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.
This is no ordinary door. It is a place where they serve FREE hot breakfast, hot meals, sandwiches, coffee, juice and desserts to complete a full meal for the hungry, especially the homeless with mental health and addiction issues. They … Continue reading →
Little do I know that the road I travelled in 2017 will become the theme for unity in the Christian world this year. Malta. Photos taken were stored, collecting dust. Now, I am revisiting the pictures I’ve made and reflect … Continue reading →
The effect what my cat companions to me, words cannot describe it. There is scientific evidence that petting animals reduce blood pressure. As for me, it provides a medicinal nature that drugs cannot. I know I would not do without … Continue reading →
Someone told me to read the lives of the saints to help me in times of the dark night of the soul. Not just the saints but as well as people who had the courage to come back. These are … Continue reading →
From animals … to family portrait … to Meanwhile in Vancouver … to In Other Words … to It’s been a long week … to Lens Artist … to Sunday Snippet … to Mental Health, I managed to maintain … Continue reading →
Keep Your Mind in Shape. Today, more than ever, people are aware of the importance of physical fitness to good health, but it’s important to remember that a healthy mind and body go together. Make mental exercises part of your … Continue reading →
To see what a painter paints, one has to look at the unexpected form that jumps out of the canvas and not to look into his mind. Art is not escape, but a way of finding order in chaos, a … Continue reading →
I am talking about mental health to support Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health Awareness Month. It is no secret that I live with mental illness diagnosed with major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder and generalized anxiety. For years, I have … Continue reading →
Some people left their heart in San Francisco as the song goes; in Vancouver, the city is the heart. To see the beauty, from a distance, a lazy chair is available to sit, relax and admire the beauty of Science … Continue reading →
Canadians from around the country sharing their stories about mental illness that is sponsored by Bell Let’s Talk January 30 National Awareness Campaign. Well known Canadian I know of that suffers from mental illness is Howie Mandel, Clara Hughes and … Continue reading →
Last year, most of my focus was about life living with mental illness. This year, 2019, let’s make it the year of Mental Wealth working together and supporting each other. The one thing that I made it today thus far is … Continue reading →
Photography is life through a filter. They say what you see is what you get. Is that true? The central exercise and experience of using photography are to capture the images more for my benefit, mental wealth, interest, an extension of … Continue reading →
When Autumn arrives, I have to remember to revere the glory of what was before: in spring, the earth is waking up to life; in summer, the world is basking on the light and warmth of the sun. Spring and … Continue reading →
We are out for good reasons. My friend wants to make memories. My sister is out on a day pass. I am up to no good and want to give these two a fright. My birthday is coming. This is … Continue reading →
*Bonus Material: “I’ll be praying for you.” In my last post I listed “have you tried praying about it?” as one of the things I wished you wouldn’t say to me. Now, I don’t want you to take that statement … Continue reading →
“Have you tried praying about it?” Yes. The answer is yes. I pray constantly. I pray that God will give me the strength to get out of bed to feed and care for my dogs when I’m having an episode … Continue reading →
Let me ask you a question: WHO LIKES THIS COMMERCIAL???? Well, I DO! I’m such an odd person that I really love this commercial for the song, not Apple or Mac. The song behind this commercial came from Story of … Continue reading →
Lucie begs for mercy. Madame Defarge stares at her coldly while she keeps on knitting. Madame Defarge is a character from the Tale of Two Cities written by Charles Dickens. She is a cold person who doesn’t stop knitting and … Continue reading →
Out of his sorrows, a musical score came out from the depths of his soul. I posted his ordeal here. Remember this song, Chris. It’s the song that you will RISE above it all. I released my first ever solo original … Continue reading →
Darkness fell at Butchart Garden. Even when the surrounding is devoid of light, I can feel the breathing of the plants while waiting for my companions shopping for souvenirs. Plants and I have connections as a living organism on earth. We feel … Continue reading →
Hey, do you know that when people practice a pitiful affection for cats, they are all the more disposed to take pity on their fellow human beings? Okay, not just cats, animals then. I don’t want you to think this … Continue reading →
Life is amazing, funny and crazy at the same time. I share moments with people who I don’t even know using different platforms to convey what is important to me. For the past few days, I joined Bell Let’s Talk … Continue reading →
“For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, ‘Blessed, blessed are … Continue reading →
Here she is with a grateful smile thanking the anonymous donor bestowing $100 million to CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) to support research into mental illnesses, “The donation is by far the largest ever given to a mental … Continue reading →
Talking and writing are great partners in celebrating life. It’s an antidote for depression. Just take a look at this recent discovery exchange of words between one depressed person to another: I talk to anybody on the street more than … Continue reading →
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.
