Hello world, call it review fever if you please: but, this girl here reads books like you’d drink milk lol; and she likes to share her thoughts on those books when they get to her soul. For me to start a new week with a book review speaks for itself – that is if the title of the book doesn’t do it enough justice.
Let me just dash in, this because on a Monday morning we all want to get it started and off to the maximum we can before the ‘blues’ set in right? I mean this is one of the many powerful things I learnt in this book (I never knew I could fall in love with a self help book), you can zap from ‘freaking out to freaking amazing’ with determination and dedication. You may need help but it is possible. You will need to be authentic and confident always, and know today if you never did or were not sure of it, that your vulnerability is a strength and not a weakness. Come on now give me more vulnerable situations…anytime anywhere…exploit them and let them catapult you to speak up, stand out and shine… I mean why settle for victim and throw all those endless pity parties while people around you who may have even gone through worst are now making a healthy and wealthy living sharing their stories?
Now, have you heard of power dance? Regina introduces this in her book. Give it a try, musn’t be an entire song and that can be anywhere anytime. And when you are one of those I used to be…you know the one who will shake and panic and worry about all what will, would, could go wrong right up to outright freezing on the podium, be it because you forgot your message or one ‘vampire’ in the audience shot you that ‘stare’; you will witness a radical and permanent transformation after reading this book.
All in all, this book is not only for those starting out into their speaking journies whichever category, but also for those of us some where in between. I give this book a 5 star because I honestly feel Regina wrote way too much to get anyone even in elementary school to be able to speak up, stand out and shine.
Drawing from my extensive corporate experience in six countries, I have developed a top Transformational Leadership Practice for Business Women, and I am now known as a Power Shifter and Career Accelerator, Diversity & Co-Creation Advocate, Speaker with a Passion for Dance, and Author of Speak up, Stand out and Shine – Speak Powerfully in Any Situation, as seen in this Huffington Post article:
With her signature system, Powerful Leadership Transformation (PLT), she works with companies to transform top female performers into top leaders so they can make a bigger impact and generate more business for companies, clients, and themselves. With her guidance, organizations can unlock the strengths of the talent they already have, to cut down on turnover costs. Regina focuses on driving fast results for her coaching clients by emphasizing an empowering mindset and a compelling, confident presence, enabling them to accelerate their careers, while making an outstanding contribution to their organizations.
She speak five languages and has over 18 years of international experience in the corporate business world, including management positions at The Boston Consulting Group in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America, where my primary focus was on HR; career & performance management; training & talent development; operations & budgeting; and office build-outs. At BCG, she also had a leading role in opening two new offices in Portugal and Brazil, as well as several international projects throughout Europe and Latin America. As an entrepreneur, She has owned two businesses in Argentina and Brazil, and has translated 12 books on dance, culture, politics and science. Her eclectic background allowed her to develop a special skill set that flows into herunique transformational approach.
She is a Certified Leadership Ambassador by Take The Lead Women and serve as Co-Chair of the NYC Financial Women’s Association’s (FWA) Distinguished Speakers Committee. It is her honor to be a trusted advisor of UN Global Champion for Women’s Empowerment in Entrepreneurship Alysia Silberg’s Fireside Chat and Pitch Camp communities for global entrepreneurs, and a leading member of Alysia’s Global Women Game Changers group. Studying Judith Glaser’s “C-IQ for Coaches” Program (Creating WE Institute) has allowed her to enhance her current focus on co-creation and to coach team leaders to navigate successfully through conversation. She am also a Premier member of Women Speakers Association (WSA) and a member of West Coast Speakers Coalition.
P.S: Ok world, I stop at that, Ms Huber’s profile is clearly longer than my review of her book and am jealous. I have already audited with her you know, and I will be signing up to be coached by her once a fortune cookie is left by my office …
Hello world, following what happened on Friday, my sons dad said he is no more contributing to their education (that was all he was doing). I thought he was joking – like angry and jealous sort of. Yesterday David went there to collect their school bags and books, and was driven away like a pig. He came back home in tears. This was followed by a series of sms from his dad telling me all he could… I have done what I can so that David starts school today (He is starting secondary school – in the US that will be junior high), and will be in th same school as Alain. That is a walking distance from Home. Gaby will start tomorrow by Grace. I specialize since 2011 in making the best lemonade out lemon.
My life is a thrilling one indeed, and we find the FUN in the dysFUNction. I am so grateful for everything, I wouldn’t give their dad the pleasure of having me run after him nor drag him to court…no not yet…no not now…I made a strong statement that friday, stronger than court or social servce, that was his language and he got hit far harder than not irrespective of any saga which followed…
YES OH YES: Iam very proud of my scars, I wear them like a badge of honour…
Have a nice week all, dare to be proud of your scars and wear them like a badge of honour even if some think it is a badge of dishonour.
Hello world, with barely a day to go before the Month of May is over, let’s wrap up with my Granny Jill’s interview shall we? So yes here we go after P1 of yesterday:
Can you tell if there was a difference in the way your son was treated before and after he got that diagnosis?
