Monthly Archives: June 2011

My Month as a Mental Patient (Never Before Shared)

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I just watched the season finale of The United States of Tara. (Spoiler alert) At the very end she was in the car with her husband on her way to an impatient psychiatric hospital. The ‘Logical Song‘ by Supertramp started playing and played on into the credits. It hit me like a ton of crazy bricks and I just started crying. I have decided to tell you why.

Please know that doing so is very difficult and I have never spoken publicly about what I am about to say. I am taking a lot of risk by sharing this. A lot. I hope it does notembarrasss my family or make me look even moreloonyy than I doalreadyy. But it was a moment in my life which carries a lot of importance. I have shared a ton. Much more than most people do – especially in such a public way. But there are still a number of big things I have held very close and this is one of them.

When I was a junior in high school – 16 years old, I stayed in what I refer to as a ‘mental hospital’ for a month. I had been very depressed and was already seeing a counselor. But it got to the point where I cried all the time, felt horrible about myself and even had thoughts of suicide. Now, when I say that I want it to be understood that I never would have killed myself. It was never quite THAT bad. But I had fleeting thoughts and made threats in hopes to be heard and understood. It was decided between my parents andcounselorr that an impatient setting would be helpful to me. They were right.

I was scared to death. I was leaving school and my friends for 4 weeks with no explanation. Only 2 friends knew where I was and they told no one. One day while I was gone, my English teacher in front of several students made some kind of vague implication about me being gone due to pregnancy. I was a virgin. My best friend heard this and he quickly defended me. This is according to him, of course. But I believe him. Anyway, no one knew where I was. Not even my teachers.

When I walked into the unit I could feel all the eyes scoping me up and down. It was clear I was moving into strange territory and I would have to acclimate to these people whom have already considered this home. After going through all the intake stuff with my folks, they left and I was on my own in thisbizarrer world. I was terrified.

When a new person came in (all teens by the way) there would be this greeting circle. Everyone would introduce themselves and kinda explain why they were there. Eating disorders, depression, addiction…it was a well rounded group. Thehospitall was in Brookfield so most of the kids were from the Milwaukee area…andstrangelyy enough – many from Whitefish Bay.

Anyway, each person shared a room and a bathroom with one other person. No TVs but we were allowed radios – on which I listened to TV LOL. They all thought it was so cool when I showed them how to do this and by the time I left everyone was listening to Cheers at 10 pm every night. I think that was my link to home and I am only realizing at this moment that must be why that show meant so much to me. For those who don’t know…the Cheers theme song played as I walked down the aisle at my wedding.

Our days were completely scheduled and there really was very little to no free time. Individual therapy, groups, art therapy and school took up most of the day. They had a ROPES course there which made me almost piss myself. We’d sometimes go to the gym. And of course the cafeteria to eat 3 times a day. We even took a field trip one day to go bowling, for ice cream and to some park by the lake.

We has no phone calls in or out. My parents visited a couple times. I was there over Thanksgiving and I got a pass for a couple hours one day. My parents came up with my best friend Tony and we all went to dinner. It was very weird. I appreciated Tony coming so much though. He was a very important person in my life. Always will be even though I never see him. His support and nonjudgmentt was crucial to me.

In a setting like that, I am sure you can imagine, you become extremely close to people. They know everything about you and you them. You hear their stories and often times – it puts things into perspective.

I went there thinking I was the ugliest most unworthy person. But I left with much more confidence (clearly I need a refresher course LOL). I went in so very concerned with my appearance, how others thought of me…I hated being so much more poor and uncool than “all” the other kids. But I met people who had these eating disorders who so obviously saw themselves much differently than they actually looked. I met people who came from really bad circumstances. I met people with serious drug addictions. Like I said – it became about perspective.

I will remember some of those people for the rest of my life, but I haven’t seen or spoken to them since. There were 3 people I was particularly close with – Jon, Kate and Jed. I exchanged a few letters with them soon after, but that didn’t last long. I had a big crush on Jon. He was very cool but sensitive. Kate and I were so much alike. Very similar sense of humor and I always wonder where she is and how I could find her. Jed was a kid – younger than me. First gay person I ever knew…like KNEW knew. I loved him. He was so sad and having such a hard time. But very out, open and brave. And VERY funny. I wonder if any of these people would even remember me. I missed them a lot when I left.

