Hi, there. Thanks for visiting. I'm starting this blog as an advocate for mental and physical health. I'm a freelance writer and also own a home based medical transcription business. I was diagnosed in 1978 with paranoid schizophrenia and started to become acutely ill three years prior to that, unmedicated, frightened, confused, and in trouble with the law. I graduated from university with distinction the year I became ill. I've never regretted learning how to think at university. I struggled with my illness for 35 years and have reached the top of the mountain now, I think, or the other side, where the grass is greener and the path easier. There's hope for all of us, the whole human race, and never think there isn't hope or joy no matter your circumstances. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with mental illness in all its forms: depression, brain injury, autism, schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety disorders, etc. and your positive experiences as well as those lies and half truths society and even therapists would have us believe about ourselves.

We are different folks, and we are beautiful. The whole human race is beautiful. Let's celebrate life.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We need more role models

I called SZ Magazine today to order more copies of the Summer 2010 issue as I have an article in there. And the founder and CEO answered the phone! It was Bill MacPhee and I was thrilled to talk to this icon -- briefly, it is true, but he took my information and will send me the magazines. I told him, ending my call, that I don't have a lot of role models.

Let's amend that. I didn't have any role models. I hacked my own way through the bramble patch (thanks, Sue!) to the shores of a foreign sea and launched my craft alone to face the wind and waves. Oh, yes, others would have helped. I replied by barricading myself on the first rock I reached, making a moat with mental sharks; I didn't know any better than to be an island in the middle of the perfect storm, battered on all sides, hurting my friends and family and myself most of all -- what role models were there for me in those days, the 1970s to the 1990s, other than therapists who told me I would never work again? I may have overlooked some individuals who could and would have helped. I don't know. I felt I wasn't worthy of those who would befriend me positively, perhaps those who had been there before (I didn't know; will never know). I was a rock. I was an island.

It's always a bit risky to adopt a member of the opposite sex as a role model. Let's face it, it just is, as in the 12 step programs they used to say one's sponsor mustn't be a person of the opposite sex. To avoid 13th Stepping, haha, a little insider joke there. It's changed now. A lot has changed, and a lot has changed for the better. But to get back to my point, I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable with my enthusiasm at finding someone who is so open about his schizophrenia and has succeeded as an entrepreneur and speaker of note in a very tough and rough world.

I'm delighted to read and hear of Bill MacPhee, and would be thrilled to meet others like him. I would be thrilled to be a role model myself, in what little and limited capacity I can. Two members of my family other than I have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. I hope to bring them out into the sunshine, but I don't want to embarrass them, either, so they regretfully will remain unnamed and uncelebrated. But they are heroes, too, in my opinion; both high functioning as myself; both polite, gentle, and intelligent men. No, they are NOT the two children I raised by myself with the invaluable assistance of my brother and his wonderful wife, as well as my first husband's cousin, and much misguided effort on my own. But there does seem to be a strong genetic component in my birth family, perhaps stemming from ancestors in Scotland long ago, as my maternal grandfather's history is not known. The two children who have accompanied me on this journey since their birth are strong, bright, successful individuals whom I fear may always bear in their inner psyches the scars of my emotional neglect and yes, emotional and mental abuse. I loved them. They are the jewels in my crown if I were Queen. But my feelings were in boxes, locked away in a maelstrom of confusion, anger, and fear. I compartmentalized my feelings, on the advice of a therapist I saw in the 1960s, years before my first breakdown. The craft I sailed so bravely after my first husband died in 1970 was leaking by the time I met my nemesis in 1975.

My role models were pirates and villains gleaned from books, movies, and songs.

Now there are real life heroes, flawed and funny and falling down on their faces into cream pies thrown by life itself, getting up and laughing and crying rivers of tears -- hugging me and loving me and allowing me to love in return. Thank you, friends and renewed family.

Yes, I fell out of the boat. Oops, here the water's fine. The shore is silver sand and I see a Blue Lagoon.

Who needs a boat?


  1. Boat, log, inner tube...when you need it, you'll take whatever you can get, if you're a survivor.

    Interestingly enough, the old saw "If you think you're crazy*, you probably aren't," was validated by my psych on Tuesday.

    I said something about "going crazy" or nuts or something, and he said, "You're depressed, you're anxious, you're at the end of your rope, but you're not crazy."

    He went on along the lines that if a person is dealing with mental challenges, and is aware of the challenges and the appropriateness and efficacy (or not) of his or her reactions to them, the person is not "crazy".

    The "crazy" person is the one who thinks everything inside his or her head is a-okay, and the rest of the world is off kilter. So it seems to be tied to self-awareness...? What do you think?

    By that definition, I've had some crazy moments in my life, but I'm not crazy right now.

    In any case, my problems are considered mood disorders, and not full-blown mental illness. That may be because my doc never sees me at my absolute worst, or it just may be that my version of "nuts" ain't so bad.

    *Crazy is a loaded word, but that's the vernacular. Should I substitute "seriously mentally ill" to be politically correct? Or maybe, "living in an alternate reality"? Am I being offensive?

  2. Very appropriate, Sue, and my post about "who needs a boat" was indeed said tongue in cheek and meant to get a reaction. We can say "crazy" on this blog. We can say "crazy" to each other. I don't like politically correct terms but they have their place in the world out there somewhere.

    I agree with your psych. I've had moments (and years) where I thought I was okay and basically the world was not - classic paranoia. I was pretty crazy then, or insane, or mentally ill. I haven't been that way consistently for about 20 years. I'm not "crazy" now. I think we need to validate that objectively and I'm pretty satisfied I'm sane. I don't think you're "crazy" either, Sue. You have a good therapist there and he/she sounds supportive as well.

    I don't know about being tied to self awareness. We are too self aware at some times. It's all about us, in other words, we are aware of ourselves but not the external world.

    I'm going to try to keep my blog posts shorter and more white space, quotes, questions, easier to read. Someone sent me a link to a very helpful blog on the topic of writing a good blog!

    I'm very glad you took the time to comment, Sue. Thank you. It's the purpose for starting this blog. To communicate, to help one another, to elucidate, to learn. To grow and to make that leap from darkness to light.

    I think you're okay. I can see the growth and the change. Be gentle with yourself, Sue. That boat isn't going anywhere.