Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Evil?

 

The above video is one of the most memorable that I have seen in the discussion of God. And, the fact that it involves Einstein is just a wonderful thing.

I first saw this video a few months ago and I was completely taken aback by it. I loved the message it gives, but I also loved that it was a future scientist who believed. Einstein was known to believe in God, but not in a completely spiritual sense. He respected the fact that science and religion needed one another, as stated in his famous words: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

I believe this to be true. I believe in both science and God. I believe we have science because God made it so. Science is the study of what God has created, and it is a way for us to understand His creation. I am open to evolution, and find that if it is how we came to be as a human species, then that is due to it being a part of God’s plan. I don’t deny science, but I also don’t deny my God, my Father. I realize that not all people believe this, and that is ok. We all believe what we believe. I’m not trying to push my beliefs onto anyone, as I have never found that effective in having an intelligent and rational discussion. Respect for one another’s beliefs is essential in truly understanding both one another and the world around us.

So, what does this have to do with evil?

Found at Elizabeth Ficocelli’s Website

Well, a thought has been going through my mind a lot lately. I’m not sure why. Maybe it has to do with the fact that school is once again starting up for kids again… that August reflection I discussed in my last post. But, I’ve been remembering back to my childhood, and a very important experience in my Catholic life… Reconciliation.

I was in the second grade (seven years old) when I was to complete my Sacrament of Reconciliation. We were to complete this Sacrament about a month before our Sacrament of Holy Communion, due to us having to be cleansed of our sins prior to accepting the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t understand the significance of this Sacrament. I understood we were telling a priest our sins in a tiny little room, but I didn’t understand why it was so important. I was seven. Today, I look at my little cousin Alice, who is six. I was only a year older than she is now, when I made that Sacrament. She is very intelligent and articulate, but I see this child who is innocent. What sins could she possibly have to confess? But, as the Bible teaches us, we are all sinful individuals, and must ask for forgiveness. And, the age of seven is what is referred to as the ‘age of reason’, when kids begin to truly understand right from wrong. I don’t deny this, but it’s still hard to see this tiny child who must confess. But, I also know it is necessary (at least in my beliefs).

Now, as an adult, I can appreciate the Sacrament more, but I prefer to not use confessionals anymore. I confess my sins directly to the Lord and I do so in prayer and in the privacy of just the two of us. I do not like the idea of telling a stranger (a regular human being) my sins. To clarify, I do not put down that way of Reconciliation. Many of my family and friends still choose that way, and that is wonderful for them. I just feel that we all need to confess our sins in our own way. In a way that is most comfortable for us. Otherwise, if we are uncomfortable, we will not be completely honest. I know I wasn’t as a child.

The “Evil” OCD

This is when my fear of being evil began. I’ve discussed this before in my post, OCD and Me. I have suffered from OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) since I was at least five (as far back as I can recall the thoughts and rituals). It was distressing for me, as I was too young to understand what was making me think these awful visions, but I was old enough to know they were wrong. They made me feel bad. So, I remember the day when our teachers told us that our Sacrament of Reconciliation was approaching. They had us practice the ceremony many times, so that we would go through it appropriately.

As I rehearsed for the ceremony, I had an outward appearance of excitement. I mean what little kid doesn’t like the idea of being able to do something so significant (even if I didn’t fully understand that very significance), especially in front of parents and loved ones. But, inside, that excitement had a core of anxiety. I was so terrified. Here I was, faced with basically an order from God to confess my sins. I knew that my thoughts were ugly and evil (in my mind at the time), and I knew I had to confess them in order to truly be forgiven. But, how could I do that? I couldn’t possibly tell this grown man what I would think. Such bad thoughts would surely make him hate me. He would think I was as ugly a person, as the thoughts I revealed. I was frightened of my parents finding out, and that I’d be in trouble and they’d see me as this evil child. But, then I worried that if I didn’t tell these thoughts, then I’d go to hell. I was seven years old, and I worried that I’d go to hell. As a child, you don’t see yourself in the way that adults see you. But as I look at my cousin Alice, I see this child who would never go to hell. Yet, I thought, at just a year older than her, that I would go to hell, if I didn’t tell this stranger my thoughts.

So, as the night came when our Sacrament ceremony was to take place, I dreaded the moment. It was no longer exciting for me. It was terrifying. And, it’s probably the reason I screwed up in the ceremony. I made a mistake and switched some of the steps around that I was supposed to complete following my confession. It was obvious to everyone in the church, and extremely embarrassing. Now, I know that most adults wouldn’t hold that against a child, but at the time, I thought I was such an idiot.

However, although I messed up in the ceremony, I did complete the confession… or at least in the best way that I could. I came up with my own plan on how to do it. As I confessed, I told the priest that I have thought really bad thoughts… thoughts that I didn’t like. And, as I stated that to him, I immediately tried to recall the “evil” thoughts that I could remember at the time. I had hoped that God would see those thoughts flashing through my mind while confessing the general idea of “bad thoughts” to the priest.

