Monthly Archives: March 2012

I no longer belonged with ‘normal’ people; but what exactly is ‘normal’? Is anyone really normal?

The prettiest smiles hide the deepest secrets.

The prettiest eyes have cried the most tears.

The kindest hearts have felt the most pain.

                                              by Pankaj Gandhi

  • When our son,  David was ill many years ago, and in a psychiatric hospital, I felt that I was the only one who had a son with a mental illness. I knew nothing about it, nor did I know anyone else in the same position.
  • I had the distinct feeling that people did not understand me nor what we were all going through, which should not have surprised me as no one in our family fully understood what was happening either. But, I needed people to understand.
  • When I mentioned some of the things to friends that David had said or done, I felt that they were sure I was making it up. It must have sounded even more bizarre that it really was.
  • Some friends assumed that I was managing as they said that I always looked alright. (what exactly does that mean?) Now that so many years have passed, I wonder why I never took up acting instead of English teaching as I do tend to come across as if everything is fine with me: maybe because I made a conscious decision to choose to live rather than slip into a depression.
  • Frankly, in those days, I did not feel that I belonged with normal people any longer. but then, I looked up the word normal – this time I used Webster’s Thesaurus and this is what I came up with: ordinary, run of the  mill, typical, routine, orderly, regular, methodical, sane, lucid, wholesome, right-minded, rational, reasonable, showing no abnormal bodily condition, in good health, whole, sound.
  • I came to the conclusion that my son was seriously ill with a hidden illness and until he developed tardive diskenesia, he looked the same outwardly as the rest of us. If a person failed to see the piles of pills he was taking, no one would have known that he was suffering from a hidden illness, one that carried such a heavy stigma with it.
  • I don’t think that David should have been treated ddifferently by people in general. He needed and deserved the same tolerance, understanding, sincerity and genuineness that they used in their other relationships.
  • I have always been a compassionate person, but David’s illness taught me to be even more so than previously. Until we found a support group run under the auspices of ENOSH (the Israeli Mental Health Association), we had nobody to turn to and I suppose that’s why I spend so much time helping  individuals who need an empathetic person to talk to. Parents of children who have a mental illness need to talk to someone who has been there and who knows exactly what they are going through; and  not only someone who quotes from their textbooks.  Psychiatrists help where medication is concerned, but it is so very easy for them to lose concentration and think of something else. After all, they hear versions of the same stories every single day and I do understand how difficult that must be. However, because I have been through the agony of watching my son suffer for so many years, I listen to every word, return every single phone message, reply to each heartbreaking email that arrives daily.

I found myself saying the following to a psychiatrist after we’d had a disagreement:

“Going to a synagogue, does not make  you Jewish any  more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”

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My book, David’s Story, does not always show psychiatrists in a positve light but …………

I have deviated from the subject of mental illness and mental wellness for a while. I suppose I needed a break but I am far from done.

 My book, David’s Story, does not always show psychiatrists in a positive light, but I actually came across one who is different from the rest. He is approachable and considerate and the word shrink never comes to mind when I am describing him.

 He read my book, wrote a short review which I have included, and a couple of days ago, this learned doctor mailed to ask me whether he could re-read David’s Story and write a more detailed review for the Israel Psychiatric Journal. Of course I said yes, and mailed the book to him by return mail. What would you have done in the same position? I bet y ou would have done the same thing.

 I found this gesture of his very touching, mainly because he has never told me that I exaggerated anything in my story.

I never thought I would ever say this about a psychiatrist, but, he is actually the kind of person one needs to have for a friend.

The boy’s biggest weakness had become his strength …

What is monogamy?  The western custom of having one wife with hardly any mistresses !

Sometimes, one’s biggest weakness can become one’s biggest strength. take for example, the story of a ten-year-old boy who decided to study judo, despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident. He started having lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he was unable to understand why, after three months of training, his teacher had only taught him one move.

“Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” the boy asked.

“This might be the only move you know, but it is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” his teacher replied.

The boy did not quite understand, but, as he believed in his instructor, he continued training.

Several months later, the boy took part in his first tournament. Surprising himself, he easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but, after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged. The boy used his one move deftly and won. Still amazed by his success, he went on to compete in the finals.

This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that he might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the boy’s teacher invervened. “No,” he said. “Let them continue.”

 The match was resumed and that was when the boy’s opponent made a critical error. He dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. And so the boy won the match and the tournament. He was the champion.

After the match, the boy and his instructor reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind.

“How did I win the tournament with only one move?”

“You won for two reasons. First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in judo. Secondly, the only known defense for that move, is for your opponent to grab your left arm”

And so, this boy’s biggest weakness had become his strength.

What does an invisible illness look like?

David’s Story is available as a kindle e book. To download, go to www.amazon.com

Search for David’s Story by Jill Sadowsy, click on David’s Story, click on buy now and follow instructions.

If you do not own a kindle, download the free app that allows you to read David’s Story on a regular computer

Have any of the people out there thought of the term; ‘invisible illness?”

What does an invisible illness look like?

What does an invisible illness feel like?

