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 21, 2008

A Modest Rebuke

A good week followed by a not as good week, but not a terrible week by any means. The main thing that I have found to be upsetting is that Geoff Rutledge from Wellsphere never returned my emails. In my first email to him I accepted his offer to become a featured blogger. I then went on to ask if there would be other bloggers blogging on schizophrenia and mentioned Pam and Chris. I did say that they were more accomplished than me because Pam has co-written a book and has been blogging longer than I have and Christina writes both a personal blog and professional blog for Health Central as well as being a full time librarian and an advocate for NAMI. I went on to ask some questions and to thank him once again for the opportunity. A week went by and no word from him. So I sent him a second short email reaffirming my interest and asking him to reply. Then Chris left a comment on this blog saying that this man from Wellsphere had gotten in touch with her. This is the only way I knew that he had even gotten my email in the first place. Very awkward. Not that it’s surprising that Mr. Rutledge would prefer to have Christina working for his company because she is outstanding, but that he didn’t have the courtesy to inform me, hurt.

It’s okay if I am not a featured blogger for Wellsphere, but he shouldn’t have offered the position to me in the first place without being certain that I was whom he wanted. I truly thought that he had not only thoroughly checked out my blog, but had checked out my favorite links (which includes Chris’ site and Pamela’s blog). To my mind, he was the only one at fault here. He may have acted ambitiously, but not well. Disappointing and a bit humiliating to have my writing called “fantastic” and then to be ignored. Politics at play. I guess I was impressed by the man’s credentials (I had checked him out online to see if he was legit). Teaching and practicing at Harvard and Stanford medical schools are not little accomplishments and he also had done some other rather outstanding things in the online community. I decided he was a very capable person and knew what he was doing. And so I was honored. I told my online friends and I told my therapist and I felt pleased with myself.

Perhaps some people get ahead by stepping on the little guys. It’s certainly not an unheard of notion. But sad. Beware of ambition. Stand by higher values, and be willing to let opportunities go that might compromise your sense of self worth. At least here, within my small sphere, I am free to write as I see fit and that means a great deal to me. I may not reach a large audience, but I don’t need to. Maybe I touch the lives of a few and that is a good thing in itself.

Otherwise, I have been uploading work to Artid and painting. My painting is uneven which is as it should be because I haven’t been doing it seriously for long. It’s just great to have some people look at my work. I like having business cards, but I’m thinking that I should take the summer to practice painting portraits before I promote myself locally. I was going to say that maybe I jumped the gun, but really, no. I am not a great artist and I have much to learn, but I’m good enough to try to paint portraits for others and that is what I’m doing. And I’ll tell you, getting photographs from people is like a breath of fresh air. I live such an isolated life and these photographs give me a precious glimpse into other people’s worlds. My therapist is away on a trip to europe (her first time) and I asked her to take photographs of her husband. And I’ll continue to say it to everyone: please send me photographs either by email (wanderjahr@infoblvd.net) or mail (PO Box 805/ Alfred N.Y. 14802).

I painted a portrait of Nancy’s almost grown-up children (the photograph I worked from was five years old) and she did not like it. I hadn’t gotten the proportions of their faces correct. And the painting itself was too tentative. She was right. She said that maybe it needed to be reworked. Unfortunately, with watercolor, that’s difficult to do. What I need to do is try again and work harder on both getting the drawing more accurate and the painting more fluid and confident. I also should try switching to acrylic which is a more forgiving medium which I might do because I really like the photograph. Her children looks so loving towards each other. Nancy wanted to make sure that I was okay with her being honest and I definitely was. Without honest critiques my work will go nowhere. And I have to be able to handle criticism if I’m going to pursue portraiture. Some people will like my work and others will not and that is just reality.

But for a little while my voices reacted to the stress of not having done a good job. Luckily, it didn’t last long and I am free to move on which I shall. Now, when the voices get restless or fixated on the word “Evil” I can step back from them. The negativity doesn’t stick so much. I believe this is due to the combination of taking the anti-psychotic medications and my own particular brand of working it through by pulling myself towards the positive once again. I acknowledge what’s wrong, either in my circumstances or in my way of thinking, and then I acknowledge what’s right. I don’t just sit with the negative. When I can’t find so much positive, I take a nap. Letting go consciously allows me time to work it through my unconscious, gives me a break and sometimes after I wake up I’ll have a different, better perspective. I remember that when I was in the acute stages of psychosis I would get obsessive like a dog with a bone. Now I let go of the bone and take a few steps back.

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