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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Multiple Personalities

I confess I haven't read Sybil nor have I seen the movie yet, although I intend to take it out from the library soon thanks to Bob. And Bob's comment is well placed, Sybil may indeed have been schizophrenic as well as having multiple personalities. I spoke without knowing the story. My point was that they're different diagnoses. I myself wondered at one time if I were a multiple personality but was assured I was not, and I understand now that the shift in perception was simply a part of the psychosis at the time.

I appreciate the chance to explore this topic. It's interesting but very unusual, not like the approximately 1 percent of the population who are diagnosed with schizophrenia. And apparently only 10 percent of schizophrenics are compliant with their medication. I learned my lesson and take my meds religiously. I get a depot injection every two to three weeks at my local medical clinic and also am monitored there. Fortunately, I haven't had to see a psychiatrist for many years, but want to find one I'm comfortable with, as the doc I saw last year but was unable to take me on for counseling at the time.

In some ways many of us would think our loved ones perhaps or others, or perhaps ourselves, have "multiple personalities" in that we are different in different situations and also, I've noticed, with different people. We all have different roles to play.

The diagnosis of a multiple personality is pretty well limited to Western society, I understand, and is sometimes challenged as being nonexistent and an artefact of therapy. I don't know. It's interesting what the human brain is capable of. The fact that Sybil (her real name was Mason) became better and actually cared for the doctor until the end of the doctor's life reveals perhaps, in the absence of medication at the time I would guess, that environment plays a huge role in such mental aberrations. Which is the theory, I understand, that early childhood trauma can cause such a split in personalities to protect the individual.

I think it's something that must be approached with caution. It's all too easy to diagnose and then be left with a label. One must be very careful of a layman's diagnosis, which I've heard, that someone's husband was "a schizophrenic" because he was "two different people".

We're all somewhat odd in our ways if examined closely, and I think acceptance is vital no matter if we're on the street and sorting through garbage, or if we're a university prof who appears to be on top of the world. We can't see inside the other person's psyche unless they choose to share, and I would say many live "lives of quiet desperation" who appear to be perfectly normal individuals or couples, or happy and well adjusted, until something hits the fan. I'm thinking of well known evangelists also, who have the world at their fingertips, but it isn't enough for them, and they deceive their congregations. They are all too human but have chosen to appear above other mortals, and then when they fall they crash heavily. If they're caught...I'm thinking of the Rev in Georgia now, head of the well known church, and of Jimmy Swaggart and others. They are not multiple personalities. They are ordinary people who live extraordinary lives - and power corrupts. They are just men.

Are multiple personalities sometimes an excuse? I don't know. I think it's reasonable that one may develop coping mechanisms that protect a child and later the grown woman or man from the effects of terrible abuse. Now that we have CT scans, PET scans, and EEG it would be interesting to map their brains.

In the meantime, I'm going to watch Sybil and perhaps read the book. There's apparently a movement afoot now to discredit the doctor who treated her and made the case public as doing so for financial gain. But both Mason and the doctor are dead so can't defend themselves.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


There seems to be some confusion about schizophrenia meaning multiple personalities. It doesn't mean that at all. And "paranoia" isn't necessarily paranoid schizophrenia. Many people are paranoid but not schizophrenic. Schizophrenia is characterized by delusions and hallucinations. If one does not have those, and disorganized thinking when ill, then one does not have the diagnosis. But it can be treated with medication and successfully; however, compliance is a problem.

Also, I know of others who have done far better than I in many ways.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Way

I was thinking about what Austin said that I'm unusual in that I'm working yet have schizophrenia. Most schizophrenics are on a pension and find working too stressful, I suppose. I was wondering why and thinking back, I've had some wonderful bosses who understood when I told them I had trouble getting up in the morning and/or getting to work consistently. They were truly wonderful people. There was a time in the 1980s when I took temp jobs because I couldn't devote myself to a full time job. I always did what I could. The University of Alberta was very good to me when I couldn't work in 1990. I tried to quit and they wouldn't let me quit, and insisted at the time that I sign disability papers. My psychiatrist worked in tandem with them from the psych hospital and although I insisted "God would take care of me" she finally convinced me that was God's way of taking care of me! So I signed the disability papers and was able to have an income from long term disability until I got on my feet. I usually worked part time also, and my wages were taken off the disability payments, but I was raised as well with the work ethic and didn't consider a life time pension although I could have had one. I have one very special delusion and obsession to thank for my dedication to becoming better. I thought if I became well I would be acceptable to a particular person. She was like a star. And I thought for most of that time I may be gay, but I'm convinced I'm not. I don't live that lifestyle and I don't have those inclinations for other members of my sex. It's simply a delusion and it was an obsession to become better so that I might be acceptable to someone who offered me help at one time. I now have a plan, hatched with the help of my therapist, that if it should happen again (the delusion and obsession about contacting this person) that I will contact my therapist and/or my family doctor, and/or a good friend here, and will work it through that way. I now have tools at my disposal and I'm so glad. The obsession tortured me for almost 35 years and now it's over. I did what I did to garner the court case that's now going on, and it worked in a peculiar way...I'm better and realize that I was wrong to pursue the truth in this fashion, but really, at the time in April 2009 I wasn't well enough to realize there were other options. I'm very sorry I created the trouble I did. And I've paid for it I guess, but the truth is more wonderful than any lies I've told myself over the years -- no one wanted to hurt me, and my recent decisions may have made someone happy.

