Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gifts of encouragement

New messages from people out there, whom I have never met. Gifts in the mail and online that are sources of encouragement for me. I DEEPLY NEED THIS. Maybe everyone does. But certainly those of us who are mentally ill/extra sensitive need this especially.

I received a lovely gift, a blank journal with quotes from Anais Nin, from a young woman whose work I decided to support, sight unseen, in the Caribbean. And people here and at firedoglake seem to feel that my being very open about my mental struggles gives them some hope. Not sure how that works but hey go for it!

We are in a transitional generation in our understanding of mental illness.

Diagnoses are missing or wrong. Medicines---please don't get me started on their inadequacies, yet medicine is one of our powerful weapons for fighting this darkness.

There should be no shame in taking medicine for mental illness. Would you feel bad about taking insulin, if you had diabetes? We are struggling with something that has not only a psychological component, but a physiological one. If medicine helps you, please accept this great gift.

Doctors don't get it, or if they do, don't help us enough [insert another really long rant here...I'll do it in the future].

Our families and communities are baffled by our strange behavior. We can stifle all the time or we can freely be ourselves and have others declare us weird.

Quote from someone on a parallel journey, I don't know how much you wish to be public/private so won't give your nom de plume:

"I've purged myself of most of my epic self-destruction, but lost my drive and purpose in the process. I've just recently come to the conclusion that it is all me, the highs and the lows, I'm the same person and I need to integrate rather than hiding from the trail of spectacular failures that make me doubt my value in this world."

Thank you for sharing this very personal and sensitive view. Are you the person looking back at me in the mirror? Because this is how I feel.

We have much to offer the world. If we don't feel too humiliated and overwhelmed to participate.

At a time when normal thinking isn't working very well for us, maybe those of us who always think outside the envelope will have some answers.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A man dies in my presence

Speaking to you from the airport in Frankfurt, more than 24 hours after my trip home from Russia began. We took off from St. Petersburg only to turn around for a man with a heart attack. I fear his outcome was not good, since they stopped the CPR. It was a strange experience to sit quite close to where they were working on him with CPR, thank goodness there was a doctor on the flight. I always think about volunteering in case there isn't a doctor available. Memo to everyone: refresh your CPR skills. This could be you.

I have seen many people die in my presence, which is not so common outside a war zone. Except for my grandmother they have all been children. It is an opportunity for prayer, urgent energy, and reflection on the meaning of life and death. What is it which animates this human flesh?

And I think there is something more, beyond what we know here. As a Christian I have certain beliefs about the afterlife, but here is an idea for everyone: There is conservation of matter, conservation of energy, why wouldn't there be conservation of the life force?

Realizing how precious life is, keeps me from quitting time after time. [See below post for me deciding I've had enough, yet again.] NZexpat has such a good quote about pushing back against the forces of darkness:

"I hope the miracles of what you are doing can filter through the curtain of obtuseness, obstruction, and ignorant power."
---------NZexpat of firedoglake

This is deeply healing for me. What are we fighting? Stupidity, selfishness, refusal to see beyond one's own world...yet I am also sympathetic to those things. Every day it is a struggle to think beyond my own mental illness.

To reach out and help other people in an unusual way makes as much sense as hiding at home under a blanket---very appealing many days, especially during my seasonal winter depression. So if it's hard to get thru a normal day, and only a little bit harder to work at a children's hospital in Russia, why not go for it?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I quit. Again.

why shdnt i just quit. they destroy my suitcase with supplies for THEIR newborns. they try to close our surgical unit because they see we are successful. strange people follow me. i hate this.

for some reason God asks me to work here. door is triple locked and my local contact will guard. but this is typical.

as my mental health improves i become less tolerant of indignities. as on my egrBlog profile i am perfect for this work being mentally ill because no one in their right mind wd do this.

i will wake up tomorrow, pick up my fired o’glake, and engage in battle once again. the 2 week old baby with transposition. blood from heart doesnt reach lungs for required oxygen. i find myself in surprising sympathy w this. need some oxygen myself.

thx for firedoglake love, i’ll be ok always have before just not so public except for last summer. apprec yr prayers. f*cking country.

