Monthly Archives: April 2015

This  blog ends with a four – letter – word

hope 1I have lived through a great deal of sadness, shock and grief and I managed to survive each time. My children did too. We all learned to move on and overcome adversity.

I even learned to dream a bit. Every single week I dream I’m going to win the lottery. I dream that cyclamens will bloom again in my lawn the way they did so mysteriously last year. I dreamed that my eight-year-old-car would pass the licensing test again this year – and it did!

More than anything else, I dream that my family will remain healthy. I also dream of a world without illness and senseless violence. I believe that  circumstances will change for the better in the future.

Nobody can live without hope. In fact, the four letter word I wrote about is    H    O    P    E.

hope 2










E.C.T. stands for Electro Convulsive Therapyo

ECT is recommended when treating severe depression, and in certain cases for schizophrenia in combination with neuroleptic drugs. Over the years, this treatment has been controversial but psychiatrists in general feel that it can speed improvement where schizophrenia is concerned.

ECT conjures up furightening images as the public’s perception of this treatment comes from movies alone. People believe that  ECT is dangerous and can cause brain damage.

iAccording to NAMI, the American Mental Health Association, 1.1% of the adult population in the USA live with schizophrenia. So it is not a rare illness.

After extensive research on the subject when my son’s doctors suggested that he undergo ECT,m as all other treatments failed to help his paranoid schizophrenia, we eventually agreed, and rather reluctantly, signed the form put before us and were told that the following day our son would undergo ECT. When we arrived at the hospital, we found our son in a state of extreme unrest and upset. “Mom, Dad, the world has gone crazy,” he shouted. ” My doctor wants me to sign a form giving him permission to  administer ECT. I won’t agree, do you hear me? Not now! Not ever!” And that was that. To this day we have never understood how a person as ill as Doron was, could be asked to sign such an important, maybe even life-saving document. Maybe things  have changed since then. If so, I would like to know more about it.





label jars not peopleAre stigma and discrimination the obstacles to a public discussion on mental illness?

Do you know that  having a mental illness is not a sign of weakness?

Mental illness does not mark you as a failure.

Mental illness in your family doesn’t reflect badly on you as a parent.

If you break a leg, people understand but, if your brain goes wrong, they become anxious.

Self advocacy is powerful as I manage to reach people who have experienced or who are experiencing something similar to what I lived through with mental illness. If I can change the  attitude of one person toward mental illness, I will not have lived in vain.

I had to learn to separate my son from his mental illness, but it was difficult.

Stigma is about disrespect. Stigma is about the negative use of labels. Stigma is about discrimination. Stigma is about social exclusion. Stigma makes some families hide their ill relative who has done nothing more than become ill.

Lets try and live without pretending, love without defending and speak without offending.



Battered, Tattered, but not Shattered ….




Questions, questions and yet more questions were asked:-


Tell me how it happened…how, without warning on a typical day, when the morning was filled with possibility, everything you loved, shattered like glass. Tell me how you stopped your world from unraveling. Tell me how you began slowly, methodically, to gather the scattered pieces of your life, scrap the rubble, then build your life anew.’

My reply; “I was battered, tattered but not shattered.”

But tell me how.”

“All because of the unconditional love of my family.”






Loneliness …


  • Loneliness is the enemy of many older people. Retired seniors are at the increased risk of slipping into a depression. They tend to leave their homes less, exercise less and interact with others far less than they did previously. Many are coping with the deaths of dear friends as well. Almost one in ten senior citizens over the age of 80 have this problem. Of course there are many others who are surrounded by loving relatives and friends.

Most of us are aware of the emotional problems caused by loneliness  but, do we recognize the physical damage that can follow?

I discovered that about one tenth of all seniors only have visits from a  relative or a friend once a month so the problems of loneliness and isolation  need to be put on an equal footing with other issues associated with aging. But, how can this be done when the older population will soon exceed the rest of us in number?

All we can do until the  local authorities find a solution, is to think about reverting to the old-fashioned sense of neighborliness that was once an integral part of our lives. How? By encouraging people to check up on their elderly neighbors and acquaintances particularly during the endless, depressing winter months.

Lets ask them whether they need any food shopping done, offer to pick up their prescription medications and the best gesture of all, is to ask them over for a cup of coffee every now and then.

Lets remember at all times that ……,,,

One tree can start a forest, one smile can bring delight.

One candle wipes out darkness, one laugh can brighten your plight.

One hope can raise someone’s spirit, one touch can show you care.


One visit makes a difference, so flash many smiles and share.



Ever heard of T D ? We hadn’t …….

T.D. stands for Tardive Diskenesia, a neurological syndrome caused by the long-term use of neuroleptic drugs usually prescribed for psychiatric disorders. My son, whose diagnosis was paranoid schizophrenia, took these drugs for years and years and years,  yet proved to be medication resistant.