There is a young woman who contacted me yesterday from my 12 step program. She is hurting and needs support. I was less than helpful at the time she called me, being busy with work and also not sure if she would help herself so to speak, but that's not for me to say, is it? I want to call her today and offer what support I can be. After all, it's taken me 35 years and if people gave up on me (which I'm sure they did at the time), they would be happy to know that I'm where I am today. I remember all of them, and I remember the wise things said, and I remember also that I would not take direction, which I interpreted as control, and insisted on doing it my way. Well, I did it my way. So why shouldn't others?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who is Austin Mardon?

This week I met the recipient of the Alberta Medical Association's Medal of Honour for this year. I had the privilege of writing an article about the event for him. We had coffee at Starbucks on Tuesday morning. His name is Austin Mardon, PhD and he was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1992 at the age of 30. He received the award for his advocacy on behalf of those with schizophrenia. A link to his website is now on my blog. Check it out. He's received numerous awards including the Order of Canada.

It may be the beginning of an interesting acquaintance. I was hoping to meet a community of like minded people through this blog. He said give it time.

He is a writer, explorer and researcher. A friend of mine had seen some of his articles and I got in touch with him with the assistance of the Schizophrenia Society here in Edmonton.

I don't know where my efforts will lead me but this could be interesting. I'm thinking of redoing some of my articles with a focus on general interest as Austin suggested and submitting them to a community newspaper.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I don't understand Twitter. I don't trust Facebook. I don't know what an iPod 4 looks like in reality or what it does. I think it's not a good phone. I don't recognize any of the new movie titles or who plays in them unless it's Richard Gere or Katherine Hepburn or Brad Pitt - yes, I know Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie because I read newspapers! I asked my children a couple of years ago to recommend some current musicians and they did, so I'm still listening to Duffy, Black Eyed Peas, and Amy Winehouse. I think they're very postmodern because before that my favorite singers were Elvis Presley, Sonny and Cher, and the Irish Rovers. I think Clint Eastwood is the guy who starred in "Dirty Harry" not a very clever Hollywood director. I'm an anachronism.

My 17-year-old grandson may live to see the world in 60 years, maybe 200 years, who knows what his life span will be then? The world that babies born today will grow up in and know as familiar is alien to me, as alien as a planet that circles Arcturus. Baby boomers and seniors are being slammed in the press as using up all the Social Security and all the health care. Aren't we good for something? Employers seem to like our work ethic and our education. We tend to be frugal. Faint praise indeed.

If it weren't for my children and grandchildren I would be obsolete. I don't want to sound like those who don't have children and/or grandchildren ARE obsolete. Sorry to sound that way. Of course you're not. But speaking strictly for myself, I don't think I would be very smart in the ways of technology to understand even the little I do if it weren't for the younger people in my life. And that being said, they don't have to be my children. For those of you who don't have children, simply being in touch with the previous generations in a meaningful way and listening to what they have to say would be the same thing. I don't always listen, it's true...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Poem - the Metal Foot

I once wrote a poem about a woman with a piece of twisted metal in her leg. She was trying to walk but could only hobble "to the burning rim of time." In the meantime, she watched others "past the breakers" and they "seemed to ride the wind" while she could only watch, immobilized and crippled. That was how I felt when this illness began in the mid 1970s, that long ago, and just now I redid that old haunting tragic poem:

The Metal Foot
by Kenna
September 7, 2010
revised October 4, 2010

The wire was twisted metal
But my leg has healed its sore
Like a boot of steel and plaster
Till my feet can touch the floor.

And the wind is running with me
While the scent of flowers play
With my friends who ride the breakers
With our faces bright with spray.

For this best of running coolness
And this newness angels put
I am flying I am singing
Through the metal cloven foot.

For my face is bright and yearning
And my legs are strong and brown
I soar PAST ephemeral lovers,
High where the surf has blown.

The wire was twisted metal
But my leg has healed again
I climb barefoot on a moonbeam
Where my sisters also ran.

All those friends and lovers
Those women, men and boys
Are singing like the angels
With one mighty sounding voice.

And the wind is running with me
Through reverberating halls
Shouting where the wire has twisted
From my leg and crippled falls.

It was the wire that threw me
That hated turning steel
No more its pain constrains me
Crushed helpless on my heel.

