Author Archives: Laura P. Schulman

Riding For My Life: Part One

I just turned sixty.  Can you believe it?  Neither can I.

I look in the mirror.  My face hasn’t changed much, except for a few creases in the jowl line that I’d rather do without, but hell, since I only look in the mirror to check whether I’ve brushed my hair today, I’m not bothered by it.

On the other hand, my skin has gone all weird.  In some places it’s loose and jiggly, and in others it’s tight and thin and fragile.  If I scratch an itch on my forearm, for example, I’m rewarded by a big red-purple splotch that takes weeks to go away.  If I bang myself there, which happens all the time because I still crash through the world as if I were sixteen, my skin sometimes also rips and then I have a dreadful mess that requires bandages and ointments for a couple of weeks, and then I have a scar to remember it by.   Yech.

And then there’s the skeleton.  I’ve trashed most of my joints through overexertion, as I will explain below; and those that managed to survive my athletic excesses are slowly being eaten up by the arthritis that runs in my family, on both sides.  Couldn’t dodge that bullet.

So even though my weight is exactly the same as it has been since 1985 when I had my first and only baby–well, I mean after I lost all I was going to lose afterwards, not WHEN I had him, because in the days preceding his birth I looked like a small house–my body looks just like you would expect a body to look if no one took care of it.

Before I launch into a maudlin description of why my body is in such deplorable shape at the moment, let me tell you some of the back story.

I have always been bipolar.  Unlike many, who discover their bipolarity in their teens or young adult years, I have always had symptoms of depression and passive suicidality on the one hand, and racing thoughts, extreme restlessness, and a feeling of being out of my body on the other.

I managed to funnel my depressive gloom into poetry and art.  Since I came from a family of depressed artists I just thought it was the “artist’s temperament” and considered it normal.  So I did get a lot of good art done, and a lot of bad poetry and maudlin writings.  

I am a rapid cycler.  Even as a child, I would find myself catapulted from states of near-suidical melancholy into a state of restlessness that shot through my body like an electric current, demanding physical and mental activity, the more rigorous the better.

My first and only love was for the equine race.  My parents would not buy me a pony, citing countless reasons: mainly that we never had a permanent home and moved 19 times by the time I left home at age 16. This, coupled with the abject poverty that we lived in.  But I never felt that we were poor, because, well, that was how I grew up.  In fact, I thought that most other people lived lives of shameful excess.

So wherever we moved, it was always somewhere rural because that was what my father liked, and we could always have a garden to feed us.  And for me that was fine, because there was always a neglected pony somewhere in the vicinity: one who had been bought as a Christmas present for the children who enjoyed it for a few months or a year and then ignored it after the shine wore off and all that remained was the constant work of upkeep.

I was thrilled to muck out stalls and sheds, clean and polish tack, clean and polish and feed the pony, doctor its thrushy hooves, and do whatever would convince the owners to let me ride it as much as I wanted.

Pony after pony, wherever we moved, I poured my roaring excess energy into making it spiffy again, spending hours untangling matted manes and tails, getting bitten and kicked in the process.  I didn’t care.

In my depressions I would go and bury my face in the current pony’s neck, inhaling the comforting fragrance of eau d’equine, which is still the most intoxicating smell to me, to this day.  My tears would make a wet place in the unclipped winter coat, and for reasons unknown, the pony wound stand still, snorting but unmoving, and let me embrace its neck, absorbing my sobs.

We moved again when I was 12.

I was beginning to develop then, got my period, and started getting chubby.  Despite the fact that everyone in our entire family on both sides had been chubby at puberty, my mother began a campaign to get me to lose weight by means of verbal abuse.

“Fat-ass” became my nickname.  I was a silent, isolated child then, having no friends since we had just moved, and I had no where to go except into the woods behind our house, to lie in the mossy glades and cry.

Then I discovered, not a pony, but a horse, about a mile away.  His owner had gone off to college and left him in his stall.  A hired man cleaned his stall and fed him, but otherwise no one paid any attention to him.

The owners of the horse had a daughter my age, who weighed about 200 lbs, didn’t care who knew it, and menaced anyone who gave her any crap about it.  She kept a pair of parakeets and derived sexual pleasure out of watching them mate, and from surreptitiously watching her big sister and her boyfriend “doing it” on the couch.  She was not interested in the horse.  I was not interested in the parakeets or the boyfriend, but I courted Caroline until she introduced me to her mother, at which point with bated breath I asked her if I could take care of the horse in return for riding him.

