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.'

Is laughter the best medicine? ……..

                                       laughter 3

The dopamine found in our brains is also known as the reward hormone as it regulates mood, attention, learning and motivation. Dopamine also triggers feelings of pleasure.

Low levels of serotonin in our brains are linked to aggression, anxiety and even depression. So, more serotonim makes us feel good. So does laughter as it is instinctive. Most laughter is not about humor, rather, about relationships between people. We laugh more in social situations than when alone. It’s not something we produce consciously. It’s contagious. A good, healthy laugh can help reduce pain. A good, long, loud laugh brings more oxygen into our lungs. Laughter is a sound with no language, so is effective internationally.

While my son was ill, a laughter therapist who I’d invited to give a talk to our support group told us that laughter keeps our immune systems humming by decreasing stress hormones. He stressed that it boosts infection-fighting anti-bodies by keeping our blood vessels pumping and protects our hearts too. Then my gym instructor told us that laughter triggers a rush of those all-important endorphins that we all love to feel after a good workout. When the well-known journalist, Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a painful spinal condition, he discovered that a regular diet of television comedies and candid camera episodes actually helped lessen his pain. I quote: ‘I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and gave me at least two hours of well-needed, pain-free sleep.’ The members of the support group drew up a list of what we should do to help brighten our days and here are a few suggestions.

  • Smile because it is the beginning of laughter and like laughter, it is contagious.
  • List your blessings. The simple act of considering the good things in my life helped distance me from the negative thoughts that acted as barriers to humor, laughter and consequently to feeling good.
  • When I hear someone laugh, I move toward that person. Humor can be a shared joke among a small group of friends, but more often than not, everyone is happy to share something funny. Why? Because it gives them an opportunity to laugh all over again.
  • I love spending time with fun people who laugh and smile easily both at themselves, and at life’s absurdities. These are people who find humor in everyday events. Their playful points of view are often contagious.
  • I try to bring humor into ordinary conversations simply by asking; ‘What is the funniest thing that happened to you today/this week or even this month?’  Try it sometime.

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Laughter

smiley faceWhile my son was in a psychiatric hospital, I wasn’t sure whether I would ever laugh out loud again. I seemed to have lost the ability to even smile. My heart had hardened and it no longer behaved like the heart I had once known. There were times when I wondered whether I would ever return to being the loving person I had once been.

One day a nurse showed a video clip in the ward, hoping that the comedian would be able to transform the ward into a place where everyone would laugh or at least smile. Although that did not occur at once, consumers (patients) began to open up more and the all-pervading fear somewhat dissipated. Humor had disengaged the fear in the air as it changed perspectives both of the past and of the present.

To quote Charlie Chaplin; To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it. Maybe that is why people like the late Robin Williams journeyed through periods of torment. Humor has been used to console ill children for many years, and later, clowns were sent into hospital wards. This was meant for the children’s benefit but I think they must have helped the parents too.

Laughing is relaxing and actually works to alleviate chronic stress. Humor reduces pain. When somebody laughs, it increases their ability to fight viruses and foreign cells. Laughter is contagious and spreads optimism and helps communication which is the best marriage advice for anyone, especially for a person prone to anxiety or depression.

 

Farewell to Doron

a willow treeFAREWELL TO DORON

A very good friend who is  no longer with us, sent this after Doron’s death.

A young, innocent child playing with his toys

Provides his parents with countless joys.

An energetic youth, full of charm,

Who ever thought he’d come to harm?

Noone knew what his future would be; nor about his tranquility.

All at once his world was shattered

He had the feeling of being battered.

Unseen demons chased him, causing strife; his life was grim.

Though it was hard to bear, this brave youth shed not a tear,

but, contemplated this world to leave,

didn’t consider his family who would truly grieve.

He’d leave to find eternal peace,

Some felt it would be a great release.

Did he need to suffer so?

The answer is no, no, no, no.

I sighed and thought of happier times

Memories plenty; friends did their best.

Thank G-d your son is now at rest.

We all loved  you, Doron.

More poems in a notebook

treesI DREAM OF YOU

You’re the one

I can’t get out of my mind.

I’ll dream of you day and night.

You’re so far away

and I’m so lonely, so cold

and so bitter.

It will be good when you lie beside me,

soft and innocent,

pure and smart,

as pure as the soul of a new-born babe.

*********************************

THE SEASONS

Summer has gone

There’s no sun, no sea

There’s no tanning on white sand.

Im waiting for the leaves to fall.

Winter, I’m waiting for you,

waiting to hail the start of the cold.

Spring, summer, fall, winter

Im stuck in the same place.

My doctor refuses to help me

My parents leave me depressed and forlorn

in a psychiatric hospital.

**************************************

HAVEN’T

Medication without cause

Parents threw me out.

For a long time

I haven’t slept at home.

For three and a half years

I haven’t dated.

I haven’t been to a party.

My social life doesn’t exist.

