Author Archives: Jill

About Jill

Author of books and articles on support and experiences of living with a mentally ill family member. My aim in blogging is to let others see how a loving family, with a father and husband who is able to give unconditional love, can help the family cope. Many call me the blogging grandma.'

What my life is made up of ….

wisteria 6

 


I seemed to spend my time dodging from work to family and to friends, as well as endeavoring to keep my health intact. If I missed a day’s work, I knew that I could make up that lost time. But, family and friends are made of glass and if I dropped one of them, our relationship would be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, marked or even shattered. It could never be the same again. Health? I knew I had to live at a slower pace, but could I? I am not sure.

So, what I’d been doing was striving for balance in my life. But, how could I achieve that? I tried not to compare myself to others because I thought it was the very difference in each of us that made us special.

I learned not to set my goals by what other people deemed important. After all, I was the only person who knew what was best for me.

I learned not to take anything for granted, especially appertaining to near and dear ones. I handled them with kid gloves as my life would be meaningless without them all.

I had learned how destructive it was to live in the past or in the future. By living life one day at a time, I hoped to enjoy all the days of my life.

Knowledge is weightless, a treasure that I could carry easily, so I was no longer afraid to learn.

While I still had something to give, I wasn’t about to give up. Nothing was really over until the moment I stopped trying.

For a very long time, I shut love out of my life, not wanting to expose myself to hurt again. Now, I no longer do so. Once again I have learned a lot along the way. The quickest way to receive love, it to give it; the fastest way to lose love is to hold onto it too tightly;  and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.

I very often admit how less than perfect I am and maybe it is this fragile thread that binds people together.

I’m trying not to run too fast lest I forget not only where I’ve been, but where I’m going.

I am no longer afraid to take risks. By taking chances, I’ve learnt how to be brave.

I’ll always be aware of the fact that a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

I now endeavor to use time and words more carefully as neither can be retrieved. Life is not a race, rather, a journey to be savored each step of the way. But, I still have a lot to learn, and one day at a time, I hope to enjoy all the days of my life.

Knowledge is weightless, a treasure that I can easily carry, so I’m no longer afraid to learn.

While I still have something to give, I won’t give up. Nothing is really over until the moment I stop trying.

I very often admit how less than perfect I am. It is this fragile thread that binds people together.

I’m trying not to run so fast that I might forget not only where I’ve been, but where I’m going.

I am no longer afraid to encounter risks. By taking chances, I’ve learnt how to be brave.

I’ll always be aware of the fact that a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

I now endeavor to use time and words carefully as neither can be retrieved. Life is not a race, rather, a journey to be savored each step of the way.

 

Why G-d made Grandmas …..

SERENADE 2 SENIORS

 

grandmother in park 2

 I like to walk with Grandma

Her steps are short like mine.

She never says; ‘Now hurry up,’

She always takes her time.

 

I like to walk with Grandma

She sees things like I do

Pebbles smooth, a funny cloud

Half-hidden drops of dew.

 

Most people like to hurry

They do not stop to see

I’m glad that God made Grandma

Unrushed, and young like me!

Whenever I read this ‘jingle’ out loud to my young grandchildren, they ask ; ‘Are all those words why G-d made grandmas?’

 

Forgive? What does it really mean to forgive someone?

If I forgive someone, I have to let go and accept what has occurred between us. If not, I realize that the position won’t change. What it really means is that I am dismissing blame. At some stage, choices were made that cause both sides to hurt. Maybe we could have made other choices, but we did not.

It means learning from my pain. It means starting over with the knowledge that I may have gained something. It means letting go of revenge. It means releasing all my negative thoughts of resentment and bitterness.

But, I had to be clear in my own mind on what forgiving really meant. It did not mean pretending that what had happened did not really occur. I could not excuse the other person because he/she was to blame. I forgave because I felt a wrong had been committed. I was not giving the other party permission to continue with hurtful behavior. It meant letting go. It meant leaving my painful memories behind me as far as I possibly could and accepting what had occurred, because, the person or people involved were not likely to change.

By doing the above, I was able to start my healing process … ever so slowly at first, but over a period of time, it seems to have worked.

wild cyclamens

CRISIS: s c h i z o p h r e n i a

images schizophrenia

Our son hallucinated and suffered delusions during psychotic incidents: It took me a while to fully understand the difference between  hallucinations and delusions.

 Hallucinations are sensations that appear real, but are actually created by one’s own mind.

Delusions are false beliefs that are persistent and organized and that don’t disappear after receiving logical information. For example – my son believed that I was poisoning his food and even after we proved by eating it, that the food had not been tampered with, his delusion remained.

He also believed that the military were working against him and planting microphones in our house to broadcast his every word and thought. No amount of explaining managed to banish his delusions.

We learned to speak slowly to him and use short, simple sentences.

We learned to give him space to avoid making him feel trapped.

We learned to avoid sudden movements.

We learned to give clear instructions and directions.