Leaving was even harder than coming. I had to figure out how I was going to get back into the real world. How was I going to explain to people where I had been? I knew I was going to miss these people, the schedule, the safety, the comfort. It was really hard leaving and I bawled the entire way home.

Luckily they made sure we were caught up on school work – I was actually ahead by the time I returned. But they made me take an IQ test when I was in there and my parents realized that all those report card comments were right – I was not working up to potential. Great. Now I had no excuses for Cs and the occasional D. I think it was a 131 if I remember correctly. I am sure it has gone down. There was this guy in there, Ben, who was SUPER smart. Like, freakishly. He loved to rub it in my face that his score was better than mine. He was funny.

When I got home I did feel different. I was healthier. I grew up. I had self worth and a voice. It really was worth it.

The night I returned, two “friends” and an ex boyfriend egged my house. They didn’t know I was home or where I had been…it waspurelyycoincidentall. I knew it was them because that is what they did for kicks. I got into my car (which had just been given to me when I returned – it was my grandma’s car that she could no longer drive) and drove over to Andy’s (the head egg tosser) mom’s house. She was very nice and there was no way I was going to egg HER house. So I knocked on the door and just handed her an egg and asked her to give it to Andy when he got home. I learned a few months later that it worked like a charm…his mom gave him the third degree and he felt like an ass. Perfect. I never would have done that before my stay in the mental hospital.

After that I had different friends. I became opinionated, started writing and quit worrying so much about fitting in. I actually LIKED that I didn’t fit in. I think that is what ultimately made me coolafter alll.

If you read my blogregularlyy you are probably aware that these confidencesdidn’ttnecessarilyy last. I would love to have that feeling back. And I think I can, really. I am older and know myself much better than I did at 16. I have experienced a lot. A LOT. I am wiser. There is no reason I cannot be in that place again.

So, watching the ending of Tara tonight really hit me because – and yes, this is very odd – but that morning driving up to the mental hospital, Supertramp’s ‘Logical Song’ came on the radio. We all acknowledged how strange it was. To see that same thing happen on Tara was just too weird…I mean, talk about hitting close to home!! Just…wow.

So, in a nutshell, that is my mental hospital story. Take it how you will. It is a part of my truth and I am quite certain it isn’t as rare as one would think.

 

The Logical Song by Supertramp

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily,
joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
clinical, intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the world’s asleep,
the questions run too deep
for such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
but please tell me who I am.

Now watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical,
liberal, fanatical, criminal.
Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re
acceptable,respectablee, presentable, avegetablee!

At night, when all the world’s asleep,
the questions run so deep
for such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
but please tell me who I am.

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Swimsuits, Babies, Political Bullshit and 8 Years

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I hate it when my updates are full of bitching. I really do. Trust me, I know how it sounds. I even annoy myself. That being said…I feel like bitching. I think I probably do it so much here because I really don’t have anyone to talk to about just STUFF. I have no one in my life I would feel comfortable just picking up the phone and calling to shoot the shit, vent or share. No one. This is the only place I can really do that. So I guess, if it annoys you – as it does me – then perhaps this isn’t the blog for you.

Let me start with some good news though. First of all, I have a new niece. Elsa was born last week. My brother delivered his healthy 7lb daughter in their bathroom!! They had been planning a home birth with a midwife. But the labor was a whole 35 minutes and the midwife couldn’t get there in time. Even though this is SOOOO far from anything I would chose to do – I am quite impressed by both of them for going through what they did and were still up and about less than 24 hours later. Yesterday Elsa slept on my lap and chest for nearly 2 hours I would say. I can tell she will be a very good baby. I already love her. Though it does bring up the whole baby depression again. I want another one so bad that I cry over it. But I know having one is not the best choice. It hurts. Anyway… here are a couple pictures:

One other piece of good news…Charlie and I made it yet another year!! Today is our 8th anniversary. Time is rolling by faster than a Taco Bell burrito fart. Seriously, the way we bicker…this is quite a feat. I assume we will last forever if for no other reason than because we are too damn stubborn to call it quits. Two Aries…what a ridiculous pair.

We are going on a vacation to the Dells in a few weeks. We rented a condo on the river and will be spending a lot of time on the boat and a day at the water park. SO, of course I need a new swimsuit. We are also going to Charlie’s high school reunion in July and I need a dress for that. So, instead of crying in a public dressing room, I decided to order everything and try the stuff on here – will be returning what does not fit.

