book review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I just finished reading an amazing novel by the author of Speak.

This is a raw and very true to life account of one girl’s struggle with the death of her best friend, eating disorders, difficult family issues, and cutting.

Lia and Cassie have been best friends since third grade. Inseparableand funn loving practically twins though a year apart. When they had the teen years things changed. Pressure from home and school, emotions and their changing bodies lead them to eating disorders. Cassie bulimia and Lia Anorexia.

At the beginning of this book Lia is sex months out from her second stay at an eating disorder treatment center. She hasn’t spoken to Cassie in a year.Lia is told that Cassie died over thanksgiving weekend in a motel alone. Lia feels extremely guilty as Cassie had called her, after a year of not speaking to her, 33 times the night she died. Lia did not answer. This guilt becomes stronger and stronger and fuelss her downward spiral.

Lia has a very d difficult family background. Her parents divorced a few years back. Her father is a history professor and writer. Her mom is a heart surgeon. Her father had several affairs and eventually settled down with Jennifer. A woman obsessed with having the perfect home, being the perfect housewife and mother though too busy to actually do things like bake cookies or hear that her daughter doesn’t like sports. She has a young daughter Emma in third grade I think. Lia calls Emma her “almost sister” and it’s clear she loves her very much.

Cassie’s death brings back all the experiences Lia has had with her friend. The worst being how Cassie was told by a therapist and her parents to not be her friend anymore, and went through a few different episodes of trying to connect but then dumping her. All that kept playing in her head was the fact that Cassie had reached out for help and no one but her knew it.

In spite of being in treatment twice, Lia is not very envested in recovery. She feels a lot of pride around being “in a bone cage” as she puts it, and seems to live for the number going down on the scale wanting to reach a new lower goal every week. It’s clear that all she’s doing is hiding her behavior rather than wanting to reach out for help at all. Her stepmother Jennifer weighs Lia every week but Lia tricks the scale withwearing weights drinking lots of water and at one point even tinkering with the scale itself.

So her eating disorder behaviors were barely being kept in check before this point. But Cassie’s death sets Lia on a downward spiral. She comits to exercising obsessively again, only eating a certain amount of calories a day and cuts more. She cuts to release all the emotional pain and feelings she has no voice for. She has to hide her cuts under her clothes as her parents do not understand that aspect of her behavior.

Lia sees a psychiatrist once a week, but again it’s clear she does not want to open up to her. She sits in silence for much of their sessions.

As if all this weren’t enough, Lia gets a phone message from a mysterious guy at the motel Cassie spent her last night in. Lia meets him. He has a sense about her secrets and she feels a connection with this e exentric stranger. Who has a tattoo of a biker mann on his arm, and tells her to “pay attention to her visions.”

He is the only person she opens up to somewhat in the end before hitting rock bottom.

The story takes place mainly from this time after thanksgiving to Christmas. In which time Lia’s condition mentally and physically gets worse and worse. And strange things start to happen. Lia can hear Cassie talking to her. See her, smell her, feel cold air when she’s around. She believe Cassie is haunting her. And wants her to die too.

Things reach a crisis point where Lia ends up in much the same situation Cassie was in her last moments, yet she has some last bit of will or hope or something that makes her take the steps needed to help relase Cassie from her ghost self, and get the help she needs.

This seems a really realistic story. The issues of eating disorders and self-harm, and reasons for them are true to life. All characters are well developed. And the story has a hopefull and realistic ending. Ultametily showing that recovery is truly up to the person really wanting it to work. Many people I’m sure have similar experiences to Lia and Cassie. At the end of the audio version of this book Laurie herself is interviewed. She reads a poem about her other book Speak which is very powerful. Wintergirls has become extremely popular and so wonder others thoughts on it.

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Introduction To Bety Comerford and Steve Wilson psychic and shamanic healers

So you’re looking at this post and are like, “am I on the right blog?” This can’t be on matters to sam!

