Mental Health: Searching for Answers at the Bottom of A Bottle – By Patrick Bailey (Guest Post) #mentalhealth #addiction #alcoholism


Searching for Answers at the Bottom of A Bottle


Credit: Nicolas Pereyra via Unsplash


The Solution in a Bottle

A bottle can be the answer to a lot of problems. The issue for alcoholics, however, is whether or not their solution to life’s problems comes from good counsel. Among countless questions, they can ask themselves is if their next series of drinks makes them feel better now or long term?

Feeling better right now is a normal desire, especially when a person hurts; it’s instinctive. Physical pain, for example, signals our brain to ‘take our hand out of the fire!’ It is a form of deep desire where we react involuntarily, and don’t pause to consider our reaction. We simply do.


Sacrificing Well-Being and Health

Nevertheless, too much alcohol consumption can override our instinctive sense of self-protection.  If a person drinks compulsively, they can harm each realm of their well-being and health — emotional, mental, physical, social, and spiritual (etc.). One’s entire humanity can be damaged with enough bottles of liquor. Often, a person’s quest for ‘answers’ is the core reason alcoholics seek the bottom of a bottle. Sought after solutions become pressing issues — not just for answers, but wise ones.

It’s interesting that people soon don’t recognize what came first when they began chasing answers through overconsumption of alcohol. It’s the proverbial issue of the chicken or the egg, and drinking becomes a sequential cycle. Their need for a ‘remedy’ leads to alcoholism, and alcoholism leads to a need for remedy. Eventually, heavy drinkers spin in circles, and the exit ramps speeding down a deadly highway, disappear in a blur.


Credit: Sanjeevan SatheesKumar via Unsplash


Seeking Answers and Confronting Trauma

Moreover, it’s not only that the pursuit of a remedy that is hard-wired into people’s brains, but wanting a thoughtful answer too. People want to improve their minds, seek meaning, and to have assurance for their decisions. The ability to perceive information, analyze it, and problem-solve is key. But some people have their exquisite mental abilities hijacked and compromised due to alcohol addiction. Bottom line, people can’t access their best decision-making skills nor find a peaceful mental place in a bottle of booze.

Some people also come to ‘a bottom of a bottle solution’ compromised due to trauma in life. Trauma, particularly longstanding trauma that occurred when adults were young, effects how they learned to cope in the world. Many people who chase their solutions through heavy drinking have had traumatic childhoods. They arrive at a bottle having problem-solving abilities, which are stunted. It is vital to discover solutions for people’s mental and emotional difficulties—from managing bad feelings to making healthy behavioral choice. Nonetheless, this can result in a lifelong and desperate struggle for those who wrestle chronically in their heads and hearts with alcoholism.


Seeking Hope and Support Through Alcohol

Consulting oracles is a longstanding practice in human history, and by no means has disappeared. Everyone searches for hope when they’re afraid, confused, in pain, and worried. People seek answers that will relieve them of difficult feelings and will calm their agitated minds. They want their unknown questions to be answered, and a way to move forward despite life’s difficulties. Most alcoholics desire something or anything, to find serenity and relaxation in their days.

Sadly, alcohol is not often a reliable resource for short-term stress. Why else would we continue to ‘consult’ it? If a way of coping works for people initially, they will continue to turn to it; they will reach for it to work again and again. Every compulsive drinker once was supported by alcohol in a better way, no matter how short-lived that support lasted.

At one point, alcohol was a solid, accessible, and steady support system. It worked, improving life for a time — even for an evening. But often, alcohol is never a reliable support-system for people; still, they cling to it despite knowing better. Sometimes copious drinking is only helpful for a gulp before it’s magic fades, but alcoholics appreciate that brief moment if life feels terrible enough.


Credit: Ben Hershey via Unsplash


Finding Sobriety and Support Outside the Bottle

Former alcoholics, such as myself, can be loyal to liquor to a fault. I can hang on to it until I’m shaken loose, clinging, kicking, and screaming. Until I finally, chose a road to sobriety, which also provided me with satisfying answers and wisdom (from a variety of sources) about life’s larger questions. I let go of alcohol, my ‘trusted friend,’ who had betrayed me too many times to count. Prior to rehab, my release from alcoholism was a bone-shattering experience. It’s not a mandatory way to become sober, but that’s how I did it. I was frightened to see how huge the iceberg underneath me was. I wanted to stay on the tip, happy in my denial of what lay beneath the waves.

One of the aspects about AA I liked was that members were encouraged to visualize alcoholism as more than drinking — as an iceberg, where the bulk of their problems were hidden underwater. I found this difficulty in my over-drinking. No matter how much I drank; in the end, there was still horrendous pain I couldn’t drown with any amount of liquor. Drinking was my problem, but it was not my key problem. At the root of my alcoholism was my life and how I lived it. No matter how worrisome my emotional state or my behavior while drinking, alcohol seemed as if it were always a suitable solution for my personal issues. Even in my desperate days, when alcohol failed me more often than not, I still clung to it.


Solutions Beneath Alcohol Addiction

Moreover, peering beneath my drinking solution, peeling back the layers through detox and early recovery, I discovered I was a scared and vulnerable person. I was ill-equipped to handle everyday life, haunted by trauma, and filled with deep shame. In addition, I was angry and sad. My regular excursions to the bottom of a bottle had induced tremendous stress, but I came to the solution of ‘the bottle’ already weighted with pain. The first time I became drunk was the first time I can remember feeling at ease; I was a young adult, and my over drinking continued from there.