No, because we realized much later that the doctors suspected paranoid schizophrenia very early on, but they are not keen to diagnose such a serious illness in someone aged 20. Doron entered the military in Israel with a medical profile of 96 and when he was released, he was like someone missing in action. For 18 years, people thought of our Doron as ‘normal.’ For the next 16 years, they called him mentally ill. But, we always called him Doron. Our once gregarious son was ill, vulnerable and scared. He’d lost his sanity and grieved for that loss. He’d lost confidence, suffered harassment and discrimination. IF someone did agree to hire him, they offered such a low salary that it was insulting.
If you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us any short or long term effect to your own mental health as a result of your son’s mental illness?
It affected the whole family. My husband, who devoted a tremendous amount of time to Doron, became stressed as he was running an accountancy business. Our daughters did without sufficient time and energy from us, without vacations, without extras as every available cent was poured into another prescription drug, another treatment, a new psychiatrist. We did without too – we minded less. Our daughters no longer brought friends home. They returned from school, ate then fled. I learned about stigma: “She’s the one with the crazy son! Of course it affected me, no matter how much I tried to ignore it all. But, having a son in a psychiatric hospital is different. People with physical illnesses get many visitors in the hospital, are showered with flowers, chocolates and other gifts, while very few people even visited Doron. His good friends came at first until they had to get on with their own lives. We understood. Doron’s aunt and uncle were very supportive to him, something I will never forget. I learned at the support group to look for something I liked doing every day, and I did. I liked tutoring English, loved being with my children and grandchild, but, when I was very upset and down, I dug furiously in our garden. I disliked attending weddings or parties as everyone looked so happy and I was so so miserable, trying to keep a smile on my face. Later I learned from a smart psychologist, that I’d assumed that the other guests were happy but how could I know? Maybe they were also plastering ‘fake smiles’ on their faces? My friends told me afterwards that during Doron’s illness, I was extremely angry with the world. True!!!
3) The Writing
Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?
Many years ago, after Doron became ill, I read Anne Deveson’s Book entitled ‘Tell Me I’m Here.’ At that stage, I had no idea that she was a famous person. I simply felt; if she can do it, why oh why can’t I? Well, I started off by keeping a sort of diary but I jotted things that occurred in our once peaceful home onto scraps of paper which I popped into my bedside drawer. When I was asked to join a creative writing group, I typed out all the notes that I’d written and the teacher said; ‘You have a book there.” And that’s how all my more serious writing began. At first I wrote more short stories, then started slowly and painstakingly to write about what was happening in our house. Then, I didn’t even know that 1% of the world’s population suffered from schizophrenia – which is without taking into account all the other psychiatric illnesses that abound.
Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why?
Chapter 37, The Last Callwas one of the most difficult to write because of two pages. Page 224 where I wrote:-
Before schizophrenia, our three children had spent years of closeness, laughter and sibling secrets. During the years we lived with Doron’s illness, his sisters had shared their fears and tears, wishing they could escape the shadow but always drawn back to watch over, listen to and protect their older brother, who, in his healthy years, had done the same for them. It was then that my late husband had gathered us around him not long after we’d heard that our beloved son had taken his life. I want you to remember that Doron did not take his life. He took what schizophrenia had made of it. He ended his agony and I thank my son for putting an end to his suffering. I hope that he has found the peace of mind he so desperately sought, the peace of mind that eluded him during the last 16 years of his life. Now we all have to face the tragedy of our loss.”
And a part of page 225.
“On January 19th, 1996, we buried Doron. It was three months before his 34th birthday. On that dull winter’s day at my son’s funeral, the earth that had been dug out, stood in a mound ready to be thrown back. For the last time before he was buried, I talked to Doron, while in the cold, still air, I heard a thousand birds sing their songs of life.
All the people who loved Doron could finally say farewell. I saw people there who had not coped with his schizophrenia, but knew how to handle death. So many friends, neighbors and acquaintances stood, shoulders touching, their breath mingling in the icy air into one great sigh for our loss. The rabbi intoned the familiar words. His voice echoed in and out of me like surf slapping against the shore. His words didn’t comfort me. I registered simple animal sensations. My mother’s frail hand clutched mine. My daughters were trembling. My husband was crying. I was the only one unable to shed a tear. I whispered goodbye. So much left unsaid. I ached to see him on his surfboard. The thud of earth, marker. He was gone. He didn’t say goodbye. In a tumble of memories, I saw Doron’s smile superimposed on the painful image of his anguished, tortured expression.
I love you, Doron.
Which if any was your favourite chapter to write and why?
Chapter 27 because it showed that one can be happy in the midst of schizophrenia. Our daughters were aware of the terrible stress we were under and presented us with two flight tickets to Crete, including accommodation for four days. With misgivings, we took leave of Doron who was in a hospital at the time, hugged the girls after thanking them profusely. The flight was forty-five minutes in duration and we flew to our Greek hideout with our son’s blessings. “I am happy for you both,” he said. Both my husband and I loved spending time together, even more so on vacation and we reveled in the fact that we had nobody to take into consideration. We relished the unexpected gift of time together, this reassurance that love and pleasure were sometimes hidden in the crevices of pain. It reminded me that despite our woes, the world went on turning and sometimes presented extraordinary surprises. Our break on the idyllic island of Crete seemed longer than four days, and we felt whole again when we flew home. Every moment had been precious and I’d banished thoughts of mental illness, grateful that our girls had banded together to allow us this escape. We didn’t know when or if another opportunity would present itself but we were ready to face the next round with schizophrenia.