Yeah you’re in the right place Will be reviewing their books and I know they’re the last thing you’d possibly think I would read. Me too If it hadn’t been for my awesome connection with the author!

To back up, when I went to Middlesex community college in 2008 there was a psychic fair going on. With a group from a small organization called Aquarius Sanctuary and bookstore. It was in westford. It was a place where people into holistic healing, psychic readings, and all kinds of earthy stuff had their business. There was a building where they had their offices and then the bookstore. They would have groups and stuff at the bookstore as well. I wish I had been able to be more envolved and meet more people sadly after that summer I left.

Anyway there was a psychic fair my last semester before heading off to Lesley. My dad was the one that took me, we had no idea about it just happened to be having lunch. I decided to have my tarot cards read even though I’ve never even heard of tarot cards. The woman had a calming voice. Her name was Lorna. The girl ahead of me was like having a breakdown over whatever she was being told like couldn’t catch her breath and was in tears, so I was like ok umm I hope this isn’t like wicked scary. But to her credit this lorna got her to calm down.

Anyway so like I totally don’t remember a thing the lady said. But I was interested in learning more about this bookstore/ holistic center place. It was also near my birthday I was turning twenty and heading into the huge journey of leaving home and living at college. With a huge amount of stuff going on at home that was not good.

So I went on the website looked through the different people. Bety Comerford caught my attention because she did pet readings. I’ve heard of Sonia the pet psychic on TV and no one believed anything she said when I told them about the show. So I wanted to see if Bety could know stuff about our pets that no one else could ever know. Plus it said she helped people like sort out issues in their lives and stuff. So I signed up with her. And I made my family do it too LOL!

She was amazing. Like psychic gifts aside she was and is just a plain good listener and nurturing person. I was only seeing my psychiatrist once a month at this point, and had a ton going on. That first time though was really fun. She looked at all the pictures of my pets: my/ my mom’s cat, our first, that was near the end of his life. She said so and it turned out he died that September. My awesome Guiney pig who she said was the smartest one she ever met. She tuned into our dog that died, described Simon my sister’s cat perfectly, and saw a picture in her mind of Lucky cuddled on my bed which is his favorite spot.

I was personally impressed. My family also enjoyed themselves and they’re pretty skeptical.

So we connected that summer. Somehow we got talking about me and she said I had psychic gifts and stuff. I wasn’t sure never really have felt connected to spiritual stuff then or since. But do firmly believe if someone is invested in helping others especially in a healing framework, however they’re doing it is cool with me.

I needed a healthy hobby to occupy myself that summer. So I got the cards and she and I went over how to use them, how to connect with a spirit guide (I did actually somehow connect with the personality of an older girl but then months later it disappeared), and other things. Generally she just listened to my emotional ramblings about my alcoholic mom, being physically trapped in the house being blind with no public transportation and all the pressure I was under. She used her principles of energy healing and spirituality to try and put things in perspective which I listened to, but the most important role she played was that of a nurturing figure, a sort of second therapist for awhile.

At the very end of the summer I met her teacher Steve Wilson. A really tall kinda mysterious guy. Like actually like how you’d think a male healer would be. Very in tune kinda scary how much he could pick up within two seconds of meeting you. Met him at that bookstore for like a minute and I was like shocked. Like total mysterious wizard vibe going on and I’m not even into Harry Poter LOL!

But Bety said this guy could help me, and more importantly my mom if she chose to get help with the million issues that were really hurting us at home. I’ve never been one to work with male anyone especially doctors or whatever but Bety would be there. We did it in his basement. It was pretty cool except he had the most annoying bird! Some kinda parrot or cotitail or something made the loudest screech ever. Now that I’m more sensitive post breakdown it would have been totally overwhelming. Wish Bety had been able to converse with her to keep her distracted from screeching away. But they were both like doing the reading together. Again I don’t remember many details. Except he said I had “second sight” and that I “chose” to be blind, which is so totally s stereotypical thing to say to a blind person but hey whatever. He was nice about it.