Nonetheless, I’ve learned the true solutions to life and life’s questions don’t live in the bottom of a bottle. My story is one of countless stories, all told from someone who felt worse than most other people imagine they would, as an intoxicated person. However, there is hope and recovery is a real possibility. No problem hiding beneath anyone’s stream of alcohol is too difficult to confront and solve. With the right help, recovery is a real possibility.


Credit: Syndey Ray via Unsplash.


©️Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.

Guest Post: Guidance in Times of Turmoil by Patrick Bailey #guestpost #addiction #mentalhealth


Matt Collamar - Kindness_Homelessness_Unsplash
Credit: Matt Collamer via Unsplash

It’s been a long and winding road for me in the city where I was raised. The city has pulled me back after each venture away. This road has gone many places and resulted in something of an archeological dig into myself and humanity at large.

Overall, I’ve noticed a consistent thread for those in severe and notable distress in the community. It has continued for decades, having taken on various symptoms over the years.


When the Street People Were Dispatched.


I was in my early teens when the de-institutionalization of psychiatric hospitals first impacted my area of the city. The ‘street people,’ as we called them, appeared suddenly. They had been dispatched by the state mental hospital. Some had not been in the world outside for decades. I can’t imagine what that release into society was like for them. From their outward appearances, it seemed terrifying, upsetting, and disorganized.

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Credit: Provided by Author

The laws had changed. It wasn’t easy to put someone ‘away’ anymore. The world would have to deal with people more directly even if there was something seriously ‘off’ in a person’s thought, emotions, and (or) behavior. Even ‘mental patients’ had rights, and the state mental hospital had to open its doors. More inner-city areas also offered cheaper rent as ‘the dispatched’ arrived in large numbers to find their way in the world. I was an inner-city kid, so I was there to receive these ‘street people’ and many mental patients too.


A Kid Wonders How to Fix The System.


In youthful curiosity, I found the city streets enlivened by these folks. I was curious about them: how they lived, what they did, and why they suffered. I was fascinated by illness, and what caused it; how illness needed to be healed.

I’d seen more than a kid’s share of severe problems by the time the hospital discharged all its wards. Of course, I wanted to heal the suffering; I loved my family. My father’s alcoholism, and then his unnamed PTSD which needed remedying. We all needed a remedy. Undiagnosed depression and mania peppered my mother’s family, taking her off into highs and lows.

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Credit: Ben Hershey via Unsplash

Life wasn’t easy in my house, and it wasn’t easy for the people I saw in the streets. I read the paranoid scrawls on the bus stop bench. I listened to the lady who’d recite the wrongs of the world to everyone and to no one in particular. I worried about the ‘bike man’ who wore a woolen coat as he peddled through the summer heat.

Surely all this madness inside my house and outside of it could be fixed.


Talking Out the Turmoil and Walking Alongside It.


All of these things brought me towards obtaining several degrees and a career. I wanted to know more about how people living on the streets and dealing with mental illness worked and how these conditions could be fixed. I worked in the state hospital that at that time, kept patients for thirty days not thirty years. I specialized in addiction and PTSD. My father was long gone by then, but I found peace with him through my work.

I talked with hundreds of people who lived in turmoil, waking to it every day. I formed relationships with them and walked with them through the most intimate details of their struggles. They came to me for help and guidance; I did my best. Although I had personal turmoil and needed a great deal of help myself, somehow my patients and I did well more times than not.


My Take on the Addiction Epidemic:


My career wandered but no matter where it went, I’ve always come back to working in addiction and trauma. I’ve found these are conditions far more common than most people would ever imagine, and they are almost always constant companions. I believe that if we could heal trauma faster, we’d not have an addiction epidemic.

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Credit: Provided by Author

As many people, I’ve followed news on the addiction epidemic in the U.S. for years now. In particular, numerous persons have a deep concern about opioid use. America and my city have meandered these streets, as heroin addiction has caused a devastation of lives. In my city, we’ve never seen such a crisis, not in all my time in this world.

Heroin addiction is a costly tragedy among those who are addicted, their loved ones, and communities. The economic costs alone are staggering—an estimated 50 billion dollars a year, but the human costs are immeasurable and immense.


“How did we get here? How did my city get here? How does a person end up here?”


As time passes, I’ve watched subsequent addiction and a mental health epidemic arise for the entire city where I live. It has a direct trail back to prescription painkillers and their medical use. Pain management clinics sprung up in and around my city as the painkiller epidemic occurred. Many of those were ‘pill mills’, caused people an addiction to painkillers.

Changing laws closed these clinics, and also resulted in the placement of monitoring systems. The prescribers of powerful pain-management drugs were closely watched. The consequences of this system? These prescriptions were harder to come by, despite countless people addicted to them. Pain pills available on the illegal market were terribly expensive and people suffered.


The Solution? Heroin.


Needles_Hush Naindo
Credit: Hush Naidoo via Unsplash

Heroin became, and still is, the affordable solution to painkiller scarcity.  For every dollar spent to obtain illegal painkillers, heroin packs the same punch at one-tenth the cost. Drug cartels met a need in the population when the prescription painkiller epidemic gained the attention of legislators and the medical boards. Their marketing strategies cut a path straight towards my area of expertise, and into my home city.

