stop just with that course, I will read, follow, meditate, use other techniques as well.

I’m back. My son’s fine. I’m controlling my emotions. Hurrah!


Women’s Equality Day

This Graphic Shows Why We Still Need Women’s Equality Day from TIME, Inc. article by Heather Jones @msjonesnyc and Charlotte Alter @charlottealter.

Why We Still Need Women's Equality Day. 95 years after women got the right to vote, the US government is still only about 20% female. Women's representation in 2015: At the Federal level: Supreme Court 3 out of 9, Congress 104 out of 535, House of Representatives 80 women out of 435 (19%), Senate 20 women out of 100 (20%). at the State level: Governors 6 out of 50 (12%), Mayors of Cities more than 30K people 256 out of 1393 (18%), State Legislatures 1,793 out of over 7,000 seats (24%). Women's Voter Turnout: women have voted more than men in every presidential election since 1980. 71.4 million women voters in 2012 vs. 61.6 million men. Almost 64% of eligible women voted in 2012, compared to almost 60% of eligible men. Political Representation Worldwide: Since 1995, the percentage of women in national legislatures has almost doubled worldwide, but still only 22% of all national elected representatives are female. Saudi Arabia just allowed women to register to vote in August. Vatican City still does not allow women to vote. Sources: Center for American Women and Politics; Clinton Foundation No Ceilings Report; U.S. Census. Infographic by TIME.


Filed under: Human Rights Tagged: #ERAnow, #WomensEqualityDay, Equal Rights Amendment, ERA, feminism, human rights, voting rights, Woman's Equality Day, women's rights, Women’s Equality Day

open letter to jennifer soldner

One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in…

Watch “Criminalizing Mental Health • This Is Crazy • Part 1 of 3 • BRAVE NEW FILMS” on YouTube

I am so glad to see this! 

This is a documentary about what happens when mental illness and police intersect.  This is the “weapon” we need, to fight ignorance by means of information and education. 

My personal psychiatrist spends most of his time in prison.  He is a prison psychiatrist.  He tells me that roughly 50% of the prison population have a pre-existing psychiatric diagnosis–and he gives me a sardonic smile as he says, “And the rest are undiagnosed.”

Whether or not you agree with that, I’m sure you will agree that beating, shooting, tasering, and incarcerating people who may simply be disoriented, delusional, hallucinating, or displaying side effects of anti-psychotic medicines such as stiff gait and slurred speech, is not only inappropriate and inhumane, but criminal.

If you agree with the message of this film, I urge you to go to the authors’ website and see how you can take action to promote crisis intervention training for police so that they can be trained in methods of de-escalating mental health crisis situations rather than treating them as crime scenes.

This is the first step in a long process that we must undertake, to protect our brothers and sisters who suffer from mental illness from the “justice” system that is supposed to protect us, not beat, taser, shoot, and incarcerate us.

The second step is to hold law enforcement and prison personnel criminally responsible for abuse of people with mental illness.

Currently, police officers and prison guards who maim and kill the mentally ill might get a few weeks of unpaid leave, or maybe even get fired.  But they don’t often get charged with criminal assault or murder.  This has to change.  We MUST empower and pressure our legislators to create a legal code that eliminates immunity for “law officers” who break the law–who torture, maim, and kill.

Please watch the video and share it widely, hit the Facebook and Twitter buttons, reblog this or write your own post, do whatever you can to circulate this effort to get the word out.  The authors have a petition going, and they have the Facebook pages of all the Presidential candidates so we can bombard them with the message:

LET OUR PEOPLE LIVE!