So went to college. Connected on and off with Bety. I interviewed her for a class. No matter what she was always a phone call or e-mail away.

Went down the path of Linda Marks and Emotional Kenisthetic Psychotherapy (whole other story!). And in so doing had really disconnected with my family for the first year of college. And had finally reconnected and was planning to do family therapy. Had been talking with Bety lately and she said another healing with Steve might be good. So went from Cambridge down to concord and had another really good time. He said that my guides “love what you’re doing, but proceed with caution.” Well I had no idea what that meant. I wanted to know the ins and outs of how things would go with my family. You can tell Bety and Steve are the real deal because it’s not like TV. Like they don’t just make up whatever to please someone. They’ll tell you whatever they pick up on whether you want to hear it or not. And talk a lot about free will and how anything they say won’t matter at all if you don’t take actions in whatever direction. Something I always remember is she said she could tell someone they would win the lottery but if they didn’t go buy a ticket it wouldn’t happen!

So back to not telling people what they want to hear. Often they say these spirit guides don’t want to give away stuff, because they want people to learn whatever lessons the situation is trying to teach you or they truly might not just know. So in spite of a lot of different questioning tactics I got nowhere with that. Steve tried to tune into Linda, and was blocked. I thought that was odd. I thought blocked meant he made some kinda mistake or something. So I asked about it. Which is where I learned the thing about guides not wanting to disclose certain stuff. So of course I tried a few different ways to get the info anyway but it didn’t work. Tried asking Bety and again nothing. Steve said that I needed to have Linda on the pedestal that she was on right now, which ended up being so true! Again long story, short version therapist abuse!

.So after that didn’t really talk much for a long long time. I eventually heard about that they’d written a book about ghost hunting. They teamed up with some friends and formed an organization called the Spirit Light Network. They investigate haunted houses, and like actually help the ghosts move on. And also help the people move on from their role in the situation. More on that later. So I didn’t think much about it.

Recently though reconnected with her. Told her all about my suicide attempt (said from a spiritual point of view anyone who ends their life has huge amounts of guilt to work through and like stays a ghost a really long time) I was like oh that sucks LOL!

But anyway we had a couple interesting conversations. Said that since the readings we had I wasn’t totally one way or the other about psychic stuff. Again still not really connected with a spiritual source of healing. However some things happened I just could not explain away. In my last reading with Steve he told me I’d make a good friend. A really good friend one I could be bitchy with LOL! A friendship where we could each really be ourselves. I’ve never had anything like that before. But several years later I met Jess. She fits the description perfectly!

I had another impromptu reading with a psychic friend of a friend. She informed me in no uncertain terms and quite emotionally, that Friedman Place would not be a safe Haven. This was right before moving out there and something I found absolutely traumatic at the time. It took a couple of trusted friends who are skeptical about such things to tell me there’s no such thing as being psychic, she was doing “cold reading” like John Edwards and that’s it. Big sigh of relief.

Well wouldn’t ya know what happened at fp! Took me forever to make the connection and then I was like OMG!

So like it or not there’s something to this. The stuff on tv with the medium and those ghost shows, and all that stuff have truth to them. Many people do abuse it, their talent for this stuff to make money, which Bety and Steve are not about at all. I’ve asked a million questions about my life and friends life without sadly being able to pay them.

I did get their books on bookshare though and plan to help them advocate for them being put in audio.

So I think it’s safe to say Bety at least will be a trusted friend for life. Right around the time she says she was thinking of me is when I usually send her an e-mail. It’s really comforting to not only have such an amazingly nurturing wise person as a support, but also one with connections to things that I may not always understand but that bring useful information to me. And if there really are guides watching out for you your whole life that’s really cool!

Below are the websites of Steve and Bety, and the spirit Light network

Bety and Steve links to their bios, books on empathy, videos, link to Spirit Light Network and more. Current appearances in New England

http://www.comerfordwilson.com/Bety-Comerford.html

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Update Jess and I both sick

Hey

Sorry haven’t updated in a while. It’s just been crazy.