By the time the ceremony was over, I felt ill. That evening, we all left the church and headed to the school’s auditorium. Cake, ice cream and punch were being served to all of us to celebrate, but I did not want any. I remember just hugging my mom tightly and feeling like I was going to throw up. I just wanted to go home and kept telling her and my dad. They tried to get me to sit down with the other kids, but I didn’t want to. I was an emotional and physical mess, so they took me home. I didn’t understand why I felt like that. I had messed up during the ceremony, but it was more than that. I know now that it was the anxiety that had built up over all those weeks leading up to the ceremony, and it was now finally just hitting me completely. I went home and straight to bed. I was a seven-year-old with no desire for cake, ice cream and punch… just a pillow to rest my sick head.

That was how I managed to make it through that Sacrament. I always felt as if I never truly completed it, though. That is, until I learned about silent confessing of sins, and how there wasn’t anything wrong with that. I was in my late teens when I realized this, and it was around the same time when the bipolar started to creep into my life, waiting for the right moment to strike me down. I am thankful that the worry of confessing my thoughts in private was taken away at this time; otherwise it would have been another stress on my shoulders.

It Didn’t Go Away

However, being able to confess these thoughts, did not take away my thoughts of their evilness. I hated that the thoughts presented themselves as they did. I did not want to be evil. I did not want to be a bad person. Growing up, I worried so much about it that I tried to be extra good. Having three extra sets of parental figures in my siblings helped that. I never wanted to make mistakes, but I of course still made plenty. But, no matter what I did as a typical kid, I still had those hidden wrong things going on inside my brain, that no one knew about. I learned at the age of five to hide them.

I can’t recall if I’ve discussed this experience before, so if I have, please bear with me. But, once I was in the kitchen with my mom while she did the dishes one night. I was five and telling her stories. I always loved telling stories as a kid, and when I got old enough to write, I started writing them down. But, at this age, it was all oral communication. So, I was sitting there at the kitchen table telling my mom a story about a man. He was trapped in a house that was on fire. Not exactly word for word, but this was the story.

There was a man.
He lived in a house in the woods.
There was a fire and he burned up.
He was screaming.

As you can imagine, this did not appease my mom. She immediately told me that it was wrong to tell those kinds of stories. Those were not good stories to tell. They were bad. I was five. I didn’t know it was bad yet. I was just telling the story of the vision in my head, but I learned right then and there, that it wasn’t the kind of story to tell her, or anyone else. I don’t blame my mom one bit. She had no way of knowing what was going on in her little girl’s head. And, at that point, I realized it was bad to think such things.

So, imagine my horror when I discovered that those very thoughts weren’t stopping. As I got older, the thoughts became worse, and I wondered what was happening to me. Why am I thinking such evil things? Why am I letting the devil (as I never referred to him as satan – I don’t like to capitalize his name – as a child), take over me? I was scared of what was going on inside of me, and why I couldn’t stop the thoughts. And, to make it worse, not only were the thoughts not leaving, but they were getting worse. That makes sense, of course. As we get older, we gain more life experiences. And for someone with OCD, those experiences are fuel for an overactive brain with torture of its host on its agenda.

Those Thoughts Continued to Follow Me

So, this fear of evil being inside of me continued all the way until I began therapy. I still believed that I was a horrible person inside, who was merely pretending to be good, so no one would see. I didn’t truly think that I was a good person. I thought I was just a fake who was lying to everyone through my “good” actions.

But, as I said, therapy finally changed my view. In the beginning, my therapist’s first recommendation to me was to stop referring to these thoughts as bad or evil. She said to just refer to them as “uncomfortable”. Uncomfortable thoughts… now that’s a new way of looking at them. She said that was all they were, and still are. They are not bad or evil, only uncomfortable because that is how they make me feel… uncomfortable. Then, she put it all in a new perspective in which I had never viewed them before.

Found on Stephen King’s Website

Stephen King. Mary Shelley. Bram Stoker. These are all famous authors, who have written some of the most horrifying classics of all time. My therapist was quick to point out to me, that I am a writer. She said, the way you classify yourself as a writer is by doing one thing: writing. It doesn’t matter what one writes, if they are writing what they have in their mind, then they are writers. She told me to try and use my thoughts in my writing more, rather than turning away from them. She said that if not for the wild imaginations of King, Shelley, Stoker, and many others, then we wouldn’t have their stories in our libraries today. In order for them to create such frightening masterpieces, they had to have a darker imagination than other individuals. If they didn’t have those darker imaginations, then their stories would not have had that quality that made them what they are today.

This thought began to make me look at my thoughts as not so bad. However, the idea of being “evil” was still present. Nevertheless, after much discussion on these thoughts – and my first two years of therapy – my views began to change once again. I’ve never been able to tell her, or anyone, the graphic nature of many of these thoughts, as they are too difficult to reveal. Maybe someday I will. But, from what I have been able to tell her thus far, she started making me see that they are indeed just thoughts.

