Daily Archives: June 2, 2015
This weekend I got to spend time with some of my Tribe. These are folks who have travelled The Seeker’s path with me, going to workshops and intensives to learn how to be more conscious and mindful. The four of us who get together in Des Moines for meditation are part of this larger community, called Foundation, as are people all over the country.
It was hard for me at first. It always is when we come together. I’m so used to being solitary, that more than two or three people can be overwhelming. But I can say that to this group, and they hear me. I’m safe with them.
I have history with these particular people, who knew me before electroshock. Some of them hold parts of me I’ve forgotten. Their memories of me are such a gift—like filling in holes with beautiful light. Their prompts help me remember the person I was and, in many ways, still am.
Part of our tradition is to share meals together. Food flows non-stop. Many of us are trying special diets—vegetarian, vegan, Paleo, gluten-free, diets for blood type or a particular illness—so we’re not easy to please. But we always have glorious, delicious meals. It always works.
When we get together, we meditate and we talk. Everyone is engaged, whether we study quantum physics, yoga or sacred dance; whether our lives are settled or are in chaos; whether we lead with our intellect or our heart. Friction happens, which creates the best opportunities for mindfulness. We get to watch how we react to each other and follow those reactions to the source—expectation, judgment, pattern. Then, we discuss all that, too, if we want.
Often, our work together allows personal issues to surface—fears, anxieties, grief. In the safety of the group, we can be vulnerable. We can feel what we feel and be held by the group with compassion and genuine love.
And genuine laughter. I never laugh so hard or as long as when I’m with these folks. Especially when Sandra whips out the Fart App on her phone.
We gain so much from each other—not just the book lists we tend to generate, or the theories we throw around, or the practices we share. We connect and are enriched by the connection. We know each other on a deep level even if we don’t know each other well personally. We really are We.
I drove back and forth from my home in Marshalltown to Des Moines each day, which takes about an hour. While all my friends in Des Moines offered to keep me overnight, I wanted to drive. I knew I’d need time alone to rest after being with a big group, and I wanted to be as functional as possible. Driving home from Barb’s for the last time on Sunday, I felt in my bones that while I may be an introvert and solitary, I’m never alone.
Note: If you are reading this, please spread word about this event/idea. You are welcome to just copy and paste this email to people you know in the media, government and others you know who would help make this event happen in your community. Also, please write to Dave Richards to let him know you agree. firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com Other emails of people who received this letter are listed below- consider writing to them too.
Another great idea is to tweet and send Facebook messages to people you know who would help. If you have contacted someone, please email me at MichelleLandeHughes@gmail.com to let me know who and how. Thanks!
Dear Dave Richards (Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Services of the state of North Carolina);
I believe that Embrace Life Day is something that would be very important in our communities in North Carolina and would set us apart from other states.
Thank you for attending the special day that celebrated mental illness by offering free food, entertainment, games, and special speakers to help educate the community of mental illness in the Winston Salem area.
As you know, our first event, was very successful and I believe should be continued not only Winston Salem, but throughout our state and in reality our nation.
My mother, who was very instrumental in helping to organize the event, passed away last November. I would really like to still have the event this October in recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week and in her honor. I have the funds, the location arranged, exhibitors and entertainers anxious to participate, and a few volunteers. However, I can not find the support and help needed to organize and run the event successfully.
I am writing to you because I can envision this event helping so many people not only with mental illnesses, but the community as a whole.
I don’t think it should just be a volunteering situation. I feel that the cause and event is important enough that there should be payed positions throughout our state that help to organize this event.
You made a huge point of saying that the event was successful when you came and read the letter from the governor and spoke a few words. I am hoping that you will help to make this event successful this year.
I can not do it alone. Unfortunately, If I don’t get more help and support from the community, there will not be another Embrace Life Day. I have tried to hold two meetings and can’t get more than 2-5 people to commit to coming. Out of those people, because of understandable other commitments, can’t give as much time needed to help.
Please seriously consider helping me continue this event not only because it is very important that communities learn that people with mental illnesses can be helped and they can find resources that can help them. As you know the event also educates people about mental illnesses and attempts to erase the stigma surrounding it.
I have included other people in this email as I think everyone should know that I can’t do this alone and how important the event is to our communities. In my opinion, it could be one of the most important things NC can do to help our community and deserves the funding and support as much as any program I am aware of.
I personally know David Muir as I played clarinet in band with him and plan to contact him as well as a few other people in the media and government I know personally. I am also planning to spread this letter on my social media outlets. Mental Illness is important. In addition, I will be sharing this email by filling out contact forms to people who are not included. Mental illness not only needs to be talked about, but action needs to be taken. Action needs to be taken now, not when Congress passes a bill. This event is a great way to start.
I am also planning to spread this letter on my social media outlets.