There’s more to a ‘painkilling’ addiction than chronic and debilitating physical pain needing to be managed. There is also psychological pain which people are seeking respite from. So, the drug and mental health epidemic is a pervasive one in people’s lives and the lives of their loved ones.

It’s traumatic to watch someone suffer from drug addiction. It’s more traumatic when medical ‘permission’ is taken out of the equation. The pure force of addiction became tangible when those addicted had no choice but to trade prescription painkillers for heroin. Heroin was the only reasonable alternative to prescriptions — if it can be seen as reasonable.


Heroin Addiction.


Moreover, Heroin addiction is a powerful and destructive force that most people can’t fathom unless they’ve experienced it in their daily life. I see it in the streets every day. The street people have changed. They seem to be dying faster, and I say prayers for them as I drive past them on the roads.

If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin or other drug addiction reach out. People can recover, but the right kind of help is crucial. Heroin is more powerful than anyones strongest willpower. Also, people can’t help others experiencing addiction when they can’t help themselves. Nonetheless, friends and family can aid those who can’t help the addicted people they love.

Don’t wait to act; the support of friends and family is crucial to stop the use of heroin and other lethal street drugs.


©Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.

Interview With Jasminder Bains


Welcome to another biweekly interview on Mandibelle16. I’m hoping where ever you are the weather is nice and spring is on its way or summer isn’t too hot. This week I interviewed the impressive and talented writer Jasminder Bains from the United States. You can check out her blog here: Confessions Of A Reborn Girl


interview-jasminder
Credit: Jasminder Bains

1. Hi Jasminder. Please Tell Us About Yourself? 

Where to begin…I live to write because it’s my form of therapy and I love weaving words into stories. I’m a full-time dream chaser with a knack for crafting things and philosophizing and overthinking when I can.

I’m two years clean and keeping it that way. Psychology fascinates me; hence, I’m majoring in it. You’ll find there is a lot of psychology based posts on my blog. I love to sing and dance to KPOP when nobody’s around, or at least when I think nobody’s around. I had to run up three flights of stairs because I got caught once.

Also, I’m obsessed with green tea and I like to meditate because it clears my mind. I prefer video games and Doc Martens to dresses ( I only own one dress) and makeup. The only makeup I wear is eyeliner and it’s about as good as my sense of direction. I get lost even with a GPS to help me find my way. I’m an aggressive middle-class minimalist who pillages anything I can get my hands on; this is why I have a ring of rocks sitting on my dresser.

I have moments where I’m incredibly with the times and others I’m not. I set up a Twitter account recently. I have no idea what half the buttons mean. But I can give you Excel pointers and talk about ‘markdown formatting;’ I can’t tell you much about Facebook.


2. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging? What Does Writing and Blogging Mean To You? What motivates and inspires you?

I started blogging last July, but I’ve been writing since I was in fifth grade. Poetry and blogging are how I vent as well as defeat stereotypes. I write because I want to heal other people and because I love doing it.

I find inspiration from my life because I’m an avid people-watcher and I overthink everything. I find new material is as simple as walking into the middle of a cafeteria and sitting down. I learned so much about human interaction by doing this. I make time for writing whenever I can.


“I live to write because it’s my form of therapy and I love weaving words into stories. I’m a full-time dream chaser with a knack for crafting things and philosophizing and overthinking when I can.” – Jasminder Bains


3. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? Any Future Projects You Have In Mind?

I’m planning on participating in the 2017 Kindness Challenge! The link to sign up is here if you’re interested. I’m also hosting my own blogging challenge, it’s called the ‘Boundless Challenge.’ The premise of the challenge is to share a #boundlessmoment from the past week where you did something that you thought you weren’t actually capable of doing.

I started the challenge not too long ago so it’s relatively new. My goal is to inspire people through this prompt. Maybe they will believe they are capable of doing much more than they think they can do. Check out the sixth #boudlessmoment challenge on my blog HERE.


4. Can You Tell Us More About Your Blog and Why You Started Blogging?

When I founded @Confessions (Confessions Of A Reborn Girl) I had one goal and one goal alone: to teach others about human potential. Too many times I’ve heard stories of people who gave up on their dreams because they didn’t think they had it in them or someone discouraged them from their path. I’m here to tell you that you are good enough and that nobody can tell you otherwise.


“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker


That being said, [my blog] would qualify as a lifestyle blog, though I focus more on mentality and mindset rather than fashion or food. My blog categories are different takes on that ‘boundless lifestyle’ if you will.

Life, as the catagory name states, revolves around my everyday thoughts and experiences. [As I noted above] you can also find my own blogging challenge, the Boundless Challenge, which is devoted to inspiring the WordPress community to achieve their full potential. At the end of each week, I share #boundlessmoments of my own and from across the internet. . . Who knows? Maybe next week you’ll be featured!

Writer’s Corner is [a segment on my blog] where I analyze social norms and American culture along with occasional philosophizing. DIY is exactly as the name states. I have this category because crafting opened up my thinking in a way nothing else could. I believe that it can do the same for you. [Lastly, my] meditation journal [catagory] stems from my adoration for — well — meditation. [Since I] over-think, meditation is the perfect counter to my habit and it helps me analyze my emotions and inner conflict. 


