My idea of having a good time lately is having healthy cats, bird watching, and walking around checking the surrounding gardens. Living alone, I can withstand quiet moments. Don’t get me wrong; I am not a hermit. I see people daily and have incidental warm conversations with strangers to add a pep to our life.
Self-isolation and social distancing is not a big deal since I am an introvert living with mental health issues. When Covid started, I am well into my second year of self-isolation to stabilize my health. When the government imposed health rules to manage the transmission, I am more equipped to handle the situation. I am OK with this.
Lately, more people are having mental health issues due to lockdown, isolation, or keep a small bubble. My heart goes out to those who are now showing clinical symptoms of mental illness. I am not OK with this.
Please seek help.
January 28 is the annual Let’s Talk day sponsored by Bell kicks off.
On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for every applicable text, local or long-distance call, tweet or TikTok video using #BellLetsTalk, every Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video, and every use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. All at no cost to participants beyond what they would normally pay their service provider for online or phone access.
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He was willing to bare all if even one person could relate to any part of his story and find strength in their family and friends, but most importantly within themselves. – Repurpose a story.
Safe. I felt safe being there. Stay. The ward is a lock-down facility to keep me safe. Mind. I didn’t mind the least bit. I don’t know where to go; don’t know where to stay. When in doubt, do nothing. Minding what is safe, I stayed, for a while.
The ward is equipped with TV, funny magazines, pool table, jigsaw puzzles, coloring books; items to keep me amused or occupied but none of these interest me. So I sat on the floor at the end of the long corridor looking out through the glass door. Here alone I played Tetris, read CareNotes and rolled the prayer beads with my fingers.
Tetris, a gift from my sister Poteet. A game she took away from my nephews. As I recall, the new computer game was causing problems that the boys were glued to it and neglecting to go outside to play the real stuff. I don’t like any kind of computer programs. I was once a computer geek in my younger days writing programs, test programs and application. It drove me crazy trying to solve someone’s programming that has no logic. But Tetris became a real stuff for me inside the ward. It helped me focus. It helped me solve problems. It helped me shape and organized my mind objectively. It helped rewire, build blocks and expand the plasticity of my brain.
CareNotes is all I can find at the Chaplain’s office. The Chaplin’s office is always closed. Never saw him, never met him, and never talked to him. The notes hang outside his office. I know he came around when there are new CareNotes. I collected them all. Dealing With Suicidal Feelings, Climbing Up From Depression, Believing in Your Own Inner Goodness, Finding Strength to Survive a Crisis or Tragedy, Making Sense Out of Suffering, Bearing the Special Grief of Suicide, Easing the Burden of Stress, Encountering Midlife, Emerging Renewed, Finding God in Pain or Illness, Walking with God Through Grief and Loss, Letting Tears Bring Healing and Renewal. CareNotes is an endless resource giving meaning to my question “Why Me?” Now, these CareNotes are my bathroom companion, at home. Good reads not just for me but as well as anyone that uses the toilet.
Prayer Beads enclosed came in a card from my other sister and she wrote: April 5, 1992. Dearest Lady, A priest in Toronto who cares deeply is giving you his personal rosary. This has been blessed and carries with it his own prayers for your well-being and that you will find it in you to pray the rosary. Lady, believe in the power of the rosary and you will be fully alive again. Love and prayers, always. Thelma.
I did not pray the rosary. I do not know how to pray, then. I carried it with me, though. I clutch it when I go to bed, never let it go. Should I wake up in the middle of the night with no prayer beads on my hand, I panic. Searching for it in the darkroom, the beads glow in the dark and with a sigh of relief of finding it, I kissed the cross and went back to sleep. The rosary is now gone; I don’t know how I lost it. But I still go to bed with a rosary on my hand. Can’t sleep without it just like a child with a teddy bear to snuggle with to have a goodnight sleep.
My family reads my blog and provides me articles in relation to the topic that I write. My sister Carmen sent me a Report on Business at the Globe and Mail about ‘Irv’. Irv and I share a common ground: Mental Illness.
