Alone. Searching for the words to say something. Anything. To Who? Radio on. No need to talk. Driving from the mall on my way home, my eyes are blinded by the sun. Visor down to help, but it still does not block the intensity of the sun beaming down on the windshield. The only answer is to slow the car to a crawl and put my hand up to the sun coming in. Finally I can see to drive. Light still coming through though.
Giving up. I am home. Sitting in my car. Alone. Waiting for the garage door to open. Driving in. Engine off. Searching for something to say. Why? No one around to talk to. Still searching for something to say. No reason to. Getting out of the car. Door opened by my gloved hand and my dog to greet me. Thank God a familiar face. Happiness. Tail wagging.
No pressure now to say anything. Alone. Going to the back of the house. Light is shining through the window. No need to block it anymore. Enjoying the light coming through now. Searching for words to say. None comes. See only the light. No ghosts to worry about. Just me. Tiny body pressing against my lower legs reminding me I am worth something.
Photo taken of the Cascade Mountains reveals the majesty of our world around us.
I am not into reblogging, but this one from a peer of mine who is speaking from her experiences with the dying just about choked me up beyond words. She interviewed the dying and asked what regrets they had in their lives. As a cancer survivor on more than one occasion, I truly get this list. Most with good health will not, but you do have a chance to. Review this now and see what you can do to change your ways: http://www.alternet.org/5-top-regrets-people-have-end-their-lives
Photo I took from one of the oldest cemeterys in America in NYC’s St. Paul’s Churchyard.
Today I went to a cemetery to photograph some stones for family members that did not live in Washington State. It is a volunteer program I became involved with to assist those that can not take the photography themselves. On this particular day, I was having trouble finding a plot. There was a woman alone near me and as we began to talk, she started helping me search for the grave site.
After a few minutes I found who I was looking for and took the pictures I needed to take. After I was done, I began to talk with this woman. I realized a sadness in her face as I asked her if she was there visiting with someone. She said, “Yes, my husband. He committed suicide.” I said, “I am so sorry to hear this. When did he do that?” She replied, “In 2010.” It was at this point we began sharing back and forward about life and death situations. It was as if she was saying death was the best choice he saw for himself.
It was interesting having this chance meeting with her. I do not even know her name, but she did take me to her husband’s burial site. I paid my respects with her. This nicely dressed lady was from Korea and shared with me that he was depressed before he killed himself and had lost much of his business. He was a highly respected businessman and it sounded from her he had lost everything. She had begun to go to work at a department store to bring in some money.
As I took my time with her, we spoke of Korean traditions and how the husband’s role is so important in that culture. She spoke of going to work and what this might have felt like for her husband. You could see the sadness in her eyes as she discussed this with me and the clash of current culture with the culture and traditions of her home country. She shared that her home may be lost soon to foreclosure and she wondered about moving back to Korea. She now has grandchildren here that make her so happy. I offered her the only advice I knew when she told me she is now an American citizen, “Stay in America and be with your grandchildren no matter if you lose your house. They sound so lovely for you.” We smiled and said our goodbyes. I offered to take a photo of her husband’s grave site and email it to her. She was so happy for me to do that. I hope in some way it helps her.
When I was growing up, mental illness was shunned. We did not talk about it in my household. The first time I really heard much about mentally ill people was from my two aunts. They were nurses in a mental hospital for chronic patients in Kentucky. As a young girl of 16, I was immediately drawn into the strangeness of this new world. I went up to visit my aunts when they were working and I was able to actually walk the halls with the patients. I was not scared, but what impressed me most about these sick folks was how they mostly kept to themselves. They talked to themselves and did not seem to notice the world around them. One man did come up to me saying some jibberish that had to do with eatting Ronald Reagan’s liver for lunch and I said, “I hope it tasted good.” I did not know what to say and as many of you know I do have a strange sense of humor.
When I became a Registered Nurse, I left the crazy world my aunts loved to concentrate most of my nursing in critical care or post operative surgery. I thought this kind of nursing was a much safer world for me. I guess I was fooled. However, the world of Mental Health never left my personal life. In 1993, I welcomed a beautiful baby boy named Luke. He would be diagnosed with PDD-NOS or Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. Later this was just noted as Autism. My world as I knew it was shaken to its core.
You see a panel of experts in 1994 had completed a new revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that would be used by the medical community to identify and diagnose children like mine with Autism. They say 20% of the population has some form of mental illness. I think it is higher, but what do I know.
This year a revised version of the DSM ( ONLY fifth revision since its creation in 1952) came out. Many folks in the medical community are up in arms about it. Change is not easy. My concern is more that we do not let the new DSM take away the much needed health care for individuals who need it to function in everyday life. Globally this book will be used to diagnose, but in America this book is hugely significant to the ordinary person because if a person is not diagnosed, one does not get the dollars from their health insurance. This concerns me. I think time will tell how all this plays out especially with Obamacare taking root in the next year or so. In general I applaud the mental health community for updating the book. It needed to be done.
I also want to mention that I fear for the over diagnosing of individuals with mental illness. A word of advice: Do not take a pill for every whim and especially do not put a child on a pill to mask symptoms until you really understand what is going on. Patience is needed . Do not be in a rush. Where the heck you going anyway? It has taken many years of finding the right medication for Luke. He is on two main meds right now and is functioning fairly well on them. He is monitored very closely by doctors we have found in our community we trust in Seattle.
Luke and Linus enjoying some much needed rest time.