I’ve never read the book Anne of Green Gable written by L. M. Montgomery, a Canadian writer. The book is supposed to be a classic literature. Curiosity took over me and I came across with Chapter 5: Anne’s History. “Well, … Continue reading →
“Let’s go for Vitamin N.” a teacher exclaimed to the students. The students’ disposition immediately changed to jubilation. Vitamin N stands for Nature. Nature is just across the school, a park. A walk in the park, running around the trees, … Continue reading →
Sitting in the dark, I allowed darkness to be my teacher. I am used to sitting in the dark at the chapel of Lions Gate. There I spent many days in the quite darkness of the hospital chapel instead of … Continue reading →
There are days that I just want to end it all. When that does happen, it’s the little things that stop me on my tracks that brings clarity in this obscure mind that surfaces uninvited. What stopped me this time … Continue reading →
Do you know that we are just like cats that get scared easily, fearful? So be careful. All we need is love. Yesterday, I attended a conference in renewing my sense of wonder by bringing together theological, psychological and spiritual awareness … Continue reading →
“How long, O Christ, shall we wait for thy law to be understood?” ~ W. Frank Hatheway, “The Cry of Labor” (1906) We all work for a living, we spend the majority of our life employed and we don’t know … Continue reading →
It’s winter. I used to dread this season of long days of darkness. Very little light affects my health and mental well-being. I never had this problem when I lived in the tropics where the sun shines. Learning to come … Continue reading →
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ~ St Francis of Assisi
It was one of the dark moments of my life when I decided to follow the Footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. The very first pilgrimage I did, alone. Of course, it took planning and reaching out to strangers. Sending out e-mails mostly to the Franciscans and Sisters in Rome. They are very helpful.
Hello, my name is Maria Siglos. I am writing to seek your help if you could provide me with contact e-mail in Assisi, Italy for any retreat centres or catholic homes who would like to accommodate me during my visit in September. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Waiting and patience is very important when embarking on a pilgrimage. They say everything is in God’s time. These qualities did not exist in me at the time. For one, I want to run away, throw in the towel and enough of the so-called career and professional life. I quit my job of 14 years.
But I have no choice but to wait and see. I prayed to all the Gods: Shiva, Ganesha, Buddha, St. Francis, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Finally, I received a response.
Fr. Gregory forwarded your letter but I am just back from vacation and tomorrow I am on my way to Assisi… if you are online now, please answer immediately and I might be able to help you by getting the info tomorrow. I would appreciate knowing what you are looking for… there are guesthouses and there are probably retreat houses.
How long do you plan to be in Assisi? Are you looking for private time? For a directed retreat? Are you looking for 4 star? Are you looking for modest places = shared bathrooms? Retreat places are likely to be basic. Do you have an idea of your dates? Please furnish any other info you might think is helpful.
Oh? Too many questions! I thought it’s just as simple as booking a hotel and I am on my own. St. Francis didn’t have to answer to these questions. All he did was divest himself in front of the church and left Assisi. What I need is private room with spiritual direction.
Being not in the right frame of mind, I really do not know what to do. I simple replied whatever that they can provide, I will be grateful.
Year 2000 was Jubilee Year in Rome, I found out. A very special year when one of the sealed doors of Vatican Church will open and will shut again for another 25 years. Imagine Rome and Assisi are buzzing with pilgrims and tourist alike. Good luck finding a place to rest.
It has taken a while but I have now obtained the necessary information. One of the friars in Assisi did a bit of telephoning and searching. I need to say that in Assisi they are very full as far as accommodations are concerned. I believe this myself because some friars here in Rome have been looking for places for friends coming to Rome and they are pulling out their hair… everything seems to be packed here in Rome and by extension in Assisi.
Maybe prayer is not the answer. Maybe I will challenge God. Maybe I will give St. Francis of Assisi a threat. NOW HERE THIS! I said in my mind. Instead I said, whatever St. Francis. If you want me to come, I will come.
Surrender. When I completely surrender myself to God, it works. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I have found a single room in a guesthouse run by the friars at Porziuncola. There are two guesthouses. This is the simpler of the two, prepared to make things within the reach of simple, working class pilgrims.
