Monthly Archives: February 2012

Why can’t I? I will not die.

In  1993, I was  in my gynecologists’s clinic waiting in line for my yearly check up. I was paging through a magazine when I came across the following poem wtitten in 1944 by an anonymous child in the Terezin Concentration Camp on the outskirts of Prague. The child wrote this poem the day he/she was sent to the gas chamber.

On a purple sun-shot evening 

under wide-flowering chestnut trees

upon the threshold of

yesterday, today, the days are all like these.

Trees flower forth in beauty

Lovely too, their very wood all gnarled and old

that I am half-afraid to peer

into their crowns of green and gold.

The sun has made a veil of gold

so lovely that my body aches.

Above, the heavens shriek of blue

convinced that I’ve smiled by mistake.

 

The world’s abloom and seems to amile

I want to fly, but where, how high?

If in barbed wire things can bloom

Why can’t I? I will  not die

He’s at rest in God’s hands, but it was in God’s hands that I watched him suffer ….

Today, I attended the funeral of my dear friend, Beverley who lost her fight against a virulent form of cancer. She was a wonderful, warm, caring woman, who will be missed by her friends and family alike.

Love you, Bev. Rest.

 

The funeral took me back to the grief I’d felt when our son died; took his own life.

 Someone said; “He’s at rest in God’s Hands,” but, it was in God’s Hands that I watched him suffer. I’d sought out God when in desperate need, only to find his door slammed in my face. I’d bargained with him, believing that if I obeyed the rules, he’d protect me, but life does not work that way.

Here are some of the comments we heard during the days after our son’s funeral;

  • You should have taken him to visit a herbalist.
  • You were supposed to watch over him 24 hours a day.
  • Why didn’t you change his medication?
  • Why didn’t you find a good psychiatrist?

A group of friends from the ENOSH (Israel Mental Health Society) Social Group visited and told us that they had held their own private memorial service for our son. I was touched in the deepest crevices of my soul and finally released a well of tears I didn’t even  know I had left to shed, tears that would not stop flowing.

Then a grief therapist, brought by a well-meaning person, arrived. According to him, I had good memories to comfort me and I could look forward to the future with hope. What I was feeling at that moment, was the grief of tragedy and his response was psychobabble. He insisted that we needed his help. My gentle husband walked him firmly out of the front door, assuring him that we did not need his help.

Not long after that, our mailbox filled with flyers advertising headstones/tombstones. We were expected to shop around. Do you want rough or smooth, thick or thin, marble or stone? We were bombarded with phone calls asking how much we wanted to spend. One tombstone representative was so argumentative that I dout whether he would even eat food that agreed with him. Another man asked whether we wanted a spaace on the side of the grave for plants or a memorial candle. We chose plain rough marble, as plain as our son’s lifestyle had been.

You may only be someone in the world but ….

You may only be someone in the world, but to someone else, you may be the world.

 

My friend, Debra has read my book, DAVID’S STORY ( posted in the Amazon Kindle Store) and this is what she asked me to write here in her name.

From this wonderfully honest and heart-wrenching story, I now know that families in crisis do not neccesarily want to be left alone. They need someone to listen to them. They need to be heard. They need someone who cares enough, to be around and ready when needed. How many of us have assumed that such situations need to be avoided!

Jill has told us that people need people. Families need help and it is possible to approach and ask; “What can I do to help?

Jill has opened our eyes so that we can open our hearts to families coping with mental illness or any other kind of illness for that matter.

May DAVID’S STORY bring light and give support to the many families struggling with former isolation. Now I, for one, understand.

Thank you Debra, for sharing this with us.

When cafe ‘motek’ is packed, you can’t see who is mentally ill and who is a student …

Overheard in a psychiatric hospital; “I want to tell you guys something.

“People might forget what you said.

 People might  forget what you did, BUT

 People never forget how you made them feel.”

 

This does not sound like an ill person, does it?

The information that I have chosen to write about tonight, was taken from the Online version of Ynet.

Y, aged 44, has suffered  from depression for many years, but a coffee shop that opened near his home on Kibbutz Misgav Am, has made life a bit  more joyful for him. 

I lived in the kibbutz’s bubble, alone for most of the day, which made things worse,” he told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily. “I read some books and learned that in order to break out from the coils of  epression, I would have to open up to new worlds.”

Salvation arrived two years ago, when two students from the department of social work at the Tel Hai COllege, in cooperation with the Israel Association for Mental Health, opened a special coffee shop on campus. Cafe Motek caters to the mentally disabled and to coffee lovers in general. “When the place is packed, you can’t tell the differene between the mentally disabled people who hang out there, and the students,” says Gilad Levi who runs the coffee shop on behalf of the Israel Mental Health Association. “The coffee shop brings people together withot labeling anyone. Stigmas are left outside the door,” he says.

As for Y, he couldn’t be happier. “This place has changed my life,” he says. “It will boost my self-esteem and confidence.” Y voluneers at the coffee shop.

I not only want to share this article with you; if there is anyone out there who would like to write about a positive aspect of disability of any kind, please contact me and I will blog it. And, if there is anyone who has had a negative experience re disabilities, please contact me too, as I am trying to get the word out re blame, shame and stigma and the more people who read about it, the more likely we are to have an impact on  the public’s attitudes to this sensitive subject.

If there is anyone out there who would like to provide the finances to open a coffee shop of this kind in Ra’anana or Kfar Sava, do let me know. I would do it under the auspices of ENOSH, the Israel Mental Health Association.