Monday, January 22, 2007

What's on your other hemisphere?

What's on your mind, is generally my question. But I figure from Russia I'll ask what's on your other hemisphere.

We are in negotiations with the city to develop a tissue bank. That would allow us, and others, to have pediatric heart valves available in general and especially for emergencies. Why does this matter? For girls, with a human valve she will be able to have children; with an artificial valve, not possible because of the drugs needed to prevent rejection.

Just saw the new anatomy textbook produced by the local medical society, containing a chapter on congenital heart operations by our chief surgeon. Russia once was a world leader in cardiology, then fell when the money stopped. They lost a generation of momentum. We're trying to keep it from being yet another generation before they get back on their feet scientifically.

Have been here 29 times so much is familiar. But this time couldn't stay in my regular hotel, and this one is nice but unfamiliar. I'm such a baby! Oh wait, that's the patients.

Tomorrow we operate to correct a previous surgery done by another institution, that will remain nameless to protect the guilty.

And speaking of guilty, there is going to be an investigation of why certain materials are not reaching the hospital. Three guesses. Ooops, you only needed one? Very good.

I'm not talking here about the things that were wrecked somewhere between the airplane and the other side of customs, which made me almost quit for real this time, but the broader issue involving more people. To which I say, about f*cking time Godspeed.

I can't quit. I think about quitting every couple of months. This work would not be so easy for a normal person and I am mentally ill. But I realize I can't quit. Who would fill my shoes? And why would I want anyone else in my shoes :)

Gradually the government is taking up the reins, and reining in those who need it, and beginning to accept responsibility for saving the lives of their own newborns. Yay for that. In the meantime I will do what I can to keep these little ones alive.

My brother died at age 3 hours, and the tsunami of grief created then still haunted the family a year later when I was born. His loss has always been part of my story. Fair or not, that is how I'm wired. Might as well take advantage of that, and try to help others.

On the way to having my three angelic children I had 8 miscarriages. So I know a little bit about loss.

What's on my other hemisphere? Babies who live.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hey from Russia

Good evening/morning, take your pick depending which hemisphere you're in. Does funny things to one's sense of time to travel to the other side of the world.

Am here for my charity, in support of congenital heart surgery at the children's hospital. Most of my supplies got here intact, and the rest I will try to forget about as it's bad for my blood pressure. For the record, people who wreck humanitarian supplies for children are kinda low on my list.

Did I ever mention that I am not fond of international borders? Think how much the U.S. economy has grown because we do not stop people traveling from one state to another and demand their documents. Wouldn't really free travel be great?

Speaking of being depressed, we are still open for business with Mental Illness Open House.

What's on your mind?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Favorite bracelet found!

I found my favorite bracelet! Green of course.

Lost it the day I came back from seeing my favorite aunt in Ann Arbor, who is losing her mind. I was trying to be philosophical [sniffle] that I could get another bracelet but not another Aunt Ruth.

Today was a big day for her, as she was moved abruptly from independent living to assisted living in another place. Was expecting a volcano of anger when she realized she was moving even farther away from her home and friends, but apparently things went ok today.

And I found the bracelet I lost that other time...coincidence/synchronicity. Ready to live in the Emerald City again as the kind, gentle, and wise ruler Ozma of Oz. [end manic run of thoughts for tonight...probably]

Those of you who, like me, have ADHD will be amused to hear that I had put my bracelet in a very safe place. And promptly forgot that I had done that. I put my Cornell diploma in a very safe place and then couldn't find it for YEARS. Actually wrote to the college and got a duplicate, which to this day remains in the frame on the wall. It was in the bottom drawer of my childhood dresser, in my parents' home. Isn't that a good place? I mean, except for completely forgetting where I put it?