The dilemma of travel arrangement is over and a new fear surfaced. I have no job to come home to. Back to prayer again begging St. Francis to help me find a job. Not a career but a job that is a means to an end to continue being of service to humanity while I live on earth.
A week before I departed for Assisi, I received a job offer, an answer to my prayer. The people who hired me were willing to wait for my return even though they needed a person immediately. Another sigh of relief.
With everything in placed I went with peace of mind, walked the plains of Porziuncola, climbed the mountain to reach his hermitage and scrambled my way up to the hills of Assisi to visit San Damiano where he heard the Cross spoke to him to build a church.
St. Francis of Assisi is real. A person who lived in life of luxury, partying and drinking. He joined the war, captured and imprisoned. During his imprisonment he was dangerously sick, body mind and soul. After his release from imprisonment, in the forest he met a leper. Leper is the lowest of the lowest, the untouchables. But Francis touched, embraced and kissed him. From then on, a new Francis rose and started a new movement.
That was lifetime ago, another 14 years. Currently, I am still working for the same employer. A job that I like, love the people I work with and doing service in between.
The teaching of St. Francis touches and helps me. It’s plain, simple and ordinary; yet, it provides a great lesson and instruction for living.
“Please don’t expect me to always be good and kind and loving. There are times when I will be cold and thoughtless and hard to understand.” ~ Sylvia Plath This quote triggered a memory and yet I cannot remember where I … Continue reading →
COMPASSION… what we need is compassion for people who are suffering from any disease. For people that commits suicide or survive suicide, blame does not help or saying How can you do this! LEARN, we need to learn from another. I am still learning from my own history. This post is the best one I can relate to. As for now, I am filled with gratitude being alive. Faith, family, care givers and bloggers who shared their experience. Let us help one another understand with compassion.
Whilst reading about the tragic death of the great Robin Williams I repeatedly stumbled upon the narrative of choice. Places like Psychcentral spoke about suicide being an “insidious choice”, but a “choice” nonetheless, so much so that they repeated the word to drive the message home. Meanwhile, whilst perusing social media I repeatedly came across variations of “people who commit suicide are selfish”, “how can anyone do that to their family?”. These sorts of comments make me twitchy. We’ve all heard them before.
In my own case they were personalised and weaponised, “How could YOU do that to your children? Do YOU not care about them?” I did, that was the problem. For some time I had felt like a millstone around the necks of my family. I loved them, but hated myself and could only see the ways I made their lives worse. After 2 failed suicide attempts in…
“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.
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has three components thoughts, behaviour and emotions arranged in a triangle. These are important factors in personal change. The three sides represent the three aspects of my lives. When one side of the triangle changes the rest also change. When I change my way of thinking, I will act and feel according to my thoughts. When I change my emotions, my actions and thoughts will change. When I change the way I do things, then my thoughts and emotions will alter.
Sounds easy, right? Not really. In order for me to understand the psychology of CBT, I thought of three words that is the driving force of my whole being. These are faith, hope and charity. Drawing the same triangle, I came up with this.
Then I incorporated the whole thing based on what works for me to get better. I called this new and improved diagram the Theology of CBT.
Of course, this is just for me doodling my way through a ten-week CBT course.
When CBT first came out in Vancouver, I was one of the guinea pigs. I volunteered to be one of the subjects. It helped me tremendously as well as the Faculty of Psychiatry. Of course, familiarity breeds contempt. I thought I got it all made and don’t need to carry on with the “experiment” to myself. Soon, I fell out of practice and old habits returned; automatic thoughts.
Automatic thoughts are similar to a movie; a constant rewind of a scenario mostly negative. I counted how many times an automatic thought came up in a given minute. There are 60 seconds in a minute, I must have thought of it 100 times.
I took the course the second time around two years ago and the modules have much improved as well as the therapists. The therapists are better trained, the doctors are well versed with the course and there are more participants. I speak highly of this course for anyone who needs to “get” a hold of their own well-being.
I never called this disease as “mental” disorder. I vehemently argue about this terminology. I know it is a disease of the brain and I waited a long time for someone to speak about this until I heard in TED “Understanding of mental illness.” This is a big relief for me.
Going deeper to doodling, a new diagram arose based on my love for trees and gardening. This keeps me grounded.
Finally with all these knowledge and training, I realize that medication tremendously helps. There’s nothing wrong with taking medication. Insulin is for diabetics to control the disease taken for the rest of their life. No stigma on that. Antidepressants work well for my brain to balance the serotonin level taken for the rest of my life so I may live to the fullest. Nothing wrong with that!