Then, he developed strange facial movements characterized by tongue protrusion as well as a puckering of his lips. He made repetitive movements of his arms and legs and always swung one leg up and down whenever he sat down. I think that the most  effective way to describe Tardive Diskenesia  is a series of hyperkenetic movements that appear after the prolonged use of dopamine receptor blocking agents .

His team of psychiatrists at the hospital told us that there was no treatment available and that the only way to stop his condition from getting worse, was to discontinue all meds. As this was not a viable option, he found himself in a Catch 22 Situation. So, my son, Doron, returned to his life – if you could call it a life … one that was almost devoid of any quality of life.

Mental Health Triggers …. Speak Out

It is difficult for an outsider to understand the situations that act as triggers and so affect mentally challenged people as they might not understand what a trigger is.  Most of us are affected by some sort of trigger; the elements of daily life that bring out intense emotions can also lead to dangerous situations. Not only people with mental illnesses experience this kind of thing.

The question is; how does one push aside the mental health triggers that haunt their every move? The answer depends on their personal struggle. For a person struggling with an eating disorder, the mere sight of food  or the addition of an extra kilo on the scale, can act as a trigger. For a person addicted to ‘self-harm,’ the sight of a sharp object  can trigger their  urge to self-injure.

If a therapist is able to replace those triggers with a positive diversion, the possibility of moving on is more likely.  Writing, music or being surrounded by supportive people, are positive replacements.

The saying ‘Every cloud has a silver lining,’ – is welll known, so how about changing that to:  Every silver lining has a small cloud ?













I’m trying my very best to get this hurdle jumped …

From someone who has a mental illness:I know you might not think so but I’m really trying  hard. I don’t do it on purpose. I didn’t pick this card. I’m doing my very best to get this hurdle jumped. But no one else is there to get me out this slump. I don’t know what you want from me. Give me a hint, a clue. Please give me a sign. Show me what to do.  If you only knew how much I struggle in this war, maybe someone would be there to raise me from the floor. it’s time to stop pretending; time to open your eyes – give me a hand instead of looks and sighs. It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s not that I don’t care. The fact is I ned help too. I need somebody there.


Something bothers me about the way mental illness is treated.

‘IF the treatment of some psychiatric illnesses is worse than the disease itself, it could be said that the treatment is dubious to begin with. If some psychiatrists are actually harming the very people they claim to be assisting. Is this what legitimate medicine is about?’

Quoted from my son’s writings.

A page from the notebook …

imagesCAPN9U3Hsad young manMy son often scribbled or wrote in his notebook. There were times when he showed me a page here or there.

I remember the day he wrote the following, then showed it to me.  His dad was at work but saw it later.





Take note: the first letter of each of the four words above, spell  F E A R. I read on: People can take everything away from me, with the exception of my attitude to any given circumstance. I think that if I could regain some  quality of life, I would be able to change my attitude ……  BUT the voices in my head won’t stop. The voices! Oh those voices! HELP ME MOM.

I went up to him and hugged him, tears streaming.

Smile and the world smiles with you …….


oldcouple3As a child, I spent time with older people that I loved and admired. They were confident, independent, and free to choose what they wanted to do.  To me, being old seemed magical, the start  of a satisfying way of life.  Over the years, I paid attention to milestone birthdays – 21,40,50 and expected to feel different every time. But I didn’t until I turned 70 . That day, something shifted and I awoke feeling different. I’d arrived. I think that slipping my feet into a pair of black patent leather high heeled shoes did the trick. Those were the shoes that had blistered my feet too often and caused them to ache. They were a symbol of discomfort, restriction and conformity. I slipped them off and gave them away. After all, aging was empowering. 

I crawled into bed that night with a good book and a glass of red wine to celebrate. Celebrate what? I wasn’t sure. Suddenly, family and good friends became even more precious : more valuable,  and I decided to make the most of what remained of my  time on this earth. Music and books enriched my life but I soon learned that aging g is not for wimps. Of course I suffered from the odd ache as well as moments of memory failure. I had a bit less stamina too.

I now wear some of my inner feelings on the outside and am far more comfortable with myself. i admit to my vulnerability  as I no longer have  to pretend. I am one of the fortunate ones who owns an apartment and a car, and I still drive. I am surrounded by family and friends who care about me and love me.

I’ve joined the ranks of the ‘wrinklies’ who are products of a high standard of education and health care. I feel that I have earned all my wrinkles and laugh lines as well as the graying streaks in my hair. I’m showing the young ones that aging can be a time of pleasure, opportunity, satisfaction and new horizons. Youngsters need to hear something other than the gloom and doom of pessimistic old people. Old age sure beats the alternative.