Archives for madness
It's been a while. And a struggle. But I am definitely on the mend. Happy 2012. I have resolved not to make any resolutions, other than to be more empathetic with Marty, my husband, who has a completely different temperament than I do. My mind works faster than my left forefinger, so writing this blog is not easy for me. Living with me is not easy either, but we're doing much better. Couples therapy is wondrous if you find the right therapist and, happily, we did through my eating disorders program. Today's big news? My cast comes off today ~ I hope. In the meantime, to make life easier for Saint Marty, I had all my hair cut off. Every little bit helps. I love it and when both my hands are working, I'll send you a picture. Since we last spoke, I was on Day 31 of my Eating Disorder Treatment Program.
Get ready for a rant. I'm writing on four hours of sleep. I am a firm believer in talking therapy. A member of our community mentioned in a comment yesterday that in Sweden, where she lives, a minute of silence was observed for Norway. Here is what she wrote to me in response and support of my post yesterday. Listening beneath my words... She was listening, really listening, beneath what I was writing. She was hearing something, because she always listens keenly, intuitively, and she's always, somehow, tunes into me and what I'm feeling. Even when I don't hear myself. She has a special gift as so many of you do, here.
This post is in response to Dr. Suzanne Phillips and Dianne Kane's fascinating Healing Together for Couples post on Hoarding Behaviour. It began as a comment, but was so long, I decided to post about it. Thank you for the inspiration. It struck a chord. Also, I've had personal experience with hoarding and hoarders. Don't you think almost all of our behaviours are as a result of some sort of "trauma" in our lives. We're attempting to fill a void inside of us because we don't feel good enough. Perhaps that traumatic event or events were in vitro. Or in our infancy. In some long forgotten or "blocked" or "repressed" event? Depending upon one's levels of sensitivity, traumatic events can happen all the time. Little psychic bumps and bruises along the way. Through my 51 years of psycho therapy, Dr. Phillips, I've learned that seminar event that triggered my psychotic/manic episodes happened when I was raped in a mental hospital by an orderly in 1962. I was 14. And I repressed that memory. This was long before Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was created. That memory came back to me in 1976, when I was 28 years old.
I don't know why I'm feeling better ~ just am. Go figure... Two weeks ago, I was mired in myself. My weight. My health. My life. My problems. How boring! I was boring myself. And THAT'S boring. For the last few months, life was challenging me. A real struggle. Risky business... I had a rough term at school. Then there was end of term chaos. Two weeks ago I was sifting though umpteen boxes of papers, receipts and records for my 2010 income taxes ~ late. When we moved last summer, I never filed anything. I'm a piler, not a filer. What a mess I was.
A self-determination story... Copeland, WRAP's founder, has a dramatic recovery story beginning with her mother, Kate, who was taken at age 37 to a mental institution in the late 1940s. She was diagnosed as incurably insane. Her doctors told her family to forget about this once vibrant and accomplished woman — she would never get well. Doctors were wrong... Kate began improving. Her mood swings became less severe. Several hospital personnel took a special interest in her, encouraging her to talk. They listened to her and for the first time in her life, Kate felt emotionally supported. With the help of one psychiatrist, she started what was probably the first-ever patient support group called the Mental Health Fellowship. She was able to organized her fellow patients and disrupt the program. So much so, that she was discharged after eight years. She reclaimed her life and lived actively and well until she died of a stroke at age 82.
Musing a bit on madness... Actually, the words "mad" and "madness" are quite commonly and innocently used in England. Just here, in North America, there's an aversion to it. It's time we reclaimed them, as gays and blacks have reclaimed the words that accurately describe them. Frankly, I love the term. I love the fact that all of Shakespeare's "fools" and "jesters" ~ often considered "mad" ~ were the only characters in his canon to speak the truth. "Manic Depression" was changed to Bipolar Disorder by psychiatrists ~ to soften the sting out of this ancient and more accurate descriptive term. Bipolar is a ridiculous and meaningless term... What does it really mean? It doesn't change the reality of living with severe, sometimes profound mood swings. There are so many problems with the term "mental", including a "them and us" attitude that will prevent progress in changing the perceptions of people about those of us who happen to live with emotional health issues, including mental health issues and addictions. And who doesn't? Language matters. It's powerful and political. And I don't like political correctness. I like honesty.
A reader, who is very upset with my use of the term "emotional health," wants to stop reading this blog and leave our community here at Coming Out Crazy. I see "emotions" and "moods" as synonymous... That's where we differ. I am not my diagnosis. That the first thing. I am me. My mood disorder is unlike anyone else's, despite a similar label. Oh, how I detest labels, but "emotional" is no label. It's a reality of life. We all have emotions. I wish we could sit down and discuss this... But that isn't going to happen because of our differences, which can be opportunities for learning. Personal growth, I think, evolves when two people can work through a problem and begin to understand each others differing opinions and perceptions. Honestly, I interpret the word "emotional health" as a benign and inclusive term encompassing a whole health hemisphere ~ the other being “physical health” ~ and together, you have the totality of health. Mind and body, soul and spirit. I don't see “mental health" issues as disorders or illnesses or diseases...
Well, I've just proven my point about language. It's constantly changing, evolving, growing. I'm behind the times... In my last post, I assumed (one should never assume anything) that to be "down with" something is like being "down on" something. It never even occurred to me that this phrase would have any other meaning. I'm an idiot. On old, out-of-sync idiot... I was completely wrong. My sweet and darling friend Julie has just informed me that my entire post is completely ill-wrought. And that being "down with" something actually means being in favour of something. I just looked it up. I never dreamed the opposite is true, but it is.
So, on Monday, whilst sitting in Dr. Bob's office, I was feeling utterly overwhelmed. I have this harassing disconnect between what I know versus what I feel... We were therapeutically jousting... I did not win. When I left after 60 minutes (which he always gives me, sometimes more) I felt battered and bruised. Beaten. Not the way I usually feel when I leave his office. Lighter. Freer. Buoyant. Hopeful.
When I was a kid, a long time ago, long before I learned about feminism, pre-Betty Friedan, I remember my father joking with my mother. Though on reflection, I don't think his joke was very funny. My father would say to my mother, in jest, because I know he adored her, "Maybe it's time I traded you in for a new model." Sometimes I wish I could trade myself in for a new model... That's not a put-down, but given that right now in my psychotherapy with Dr. Bob I'm struggling with a few very old records that won't stop playing ~ that I cannot break ~ and I'm increasingly upset and disoriented by the values and dynamics of the medical model when it comes to emotional and mental health, I'm thinking it's time for a new model. A new belief system. A new hybrid, perhaps...