“Too many times, I’ve heard stories of people who gave up on their dreams because they just didn’t think they had it in them or someone discouraged them from their path. I’m here to tell you that you are good enough and that nobody can tell you otherwise” – Jasminder Bains


5. How Does Your Blog Tie-In With Your Stance on Mental Health?

I continue to challenge the stigmas and negative stereotypes surrounding the field of mental health. There’s so much more to psychology than depression or schizophrenia or bipolar disease; [these are] only a small branch of [what is called] abnormal psychology. In order to understand the abnormal, we must first understand the normal.

I hope that by being open about my own experiences with mental health challenges and triumphs, I can give others the strength to do the same. There’s nothing wrong with having a bad day, month, or year. There’s nothing wrong with having things that keep you up at night. There’s nothing wrong with being broken.


6. Do You Have Any Other Projects On The Go? What Is Your Writing Process Like? Do You Have Any Genres of Writing or Reading that You Prefer?

I’m planning on writing a fiction book called Project Rebirth. I’ve no details other than that because I hardly know what the book is about myself. 😛 For me, writing is painful.Writing is life. WHAT WAS I THINKING WRITING THAT?!! Editing is painful. Editing is life. Rinse and repeat.

Fantasy is my FAVORITE genre. None of this 21st-century teen smut fantasy romance. I mean classy fantasy like Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart series or Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling or The Ranger’s Apprentice booksI prefer these types of books so much more than teen romance novels. 


“I hope that by being open about my own experiences with mental health challenges and triumphs, I can give others the strength to do the same. There’s nothing wrong with having a bad day, month, or year. There’s nothing wrong with having things that keep you up at night. There’s nothing wrong with being broken.” Jasminder Bains


7. Do You Have Any Helpful Tips for Other Writers? Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share Pertinent to this Interview?

Keep writing. It’s the only way you get better (and shameless). Also, I want to fight the negative stigmas and stereotypes around mental health because it’s vastly misunderstood and generalized which is dangerous for everyone.


8. What Are Your Three Favorite Blogs You Follow Of Any Kind?


interivew-live-boundless
Credit: Jasminder Bain

9. Can You Please Share With Us Some Pieces from Your Blog?

“Pain”

By Jasminder Bains

August 26, 2016

*****

What’s this? My insides feel like they’re tearing apart. 

Something’s wrong, I should take some medication.

Something’s wrong, it’s 3 A.M. and I’m awake again. Did I ever fall asleep? I feel like I’m dying. 

I’m frozen, I feel like screaming, is this really real?

Maybe this is the dream I have to wake up from, I don’t remember falling asleep so maybe I never woke up. 

Something’s wrong, it’s 4 A.M. and I’m still here. I should just close my eyes, I wouldn’t be able to sleep if it was appendicitis….would I?  

Something’s wrong, it’s only 7 A.M. and I’m already awake. No, mum, don’t leave for work just yet. There’s a patient lying here in bed who needs to be seen.

Mum is gone. My brother needs my phone for school. It’s low on battery because I stared blankly at music videos and funny vines for half the night unable to react thanks to the burning sensation in my stomach.

Dad wants to know what’s going on so I spill my guts on him. It’s time to try another medication, stay hydrated, and ride things out.

Mum says book an appointment if it doesn’t get better. I wonder if it will get better.

I’m a statue, unmoving and emotionless. I thought today was yesterday. Guess my brain didn’t register that I ever went to sleep.

Should I feel crooked that this pain is now who I am? I don’t want to do anything let alone go the hospital. It could be nothing. Just like me.

Dad wants me to make him lunch if I’m able. Fine. The pain is mostly gone and I can wait 10 minutes to pass out.

There are two types of naps: the kind that make you feel worse than before, but you know you had no choice, and the kind that make you feel energized. Mine was the latter. Maybe it’s because I slept two hours instead of 20 minutes. Oh well. At least the pain’s almost gone.

All I’ve had to eat today is half a bagel and a tin of Chobani yogurt. I should eat something else. A salad sounds divine only I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to eat the croutons and leaves yet. Only one way to find out. Verdict: I can chew a crouton. I can’t chew a spinach leaf. I’ll just have a burrito.

Something’s wrong, it’s been 18 hours since I laid awake in bed screaming in my head and I’m doing it again. Except this time in a chair with a plate of food in front of me. Forget it. I’m not eating if it’s gonna sting this bad. Time to take some more medication. 

I don’t want to be a physical embodiment of pain, I want my life back. I want to feel joy again, I want to listen to music that lifts me up again, I want to write a blog post ahead of time again, I want to have faith again, I want to feel healthy again, I want to have both feet planted firmly on the ground again, I want to be me again.

~Live Boundless.

*****


Here are Some Additional Posts By Jasminder: 


Thank You Jasminder for sharing so much about yourself and your blogging. You’re an incredibly inspiring and motivational thinker and writer. 

If you would like to be interviewed for my biweekly interview series, please contact me HERE on my Contact Page. Once more here is the link to Jasminder’s BlogConfessions Of A Reborn Girl.


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

Poem: Tankas – “Semi Colons in Tattoo Inked” and Thank You to my 1000 Followers! 


Hi happy Tuesday. Thank you! Thank you to all my 1000 followers, I appreciate you all a great deal and am so honoured to have you follow me on my writing journey. I received the badge which says 1000 followers but ashamedly, I haven’t figured out how to do a screen shot on my IPhone 6 or IPad Mini 4. But, you guys are amazing!

——-

The summer flu has hit, so lucky I had some posts mostly, ready to go . . .

There is an interesting trend happening concerning the use of semi-colons, that bit of punctuation our English teachers told us, we dont need to use.