4) So overall how did you cope?
I learned to take one day at a time. I tried to remember Doron when he was healthy and how much pleasure he had always given me. I cradled the gentle way he used to speak as if they are butterflies alighting on my hand, an event so startling, that I didn’t want it to end. Coping with the stigma was difficult for my daughters. It took me about a year to learn to live with it, yet my husband didn’t give it a thought and told his clients that he had to end their meeting early as he had to visit his son in the psychiatric hospital. Not a single client left him for that reason.
4) The Message
Do you have any advice for other memoir writers especially on challenging subjects like mental health?
Today, there is a tremendous amount of material on mental health out there, both on-line and in books, so check out the market and make sure that y our book is different. There is always another angle.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
a) I would like people to know that my late husband’s favorite quote was one of the things that kept me on an even keel while Doron was fighting his demons. Schizophrenia had to take second place whenever I read the following prayer even though I am not a religious person.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
b)We knew nothing about mental illness till we were thrown into its midst. From the start, we got the message that we were to blame. Fortunately, my late husband refused to accept the blame. He didn’t allow me to either. Smart move. There are no miracle cures and not too many answers. We needed to know that parents cannot cause schizophrenia. We needed to know about the mental health society, ENOSH, the Israeli Mental Health Association to enable us to join a support group as eventually, it was a support group of 22 parents who shared my grief, fears and confusion without pointing an accusing finger at me. We learned there to take each day as it came, to change our expectations and hopes and to use humor wherever possible, something my husband did naturally. We needed to know what to say when our son told us that we ‘didn’t really want him to get better.” What to say when he threw out the food I’d just cooked, convinced that I was trying to poison him. How to behave when he trashed his sister’s bedroom or covered his window with aluminum foil to keep ‘them’ out, or slashed picture frames in his search for microphones that e had hidden there in order to help ‘the establishment.’ I needed to know how to act when he became aggressive, depressed or suicidal. What we did not need was to hear a psychologist or psychiatrist ask us; ‘well what did you do?
It was at the support group that we learned how to set limits as we still had to find time for our healthy children and for each other. We had trouble with the way the staff decided at the last minute when they were releasing a patient from the psychiatric hospital. I had to organize extra food, change my teaching schedule and my husband had to reschedule his client’s appointments. We felt the need to know what side effects each medication could cause, as well as what the illness was causing him to do.
The power of stigma is devastating and if mental health professionals and caregivers could help explain to the public that it is an disease like any other, that it is not contagious, that most sufferers are not aggressive, despite the media headlines – that they commit no more brutal crimes than so-called ‘normal people.’ Could you help floundering parents put a sop to the stereotypes of mental illness and also tell the world that people who suffer from mental illness do not come from crazy families.
Last but not least, PLEASE give our sick children some hope. Nobody can live without hope.
If I have managed to change the attitude of just one person who reads this, my emotional upset at rehashing Doron’s story will have been worthwhile.
Any other writing projects, blogging etc?
‘My son, my son,’ was published in Hebrew in the anthology UPWARDS, Chapters in Community Mental Health edited by Yechezkel Taler as well as The Last Call in the anthology Hidden Lives edited by Lenore Rowntree and Andrew Bowden and A short love story “Love on the Kinneret’ in Ang-Lit Press’ LOVE IN ISRAEL, 65 short stories in honor of Israel’s 65th anniversary.
Having reached the age of 78 but still behaving like a teenager, according to my grandchildren, I am writing less, but still writing.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write all this.
Thank you very much my favorite Granny Jill for answering our questions. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects.
Jill Sadowsky was born in South Africa and has been living in israel since 1963. She has been writing since her son contracted paranoid schizophrenia. Granny, is a multiple award winner and her works have been featured in distinguished journals. She is a sought after speaker on brain health/illneses especially given her experience as a care giver of two loved ones lost to Schrizophrenia and Alzehmier.
And so world, with this wrap up interview, I must say I am so grateful to the Universe for giving me the Grace to blog each day for this month of May which is mental health Awareness month. Tommorrow I do a recap of the internviews and some of things relating to my mental health advocacy. Granny Jill is one of my best inspiration – my at 78 years? What do you all think?
Hello world, Let’s continue with the second part of our interview right? You can refresh on P1 right here
3) The Writing
Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?
No. I wrote it how I wanted it to be, played a bit. And though it does have a nice creative style and feel that many (not all!) have commented they enjoyed, it was a bit crap at the start. I was too full of myself, too thrilled with getting it finally done (much was written in notes 20 or so years earlier and saved in email). It needed a lot of editing (I did all editing myself) and it needed to be filled out with more detail.