Well, everything arrived today. And each piece made me feel like a big fat ugly old pig. I am well aware that this sort of negative self talk is exactly what I need NOT be doing. I get that. But it is what I see in the mirror. I simply hate the way I look.  I have been eating low cals and exercising a lot. I still cannot get under 151 (on a good day). It won’t budge!! I am on the last step of my weaning off Lamictal. 25mgs started Sunday. A week or two on that and I will be done completely. I am hoping being off will make a difference, but in alllikelihoodd, it will not. I know I need to be happy with how I look right now. I just don’t know how to do that. I see these rolls and loose skin and no ass…and I just feel AWFUL about showing my body in public.

Going off the medicine hasn’t been HORRIBLE. But it hasn’t been fun either. It is like constant PMS for about a month straight now. I am hoping it doesn’t get even worse once I am completely off. I will jump off that bridge when I come to it. For now I have to convince myself that I made the right decision.

I am politically spent. I can no longer argue and debate. I am fading into apathy and feel it would just be healthier to let that happen. I get too upset when I think about my parents’ choices. I get so frustrated hearing constant lies from the GOP followers. I feel defeated every time our Governor does something else deplorable with no consequence. I am starting to see that he is there because people want him there. And that is far more depressing than my original belief that many people simply made a mistake when voting. I thought perhaps they were misguided or fooled…and that now they would know the truth. But no. The fact is the majority of people are heartless, selfish, holier than thou assholes. It is every man, woman, child for themselves. Compassion is a sin and helping others isn’t respected. Help yourself and fuck the others…that is the mantra of today. Especially in Racine.

I am one of very few liberal contributers to my local Patches. I cannot stand reading all the Tea Party bullshit anymore. I just can’t. I really do just feel like giving up and becoming like so many others I know…indifferent to anything political. I should stick to watching Real Housewives and go about life as though nothing has changed. It seems much healthier.

I have not only been met with brick walls built by the opposing team…I have also been treated like shit by the very people I have been defending and fighting for. A few union people have been really shitty with me because I was not playing the right way I suppose. Teachers – whom I have fought for since I can remember – have been pretty rude to me as well. I haven’t wanted to say anything so that I can remain in this solidarity mindset…but why the fuck should I?? I don’t know if it is because I pushed for healthy school snacks (which did piss off a lot of people) or because of my “criminal history”…but my kids’ own teachers won’t even bother returning my emails. Its bullshit.

So yea, I have little reason to continue putting any real effort into the political fight anymore. I have considered working for a particular political campaign. I don’t want to mention it yet, but I would do this and stop involving myself in the other shit. Perhaps if I focus on getting one good guy elected…I will feel as though I am doing SOMETHING without feeling like I am being disrespected or feeling like I have to constantly be on the defensive.

Anyway, I need to get the kids in the house and get everyone ready for bed. I am tired as hell and should try to be asleep early tonight. I will try to post something positive this week, I promise. Until then…talk at ya later. Night.

Mackenzie’s Award – Patch

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My step daughter won a great award last week and here is a story I did for Patch about her.

On March 13, Mackenzie Geyer was Mount Pleasant/Sturtevant Patch’s very first Whiz Kid. On June 9, she proved herself to once again be a young lady deserving of applause. Applause. Not applesauce. She doesn’t care for it.

Granted, I may be a tad biased when saying that Mackenzie is clearly on a path to a successful, positive and fun-filled educational career. As my stepdaughter since the age of 14 months, she has been an outstanding gal.

Last week, Mackenzie’s 5th grade class at Gifford Elementary honored the graduates as they crossed the bridge to middle school. During the ceremony, Mackenzie was shocked to hear her name called as one of 5 winners for the Gilmore Award. One child from each 5th grade class (each with approximately 30 students) wins the award every year.

“I was surprised! I had no idea they were going to call my name!” said Mackenzie, “I was really happy that I won an award, but I felt bad for the kids who didn’t.”

That is typical Mackenzie, always thinking of the feelings of others.

Along with The Gilmore Award Trophy, MacKenzie received a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card. She was also nominated for the Spirited Award, one of five out of 150 students. She also walked away with a medal for Peer Mediation and of course, her 5th grade Completion Certificate.

Disappointed by Liberal Libidos – Patch

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In the 90s, I remember listening to the Monica Lewinsky tapes on television. This was before having been exposed to any reality TV and this was the ultimate in voyeuristic entertainment. 