Things finally evened out for Jess and like I said in my last post she came back in the room the beginning of last week. We thought things would be good and we could do something like go to Red Door this weekend. Well Jess got a fever on Saturday with a terrible headache upset stomach and everything. The fever lasted all weekend last night/ this morning being as high as 102.7!

Something I totally do not understand is we’re in a nursing home. Emphasis on Nursing, ya know nurse? Like, ya know the best place to be for any kinda medical thing because you have a registered/ certified nurse there 24/7 with access to your whole chart, your doctor, hospital ETC. You would think that people here would be healthier than the average person living alone because we have access to this medical care.

Well for some odd reason it doesn’t work out that way. You just have to hear Jess’s story once to know the medical hell she’s been through. Which I think I’ve said here before. She has many issues going on or that happened in the past to where her immune system is sensitive, her heart is sensitive, sensitive to infections everything. So anything that goes wrong I feel you really have to keep an eye on because her body basically went through about almost dying so it’s extra sensitive to everything. To me that’s common sense.

Well though the nurse Saturday gave her Tylenol they weren’t aggressively checking her temp or even that concerned about it. In spite of her not getting fevers often, this was the first time since I met her four years ago that she’s had one, and her medical history. The first person to really take her fever seriously was the overnight nurse for last night. And we’re both really glad she was there because that started them really checking her temperature every hour/ couple hours.

I was the one that put cold cloths on her head because that’s what you’re supposed to do and no one thought of that. I made sure she drank plenty of water and filled her water for her. Ya know how stupid this one nurse is? Jess was feeling wicked weak and dizzy Saturday afternoon. She asked if they could bring up food for her and me, so they wouldn’t have to deal with someone taking me down there and her staying upstairs. Well she says technically no because if she can walk she can go down there. I’m like really? So she goes down there and falls over then you’re gonna be like Oh wow guess this was bad! I was soo mad about this. She went down there very carefully.

She hasn’t had any good sleep the last couple nights due to the fever and just being so off from feeling sick. And I haven’t either because I’ve been half awake worrying about her!

Finally her fever broke we’re hoping. Sunday she seemed fine til nighttime and fevers always come back at night the worst so we’ll see.

Then I was sniffling and coughing yesterday. I didn’t think anything of it because I randomly sneeze and stuff especially after I eat have no I idea why LOL. Well by the end of the day I had a sore throat was really sniffly and deffinetely not feeling well.

So Jess doesn’t have a cold and I don’t have a fever but I think we have the same thing. Everyone says it’s the weather. Plus you have to remember three hundred germ spreading, not concerned with hygiene people and not a good circulation system! So I’m not surprised. Plus I’ve just been beyond stressed emotionally with everything that’s been going on.

Then today we decided to just order out and my mom had put money in. Well some weird thing went on where what we paid for Maine foods earlier in the week hasn’t been processed or something so it screwed up my account so even though it looks like I have whatever amount I really don’t. So the first time my card was denied I totally freaked out because I just do especially anything to do with money which I really don’t know that much about finance at all except that bank of America charges crazy fees if you go overdraft at all. But anyway so we ended up getting stuff but will have to watch my account and just see what happened. My mom put the money in over the weekend so maybe that had something to do with it I don’t know. My bank is so weird.

But anyway really hoping I can just chillax and actually get a good night’s sleep. I will likely get to have a therapy session tomorrow yay!

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Book review: The Silent Witness by Casey Watson

Hi everyone,

So I just finished reading Casey’s latest memoir The Silent Witness.

I honestly have liked some of her other books better.

On Christmas Eve 12 year old Bella comes to Casey’s house as an emergency placement. Just a week ago she was taken into care when it was reported that her mother attacked her alcoholic father and caused significant brain injury while they were both drunk and in a huge fight. They were known to the neighbors and she particularly for “giving as good as she got” I.E being quite a physical aggressor herself. There were all sorts of stories about this couple and it was clear their issues were quite a scene for the neighborhood.