I recently even did a minor update with a few things that needed to be fixed and added in a couple of resources. Just want it to be of value to whoever takes the time to read it. And for it to help someone heal their suffering. Give ideas of things that may help.
Did you have a writing mentor?
No. A few were very kind to check out the earlier version (and honest enough to tell me it needed a ton of editing!) but that was it.
How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published?
I had a bunch of notes I had written years before and saved in my email. It just felt right to do it, and I was ok being public as my son was older. First version I put up on Amazon as a kindle book took maybe eight months to complete. Updated that a little and then published as a paperback book via Createspace maybe six months or so later.
4) The Message
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I shared as much as I could. My blog is full of more info on a ton of topics that didn’t fit into the book. And my way of learning and connecting with others, helping to affect change. Speaking out abou the overdiagnosing and overdrugging, etc. I learned not too long ago about the death of children who are erroneoulsy being given BP diagnosis. So sad. They have health issues, but no, they should not be on psychotropic medications. The doctors fueling this new targeting of children – some have been sued after the child become completely disabled or worse, dies – should be in jail is my line of thought.
Any other writing projects, blogging, business etc?
My bipolar blog I mentioned above – a much different voice than most of what is out there.
My freelance writing business – info here: I’d love to help someone write their memoir! Special discount for mental health focus 🙂
Hello World, during this month of May which is Mental Health Awareness month, I am as you must have noticed, doing interviews with authors who have written on mental health, especially about their personal experiences.
I have done a modest review of Molly’s memorable memoir on my blog, and it is my honour to interview her too.
1) The Profile
Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:
Sure. Born in U.S., youngest of five kids, mom a nurse, dad (after 4 years in WWII) owned own insurance biz. Very athletic (probably saved me from having worse mental-physical health issues), soccer in college, diagnosed Manic Depression freshman year after a psychotic break and hospitaliztion. Normal middle class kid. Loved animals, loved nature, loved being active. Did well in school. Always in one sport or another. Had close friends, the first boyfriend, first kiss, pajama parties, dance parties, prom night… plus some other things I will refrain from mentioning. Lol.
About your Memoir, how did you come up with this audacious title?
I had a FB group for e-book authors, and I asked for feedback on my book title. One of the earlier ones was “A Brain Gone Awry”… everyone hated it. I of course, thought it was brilliant. Ha! More ideas for a title not that great according to my helpful ‘more experienced writer’ critics either.
Then someone told me I had to be more clear, and that folks want to ‘solve a problem’. So I realized my gift to share was to focus on BP-1 (the classic Manic Depression) and to talk about the alternative care that I did over the years that helped me. And helped me not be on psych meds – which is huge. Most folks want that. Hence the title about BP-1 and how to thrive.
2) The Soul Journey
Going from the assumption therefore that you are surviving and thriving, what is your take about mental health?
I am doing well. I’ve suffered – and still do – like anyone who has to deal with these issues but have had many wonderful things in my life as well, so am thankful.
My main issue is that the ‘Chemical Imbalance’ theory used to put folks on drugs has to end. Sure, these meds can help someone suffering with an epsiode of illness (bipolar is episodic in general – with normal periods of functioning) stabilize, get back in control, but are very harmful with long-term use. And no – there is no such thing as an identifiable imbalance they correct. They affect brain chemicals (like anything you ingest into your body) but are neurotoxins with many distressing side effects and create new ‘illness’ issues i.e. side effects.
Mental health is a huge term. It would take a long time to write my thoughts. But the main issue for me is to identify underlying causes of the symptoms someone is experiencing, if possible. And then search for ways to treat. I still deal with quite a bit of fatigue… but not severe, debilitating depression like I had in my younger years. God that was awful. And the improvement is from learning about and treating some of my unique health issues (thyroid, allergies, detox from toxic exposures, etc). Others can do this too.
Did your diagnosis help or hurt your mental wellbeing in the long term?
What an excellent question. I’m not really sure how to answer this… as I had no ‘choice’ in being diagnosed. I didn’t read a book and think ‘oh, this is me’ or spend a bunch of time in therapy then get told I was bipolar. I had the classic onset with a manic episode in late teens and was hospitalized. And no, I was not doing cocaine or any recreational drug that caused it.
A diagnosis is just a label describing symptoms, is one way to look at it. I kept it pretty under-the-table from my outer life as much as I could when younger. But I had to have treatment – had severe depressive episodes and mania. So in that respect, it was needed I guess. Though I fought for other ways to be well and learned much, and healed much on my own with regular docs – what I share in my book.
I can say if I had bought into the ‘I have a chemical imbalance and have to take psych meds’ for life nonsense I would be dead by now. No question in my mind. And also I would not have had some of the amazing experiences I’ve been fortunte to have: college degree, healthy baby, well paid professional work, rasing my son as a single Mom, travel the world, etc. All of this while not on any psych med(s).
Can you tell if there was a difference in the way you were treated and the way you perceived stigma before and after you got a diagnosis?
I definitely have experienced stigma (personal relationships, being treated differently, fewer job opportunities) – was forced out of a four-year university program due to knowledge of my medical history. Stigma is real, and I am not sure how it can be changed.