In addition to organizing Embrace Life Day, I am the founder of several social media forums, pages, and groups totally 175,00 members combined (and growing steadily) from all over the world. People who participate in these forums/groups/pages are advocates who are ready for direction and wanting to make changes regarding mental illness in their areas. My hope is that these members can also do similar events too. I am hoping with your help and support that NC can be a model for such events.
Thanks for your time and consideration.
Michelle Lande Clark (formerly Hughes)
Address: 1791 Timber Cove Court; Winston Salem, NC 27127
Cell Number: 336.201.2390
Note: Many media outlets and politicians have forms to fill out. I will be contacting others via their forms, but also twitter and facebook accounts.
I’ve been awake ninety minutes and already my gums hurt. This unconscious jaw and teeth grinding is a bucket of suck. My gums are killing me, it’s amazing they aren’t gushing blood. I fear I may break my own jaw, I’m grinding so hard. And it’s not conscious, and I wasn’t doing it two months ago. The shrink says it’s not medication related but I’m not buying it. I remember when Sass was on the Latard and talking about the jaw clenching and my primary thought was, “Wow, the ONE side effect I DIDN’T get.” Even going off, it was never a problem. Enter Trileptal and suddenly, it’s this major issue. It blows goats to be in a place where you question your own sanity, and your doctor-the one who’s supposed to help you- tells you all your side effects are imaginary even when the stupid pharma companies admit it’s been reported.
I’m starting to wonder if the numbness is the Trileptal, too. Or maybe that one mixed with the Lamictal. I dunno. I’m just in this sucky place and I might as well be talking about the weather for all the affect my doctor shows. Suckier is when the doctor is a nice pleasant person, cooperative, open to your input..And yet still so dismissive. I feel like the bad guy and yet…This is my life, this is what I live with daily.
The weirdo dreams continue. The other night it was a return to my teenage years and a shopping trip with my mother. Talk about trauma. I had dreams about being in sitcoms last night. Okay, maybe not terrifying, but definitely bizarre. Oh, and food, I’ve been dreaming about food. Then there was one where I was standing at the counter somewhere and this girl came in and she was wearing this black cobweb and fishnet tights and all I could think was, wow, those are awesome. Just..wtf.
Yesterday was…not so awful, if Novacaine brain is your thing. Of course, I could feel the anxiety to the bone marrow, set off by every tiny thing. Someone down the street playing music yet all I hear is THUD THUD THUD bass. Hell, I made a whole ranting list yesterday of observations of things setting off my anxiety. Should I post it? Hmmm… I got nothing else. Except the observation that once I pried myself out of bed this morning (taking the Xanax too late really makes waking up hard) I went outside to feed the stray cats and put out trash…And it’s sunny and warm and I said, “Good morning, kitties.” For one brief moment, I thought, hey maybe today won’t suck from the mental state. Nah. Just fleeting moments.
Okay…At the risk of some redundancy…yesterday’s countdown list of things that made my anxiety worse.
1.) Someone down the street is playing a stereo. Can’t hear music, just thud thud thud wall rattling bass. It makes me a nervous wreck, like hand wringing pulling out clumps of hair nervous.
2.) Squealing kids. Ugh, lock them back up, pleeease.
3.) My kid asking for a snack ten seconds after I just gave her one and admitting, “I had to give them to (j) so she’d be my friend.” Evil little monsters.
4.) The notion that by telling the truth in a blog about medications and side effects somehow influences people to go off their meds. I read on the internet snorting sea monkeys makes you high. I’m smart enough to not even wanna go there. Stupid is not my fault.
5.) That my anxiety is so high without a trigger, and it’s resulting in hives and itchiness.
6.) When a pill sticks to my tongue and starts to dissolve. EWWWWWWWWW. Takes forever to get that bitter taste to go away.
7.) Not being able to move an inch without a kitten hanging from me. It was sweet to wake up to a bed full of cats snuggling me. But I am so anxious and squirmy, I feel bad having to disturb them every time I move. You’d think they’d catch on that I might not be the comfiest place to rest but nope. They either adore me that much or my chair is that comfy.
8.) My kid yelling at me one minute, declaring I HAVE A BAD MOTHER. Then the next saying I am the best mom ever. Is that how I confuse people? Except I have no intent and am not throwing tantrums. My head hurts.
9.) The fact I can’t even listen to music without it making me feel like my skin is crawling off my bones. Not even Xanax makes the noise bearable. I don’t even know what the fuck that is. This goes beyond my fear of tainting music with my bad mental state. It absolutely sucks.
10.) The teeth gnashing. My gums are killing me, it’s amazing they aren’t gushing blood. I fear I may break my own jaw, I’m grinding so hard. And it’s not conscious, and I wasn’t doing it two months ago.