Mental illness and suicide have given the semi colon new meaning. An article from the online tool Grammerly states from project semi colon’s website:

‘“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life . . . ”’

Please see here for the Grammerly Article: Why A Semi Colon Tattoo is the Most Beautiful Tattoo.  Also you can read about Project Semi Colon here.

———

http://www.upworthy.com
http://www.nymeta.co

——-

It’s such a little,

Mark of punctuation, 

And all difference,

Makes; those desperate choose life;

Have semicolon tattooed.

—–

Life washing over, 

As rolling waves, drown us deep;

Force within us break, 

Desiring pain of life stop,

New chance; life doesn’t cease.

—–

The semi-colon,

Says, the story isn’t over, 

Soul keeps on living, 

Body keeps on struggling.

Living life; there’s no period.

—–

Life isn’t a simple, 

Sentence written, controlled by us, 

Life has complexity, 

Harsh and wonderful–

Aches; but never choose end game. 

—–

Countless stop their life,

More live to see second chance.

A semi colon —

Inked; life goes on they didn’t —

Cease to be; their pages over —

——

Flowed with more writing, 

Characters transforming,

They lived through darkness, 

Writing more and more, living, 

Not ending themselves. 

——

Begging others please, 

Don’t chose an empty passage, 

Live until you’re —

Dying; and don’t let the page,

You’re on, become a blank space.

—–

Tattoo it in your arm,

On those wrists you sliced —

Or somewhere else —

Holding meaning; your story —

Starts again; breathe life and live. 

——

http://www.upworthy.com

——-

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved. 

Of Mice and Men


Written for writing 101 Day 4 – but I wrote something else. But if you don’t know me, this explains a lot. 

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry  (John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men.)

I have many plans and many dreams. I don’t know that any of what I dream will come true. It’s sad to not have hope but I’m not hopeless, just a realist. When I graduated with a BA, got my first job, and job promotion,  I felt on top of the world. I felt that my life held so much potential and that anything was possible. But at our high points in life events can go awry. And I fell for many stories, down to a place where all my dreams did not matter because I was consumed by the realities of poor mental health. 

Mental health was something I hadn’t given a thought to before. The realities of mental health are harsh and difficult for others to understand. Mental health difficulties hurt you psychologically, emotionally, and physically. I think for me physical effects are hard to deal with do to constant fatigue. But I have learned I am more then my mental health, I am a person with experience to share. And to tell you that no one is defined by their difficulties, rather that they fought/fight through them. 

I had plans to become a project manager someday for a commercial developer for the place I worked. I was going to take LEED training, and take a Construction Administration Certificate at the University of Alberta. But the 23rd of December 2008 is the last day I ever worked. My mental health has made me so sick that I cannot work; I’m not even well enough to volunteer. 

Soon my challenges were just making it through the day, trying to not sleep all day. I was dreadfully bored stuck at home and not able to do much. I planned an hour reading, watching some TV, scrapbooking, sleeping for two hours, and going for a walk. At first, I tried going to the gym and I even drove there. But I had no energy to exercise and not enough concentration to drive. 

I got a bit better. I enrolled in courses in Residential Design. I am taking the last course for that certificate now. I thought that it would be useful if I ever went back to work. But that hasn’t been an option. I have just been trying to find stability in my health over the last seven years. I became a bit better for a couple years, I was going to classes for three hours once a week and spending three or four hours at home working on my current course. I could often go out and stay out late at night with friends or my ex-boyfriend. I could do an activity for four or five hours in the day. But that didn’t last. 

I was taking a night course and I only made it to five of the thirteen classes. I just couldn’t concentrate and didn’t feel well at night. I spent all of that July depressed and in bed all day. Then, this summer I was in hospital for three weeks adjusting medications. But I still can’t do much for more then two or three hours tops. I feel so tired, I can’t get up much before 11:00 am. And I am a zombie if I do. I have had to give up many plans with friends because it is so difficult to do things at night. 

This was not in my plan. Living with this mental illness was nothing I’d ever imagined. People just shrug it off sometimes like it’s just something that will get better, but it doesn’t. For me it gets worse. I don’t know how to make myself feel better. I deal with insomnia as well. A part of my brain is disconnected and I don’t how to make the neurons function normally. Pills don’t do to much. Psychology doesn’t help. I am waiting for a time when I can have plans again.

When, I think of this quote I think that it really hits the nail on the head. We all have such grand plans and dreams for our lives. And we should never loose hope that we can complete them. But in reality we are not in control. The maker of mice and men has the power to let things occur to us and to protect us. He teaches us and builds us so that we might know what his son Jesus knew hanging on a cross. He brings us closer to him with our trials. And I do not mean to complain, or tell my story until I’m blue in the face. But this is my experience and God and my friends and family bring me peace. And perhaps, not all my plans will go awry and I can help others when their plans do. 

Literary Lion – Thoughts on the Edge. 


Standing at the edge of something is a difficult place to be but it’s a place we regularly function in, some of us better then others.  It’s just like looking over the edge of the whirlpool, waiting to jump in, knowing what’s on the otherside may make you sorry that you missed it. But it may also destroy you or define you, as poet Margeret Avison describes in the poem “The Whirl Pool.” 

Stevan Tyler of Aerosmith sang that living on the edge, “you can’t help yourself from falling” and I think he had a good point when it comes to living in this world, we are always on the edge of choices and decisions. 

