Happy New Year! In celebration of the new year, I decided to change the theme of this blog. The theme is now “Buddhism and Women’s Empowerment.” I decided I will no longer be an advocate for a mental illness I don’t have. In my opinion, the twelve-year long continued perpetuation of the schizophrenia diagnosis (a misdiagnosis that I was given in 2002 – it did not reflect the reality), was partly an effort to silence and suppress me. To some extent, this effort was successful. The letters, emails, and faxes I sent to government officials, local authorities, news organizations, and family members were ignored. Every attempt I made to inform other people about the nature of the problem was disregarded, presumably due to the schizophrenia diagnosis.
The truth of the matter is that I never had schizophrenia, or any other form of the illness. I never was, nor will I ever be mentally disabled. It is important to emphasize that the perpetuation of the schizophrenia misdiagnosis was not ok, and it will never be ok. It was not acceptable to sit idly by for twelve years while I visited a multitude of therapists and psychiatrists, experimented through trial and error with numerous anti-psychotic medications that never worked, and endured three hospitalizations – all for an illness I didn’t have. Of course this isn’t acceptable! Yet it happened.
During this time, I often felt as if my life didn’t matter to the people who were closest to me. I felt as if I had been written out of my own life, and that I had no say in the darkest matter of our time. I also realized the importance of speaking up and speaking out – for truth and for justice. To reclaim the catch-phrase taken from the HIV/AIDS movement in the eighties: “Silence = Death,” and as the 13th century Japanese priest Nichiren Daishonin states, “The voice does the Buddha’s work.”
I ran across a University of Colorado – Boulder professor’s website titled, I Am Subject – Keeping Girls and Women Subject of Their Own Lives. The professor, Diane DeBella recently published the memoir, I Am Subject: Sharing Our Truths to Reclaim Our Selves. This is so important for women everywhere. Women are so often objectified – by men, and by society in general. We need to take control over our own lives, without fear and without hesitation. I often pray for courage, because so often it is fear that prevents me from accomplishing my goals. One review of I Am Subject states:
Women are so often not educated about other women’s lives. We feel we’re alone, and so often we don’t reach out to each other because we’ve somehow learned that other women are our competition. DeBella tells us, through her collective memoir, that sharing our stories is a way to heal ourselves and each other.
This is so true. Women supporting other women is very important for women’s empowerment. We also need to learn how to be the subject of our own lives, not the object of someone else’s.
One of my favorite quotes I discovered during the 2 plus years I spent writing my memoir, is by Nietzsche:
And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
I looked up an explanation of the quote on Yahoo! Answers, and found one that seemed logical. “From a literal standpoint, it’s very clear. Imagine you were deaf. You look around and see people moving oddly, jerking around, acting crazy. You’d think they were insane because you couldn’t hear the music. Figuratively, it means that if people don’t understand you, your motivations, or your background, they may consider your behavior or judgment to be irrational. Another way of thinking about it: People who don’t understand things tend to reject them.”
A friend posted this quote on Facebook with a fascinating picture in the background.
I examined the picture carefully for a few minutes. The illustration reminded me of my friend Rose and I dancing together at Grateful Dead concerts. The small female figures dancing back-to-back on the table, along with the circular, mandala pattern radiating outward, and the rainforest-themed images brought back memories of the warm, summer nights we spent dancing and twirling to our favorite Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir songs.
Rose and I went to Grateful Dead concerts when we were in our early twenties. At the time, this quote captures how I felt. We went to see the Grateful Dead to have fun, and Dead shows were all about the music, the peace movement leftover from the sixties, and the drugs concertgoers chose to bring along. For me, Grateful Dead shows were also about the counterculture and viable alternatives to the capitalist, anti-environment, money-making machine that was (and still is) the U.S. economy. In college, I believed that if everyone listened to the Grateful Dead and dropped acid, then our problems as a society would be solved, and people in general would be equipped with a greater understanding of human nature. Of course, this never happened. Eventually, I graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and left for the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer.
In my mind, this Nietzsche quote (along with the picture) symbolize the free spirit and individuality of us all. It is as the explanation above states: “People who don’t understand things tend to reject them.” When we don’t understand another person’s language, culture, sexual orientation, or anything viewed as “different,” we often react with fear. Instead we should respect each other’s individuality.
