A Strange Dream – What Does It Mean?

I woke up early this morning and remembered enough of a strange dream to be able to write most of down. I am not really able to decipher it’s meaning however, so I thought I would share it on my blog.

My dream began with me at my present age leaving my parents’ former Presbyterian church. I walked with my mom outside toward the parking lot and I saw a friend of mine from my Buddhist group. She was singing a song using a microphone and there were several people from my parents’ church listening to her sing. My mom wanted me to sing as well, but I was reluctant. I figured that I would go ahead and sing one song because I thought that the group organizing the singing performances only required the singers to sing one song. I walked up to the event organizer, only to discover that it was Chuck Norris sitting at the long table waiting to talk to me. Instead of requiring each singer to perform only one song, each singer was required to perform three songs! This was unacceptable to me, and I told Chuck Norris that I refused to sing at all. There was no way I was going to sing in front of such a large group of people who would just laugh at me because I don’t sing well. I left with my mom and apologized to her in the car as we were leaving. I had upset her by refusing to sing.

The next part of my dream I was in an elevator going up. When I got out, I found myself in a foreign country that I didn’t recognize. I looked around and saw green mountains, a few trees, and small houses with tombstones interspersed here and there. I saw a woman in her front yard watering the flowers. I stood gazing at the landscape for awhile and determined that I was in Austria. I decided that I didn’t want to stay in Austria and returned to the elevator. A man was in the elevator with me this time, and when I saw what floor he was going to, I was afraid. He had pushed the button for floor 106 and I was afraid of heights! I didn’t want to go up that high in the elevator, but it was too late. The elevator door opened and I found myself in another foreign country on a university campus. I walked around for awhile and decided to stay. I saw a couple of tall, blond women and starting speaking with one of them. She invited me to join her, and I followed her to her class. Along the way I took a picture of a small stream that I crossed. We entered her classroom, and the professor was speaking English. I saw the name of the university written on the wall on a long banner, and I recognized the language as Swedish. I was in Sweden! I had joined the young woman’s English class at a university in Sweden. This explains why the professor was speaking English. I saw a sentence written on the board at the front of the room – the first word was “Yah”.

My husband John didn’t know where I was, but fortunately he tracked me from the picture I had taken with my iPhone. My picture of the stream had automatically uploaded to Photo Stream, so he had access to it as well. He now knew that I was in Sweden.

Dealing With Depressing Feelings

Yesterday I was feeling very angry and negative during the first part of the day. I wasn’t really sure exactly why. Sometimes I let my crazy thoughts get the best of me, and I dwell on things that make me angry – often for long periods of time. I’ve come to realize that there is quite a bit out there to be angry with: politics (even though the election is over), my illness & the voices (they’re so much better than before!), and even my lack of earning ability. All I have to do is think about these things and I’ll be angry and negative. I’ve got to stop focusing on the negative, and start focusing on the positive. I need to constantly remind myself of this, or I slip into angry thinking. John & are very fortunate in so many ways, but I often forget about this and dwell on what we don’t have. I am really learning how to live with a sense of gratitude for everything in my life.

Yesterday morning I chanted to challenge myself to get up earlier in the morning and go chant at our Buddhist center for an hour. Our SGI Buddhist Center offers chanting from 6:30am until 10am Monday through Fridays. We’ve been doing this since April, but I’ve only gone once or twice. I decided that I should get up earlier at least 3 days a week to go chant for an hour at the Buddhist Center. This is a great way to make a fresh determination for my life. I left at 7:30am this morning and chanted for an hour. It really made a difference! I was a little sleepy and tired when I got there, but so was everyone else! Still, I was able to chant and focus pretty well for the hour. I focused my prayers on my dad’s health, my marriage, and my illness. Next step, finish my memoir!

Halloween 2012

My husband had the week off last week. We had a “staycation” and spent most of our time relaxing. We had a fun Halloween party on Saturday with John’s family and a few neighbors and friends. The kids definitely had the most fun! I didn’t do much writing last week, but I’m getting back into it again this week. I’m still adding more bits and pieces to my memoir, and trying to dig deeper to really paint a picture in the mind of the reader of what my experience was like. It can be very challenging at times. I’m looking forward to the day when I’ve written everything I can possibly think of, and start getting feedback from family and friends. It shouldn’t be too far away!

The voices are still here occasionally, but they have no effect on me anymore. There is no more fear, and I am no longer afraid that they might actually make an appearance someday. They will remain forever in hiding, like the cowards they truly are. I am focusing on moving forward, and staying positive. I always try to have appreciation for the things my husband and I have in our lives. John and I are very fortunate in so many ways. We love each other and will stay together forever.

 

Struggling, Bullying, Suicide, Self-Harm: Amanda Todd

This morning before breakfast John and I watched a video posted a month ago on You Tube by Canadian 15 year old Amanda Todd. Amanda’s video was a cry for help and she described in detail how she was taken advantage of by an internet predator and then subsequently bullied relentlessly by her peers at different schools. On October 10th, Canadian authorities found Amanda dead in her home and believe she committed suicide.

I’ll never understand how young people, or adults can be so cruel to another person. Amanda was bullied, beaten up and ridiculed. She attempted suicide by drinking bleach, and when her peers found out, the encouraged her to try harder next time. I’ll never understand this kind of cruelty. How can people be so heartless? In some ways, Amanda’s bullying, particularly the name calling and taunting, remind me of my own experience. I wasn’t 15, and I never actually saw my tormentors, but I still had to fight back against incredibly relentless insults, mocking, harassment, and threats. This is no easy feat, and for a young girl, it destroys self-esteem and results in feelings of misery and wretchedness. I only wish she had more people she could turn to for help.

I feel very fortunate that the destructive voices and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder have not similarly destroyed my life and who I am. I very easily could have succumbed to the insults, threats and harassment just as Amanda did. Why is it so difficult to be kind? Why are so many people cruel? I wish I knew the answer.

Sharing My Experience & Developing a Sense of Appreciation

Last week at my Buddhist planning meeting I volunteered to share my experience at our monthly discussion meeting coming up next week. I feel very fortunate to be able to share my experience with my Buddhist friends, as well as my family, friends and the online community. I haven’t written down what specifically I’m going to share, but I told my therapist that I would bring a draft with me to my appointment on Thursday to share with her. That way I can get her feedback. I’ll keep it brief, since after all, I’m not retelling my life story. At our planning meeting, I shared how much better I’m doing now compared to this time last year, particularly in terms of my mental health and dealing with the voices. Typically at our discussion meetings, experiences are brief, maybe five minutes or so. I just want to focus on how far I’ve come over the past year, and the role my Buddhist practice has played in my improvement. I’d also like to focus on how I’m currently challenging my own negativity and weaknesses.

I’ve recently started on chanting to have more appreciation for everything in my life. Especially for my husband. I really appreciate my husband because I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him. He truly deserves the best. Developing a sense of appreciation for everything I have in my life, especially the negative experiences that I’ve had, helps to keep me moving forward in a positive direction. I’m still working on my tendency toward negative thinking as well. I’m constantly making an effort to keep my mind focused and positive. It’s all too easy to slip into anger, negativity and bitterness.

Last week I submitted my latest guest blog post to CureTalk titled, Mental Illness: Fighting the Stigma. Please check it out. I hope that I can encourage many people to overcome their problems, whatever they may be facing, and to never give up.

Jen