It has been a long week of Let’s Talk. Stay well and be well, Perpetua.
A blank piece of paper is transformative. Look at it and you can repurpose it by splashing colors of broken lines to circles. White is an absence of color and black has too much pigmentation. There are only three basic colors: red, yellow and green. What do you see?
At the Cenacle Convent
On a busy street of West 12th and Granville, I see cars with its tailpipe spewing exhaust gasses; he sees dragons breathing fire and brimstone. Is his mind broken? No. Or is my imagination eschewed? Yes.
Of Cars and Dragon
Lots of things are invisible, but we don’t know how many because we can’t see them. What we see are the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, the saint and sinners. With him, he can only see the goodness of others as they march by.
When the Saints go marching by
For other people, his life has turned up-side down. With that thought in mind, he literally took the word, reinvented the meaning of it, applied it to his last name and no matter how you read it up or down, it will always read SIGLOS.
Which way is Up?
So, what is the purpose of life. There is no single purpose. We just have to keep repurposing our talent and be of service to all.
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For years I have honored, in silence, this season of endings and beginnings.
To share one’s own suicide attempt is harrowing; it brings up deeply polarizing emotions. There are many who believe that those who have committed suicide are selfish, mentally ill, weak, cowardly. These labels come from grief too heavy to bear. If you carry this stigma, who you are today is shadowed by who you were in a moment of losing your way.
Many will not take part in this community. Biologically we are wired for survival, and when someone attempts to die, executes that attempt and dies, the balance is disrupted. We celebrate, and rightly so, the resilience of the fighter who wins against all odds.
The healing […]
I needed to forgive myself. Forgive myself for not knowing how to go forward, forgive myself for giving up hope, forgive myself for being ashamed and guilty year after year.
I needed to forgive myself for not trusting my intuition and not holding up the flickering light of my inner resources when the shadows closed in.
I needed to forgive myself for an eviscerating eating disorder that broke me down and drove me to that night. I needed to forgive myself for the self-destruction of my body, forgive myself for believing that I was worthless and deserved all of the abuses at my biological parents’ hands.
I needed to forgive myself for not honoring how strong I had been, for having the courage to leave behind a biological tribe and find my place in the world.
I needed to forgive myself for having tried to take away the spark that is a divine gift, and I needed to forgive myself for hurting me, for hurting my soul already crushed by others. I needed to forgive myself for having not held myself up and refused anything but love, compassion and being seen.
Forgiveness brought me home; it allowed me to call back the part of me that had fled in terror during those three days in a coma; welcome back each beautiful and unique part of myself I had attempted to destroy — in heart-breaking parallel to those who had oppressed me physically, spiritually, and emotionally and attempted to break my spirit.
Have you had a positive experience or some positive change in your life because of your illness? MDABC is putting out a special edition newsletter in January with positive stories from people whose lives have been impacted by a mood disorder. It can be a story about how you found your perfect career in the mental health field, how you made some new friends with people who truly understand the experience of mental illness, or how you have come to new self-awareness or compassion for others because of your illness. Your story should be 300 to 400 words in length. MDABC will edit it for clarity and grammar.
All submissions should go to the MDABC office by email to email@example.com no later than January 2, 2015. It should also include a .JPEG photo of you, the writer, to be used in the newsletter and for online use when the MDABC sends the newsletter out electronically.
The birthday of my nephew who turned 25 years old this month of October and the demise of his friend took me back 23 years ago on Easter. This is a photo of my nephews and nieces I keep close to my heart as a reminder how far I have gone along in my journey of “mental” illness. We had more children added to this group since then.
Being released from the hospital on Easter, it was a great celebration but short-lived, I relapsed quickly. My family admitted me back to the hospital and stayed for a long time to make sure I get better. It was April fools and the joke was on me.
Some people are cruel that they are hasty calling me crazy. My response to this is “you have no idea” followed by a sinister laugh and facial expression similar to “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest” that I mastered to scare the living bejesus out of them for labelling me.
When they are too quick to judge, I fire back with a retort “take a hard look at yourself!” A statement that gives them something to think about.