Then came the day when probably the most profound realization in regard to these thoughts finally hit me. My therapist said that the very fact that the thoughts distressed me so much was proof that I was not evil. I do not enjoy them. I do not look forward to them intruding into my life without warning. I do not enjoy the emotional pain that I feel, that will often leave me weak and curled up on the couch in tears from the images they create in my mind. I hate them. I loathe them with every inch of my body and soul. She said that is proof that I’m not evil. Someone who is evil would do the complete opposite. They would enjoy the horrifying thoughts going through their head, and use them against others in some way. They would respond with pleasure, not anguish.

A Comforting Realization

So, after years of thinking that I was evil. I finally realized that I am not. After spending my childhood and early adulthood with the thought of my evilness being part of who I am, and constantly battling to keep it at bay, I finally learned otherwise. I am not evil. I am as good of a person as I can try to be in this world. My positive actions aren’t merely a massive cover-up for the horridness that I have hidden inside, because I no longer have anything to cover up. I hide my thoughts, but there is no longer an “evil” nature to them that I try to hide. It does not exist.

I continue to struggle with these thoughts, often daily, and they will continue to intrude on my life forever, I guess. But, with therapy and my medications, they have eased more now. And, best of all, when they enter into my mind, I now know that it’s not a sinful origin behind them, but rather my overactive brain that wants to torture me for its own pleasure. Although, I do acknowledge that I must never let my guard down. After all, I am a follower and believer in Christ. Therefore, I will always have evil trying to pull me away from my relationship with Jesus. And, satan will use any weakness he can find in order to do so. I must point out, though, that I do not see mental illness as a weakness, but it is something that causes suffering, and this is what my beliefs teach me can be used against me and others.

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” ~Matthew 16:23 (NIV)

This scripture is from Matthews telling of Jesus’ revelation to his disciples. He has just informed them that He will be soon be crucified for His sacrifice. Peter then speaks up and tells Jesus that He shouldn’t do it. He thinks it’s a mistake. However, Jesus recognizes what is truly happening. He sees satan trying to use Peter’s weakness (his fear for losing Jesus from his life) in order to stop Jesus from completing what God has planned for Him. That is why Jesus directs his rebuke at Peter, but in reality He is speaking directly to satan, who he knows is present and using Peter.

I don’t believe my thoughts are evil anymore. I see them for what they are… basically a result of my illness. The bipolar doesn’t help my OCD, and vice versa. I realize that I can only handle them the best way I can. And, I pray through them often. Sometimes I don’t think about praying, as they become so intense, they make me forget such things. But, I do remember eventually, and I pray. I know I can’t pray it all away, and anyone who tells me that I can is truly misguided and uninformed. But, I do know that I can pray for comfort and strength to better handle the pain that both illnesses cause.

As I stated earlier in this post, not all people share my same beliefs, and that’s ok. I just write what I believe, but I never expect everyone to believe the same things. And, I especially would never look down on anyone who doesn’t share my same beliefs. We are all human beings, and we are all living together on this planet. If we are to truly continue to survive as a species, then we must respect one another. The moment we lose all respect for one another and our differences is when our world will crumble. We need to have love for one another. We don’t have to love everyone like we would our parents, spouses, children, family or friends. But, we should love one another enough so that each life in this world matters to one another.

As Einstein said in the above video, “Evil is what happens when man does not have the love of God in his heart.” No matter who your God is, spiritual, universal or otherwise.

OCD isn’t evil. It’s just a truly unfair misfiring in the brain. So, no, it’s not evil, but it sure is cruel.

 

 

I Never Liked August

Ah, August. The month of the year when back-to-school ads are out in abundance. As a kid, I remember this month being an anxiety producing one. I hated the month. For me, it meant that soon I would once again be forced from my mom’s loving and protective arms, and thrown back into the slimy claws of my bullies.

June was wonderful. School was ending, and I knew I would be home to play in my make-believe world and stay up all night if I wanted. I would do that often as a child. I’d stay up all night long and loved it! As the summer pressed on into July, I was still content, as I knew I had quite a bit of time left of my glorious vacation. But, then, it would always happen. Inevitably, the first Sunday of August would arrive, and with it, a flurry of back-to-school ads in the newspaper. Full-colored ads of kids looking disgustingly happy and excited to be heading back to a place that I dreaded throughout my grade school years.

Elmer’s Glue… What?

It was upon lying first sight on those ads, that what I now know to be anxiety began to take over my body. I knew that soon I would be going to be measured for my new uniform (I went to a private Catholic school grades 1-12). And, I knew that my mom, dad and I would be making our annual trek to the store to purchase all of my school supplies. That memory is still so ingrained in my mind, that whenever I come across a bottle of Elmer’s Glue in our house, I have flashbacks to those shopping trips. I always had a long list of supplies that were needed, but the glue… something about that glue has never left my mind. It had that smell, the texture, and feeling of when that bottle was in my hand. It’s sort of strange, really, ‘cause I’m not sure why of all the supplies I had, that the glue would stick (pun intended) in my mind.