She was ecstatic and immediately called the hired man (did I mention that this was a huge estate that encompassed an entire small mountain?) and ordered him to show me around the barn.  I had my first real horse to care for.

That horse became my passion, my savior.   The moment I got off the school bus I would race upstairs and change into barn clothes, jump on my bike and roar off to meet my paramour.  After turning him out into the paddock, I cleaned his stall down to the floor, fluffed it up with new straw, then brushed him out thoroughly, combed his mane and tail, picked out his shod hooves, and swabbed his entire body down with citronella-smelling fly repellant that I can still smell to this day.

I would tack him up with his flat English saddle and double-rein bridle–this I have to give my parents, that they had started me in English riding lessons since I was six, on tall Thoroughbreds, so tall that I resolved that since I must instantly be killed if I fell off, then I would never fall off.  And I didn’t.

And off we would go, down the dappled lanes through the New England woods, all acrid with leaf mold.  The estate covered acres and acres, and I had no restrictions, so we criss-crossed the property for hours every day.

One day we were ambling along one of the many areas of bare granite, scraped clean by some glacier, when he pulled up lame.  I jumped off, wondering how I was going to get back on, since at 4’11″ I required a mounting block or at least a fence in order to mount the tall Thoroughbred.  But he needed help, so off I hopped.

He was holding his left front foot as if it hurt him, and when I picked it up I saw that one of the many oval granite stones that populated the area had lodged in his foot, so I dug my hoof pick out of my jeans pocket and went to work.

The stone was wedged in between the two sides of his shoe, so I had to lever it out.

Now, normally a person who is working on a hoof stands with their back to the horse’s head and the hoof securely held between their knees; but the last time I had done that I had been dumped upon my head, so I stood to the side facing the horse’s shoulder and held the hoof in my left hand, working on the wedged stone with my right.

Finally the stone flew out with a “pop,” but it must have hurt the horse because he snorted and stomped his foot down hard on the rock we were standing on.  But my foot was between his iron-shod hoof and the rock, and first I heard CRUNCH and then I felt my tall riding boot start to fill with something warm.  I knew what that was.

Luckily it was my right big toe that had been crushed, because I needed my left foot to mount with and I don’t know what I would have done if it had been my left. Horses get used to being mounted from one side, usually the left, and they are skittish about the other side, and I had enough problems already.

I found a stump to mount from, and had no little trouble getting him to move alongside it and stand still; but I finally got on and back to the barn, untacked him, rubbed him down, and rode my bicycle home.

Then I tried to get my foot out of the boot.  It had swollen so that it filled the inside of the boot and was stuck.  I had to cut the boot off, shedding many tears, because I knew it was unlikely that I would come by another pair.  They are very expensive.

I was relieved to see, after gingerly and painfully soaking the foot in the bathtub, that the source of the bleeding was that my toenail had come off; but there were no bones sticking out. I thought that it would be better not to tell anyone, because that might result in my being forbidden to ride.   So I wore roomy sneakers for a couple of months, and it healed without incident.

To be continued……..

How Do I Pick My Reading Material?

Well, I guess I’m just an old fuddy-duddy when it comes to “what to read.”  I love classics:  Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Hawthorne, Tennessee Williams, and jeekers crow, I just read Gulliver’s Travels in two days!  That was trippy.  Now I’m reading Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.  Hemingway is also good.

I have to read anything that has to do with traveling for the sake of adventure.  Tolkien’s masterpiece story cycle, of course, which I think I have gobbled up at least five times; Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer), Into the Woods (Bill Bryson), and (drum roll) my own memoir-in-progress, A Runaway Life (you can read snippets here).

Sometimes I pick by genre, and seek out books that call out to me by browsing Amazon.

Sometimes I do the radical thing, and actually go to a traditional brick-and-mortar bookstore, if I happen to be “in town,” which is an hour-and-a-half from the town in which I live when I’m in America.  Here in Jerusalem, there are several cozy coffee houses sporting floor-to-ceiling book stacks.  You are welcome to browse, pick, sit, and read over your cuppa as long as you like, in the big overstuffed chairs each with its own floor lamp.  Yum.

