Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part V

During my entire 14 months in the Samson Group Home, no one ever came to visit her ~ not family, not friends ~ and from what others told me, this “Sally Doe” had been there for many years. Of course, none of the therapists or mental health technicians could divulge to me her background or personal information, but from what I did end up knowing, I concluded that she had simply been dropped off and forgotten by her loved ones. Very sad, to say the least…

One time in a group session, Sally expressed her heartfelt desire to go home, wherever that may have been. That was when I realized that despite the severity of her schizophrenia, she remembered family, at least some of the time. But then it was hard to say anything about the reliability of the memories Sally had; after all, there were times she believed herself to be pregnant, or to be a movie star, or some great singer (and she did, in fact, have quite a bluesy, Janice Joplin-type voice.)

SchizoEmergeStill, she knew she had family. Presumably, her family still knew they had her. They just didn’t visit her. One might quickly conclude they no longer cared, if ever they did care. I know this is what I thought and, honestly, still think; however, it also eventually occurred to me that it might be too psychologically, emotionally difficult for them to visit Sally. This may seem like a lame excuse, but I knew nothing of her family. Who knows what difficulties they struggle with and how vicious those struggles might be?

Did you know that “there is a high heritability to schizophrenia … with heritability estimates ranging from 64 to 81 percent?”¹ This being the case, then, it’s possible that Sally is not the only one in her biological family to struggle with this, or some other, malady. The lesson here (for me, at least) is, “Do not pre-judge! Especially when you don’t know the whole story!” Nevertheless, it was sad to see her day in and day out, seemingly so alone in the world… Funny, though, Sally didn’t seem too upset by her situation.

Point in fact, Sally is mostly happy, although the voices that speak to her do upset her from time to time. She talks to them all through her waking hours, and every so often you might hear her burst out with, “Leave me alone!” or “Go to hell!” or some other virile reaction. Otherwise, Sally is an adorable, happy, 40-something year-old with one of the most beautiful smiles you can imagine. Couple this with the fact that in many ways she is so like an innocent, little girl, and you can’t help but fall in love with her.

Ah, but what about so many of the others with whom I lived? Sally Doe was not the only one who never received visits from family or friends. Tragically, out of anywhere from 14 to 18 residents (at any given time) around eight to ten never had friend or family visit … or even call or write! It’s like they’ve simply been abandoned. According to Natasha Tracy, writing in 2012, oftentimes someone…

… is just left because of the pain and stigma of dealing with a mental illness. Sometimes people just can’t last through the stress of illness and treatment. Sometimes people really are abandoned by those they thought loved them unconditionally

Well, this is one of the important reasons I’ve determined to go back to the group home from time to time just to visit. Perhaps my determination no to forget will make some positive difference. I certainly hope and pray so… Just out of curiosity, what about you? Would you feel comfortable visiting a group home for the mentally ill? If not, of course, that is understandable. If you’ve never experience any kind of mental illness or been hospitalized or lived in a group home, it can certainly be uncomfortable!

Ah … but there are so many in need of pure, genuine love and camaraderie. I think of my second family still residing in the Samson Group Home and my heart aches near breaking. By the way, this is where the Church (and, I suppose, mosque, synagogue, temple, etc.) has really “dropped the ball.” Do you know that during my entire 14 months at the group home, we never received one visit from any church (or other religious institution)? Yes, someone might come by to pick someone up for Sunday service, but…

More on this subject later. It’s an important topic, I think, and perhaps in openly, honestly addressing it we might encourage more interaction between Church and the mentally ill. 