Maybe it’s due to it being such a special staple of school supplies. I mean, paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, and folders, are all common supplies (at least here in the States), but they’re used for every subject. Glue, on the other hand, is a school supply that was used for only some circumstances. It was used for art class and trying to get those stubborn macaroni pieces to stick, or for cutting out pictures of people and places for social studies class. Or, most importantly of all, it was used to make hand masks. All of us kids would pour it all over our palms and wait until it dried a bit, then pull it off to see a perfect imprint of our palms. I’m sure parents will love me for sharing that lovely tip with their kids. But, that was glue. It was only used for those special occasions. So, when I see glue to this day, it reminds me of school more strongly than any other supply. And, it takes me back to the days of buying it in August most often.

I can still feel the sadness that would start to overcome me, as August came to a close. I could feel my energy being drained from me, and I would enjoy less and less as that final week of vacation arrived. I would become more emotional, and spontaneous crying was a given during this time. As I stated in my post Separation Anxiety and Bipolar in Kids, I suffered from severe separation anxiety as a child. I would cry as if I was grieving, and it was a draining experience.

School registration was horrible. It would take place in September, shortly after Labor Day. Starting around 6th grade or so, our school changed how it did registration, and made it occur during the middle of summer vacation. But, up until that year, registration took place on the first day of school. Being a private school, they already knew the kids who were going to be there due to the tuition being paid, but the registration was for the parents to fill out important forms and such. Most of the kids left the room as the parents were filling out the forms. They were happy to be back at school and they were looking forward to playing with their friends. Not me, though. I would stay by my mom’s side for as long as possible. I didn’t want that time to end, and it would hurt me to think ahead another twenty minutes, when I knew I’d be forced to leave her.

I remember a few other kids in the room with their moms. They seemed to be feeling as I did. And, then, the bell would ring. It was time for me to go to my new classroom, and my mom had to stay where she was. You would think I’d be used to that separation by now, but that’s the problem with a child who suffers from separation anxiety… it’s just not that easy. I would cry and hug her as hard as I could. She would comfort me with her assurances that I would see her soon, and that I was going to feel better once the day got underway. Letting go was a difficult challenge, but I would always get the strength to eventually do so. And, it helped that I had that Kleenex!

The Kleenex

Oh, did I forget to mention that? You see my mom always has Kleenex in her pocket, due to allergies. And, back then it wasn’t any different. As I would cry in her arms, not wanting to let her go, she’d give me a tissue to dry my tears. Well, that tissue would stay with me for the rest of the day. Why? Simple. It had her scent on it. The tissue would smell like my mom, a pretty scent of ‘mama’ that I never wanted to let go. So, I would dry my tears with it, then go off to class, and I’d keep that used, tear-soaked tissue in my pocket. And, I’d pull it out throughout the day, to smell it, so I could smell my mom’s scent. It made me feel like she was with me. I can’t recall how she found out – if I told her, or if she just guessed – but eventually my mom knew what the tissue meant to me. And, everyday, she’d give me a new tissue to carry with me… her scent and all.

It’s funny what can soothe a child, and what can also cause pain in adulthood. A few years back, when my mom was in the hospital for a week following a surgery, I was staying there every night with her. I didn’t want to be away from her for that long. It was the same as a child, when I had to leave for school. And, when she had surgeries when I was little. The surgeries were especially difficult. I wasn’t just taken away from her during those times, but I was also taken from my dad and home. I had to stay with my older sister, brother-in-law and nephew. I couldn’t stay at home with my dad, ‘cause he didn’t feel he could handle a little girl alone. My sister took very good care of me, but no one can substitute for Mom (I know she’d agree with that). It was hard for me to be away from my mom, and away from home too. I wasn’t allowed to visit her either, because my mom knew it would only upset me to see her, and then have to leave again. She felt it was best that I just did not see her until she returned home. So, that meant twice as a child, I was away from mom, dad, and home, for one week for the first surgery, and almost two weeks for the second. For a child with separation anxiety, that is an unimaginable amount of time. I had to continue going to school during the second surgery (the first one took place during the summer), and that made the time go a little faster, but it was never fast enough.

The Burnt Pizza

My dad has never been much of an indoor cook. He can Barbeque, but he hasn’t done that in years. But, cooking on the stove is something he usually leaves to my mom. Well, one day during my mom’s second surgery, he picked me up from school to take me home for a little bit, so I could be at the house for a while. My sister was set to pick me up afterward. So, we stopped at the market on the way home, and my dad picked up a large frozen pizza to make for our dinner. I’m actually crying as I write this ‘cause it’s such a touching memory for me. My dad, who doesn’t know how to cook much on the stove, put the pizza in the oven, and well… he left it in there a bit too long. He took it out and it was a tad black on the bottom. It was still edible, though. I still remember his face when he pulled it out. He looked disappointed, but I still ate it.