Sometimes I’ll be at my parents’ house, where NPR is permanently blasting (they are hard of hearing) and Diane Rehm or Terry Gross will be interviewing some lucky author. If it speaks to me I’ll instantly grab my laptop and order that book.  Thus came The Help, The Life of Pi, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, and others TNTC (Too Numerous To Count.)

Then there’s the genre of books about mental illness.  This is a mental illness blog, after all. I’m not so keen on books about the scientific aspect, since that is readily available on the Web.  I like experiential memoirs, like Get Me Out Of Here by Rachel Reiland.  It’s the story of a young woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who, by means of hard work, an incredibly understanding husband, and a lot of money, managed to struggle her way out of the labyrinthine clutches of a very difficult illness.  I don’t have PBD, but the story of her getting the upper hand on her illness inspires me.

Likewise, Temple Grandin’s Thinking in Pictures has been an immense help to me in understanding Asperger Syndrome, which I do have.

And finally, the most dear to my hear: the books that people give me out of love.  Precious Bane, by Mary Webb, is a virtually unknown gem by a virtually unknown author.  Mary Webb (1881-1927) lived and wrote in the Lake District of England.  Her love of nature and highly descriptive prose is nothing less than magical.  I now own all of her books.  Some are more to my taste than others, and Precious Bane is the pearl of them all, in my literary opinion.  If you haven’t read it, please do.  My copy, given to me by a special friend, is dated 1929; but you can download yours on Amazon!

My reading habits in the Blogosphere are mostly shaped by the wonderful mental health blogging community, of which I am privileged to be a part.  Many of the bloggers I read have become dear friends.  We share our deepest emotional experiences here, and we have created a totally safe and supportive network.  For many of us, our blogging community has become our lifeline and some of us feel that it is a very effective form of group therapy, sometimes even more effective than “live” group therapy because the level of trust in the mental health blogging community seems to be higher, and it’s possible to choose one’s “group” rather than being assigned to a random cohort.

I read about five blogs regularly, and a few more when they happen to come across my radar screen in comments.  Then I’ll cruise over to their blog and check them out, maybe leave a comment, and if I like what they’re up to, I’ll subscribe and follow them in my Reader.

So, my fellow Bloggies, how do you pick your reading material?  Can’t wait to hear!

Mental health stigma in the UK

Reblogged from Save Me From BPD:

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Tesco pulls 'psycho ward' costume as consumer complaints mount

Tesco apologises for 'Committed' costume as Asda is forced to withdraw a mental patient fancy dress costume.

Tesco has become the second retailer to apologise for selling a fancy dress costume billed as relating to mental health issues, saying it is "really sorry for any offence caused".

The supermarket giant withdrew the bright orange adult costume called "Psycho Ward" from its website after a flurry of consumer complaints.

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I have also been following this horrifying trend of retail sellers offering offensive caricatures of "mental patients" as joke costumes. I hope that public outcry will serve to educate not only the retailers, but also the public, that caricaturing the mentally ill is no more acceptable than putting on blackface and an Afro wig. Much less acceptable, since "mental patients" are represented as intrinsically violent. Thanks savemefrombpd for publishing this excellent article.

The Adult Survivor: Remembering the Truth vs Longing for What Could Have Been

Reblogged from The Invisible Scar:

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Some of the best content on The Invisible Scar is in the comments section. In reading them, I've seen myriad themes emerging. One of the most powerful ones is an adult survivor's longing for a loving family vs the truth of what their family is really like.

The desire to be part of a loving family; to have parents who are loving, supporting, and caring; to have siblings who love you and care for your well-being; to have family members who listen to you, who share themselves, who make your life happier by being in it (and who are happy in your being in their lives)....

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Mourning the loss of a mother I never had..."Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long way from home..." and a home I never had. I have been mourning all my life, but only conscious of it for the past 30 (thirty!) years. Still I have gone back and back, tried and tried to appease with accomplishments (such a good, talented daughter), gifts, flowers, baskets (such a thoughtful, generous daughter) but what is lacking here? "Such a loving daughter." Why? Because, in essence, since I don't have a real mother, I can't love her like a daughter. And that, too, I mourn, especially when I see mothers and daughters who are close, who share their feelings. My mother always told me, "I'm your mother, not your friend." And now I think she regrets that. She wants me to be her friend, to like her, to love her. But since she was never a mother to me, there is no basis for that. And since her cutting tongue and unpredictable rages have caused me to always be aware of my boundaries and try to keep a healthy distance even when in her presence, she feels my distance as coldness, rejection, and as we know, certain people are extremely sensitive to rejection, real or perceived. So then she gets very sad, and cries, and I feel bad. But I know from bitter experience that the first minute I let her inside my boundaries, WHAM I will get smacked, verbally, or subjected to a screaming fit, belittled, I keep my distance and mourn for the mother I never had.