My son’s mental illness was invisible. When I injured my shoulders in an accident, I received far more attention that David did. Why? Because I had my arm in some kind of sling and had to keep the arm on a special bolster style pillow for six weeks. David had nothing; no bandages, no sling, no band-aid. No one saw all the tablets he was taking yet his illness affected every part of his life and, every part of our lives as well.

Life with an invisible illness harbors a gamut of emotions. He felt anxious, insecure, frustrated, confused, misunderstood, misrepresented, fearful and emotional. The worst part is that David knew how little people understood because they could not see anything – could not see what was going on inside of his head. And,  as one’s head is a part of one’s body, that makes it a physical illness, doesn’t it?

No one can change destiny

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is whre a train stops. And on  my desk, I have a work station ….

Thank you Stephen, for sharing the following story with us.

During a momentous battle, a Japanese general decided to attack even though his army was greatly outnumbered. He was cconfident that they would win, but his men were filled with doubt.

On their way to the battlefield, they stopped at a religious shrine. After praying wih his men, the general took out a coin and said; “I shall now toss this coin. If it is heads, we will win. If it is tails, we will lose. destiny will now reveal itself.”

He threw the coin into the air and everone watched intently as it landed. It was heads. The soliers were so overjoyed and filled with confidence that they vigorously attacked the enemy and were victorious.

After the battle, a lieutenant remarked to the general. “No one can change destiny.”

“You are correct,” the general replied as he showed the lieutenant the coin, which had heads on both sides.

Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail ….

Positive Thinking is the first step towards a happy life.

 You can choose how you start your day tomorrow!

 

Jerry is the kind of guy one loves to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When asked how he was doing, he replied; “If I were any better, I would be twins.”He was a unique manager with several waiters who’d followed him from restaurant to restaurant.

The reason the waiters followed jerry, was because of his attitude. he was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there to tell the empoyee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style, really made me curious, so one day, I asked Jerry; “I don’t get it. You can’t be positive all of the time. How do you do it?” Jerry’s reply; “Every morning I wake up and say to myself: ‘Jerry, you have two choices. You can choose to be in a good mood, or you can choose to be in a bad mood.’

Whenever something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or, I can choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me and complains, I can choose to accept their moaning, or, I can point out the positive side of life.

“Yeah, but it’s not that easy,” I protested. “Oh yes, it is,” he said.

  • LIFE is about choices.
  • You choose how you react to situations.
  • You choose how people will affect your mood.
  • You choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood. the bottom line is: “It’s your choice how you live life.”

I reflected on what Jerry had said. Soon after, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business and we lost touch. But, I often thought about him when I made a choice about life.

Several years later, I heard that Jerry had left the back door of the restaurant open one morning and was held up at gun point by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand shook from nervousness and slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with bullet fragments still in his body.

I saw Jerry again six months aftr his accident. when I asked how he was, he replied; “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Do you want to see my scars?’ I declined but did ask what had gone through his mind while the robbery was taking place. “That I should have locked the back door,” he replied. “Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose life.”

“Weren’t you scared? I asked.

“Yes, but the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I’d be fine, but when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the doctors’ faces, I got scared. I read the following in their eyes: “He’s a dead man.”

I had to take action.”

“What did you do, Jerry?”

“Well, a large nurse was shouting questions at me. she asked if I were allergic to anything.”

“Yes,” I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waied for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled; “Bullets.” Over their laughter, I told them; “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”

Jerry lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude.

What I learned from him was: Attitude is everything.

What exactly is discrimination?

They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.’    By Carl. W. Buechner

 

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS DISCRIMINATION?

  • If an individual is treated less favorably than someone else would have been treated in a similar situation.
  • If this experience ocurred when an individual was employed or applying for a job.
  • If this occurred when he/she was out shopping, going to school of college, or searching for accommodation.
  • If one is treated differently, does that necessarily mean discrimination? Not always. An employer may refuse to give work to a person incapabe of doing the job.

THIS IS HOW I SEE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST SOMEONE WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS OR A PHYSICAL DISABILITY:

  • An employer dismissed an employee while he was on sick leave after discovering that his employee was suffering from a mental illness. He only issued the dismissal letter when he found out about the mental illness diagnosis.
  • A prospective employee was unable to get to work on time, so his employer agreed that he could work from 10 am until 4:00 p.m. but, when he discovered that this young man was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, his salary was reduced, even though he was doing the job he was employed to do. That was our son during one of the stages when he was able to hold down a job.

Judith E. Heumann, US State Department Special Adviser for Disability Rights, travels the glove to get across to people  the need to develop US foreign policy vis-a-vis people with disabilities. The 64-year-old Brooklyn born woman advocates for the righs of disabled people and pushes for wider social inclusion for them. She also leads by example and despite her own disability she makes sure to go out into the field and hear from as many people as possible. She has been in a wheelchair most of her life due to contracting polio as a child. She endured a legal battle to become the first person in a wheelchair to teach in New York City. The new attitude to disability is to move toward inclusion  and equality for people with disabilites and the old way is to try and protect disabled people and not allow them to live independently in the community.

She stresses that some countries have excellent disability laws that are not always implemented. Outdated social attitudes toward disabled people need adddressing, including early inervention and integrated education.