¹ Susan K. Whitbourne and Richard P. Halgin, Abnormal Psychology: Clinical Perspectives on Psychological Disorders, Seventh Edition, 151; for an interesting, informative article on heritability, cf. Natasha Tracy and Harry Croft, MD, “Schizophrenia Genetics: Is Schizophrenia Hereditary?” as found at Healthy Place

² Tracy, “Fear of Abandonment Due to Mental Illness,” as accessed on 09/24/2018 at Healthy Place


For previous articles in this series, go to:

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part I

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part II

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part III

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part IV

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Should Players Have the Right…

Just one simple question out of curiosity: Do You Support or Oppose the Right of Players to Kneel During the National Anthem? Please take just a minute to vote, and thank you! Also, of course, your comments are welcomed and appreciated! 

Perspective

From which side are you looking at the mountain?
Are you drinking water from a different fountain?
Because you and I do not quite see eye to eye,
But we both cry that we’re right (in our own sight)
And this causes quite a plight that might lead us
To fisticuffs if we persist in insisting on our way
Day after day, chiefly when there’s no diplomacy
As we boastfully continue raving to hopefully win
An argument not even worth the victory,
Which is contradictory to our deeply felt feelings,
Especially as we’re reeling from the latest punch!
Might it be possible for us to change perspective?
Just for one moment, irrespective of our feelings?
Might it be possible for us to see a different point
Of view in lieu of our own, to see the other side
Of the mountain? To drink of the other fountain?
Then we might find out it was all a matter of . . .
Perspective

Better Ways on Brighter Days

I look at the world around me and boldly hold
Onto the broad scope of hope for better ways
On brighter days here and around the world
With love and peace unfurled as one banner
For all the kingdoms and countries of earth
In recognition of the worth of every person
With honor and respect as the perspective
Of every heart in and toward one another
For the other way of war will be no more
With no more score to be kept anywhere
Neither here nor there nor any thought
Of being brought in and bought to feed
Corporation greed that seeds the need
To trade people as mere commodities
For gross gain involving so much pain
With such insane and inhumane pride
In pompous stride with the devil who
Hates ‘n baits all hooks for all crooks
. . .
But no more, I say, as I go to the floor
Upon bended knees to say my prayer
For better ways on brighter days . . .

Chains and Pain (and Pride)

Many chains and so much pain in the world,
And do we contribute our part for our gain?
Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters each one
Under the sun – one family in disharmony –
Surely there is a better way to brighter days
In the saying, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’
Instead of braying on about who is straying,
Who’s staying and who’s not welcome at all!
Ultimately, you see, we rise and fall together
Despite our differences, however important;
After all, how really difficult is it to say,
‘I’m not going to shoot you or boot you?’
. . .
Many chains and so much pain in the world,
And do we contribute our part for our gain?

If Hatred Is All That Unifies You

If hatred is all that unifies you, then you will always have to hate to be unified;
Is this the kind of unity you desire? Unity completely devoid of love and peace?
And what happens when the object of your hatred changes or simply vanishes?
If hatred is all that’s unified you, you’ll have to find something else to hate,
Or what is worse, someone else to hate with no room left for true compassion,
No room for understanding, for bridge-building, for reasonable compromise . . .
Is this kind of unity an healthy unity? Unity centered upon feelings of hostility?

Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years upon years,
And now my life is filled with too many decades of time with too few left to me
To live in hatred and animosity, fear, paranoia, enmity, rancor and bitterness;
And this man is too old and tired to spend his precious time with those who do!
Even my ears grow weary of hearing the poison spewing out from such people!
Light, life ‘n love stand above all and are more than enough to take all my time,
So too there is truth ~ yes ~ but my choice is to stand upon truth in true peace.

Hard Battle Won: Song of Victory

Rain washes away,
Cleanses the soul on this day,
Brings peace in its way

The battle was hard,
Making sad songs for the bard,
Our wounds we regard

Now is time for rest,
Finally peace in our nest,
Now for us the best

Another day, another battle in play,
But for now long songs of victory!



Note: Though this poem is personal and familial, it is also dedicated to the recent victory in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) controversy. As Tanya Cliff just reported, “The Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit for the current routing of the DAPL to cross Lake Oahe.  This is a major victory for Native American tribes…” Praise almighty God for this long-awaited good news!