For my face is bright and yearning
Like a flower turned above
I soar past my ghostly lovers
To the patient arms of love.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Golden apples in a frame of silver

I've been thinking that people don't know how valuable they are. In particular I thought of my new therapist today, who perhaps is feeling that she isn't of great help to me when she has been invaluable, and I take her suggestions seriously and find them very helpful. I did a caricature of her a couple of weeks ago and gave it to her last week and she didn't recognize herself. I'm not tooting my own horn but it looks like her. She commented that it looked "cute" and I thought, well, you ARE rather a cute small lady, and she apparently doesn't see herself that way. The same with my sister, who gave me hell earlier this year and I turned myself around because of it, although I didn't like it at the time (living in the past, doing stupid things, etc.) and my daughter, also, who tried at one time to communicate with me when I was stuck in my unreal worlds and unable to reach out to sanity. My wonderful son Steve who has been a constant source of comfort and support, my son Ward who has never turned against me no matter what dark secrets I divulge, and my friends who have stuck with me loyally and sometimes vociferously in favor of my position when it wasn't really warranted, I know that! So many people, the volunteer worker at the charity, the lady I volunteered with, even my lawyer and the people I've had contact with due to the court case, all have been very helpful and supportive when I've needed it and indeed at this point in time I deserved it because I've changed. I guess I'm at a stage in my life now where I'm reaching out more and can accept the help. I'm not at war with God and the world anymore. And I realize some of my former mentors and counselors were simply all too human, not my saviors at all, and indeed looking to me to be strong when they were unable. I'm strong now, always have been strong, but often have been wrong.

I'm trying to work the world the way it's presented to me, to take this lifestyle seriously, but not earnestly, simply to work it in every way the best possible way I can do so, and to have fun at the same time as it's not to be taken seriously in that's not a game, though, and although this world may be an illusion, it's reality for me, and God gives me challenges and opportunities that I may make the best of them, and I will! It's an illusion in a way and in another way it's a testing ground. I've found Judi's quotes from Deepak Choprah fascinating and very helpful, but deep -- I confess to sometimes not understanding him altogether but get the gist that it's the path I'm on right now, and converges from Christianity but still is the Truth. And the sheep know their Master's voice, whether it be in another language or another country or another realm of experience, I know my Master's voice.

I've also learned to substitute an obsession with focusing on reality and the many people in my life, to try to see myself and the world from their point of view if possible, to put aside my own selfishness, and to think of random acts of kindness or gifts that don't cost monetarily but could be meaningful. I may never know if they are, but I'm a happier and more fulfilled person because of it. And a person I leaned on for years is free. That was my heartfelt wish for most of the last 35 years and it's finally come true because my family, editors, friends, therapists, lawyers, and God almighty himself have given me love and guidance that are like golden apples in a frame of silver, that precious to me, and I am rich beyond imagining.

Thank you.

Plans for Fall

Well, again, there was a misunderstanding on my last post. I seem to be prone to that. I really am working on it. It involves seeing myself and the environment through the eyes of others and I have a lot of trouble doing that. I'm not talking about being a people pleaser but of being aware of other realities, other than my own, that is.

I've withdrawn from the charity for the time being, anyhow. I think that's fair to them. But at least it's on good terms and I think we understand one another. They didn't ask me to withdraw. I did it voluntarily. Part of it is time, as well. I've been volunteering regularly for almost four years now and I'm working on a booklet for the lady I volunteer with, which involves many hours of taping and then transcription. We'll have more time to work on the booklet if she can find someone else to read her mail and address her cards, too. And I find I have to shake up my life a bit every now and then to see if it's still appropriate to where I am on my journey. I like to volunteer but I'll keep up the friendship with the lady I volunteer with, and so far I'm putting in just as many hours as she hasn't found someone to take my place yet.

I'm thinking if I volunteer again at some point I'll look for something completely different, maybe something that involves groups. I'm good at one on one but a group would be fun, maybe volunteering in an extended care centre or a community league or athletics or something like that. Nothing that involves writing or computer work as I do that all day anyhow.

I wrote a tribute to my mom, who died four years ago this August, but it won't be published for a couple of months. It was supposed to be in the September issue of "Edmonton Senior" but they apparently didn't have room for it, and there's an article on sports and the disabled or elderly that I'd rather have in there for October. So maybe mom's story will run at Christmas time, which would be nice.

A friend from Nebraska sent me a calendar that has a special section for fall and how we feel more creative in the fall, want to make something, scrapbook, sew, or bake, and that's true for me now. I haven't felt that way for many years but I seem to be energized this fall and am doing a lot of baking, caricatures, and writing, as well as just planning for the winter. I suffer from SAD in the winters, have for about 30 years now before it was even a diagnosis, and found last year that an antidepressant just taken for the winter months was very helpful as well as a light box and trying to get out more during the day. It's hard to get outdoors here due to icy sidewalks, snow and cold, and the short dark days which are sometimes unsafe to venture out into (I don't drive so do a lot of walking and take the bus). But like my dad always said, "I refuse to let them make me live in fear".

I plan to go swimming a bit this fall and also take up jujitsu again as soon as I get a monthly pass. I walk quite a bit, sometimes 10,000 or more steps a day, sometimes only half that. The apartment building in which I live has a gym which is nice, with a treadmill and a recumbent bike. There are walking areas nearby and a little park.

So plans for fall.