Paul Brandt sings in his song Risk, ” I’d rather stand on the edge of a cliff and hang my toes over a bit and jump even if it scared me and I got hurt. I’d rather live my whole life with a sense of abhandon, squeeze every drop out no matter what happens, and not wonder what I had missed – I would rather risk.” I think that says it all, he would like to live without regrets. 

Imagine standing at the Grand Canyon and going out onto that glass look-out point, the one you can see right through at the rapids far below you and the layers of brick red, dirty orange, vanilla, and brown canyon as far as the eye can see. Or imagine waiting at the falls at Niagra and watching the water going over. The edge is a difficult place to be but there is often this sense of freedom and no regrets associated with the word; but not always. 

Think about someone being  mentally and psychologically pushed over the edge due to mental illness or something they can’t handle. This is a vicious place to be for someone experiencing mental trauma such as psychosis, depression, or anxiety. And the majority of these people just need your understanding, your help, and your friendship. 

 I think mentally and psychologically, the edge is a hard line to define in exenuating circumstances, where people become violent.  For instance, no one knows what makes killers of unhappy people on campus, when they go and shoot everyone they can put a bullet into. Is there a point when this could have been stopped? Citizens know that with tighter gun regulations these type of events go down dramatically as do gun related deaths. That’s an edge to me, an edge the US government and citizens have fallen off of and will continue to do so until laws restrict guns. 

As for myself, I face a different kind of edge dealing with a life on the edge of exhaustion. I’m always trying to push myself past my limits, only to be stuck in bed the next day because using all my energy has made me ill. So, when I’m out, I must keep track of that three hour mark, knowing that if I let myself go past that edge I will deeply regret it  for one or two days after. That three hour mark is an edge I balance on as I plan what I am going to be doing each day of the week and how I am going to manage if plans change, as they often do. 

I use to live on different edges — the edge of drinking, that point where you have had a lot to drink but not so much that you will regret it the next day. Or the edge of a relationship. At what point is enough enough. When I played sports there was that edge, at what point do you pull someone off for not playing well and put someone else in? At what point when you are losing does the team collapse and fall apart and start getting mad at each other. When do they start to learn how to get past that drama and play well anyways. 

Edges are despicable places to be, but they definitely define us in a moment, a split second of choice; a mental, emotional,  or psychological decision. Here’s to you as you face that edge and I hope the edge you face is good place to immerse yourself in. May you never be afraid to step off it, thoughtfully, in the right moment.  May you have the courage to help and face others who have wrongly stepped of the edge, and lead them back to stability. 

Thanks toI Smith Words for the prompt edge.

Too Busy For Our Own Good


I have often wondered if in these modern times, we are becoming to busy for our own good. By that I mean, do we actually need to be involved in activities and busy most moments of our lives. Or, is it a better idea for us to take some sit back and just spend some time thinking or just doing nothing. Have we become so busy and involved that we’re forgetting to be meaningfully social and on a hands on level helping others. Or, is it okay to not know your neighbours, the person your sitting next to at work, and take a hands off approach in aiding others such as those in need in our own families even. Have we forgotten ourselves along the way through life’s hustle and bustle, have we forgotten to be human?

When I was a little girl my parents had a 2 activity limit for my brothers and I. I think those two activities were piano and youth group. I remember being forever resentful that I had to be in piano and couldn’t play soccer or some other sport. But sports were expensive and my parents didn’t want to be involved in Bingo night every weekend to raise money for sports.

Even though I wanted to play sports, I thought it was a great thing later on that my parents allowed us time just to play and be kids. Sometimes we were bored but being bored meant that we learned how to keep ourselves occupied.

In short, our minds became a playground of activity (not just the actual playground) and I wonder now today if enough kids have the opportunity to just play and learn to occupy their time when they have nothing to do. Isn’t it important to learn to think for yourself, to makeup games and stories, and most of all, to be creative. Creativity isn’t made by having every moment of your life planned out for you. Creativity is made by having the time to just think and be inspired.

I also think we learn to help others on a more personal level when we take the time to be less selfish. Suddenly, it’s not all about what I want to do with my time but how can I use my time to be social and work with/aid others.

It is very easy to throw money at a problem and sometimes that is the best solution but as much as we need money for education and helping children, isn’t it more hands on and personal to tutor kids or help them learn or work on their reading skills.

Doing something like this (as an example) does a couple of different things: it allows a child to work on their reading and allows them to develop a relationship with you socially, maybe as a parent or a community member. In turn, this may encourage kids to want to help other children at present and later on in their lives in an impactful way. It teaches kids not be selfish and that helps the community as a whole.

Hopefully, it also teaches social skills so that children learn to talk about what their reading and share that with their mentor. Additionally, it is impactful on the mentor who gains benefits from teaching a child.

Lastly, taking time for ourselves in a busy world can help us avoid stress and some mental illness. Last night on the news I heard that 60 some percent of people suffer from mental illness, exponentially more, then the amount of people who suffered from heart disease or diabetes. But I imagine a lessening of stress might have a huge impact on these 2 other physical illnesses.

But most people don’t understand that mental illness can be as physical as heart disease or stroke. I experience this myself. Depression and anxiety for instance, can make a person extremely tired, cause them to not want to get out of bed they are so tired, and make a person physically fatigued. Not to mention the fact that depression happens in the brain, an organ, makes it as physical as cancer.

