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.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Death, Physical Ailments, Colitis and Weight Loss--and Gratitude!

A neighbor who was morbidly obese lost 100 pounds very quickly. I asked her for her secret and she said she developed colitis and was so ill that she couldn't eat I presume, and that's how she lost weight. Then she was so delighted with losing 50 pounds that she lost another 50 on her own by dieting. She looks fantastic and has recently also quit smoking. I hope she doesn't gain weight and maintains at least her present level of fitness. She's also riding a bike to work and back, something she couldn't do formerly because of her weight. I'm delighted for her. This woman has had many health problems including brain surgery when she was younger. I admire someone who is a fighter and survivor, although those terms are overused in my opinion. 

In any case, my neighbor is happy now, smiling and bubbly, and I'm very happy for her.

Makes me think how a physical illness can be turned to positives if one thinks about it in a certain way, as I do mental illness, which has certainly made me a better person in many ways although led to anguish for many many years. But joy, too, and I appreciate good health now.

We become more tolerant, perhaps, more appreciative of life when one has experienced pain, whether it be psychic or physical. In many ways people might think I'm trivializing pain or seeing life through rose colored glasses. I think at this stage of my life and this age, I simply recognize the truths that may be found in living through an incredibly rich array of experiences.

Certain physical diseases can lead to death. We've found that to be true this month with Jack Layton, leader of the Opposition here in Canada, who died of cancer last week; of Steve Jobs, who has resigned as CEO of Apple because of ill health, who's had pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant in the past seven years; of Margaret Thatcher who suffers from Alzheimer's; the major actors, actresses and musicians of my youth who are no longer with us.

Death is certain for all of us and we don't know the time or place. In North American society and perhaps European, death is the enemy. Yet in some cases it can be the "final healer." Those who purport to believe in a "better life" after death still mourn just as loudly as those who do not, or perhaps, from my experience, more so, and I've always admired what I heard about a certain traditional religious group in the US (perhaps the Quakers), who celebrate a death with food and song. Funerals are more and more becoming "celebrations" of life but it's interesting that even those who purport to know for certain what happens after death still mourn and fear death. I don't pretend to know what happens after death--I'm not that arrogant, and one of the beliefs that attracts me to the Catholic faith is that they don't pretend to know for sure, either.

I stray from the topic. My neighbor and her colitis, and the serendipitous weight loss. We don't have it within our power to control our destiny, but we can control how we think about it, our attitude toward death, our attitude toward sickness, our attitude toward health. Bad things happen to good people. There's no reason for it. Let's not try to pretend we know the reason why the universe proceeds as it does, perhaps as it should, and we are not gods to know why or to figure out all the answers. Faith is not an answer but faith in a universe where entropy reigns may be a better faith, a faith that we cannot kill Nature, Mother Earth will bring an equilibrium back to all we have done to harm her, and we may be arrogantly assuming that what we have done is more than it is, or more irreparable than it is. If humanity vanished from earth tomorrow the earth would remain, perhaps a paradise, perhaps to be extinguished in millions of years. I don't think our imprint is quite as important as we like to think it is.

Interviews with Steve Jobs are interesting. He doesn't eulogize technology as one would think he would. I've noticed people are like lemmings, get in the herd or on the bandwagon, to mix metaphors, and don't think out of the box, perhaps because of a lack of experiences in life.

Which brings me back to my own gratitude that I've had the experiences I have. In jail? I can write about it. Locked up in a psych hospital for six months? I can write about it. Been abused? I can write about it. I'm a writer and I love it. I love to learn. Got a university degree? I did, with two small children, a house and yard to look after, a part-time job the last year, and as a single parent whose husband had died a couple of years previously. Experience with religion and churches and their members? Ask me. Poor? Ask me. Richer? Ask me. Sick? Ask me. Dysfunctional family, dysfunctional friends, abuse? I've been there. Good health? I have it. Lost weight? I did. Quit smoking and drinking? I did. Hurt people? I did. Sex? Let's not go there. Gay? I understand. Promiscuous? I've been there. Celibate? I've been for 14 years. Alcoholic? I was. Outcast from society? That was me. Successful businesswoman? Yes, I am. Published writer? I am. Good friends? Yes, I have good friends. Creative? Sure, I do caricatures, write poetry, make my own cards. Martial Arts? I've done it at a white belt level (beginner), Buddhism and other faiths? I've studied some, talked to adherents, attended a few meetings. Catholic? I might be entering RCIA this fall. Miscarriages? I've had two, one at five months after a motor vehicle accident. Baby out of wedlock? I was 17, couldn't go home again. Adoptive child found me 38 years later? Yes. Had children? Yes, three, two I raised with the help of relatives for a couple of years when I was very ill. Married? Twice. Husband died? yes. Divorced? yes. Lived in the US for a few years? yes. Born in Eastern Canada? yes. Lived in five different cities throughout my life? Yes. Lived on a small farm? yes, for 12 years. Lived in cities? Most of my life. A Canadian? Yes, lived here all my life except for three years when my husband and I worked in Oklahoma in the mid-1960s. A proud Canadian, glad to live in this country. Traveled? Eastern Canada, West coast, Eastern USA, Oklahoma, Texas, married the first time in Montana (eloped), Mexico City where I cooked Christmas dinner for my daughter and 40 of her friends. Went hunting and fishing? Yes, hunted a bit as a child to put food on the table, and as a new bride went fishing. Sexual abuse as a child? Yes. Operated farm machinery when I was 11 years old? yes. Made my own bread for a family when I was 14? Yes, and looked after the house, garden and livestock for a summer. Husband, parents died? Yes. And more.

We all could make lists like that. Try it and see what you've learned. I learned a lot and I don't regret it.

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