One cool thing about my aunt is that she has a new man in her life. A veteran with many interesting experiences from WWII, he is interested in visiting her in her new home, calls her "a remarkable woman." Ladies: a worthy goal: tho pushing 80 and losing your mind, you still have a quality man pursuing you. Go for it.

I think the real jewel is my aunt.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Old age: the shrinking room

Two elderly people that I love are going thru dreadful changes in their circumstances this week.

Of course I am in denial that -I- will ever get old and feeble*, but it is disconcerting to see how these strong-willed women have their space and their lives shrinking. *Simple denial, not some hint of depressed thinking, don't worry.

One is my aunt, who is losing her mind but doesn't realize it. She is getting all the loving care possible but is still angry and resentful about her circumstances. I can understand totally, to go from independent living to round-the-clock care in two years is weird. Naturally she's angry, look what she's lost: Her home. Her friends. Her church. Her bridge club. Her neighborhood. Her city. Her really good symphony. Her mind. Not necessarily in that order.

Think about the math of the situation. Either you or your spouse/partner will die, leaving the other alone [barring hideous accidents]. You will watch your friends die. The very people you want to talk to about all these things are the ones who are so unfairly being taken away from you. I have already had some very angry conversations with God on this point. There are several Psalms that are fists in the sky/arms too short to box with God.

The other person is a neighbor, who at 91 has been able to live at home with the attention of children and neighbors. I arranged for my housekeeper to work over there part-time to help her stay independent. I don't need quite so much help since the kids have flown off. [Yes I need help but of a different kind :) ]

My neighbor fell while holding the porch door open for a visiting friend. You do these things for decades and one day these simple actions are the cause of great changes. Her children tried to treat her at home but now she is in the hospital. When I walk by her home it seems so dark. She might never return. She is willing to hear my manic verbal wanderings, stories, and worries both as a good listener and as one who wants to stay connected to what's going on with the outside world. Difficult to replace people like that.

If she lives, her mobility is likely to be restricted. I have so enjoyed watching her go up and down the street, holding her cane horizontally like a tap dancer. What, you're supposed to put it on the ground? She says "that's for old people."

I think part of why I enjoy working with the old, the feeble, the sick, and even the dying is that I totally get the loss of dignity. As a child teased for being a hillbilly and a person blessed with ADHD, I've experienced loss of dignity for quite some time. Add childbirth, and all its attendant attendants to that, and I have very little original dignity left. Raising three teenagers pretty much polished off the rest, as they were happy to inform me of my many flaws. They'll get the picture when they have teenagers.

These children used to come with me to the nursing home to visit, sing, and play piano. The residents always loved seeing my little ones, because if you think about people in their 80's and 90's, sometimes even their grandchildren are grownups. They rarely see little kids. We would go around and shake or touch the hand of each person who was up for a visit. I generally went home feeling vigorous despite crippling asthma and then-untreated depression.

With smaller families and people moving far from home, we don't experience the full range of ages unless we consciously construct it. I hoped that someone in Ohio would "adopt" my grandmother, while I was visiting others' grandparents in Massachusetts and Virginia. I no longer have babies [must. resist. talking. about. grandchildren] but work with babies at the hospital. I feel a more whole person for having people of all ages in my life.

Usually there is much joy on either end of the spectrum. But this week, thinking about life and death as I pack my suitcases to help save the lives of newborns in Russia, I ponder the shrinking room of old age.

It is undignified.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Food: enemy, fuel, or pleasure?

I have an eating disorder dating back to my teenage years.

Turbocharged by fighting back against ADHD minute to minute urges to do something anything eat?

So I learned not to eat all the time. And to push back against the desire to eat. And then the idea of cooking.

Tho I do make a mean Thanksgiving dinner. All are invited.

So I'm curious to hear about firedoglake people and egregiousBlog people and their attitude toward food. It seems...almost positive and happy. How can that be. I am open to learning and changing my attitude.

