Monthly Archives: January 2013

On my mind and in my heart

DORONThe middle of January marked 17 years since my son, David’s death. After visiting the cemetery, I paged through reams of photographs and was pleased we’d taken so many snapshots capturing David and his sisters … smiling, defiant and loving. I ache with memories. I remember the happy times and long for a hug. I wish I could tell him again about all the times he’d made me proud and brought me joy.

Ever since I can remember, I’d hoped that a super-therapist would find the miracle drug to cure our son’s paranoid schizophrenia, but that was not to be. David’s suicide had drawn an invisible line between the world and me. We received a tremendous outpouring of support and love, but no condolence cards. I doubt whether I’ve ever seen one with appropriate sentiments for a family whose son has ended his life.

When the people who had been in the same social group as David – run by the mental health association , came to pay their respects, I was touched to the deepest crevices of my being. They understood David’s suffering and maybe even felt a sense of relief for him, knowing tha his agony was over. But, I’ll never know.

It is 17 years since my son died and I still cringe when I meet new people who are bound to ask; ‘How many children do you have?” It’s a perfectly acceptable question and I might have been guilty of doing the same thing, but it makes everything come flooding back.

We could all have gone to pieces and sunk into deep depressions, but after many family discussions, we made the decision that we had to pick up the pieces and strive to carry on,  no matter how hard that would be. Each one of us did it in his/her own way. I tried not to feel bitter and angry, but David was gone. Someone had turned out the lights.

 ANOTHER OF DAVID’S POEMS FOUND AFTER HE DIED

Death waits at the door,

Waits around the corner

And I know it is near

yet … far away

I don’t want to die

But THEY won’t let me live.

Mistaken identity

imagesWe all know what it’s like to receive that phone call in the  middle of the night. This nightly call was no different. While the phone was ringing, I focused groggily on the clear, green numbers of my bedside clock. It was 2 a.m.  Panicky thoughts filled my half-asleep mind as I grabbed for the receiver.

Hello.”

“Mom, it’s me.” I could barely hear the raspy whisper and my thoughts turned immedicately to my son. When his voice broke, I knew he was in trouble. I shook my husband’s shoulder. But he was awake and listening in. “Can you speak louder?” I asked.

No, and please don’t say anything till I’m done. You always talk. Listen. Before you ask. Yes, I took my pills and I have not been drinking but, I almost had a head-on collision with another car and …”

“Are you alright? Was anyone hurt?” I asked in a cracked voice, pressing my hand against my throbbing head, wondering, worrying.

“Mom, I didn’t want a policeman to come knocking at your front door again, so I’m calling.” My husband took the receiver from me. “David, Mom and I will come and get you but you have to tell us where you are.”

“THEY know where I am so you probably do too. You know that THEY broadcast  my whereabouts. I can’t tell you much except that I might still come home. Is that okay?”

“Of course it is. You know that your mother and I will stand by you, always.”

I swallowed a huge lump in my throat and while I wondered whether we should say more, there was a click and the line went dead. My son’s paranoid schizophrenia had put us in this position on various occasions and i regard our telephones as crouching monsters; seldom the bearers of good tidings for us.

We got out of bed as sleep was now impossible. My husband came up from behind, wrapped his arms around me and rested his chin on the top of my head. I swiped away my tears, then pulled away from him and walked into our son’s bedroom. Imagine our surprise when we saw  his sleeping form, safe and sound in his bed.

“Do you think that the young man on the telephone will ever know that he dialed the wrong number?”  my husband asked me.

“Maybe it helped him to know that someone cared,” I whispered. “Maybe it was not a wrong number after all.”

Narrative medicine in psychiatry?

Narrative medicine in psychiatry?

Narrative Medicine: Many medical schools and residency programs train physicians to treat medical issues merely as problems to be solved, without taking into account the specific psychological and personal history of each patient. Sick people need physicians who understand their disease and treat their medical problem as well as accompany them through their illness. They need support and hope. Nobody can live without hope.

Narrative medicine encourages empathy and promotes understanding between clinician and patient. It can be intrinsically therapeutic and/or palliative and encourages reflection. It might even challenge accepted norms.

Physicians have been trained to believe that objectivity makes them more effective in their efforts to resolve both the problems as well as the pain brought to them by their patients, and they believe that keeping a mental distance from them is what protects them from becoming wounded during their  contact  with difficult cases, especially where terminal illnesses are concerned.

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Our son battled his demons and tried to get better during a period of 16 years while doing all he could to beat paranoid schizophrenia and through it all, he took the pills prescribed for him. During this long period of time, we came across all kinds of physicians, psychologists and psychiatrists, most of whom practiced keeping their distance far too well. I remember challenging a psychiatrist on this point and suggested that maybe he should stop worrying so much about keeping his patient at bay. He insisted that it was the only way he could manage to sleep at night. But what about our son? Where did his illness and feelings come into the picture? After 16 years, we realized that the only help psychiatrists could give when David was stressed out and aggressive had little to do with medical science or psychiatry. They provided straight-jackets, gave him a shot or told us to call the police. Is that psychiatry? We don’t think so.