I like to think I still possess a little of this spirit Nietzsche speaks of. The free spirit of a child, the wild spirit of an animal, the imagination and creativity to write whatever I desire. And most importantly of all, the ability to accept people for who they are.
I’ve found that it’s very difficult to resolve a problem without clear and direct communication. It’s also very difficult to solve a problem by completely ignoring it. This nightmarish set of circumstances surrounding the insane group of criminals who persist in harassing me has created a vast array of problems for every single person who has been affected. In my memoir, I describe these people as a cancer or a toxic, highly contagious disease. Due to my schizophrenia diagnosis and the criminals themselves, I was unable to warn anyone of their true nature and intent.
I hate to write on such a negative note, but what these people (and I hesitate to call them people) have created is a true disaster, and it is unforgivable. It is a disaster created by the U.S. government, and it is a disaster for the U.S. government. It is a disaster for the FBI and the CIA. It has been a complete nightmare for every city, state and country that has been forced to deal with this seemingly never-ending insanity. It has been a nightmare for my family, for my in-laws, and for both my husband and myself.
My hope, my determination is that every single person who was involved in the perpetration of this wretched and miserable series of events is brought to justice immediately. The twelve years this has taken out of my life is long enough, and there is no excuse. I hope that changes will made in the U.S. government – both the FBI and the CIA – so that this level of corruption and criminal activity never happens again. It truly is a sorry state of affairs.
My husband is out of town this week on a business trip, so it’s just me and the dog. We have never been apart for this length of time, so it’s quite an adjustment. He didn’t want to go, and the house is very quiet without him. I’ve had a decent week so far except for some negativity and a bad headache yesterday. I’ve been trying to chant more for my own happiness in an effort to counter my negative thoughts, but sometimes they still get through. I had planned to visit my mother-in-law yesterday to learn her recipe for chile relleno, but I think my negativity got the better of me, and I stayed home with a headache that gradually worsened throughout the course of the day. I rescheduled with my mother-in-law for Friday, so I plan to carry through with my plans as well as write down the recipe and take a few pictures of the cooking process.
I chant daily to have faith for absolute victory. I believe this nightmare with the “voices,” my stalkers, persecutors, and tormentors will end soon. I still believe there was no reason not to discuss this issue with me (purportedly until it’s over). This never made sense to me, and it never will. It is nothing more than a constant source of anger and frustration. I look forward to the day when the matter is taken care of, and these people are gone from my life forever.
In the meantime, I signed up for another soccer league and am planning on attending a TEDx event in Santa Cruz to promote my children’s press. This will definitely be both a fun and challenging evening, and I will need some time to prepare. Networking and socializing are not my strong points, but this will be a great opportunity to meet people and pitch my TEDx Santa Cruz theme ideas. Wow!
I finished the first draft of my children’s story titled “The Pillow Thief.” I’m looking for an illustrator and it will be translated into Spanish. This story will be the first book published under my new children’s press, SundanceKid Press.
This week has been a long week. It gets frustrating and depressing with the yelling, stalking and harassment – not to mention the fear for my own life. I continue to chant for victory, happiness and justice. The situation as it stands today is definitely not justice. I keep praying, and hope for the best possible outcome. This Sunday will be my soccer team’s last game. If we win, we’ll definitely be in first place. I have the most fun when I’m playing soccer, so I hope we’re not rained out!
I haven’t spent quite as much time writing lately. I should probably get back to writing on a more regular basis. I think I’m going to continue writing about my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. I started another memoir on this subject last year, but I didn’t get very far. I’ve only written a few pages. I have a lot of great memories from my Peace Corps experience, so I think this will be a great topic to write about. I even had a cover designed!
Right now, I’m focusing on staying positive. It really takes a lot of effort on some days for me to shift my thoughts away from negative or angry thinking. With the help of my husband, I’ve developed a variety of different strategies to shift my focus when my thinking gets really negative. I’ll chant, watch a funny YouTube video, listen to music, think of a happy memory, call or text a friend, read something encouraging in one of my Buddhist publications, or think of everything in my life I have to be thankful for. A couple of days ago, I really determined to live each day with joy and appreciation. When life or other people get me down, I really need to think about how fortunate I really am. I have so much in my life that many others don’t.
All the same, I still have the desire to accomplish my goals in life, so I know that I can’t give up.