Never Give Up

I decided to request my medical records from my first two hospitalizations. I received my records from Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday, and John and I spent some time reading what my records said. I was hospitalized at Mass General in November, 2000 and released the day after Thanksgiving. I remember quite a bit about what happened during that time, but my discharge summary and my psychiatrist’s notes gave me a little more insight into what was going on in my mind and in my life at that time. I am working on incorporating this first hospitalization into my memoir, along with the events prior to this time, and of course long after. Looking back, I can clearly see that I am a very different person than I was 12 years ago. I am in a completely different state of mind, I’m stable, and so much healthier! It seems as if this hospitalization happened a lifetime ago, not just a mere 12 years in the past. In many ways, it was a lifetime ago, although I’m still me, and I’m still living my own life in the present.

I’m glad that I am able to share my experiences, both in my blog and in my memoir. That way, my past experience has more meaning and more value. I don’t want to keep my past to myself, as mere memories rattling around in my head. If I can share my story with others, than I can provide understanding, encouragement, and hope to people who are struggling, either with mental illness, or with any other type of difficulty. Just think, “If she can do it, so can I!” Never give up.

Jen

A New, Better State of Mind

I sprained my ankle playing indoor soccer a few days ago, so I’ve been trying to keep my foot elevated and iced. I had so much fun playing though, it was worth it! John and I are going to look for an outdoor, co-ed soccer team so we can both play (and not injure ourselves on artificial turf)!

I heard some faint murmurings of voices today. Not much, and not enough to bother me, but just enough to know that they are still there. I’m doing very well with distracting myself and keeping my thoughts positive and otherwise occupied. I’m chanting an hour a day, keeping up with the house cleaning, and working on the puppy training. Even going to play indoor soccer for an hour on Tuesday was fun, and although I was the only girl (woman) there, I didn’t even care! I found that I was in half-way decent shape too! Now that I think about it, I’m surprised I didn’t decide to play soccer months or even years ago. Maybe I was too caught up in the voices. Yesterday I was working on my memoir. I was writing about the first time the mafia voices threatened me in our old apartment shortly after we moved in. Looking back, I realize how much I’ve improved since that time. I don’t hear threats like that anymore, and even if I do, I ignore it, don’t believe it, and move on. I’m so thankful that I’m not in that state of mind anymore. It’s such an amazing improvement and a huge relief.

I also read an article on a new clinical trial for people suffering from schizophrenia. I wrote about it for my 2nd guest blog post for CureTalk. Please take a look, it’s a very interesting clinical trial by a San Francisco-based company called Brain Plasticity, Inc. Click here to read the article on CureTalk.

Thanks for reading!

Jen

Exercise & Gardening As Therapy

I’m back! I didn’t post to my blog last week because my niece was visiting me from the East Coast. We had so much fun last week while she was here. I took her to the beach in Santa Cruz, we went hiking and took a tour of the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. We also went to the SJ Earthquakes/LA Galaxy soccer game on Saturday night at Stanford Stadium, and it was great! The fans were really loud and noisy, but the Earthquakes won! Hooray!

I’m doing better and better at managing the voices. I haven’t been hearing many voices recently, and I continue to keep my thoughts focused on other aspects of my life. I try to stay in the present, and not dwell on the past. I’ve noticed that I still feel some worry, fear and occasional concern about my safety or John’s safety, but for the most part, this fear has been alleviated. John and I are still working on getting back in shape, and I’ve also noticed that exercising really helps as it gives me something to direct my energy into. So does gardening. Instead of getting angry at the voices or other people, I take it out on the weeds and the plants that I don’t like. I rip the ugly flowers out by the root and toss them aside disparagingly, not caring if I’m weeding properly. It’s very therapeutic!

I’m still working on my memoir. I received a rejection letter from an agent in New York that I had contacted recently. I haven’t finished the manuscript yet, but I’m aiming for October. Wish me luck!

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

I Didn’t Feel Like Thinking

I’m doing better today than I did yesterday. Yesterday I spent the morning working on my memoir and by the time John called me at 12:30pm for his lunch, I was too tired to think.  It’s not that I get physically tired – all I’m doing is writing on my computer. I think it’s more the act of remembering my experiences and thinking about how to describe them. When I decided to take a break from writing yesterday afternoon, I slept for 2 hours! Every time I woke up, I wanted to go back to sleep. I didn’t want to eat lunch, I didn’t want to check my email, I didn’t want to chant, and I didn’t want to watch TV (I can’t stand daytime television anyway). The only way I can think of describing how I felt was that I didn’t feel like thinking. Thinking seemed to tiring for me, so the only thing I could do was sleep. If I’m asleep, then I don’t have to think.

I’ve noticed that in the past, the constant effort I’ve had to make to distract myself from the voices can be tiring. Maybe it’s the mental focus that’s required. Distracting my thoughts so that I don’t listen to what the voices are saying or engage them in conversation requires constant effort. At least in my mind. It doesn’t require much physical effort, but I guess that’s not the point. Sometimes I can’t help but dwell on the past, trying to make sense of what happened. Ultimately, there is no figuring out the past. The past is over, and now there is only the present and the future. I can take what happened, learn from my experiences and use what I’ve been through to educate, help and encourage other people. Thank Buddha for that!

Pajarito “little bird”

Sharing My Experience – Knowledge Is Power

I went to my Buddhist discussion meeting last night and shared a little bit more of my experience with schizoaffective disorder. I am very determined to start sharing more and more of my experiences over the past few years that I’ve been dealing with my illness. Afterward, one of the women at the meeting came up to me and thanked me for having the courage to talk about my illness. She said that she also suffers from mental illness and doesn’t always share this with other people. It isn’t easy. Mental illness is very scary for people, and it is difficult to describe what we experience in a way that our friends and family can understand. Still, I believe that it’s better to share my experience than to stay silent. Knowledge is power, and it’s better to be educated about mental illness rather than ignorant.

CareTalk posted my first guest post on their website yesterday. The title of my guest post is “Ignoring the Voices Helps Me Heal.” Their website also has links to other blogs written by people suffering from schizoaffective disorder. I’m so happy and very grateful to Priya for asking me to write for the CureTalk blog. I’m looking forward to writing my next blog post for CureTalk in July!

Ocean Beach