Stigma? That is not in my vocabulary and I refuse to feel victimized.
Crazy as I may sound, I think being afflicted with this “mental illness” is a “blessing”.
I am blessed because I learned humility, compassion, love, kindness, tolerance, respect, perseverance, understanding, recovery, patience, hopeful, peace, joy, live at the moment and enjoying the in-between.
I learned to become thick skin and have broad shoulder. I used this “illness” to my advantage. I am aware that I will have this for the rest of my life, a part of me but it does not define me.
I am lucky that the medical professions that treated me are more knowledgeable about this illness. Even the school industry is educating the children and employers are actively promoting wellness in the work environment.
I simplified my life, focus on the ordinary, and make them extraordinary.
I can educate and advocate for young ones in my family and people in the community that no one has to live alone with a disease that is hereditary or caused by adversity in life.
With care, love and prayers of family, friends and community. I have the courage to come back and live a normal life.
Should I have succeeded on dying, I will not experience the joy of watching these children grow up, get married and have their own children. To hear Baby James call me Miss Pretty is music to my ears and the best medicine to provide relief to sadness.
Do I sound arrogant? That is not my intention. It’s pointless to wallow on self-pity and negativity. There’s plenty of that going around and it’s more contagious than a common cold.
There is a positive point of view in every situation. One can maintain a joie de vivre rather than resign to c’est la vie.
I hope you don’t mind me addressing you on a first name basis, Neil.
Your commencement speech to the 2013 School of Visual Arts graduation ceremony is entertaining with so much wisdom and advice not just on art but life in general. The graduates were laughing so was I. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
You may call me, Perpetua.
There is part in the speech that I find fascinating, compelling and disturbing. Allow me to quote you:
“When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician — make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor — make good art. IRS on your trail — make good art. Cat exploded — make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before — make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too. “
You may call me, Perpetua.
Before I continue, please pardon me for intruding. As an esteemed artist, I think highly of you.
You see, Neil, I am thinking of the cat that exploded. Translating that in my mind it goes: Dead Cat – make good art. Death – make good art, Anxiety Recording – make good art, Suicide – make good art.
I am in a very tough situation. There is a funeral going on in my brain. My nephew’s friend committed suicide. This bothers me. A lot. They grew up together, studied at the same school and graduated. My nephew just turned 25. She must be the same age. Young. Too young to die. This is so close to home.
What I want is to make good art out of the recording from her heartfelt experience of illness on anxiety. I tried writing it in a poetic way, but, I don’t have an ounce of artistic mind. The purpose is to use this as a tool to educate people.
This is the transcript of her recording five months ago.
On My Anxiety
I am cut to the core by a beast I can’t control. Not cut as in my wrists, as in my legs because, you know, that beautiful woman next to me in the Psych ward does it there.
The beautiful woman in the coffee shop a 5-minute walk away, which is 5 minutes too long of a walk when you’re depressed, ornaments her arms, her legs with deep and close bloody gashes. Gashes that I want to bandage with love and heal, but “I have too many problems, I think, I don’t know how to help you.”
Nonetheless, I am cut.
Cut by the words of people who don’t understand what it is to live with a demon inside your mind, your chest, your shaking hands, and your body that is wretched and dried out from all your tears and is so nervous that you have to pray you are always near a bathroom because even your insides don’t work properly.
But, of course, you don’t really pray. Not by this point at least. By now you know if there was a God you would be better, that none of this would have ever happened.
If you don’t see the stigma against mental illness then you probably don’t have it or you’ve never used the internet or stepped outside.
You’ve never had to write a heartfelt resignation letter to end a job only to be eliminated from the workplace silently without any acknowledgment of your soul-bearing words.
You’ve never had your own family tell you to suck it up or not dwell on things so much.
Do you think I WANT to FUCKING DWELL on the things I dwell on?!
Dwell on the fact that I would rather have suffocated myself to death than have attended my Grandma’s 75th birthday because there were gonna be too many people there.
Dwell on the fact that I’ve had to stop seeing all my friend because I’m so anxious.