Moreover, we don’t take good care of ourselves when we are to busy not to think about ourselves. If we don’t eat healthy, get proper exercise, get proper rest, this effects our entire lives.

This is why I wonder why everyone wants to be so busy, are they afraid they might miss out on something? A lot of the time, this is probably not the truth. Every one thinks they’re missing out something but that is entirely relevant to any number of aspects such as your mood, the success of the event, and the people who attend.

And it seems to me anyways, that it would be a greater use of our time if we had time to think, help others, and ourselves. The consequences of not having this time is hurtful to everyone in society, hurtful to humanity.

Something Changing in the Air


There is something changing inside me, a gradual drift from what I was before. It is not a huge change but I do think my prayer to have more of the path before me revealed has been granted; or atleast a possibility has arisen. I have decided to apply for a Masters in Creative Writing at UBC starting July 2014. I am so excited by the fact that I maybe even would have applied for this coming July, but alas, applications closed at the end of November.
It is a difficult program to get into and I will only be attending classes online but their is an optional residency every July for 10 days. Because of my health I will only be able to complete 2 of the 6 credit classes a year, so the program will take me 6 years to complete. Maybe I will become healthier in that time and be able to take on 2 courses at once. In this program I can focus on one major area which I believe will be non fiction but I also will need to take courses in 2 other areas such as fiction, poetry, children’s writing, or drama writing. I am thinking fiction and children’s writing but maybe poetry. It will be difficult to get into and difficult to stay in this program as I must keep a B+ average. So I am praying and crossing my fingers that when I am able to apply this July I get in and that I have the tenacity to make it through the MFA program. It just feels right.

All this Interior Decorating I am taking is good because it’s portable knowledge that I can take with me. But since I have been writing articles for Flurt I have realized where my true talents lie, where I will be able to possibly make a career from, and where physically I will not be able to withstand a career ie. interior design. I still plan to finish Interior Decorating as I am in the 3rd last course of the program – Architectural Design. I am excited for it since it is a drawing course but I still want to be done the program! I have Lighting and CAD after this semester so will be done by the end of next December, at which time I am planning to take one or maybe 2 U of A writing courses in magazine writing and editing hopefully; a good lead into creative writing I think. Should a MFA in creative writing not work out, my second preference will be Comparative Literature at the U of Alberta. So maybe I will apply for both. But I will tell you, UBC and other Canadian universities I have inquired about have all replied back to me; the U of A has yet to.

So some real opportunities opening up for me despite other difficulties in life. For this year I will finish my 2 possible interior design courses and concentrate on my Herbal Magic Diet to lose another 14 lbs to my goal weight of 165. So far that is proving difficult – but I hope to be more disciplined in the next semester, since Christmas has passed and I can get out for walks more and do more yoga as spring appears. 12 lbs down already I can do more!

As for my New Years resolution to shop less, still getting packages I bought before January 1. And I bought cozy sheets and a Lululemon top. BAD AMANDA! So since, January 10th I have been good and will continue to not buy unnecessary items, clothes, shoes, jewelry, and decorative items for my room. I went crazy once I put that limit on myself… Should have gradually stopped the spending. But if I can go cold turkey for 2 weeks to start I think I can do it for longer, it is just starting out. As for the every year fitness goal, have done yoga 3 times this week so yeah!

Anyways, stay tuned for more Flurt articles and feel free to share with me your New Years resolutions and things you are hoping to achieve in life.

10 things I am grateful for this past year!


Seeing as it is still close to New Years I thought it would be neat to make a list of things I am thankful for this past year, 2012. They are in no particular order:

1. My family-who does not care that I often do not have the patience to listen to them at certain times in the day and say nothing when I am too sick to do anything but lie on the couch that day. They make me feel useful even though I am sometimes useless.

2. My friends, who except me just the way I am. Even though I am not the busy energetic person I used to be, they still make the effort to invite me out, come to events I have planned, and they do not mind when I can only stay for three or four hours or that I need a ride home because I medically, cannot drive. They listen to everything I have to say and appreciate that I listen and respond in kind.

3. My dog, if you are going to be stuck at home half the time you need a dog to cuddle and love you just because. What’s more I have an interesting dog who likes few people (especially with curly hair – she doesn’t like poodle’s either), barks at everyone who passes the house, scares the FedEx and Canada Post people, and sits on me like she thinks she’s a lap dog.

4.For online shopping – I have discovered a whole discounted world of shopping with greater selection and websites to every kind of interesting thing you could need or want. As much as this has become something I need to control it has made Christmas and Birthday shopping easier. I have bought or researched unique items for myself and the important people in my life.

5. WordPress – the decision to write blogs has led me back into something I love – writing! This in turn has led me to writing articles for Flurt magazine weekly, and to researching Master’s programs for 2014. I hope to write more articles for Flurt and other magazines in the future.

6. For my residential interior’s program – I have 3 courses to go and have realized this is something I cannot do the rest of my life. It has led me to greater understanding of homes and decorating them; I understand that it entails a type of precision I will never have and taught me how to further organize my life. I will finish the program, but it will not bee my career of choice.

7. For Herbal Magic – although I have been stuck at 180 lbs for a couple months I have lost 11 lbs and learned how to eat a diet with small food proportions and be completely full. I feel healthier, my clothes fit better, and I never feel that gross stuffed feeling. I am confident I can lose another 10-15 lbs the remainder of this year.