Feeling Suicidal? Change the Channel.

Things have been going in a dismal spiral that has been threatening to turn into a full-blown tailspin.  For the last three days I have ruminated night and day about death: fervent wishes for a speedy natural death, and in the absence of that, turning to my old faithful suicide plan, painless, tidy, nothing to clean up and nobody’s trauma.

There is no good reason for this, if you discount the deep spell of depression.  Here I am in the Holy City of Jerusalem at the holiest time of year, and especially now that it’s sukkot:  the happiest time of the year for us Jews.  So what’s the deal?

OK, so I have had to move twice in two months because of the bedbug plague that is sweeping the city.  Bedbugs get me down.  They give me more than the creeps, little bastards sucking your blood all night and hiding out in your underwear drawer during the day!  Chutzpeh!

I had the second apartment exterminated three times, each time involving leaving for 10 hours, then scrubbing the floors and all the surfaces multiple times so as not to poison myself and my dog.  Nevertheless I have had a nasty headache for weeks, which has gone away after moving to the third apartment which so far (please G-d) does not have bedbugs like the first two.

Along with all the other bedbug mitigation work, I have to wash and dry everything over and over.  Right now everything I own is on the roof baking in the sun (they can’t stand heat and drying), which was fine until it rained the other night.  I have not had the strength or ambition to climb back up on the roof and undertake damage control.

So circumstances are getting me down, yes.  It’s an overlay on the bipolar depressive phase.  But it could be deadly, because just a few hours ago I was planning when and where.

And then I broke my policy of strict isolation (because when I’m like this I am such a zombie, flat affect, flat voice, no reactions) that it freaks people out and is very unpleasant for me.  And if they’re people I like, I might just burst out crying and that just makes things worse.  So isolation it is, and yeah, I know, it’s not good.

So this evening a very special event was planned in my congregation in honor of this day being the passing of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, in the year 1810, who was a revered spiritual leader, and is the guiding spirit of many members of our congregation.  I had to go.  I wanted to see everybody, hear what the rabbi had to say (even though I only understand about every third word of his Hebrew) and generally be with my peeps.  I did not set myself a time limit: if I got uncomfortable, I gave myself permission to leave at any time.

Not only that: since my Hebrew birthday falls out tomorrow, I booked myself a massage tonight.  Yeah.

When I got to the party I was feeling pretty low and didn’t know if I would be able to handle it.  But there was singing and someone was playing a djembe (African hand drum) badly, and I saw another djembe that didn’t have anyone playing it.  Now, I happen to have studied djembe for four or five years, and played with an African dance troupe.   I have stopped playing because of severe issues with my hands, but since I was planning to die I didn’t care if I fucked up my hands more so I picked up the free djembe and warmed up quietly, getting the feel, and then the old feeling came back and I popped right back into the common West African dance rhythm BADA bada BADA bam, working the bass and the slaps and tones and rim shots just like old times.  And for some reason, I didn’t break blood vessels in my hands or hurt my two bad wrists or any of that.  And feeling the groove of the people singing and getting underneath the inexperienced drummer and giving him a boost so he could ride my wave was intoxicating.

I forgot all about suicide.

Then I went and had a 90 minute massage.

Now I’ve taken my meds and am going to bed, with a lot to think about.

I’ll think about it in the morning.  At Tara.  Or maybe in the Old City.

Love Languages Lost

I am a fan of Gary Chapman’s concept of 5 Love Languages.  His theory is that each person perceives and expresses love in one or more of five ways.  And they are:

-Words of affirmation

-Acts of service

-Receiving (or, I would add, giving) gifts

-Quality time

-Physical touch.

These are all equally weighted.  How it works is:  if I am a “Words of Affirmation,” person and you tell me I’m the love of your life, you’ve just hit one out of the park.

