Book review: The Night the Angels Came by Cathy Glass

I just finished another heartrending and well written memoir of Cathy Glass.

In the Night the Angels Came Cathy’s family is given a unique request. Normally fostercarers take children who have been abused or neglected. Either for short term while the parents get rehabilitated or long-term. But another use for foster care is so that parents can put their children in safe hands when they’re very ill or dying.

Michael is a 12 year old boy. He lost his mother when he was very little. His Father Patrick, currently has terminal cancer.

At first Cathy was overwhelmed by the prospect of working with a child in the process of losing a parent. Her own family had dealt with their own loss what with their father leaving Cathy recently and the divorce.

When Adrian and Paula hear about Michael’s situation they insist that Michael should come stay with them. They feel they can empathize with Michael as they know what it’s like to lose a father.

Cathy agrees to look after Michael. This fostering situation is very different from any Cathy has been in. She will only be looking after Michael when Patrick is in the hospital and then of course when Patrick dies. Patrick and she feel though that it would be good for them to meet regularly so that Michael is fameliar with Cathy and their family.

Both Patrick and Cathy are in extremely vulnerable places in their lives. Patrick for obvious reasons. And Cathy due to the recent divorce and situation with her husband John. She is left wounded and needing the kind of emotional support that Pat seems to so easily provide. Patrick is positive kind and thoughtful. He has an attitude to live everyday and make the most of it and rarely is down about his illness.

He is good company to Cathy. They go out on some occasions and the two families grow quite close. Jill warns Cathy about getting too close. But she doesn’t take in her warning. Patrick eventually falls ill and has to go into the hospital. He spends a couple weeks there there some of it unconscious. When he comes out he tells Cathy that he needs to put distance between them. As it wouldn’t be fair to Adrean and Paula to lose a father figure, or for that matter Cathy. Cathy is saddened by this but realizes that it is the best decision.

As a reader I felt like Cathy having a friendship with Patrick wasn’t professional. As with other foster placements she would only interact with the parents for contact ETC. Though this was a unique situation I don’t think it was a good idea for the boundaries to come down and for Cathy and Patrick to become friends. However I suppose in fostering it’s hard to draw the line between personal and professional.

As time goes by Michael spends more time at Cathy’s house. He is as positive as his father. And as thoughtful. Both he and Patrick are catholic. And they have a very strong faith. This sees them through the intense trauma of the illness. Michael prays every night and believes that the angels will take his father to Heaven to be with his mom.

As Patrick gets sicker he goes into hospice. He tells Cathy it will just be for a few days. He slips into unconsciousness. Michael goes there and is encouraged to talk to his father even though he isn’t awake. It is a touching scene to hear him talking to his Dad. And a time for Michael to express how he feels.

He has a premonition that Patrick will not last the weekend. And sadly that Monday Patrick dies.

Michael’s greif is emense and indeed so is Cathy’s and the children’s. Still it seems as Michael’s faith continues to help him through. He and Pat have also had the support of coleen and Eamon. Friends of Pat’s and Michael’s godparents. As well as neighbors Nora and Jack. These friends have helped the family and been their through the traumas of the illness. So that though Michael doesn’t have biological parents he has these caring people in his life for support.

Cathy is vigilant to be there for Michael when he cries or just needs to talk. She also is sure to reassure her own children through this hard time. The social services meet. Patrick thoughtfully arranged things for after his death. Coleen and Eamon had approached him. They didn’t have any children and really wanted to adopt Michael. He encouraged them to think it over and if they felt the same way when the time came to go forward with it. Michael had two options. To stay with Cathy and her family long term or to live with Coleen and Eamon.

Knowing that Michael is very mature for his age and deserves some say his father said that Michael’s decision should be final. He knows that Coleen and Eamon have been there for him his whole life and are truly like family. He chooses to live with them knowing that he will see Cathy and her family regularly.