I had a fair amount of emotional cruelty too – the “tough love” approach is how some describe it. To deny what it really is. When I was severely ill, living on the street, wealthy family with multiple apartments unoccupied didn’t intervene. I spent Christmas in a homeless shelter miles from everyone else secure and safe in their home. Of course it was my fault I had become ill, my fault I was forced out of college then crippled with student loan payments, my fault I’d somehow not fit into the cultural norm everyone felt comfortable with, my fault I was raped, my fault I was mugged, my fault I somehow didn’t miraculously emerge a rock solid twenty-something making tons of cash.
At it’s essence, stigma is really a form of emotional cruelty. And there’s plenty of cruel people in this world.
If you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us about motherhood with a fragile mental health like yours?
Fragile is a bit offensive of a word… though I know you do not mean it that way. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Surviving what I’ve survived I look at as an inner strength, something in my makeup that no one will ever take away. It is a part of me and will be when I leave this earth. I’m vulnerable in ways some others are not, but not fragile. And never have been.
I loved being a mom and was like many other single moms. I was on no psych meds, never hospitalized, worked for many years, eventually went on disability but still worked to provide a better life and opportunities for my son. We lived and traveled abroad, he is bilingual, has had a ton of amazing experiences.
The only thing that is very different about me – that really would not be noticeable to others – is I have to keep stress down. Limit social time. Had to focus on my son, staying well. Most don’t have as much of those concerns. But most haven’t Manic Depression with a history of psychiatric hospitalization either.
It was always on the back of my mind that I had to stay focused and be careful not to trigger any severe episode. For the most part I was successful. No parent is perfect. My son was raised with more love and caring attention that many children are.
P2 – the conclusion of this lovely interview comes up tomorrow so stay subscribed lol & Thank you
Hello World, the first time I was invited on the IMA Series (Inspiring moments with Amy), I didn’t feel as excited as I do now. Actually, a few days ago (May 8th) while still in Dakar which I so dared, I received the following from Amy:
” Dear Marie,
I trust this mail reaches you in good health.
How have you been? I trust GOD all is well.
I am inviting you to be a panelist on the IMA GOLD monthly’s second panel this May 19, 2017on ‘Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Mother’s Guide’ which seeks to illustrate reasons why single motherhood is prevalent at such times, deliberate on strategies of single mothers’ success to bring up the children in an upright manner and pinpoint the challenges single mothers face daily to raise their kids. Knowing you are an all round contributor to peace, human rights and coaching’
This topic seeks to illustrate the worth of the mother at home, and her multi tasking abilities to do a lot at a blow. It will be great having you share your enriching experience to help single mothers benefit from your testimonies.The ‘Making Mothers Matter’ enriching encounter will address single mother hood issues, the 21st century mother and the ever evolving technological trends which keep her away from her motherly duties. Why recognize a mother talks with principal aim to enrich the relationship between parents and their children. “
Why the excitement?
Why – simply because I am a very proud single mother period!!! I am aware of the challenges, I have faced quiet many but I wouldn’t rush this stage of my life nor wish it to pass any fast. I am making the best lemonade I can and already reaping profits from this business – the joys are oh so joyful;
I will inspire many I know who are still so overwhelmed and even ashamed of their situation in life… even those who ‘choose’ single motherhood deliberately, still deal with some melancholy and all which in my opinion isn’t healthy to one’s mental health at all – like many other things we do in life, if we don’t have it figured out or on check in our minds, the output can be shaggy or even lead to an outright meltdown;
I love coaching on an audience scale instead of doing one on one. When I do the one on one, I get carried away too much into my client’s story, and well I spend more time with just one person instead of talking to many for the same time and then answering questions from the audience;
To top it up, am very excited at seeing my dear Amy’s projects flourish. She is so talented and has so many ideas and projects. It is my honour to help in whatever way I can and she rightly considers me one of her big fans. I have been known to motivate her even on her sick bed;
What is there to be proud about single motherhood?
Single mother is a mother like every other mother, but a mother who does it singlehandedly. Some single mums have their families to help them like Obama’s mother had, while others don’t. Doing such a job for me deserves pride and not prejudice;
The fact that inspite of all the odds, you get to deal with the shame, guilt, pity, loneliness, and many more challenges to be this single mother each new day for as long as it lasts, is a feat to be proud of;
By agreeing to go on that platform, I want to help the single mothers present and those watching from their homes to heal & deal:deal & heal
I will sure keep us all posted how this goes, it’ll sure be a boost to my mental health and my coaching journey.
Here is a picture film of the Pink edition in March on Female Entrepreneurship
Hello World, May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I am dedicated to doing daily (weekdays) posts all having a relation to mental health. Today, I want to share some tips to helping detox from toxic situations and relationships which can harm our mental health. I picked them up from one of the many books I have read, one day I will find that book again and do a review – If I can recall it is about boderline personality people and how to cope: Hope it helps
N stands for: No. Practice saying it. And remember that you don’t need to explain why the answer is no.