But if I’m a “Receiving gifts,” and all I get is an “I love you,” I’m gonna be thinking yeah, right, ya cheapskate, put yer money where yer mouth is.

Let me give you a personal example.  I am an “Acts of Service” person.  If you mow my lawn before I get home from what you know has been a hellish day at work, I will fall at your feet in worship  and drag us both into a much-needed shower, and what happens after that, happens.  The main thing is that you threw me into a typhoon of passion by mowing my lawn.  Got it?  OK.

Let’s hope the mower of the lawn is a “Physical Touch” type, and also a “Words of Affirmation” type, because if so, he would be so, SO rewarded and feel all warm and gooshy and happy down to the tips of his yummy toes that helped him mow my lawn.

If he’s a “Receiving Gifts” type, then after you get done in the shower and the bed you’d better hop it down to the mall and buy him a Rolex.  That will not only make him very happy, but it will be incentive for next time.  On second thought, maybe not the Rolex this time, because what will you give him next time he does something heroic for you?  The Queen Mary?  Some of us don’t have that kind of income.  So just take the dude to the mall, see what twinkles at him (bad choice of words), take him out to dinner and while he is absorbed in snaking pieces of crab meat out  with a teeny tiny fork, you slip out and buy the prezzie, and surprise him when you get back home.  (N.B. hope you bought enough lube.)

Dandy.  I learned about these love languages too late, after everything with the love of my life had gone horribly, horribly wrong.

We loved each other.  I mean, not just love.  We adored each other.  The sun and moon only went round and round because of our love.  We were stupidly, ridiculously, take off your clothes and dance naked in the kitchen crazy in love with each other.  And we were both in our fifties, fer cryin’ out loud.  That’s not supposed to happen.  But it did  And that’s, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, past tense.

It was the breakdown in Love Languages that tore us apart.

He loved verbal affirmations of love.  He would read me the Song of Solomon, eyes dripping with worship.  I have to say that although I was touched, I was slightly embarrassed by the sheer effusiveness of the whole affair.  I am a bit on the taciturn side, so I couldn’t help but conjure images of Don Quixote (reading) and Dulcinea (waiting for it to be over so we could go back to bed.)

I’m sure I hurt him by not showering him with similar paeans to all his wonderful attributes.  But I’m just not that kinda girl.

I soon figured out that what you’re supposed to do is figure out what your partner’s “love language” is and the GROW yourself so that you can give them what they need.  Fine and dandy.  But that takes time.  And in the meantime our relationship started looking like–you remember that Simpsons episode where it was Marge’s birthday and Homer gave her this super-extra-special-fine custom-made bowling ball, saying that he wanted her to come bowling with him every night so he gave her her very own ball?  And Marge is all like, “Homeeeeey, you didn’t have to…you’re so sweet…smoooooooch…..and then she sticks her fingers in the holes and realizes that they don’t fit her!!!  ”Homey,” she says a little testily, “this ball doesn’t fit my hand.”

“Oooooh,” says Homer, “Let me see if it fits mine.”  And of course it does, because he really bought it for himself, not her.

At this point we want to pound Homer into a grease spot on the bowling alley floor, but really, these things happen all the time.  Homer was a Receiving Gifts type.  The gift he wanted to receive was a new bowling ball.  So since there was a gift-giving opportunity at hand, he capitalized on it to accomplish his purpose:  He both gave and got the ball on the same day!  Brilliant!

Yes, A. and I had just that kind of mis-matched Love Languages relationship.  I am an Acts of Service, as I’ve said before, and he is a Receiving Gifts.  I’m also Quality Time.  Big time.

Unfortunately, he had a divorced family that had extensive grounds with acres of lawn, shrubs, flower beds, whatnot; and he was unable to separate from his former marital task of groundskeeping even though he was divorced and on the cusp of being married to me.  While his former wife owned ten acres of groomed landscape that any country yay-hoo could have climbed on the lawn tractor and taken care of, oooooh no, it had to be my A.  And that meant that by the time he got home from his physically demanding job plus grooming the ancestral lands, there was no energy left over for helping me rip, hack, chop, poison, and tear out by the roots 7 acres of Muliflora Rose that had overgrown the old apple orchard I had recently purchased.  So every evening my Andy would come in and flop himself on the couch, and I stood there feeling like someone else had had my orgasm.  Here I was, cheated out of my Acts of Service and Quality Time.  Drat it all!