Though this was an incredibly sad story it was also uplifting. It showed that with faith and support even the most difficult life events can be overcome. Cathy and her family faced this situation and were better people for knowing Michael and Patrick. It helped them too come to terms with their own sense of loss and made them stronger as a family. Amd Coleen and Eamon gained a son. Michael is an extremely mature resilent person especially for his age. He is open and honest about his feelings. He was able to appropriately greeve while still remaining connected to those he loved and not becoming withdrawn. Patrick would be proud of how things turned out.

I’d be curious if others have fostered children with terminal illness, or those who have lost a loved one. And how this experience was for you.

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guest blog post: how I was diagnosed with DID, therapy Bits

Hi everyone,

Below is a guest blog post from my friend who’s blog is therapy bits.

The link is:

http://therapybits.com/

How I was diagnosed with DID

My name is Carol anne. I am an alter in a did system. I am not the host, her name is shirley and that is our bodys legal name. I am 19 years old but shirley, our body, is legally 35 years old. my story is complex. I have did. I have had it since my early childhood. I split to cope with insurmountable pain and trauma. I was abused on every level, emotionally, physically, spiritually and sexually. At a bording school for the blind…yes, I am blind. I live with many alters sharing my body. For years I thought everyone heard voices. I never knew there was a name for it. I thought I was alone in my struggles. Then someone gave me a name, back when I was initially diagnosed in 2001 it was mpd, well it was did back then too but the psychiatrist who diagnosed me knew little about the disorder, he only knew it as multiple personality disorder. I remember when he said you are probably multiple. The shock, and also the relief. There was a name for it. I wasnt crazy after all. It was a normal reaction to an abnormal childhood. After I was first diagnosed I read a lot. I tried to get my hands on as many books as I could about did. I didnt know anyone back then who had it. Ireland is a small country. In ireland, this diagnosis is very rare. Most clinicians dont know what did is, or how to treat it. I was lucky because my then psychiatrist was willing to learn. But for years we, the alters, were afraid to come out to him. Then one day I did. I just said to him, what would you say if i said this wasnt shirley? He almost kealed over with shock. But once he got over his shock he was cool with it. And after that we were able to talk to him and our relationship grew from strength to strength. he was our psychiatrist from 2001 until 2007. we went through many hospitalisations with him. during all of them he tried to educate the nurses and had little success with that. eventually he left the sector and moved on and so did we. we went into long term therapy and did a lot of internal communication, to help us find out about one another. we tried to work hard to learn about each other and what each of us held as far as the trauma went. some did not even hold trauma at all. in 2010 a did specialist came over from the UK to give us a formal diagnosis, we had a clinical interview and other tests with the psychiatrist and did specialist and with our then therapist and psychiatrist present also. after that we got an official diagnosis so now we have papers which state our did diagnosis. our current psychiatrist is great. she really gets it and gets us. she understands did and has done a lot of reading and has been willing to accept all of us where we’re at. she is willing to talk to any alter. many of us trust her and have opened up to her and its very freeing. we’ve come a long way since that initial diagnosis in 2001. things have changed a lot for us since then. we are now in college studying IT. we go to therapy still and have had a wonderfully caring therapist for the past 3 and a half years. Life has its ups and downs but mostly ups. We are happy. We know much more now about one another than we initially knew back in 2000. Did doesnt mean the end. In fact when you are diagnosed, it is just the beginning, it is a long and sometimes painful journey but it is so worth it.

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someone passed away at albany today

Hi everyone,

So this afternoon sadly a resident on the second floor passed away. We don’t know who it was or the circumstances. Jess was doing laundry on that floor and then there was all this activity. With a ton of staff many that are here only during the week, there as well as of course paramedics cops ETC.

I feel so bad for everyone who had to deal with this. Especially the person’s roommates. And of course the person who passed away and their family.

This happened last year to a woman that almost all residents knew well. She lived on our floor and it was very hard for awhile to have seen the aftermath of paramedics and everyone there in a panic.

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would like to organize skype chat or google hangout group chats

Hi everyone,

I’ve done hotline as well as online emotional support. I feel there are clear advantages to both.