I stands for:I. Express how you feel: “I feel …”; “I think …”; “I know …”
C stands for: Clear commitments and agreements. Strive for clarity when you communicate your expectations and commitments.
E stands for: Enough! Don’t hesitate to denounce abusive behaviour.
L stands for: Leave the room or the situation.
E stands for: Emotional distance. Reduce the amount of personal information you share. Limit the topics of conversation.
M stands for: Move out of the house, or away from the area.
O stands for: On your terms. Visits and other interactions are your prerogative.
N stands for: Not answering, or selectively answering, calls, letters, e-mail.
Have a nice weekend us all: Remember you can make the best lemonade with all nice lemon you find
Hello World, without much ado we continue with P2 of our interview started yesterday. It is Mental Health Awareness and my goal is to advocate with fresh content every day of the week my own mental health permitting 🙂
If you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us about your relationship with your twin sister today a few years after the book has been published?
Twelve years after DIVDED MINDS first came out, I have no relationship with my sister except in memory. I love her as my sister but I do not like her.
How have you been coping with your mental illness and yet still been able to function at times enough to write and publish?
I do not believe in the concept of “mental illness” any longer, only in mental suffering. And I do not believe it is anything but calling people names when you label them bipolar or schizophrenic or anything else. I cope when I do, well, and when I dont cope I dont. But like anyone else I have my up times and I do what I do as well as I can. The medications are the real problem, disabling me and most people far more than we can possibly know. All the supposed symptoms of schizophrenia I believe can also be induced and are mostly induced by the antipsychotic medications. So how do you even begin to separate out which is which???
3) The Writing
Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)? Not that I recall… No one particular book influences me but I must have read thousands of books. I tell anyone who wants to write to read, read, read, everything you can get your hands on, that way you will not be overly influenced or copy someone else when it comes time to write your own book.
Did you have a writing mentor? No I never did.
Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why? The last one was difficult to write because I did not know where I would end it and how…and how to assess the present with an eye for the future is hard. Also to wind up a book I had spend almost a decade writing felt devastating. How to sum up all that in one half a chapter was not easy.
How did you deal with that?
Which was your favourite poem and why? I still like the first one and the last one in the book WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS… But I have no real favorites, My latest poem is usually my current favourite.
Did you learn anything from writing your memoir and what was it?
My notes please: Pammy didn’t have an answer for this question
How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published? I wrote a memoir by myself that took ten years, then when my twin and I rewrote it to make DIVDED MINDS it took 3 years. Publication from start to finish took 2 years.
4) The Message
Do you have any advice for other memoir writers?
Read memoir, first of all. if you do not like to read memoirs, it may be that you wont want to write memoir. But you probably can not write a decent memoir if you do not read it either.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I really mean it when I say I no longer believe in diagnoses for mental illnesses, whether it is schizophrenia or bipolar illness or any personality disorder etc. I do not even care if someday they manage to find an anatomic or genetic “cause” or abnormality that “proves” that there is such a thing. You know, there are all sorts of genetic variants that happen in people but we choose we how we see it; nothing makes normal or abnormal until we define it that way. We have made up a category of behaviors and description of an experience called schizophrenia and defined it as a bad thing for so long we have forgotten that it was and is not always thought of as bad everywhere, nor must it end badly, except when we treat it badly and with medications! If we treat schizophrenia with medications we know almost for certain it will become chronic by definition. Look at the research. No one knows what schizophrenia is nor who really needs or would even slightly benefit from medication. Most antipsychotic medication does nothing good in the end but make people sicker…I mean this. All for very dubious benefit and no chance of cure. Medications harm people directly and deeply even with just the side effects, which are legion, ranging from terrible disfiguring movement disorders to loss of sexual function and desire, loss of all pleasure in life, to loss of teeth due to dry mouth and so. Would you want to take a chance on any of these because doctors have nothing better to offer you? Or would you too want to eschew medical care and try something that at least truly does no harm?
Any other writing projects, blogging etc?
My first poetry book WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS, can still be bought from Cavankerrypress.org and my newest poetry book which includes my art LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS will be published in late May 2017. I try to keep my blog going at http://pamelaspirowagner.com
Where can your memoir be found? DIVIDED MINDS can still be bought fromAmazon.com but also used copies can be found and you can order it from any bookstore.
Thank you very much Pammy for answering our questions. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects. Kindly drop any questions you have for Pammy in the comments section and please do not hesitate to respectfully share any opinions on this interview too…
And before I go to her bio, please do not hesitate to visit Pammy’s Blog for more on her writings and mental health advocacy
Pam’s Awesome Profile
An artist, writer and poet who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia for decades, Pamela Spiro Wagner attended Brown University from 1970-1975. She later went to medical school for one and a half years, before being hospitalized for the third time for psychiatric care. In 2010, she was also diagnosed with PTSD due to trauma resulting from deeply inappropriate and punitive use of seclusion and restraints in psychiatric hospitals.