Someone told me to read the lives of the saints to help me in times of dark night of the soul. Not just the saints but as well as people who had the courage to come back. These are ordinary people who managed to crawl out of their darkness with the help of others and divine intervention.
She was born in Sudan in 1869, kidnapped by Arab slave trades at age seven, sold and resold, suffered much trauma, abuse and brutality during her captivity that caused her to forget her own name. She was named Bakhita, meaning “the lucky one”. Life as a slave terrified her.
Click on the photo to view a brief story in video.
Forgiveness: “If I were to meet the slave merchants who kidnapped me, and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands. If what happened to me had never taken place, how could I have become a Christian and a religious?”
Eventually, in 1883 an Italian consul bought her, treated her kindly in his household, took her to Italy and was given as present to a wife of friend. When the new owner left for Africa to attend to business matters, she gave the Canossian Sisters of Venice custody of Bakhita. Here she found out that she is a free person and remained with the Sisters, became a nun and known as the “Black Mother.”
Bakhita, what a life story she had at a tender age. How does one get over the abuse she received as a child? With the help of others that cared about her and discovered that she has a new Master, her God, she recovered.
During the millennium year 2000, Pope Paul II canonized Josephine Bakhita.
Sometimes it can be difficult to be thankful when you feel miserable. That misery usually becomes worse when well meaning people remind you of what you should be thankful for. So, let me offer a prayer of gratitude for all who struggle with depression, or any other mental or emotional condition.
Thank you for giving me the courage to get up and face another day, and the stamina to work for health.
Thank you for holding me close when I have wanted to end my life, and for holding others who did die from depression, bipolar, or schizophrenia.
Thank you also for understanding when I couldn’t get myself out of bed to go to mass or feared confession because the very thought of facing my sins only made me feel more unworthy of love.
Thank you for providing the ability to hold up my head when people judged me, gossiped about me, or backed away during the times I became ill. Likewise, for granting me patience and understanding when those who saw me at my worst could not accept my health and so treated me as if I were still “fragile.”
Thank you for teaching me how to carry my cross for love of you, focusing on you rather than my specific pains. I know I don’t do that perfectly but you don’t care and for that I am most grateful.
Thank you for modern medicine, competent therapists and spiritual directors, understanding clergy, and Saints who had mental health difficulties. These can bolster my hope, lessen my sense of isolation, and even make me healthier.
Thank you especially for those moments, days, and sometimes months of remission when joy and a clear mind return. These are a foretaste of what heaven will be like after I have finished fighting the good fight in faith and hope.
Most of all thank you for accepting the offering of my imperfect, broken, and sick self at mass and responding by feeding and strengthening my soul with the Eucharist.
Did I ever share with you that I hate technology? I do! I blamed technology when the first sign of dark night of the soul surfaced. I am overcoming this aversion to technology by joining Facebook followed by WordPress. And I am making headways. I’m still here after over a year of blogging. That is a success on my part.
To prove that I can do it, I even moved to a dot-com to learn more what’s out there. It was a challenge and still is.
Today, the challenge is the reader. Going back to some post that I have neglected to read, I don’t see them. The reader’s last post was three days ago. Mind you, some of today’s read is visible. Where did it go?
I dread of contacting the support forum once again for I have numerous e-mail going back and forth. I must say they are very helpful.
On my way to work, something fell from the sky. As I walked closer to it, it appeared to be a small piece of paper iridescent green colour. I bend down to pick it up and it was paper light.
Good Lord. A hummingbird. I don’t know what to do. I was so scared that it might have died from the impact of hitting the pavement. It was breathing so fast. Stroking it as gently as possible and praying to it “Please do not die” was all I can do,
I turned around and went to the nearest bush. I laid it gently, left and hope it will come back to its senses.
On my coffee break around 10 am, I went to check the bush. The hummingbird was gone. I hope it flew away.
This was the first time I encountered a hummingbird.
Fast forward a year later. Spring, a beautiful sunny day, however, the dark night of the soul is trying to invade me.
I was gardening on my balcony at the same time talking to God.
God, where are you. I don’t particularly like how I am feeling, please take this away from me. Where are you?
Suddenly I heard this whooshing sound. It was high pitched buzzing more like it. Am I hearing things now? Or the tension is affecting my eardrums again?
I look up and right in front of me was this beautiful golden hummingbird.