I do feel while there’s a certain risk a person is taking if they’re feeling vulnerable and talking to someone on a hotline/ chat, there is also the reward of a connection that is a different kind of depth than one can find in writing. The voice is very powerful and messages carried by speaking have the benefit of transmiting emotion/ intention ETC through the tone of one’s voice.

Unfortunately all the options I’ve found out there that provide both an online chat and hotline option are ones where one needs to physically go to the location for training or the call center to work.

On forums/ read it/ FB groups you have the ability to support one another online but the component of chatting voice to voice is missing.

I don’t have the money to do anything like buy some software or anything. I don’t know of any free alternatives besides us communicating through our blogs or on FB/ twitter though I won’t use twitter chat I just won’t! But then using skype or google hangouts. My friend Robbie sent me some links for audio chat rooms which could be something to look into.

Any thoughts? Hoping we can work together on this and then have multiple ways of connecting and supporting one another.

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curious about the realities of residential treatment

I’m always wanting to learn more about different kinds of mental health treatment. I’m often curious about residential treatment. I feel it’s such a privilege to be able to go to a safe nurturing place for several months to just focus on whatever’s going on that’s blocking you from living a life you want to live. Provided that the staff are good and they’re practicing ethical and sound therapies I’d say it’s a very good thing. One thing I highly dislike, as in want to shake the higher ups, is that this rich opportunity is not accessible to those who don’t have health insurance or can afford it.

Several of the books I’ve reviewed (paperweight, More than you can Chew, believearexic) are set in residential treatment centers for people with eating disorders.

It makes me wonder if these books accurately portray life at these centers. From what I’ve read online on the site below it seems they have. But I haven’t personally talked with many who have gone through treatment.

Below is a very helpful site. It’s first of all a well established blog. There are pages for discussions how to deal with insurance ETC. Most helpful are the indepth reviews that cover any aspect you can imagine of these programs. It’s very important for consumers and their family to know the pros and cons of any program as they’ll be intrusting their lives not to mention spending a lot of money to these places.

Here is the link:

http://www.edtreatmentreview.com/usa-treatment-consumer-reviews/

I have some questions for people who have gone to residential treatment.

What lead you to seek out this type of care?

What was the process of selecting a center like?

What was your outside support system like therapist, family ETC? Were they in favor of you going to treatment?

How did you handle the financial aspect?

How did you feel when first arriving at treatment?

Was it what you expected in terms of staff, other patients rules ETC?

What did you find most supportive and most challenging?

How did the program prepare you for transitioning home?

What was it like going back to your regular life after months away?

I’ve read about people going to residential treatment multiple times.

If you relapsed and went back to treatment did you choose the same place or another center?

Feel free to answer any or none of these questions. I’m not trying to be nosey! Just wanting to connect with more people as always who are going through similar issues. Though I don’t have an eating disorder, if I got the chance I would likely be open to going to treatment for my depression PTSD and anxiety just to compare the experience to that of outpatient/ long term residential care (the latter having actually less therapy than one would think!)

Feel free to comment or if you would like to do a guest post on this issue talk to me!

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I would love guest bloggers

Hi everyone,

Putting an invitation out there to anyone who would like to post on my blog.

Anything related to mental illness/ health. What works for you in treatment/ therapy, books fiction or nonfiction on mental illness, disabilities ETC.

If you’re thinking of starting a blog and want to test the waters by being featured on an awesome blog this could be good for you! Am very open to talking about any ideas you have.

Please comment or e-mail: nelsonsam68

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poor friend with stomach flu

So my friend/ roommate got the stomach flu. It started early this morning. She’s been very sick. It’s going around with the staff but probably also residents. And probably outside the facility as well. I think one reason is the weather. With it being sixty degrees last week and then snowing today it’s just too much.