On the other side of the fence, I had to be constantly on my guard for small boxes.  This time it was his grandfather’s pocket watch, which he had had all cleaned up and engraved to me.  Another time it was an estate platinum engagement ring with a ridiculously beautiful diamond in it.  I only found out later that he was financing this and several other extravagant purchases by selling off his nest-egg of small land holdings.  He was a Receiving Gifts, and since gifts have never meant the sun and the moon to me, I would never have thought of buying him extravagant baubles.  So he did it himself, and gave them to me; and I’m certain that no matter how hard I tried to be overcome with, uh, whatever you get overwhelmed with when somebody gives you a very significant and expensive gift you didn’t ask for, I’m sure it wasn’t the response that would have filled that particular hole in his heart.

I realize that this was a reversal of the Homer-bowling ball-Marge transaction.  What was really going on was that A. was saying to me, “With my last dollar I am giving you these things of beauty and value.”  But what he really wanted was for me to give him things of beauty and value.

So I gave him a horse.  Doh.


You Throw Like A Girl

Tom the Fiddler and I noodled around playing fiddle-and-banjo tunes in his shack overhanging the North Toe.  We each had one eye out the window, watching for Andy the Guitarist’s old brown Ford pickup.  This was odd.  Andy was never late for rehearsal.  Music was his numero dos passion.  His numero uno passion was raising his two fearsomely intelligent, accomplished, and assertive daughters, in partnership with his fearsomely intelligent, accomplished, and assertive wife.

Finally the dear old truck rolled into the yard.  Tom and I put our instruments down and walked out to greet Andy, who was moving uncharacteristically slowly.

He had his back to us, as he got his guitar out of the vehicle.  Then he turned around.

His nose, generally a bit on the petite side, was first of all smooshed all over his face.  You really couldn’t tell where it began or where it ended, it was squashed so flat.  Then there were the two black eyes and the split lip.   Regardless of all this, he was grinning like a possum.

“Andy!  What the hell happened to your face!?”  Tom and I shouted in unison.

“Olivia happened to my face,” said Andy, grinning wider.

Olivia is his younger daughter.  She is a fast-pitch softball star.  She goes to fast-pitch camp every year.  At age 11, she was feared by every team in the region.

“The catcher was sick today, so I stood in.  Or rather, my nose stood out.  She lobbed one over and I was sure the batter was going to hit it, but she struck, and I didn’t have my mitt up, and, well….as you see….”  We stood around him nodding gravely.  We saw.  ”Sorry I’m late,” he added, heading to the shack with his axe in hand.

“That’s OK.  I’m amazed they let you out of the emergency room so fast, though.  Was the ENT already there?” said practical Dr. Laura.

“Hell no, I haven’t been to the ER.  I can’t be late for practice.  I’ll let my wife the nurse practitioner deal with it when I get home.  The reason I’m late is that the ball knocked me out cold and it took awhile for me to come around, what with cold water on the face and ice bags, all that stuff.  I finally got right enough to drive, and high-tailed it over here.  Good thing I didn’t get a ticket to boot.  I have never been known to miss a rehearsal.”

Tom and I looked at each other and shrugged, and we headed into the shack and rehearsed same as usual.  We had a gig coming up, so we had to be on top of our game.  After we finished up, and Andy was putting his guitar back in its case, something struck me like a fast-ball.

Olivia!  How must she be feeling, having knocked her dad out and smashed his face into mush???

“Andy,” I asked anxiously, “What about Olivia?  She must be awfully shook up about this.”

Andy shrugged.  ”Yeah, she was.  She does feel mighty bad about it.  She was crying when I came around after being knocked out, but you know what?  As soon as I could stand up I gave her a big hug, put my arm around her and said, “That’s the ticket, kiddo.  You throw like a girl!”

Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business| American Association of Suicidology

Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business| American Association of Suicidology.

Answers to Some Recent FAQs About the Invisible Scar

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Judging by our email at the Invisible Scar, folks have lots of questions about this site. So, we thought we’d take a moment to answer a few questions that keep coming up.

Is The Invisible Scar a professional organization?
No. The Invisible Scar is a blog with posts meant to help spread information about the prevention and awareness of emotional child abuse.