I was only in serious anorexia once, in high school when I lost 30 pounds and weighed 103 and STILL thot I was fat. A neighbor doctor helped me turn that around, bless him.

Food: the enemy, fuel, or pleasure. Discuss.

Webb: "Invasion and Occupation"

Senator James Webb [I just LOVE saying that} pulls his weight on the Armed Services Committee interviewing General Pace.

He called the so-called war in Iraq: an "invasion and occupation." This is from a Marine platoon leader in Vietnam, and Secretary of the Navy. His words about military engagement are not carelessly chosen.

He had a sharp reply for Senator Lindsey Graham about why people join the military. It is not for "policy," which Graham was putting forth on behalf of the Administration, but because they love their country, have a family tradition of serving in the military, are looking for camaraderie, or are trying to better themselves. Policy indeed.

I missed the hearing and then missed the C-Span rerun. At least I was able to alert fdl folk about the rerun, maybe some kind person taped it for YouTube. [This is on the edge of being abbrev if not already. uTb?]

In another conversation, with Secretary Rice, he asked if the Administration would go to war against Iran without the approval of Congress. Answer: Hint. It wasn't no. Not no means yes. Of course it's a moot point as we are by some indications already in Iran with special forces.

Am so grateful we helped elect Webb. I began in February 2006 when his ratings were in the asterisk range. Read about his candidacy and said This Is It.

Called up and sent a check. Got involved with get out the vote efforts. Attended meetings and actually had to Talk With People™, agony for shy little egregious. Surprised myself by calling friends and asking them to donate.

Met with Webb, and Governor Warner, and gave each of them with my business card. On the back, the egregious political platform:

Domestic policy: the Constitution
Foreign policy: Geneva Conventions

If we lose these, we have truly lost our way as a nation.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dreams of the future

Talking with one of my children about the future. It makes all those years of peanut butter sandwiches and carpools worth it. Don't ask me about the teenage arguments :)

What they want to do in the many possibilities. Addressing egregious social problems, raising children, making money to provide for a comfortable life, trying to make the world better for the future. How to make all goals work out.

I have to look back with some satisfaction that I have already made these decisions, and for me they worked out. I did have ferrari children [don't ask me about their bipolar/teenage crises], I did make enough money to have a comfortable living, and I have had the privilege to address larger issues i.e. saving the lives of children in Russia while working for peace there.

Making things better here in the US? Slow going. Molasses. Donating/killing brain cells thru alcoholic madness. What the bloody hell---literally---ARE we doing in Iraq/Iran. Are we the Matrix, carrying out the will of another country? I hope I'm wrong.

There are terrorist threats from Iraq and Iran, yes, but for others, not for the United States. What does it mean, "existential threat." I am more sympathetic to that than you might imagine, being depressed, I am all over existential threats. But how does that translate into sending our young men and women into battle?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Burning out in a flame of glory

Hi nzexpat! Come on in and comment.

In the life is strange category: phone call to a friend after several months, hi how are you:

(1) She has cancer, most likely will be ok, but that 'mostly' still at home....

(2) A close relative of hers just got elected to Congress in a tight race.

Thus leaving me about as close as you will ever come to speechless.

Comment from rumi/fdl: damn,...moderation just never seems to find you, does it? Hope you're doing ok and congrats on the election.

Moderation never seems to find me---that's the story for somebody with bipolar, OCD, -and- ADHD. Colorful til we burn out in a flame of glory.

The election is in my friend's family. It was quite the one-two punch for not having heard from her in a few months.

Re the election in general, except for Lamont I am ecstatic. The SENATE. The United States SENATE. We WON. Ok and the House too. Webb...Tester...Good things can happen.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ozma of Oz

marksb---"egregious, I sang my daughter to sleep last night, for the first time in maybe seven weeks. My throat finally let me hit the notes, though the high ones still hurt. Anyway, as she settled into sleep and I capped off Donovan's 'Song Of The Naturalist's Wife' I found a few tears on my face. Music not only heals, it is a wonderful measure of our healing."