Three months before his 34th birthday, our David finally came to the conclusion that sparring with his demons would never allow him the peace of mind that he craved, so, he went to what we can only hope is a place of calm, peace and endless prayer fit for the surfer that he was.

My suggestion is as follows: I would like to suggest that people suffering from a mental illness who are ‘in remission’ (for want of a better word) or ‘no psychotic,’ and able to talk about their experiences, as well as some of their parents, be invited to a conference under the heading of ‘Narrative Medicine in the Field of Psychiatry.’ This might throw some light on a very dark subject. My book, David’s Story by Jill Sadowsky shows how important this point can be, by its very omission throughout our experiences with the psychiatric establishment.

A difficult situation to deal with

imagesCA2NA3MEI simply didn’t know how to deal with the situation. My husband was ordering goods by phone, large items that we most definitely did  not need. When they arrived on our doorstep, I showed him that his name was on the outside of each parcel but he had no recollection of their purchase, insisting that they had been delivered in error. A new computer arrived, a heating device that we did not need as we had central heating. Then a computer chair, two really ugly bedside lamps as well as a standing lamp for our living area were delivered to our home. I called the various companies to ask whether I could return them and explained my husband’s condition. The voice on the other end of the line said; “IF you husband is suffering from Alzheimer’s, why does he still hold a credit card?” How right they were, but how could I take it away from him without hurting his feelings? After all, he’d been the main breadwinner in the family. I knew that I should get him to close his bank account as well.

While I was agonizing about how to go about this, more goods arrived – an assortment of towels that did not match our color scheme, bed linen and scatter rugs. Once again my husband insisted that he had not ordered a single item. I pointed out his name printed on each package in large, clear letters. When I added up the amount owing and showed him how much he had spent, he agreed to accompany me to the bank the following morning to close  his account, and handed me his credit card, which I immediately cancelled.

When we reached the bank he had no recollection of our discussion the previous evening so I explained it all over again. The banker helped me persuade him to close his account.

Two days later, I received a call from the bank. “Please come as soon as you can.” I did, and was told that my husband had told them he’d lost his credit card and wanted a new one. He also wanted to open a new bank account. I suggested that she do nothing about either of his requests as he would soon forget about it. He did. She did tell me that my request was an unusual one. My reply: “Alzheimer’s Disease is an unusual illness, and you are aware of my husband’s situation. I had remembered to bring a copy of a letter the geriatric doctor had written describing my husband’s illness.”

My husband had always taken care of me, worried about my welfare and handled our financial affairs efficiently. Then, due to illness, our roles changed and it was a strange, upsetting feeling to suddenly be the decision maker. Fortunately, our daughters and sons-in-law stepped in to help whenever and wherever they could.

Kindness is the oil that takes the friction out of life.

imagesCAIZX4BP                                                                                                                                                                          imagesCAIZX4BP         imagesCACBBK5CSo many people are into getting thinner and more beautiful, creating stress in the lives of many teenage girls.  In the girls’ bathroom at the local high school, someone wrote messages on sticky notes saying SMILE and YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL and posted them on the mirror. They were up for one month until they dropped off.  No one had the heart to take them down. The fact that someone cared, gave many of the girls hope. Two teachers compared notes and discovered that some of the less confident girls were acting with a bit more self esteem.

Kindness is the oil that takes the friction out of life.

Stand Up For Mental Health Campaign

1358270286755_stand-up-for-mental-health-160x600-orange The HEALTHY PLACE STAND UP FOR MENTAL HEALTH is having a campaign dedicated to  eliminating the stigma of mental illness, including self-stigma as well as letting others know that talking about mental health openly is good.  

Why is it time to stand up for mental health?
Like other groups throughout history, people with a mental illness have been marginalized, discriminated against and made to feel like second class citizens.

By standing up for mental health, you’ll let others know:
• There is nothing wrong with having a mental illness.
• People who suffer from a mental illness are not alone in what they are dealing with.
• People who suffer from a mental illness should not feel ashamed or forced to hide their mental illness symptoms and desire for effective treatment.
• Mental health stigma will no longer be tolerated.

How would our lives be different if we stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people we encounter? Let today be the day we look for some good in everyone we meet and respect their journey by Steve Maraboli, Life, The Truth and being Free.

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Serenity prayer and the senility prayer

 

 

SERENADE 2 SENIORS

THE SERENITY PRAYER

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

This was one of my late husband’s favorite quotes, and as he had a great sense of humor, I am sure he would have smiled on reading this pun.:

THE SENILITY PRAYER

Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked,

The good fortune to run into the ones I do like, and the eyesight to tell the difference.