I wonder whether anyone who is reading this realizes quite how cut off , lonely and desperate a ‘consumer’feels. ( in English we say ‘consumer’ and a ‘mitmoded,’ in Hebrew.  Instead of saying a mentally ill person, we use the term ‘consumer.’)  My son was lonely. Yes, we gave him ongoing support for 16 years, but he needed people of his own age to socialize with and not  ‘old people’ as he described us. The only place he found them was at the ENOSH social clubs but the stigma bothered him.

“Are sick people the only ones who want to spend time with me?” he asked frequently. He was desperate for companionship and a cafe like the one I have described  from the Ynet article, would have suited him so well.

Thank you so much, Y. for sharing this with us. Be well.

 

             

God’s waiting room …

Over heard in a psychiatric hospital:

“Anyone know another name for Florida?”

“God’s waiting room.”

I think that David was relieved to have somewhere to go each morning, so he agreed to attend a day clinic for psychiatric patients.

“Why did you agree to come here?” the attending psychiatrist asked.

“Well, doctor. I heard that you have a great setup for table tennis and the guys said that the cafe opposite serves the tastiest falafels in town.”

“That’s as good a reason as any I’ve heard before,” tthe doctor replied with a smile. David was drawn to this man the way he was drawn to his dad. They had a similar sense of humor too. Did it help our son? Not really. A few months later they told us that they could do no more for him and suggested that we find him a job. A job? We’d already tried that and it did  not work. Either nobody wanted to employ him, or the pay was insultingly low, or the work boring.

I don’t know how my husband got any work done during that period but I admire the way he lived alongside David’s schizophrenia with dignity. Although this illness had severly restricted our way of life, I never once heard my husband complain. He saw each day as an endless parade of unexpected pleasures and told me it was time I learned to accept David’s illness and find the positive side of life. I, on the other hamd, found myself enjoying less, complaining more and wondering why I’d ever had children … but … oh how I loved them. My dignity was long gone and all I coud do was envy Michael’s unconditional, guilt-free way of loving his family, especially me at my worst.

An unusual account of a visit to the dentist, by my son, David

Not everything that can be counted, counts, and not everything that counts, can be counted.

My son, David, asked me to pick him up at from the psychiatric hospital and take him to the dentist. He insisted on going in alone despite his apprehension, while I sat in the waiting room, paging through a magazine, praying that everything would be alright. My dentist knew David’s history and had treated him in the past.  Forty-five minutes later, David came out and as we walked to my car, he said;

“I was nervous at first when the dentist lifted my lip and i felt the sharp point of the needle in my gums. I get so much of that stuff in the hospital, that i feel moe like a incushion than a person. I was about to slap his hand away, when a wonderful, tingly, numbness crept from my lip, up the side of my face, moving outwards like soothing fingers. I never feel like that after a hospital shot, you know. Then, the dentist drilled with the gusto of a man putting up shelves, but, I did not feel a thing.”

David was so ill, yet he could be so lucid at times that it was mind boggling.

It’s not what happened to me in life that counted, but how I dealt with it…

It took me a long time to learn how to use wordpress for blogging, not because there is a problem with wordpress. It’s all me. I can type faster than most people but when it comes to the computer, I am limited, to say the very least. I keep running into trouble. My grandchildren are very helpful but, they are not always bbeside me. i believe that ‘when in trouble with computer business, turn to a very young child and help will be forthcoming. My grandchildren think that I am a modern Grandma. “Why do you say that?’ I asked the eldest.” “Because you paint your toenails in the summer and, you know how to use your ipad.” I puffed up like a peacock, and returned to my computer problems.

I still don’t know how to make a link that jumps to the right place when someone clicks on it, and I cannot get the you tube clip that I have chosen to budge from its place and move to my blog page!

When my computer screen went black and nothing I did would bring it to life again, I was sufficiently desperate to call in  the same neighbor’s son I’d called to help in the past, even though he’d been rather insulting last time. But, I had no option.  My grandchildren were nowhere near at that time.

He came in, played around with my keyboard and insisted that he would remain beside me until I had done what he told me to do. Feeling like a real dummy, I tried to follow instructions and; you guessed; I did not manage. Once again I was unable to access Google. He touched a few keys, asked questions, then went down onto the floor under my desk where a myriad of wires lay tangled, then came up with a supercilious grin on his face, saying; “It’s okay now.”  “What did you do this time?” I asked shamefacedly. “Nothing much. It was another  ID 10 T error. This time I did  not have to ask what it meant. I remembered that an ID 10 T error spelled out . . . I D I O T.

Now, back to my blog subject for tonight.

As many as one in four of us will have some sort of mental health problem in our lives, yet, it is still a fairly taboo subject.

Most of us manage our physical health beetter than our mental or emotional health matters, yet, we don’t always recognize stressful situations. Is that why so many of us overeat, for comfort?

When my son was so very ill, I kept searching for skills to help me get through each day and this is what I did.

  • When feeling down, I found a friend I could rely on to hear me out.
  • I volunteered to help another person in a worse position than I was in.
  • Meeting a friend for coffee  helped.
  • Walking along or sitting on the beach was exremely soothing.
  • I knew that will power was not sufficient but I knew that the decision to get through this difficult time was in my hands and my hands alone.
  • The support group for parents of mentally ill children taught me that taking one day at a time would be helpful.
  • My late husband taught me to enjoy the small miracles in life.
  • Our Belgian Shepherd dog was therapeutic for us all. She was warm and caring and that’s what we needed. Pets are amazing friends.
  • I was not in a clinical depression, but I was as depressed as hell. Imagine watching a child suffer and not being able to do anything to alleviate the situation.
  • Mixing with positive people helped and for that, I owe a lot to my friend, S. who taught me to drop my negative approach.
  • Doing one thing that I liked to do every single day, was helpful too.
  • Last but not least, I learned that it is not what happened to me in life that counted, but how I dealt with it.