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.

Monday, June 21, 2010

NYC Visit

So I went to New York City a week and a half ago to meet up with my parents for a four night stay. About an hour or so before I arrived at 35th Street and Park Ave, my 83 year old father had tripped and fallen in the street while he and my mother were shopping for dinner and supplies. At the time he refused to go to the hospital and managed to walk back to the Unitarian church apartment we were renting out. He was waiting outside for me and quickly told me what had happened and showed me his wounds: a scraped left knee and a swollen and bruised left hand. I told him he should go to the hospital, but he refused, that is until the next day when his knee felt strange and he was having difficulty walking. He called a friend who lives in Manhattan and she suggested that he go to a hospital on East 17th Street. It was very fortunate we went there because we didn't have to wait. My father had come well prepared with a list of all his medications; he also filled out many forms with no problem. The nurse looked at his wounds and asked him specific questions, then a young doctor did the same and then my father had x-rays taken of his hand and knee. We got the results quickly--no broken bones, which surprised the doctor because my father's hand was quite swollen. A splint was put on his knee and one on his hand and wrist and he was sent home, told to rest, to keep his hand elevated and put ice on it as well.

My father decided that he would remain in the apartment for the duration of the trip, but we soon found out that he was having a lot of trouble getting in and out of chairs. So my mother and I stayed close to him. I took on the responsibility of going shopping. We were located in the Murray Hill section of New York and there were plenty of delis and drug stores and a supermarket. One night, after setting my father up in a chair in front of the TV, my mother and I went out to a nearby Korean restaurant and had dinner, which was very pleasant. The other nights we had sandwiches or a pizza and lots of tea. The day before we were to leave my parents urged me to go out for a few hours, so I took a 5th avenue bus down to 8th street in Greenwich Village. I had found a Thai restaurant on Bleeker Street that I wanted to try as well as walk around and do a little shopping. I didn't want to buy too much because I had packed too much in my duffle bag to begin with.

So, no going to museums and art galleries and no New York City Ballet performance this time. You would think that I would have been unhappy or depressed with the situation, but I wasn't. I see my parents so infrequently that getting to be around them and to actually be helpful to them satisfied me for the most part, though I certainly wasn't happy that my father had fallen and hurt himself. I think we were all relieved that he didn't need to be hospitalized because he had no broken bones or internal injuries. When things go wrong, count your blessings first. I was pleased with myself that I didn't back down from the challenge of the situation, which I probably would have several years earlier when I had been sicker. I enjoyed being in the small apartment with my parents and I enjoyed going outside and doing the shopping for us all. The City had visual appeal, skyscrapers and old brownstones, wide avenues and the delis and restaurants, but mostly the visual appeal was in all the people rushing past me, young and old, multi-cultural, a great and dynamic diversity. I still liked the City and felt the privilege of staying in an apartment so centrally located. I imagined what it would be like to live there, but knew that I wouldn't. In fact, this was the first time I went to the City where I wasn't dreaming of being back in it again, though I still wish sometimes that I lived only an hour and a half away from it. I had looked at a house in 1988-89 in Saugerties, New York which is roughly near Woodstock, New York (which is not THE Woodstock of the late 1960s festival, but close enough). It was a good location, but the road was too isolated and I knew not a soul around there. Not that I know so many people where I live now, but I do have my brother and that makes all the difference.

I did not meditate while I was away. I had thought I would meditate on the bus, but I didn't feel comfortable and then after getting together with my parents and after learning of my father's fall, I spent much of my time being attentive and supportive towards them. I found I also couldn't settle into reading my Buddhist books. I became easily distracted. I was disappointed in myself for not even trying to meditate. I guess it was too soon in my practice because I had only been meditating for just a month and under mostly non stressful circumstances i.e. me quietly at home reading and meditating. Some Buddhists say "The path IS the goal." And if the path is the goal then one day when I'm in a stressful situation I will remember to approach it through meditation.

I've been home for a week, slowly trying to get back into a routine of meditation and reading. I have not contacted anyone online except for my parents and uncle. This is a typical pattern for me. After I come back from a trip, I keep to myself for a week or so. And this will happen several times more this summer. I go with my brother each year for four days and three nights to a music festival in Ithaca New York called the Grassroots Festival. That's coming up in a month and then my parents will be staying at my house for a week and a half a few days after we get home from the festival. I have a little over a month to get this house in order. If I start now and do a little work each day, I should be in good shape in late July. A couple of days ago I listened to an audio program called Organizing From The Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. I wrote down some of her ideas, such as, to analyze and take stock of your situation and then create a plan of action, a realistic schedule and then get to sorting and arranging.

Well, maybe I'm a little disappointed about the trip to NYC, but I did learn that I can make the trip to the City, that I can handle myself better than I realize. That's good to know. I also learned that I need more overall meditation practice and to take it slowly.

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