Meanwhile as Bella had been in care for a week she had been completely silent the whole time. She was clearly totally traumatized. When an emergency came up for the carers she had been with, Casey and family took her in.

It took her a full couple of days to say one word to Casey. She bonded more easily with Marley Mai, and Tyler though was very withdrawn around adults. Everyone was trying to get her to talk about what happened as she’s the only one who saw the events of that terrible night.

Her stepfather had a very close call but did recov er. What was most painful for Bella was going to visit her mom in prison. She was clearly distressed. Her social worker was amazing, always there when Casey called her and she was really a very important person in Bella’s life. They had a counselor dcome to the house but Bella wouldn’t talk.

She started to integrate into the family and time passed where lawyers were doing their legal thing getting ready for a trial. It’s through the close and trusting relationship Bella built woith Casey that gave her the courage to eventually talk about that night. The truth is horrific and shocking but not surprising.

Like Runaway Girl this book is an example of a child who once having expressed her trauma in words, was able to literally move on with her life. The ending was a bit too predictable and “happy
“ for such a story. Kind of unrealistic to me honestly. I would have preffered to see her deal with the aftermath of everything, especially having told the truth, to have there been long lasting emotional scars that impacted her relationships and that she’d continue to have to work through. I just can’t imagine having gone through what she did, not only that night but years of witnessing horrific emotional and physical abuse without lasting emotional effects.

The scenes between Bella and Marley Mai were particularly touching as was Casey’s gentle persistence and tough conversations about telling the truth, whether to break a promise or not and other things that really laid the foundation for Bella to trust and open up.

Like I said I liked some of her other books much better and the ending just seemed way too put together but am interested to hear what others think.

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Jess back in the room!

So my day has been awesome! My big sister is all better and back in our room! It was the best wake up from nap present ever! And since meals were gross anyway we ordered out to celibrate! I spent the day just downloading stuff off youtube and very much enjoying not having physical issues from my period or stress and not being all emotionally up and down worrying.

It’s such a relief to have her here you have no idea!

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Jess still struggling and good news for her about paratransit!

Hi

So Jess is still struggling with self-harm thoughts and rollercoaster moods. Towards the afternoon her caseworker told her if she was doing good tomorrow she could leave the observation room.

But then after dinner, in addition to our nurse being a complete jerk to her about how much time she was visiting me (long story), I guess she had been having those thoughts and anxiety/ irritability again.

And we have a mess with the psychiatrist still. Though they’re in the process of switching her this guy was actually planning on coming in today said the doctor’s list with her name on it. Her caseworker was eager to sit in the meeting and see what he had to say about this. Well guess who didn’t show up today again! We had another psychiatrist like this. He rarely came in and you could never get ahold of him. A girl here was getting worse and worse with her aggression until she ended up breaking a staff member’s nose! Even then I’m not sure if he saw her. I know he doesn’t come here anymore. I wonder at what point Albany people like director of nursing can be like since you haven’t even seen your patients we don’t want you here anymore.

It doesn’t help in the choosing process that there are so few options. Her caseworker put Dezon on the table as an option. He was my first psychiatrist well known for hospitalizing all the time. And overmedicating though I’ve heard works magic with people with psychotic symptoms. Doesn’t know or care to know about cutting that’s for sure.

So I advised she strongly object to this. Then there’s Glickman/ gill. Sharon Glickman is his nurse practitioner and very good. She does seem to understand self-harm, medications, talks with you about everything. The problem is you see Gill in the hospital not her. And I’ve written plenty about that unit and him. And he’s also a hospitalization happy kinda guy. Not to mention “likes to diagnose” bipolar II and put people on latuda!

