A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

NAMI Meeting And Kittens

I went to the NAMI meeting on Wednesday, but it turned out to be a disappointment. The drive to the meeting was longer than I thought it would be and I was experiencing anxiety, worrying that the car would break down, etc... I didn't have a problem finding the meeting and there were 8-10 people there, but the president of the meeting started a DVD for us to watch that would take up the entire meeting. It was a documentary I had seen before about depression called Out Of The Shadows (which is weird because I just got a documentary on a woman with schizophrenia called Out Of The Shadow....) I excused myself early leaving my email address and name and town on a piece of paper, in case anyone wanted to get in touch with me. I would have stayed longer, but I didn't want to drive at night time. The president did manage to mention that NAMI was not looking to start a group in my county because it costs too much money. This group has one meeting once a month for an hour and a half at a time, which is not much of a support group, but maybe that will change. I'm back to my initial dilemma: no support group in my town or the surrounding towns.

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I've been preoccupied with the kittens this last week. I got them the milk replacer which has a lot more nutrients in it than the cow's cream and they seem to be enjoying it. I've set up a routine. I get up at dawn, when the kittens are waking up and let them run around the bathroom for a while. Then I feed them the milk and some wet food. When they tire out I let them rest on me and then after about an hour of all this, I put them back in the tub. I do this about 4 times a day and then let them rest through the night. They seem to be settling into the routine because they don't complain as much when I put them back in the tub. They know I'll be back in a few hours for more contact. I love the kittens, but I'm somewhat stressed out taking care of them. I need a little time to get used to the routine myself. I'm also worrying that I won't be able to go to the four day music festival in a little over two weeks. My brother relies on going each summer. It's possible that he might be able to get a friend to go with him, but I haven't broached the subject yet with him.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Research

I found an About.com site on cats, so I've been doing some research. They say having an outdoor enclosure for the cats is good, but that letting them run free is probably not so good because of the reasons I mentioned before: cars, disease and other animals. So I'm rethinking my position and will probably ask Richard to redo the outdoor enclosure that he made for me quite a while ago, so that the cats can still go out, but not get out of the enclosure. I also called the vet's office and made an appointment to bring in the cats and kittens. They are so booked up that I won't be able to see him for two weeks. When I told the receptionist Carol that I thought the kittens were between 4 and 6 weeks old, that they have baby teeth, that they are walking and pooping okay and drinking the cream on their own, she said I sounded like I was doing a good job. She did tell me to stop giving them the cream and go get something called Milk Replacer in powdered form and also to give them the juice from canned catfood. Today I gave them some catfood juice and they licked it up happily, though they did get pretty messy in the process, but then they groomed themselves and I groomed them.

I leave for the support group meeting in an hour and a half. I printed out a map of where the meeting is to follow and it looks very accessible. It's a beautiful day here, so the driving should be good. I'm nervous, but determined to go. More later...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Three Kittens

Last Friday my oldest cat Allie died and a few hours later Richard discovered three kittens in the woodshed on my back porch. I had been expecting the death of my cat for quite some time; she was very old. But I was totally surprised by the discovery of the three kittens. Richard, being a Born Again Christian, saw it as a sign/gift from God. I wasn't sure how to see it. The kittens appeared to be quite healthy. Obviously, the mother cat was around somewhere, but nowhere in sight. I kept a look out for her for several days and didn't see her. I worried about the kittens safety and health, so I got some half and half milk/cream to give them. I worried also because soon there will be some major work done outside the house near to where the kittens were living. And so I brought them into my house. After I did that I very briefly saw a black cat outside. I called to her, but then she (or he) disappeared.

For now, I'm keeping the kittens in the bathtub because the tub has a sliding door, so that they can come out of the carrying case where they sleep on a towel and drink from the plate of milk/cream or use the kitty litter tray, which I'm happy to say they have been using. I feed them about three times a day and let them run around the rest of the bathroom several times a day. They are sweet, loving and beautiful and, of course, I'm thinking about keeping them. Not a wise idea probably, but I am smitten. The only way I can keep my adult cats and the kittens is if I am willing to let them run free outside. This means I have to run the risk of them being hit by a car or possibly infected with some incurable disease or attacked by some wild animal. The kittens won't be ready to be released for several months, but my other two cats must be castrated and given their shots very soon. I also need to have a cat door installed so the cats can come in and out freely.

Most people living in the country don't think twice about letting their cats run free, but I've been overprotective for years and I just can't do that anymore, my house can't take it. As much as I resist it, life is about taking risks and trying to live to the fullest if possible. When I was growing up I would go live at the beach during the summer with my family and we would bring the cats down with us and then let them run free. They loved it so much. Animals in nature is a magic fit despite the risks taken. I will still worry. I know I will.

I'm not sure if I'm making the right choice. I could bring the kittens to the Humane Society. I just don't have it in me to do that right now. Maybe it's my maternal instincts coming out because I know I will never have a child of my own. Maybe I'm taking Richard's idea that it's a sign from God and that I should look at it as a blessing and not a burden. I really don't know. In any case, I'm going to sit with it for another week and wait to decide and in the meantime I will make an appointment to bring the two cats and three kittens in to see the vet.