I dissolve in tears for the happiness of your being able to sing for her. So grateful for the small things!

When my oldest daughter was little I would read to her from various Oz books [clearly Ozma of Oz, where she is the beneficent ruler, was our the whole emerald thing, favorite color green. but i digress] would read to her but would have to stop in the middle of reading a sentence to take another breath, my asthma was at that level.

I am so grateful that I was able to read to her and that now I can breathe properly. Yay meds.

My muse rescued from obscurity

Depression/creativity breakthru!

After many, many silent months---I made my way to the piano [steinway B for you music people] and played Let All Things Now Living from memory and added the descant which I wrote. It plays well by flute which I often played in years past when I was feeling better.

Mixing verses---
Let all things now living A song of thanksgiving To God our creator Triumphantly raise. Who fashioned and made us Protected and stayed us By guiding us on to The end of our days.

[switch to 2nd verse...i feel it.]
We too should be voicing Our love and rejoicing With glad adoration, A song let us raise! Til all things now living Unite in thanksgiving To God in the highest Hosanna and praise!

Chariots of Fire---God made me for a purpose, China [Russia]. But when I run [play music] I feel His pleasure.

Rejoice! After much suffering, which I myself have experienced, we will prevail. Good WILL triumph over evil in the end. Keep the faith, look to the future when the present is sad. I know sadness. We will go beyond the present darkness.

So grateful that I am able to play music once again. Obstacles melt. Touching the Source.

The next Einstein

A comment by T- at firedoglake about Marcy Wheeler's new book gets me to thinking. T- says "This is a hell of an idea. All you redstaters: Call every single public library in your state and request this book. They are all right next to each other in the phone book. No excuses.

[opens THE cabinet looking for phone book and sh** falls out all over the place]"
end of T- comment

My response:
You sound like me. In my case both the creativity and the stuffed to overflowing cabinets are ADHD. Our creativity will save the world. If we can find what we need.

The idea and desire to contact every single library...that's ADHD. We can accomplish miracles, under the right working conditions. Getting the right working conditions, that's the bane of our existence. If you know somebody like this, brilliantly creative but disorganized to a ridiculous extreme, help them. You may be helping the next Einstein. Or at least the next egregious.

[My first use of colored text! ADHD-esque excitement.]

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Mental illness open house. Welcome.

I'm mentally ill, politically active, and increasingly sick due to our war in Iraq/Iran.


What's on your mind?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

War against Iran: stop this insanity

I hope other people will step up and wrestle with the IRAN question.

I am committed to taking some time off of politics and working on the restoration of me before I lose everything. I wd have done this earlier but for the urgency of winning the elections in November.

Iran is SO important. We must figure out how the neocons are trying to manipulate our crippled government into using our remnant military to invade/bomb Iran. [air force, nukes] It could become a world war. I wish I cd become involved in this conversation but I have little energy left. Forgive me.

If any of you are wondering if you shd step forward and become involved PLEASE ACT. NOW.

ps As always, Depression Open House, your comments welcome. In a crazy world, those of us who see things in a very different way because of mental illness might just have the answer. If we survive.

My letter to people at firedoglake:
I’m on duty only part time as my main responsibility right now is restoration of a formerly high energy humanitarian.

Hope other people will jump in to fill the gap. Am mostly ok but really have to conserve what little I have left.

Please let’s not go to war against Iran. Hope people are learning more about this hideous possibility and are working to stop it.

egrDau is doing great stuff in the DomRep, good visit w her. Son off tonight for more college. Oldest dau going back to SF for productive work and happy married life.

I feel sad and guilty at pulling away from the fray but I must protect and conserve my core. Or lose it.

Please people if you are thinking, should you become more involved, YES FOR GOD’S SAKE YES, jump in here and let me feel that I can take this time to save myself. I thank you.

Do I have your permission/blessing?

Please tell me this is ok.