That is a touching memory that I have, but nothing will beat what happened next, that same day. I was sitting in my bedroom. Prior to leaving for the hospital, my mom had set up a rack in my room with fresh clothes for my dad, uncle who lives with us, and one of my older brothers who still lived at home at the time. All three were adult men, and that’s why both she and my dad thought it was best for me to be with my sister, since as a little girl, I was still very dependent on my mom. So, back to the clothes. My mom wanted to make sure that they had all of the clothes that they needed while she was gone. I remember sitting on my bed that day staring at the rack of clothes, and my dad was in the kitchen with the pizza. As I stared at the clothes, I started to cry. I was trying not to be loud, as to not let my dad hear. My mom was the only person I was ever comfortable crying around, although my tears wouldn’t always restrain themselves in all other instances, including this one. My cries soon turned to sobs, which could no longer be muffled. It was then, that my dad walked into my bedroom. He sat next to me on the bed and put his arm tightly around me, hugging and telling me that, “Mom will be home soon, don’t worry.” He kept hugging me and my tears kept coming. I wanted to stay home so badly, but I couldn’t.

Later that week, my dad went over to my sister’s house for some home-cooked dinner. When it was time for him to leave, I began crying again. He thought that I was crying for my mom. That day in my bedroom, it was for my mom, but that night after dinner, it was for him. I wanted to go home with him. I missed him. He didn’t know that, though. My sobs were too strong for me to talk through them, so I couldn’t let him know that. So, he left that night thinking that I was crying for my mom, when in reality the tears were for him. Those memories have always been extremely emotional for me (still are), so it wasn’t until last year that I was finally able to tell my dad that I was really crying for him that day. It felt good to finally let him know. It touched him too.

Back, to the Past

So, back to three years ago, I could not let my mom stay in a hospital alone. For one, I was worried about her being alone. It was an excellent hospital, but it didn’t have to do with that. It was that I would worry about her no matter where she was located. And, secondly, I didn’t want to be at the house without her. I went through that as a child, when I had no choice but to listen to the adults telling me what to do. They did what they felt was best for me, and I don’t doubt that it was best for me. But, now I was an adult, and I was going to make the choice to be with my mom.

For the week that she was in the hospital, I spent each night with her, and most of the days. Then, I would go home for a few hours everyday to wash dishes and clothes, shower, make my uncle’s lunch for the next day, and my dad’s lunch and coffee for the next day as well. I’d make sure all was set for them, and then go back to the hospital with my mom all night. The recliner that I slept on left much to be desired, though. Two recliners were present in the room with her, but the really comfortable one was in the way of the nurse when she’d come in to check on my mom in the middle of the night. So, I just slept on the other one that might have once had padding back during World War II.

Everyone knew this. Everyone in my family knew that this was what I was doing, but there was one thing that they did not know. Each day when I’d go back home, I’d peak into my mom and dad’s room and start crying. I remember lying down on their bed once, and just sobbed like a baby. I’d see the empty room, and know that my mom wasn’t there. I’d go up to her sweater that she always wore, and just like when I was a little kid holding that Kleenex, I’d smell her sweater to get that scent. I knew she was getting better in the hospital (and today, she is doing much better), but at this point she had a lot of complications that made a lot of things, such as her ever walking again, up in the air. It was a stressful time. That bedroom, and her sweater, was a symbol of what life had been before she got sick. Now, everything was different, and she wasn’t home. She wasn’t able to lie in her own bed, which I knew she wanted to do so badly. She wasn’t able to be home with us. It was hard.

August… Oh, August

So, you can now see what August does to me still. As a child, it was a depressing time for me as school came closer. My mom’s first surgery took place in August. The second and most recent one did not, but their memories come back with this month. I guess August has become a time for reflection on all of those things. As each new ad comes on TV with kids dancing around in new clothes, and happily heading off to school, I think back to a time when I did not feel that way. And, even more sadly… I imagine the kids who, today, are in that same emotional place. They don’t want to go back to school. Maybe it’s fear or sadness, or maybe it’s getting back to routine. Either way, it’s a change to which some kids are not looking forward.

Change… that is something that never comes easy, at least for me. I know it’s also not coming easy for Alice. I’ve mentioned her before in my post Innocent Heart. She’s my little cousin (my cousin’s daughter), and she’s entering first grade this year. She’s nervous. She feels good about it, then the nerves come back again. When I was talking with her a while back, she was telling me how she misses her friends from Kindergarten who aren’t going to be in her class anymore. They’re going to different schools. She was expressing to me her fears, and she became teary eyed when talking about going to school and not knowing if she’ll recognize anyone, or if she’ll make new friends. I tried to comfort her in the best way I knew how, and I tried my best to remember what I felt like at that age. The memories are strong, so I was able to ease her fears a little that day. However, I know first hand, that it doesn’t matter what anyone says to you. You will only be at ease, when you are in that place and feel it inside. No one can really say a magic word to make you feel perfectly fine. Anxiety comes from within, and it’s up to what we feel inside that will either put it at ease or not. So, as she comes closer to her first day, I am thinking about her a lot. I thought I was past those back-to-school emotions. However, she’s afraid of the change that’s coming, and, unexpectedly, I am feeling anxious for her.

When I think about it, I guess that’s what August represents for myself. August equates to change. Whether you’re heading back to school in August, or preparing to, it’s all a brand new experience coming. Summer is coming closer to an end, and that means fall, and soon the holidays, will once again be upon us. That time of year is returning.