And this was how we managed to live together in the same house for so long. Eventually, two psychiatrists assured us that he would do better on his own. We tried, but it didn’t work.

When he spoke about his hallucinations and delusions, we learned to talk about his feelings rather than the content of what he was saying.

We tried our best to really listen.

During this same period of time, we also learned WHAT NOT TO DO.

We learned not to take control if we didn’t really have to do so.

We learned not to argue with him when he was psychotic.

We learned to look elsewhere and not to stare at him.

We learned to interact with him rather than confuse him.

We learned not to touch him without prior warning. After all, parents like to embrace their children, don’t they? Even when they are no longer teenagers.

We learned not to give him multiple choices.

We learned never to whisper, to joke or to laugh in his presence as he took it all personally. But, if he questioned us, we learned to be  honest at all times.                                       

 

 

 

 

 

The Price of a Miracle

When I heard the story I am about to relate here, I felt sure that my readers would understand why I posted it even though it has nothing to do with my usual blogging subjects. Please bear with me as we can all do with a miracle from time to time.

A little girl went to her bedroom, pulled out a money box from its hiding place in her closet and poured the coins out onto the floor. Then she counted them painstakingly – not once, not twice, but three times. She returned the coins to their hiding place, twisted the cap tightly, then slipped out of the back door and made her way to Rexall’s Drug Store which was six blocks away. She knew that she had to watch out for the large red Indian Chief sign above the door of the store.

She entered and waited patiently for the pharmacist to attend to her but he was far too busy. She moved her feet about on the rough wooden floor, making a noise to get his attention. Then she cleared her throat; … to no avail. The pharmacist continued talking on the telephone. Eventually she banged on the glass counter and that did the trick.

      ‘What do you want?’ the pharmacist asked in an irritated manner. ‘I’m talking to my brother in Chicago, you know. And I haven’t done that for a long time,’ he said, without waiting for her reply.

      ‘I need to talk to you about my brother,’ she replied in the same tone. ‘He’s really very ill … and, I want … I need to buy a miracle.’ 

      ‘What did you say?’ the pharmacist asked. ‘My brother has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So, please tell me how much a miracle will cost, sir.’

      ‘We don’t sell miracles here, little girl. I’m sorry but I can’t help you,’ he said, his tone softening a little.

      ‘But I have the money to pay for it … and if that isn’t enough, I can get more. Just tell me how much I need to give you.’

 There was another man in the store who chose that moment to stoop down to ask the little girl a question. ‘What kind of miracle does your brother need?’

      ‘I don’t know,’ she replied, tears welling up in her eyes. I just know that he’s really sick and my Mum says he needs an operation. But, my Daddy can’t pay for it so I want to use my money.’

      ‘How much do you have?’ asked the man.

      ‘One dollar and eleven cents,’ she whispered. ‘And it’s all the money that I have. But, I can get some more if I need to.’

      ‘Well, that’s a coincidence,’ smiled the man. ‘A dollar and eleven cents is the exact price you need for a miracle for a little brother.’ He took the money in one hand and with the other, grasped her little hand saying; ‘Take me to your house. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Then we will decide whether I have the miracle that you need.’

 That man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon who specialized in neuro-surgery. He operated on her brother free of charge and it wasn’t long before his patient was home again and doing well.

  ‘What happened was a real miracle,’ the little girl’s mother told her. ‘ I wonder how much it would have cost?’ The child smiled because she knew exactly how much a miracle was worth: one dollar and eleven cents, plus the faith of a little girl, of course.

If I can stop one heart fom breaking….

 

 

a sunsetThis poem, written by Emily Dickinson, comes to my mind at least once a day, so I am going to share it as it means so much to me.

 IF I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain.

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

Almost every week I receive calls or mails from people in distress, people who have visited therapists, but who need contact with somebody who has experienced mental illness in a person who is near and dear to them, and it is at those times that this poem comes to mind. And of course I do what I can to ease their pain. There is not a lot that I can do, but simply by listening, really listening, and showing them that I understand, it helps.

                                       

 

Mental Health Awareness Week

mental health awareness 3

mental health awareness 2Four years ago, I started blogging in an effort to reduce the blame, shame, stigma and discrimination against people with mental illnesses. I have come a long way since then as the response has been tremendous. I was rather naive in thinking that one person could change anything, but today, I understand, that even if I have helped one person to feel better about themselves or their loved ones, I can call that success.

 I realize that even today, there are people in the world who are short of information on this subject. There are individuals out there who need to make contact with someone who has personal experience of living with an ill relative;  in my case, a son, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I receive mail from people who are desperate for personal contact from someone who has been there and it saddens me that they cannot find help nearer to where they live. I sincerely hope that in time, more and more people will speak out about their experiences, eventually turning the subject of mental illness into  one that is spoken about the way people talk about diabetes, arthritis and other physical illnesses. After all, schizophrenia is a brain illness and our brains are very  much a part of our bodies,  so I ask once again – why the terrible stigma?