Oh my God. I repeated this so many times in my mind. Transfixed to this small creature, I did not breathe nor move for fear of scaring it away.
Time stood still.
Zoom, it was gone. So was the dark night of the soul.
From here on, the hummingbird is my constant companion especially when I tend to garden. One hummer brought others and they stay around all year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stand still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.
A Robert Frost Hummingbird Poem
Buddha says “Life is suffering.”
Every time someone says this quote, I add: “Get with the program!”
Yes, I agree. What I do with suffering is either use it or lose it.
Useful suffering teaches me something; it makes me wiser and cut away any useless limbs so that I may bear fruit, so to speak. It makes me a better person, a better sister, a better friend and then some.
Useless suffering is negative and depressing. I cannot make sense of it. When I try to analyze the situation, it causes analysis paralysis. My spiritual, emotional, mental and physical well-being deteriorates. I feel it’s a dead-end street and sometimes death is a good way out. It is devastating.
I have my fair share of suffering. Family and friends help tremendously with their outpouring love to help me recover. Behind this love is the deep faith we have that help me redeemed myself. It is called Redemptive suffering.
“Redemption accomplished through love remains always open to all love expressed through human suffering.” Since my faith is based on the theology of Jesus, I offer my suffering to Him and I am privilege that He allows me to unite my suffering. This is the greatest way for me in order to rise above the existential angst and cesspool of the soul.
I can offer the grief, depression, limitation, frustration, pain and sorrow that I experience without suffering. The uselessness of suffering becomes powerless. Of course, I have fear. I am never useless no matter what condition I am in. And I can say the same to you, you are never useless. In fact, other people can learn from us; we may be doing more good for humanity. I know. Being in the company of women at Talitha Kuom, I learned humility, love, perseverance, trust, compassion and patience.
To keep up with my answer “get with the program”, I take a look at the area of my life and make sure that none of it is useless and wasted.
Exercise the right to mental fitness, keeps the mind in shape.Every day, it is important that I am aware of the importance of physical fitness to good health. It is equally important to remember that a healthy mind and body go together.Mental fitness is part of my daily routine.To find the time to relax, dream, be creative or even to let off steam will definitely improve the mental faculties of this brain especially the ability to deal with stressful situation.Mental fitness is vital part of my healthy life.“One reason why men and women lose their heads so often is that they use them so little! It is the same with everything. If we have anything that is valuable, it must be put to some sort of use. If a man’s muscles are neglected, he soon has none, or rather none worth mentioning. The more the mind is used the more flexible it becomes, and the more it takes upon itself new interests.”— George Matthew Adams (Renowned Newspaper Columnist, Author, Writer, Philosopher) #quote#health Related articles
A new study found that drinking two or three cups of coffee lowers the risk of suicide by at least 50 percent. That is good news.Researchers said that the caffeine in coffee can increase the neurotransmitters similar to a mild antidepressant to lift a person’s mood. No wonder I have been feeling good lately.Studies demonstrated that caffeine leads to enhanced cognitive performance. Vigilance, mental alertness, feeling of well-being and arousal are just a few positive effect of caffeine.So go ahead and have a cup or two of coffee. It will keep you alive.
Photo credit: Miss Four Eyes: 3 stages of coffee. Click on the picture to see the post.