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I'm exhausted from Yom Kippur, and this just came across my radar. The Invisible Scar is a blog dedicated to "Awareness and Prevention of Emotional Child Abuse." They actually reach out more to adult survivors of emotional abuse and adult children of narcissistic parents. That is how I found them. I'm reblogging this as a resource for any of you who need it.


It’s Wednesday again.  It’s Suicide Prevention Week.  So instead of my customary Wednesday Breaking the Silence of Stigma/Voices of Mental Illness interview, I’m going to talk about suicide.

Of course talking about suicide may be triggering to some people, so if you’re triggered by it, stop reading now.

I’m not going to talk about statistics or any of that stuff; it’s all over the Internet right now and you can easily access it for yourself.  This is a personal essay about my own dance with suicide, or as I prefer to think about it, leaving the planet on my own recognizance.

Life is finite.  We all have our time to be born, to live, and to die.  King Solomon wrote about that in Ecclesiastes, and The Byrds wrote the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” based on King Solomon’s Book.  Those are the constants of life:  Birth, the changes of living on the Earth, and the change of leaving the earth, whether in a natural way like disease or old age, or an unnatural way such as a car accident or a tree falling or a tsunami or something like that.  Or murder.  Or suicide.

Is suicide a variety of murder?  Some would say yes.  In my spiritual tradition (I have renounced the term “religion” because I no longer relate to it in that way), the soul is virtually injected into the body, to be taken back to its source when its mission on earth is finished.  Therefore the body is a vessel for the soul, and the human who embodies that soul does not own it and therefore does not have the right to prematurely abort its mission, because it has been assigned its mission by the Higher Source.  I can buy that, and that is a philosophical barrier to my leaving the planet before I am taken.

I think about it all the time, though.  There is not a day when I do not fantasize about leaving the unpleasantness that is my life.  For some reason, I have been given a life filled with sickness, pain, loneliness, failure, and trouble after trouble after trouble.  If I attain a goal, sooner or later it will be taken away from me.  I am not just feeling sorry for myself.  These are simple facts that boggle the mind.

I do have one joy in my life, and I am afraid even to write this, because I fear that my joy will be snuffed out:  I have a son who is the one and only reason that I remain on the planet.  I pray that the Universe lets me keep him, not so much because I would instantly leave if he disappeared, but that he is truly my one and only source of joy.

That is one of two reasons that I have not yet left the planet.

The other one is that many years ago I knew someone who took his own life, right outside my house, using my own gun.  It was a horrifying experience, and I was thrown into jail on suspicion of murder until his suicide note was found, analyzed, and found to be authentic.

When I got out of jail I returned to the spot where he had shot himself, and sat myself down on a stump that happened to be right there.  I meditated on his energy field, and he appeared to me: not physically, or visually, but I felt his presence very near.

He said to me:  If you are thinking of doing this, do not do it.  We are sent into our bodies to accomplish certain tasks, of which we are unaware.  If we kill our bodies, then are not relieved from the tasks.  We still have to accomplish our missions, which are now revealed to us; but without bodies to carry out these tasks, it is even more difficult than it was in life.  No matter how much you think you are suffering now, without a body your suffering will still exist, yet even more so because you will lack a physical existence, a vessel to contain you and make it possible to do your mission without further pain.

And then he left me.  I sat weeping, because I did not want to be here.  I was seventeen years old.  Now, approaching the age of sixty at the end of this month, I still long for the release of death, to be relieved of the suffering of this world.

My spiritual tradition tells me that the difficulties I experience are all symptoms of carrying out valuable spiritual tasks, and that the more of them there are, the closer I approach the clearing of spiritual blockages, so that my path to the “world to come” will be bright and clear.  I certainly hope this is the case.  I am not the kind of martyr who welcomes catastrophe for its own sake.  I don’t like it.  I loathe it.  I just want peace and quiet, and, if it’s not too much to ask, even happiness, even reasonable prosperity from honest work, even a brain that functions and doesn’t betray me around every corner.  And freedom from vermin, both many-legged and two-legged.

My suicide plan is beautiful.  It involves no violence, no overdoses, no trauma.  I won’t tell you what it is, because some of you might be tempted, and that would indeed be murder.

But, for the reasons I have stated above, it must remain only a fantasy, to soothe me when my brain is eaten with fire, or when another of my dreams goes up in smoke.

I wish for you, that you would never have to live like this.  I wish you joy and peace and love, or whatever it is that makes your life pleasant and delightful.