Dwell on the fact that I can’t see my in-laws without feeling nauseated by my anxiety.
I cannot SUCK IT UP!
Not just that, I can’t do anything except unexpectedly write poetry at 3 am and this has only happened through a careful balance of Lithium, Clonazepam, Abilify, Olanzapine, and Zopiclone.
If those sound scary it’s because they are.
It’s scary to have your brain need to be invaded. To experience the world drugged. To experience the world drugged and still want to throw up at the thought of having to attend a social function.
Andrew Solomon writes on depression and says: “If you said to me, you have to have acute anxiety for the next month; I would rather slit my wrist than go through with it.”
If you’re looking for a way out there may not be one.
Suicide is so seductive. I almost gave up. Almost walked through that exit.
But I’m still here.
Here because of support. Here because of that place. Because of the psych ward that they only seem to ever let you know about when you’re at the point of actually killing yourself.
The ward is full of some of the nicest people you could ever meet but they’ve been so hurt by the world they can no longer function.
We are there because we feel too much. Hurt too much. We are sponges for negativity, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and more.
It’s taking drugs, love, support, and money to recreate myself.
To pull myself away from that place where your sob to your husband, plead with him to let you die because your anxiety is so bad, so bad you can’t take a breath without feeling the tight know of pain in your chest, the French brain in your stomach, the shaking of your insides, the hot tears streaming down your face.
Not everyone pulls away from that. Some of us are gone forever.
Unfortunately, Neil, she did not make it.
With my nephew’s farewell note to her, I played with it to read like poetry.
Like a quake in an ocean A Tsunami of emotion Waves upon waves of memories Come flooding back.
I had a feeling that last conversation and parting hug would be a while until the next. I never imagined it would be our last of this life until ‘The Next’.
Well my Friend, rest peacefully. We can catch up once we meet.
How can I make good art on this? Can this be written in a poetic form? Or should I just leave it as is? What do you think? At any rate, your comments would be much appreciated.
With warm regards and respectfully yours, Perpetua.
This week I will be posting a series of awareness to advocate for people who suffer mental illness. As much as I would like to discuss my experience, I would rather share what is happening NOW.
I want everyone to know that a lot of people are striving to be back in the main stream and live a so-called “normal” life with the help of caring people and communities.
It pains me to read and hear that these people are called “selfish” because of the illness especially one committed suicide.
The other night, I was watching the news how a boy raised funds to help his friend received the operation his friend badly needed. His friend is suffering from cerebral palsy and can hardly move. He raised more than enough money for the operation. The main question for the boy was what made you do it.
His answer was: “If you see someone needs help, you just help them.”
Yes! Just help. It’s that simple from the mouth of a boy.
The world would be better if we can help one another.
Thousands of people with chronic mental illness live productive lives in Metro Vancouver thanks to the support offered by Coast Mental Health. The non-profit organization provides housing, vocational training and employment opportunities, and community resources to over 4,200 people with mental illness every year. In recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 6 to 11) Coast strives to spark meaningful discussions about mental health.
Mental illness is a thief. It can rob you of your identity, take away your livelihood and isolate you from friends and family. It can leave you a shadow of yourself – alone and hopeless. And if diseases like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were not bad enough, add to that the pain of stigma and discrimination.
Coast Mental Health is a non-profit private organization that supports recovery from mental illness by providing intervention and care. From our meal and clothing programs and supported housing, we see restored dignity. And from our life skills training, education and employment programs, we see reduced poverty and increased security.
With the right supports, people can and do recover from these illnesses. Mental illness is simply another obstacle in life.
Find out what Coast Mental Health does to help individuals suffering from mental illness and homelessness, click here.
Oh, just spreading some smiles. It’s a smile that came from Ute Smile who has posted the The ABC of genuine happiness here that triggered the silly things I do at work to amuse myself. Thank you for making me smile, Ute.
Got to like what I do at work and I just love making co-workers a bit lighter and less serious.
Just take a look at this caricature photocopying his face. I’ve actually done it!
She was startled by what I said when I exclaimed to one of the walkers at the Camino trying to take a bug out of my neck.