11.) My daughter’s fashion choices. She went with pink and gray striped shirt and black polka dotted pants. I figured what the hell since we’re going nowhere and I pick my battles. Could be I’m just too apathetic to care if she coordinates. She asked me to give her piggy braids and I did, but wow, they’re awful. I used to looove to do hair and was good at it. Now I am shit at everything.
12.) Incessant chatter. I’m not into utter silence but for some reason, certain things set me off. Thudding bass, high pitches, constant yapping. And it’s not like it puts me into a rage. If anything, it makes me feel nervous and a little scared. WTF.
13.) That the day seems interminable and it’s not even 2:30pm yet.
14.) It’s 6:42 pm and the day still seems like it will never end.
15.) I’m still anxious and irked even though I’ve not had to deal with the dish today and my kid has been busy playing outside, peacefully with friends, most of the day. I HATE feeling anxious with no trigger. The powers that be in mental healthcare seem to DEMAND a trigger to explain anxiety but with me…It’s wily nily even if it doesn’t fit into their neat little box.
16.) The fleeting feeling of little enjoyments. I made meatball subs for supper. They were very good and it made me feel good for the moment. Then…numb and dumb. Like, is it bedtime yet? But I can’t even enjoy sleep anymore because the bizarro dreams are fucking me up. Hell, last night I dreamt of being a teenager again and shopping with my mother. She was just as eevil then, it was just sporadic. Toxin spreading into my dreamscape is unacceptable. Nightmares as the default are not optimal.
17.) My Avon lady stopped by. And she’s got four kids, and the youngest is the Downe’s boy who’s been getting treated for the last six weeks for second degree burns, and he has to have appointments and treatments every day…And she’s still working, managing,and I am daring to complain??? That makes me feel shitty.
18.) It’s irking me how bad my body is aching today even though I’ve done nothing to warrant the ache and general bruised sensation in my skin and muscles. I’m just sore. I don’t know why, I don’t like it. And it’s not something that responds to Tylenol, it’s…Like every inch of me is bruised. No doubt it’s psychological. I’m sure even if I get a urinary tract infection, it’s because I willed it so with my anxiety. Everything is because of mental illness and neuroses.
I can finally officially let the cat out of the bag.
I’ve been accepted for a Master of Fine Arts Program in creative writing at the Mississippi University for Women! I’m going back to school!
This process has actually gone pretty quickly–I found out about the program and late April and immediately felt God’s hand on it. I’ve been looking into MFA programs for years, but moving somewhere to go to school was not appealing, nor was taking an online program at a university I knew nothing about. They were just approved to offer it last year, and I will be in their first class of students to enroll. I know the school’s reputation for producing teachers, which may be what this process will lead me to doing more of. It’s almost all online, with me being required to be on campus about once a year, but the campus is only two hours away. So that is not much of a drive at all. And I have enough money in my savings from my teaching salary that I can pay for it outright and not have to take on any loans! Since I won’t be living on campus, that will cut the traditional cost to attend there in about half. So that is exciting as well.
I’ve been waiting on the official word from the university to mention it and finally got it yesterday. I plan to take classes in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and playwriting, as well as literature. THey even offer a class for blogging, which I’m definitely going to take this fall. So we will see where this adventure takes me. Hopefully to new heights in writing and refining my nonfiction memoir into a publishable book.
Warning: possible sweariness, certain soppiness.
“Don’t treat your blog as your best friend.” Which is sound advice. Because this blog is never going to buy me a drink at the pub tonight, or ring up unexpectedly, and suggest we go out for a cuppa.
Sometimes, it really is all about me. But it can, and has, rapidly become all about us. Or even, Us. Because – here comes that soppiness, wetter than a longed-for Bank Holiday weekend – I really do believe in all that brother-and-sisterhood of HumanKind happy clappy malarkey.
Recently, I met someone who makes my anger issues seem like a vole-squeak in the dark. Yesterday, I marked what for me is a significant milestone in my life.
Do you ever stop and think about how different your life could have been, if you’d not made what turned out to be a significant decision or three? Or, as Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies examined in the NuWho classic, “Turn Left“, a seemingly minor one?
Writing this, I realise that the most profound thing(s) that ever happened to me grew from a random moment, involving both Doctor Who, and turning.
I turned channels, to TVOntario. And caught a bit of this, during the course of some idle channel hopping, back at my parents’ house. Back in what the Third Doctor, in his final episode, described as “another life”.
Everything – up to and including, so far, managing to make that milestone – grew from that single channel change.
“There may be trouble ahead” is perhaps the Biggest Lie in the Multiverse. Because there’s always trouble, up to and including the moment there isn’t any more “ahead”.
For now, the birds are out there, eating from our feeder, the foxglove is in bloom, and there’s another cup of tea, and maybe even a toasted teacake, in my immediate future.
So sing. Even if it does have flippin’ banjos.