Every year, six ordinary people are awarded the Courage to Comeback Award. The 2013 recipients are: Youth category is Lourenco: Courage defined smiling teen Medical category is Cindy: Rare congenital condition Addiction’s recipient is Thea: Battle to get clean Mental Health … Continue reading →
It’s all about awareness. Be aware that you are not alone.There is nothing to be embarrassed about, no need to hide, hiding is futile. Numerous people, even celebrities have declared to the whole world about how mental they are. I do not suggest you to do the same. The message that I want to impart is that there is help out there.Patty Duke wrote her memoir “The Brilliant Madness” is an excellent book how this illness became manageable. Even William Styron wrote “Darkness Visible”, his memoir of madness. They are both good reads.It’s Mental Health Week from May 6 to 12, 2013 in our community. Let’s learn, talk, engage, reflect and be involved how we are affected by this disease. The Canadian census states that one in every three Canadians will experience problems with their mental well-being. That is a high ratio. I hope they are wrong.So, I encourage you to be involved in your community especially to your loved ones. Be open about it. Mental illness is just as common as an ordinary headache or cold.Personally, I do not call this mental illness, I call it brain disease. And that is another story.Related Articles:
It was St. Patrick’s gathering, most of the second generations were present and all of the third were there. It’s an opportunity for me to take pictures of the younger generations.Caught them playing monopoly in the bedroom and asked if I could take a picture of them. “NO! We are playing” they responded in concert.“It’s really important and it will only take a second. Besides, I just want to take a picture of your legs.”Now they are curious what Auntie Crazy is up to. So they oblige.Then I explained to them what the picture is all about. The title is “It’s all about the Genes.”“Jeans as our pants?” one smart child asked.“That’s a good way to put it. It sounds the same but spelled differently.” I said.Of course the younger ones do not understand but a couple older second generations understand my cryptic title.“G-E-N-E-S, Genes. It means we all came from the same blood or DNA” I said.“D-N-A?” said the wee one.“Never mind, let’s stick with the blood.”“We all came from the same blood. Your mother came from your Nana. Your Nana is my sister. Nana and I came from Granny.” I explained and they seem to get a better understanding.“Now, sometimes, there is something wrong with the blood that is pass from one person to another. Meaning, there’s something wrong with me but some of you might not get what’s wrong with me. And some of your Uncles, Aunties and Cousins might have something wrong with them, too. For example, depression.” I further explained.“Depression, you mean crazy or weird?” A naïve question.“Yes, when you feel weird or acting crazy, it might be a sign. And do not be scared of talking about feeling weird or crazy because there is always help. You have to let us know because we are here to help. Do you guys understand?” I said.
All about the Genes
“Yes, can we go back to playing the game?”End of lesson on Genes 101.
The sign states: “No Trespassing, Private Property”. What a strange sign when there is a church in this land? How can I attend the church as a stranger in this property when it is situated in the middle of an Indian Reserve?Took all my courage to trespass in a deserted street and I was cautious of my surrounding. I felt that there were eyes looking at me as I walked along the street and to my relief I saw a gray nun heading toward the church.I felt much better when I was inside the church. The congregation was mostly Native Indians and elders. Much to my surprise, they were very hospitable to me. I felt at home. Soon, I became a regular every Sunday Mass at St Paul’s Church of North Vancouver for a short period.Here I met Starr. She is kind to me and a little bit on a serious side. I told her that I was just passing through on my way to Thailand to do volunteer work. Starr confided that one day she would like to do an altruistic work. I said by the grace of God, it will happen, just keep praying about it. That was year 1998.Before I left the church, there was an activity of hanging a star on a Charlie Brown Tree. Anyone can take part to hang a star and share what it means to her or him. Then Starr came to me and lead me to where the tree was. She pick up a star and hanged it.She introduced me to the congregation that the star represents me as her “hero” because of what I embarked to do in Thailand. I was a surprised by her kindness.When I came back home to Canada, Starr has obtained a home. Her plan is to help out destitute troubled women. The house will be a recovery home for addicted women. I helped her a bit on some legal papers. I provided her with boxes of books from my own collections of religious books for her house. As a present, I gave her a meditation book “God in All Things by Anthony de Mello”.Then life got in a way. I’ve lost in touched with Starr until one night in 2010 I was watching the evening news.The news was the Courage to Come Back Award presented by Coast Mental Health. They called a name that is so familiar to me, Starr Peardon, a recipient of the award.Oh my goodness, I have to watch this, dropped everything and glued watching the television. There is so little I know of Starr. As far as I’m concerned she’s a beautiful person and I never once asked her what her background is. Then I learnt her story from the news.Starr was a drug addict, drug dealer and a criminal. She was in and out of jail and gave up her children to foster care. However, it was in the correctional facility where she had her conversion. In an article written in The Province Newspaper, I quote:It was while doing time at the old Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women that the jail’s chaplain, Hank Smidstra, prayed over her while she detox.“This strange thing happened. It was like a warmth. Like God put his arms around me. I didn’t believe in God,” said Peardon. She woke up the next day and knelt on the concrete floor.“I prayed to a God I didn’t believe in. I swore and I cried and that same peace descended on me. That was my conversion experience,”With her conversion experience, Starr was able to fulfill her dream. “Talitha Koum”, meaning “little girl, rise” is the house for “broken women”, a place of healing. Countless women have turned around their life with her help. It is going strong until now.Last year on March 31, 2012 we celebrated Starr’s retirement party. And she has all the reason to smile for being an instrument of God. And I have all the reason to smile outward and inward when I think of her. God bless you, Starr Pedron.This article is a true story written for Writing Challenge: Truth.