Wagner won First Place in the 2001/2 international BBC World Service Radio Poetry Competition, judged by Nobelist Wole Soyinke. In 2005, she co-authored, with her twin sister, a psychiatrist, DIVIDED MINDS: Twin Sisters and their Journey through Schizophrenia, which won the national NAMI Outstanding Literature Award and was a finalist for the Connecticut Book Award. Four years later,Ms Wagner’s book of poems, WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS was published. Several poems won honorable mentions at New Millennium Writingsand two were short-listed for the Bridport Prize in the UK. Her writing has appeared in the TheNew York TimesSunday Magazine,theHartford Courant,and Tikkunamong other places.
Doing art under the name, Pamwagg, Ms Wagner was part of a group show in Hartford, Connecticut in 2011, and had two solo shows, one at the Otis Library in Norwich, Connecticut in 2012 and then at the Wethersfield Library in Connecticut. Two paintings and two poems appeared in the Collective DreamArtsMagazinein 2014. In June 2017, her art will be on display at the Hooker-Dunham Gallery in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Despite experiencing much adversity in her 64 years, including the decades-long diagnosis of schizophrenia, Wagner has also been lucky enough to have had four life-changing miracles along the way. The passion to write poetry, starting in 1984, and then, quite suddenly, to take up art in 2008 at the age of 55, were just two of those miracles. She currently resides along with her cat, Beanie Baby, in Brattleboro, Vermont, in northern New England, where she disavows all labels, including those of any mental illness.
Wagner’s books include: DIVIDED MINDS: Twin Sisters and their Journey through Schizophrenia (St Martin’s Press, 2005)
WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS, poems (Cavankerry Press, 2009)
LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS, poems and art (Green Writers Press/SunDog Poetry 2017)
At the end of this month, I will round up with a summary post of advocacy and my take on the different interviews and opinions and all – please do not hesitate to contact me if you want to be featured on my blog during this month (Mental health related only)
This interview is the longest post I am doing on this blog I promise… don’t unsubscribe please
Mental illness is more often than not associated with incompetence, fragility, frugality, vulnerability, undesirability: And yet we all have minds, which minds could go ill and if poorly managed the illness runs a life time.
Mental health awareness is a call to the imperativeness of taking care of your mind just like you will do your body. It is equally in my opinion a call to demand an equal treatment of those with a mental illness just like those with a physical illness. I know this is an ideal!
And so here we go: Hello World, during this month of May which is Mental Health Awareness month, I also intend to feature authors who have written on mental health, especially about their personal experiences. An author to me is anyone who has written and published their writings be it on or offline, via a blog, magazine, book or etc.
My first author to be interviewed in this series is a dear friend and one old enough to be my mum actually. I clicked with Pamela Spiro Wagner around January 2014 via my blog. We have been friends since then and she is the only person from the US I met through the blog and have had the honour of meeting in real life.
I have done a modest review of her epic memoir on my blog, as co-authored with her twin sister, and have also read some of her poetry. Pammy did my portrait even though hospitalised, and it took 3 visits spanned over 6 – 9 hours. It is among my most precious possessions. Without much ado, I’ll interview her for your reading pleasure and let her tell us more about herself and her life journey, especially that to become this published author she is today today mindful of her Schizophrenia diagnosis.
1) The Profile
Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:
I am an identical twin, the older one, and the slightly bigger one at birth. Pigeon-holed as stoical even in childhood, I was given the message, often voiced aloud, that I did not need anything and that I did not have feelings. My twin was given the opposite message, by the way. Nevertheless, my childhood was relatively uneventful until 6th grade when 2 things happened. First President Kennedy was assassinated, which changed my life in terrible ways: this was when I started hearing voices telling me that I was evil and that I had killed the president. Then a couple of months later I had a very traumatic accident while skiing. I broke my leg and lay on the freezing ski slopes for hours waiting for rescue. When they finally brought me down my leg was first set without anaesthesia, which I endured, as I knew I had to, without making a sound. Then only hours later it was set a second time. This time, the surgeon clamped a mask of anaesthetizing ether gas on my face but failed to initiate the air intake valve, in effect suffocating me. I tried to resist, because he was killing me, and was restrained. The last thing I heard before I passed out was him saying, “Oh my god, I forgot to turn on the gas…” Then all went black. I told my parents nothing about either of these events. Why? Because of course I was stoical and did not need anything. And because I also knew in my heart that no one would believe me or take my struggles seriously. Nevertheless, these things – believing I had no right to feel, hearing voices and the trauma of my accident, deeply affected me all my life.
About your Memoir, how did you come up with the title?
Our publishers chose the name, DIVIDED MINDS, which was a title they had used before with success. We had nothing to do with it. Alas, our original title, which I had chosen and always prefered was SOLO FOR TWO.
2) The Soul Journey
I read that schizophrenia affects 1 out of 100 Americans; what’s your take on that?