As an adult, I now cannot wait for the summer to come to an end, due to my serious loathing of the heat. But, I also think about those kids – and especially Alice – with separation anxieties that are aching as the summer comes closer to its end. They want the summer to last a little bit longer. For them, I guess I can put up with a little longer summer.

I know I would have appreciated that when I was a kid.

 

Here’s to a classic!

Seven Very Inspiring Things About the Sisterhood

I feel so blessed and thankful to be surrounded by such wonderful people in the blogosphere. I am about two weeks behind on getting to these, but I have not forgotten about them. During my recent difficult time, some kind friends here in the blogging world, presented me with three more awards. Each one put a smile on my face and a sense of acceptance in my heart, and I thank the three people who gave them to me. So, without any further ado, I shall get to them.

 

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Kathy at Bipolar and Breastless gave this award to me. I am so happy to have met Kathy, and I love her blog. She is inspiring and relatable in how she writes. She carries Jesus with her, and is generous with her warmth. I thank her so much for thinking of me for this award and making me feel like I belong here.

The Rules:

  • Display the award logo somewhere on the blog.
  • Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you.
  • State 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate other bloggers for the award, and provide links to their blogs.
  • Notify those bloggers that they have been nominated, and of the award’s requirements.

 

Seven Things:

  1. I just finished reading An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, by Kay Redfield Jamison. What a wonderful book! Not only does she have bipolar, but she also studied mental illness and health, and received her PH.D, all while she continued to suffer from its drastic effects on her life. In this book, she was able to put the pain of mental illness into such a relatable and at times haunting context. I really should do a post on it. I highly recommend reading it, if you have not already. In my opinion, it’s a great book for both sufferers of mental illness, and their loved ones.
  2. The volume level on my TV is always on an even number. I can’t have it at an odd number, or it just feels wrong. I’ve tried it, and it will bug me until I fix it.
  3. As a little kid, I once got a mixing bowl, some Hershey Kisses, and a cup of water. I kept mixing the Kisses and water together. In my mind, I thought if I mixed long enough, they’d eventually turn into a chocolate mix that I could bake into a cake.
  4. Sometimes, I worry that people I know, whom are parents, will think, “Glad she’s not my kid” when they think of me, and my messed up life. As much as I like my therapist and feel comfortable with her, I don’t want to know if she’s a mom, ‘cause then I’ll worry that thought goes through her head too.
  5. Once during a hypomanic episode, I thought that I was going to become a freelance jewelry maker. I don’t know the first thing about making jewelry, but at the time, I believed that I knew all that I needed to know, and I’d be a good one. So, I went to a local store that had all of the items I needed to start my “business”. I spent almost $200 (which was a lot for me since I was practically broke) on items that I didn’t even know if they were necessary, but in my mind, they were. I came home, organized it all, and was all ready to embark on my entrepreneur adventure. Last summer, I was cleaning out my closet and came across a box with the supplies and materials inside. Almost all of them were still there, and unused. I had completely forgotten about that experience, until I found them.
  6. Another hypomanic period, over a week period I spent over $300 on Lego Key Chains with characters I liked from movies and cartoons. It made me feel so good to buy them, and I felt like I had done something awesome, ‘cause a few of them were rare. They cost $50 each… money I didn’t have. I hated that I did that afterward. They now sit in a box in my closet. What a waste.
  7. When I was little, I always wanted to learn how to play the violin. I’m not sure what it was about that instrument, but I think it had to do with its elegance. It just had such a sweet sound in my ears, and I always wanted to learn it.

 

My Nominations:
– DeeDee from The Disorderly Chickadee
bRaving Bipolar
– Rainey from Rainey Daze and Crazy Nights

 

Seven Things About You Award

I have Boo (crazybeanrider) from Time Out in the Giggle House to thank for this fun award. Boo is awesome and has been such a kind and supportive person, from the first time we met here in blogging land. I am so happy to be able to know you, Boo, and I thank you so much for this award. I appreciate that you considered me for it.

Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Share seven things about you.
  • Nominated other bloggers you think deserve the award, and post on their blog to let them know they have been nominated.

 

Hmmm… Ok, let’s see… Seven more things:

  1. I once cut my own hair when I was around eight-years-old. I thought I knew what I was doing, and wanted to get this little curl out of my way that was near my ear. So, I grabbed the scissors and snipped away. I ended up having to wear a bobby pin on that part of my head for months afterward until it grew out normally again.
  2. As a kid, I always loved listening to the Kids Praise the Lord album. Psalty was the talking songbook, who taught kids lessons of the Bible, and they’d sing all kinds of songs. He was the best! I have it in my music library now, and I still listen to it from time-to-time.
  3. I made the mistake of once telling one of my friends in college that I love the way Vin Diesel looks in Khaki cargo pants. What can I say? He just looked good in them.  My friend never let me hear the end of it, though.
  4. We once had a family of baby skunks living under our house. Their mom must have gotten killed (really sad), and so they were left alone and confused. They were babies, and since they didn’t know what they were supposed to do, they slept all night and through the morning, and then would come out in the afternoon. One day, my dad was walking up the sidewalk, and a few of them were following behind him. I think they thought he was their papa. Eventually, we had to call the humane society, though, so they could be safely relocated.
  5. I can watch Friends over and over, but their bloopers are my ultimate addiction. I will sit in front of the computer for hours watching both Friends clips and bloopers.
  6. When I was in fifth grade, we were all working on group projects when all of a sudden we heard a loud crash and our classroom shook. Everyone dove under the desks thinking it was an earthquake. But, in actuality, it was a huge trailer truck that had lost control and slammed right into the outer wall of our classroom. Thankfully, the walls stood up and the windows didn’t shatter. A few more feet and it would have hit where the windows were near our seats.
  7. My first car accident was when I was eight-years-old. My sister, brother-in-law, my nephew, and I were all coming home from a local pizza place. It was starting to drizzle. Then, we were coming near a bend in the street, and this idiot cut us off, causing my brother-in-law to lose control of the car. I remember hearing my sister scream, as we spun and then we hit hard! My nephew and I weren’t wearing our seatbelts (yeah, I know), and we both were thrown forward into the back of the driver and front passenger seats. Then, we got thrown back into the seats, and into each other. We smacked our head together really hard at one point. When the chaos stopped, I looked up and saw the entire hood of the car crumpled upward and a pole right in front of the windshield. When my brother-in-law got out of the car, my sister grabbed both me and my nephew and was trying to calm us down. But, as she hugged me, I kept trying to talk, but couldn’t. I was trying to tell her that I couldn’t breathe. I had asthma as a kid, and the accident had knocked the wind out of me, and caused it to flare up. I felt like I was suffocating, ‘cause no air was getting into my lungs. I was trying to push her away, but she thought I was just scared and kept saying it was all going to be ok. We finally got out of the car, and once I had fresh air, my lungs started working again. It was the most terrifying feeling I had ever had. Thankfully, none of us were injured, aside from some serious nerve jarring and achy muscles. But, considering that my nephew and I got thrown around the entire back seat, it was truly a blessing that we were ok. I’ve often thought about how, if we had not hit the back of the front seats, we would have both probably flown through the windshield. Not a thought I like to entertain.

 

My Nominations:
– Kevin from Voices of Glass
– Dotty from Notes from a She-Hermit

 

Sisterhood of the World of Bloggers Award

Angel, from The Mirth of Despair nominated me for this award. I didn’t even know that this award existed, so it was really cool to receive it. Angel has been a joy to get to know, and often gets me thinking with her posts. I love that. Thank you for considering me for this award, Angel.

The Rules:

  • Thank the giver.
  • Post 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass the award to other bloggers and let them know of their nomination.
  • Include the logo of the award in a post, or on your blog.

 

My Seven Things (Oh boy, I’m running out of stuff to say):

  1. I almost got a tattoo years back. My friends and I went into a tattoo parlor, and were looking at the designs. We wanted to get one that day, and were so close. But, we were still apprehensive about it, so we walked back outside. We stood outside for a bit talking about it, trying to decide what we should do, when this guy came up to us, wearing a white tank shirt, smoking a cigarette, and tattooed all over this arms, neck, chest, back (well, upper from what we could see), and part of the back of his head. He had overheard us, and came up to us and asked us, “You girls thinking about a tattoo?” We answered with a yes, and he said, “You should do it. They’re awesome. You won’t regret it.” He then walked away. My friends and I just looked at each other and decided to think about it. I still don’t have one, but I’ve never forgotten what that guy said. I have to admit. The thought of getting one still often goes through my mind. There is a part of me that wants one, but another that doesn’t. Oh, decisions, decisions.
  2. I’ve seen, and liked, my share of scary movies, but not evil or overly gory ones. I’m more into the haunted house, creepy kinds, and not the ones that have demonic themes, or extremely graphic scenes. I still haven’t seen The Exorcist, and don’t ever plan to. And, the Saw movies are way too much for me.
  3. One of my bucket list goals used to be to go skydiving. But, with my anxiety now, I can’t picture it anymore.
  4. I love the Harry Potter series. I’ve read every single book, and watched every single movie, except for the last movie (parts 1 and 2). I have procrastinated watching them, ‘cause once I do, that’s it… they’re over forever. Reading the last book was hard enough, but I knew I still had the last movie (both parts). I will watch them eventually, but right now I’m still not ready to say goodbye.
  5. In college, I had to read One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez. That book could be confusing with all of the generations, and many characters with the name, Aureliano, but I absolutely loved the book. So many people in my class didn’t like it, but I did. Although, in this case I was forced to read it for a class, it just goes to show that you can’t always go by word of mouth when it comes to literature.
  6. I had two childhood dogs, as a kid. My first dog was a beautiful half collie, half German shepherd, and he was a loving and strong protector. My mom and dad had him from before I was born. Then, after years of him being the only dog, we got a new dog. He was a black lab, and such a playful and lovable dog. Our first dog died, a year later when I was nine, and my mom made a comment after his death that he probably died of sadness. He was suddenly no longer king of the yard, and was probably heartbroken, feeling replaced. Even though he was still king of our yard, she said that he didn’t feel that way anymore, and that was probably why he died so soon. My dad said the same thing one night, and I heard him. From then on, after hearing my parents, I always felt like I helped to kill my dog. They didn’t tell me that, but that’s what I thought in my mind. I was in love with the new puppy, and he was so much more playful than our other dog that was much older. I loved my first dog so much, but didn’t give him as much attention anymore after the puppy came. Although, I know that I can’t go back and change it that would be something that I wish I could change. I cried so much when he died, and I just wish I wouldn’t have taken his love for granted.
  7. When I was around four-years-old or so, my mom said that they took me to the zoo, with some other family members. At one point, everyone bought a Slurpee, and so my parents bought me one too. I was enjoying it, my mom said, but then a bee came and landed right on top of it, while I was drinking it. My mom said that I didn’t scream, or cry, but rather held onto my cup firmly. I then started saying very loudly, “Mama, get that bee off my Slurpee!” “Get that bee off my Slurpee, Mama!” When my mom realized what I meant, she immediately grabbed the Slurpee and threw it on the ground. She didn’t want me to get stung. That is when I cried. My mom and dad bought me a new Slurpee, though.