Anyway it’s also very hard for my friend because some years back she had major stomach issues along with a whole host of serious some life threatening medical concerns. So naturally not only is she anxious about it but it’s justifiable based on her medical history. Though it’s hard as probably all the past information is in her chart somewhere but there’s a toon of files. The director of nursing when she approached her didn’t seem to believe the issues were that bad for whatever reason. The day nurse has the attitude of let it run its course. Which is fine except as I said there are the past issues. From all these medical complications though she did recover from everything her immune system was never the same. When she gets sick it’s a big deal at least it seems it. Issues tend to stick around longer. There’s also the issue of psych meds and if she’s unable to keep anything in her system how her body chemistry would react to the psych meds not getting in for however long.

So I’m just hoping things get better as quickly as possible. I know that another nurse in the director of nursing’s office may understand better. And probably anyone would if they saw the signed paper with all the issues she had way back before coming here. But who knows where that piece of paper is. Also she has her awesome caseworker who will fight for her getting anything she needs.

I also hope I don’t get this flu.

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your favorite forumms/ peer listening sites

Hi everyone,

Wanted to ask a quick favor. I’m wondering if you could recommend your favorite forums or peer listening chat sites. I wish there were more out there.

I know some like myself use e-mail groups or just twitter. Or support through our blogs. But wanted to see what else is out there and hear people’s thoughts.

I tried with seven cups of tea but I lost my account info. I also kind of felt like it was kind of hard to really get to know people on there. I know some people really like it so would love to really get to know someone who uses it often and maybe I can start over again and have a better experience. Any other suggestions are welcome.

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Book Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston

I just finished another amazing book about a girl in an eating disorder treatment center.

17 year old Stevie is stuck in a treatment center in New Mexico. She is sent there by her dad. She feels trapped. All she wants to do is be with her brother on The anniversary. . At first we don’t know what it’s of but soon learn it’s a year to the day of her brother’s death.

Stevie refuses to eat at first. She feels she’s in control by choosing not to participate. Though she tries to ignore her, Anna who she affectionately calls Shrink for the whole of the book, is a very persistent therapist. From the first day she doesn’t let Stevie isolate. She’s always asking Stevie to talk about how she’s feeling particularly as she is pushed farther and ferther into intense flashbacks of her c childhood, her toxic relationship with a mentally ill girl, and the night she’s so desperate to leave behind. She feels for the longest time that she was responsible for her brother’s death. She feels the only way to reach him and find peace is to kill herself.

She tries keeping this from staff hiding away her meds. (how this happens at a treatment center with nurses watching I don’t know.) But more and more Shrink forces her to stay present and not drift off. She prodes her to participate in group exercises and discussions. Though Stevie doesn’t want to make connections at the program she finds a connection with one of her roommates Ashley. At first Ashley seems very put together. As time goes on Stevie realizes that Ashley has big problems of her own. She gets into a relationship with Ashley where she tries to secretly look out for her. Giving her some of the sleeping pills she’s hidden. Again just wow! When things come to a head for Ashley Stevie again feels responsible. But with the help of Anna she’s able to work with these feelings and realize that terrible things happen and it’s often no one’s fault.

Stevie slowly gains insight into her family including her relationship with her self-centered mother, her brother, and a girl who she felt was the only one who could love her, but who ended up being the last straw in things crumbling for everyone.

The therapy sessions are deep and meaningful. I feel that Anna represents a creative very caring therapist. The groups and process around meals sound true to what I’ve read about people in residential treatment.

By the end of the book steve has reached a level of health where she can speak aloud to Josh and face her father in a family therapy session. It’s clear she has a lot of work to do but that she’s reached a level of healing she never felt possible and is on the right track to healing.

I’d recommend this book to anyone with an eating disorder. Descriptions of binges purging and other ED behavior I don’t feel are graphically detailed but I don’t have an eating disorder so I guess people need to monitor themselves. It would also be a good book for anyone with difficult family relationships that have snowballed and lead to deeper issues. Lastly it is a good story describing the guilt one feels after losing a loved one, especially if they feel they’re a part of why that person died.

Am curious what others think. And for anyone who has been in residential if the book accurately portrays eliments of it or not.