Back then, I defended Clinton to the death. Well, not literally as we are both still breathing (knock on wood). But I could see the good he had accomplished and the potential for further success had it not been interrupted with what I considered nonsense. That was between Bill, Hilary, Monica and the cigar. Period.

On my honeymoon in 2003, I watched most of the democratic primary debates. I was intrigued and impressed with John Edwards and subsequently supported him wholeheartedly for President in later elections. When I learned of his affair and love child AND his denial of said child, I was speechless. I was quite disappointed that he could let his “desires” come between the American people and a great candidate.

Please read the rest of this Rayne’s World Editorial  HERE

One Wag at a Time – Patch

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This weekend I watched a piece on The Today Show about The Tornado Dog. If you haven’t heard the story you can catch up HERE.

Watching his recovery I marveled at he extraordinary strength of people who care for injured, sick, abused and abandoned animals. 

This week’s Knowsy Neighbor, Lynn Nielsen-Eeg, is a prime example of one of these people I admire, respect and appreciate. She has dedicated her time, money and endless efforts to rescuing animals from all over the country. It is her purpose, her joy, her heartache and her world.

For years, Lynn would read about abused animals, and see programs picturing mistreated pets and she would have to change the channel. Witnessing acts of abuse, neglect, irresponsibility and apathy towards the furry companions of the world caused her significant pain. This is what inspired H.O.P.E. Safehouse.

Please read the full Knowsy Neighbor article HERE

Mount Pleasant Woman Calls Her Own Shots – Patch

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Moriah Gomez, 34, used to spend her days as a young child in a make believe world of photography. With linens as backdrops and household décor as props, she would create a space ready for the shots from her mother’s 110 camera.

After graduating from Washington Park High School and attending Gateway Technical College for marketing, Moriah worked for a bit at Picture People in The Regency Mall. At the time, her children were young and she was away from them the majority of the day satisfying the company’s long hours. She soon realized that working for herself would give her more time with her family and the ability to call her own shots.

Please read the rest of my latest Knowsy Neighbor HERE

Reading, Writing and Ridiculous

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Patch Editorial. Read the whole article HERE and please feel free to comment!!!

I rented Waiting for Superman this weekend. Unfortunately, we were far too busy with a rummage sale – hoping to make a few bucks for a family vacation up North – for me to watch it. I get the gist of it, though. Teachers’ Unions = BAD. Apparently they ruin everything and allow horrible teachers to suck dry the tax payers while providing the education equivalent to a Sesame Street episode.

Okay. Sure.

This movie comes out and scares all the FOX viewers (whom are already prone to fear-based decision making) into thinking that their children will be living in the street if they attend a public school. I just picture all these middle-aged white people running down the road screaming and swinging their Prada bags as zombie teachers chase them with math books. Okay, so my imagination runs away a bit, but I think you get my point.

Before this film we heard very little about vouchers and school choice. They were there but certainly not as supported as they are now. So, great job to the director!!

I will not go as far as to say school vouchers/choice is immoral. I will say that I find it to be hypocritical, ridiculous, offensive, unfair and wasteful. Please let me tell you why I feel this way.

Man Works For Purrs, Puddles and Panting

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Knowsy Neighbor on Patch. Read the full article HERE.

Jonathan and Lynn Eeg are critter crazy! And with that passion, they are saving animals all over city, state and country. The cocked head of a curious dog and a purring nuzzle from a friendly feline are all the thanks this couple needs to devote their lives to a wonderful organization, H.O.P.E. Safehouse. In this week’s Knowsy Neighbor I will be highlighting Jonathan, President of H.O.P.E. Part two will follow with his wife, and H.O.P.E. Director, Lynn.

Jonathan said something to me that really struck a chord, “We share this planet with them (animals) and so, we are connected. As far as pets go, they are always happy to see us and they never hold a grudge. They all have personalities and are unique. They make our home a home.”

H.O.P.E. (Help for Orphaned Pets through Education) Safehouse is a non-profit, all-volunteer animal care organization. H.O.P.E. is a transitional sanctuary for cats and dogs whom have been lost, injured, neglected and abandoned. It is there they receive the care they need to survive as well as an opportunity to find a new home with a new family.

 

Stopping the Stigma of Mental Illness

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Patch Editorial. You can see the published article HERE.