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Tomorrow I go to my first NAMI meeting. I'm nervous about going, but I know I have to go. I can't cop out of this. I'll let you know what happens. Also a big Thank You to everyone who responded to my last post!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Poem--First Draft

The other day I joined a poetry writing group called Crazy Poems on LiveJournal. It's a group for poets who suffer from mental illness. One of the founding poets set up a challenge to write a poem about one's healed self and this is what I came up with--first draft:

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Healthy Self


I see my healthy self as a phoenix rising from the ashes
A 500 year old bird transformed by fire and reborn to fly again.

Here's how I fly:

I sweep my house clean, brush my teeth
Wash and dry my body, my clothes.

I open doors and windows
I call out to friends and strangers alike--

"Come sit by me and tell your story
We'll weave our tapestries together
To form a stronger bond."

I look up and see the harmony in the clouds
I wait for the rain to fall

Water is nourishment
Earth is for growing things
And oceans hold time
In the rhythmic swell and release of the tides.

Everything is out in the open
The fig leaves fall
And we are naked
As the day we were born.

The shame is gone
And I am smiling.

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By the way, Pamela Spiro Wagner, who suffers from schizophrenia, has a new book of poetry out called We Mad Climb Shaky Ladders: Poems. You can buy her book on Amazon. Please do, she is an extremely talented poet with much insight into her illness.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Friend Of The Family

My thanks to J.P., Bev and Jen who posted comments on my last entry. I really appreciate the feedback and support.



Richard is a very good friend of the family, he's been especially good to my brother. They've been friends for over 20 years. Well, now he is helping me. He has worked on my house before, but not for a very long time. Unfortunately, it's going to be a fairly big and expensive job to repair the downstairs and the outside drain. He began work right away and has called in several specialists to consult with them. The good news is that the problems can be fixed. The other day he and his 18 year old son cleared out the downstairs making three trips to the dump. The downstairs had to be cleared out because of the mold on the walls which create spores that get into everything. It's just as well, because I am a bit of a hoarder myself and it is good to get rid of stuff that I don't use. I just wish that it hadn't gotten to this point.

This past week Richard has been visiting with me after working downstairs. I offer him a couple of beers and some food and we talk. He and his wife are Born Again Christians and she doesn't believe in drinking alcohol, coffee or tea and so Richard only drinks them when he's not at home. She also is not affectionate to her husband and this is something that really disturbs him. A few weeks ago, he had surgery on one of his shoulders. He was told that he should have his shoulder, back, and chest massaged to ease some of the pain, but his wife hasn't offered to to that for him. And so one night he asked me if I would rub his back and shoulder for him because he was in pain after working all day. I've known Richard for 20 years and I knew this was not a come on. And so, as a friend, I rubbed his back and shoulders.

I have been alone, not touching or being touched, for a very long time; touching Richard felt very healing. It reassured me that I am still human. I also felt good about showing him my gratitude for coming into my house, dealing with my problems and being just a good, honest, hardworking friend. I think also that I am afraid of getting close to a man because I've been through an abusive relationship. I worry that a man will hurt me and take advantage of me. Richard, on the other hand, is a "safe" man, a married man and a practicing Christian, a friend of my family and so I felt good moving closer to him. All I want right now is a friend and that seems to be all that Richard wants too. And so I count myself fortunate. I'm hoping that a friendship with a safe man will lead me to a more serious relationship with an available man.

Richard suggested that I join an online personals group. Actually I had already tried joining a group called No Longer Lonely which was created to help people living with mental illness meet other people living with mental illness, but both times I tried I never got a confirming password from them to open my account. That was very frustrating, so I tried joining Match.com to see if I could find other people with mental illness to be friends with, but my personal essay never got approval. Truth is, I don't think I want a lover right now; I would rather have a good pen pal for a few months. I could do that with No Longer Lonely, but these other personal sites don't seem to allow for finding just friends, they jump right into a serious relationship and I'm not ready for that, especially with a virtual stranger.

Though I believe it is a good thing developing a deeper friendship with Richard, mostly it is still me on my own and lately and I haven't been very productive. I did paint a portrait of Richard's friend's daughter that came out pretty well, but then my next drawing didn't come out and I haven't gone farther with it. I know I need to return to some kind of creative work in order to remain balanced and happier. I got two books last week, one on writing a memoir and one on becoming a creative entrepreneur. I've been reading them slowly and have started work on the memoir, though only in fits and starts. I also see how I am still sick in comparison Richard's relative health. He works and works hard, I do not. He has friends, I do not. Where he is active and healthy, I am more passive and sick. I still don't clean my house (upstairs) or go out much. I'm still self absorbed. So I see the problem and now I have to continue to work on the solution. Do my artwork and writing, clean my house a little at a time, go out once a day, see my brother and Richard. I can do these things, but I have to encourage myself.