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Book Review: Panic by Sharon Draper

One of the books I’ve recently read is Panic by Sharon Draper. It tells the story of a group of teen dancers. It starts out with them preparing to put on the dance version of the show Peter Pan.

However disaster is about to strike. Diamond and her best friend Mercedies stop by the mall on the way to a rehearsal. Mercedies says that she wants to look at something in a store. Diamond is bored and heads to the food court and says that they’ll meet up in five minutes. When Mercedies gets there Diamond is gone.

Diamond meets a very good looking man in the food court. He tells her that he is a movie producer and that he’s doing auditions for Peter Pan. Diamond can’t believe her luck! And that not only would she have the chance to meet well known movie stars but possibly get the part in his movie that she didn’t get at the studio. She has reservations but Thanelures her into it. Saying she can call her mom/ friends when she gets to the house.

Diamond’s phone is low on battery. She texts Mercedies saying she met a guy who could land her a part in a Peter Pan movie and she’d call soon.

Mercedies is terrified as is all at the studio and her family. They at first think maybe this is true. But then have their doubts that a man wouldn’t actually pick up a random girl at the mall. They start an investigation on Diamond.

Interspersed in this tragedy is Layla’s relationship with Donovan. Donovan is a very controlling boyfriend. He’s always wanting to know where she is who she’s with ETC. He particularly hates it when Layla is seen dancing with Max the only guy at the studio. The other girls try and tell Layla that she deserves better than Donovan but she seems to feel he’s the only one who would truly love her and that his jealousy is a sign of love.

Meanwhile Diamond is inchanted by Thane’s big house, friendly irish setter and movie stuff including Harry Poter scripts. He says the actors are delayed and while Diamond looks around he gives her a coke. Suddenly she feels funny can’t speak and blacks out.

In the morning she is tied to a bed with her hands above her head. An unthinkable terrible thing has happened. Thane has used Diamond in pornographic movies with different men coming to the house but mostly himself in the staring male role.

She is devastated and tries to scream for help. Thane comes to her and says there’s nothing she can do. She’s his. He keeps commenting on the “great job” she did and how “flexible” a dancer’s body is. Diamond is horrified and can’t imagine what happened the night before.

Meanwhile the town holds a vigil for diamond. The dance studio is in emotional chaos everyone blaming themselves for Diamond’s disappearance. The dance teacher is extremely wise and is an ankor for everyone emotionally. At one class they’re unable to do a normal rehearsal due to the weight of everything. Each person selects a song to dance to that expresses their feelings about Diamond, expresses their strong fear or anger about the situation. The descriptions of the dances are extremely vivid and you can tell how the dance releases so much pent up emotion in all of them.

Diamond falls into a horrible routine. Every night drinking drugged water, though less and less of the drug each time. Thane twistedly wants Diamond to “enjoy it.” By being more alert. She spends all day locked in the room. Trying to think up escapes but nothing comes to her. There is only one very high imposible to break window. The room is cleared of any weapons she can use.

Thane brings her finger food. Every morning she is given nice looking fresh clothes and clean sheets. As the days pass, she is there six days, he gives her things like an ipod or novels to read. At times he lets the dog stay in the room with her and she becomes the only comfort Diamond has. That and imagining dancing. Listening to music on the ipod putting herself in the experiences of dances gives her inner strength.

When Thane drops his guard in leaving a untensel in the room Diamond jumps at the chance and plans an escape. Incredibly the dog seems to lead the way to safety. Thane is physically hurt. Diamond is able to find freedom at last.

Meanwhile things come to a head in Layla’s relationship with Donovan as he too posts pornographic pictures on the internet.

This story is about how not going with/ talking to strangers isn’t just for kids. How a teenager can be lead into a horrible situation as easily as a child could. About how pedofiles do what they do. It’s also about abusive relationships in general. And the power of dance as a way to come to terms with even the most traumatic experiences. Quotes from Peter Pan and a list of songs used in the book supliment this heartfelt novel.

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