As May draws to a close, so does Mental Health Month. Most of us were noticing the budding tulips, complaining about the rain or celebrating Mother’s Day and were probably unaware that Mental Health Month even existed. Considering that May is also National Egg Month, National Salsa Month and National Hamburger Month (Great, now I am hungry…) having an issued awareness time frame makes little impact these days. But nonetheless, it gives organizations the opportunity to spread the word and gain support. It gives sufferers a sense – if even for a moment – of not being ‘the only one’. And it gives writers like me a time to share a word or two.

There remains such a stigma surrounding the mere mention of mental illness. There are many whom would rather admit to taking their son’s ADD medication than to admit they are seeing a shrink. There are some who would feel more comfortable drinking a fifth of vodka each night instead of a Prozac each morning. There are those who have reached out only to have been called a ‘psycho’ in return. And there are others who would rather be diagnosed with an untreatable medical disease than a treatable mental illness. This is all because of the unrelenting stigma.

  • One in four adults – about 57 million Americans – suffer from a mental illness.
  • In 2006, 670 Wisconsin citizens died by way of suicide.
  • In 2008, Around 5100 adults with a mental illness were incarcerated in Wisconsin prisons.
  • Over 50% of students with a mental disorder drop out of high school.
  • Veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide than their non-veteran peers
  • It has been estimated that the mental illnesses cost annually to the country is approximately 79 billion

Mental illnesses and disorders are costing our population more than just dollars. They are costing us in the alleys, in the prisons, in the schools and in our own homes. There are no walls that can keep out manic depression. No amount of detention can wash away the residue of social anxiety. Bars cannot contain schizophrenia and street lights cannot shine enough to enlighten away addiction.

Nobody wakes up and decides to spend the day crying in bed. No one chooses to have panic attacks at the drop of a hat. These mental illnesses are not something a person can control or will away. They are not something for which to apologize. They should not require shame. If stigma is lessened, knowledge is gained and if knowledge is gained, lives will improve. And for most of those 57 million people there is: a mother, a father, a spouse, a child, a friend, a grandparent. All of the people who help fill the worlds of someone with a mental illness are just as affected and damaged by these maladies. That is a lot of people, people.

So, what will it take to form a society conducive to healing, to acceptance, to shamelessness?I believe it lies in those who are willing to step forward and share their stories. There is no doubt we would be astonished to learn what really lies within the closets, medicine cabinets and minds of others. Folks we see regularly, speak to and hold dear are or have suffered from a mental illness in some capacity. You may be amazed that the pretty waitress at your usual spot has severe bipolar disorder. You could very well be shocked to learn that the doctor whom you have been seeing for years is an alcoholic. And maybe your mother’s odd behaviors are due to her being trapped in a depressive state and not simply because she is getting old.

If these waitresses, doctors and mothers spoke out and shared with the world – even their own immediate worlds – just what they have been going through, the ripple effect could be momentous. If the words ‘mental illness’ would stop being spoken with such shame and embarrassment, healing and treatment could be right around the corner to many whom have considered it impossible.

If you are suffering with a mental illness, you are not only not alone – you are in a massive population of diverse individuals. Things CAN get better. You CAN feel better. And you CAN help end the stigma.

I have been living with depression and anxiety most of my life. There have been times of despair and times of, what I call, remission. And there are many moments in between. I don’t hide from my disorders. I do not feel shame; just as I wouldn’t had I been diagnosed with diabetes or MS. I have put myself out there and because of that I have been hurt. There is that risk, I won’t lie. But the hurt doesn’t last and it doesn’t compare to the knowledge of doing nothing. Call me psycho, you won’t be the first. Because as neurotic as I can be, I also know that I can climb out of the rubble like a champ. And when it is all said and done I can stand assured that I will not be defined by my psychological issues and I won’t be ashamed of them either.

Speak. Listen. Learn. Teach. That’s really all it takes to begin the healing towards a better quality of life.

 

Business Owner is Barking Up the Right Tree – Patch

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Knowsy Neighbor on Patch…read full article HERE.

After 22 years surrounded by emails, copiers, phone calls and meetings, Rita Landis decided that she had a very different path she was meant to follow. It was time to be her own boss.

In 2008,  she opened Central Bark Doggy Day Care and she is now happily surrounded by wagging tails, fur coats and unconditional love. 

Central Bark Doggie Daycare is a full service canine kingdom. Not only do they offer day care, but also doggie spa treatments, vet visits, a variety of classes, playroom rental, birthday parties and more.