Freaky Friday

Feeling alone and isolated, a 16 year old girl came up with an idea that would change the dynamics between those with mental illnesses and their supporters.  At the time she disclosed her story to me, she did not have a great deal of self-insight or education.  She believed  many myths rather than facts regarding her mental illness.  A side effect was  that  she didn’t really know what was okay to believe, how to be true to herself, and that others felt the same way she did. She had never told anyone about this idea because she was ashamed of it, thinking it was disloyal or wrong to feel the way she did.  This is her heart-felt cry to be understood.

Her elegant solution to feelings of isolation, misunderstanding, and stigma would be to exchange brains and experiences with your supporter for just one day.   The upside of this exercise would be to open up whole new vistas on each other’s perception of the world.  Conversely, it may very well be the hardest emotional work you would ever do .  Would you do it?

Imagine the insight this would foster.  Supporters would understand what it means to have life impacted so devastatingly or consistently, or why things are the way they are.  In the meantime, you would finally be able to understand what it means to be ‘normal’, symptom free, and without the feeling of always being on the outside. You would gain insight into your supporters needs as well.  This mutual experience would enable you and your supporter to ‘get each other’.

Realistically, the best tool we have is communication.  We should not hope against hope one or both of you is a mind-reader.  We don’t have to exchange brains to work to understand each other.  Speaking about expectations, setting boundaries, and preparing action plans in calm  times that can be implemented in times if trial ultimately contribute to stability.

The goal in life should not be to just passively endure it, but to grow as well.  The time will pass anyway, make something of it.

I’m A Big Kid Now

It is impossible to escape life unscathed.  I know we all live and relate to painful memories in our own way.  However, I don’t have much patience with feeding frenzies about the past. We all had one. It would seem that many of us are still waiting for it to be over…Unfortunately, horrible personal experiences are being gratuitously splashed all over the media in the name of “openness.” I am waiting to see the other shoe drop.

 It took me many years to break out from a life bordered on all sides by the bad experiences of my youth.  I felt helpless to overcome it until I began to understand the distorted thinking about myself, my actions, and life in general.


I was amazed when I finally opened my eyes.  Good Morning Sunshine, life really is good.  It is happening.  I realized I’ve just been living, not paying attention to life really. Last I checked (in 1995,) I was tucking away my Bachelors of Science in Psychology degree, shelving my graduate school plans, and convincing myself that I could find fulfillment making a home and getting the kids to school age before I would go for a Ph.D.


Epiphany:  I am the grown up now. No-one is going to give me my turn. There aren’t any hall monitors. We are the grown-ups.  I had to develop (over time) an attitude of fierce optimism.  I realized that I was really cool.  I have experienced what it means to go through Hell and I came out the other end a survivor.   I celebrated that I had chosen a path way back when that allowed for a full life.  I have been warped by some crazy – awesome experiences, and participated in wonderful crusader opportunities that have made actual real differences in the world.


What I find most compelling is my desire to reach out in spite of, or because of, all my experiences. I feel qualified to say that the men and women that I know are much more than their stories and histories. That the media perpetuates the myth that it is ok to stay caught up your history or demons is one of the great social ills of our time.


A&E’s Biography says, “Every Life Has a Story.”  Yes it does.  And for some people it is the end-all be-all of his or her existence. Understand that your experience and story is valid.  It is unique just because there is no one like you.  No one can crawl inside your subjective experiences of tragedy and beauty. We are the main character in our histories, and we have the need to be known.   We begin foaming at the mouth when we stay too long at the party and get sucked in as a recreational victim.


I know true love, pain, ultimate loss, sacrifice, anger, security, bliss, and devotion.  Being present everyday with my family and me is the toughest thing I do. It is also the best and most refining job I’ve ever have.


Life is short and we are the grown-ups now.  We have so much information on how to heal.  We have the power to actually change our own environment.  We can map out our own healing strategies prior to times of crisis.  Be irreverent (one of my favorite words,) but know when to be reverent. Love your lover and let him/her love you back.


We are the big kids now.  No one is going to hand us the power – or take it away –  unless we let them. We won’t be sent to our beds without dinner (we do that for ourselves.) We get to give ourselves permission as individuals and as society to live emotionally and release the breath that we have been holding.


Oops. This sounded way like a self-help book. I hate self-help books.