8. For my boyfriend, even though we have a long distance relationship most of the time I am that more excited to see him when he is in town. When I freak out he tells me it’s okay and not to worry, he does not get mad at me. And when I tell him something’s bothering me he listens and adjusts. I am comfortable around him and he is hot! Despite our ups and downs he is the longest relationship I have ever had.

9. For my iPhone and iPad – which organize my life, and help me to remember all the activities I need to do. I can budget, take notes, write articles, jot down ideas, schedule appointments and even schedule rest time. I can read books on them, surf the Internet, and print off my iPhone/iPad. Best of all they both fit in my purse.

10. For God and all the people with more wisdom then I who have taught me that you can survive through sickness and tragedy; that people can handle more then they think and in turn help other people deal with their problems. They have taught me that I can adjust from the life I thought I wanted, to the one I have; that I am extremely blessed and stronger despite my failings; and that there are more people in this world that have things worse than I despite my health issues.

These are what I am thankful for in 2013, how about you?

Tough Decisions


Even More Meds

A tough decision – something a lot of us have to make one time or another. Now I hate to talk about my experiences with depression a lot; I do not want that to be the only example through which I can relate to you on a lot of issues; however, in this instance, well my life now is what it is and having a depressive episode a major one, has challenged me to make a lot of hard decisions.

Before, my episode I was utterly clueless to the ways mental illness actually affected someone with the exception of my Baba who is a paranoid schizophrenic. But the thing is, there are many types of schizophrenics, many different types of anxieties, and depressions and each illness experience, although perhaps sharing some similar symptoms. is unique to each person. Have you ever thought about that, how does it actually feel on the inside to be mentally ill? The other concept I did not understand was how ‘physical’ depression can actually be. Your body can literally, be “physically” depressed and not just your emotions. Your mind can be physically depressed – which means you man not even feel sad but physically your brain is still affected by the depression. My episode was three years back, but I continue to be especially physically affected by it both in my energy levels and ability to concentrate and have mental endurance to do activities for long periods of time.

My struggle to live a normal life with depression has lead me through a sizeable amount of prescription drugs. Sleeping pills because I cannot sleep on my own anymore, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and stimulants. Each drug I have tried with the exception of the ones I perhaps, had to go on when I was first very ill, have been tough decisions. Now you make think a little pill, well, is just a pill but it is not. Ever watch those prescription drug commercials on TV and ever notice the wide range of side effects each drug has? Those are the tough decisions when you are taking a medication, do the benefits of this drug out weigh the bad side effects? Now each drug I have continued to use I have continued to use on the basis that when I started to use it I felt somehow better. I do not always know exactly what that ‘better’ is but something just clicks, starts to feel better so I continue to take the drug because it helps. Nonetheless, I have tried many medications that have not worked for me. I found that doctors and nurses cannot tell you exactly how a drug will affect you, truth be told, they do not know, particularly, in psychiatry I think but maybe it is that way with medication and physical illnesses such as cancer as well. So some drugs make you extremely sick. And although I may be encouraged to continue to try a drug that makes me feel awful, where life and death are not concerned, I do not believe it is worth it to keep taking that drug. When medication is doing you more harm then good, physically and mentally making you sicker, giving you bad side effects, and not showing you that glimmer of improvement that you would like to see, I believe that drug is not for me. Now I do not want people not to take their medications because sometimes the truth is, you do need a drug even though it makes you ill, but for me, in this case, drugs that make me feel really sick even if it has only been a couple of days, are not the medications for me.

Such was my experience with Clozapine this last weekend. I have never felt so sick, not even from a bad flu, as this drug made me feel. After, two days I was done with it. Clozapine is supposed to be  a ‘last resort’ antipsychotic and it was for me to. Typically, it may be used for schizophrenia but also in cases of depression or where a psychotic episode has occurred.  It was a difficult decision going on this drug – blood tests every week for the first 6 months and less often( for a longer period), a very good chance of large weight gain, and increased chance of diabetes,  extreme tiredness, possible immunity disorder (hence the blood tests weekly), and other conditions having to do with the heart etc. The thing was though that, I had never tried this drug so it was a good option to try and Clozapine actually heals the brain a little bit every year, one of the only drugs in psychiatry to do so. Also, Clozapine causes you to sleep without the use of sleeping pills.  For some people this is the ‘magic’ pill, for me it was not. I am comfortable with that decision especially given what that means.

I have gone through so many medications that I am told by my doctor she does not know what to do to help me medication wise after this. I can function half normally on my current medications but not enough to work, to go to school full time. And suddenly, I am okay with that. I do not have a choice and I am fine. Someone somewhere may come up with a drug that may aid me in the future, but now I am at the limits of my doctor. And like a big weight off my shoulders when I decided I had enough with the Clozapine, I was okay with that. At least I can be stable, where I am at now. I know what I can expect this summer, in terms of what I can and cannot do. I still face many challenges such as my insomnia, and an energy decrease in winter months by a degree, but I know what to expect. And this brings me peace.

Tough decisions, its hard to tell yourself you are okay with having a limited life, but it is also foolish to limit yourself. Many people suffer through many illnesses and bad times, and go on to do great things. Rather, than accepting my limits completely, I am learning to work around them to the best of my abilities and that is all any one could ask of me. I am blessed by God in the place I am at in life. It was not where I thought I would be, but I am okay with that. How about you? Are you okay where you are at in life? What tough decisions have you had to make?