I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 17. My parents were getting divorced and I moved in with my dad, which didn’t please my mom too much. My dad then took off on a Hawaiian cruise, and while he was gone, and I was staying alone in the apartment, two friends died. One an innocent bystander in a gang shoot out, and one of a supposed suicide.
I couldn’t get myself to school that week. And when a friend came to check on me, I couldn’t get myself to speak. And when I finally tried to speak, I couldn’t make much sense. I didn’t understand my overwhelming jealousy of two dead friends. Or the fact that friends die. Or the reality that friends die when you’re alone in a tiny apartment and don’t know how to cope with it. My brain kind of broke. I felt it snap. It snapped and my mind went elsewhere.
We all have our weaknesses. When the stress of life hits, we all have our achilles heel. Whether it’s alcohol or high blood pressure, depression or a serious illness, a myriad of mental and physical responses can come into play.
But weaknesses can heal. A broken bone can actually become stronger than it was before the break. And if a weakness doesn’t become stronger, like with the loss of sight for instance, other parts of ourself can become stronger to make up the difference. Weaknesses can be turned into wisdom. I believe that’s what they’re there for. My broken brain led me to a career as a therapist. And I’m a really good one. I have been honored to work with many people whose lives have brought them to their knees in weakness. But who now stand tall, stronger than ever.
I currently work as the clinical director of a program in Southern California that spans across thirty cities in Los Angeles. I was sent to Yale for a week to be trained by the researchers there on the treatment protocals. This program provides preventative family focused therapy for youth at risk of developing serious mental disorders. Anyone, really, can become mentally ill. If you screen someone for emotional wellness and torture them and deprive them of sleep, they’ll eventually hit a breaking point and become psychotic. But some people have higher genetic risk than others. And some people’s lives are far more stressful than others.
My genetic risk is higher than some, so I work really hard to keep my stress levels low. I supervise other therapists in teaching youth and their families to manage their stress well through improvement in problem solving skills, communications skills and a variety of coping skills, and self-soothing skills…as well as good self care.
I believe weakness can be transformed. Wisdom can transcend it. I have seen it in my own life, and I have witnessed it in the lives of the families with whom I work. I have had several different mental health diagnoses throughout my life (insurance requires a diagnosis to prescribe any medication.) And I do require medication from time to time…always when traveling, and often when life stressors kick in.
But to be honest, I don’t really think about the labels anymore. The Dr. has to put something down in his little computer so that I can get my prescriptions filled, and I don’t really care what it is. Although I have suffered from debilitating symptoms at times…sometimes so severe they required hospitalization, my different diagnoses are not who I am. In the same way someone who has cancer is not “cancer”. The term “She’s bipolar,” is just so strange. You would never say, “She’s cancer.”
I am independent. I am strong. I am lovable and loving. I am quirky, a little sloppy and disorganized, really goofy and flighty and somewhat unique. I am hardworking, and earnest, a leader, a peacemaker…a mother, lover, wife, and friend. I have sometimes displayed mental health symptoms, even very severe ones, but I refuse to call myself “mentally ill”.
Sometimes my thoughts speed up, and sometimes my heart and soul feel so much pain I feel they will burst into pieces. At times I have trouble focusing, or remembering things. And there are moments, I hear a voice, loud and clear, that many people believe is not real. But this voice is my friend and has provided me with profound comfort and awe inspiring wisdom in my darkest moments.
Although I do, at times have symptoms, I am not “bipolar”, or schizophrenic, or “depressive”. I am human, and as a human I am very flawed. I feel so grateful for those around me that take a chance on me in spite of these flaws. We love each other in the best ways we know how. It’s not always a perfect love, but it is plentiful. Life can be excruciatingly difficult sometimes…but it is good. And I am grateful for every good moment I get.
Even looking back at my most difficult of times, I can find little nuggets of goodness there. A silver lining in the darkest cloud.
Welcome to my site.
As a Jungian therapist, I like to use metaphor and symbols. I have always loved medieval legend and all stories related to King Arthur and his noble knights. On this site, (and in my book Damsel in Depression: Don’t be a Damsel Be a Dame, Damn It!) I teach how to use all aspects of your inner self. How to gather all the parts of your inner person at the round table, from your inner squire to your inner dame, and get them to work together to create the kind of queendom you desire. I hope in getting to know me a little better, you can get to know yourself a little better too. Both your weaknesses, and your strengths have a purpose and a part to play in your life story. May we all work together to make our life stories amazing.
Share your thoughts, leave some comments. Enjoy the sense of community. I am grateful for your presence.
Me and my family out surveying the queendom.