I’m a good salesman.

**************************

DEMONS

My life is plagued by demons

Awake all night and day

They persecute me

And never let me rest.

My shrinks support them

And don’t consider me.

I represent the bourgeois

I come from a good home

Therefore I’m not worthy of their support.

Only a kick in the pants.

 

Poems in a notebook … ‘I’ll dance on their graves’

After out son Doron’s tragic death, my late husband and I found a well-worn, notebook on his bedside table. It was filled with poems that he’d scribbled at odd times; thoughts he’d put down on paper. Painstakingly we deciphered them but were unable to read the contents immediately. It was far too upsetting. We put it in our study for perusal later; much, much later. One evening, we sat together on the same couch where Doron had spent so many hours, doing little but stare out of the large window at our garden and started reading. Our hearts broke once again. How many times can one’s heart break?

NO ONE TO HELP ME – ‘I’LL DANCE ON YOUR GRAVES.’

I never thought

I’d be as dependent as

an innocent lamb is

on its mother’s milk.

I am dependent on the charity of

good people and bad people

but to date, I haven’t met

anyone who can help me.

Certainly not my parents.

I’ll dance on their graves.

AUTUMN

Summer has gone

There’s no sun, no sea

No tanning on white sand.

I’m waiting for the leaves to fall.

Winter, I await  you.

I wait to hail the start of the cold.

I close my windows and

won’t let THEM in.

LIFE IS DIFFICULT

Life is difficult sometimes

but we have to find small flashes of light

to lessen the depth of the gloomy darkness

that gets more profound

with the ticking of my clock.

It gives me a dimension of time.

Those points of light are vague during the day,

barely visible,

so I ask; ‘Is it worth living for two or three minutes a day?’

FRIENDS

My friends are having fun;

one abroad, one recently returned

all living full lives.

Only I am incarcerated in a crazy cage

without a past, without a future.

MY DOCTORS

‘We’ve tried to help you

my doctors claim.’

But, they set a trap for me.

I fell into a bottomless pit

that they dug for me.

THEM

THEY enter stealhily                                   robber thief 2

in the dead of night.

The storm inside of me

turns to fear.

What do THEY want from a pauper?

Peace, peace, peace.

I pray for peace of mind.

 

 

 

 

From SANE Australia … suicide prevention

The clip below was produced by SANE, Australia, and is one of the most sensitively portrayed videos I have yet seen. It sends a message of hope to a person who is in such a deep depression that he/she is contemplating putting an end to his/her life.  Their message is:-

S T O P. There is help out there.

http://www.sane.org/projects/suicide-prevention

 

 

Journalist, is your child different?

Journalists, have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a child that is different?

Have you ever wondered how that child’s parents feel when they discover that their child is unable to walk, to hear or to see?

Have you ever wondered how they feel if Autism or Asperger’s is the diagnosis?

Well, as parents of three wonderful, healthy children, neither my husband nor I thought that way. Then, our son became ill and we heard words like paranoid schizophrenia which we barely knew how to spell. We never dreamed that we would … that we could produce a defective child: not in our family: oh no! Well, our nightmare had begun. It was worse for our son than for us of course, but our whole family was involved.

Mr/Mr. Journalist, before you write your next newspaper article or report on television, please think of me as well as the millions of people around the world like me, who are dealing with a mental illness and are simply trying to survive each day.

Your duty is to provide a fair and comprehensive account of events. You of all people recognize the power of words and the images used to define and characterize a subject. There are no definite guidelines when your report about someone with a mental illness so it can be problematic. If mental illness is important to a story, you may not assume that an illogical act of violence is the result of mental illness in general. The statement that a crime was committed by a person with a history of mental illness is often made on-scene by a first responder who might not even have direct knowledge of the person’s history. So, even if accurate, it may be irrelevant to the incident. Mental illness is not a defining characteristic of the ‘so-called criminal.’

 It’s advisable to avoid descriptions of an individual’s behavior that might contribute to the impression that all people with that particular illness exhibit similar behavior. A term like He was a schizophrenic in a rage, creates the impression that rages are common behavior for those experiencing schizophrenia AND, why use the term schizophrenic? Do you use the term cancerous? It takes away the person’s dignity and turns them into an illness.

But Mr. Journalist, how about giving the impression that mental illness is treatable and that people can recover – maybe not 100%, but sufficiently to join the workforce and lead lives like the rest of us? Now that would be a welcome change and would make a huge difference in the lives of those affected by this ravaging illness.

For every negative story about mental illness with violence, there are so many positive ones that can be written about people in recovery who serve valuable roles in their communities. Reporters could write compelling personal stories about people who have recovered, as there are many who have lived through and survived a mental illness and who might be prepared to be interviewed and serve as an example to the general population.

Please stop giving the public a distorted view of the facts. Stop to think how you would feel if you were unfortunate enough to have a son or a daughter with one of the mental illnesses that you describe this way.

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