 

My Nominations:
– Eileen from But She’s Crazy
– Kathy from Bipolar and Breastless
– Rachel from My Bipolar Life

 

 

Thanks for reading, all. I know this was quite a lot of facts about myself, so I appreciate you reading through it all. As always, I wish I could nominate everyone. You are all worthy of these awards, and do so much through your blogs.

 

From One Mother to Another

I came across this right now and needed to share it. It is an open letter from one mother to another. The author is the mother of a son with schizophrenia, and she is addressing the mother of James Holmes – the man accused of shooting and killing so many in Aurora, Colorado. This letter is moving, and I feel it’s necessary to share. I’m also including the link, in case you would prefer to read it directly from the website.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

First Person / To the parents of James Holmes: Our son has schizophrenia; we know how hard it can be
July 27, 2012 11:59 pm

By Margaret Shaughnessy

 

An open letter to Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, parents of James Holmes, who stands accused of mass murder in Aurora, Colo.

 

I, too, have a son who has an undergraduate degree in neuroscience and who had planned on doing an M.D. and PhD. in neuroscience. At his university graduation ceremony, I asked myself who this son was, as he was so unlike the son I had seen as recently as semester break. Distracted, preoccupied, the stare.

I knew there was something wrong but had no idea of the terrifying journey that we would travel for the next 10 years.

After almost two years with an ineffectual psychologist, my son wanted to continue his studies. I found him crumpled, catatonic, on the floor of his apartment having not eaten or moved in a week. Searching for clues and information, I discovered the sections on schizophrenia highlighted in his neuroscience textbooks.

Over the next few years, in and out of psychotic episodes caused by taking and not taking medicine (the disease attacks the frontal lobe where decisions are made), my son thought his money was not worth anything and so starved for a week; he thought he would see a dinosaur if he climbed a specific mountain; I believe that he heard voices, whereas in reality schizophrenia had taken over his life.

After he’d been silent and unreachable for three weeks, his father and I talked, cajoled, begged, ignored and tried to bring him back to reality with love and antipsychotic medicines. I was scared, worried and, as unmotherly as it sounds, embarrassed and frustrated. My son was like a 5-year-old whom I needed to rescue from psychotic unreality.

Schizophrenia is a heart-breaking disease that destroys for a time young men in their late teens or early 20s. It seems that just as these young men begin an independent life, they are frozen in time, some becoming paranoid, some hallucinatory and all psychotic.

Though they seem to have had this disease from birth, something triggers it around this time in their lives. Tragedies continue to happen because of our communal non-comprehension of these diseases and a refusal to take seriously that people die because of our unconcern.

Psychosis is not sociopathy or psychopathy, yet society does not seem to want to parse the difference. As I hear politicians and news anchors demand immediate answers, few seem smart enough to talk to people who actually know. Society wants answers now, and so news stations must respond immediately to keep their audiences.

Why is your son James now accused of this terrible massacre? He must be diabolical; he looks like a devil. Our society tends to generalize, lumping all mental diseases into one evil stigma, destroying children, adults and their families. They all seem to know that the mother, the divorce, the whatever, is at fault. They know so much … and so little.

Your son apparently has acted against a society that may have tried to help, but failed miserably. He was smart, educated and yet his body, the chemical imbalance in his head, went awry.

For all of our sakes, but especially for James’ sake and yours, I want our society to become more aware of mental illness, to not respond without knowledge and to begin with understanding before judgment is carelessly assigned.

This tragedy has correctly begun a national discussion on federal control of rapid-fire weapons, but what is perhaps more imperative is a discussion about, recognition of and understanding of mental illness and the people who suffer from it.

My heart is with the victims and my heart is with you through the upcoming journey of pain.

 

Margaret Shaughnessy is a professor of English at Community College of Allegheny County and lives in Forest Hills.
First Published July 28, 2012 12:00 am