Well according to most statistics this holds true, pretty much world-wide, the 1 in 100 persons being affected by schizophrenia. But you know, I doubt the validity of this number. And I doubt it because it is really a matter of opinion and nothing more. What is schizophrenia? Can anyone tell me? It is not anywhere in the brain that one can point to and despite the lies we have been told , it is NOT a chemical imbalance or some overproduction of dopamine. No one HAS schizophrenia, , not the way you have malaria or measles. It is a matter of what you say and do that in the opinion of another person makes them judge you as psychotic and out of touch with reality. I do not in fact believe that a person with schizophrenia in the USA would be accounted as schizophreinic or “crazy” everywhere, not in say, India or Africa … and so forth… Times change, definitions of madness change. That does not happen with malaria or measles, does it? Because judgments change and opinions change so notions of so-called mental illness change too, but usually facts do not.
How did you get your diagnosis and how have you fared since that diagnosis?
I was first informed of my schizophrenia diagnosis when I was about 28 or thirty, but that was the first time I was told any diagnosis at all. I had been hospitalized several times before then and as early as 18 but literally no one had ever spoken to me about diagnosis. This doctor came right out and told me, “You have schizophrenia”then he said, “You dont have to end up on the back wards if you take your medication, properly, and for the rest of your life.” Then he started me on Mellaril (Thioridazine), which I took at higher and higher doses and along with doses of Thorazine (Chlorpromazine) as high as 1500mg for years. These did not keep me well, not by any means, despite the medications I was hit with more and more frequent stays in the hospital. Knowing what I know now, that antipsychotic medications do not work and only increase the tendency to relapse, I would not say that the decision to put me on Mellaril was the best thing he could have done for me. In fact, I would say that it is possible that the diagnosis itself was the worst thing that could have happened to me, or the best, depending on how you look at things. Life is life and depending on where you are in your journey, things can seem like a mistake or a miracle. To me, now, despite my take on diagnoses being wrong and just name calling, I nevertheless believe that what happened to me at that point in time was possibly the best thing that could have happened. I do know it was inevitable and that it happened for a reason. And that things that subsequently occurred because of it have all led me to where I am today…And where I am today I would not change for the world.
Can you tell if there was a difference in the way you were treated and the way you perceive stigma before and after you got a diagnosis?
I was never once put into four-point restraints until I was diagnosed and then they tied me to a bed with my arms stretched above my head and shackled to the bed posts and my ankles shackled to the lower bed posts and kept like that for three full days. Later I learned from an aide that the doctor told him “schizophrenics” do not feel restraints the way normal people do…they do not suffer the way WE do.” I did not know what to say to that. This aide had heard me beg and beg him to let me free and knew how I had suffered, so how could he make such a statement? It confused me terribly. Later on, they put me in restraints to punish me and knew perfectly well that I suffered for it, and I know they enjoyed hurting me. I did not know a thing about schizophrenia before I was diagnosed and little really after it except that people would talk about “crazy people” and make fun of them, but NO one was ever so crazy to me that I did not understand them. I am a poet, and I know that people sometimes have to be understood the way you understand a poem, not taking every word literally but just taking their words in whole, accepting them with your whole heart and mind and body, and knowing that you “grok” them. No body has ever been so psychotic to me that I did not “get” what they meant fundamentally. They just speak in poetry not prose.
PS: If you have read this far… wow thank you… P2 tommorrow, as Trevor Noah says on the epic Daily Show: So Much News So Little Time
Starting with if you’ll call this good news: the internet connection cut 3 months ago has been restored. Am therefore writing this post as a tribute to that restoration;
Second emotional news: I saw my dad and although I didn’t get a hug, I got so much more. I put my hand on his shoulder and he put one of his behind me too. Some may see this as a no event but to me this is such a big deal… See our smiles…gratitude for the peace… Also reconnected with my big step sister today am thankful and I spoke to the daughter of a late cousin I was so fond of. Indeed we had same surnames and age oh we were pals…
Third and toughest emotional news, I finally did go and see where my brother Gabriel was buried. When he died in the US and his corps was brought home, I flew in from Belgium but refused going to see where he’ll be buried. He is buried behind my dad’s compound, and although I have been here some months ago, I didn’t feel ready going there. Could my going there today mean I was ready for some sort of closure about his death ahead of the medical mission starting tomorrow?
Sometimes in life, some grief shake us up and we near lose our bearings. We have different ways and timelines of dealing with grief, but I wish we all give it a try and not let fear ruin it for us. Even grief at a relationship we so looked up to or one causing us so much pain, we need to find the strength to deal and heal for our mental wellbeing.
Wishing us all a happy weekend…
I started the day with tears but am much better now… Sharing this to let someone somewhere going through similar stuff know they ain’t alone
My thrilling life as an author, coach, consultant & mental health advocate…
This blog is to encourage others that is being victimize, been a victm, or were a victim that they no longer have to live in hidden. I want to share words of encouragement to them and let them know they can come out of their situtaion alive no matter what there abuser is telling or has told them over the years. Some individuals have left their abuser but they are still living in afraid or living in in jail mental; the victim have to get his or her life back. Living behind the wall in public isn't well for them. They have to make a stand for themselves and regain what they lost in that relationship. It will not happen within a week or probably a month. First of all its a learning process, admit to what they lost, and let go of the shame, pride, and bitter. Its up to the victim to want to be a Survior not the abuser.