“Becoming Unglued, When The World Looks Different”

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I was thinking about what to write about last Friday. I had a couple of choices at the beginning of the week then I read a Facebook post that reminded me of something I wrote.

In my book there is a story called Kaleidoscope, it’s a story about a family dealing with a member’s mental illness. Henry and Nicole Jackson‘s son Jacob suffers with Schizophrenia. He is a talented football player on the rise to NFL stardom…that rise however is interrupted. Henry discovers that Nicole’s family has a history with this particular mental illness. The couple must now, like other families in america, face a hard really…

unglued 6 I wrote the story for a psychology class. I studied many forms of mental illness, I found that schizophrenia was the most perplexing. It was that thing that as kids we saw displayed most often and the people with it were “crazy people”. Schizophrenia is indeed the classic definition of crazy. Some people here voices, see things that are not there and they respond to them. Of course anyone looking at such a person can see that they’re talking to no one.unglued 4  Unfortunately, the illness causes many to be violent towards others. Think about it, if you saw something scary and thought it wanted to harm you what would you do? If you heard voices that were not your own, how would you react? Now, multiply that by the lifespan because that’s how long a person must live with the mental illness.unglued 5  Yes, there are medications and treatments and facilities for people to have help. But they must still live with it. Some medications make people feel better, normal and after a while they stop taking their medication. The end result? They spiral down.unglued 7

Schizophrenia is one of dozens of mental illnesses…Depression, Panic attacks(anxiety attacks), Bipolar and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) are all forms of mental illness. Like  broken bones, there are many types of Fractures, simple, compound etc. Likewise mental illness has many levels and layers. Over the years some have been declassified and reclassified…Anxiety attacks to Panic attacks to Mood disorders, one can hardly keep up. But the point is that, for many it’s a hellish existence for 60 or 70 years of life. If they make it that far, too many like Robin Williams, take there own lives…unglued 10

I know all too well what it’s like to feel yourself slipping away. To know that you know the face in the mirror yet you don’t recognize yourself or the feelings you have. It’s like smelling the pizza, feeling the pizza, putting the pizza in your mouth but tasting nothing! I lost about a year and a half to severe panic attacks. It was a gradual decline starting with feeling uncomfortable on the crowded train…now I live in NY and I know tourist think that squeezing in a train is fun. But most new yorkers Hate being pressed together like sardines. My feelings weren’t the typical annoyance we strap-hangers feel, I was suffocating. I felt the same way at home when we ate together or in large wide open spaces. I would often jump off the train at the nearest stop just to relax, which caused me to be late. Then on day the flood gate opened…I was on the R train headed to Queens when I felt the train car close in on me, like the curving street scene in Inception. It was just as the train was in the middle between Manhattan and Queens. A sudden fear took me, one I’d never felt, I kept picturing in my mind the water crushing the car. The more I tried to shake the image the worst things got for me. My heart raced, my head began to swim and I could no longer control my breathing. I did all I could to stand up and not cave in to the feelings…thankfully the stop came.

What followed was days and months and soon a year of descent into a pit of despair. The sound of water, talking, loud noises, vibrations, touch…anything would send my body into a panic! My head/brain felt like it was floating away, I wore a hat all day just to comfort myself. Brushing my teeth was near impossible because I felt like I was choking, the same with eating which caused me to loose a ridiculous amount of weight in a short period of time. All of these things and more brought on feelings of my death, which made everything worst still!… To add insult to the injury I received such expert advice! “Why don’t you just…”, “Not enough faith to be healed..” “What are you scared of…?” “It’s in your mind..”  As if the person doesn’t already feel crazy! unglued

You see dear reader, you can see a broken window, arm, leg, a torn shirt, a leaky pot but you can’t put a bandage on an internal injury like a broken mind. You can see the effects of the injury, some more than others, but there is nothing physical for the outside world to see to say “Let me help you with that” No one will reach out to carry your bags of groceries. They will stand aside and whisper…  I am not writing this piece this week as an expert or with stats you can find or supplying a number to a helpline. I am writing as someone who has experienced the pain of becoming unglued. I am a christian, so I put my hope and trust in the words of the bible and Christ Jesus. You may put yours elsewhere and that’s fine.  For me, I had a praying wife that got me through, who held my hand in the hospital, who drew close to me even though she was terrified of loosing her husband, who kept watch over me when I couldn’t sleep, eat or sit for more than a minute. She was and is my teammate through that time. Many marriage fail in a crisis like this but we were pulled closer, we had no others…It’s been 13 years since that lost time.

    I write this week, to encourage you dear reader. Think about that family member, neighbor, co-worker, anyone you may know or whom you may be caring for…with Love. It’s not just a word, it’s action. It encompasses compassion, empathy, insight, a willingness to help, the capability to hold on and let go, to hug or the patience to wait to be able to hug…and much more. It all demonstrates Love. unglued 2 Dear reader if you feel anything like you’ve read about reach out to some one for help. Don’t wait for them to come to you, they can’t see what you feel. One last soapbox thing, that friend or helper shouldn’t be offering you anything that would make matter worst.     Until next time…

                  33 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” -John 16:33(HCSB)


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