“It’s only a ladybug.”
“Still, please don’t kill it and give it to me.”
She gently picked it up and placed it on my arm.
With a sigh of relief that it is safe, I brought it to the nearest bush, let it settle on one of the leaves and whispered have a good life.
Ladybug has such a power to me. It brings back memories how a tiny creature saved my life.
It was warm fall weather, and I was on my way for a vacation to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. I should be thrilled in going for a week-long all exclusive holiday, but I wasn’t. Depression was taking hold of me at the time.
I didn’t want to go. There was a foreboding feeling that should I go, I will not return. Another thought that comes and goes that life is not worth living when depression arises.
“Give me one reason to live?”
I was talking to the statutes on my altar. They are the statues of Mother Mary, a crucified Jesus Christ on the cross, the saints, and angels. Can they hear me? I doubt that they can. They are just statues.
Over and over again, I repeated: “Give me one reason to live!”
Tears are flooding my eyes, everything looked obscure. As my eyes were wandering all over my bedroom, I saw a small red dot just above the curtain wall.
Curiosity took hold of me and went close to check what it was. When I came closer, it became clearer that it was a ladybug.
Instinctively, I tried to pick it up to release it outside. However, it flew away, and I lost sight of it.
I searched the walls, the curtains, the ceilings, the floor, the bed, behind the door of my bedroom for the ladybug and for the life of me I cannot find it.
“Where are you ladybug?” “You cannot stay here.” “ You will die here.” “There is no life for you here.” “You need to show yourself.”
On and on I talked to the ladybug. It felt a long time searching for it, and I became aware of the time that I need to leave the apartment otherwise I will miss my plane for Mexico.
Imploring to the ladybug, I beg: “Please come out. I have a plane to catch.”
As I said this, my eyesight cleared up from crying and saw the ladybug in the far corner of the west wall of the ceiling.
Finally, I caught the ladybug, placed it in between the palms of my hands so it won’t escape, went to the balcony, opened my hands and gave a soft blow of air from my lips to give it a nudge to fly. And it flew. Free, the ladybug is now free.
In Nuevo Vallarta, a new door opened up to a different meaning of living a life.
There I experienced other forms of life: releasing a bucket full of baby sea turtles into the vast ocean, talking to the iguanas and lizard, watching the sunset, walking barefoot on the sandy shores, tasting the saltiness of the sea, feeling the warm rain on my skin, horseback riding along the Andes Fault and visiting some ruins.
Coming home, my disposition in life is a bit brighter. Depression still exists, but I don’t find it overwhelming.
When life becomes unbearable, I think of the ladybug. A Godsend. I firmly believe in the God of small things. Life grows into a series of little things in faith of gratitude. The possibility is due to a single ladybug.
“Beauty is more than what we see with the eyes. People are more than their conditions. I am more than my hair and skin. This only shows my exterior”
She Took A Daily Selfie While Battling Depression & Anxiety. The Results Are Truly Astonishing.
Rebecca Brown is a film student from the U.K. In 2007, when she was only 14, she began a project that documented her life by taking selfie photos of herself. Brown is now 21 and she has compiled the roughly 2100 pictures that she has taken into a video on her Youtube channel.
This video documents her battle with depression, anxiety and an impulse control disorder (which is a form of OCD) known as Trichotillomania. (Trichotillomania causes a person to pull out their own hair when anxious).
Brown says that this project is ongoing and plans to continue as long as she can.
For all those people who are inflected by this disease, stay strong and be strong. There is always HOPE and life does get better.
Circle is one of the first forms that evolved as well as straight lines since the Dark Age.In Sacred Geometry, there are only two forms, circle and straight line. The Theosophical Society gave a course on how to create one. Unfortunately, my mind goes in circle or it remains linear, thus the end of my quest in becoming an artist.An artist gave me a blank piece of paper and asked me to draw. Drew I did, mostly scribble in circles and gave it to him. He took one hard look and started recreating what I scribbled. What he saw is something different from my work of art.Interesting how the brain works.