Which leaves Patel, and a guy named Badar. Jess and I were wondering if maybe she could see someone at the outpatient place down the street where she sees her therapist. But it looks like all of them hospitalize at the same hospital we’re trying to avoid as all the offices/ hospitals are connected across Chicago and suburbs. They’re not all bad. Some I guess do hospitalize at St. Jo’s which is where I had my first hospitalization. I liked them a lot.

I wish there were more options. I’m gonna ask Jonathan for the whole story on how psychiatrists get to come here and everything because this is nuts. How are you supposed to improve at hospitals where you lay around doing nothing with psychiatrists who have no idea or clearly don’t care to get to know a person before just throwing meds at them?

Since she’s been dealing with the thoughts again they just tried to call this DR. a little while ago. Considering that he hasn’t come here in months I doubt he’ll be reachable at nine at night, or at anytime of day honestly! But if he can just do a med change I think that’s all that’s needed.

It’s so hard to see her struggling for so many days and see her having to work so hard to be open and honest about everything with staff herself and me. Which is just something so new for her and I imagine more draining than her usual default of keeping everything inside. All the talking and writing she’s doing is probably keeping things from getting even worse.

Sadly without Jonathan around there’s really no one here for me to really open up to. Saturday I saw Anna who was stressed to the max because she and only one other PRC were there and it was crazy. She just said ok, ok to everything I said. Asked if this stuff was affecting me more” I guess more than usual? Which is such a weird question! I did say yes like it’s harder to sleep with Jess not in the room and everything. To which she said ok. She gets like this. Sadly I’m wondering if she’ll be leaving soon after her one year mark next month. I really hope she can hang in there a few months as we have two open spots now. Her office mate just up and left it turns out. The day she went on vacation. And then there’s the one that’s been here two years so I don’t think anyone blames her for leaving.

Jonathan will just have major work cut out for him when he comes back on Monday. Can’t come soon enough for me.

On the good news front Jess got accepted to paratransit!! We all knew she would. Now she has the transportation to safely get around in all kinds of weather, at night for classes and in any situation where I would be having a nervous breakdown thinking of her having to take buses and stuff. I’m beyond happy that I kept pushing her on that. Wish I had pushed her sooner on this psych thing. I just knew it would come to a crisis and we’d be in this position. But she does things in her own time.

Anyway I’m ok I guess. Just doing online stuff trying to keep busy.

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hard couple days physically not well and emotionally dealing with friends in crisis

So this weekend has been hard. As I might have said I did finally get my period on Friday. But it’s been very heavy with lots of cramps and generally feeling exhausted and irritated/ emotional. The other things in my life I know made worse by this. The change in weather likely affects things too.

Jess is still very much struggling. Still in the observation room. Is doing awesome in terms of meeting many times a day with staff, either her caseworker or others. Giving any potentially harmful objects to them, and is extremely honest about her emotions.

Incredibly has not actually cut this whole time, nor has been suicidal.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of her mom’s death so that’s especially hard. June has always been hard for her.

Things that make it harder are that her therapist is on vacation til next week. She no longer has Dr. Fyazz who she had an amazing relationship with her for years. Because of admitting rules around hospitals and Dr.s because no psychiatrist admits to IL Masonic, no one at Albany can use that hospital. Which again is a huge shame because the people on that unit knew her inside out. They provided a very structured therapeutic environment and great discharge planning, where she could safely go through any med changes but most importantly really talk with staff that get it and other patients. For her, the hospital is as much a part of treatment as therapy and meds, and this should be what one should expect if they use the hospital as a place to recharge not just to sit and see if a med will work.

Unfortunately she was matched with a very lazy or just weird, psychiatrist. He’s new, saw her only once and they’re supposed to see you once every couple months at the least. So we know almost nothing about his philosophy on medications, hospitalization, his views on self-harm ETC

Furthermore, the hospitals he does go to are not good at all. St. Mary’s is an extremely popular one. Almost all the psychs who come here use it. They’re one of the largest psych hospital in the city. But it is extremely nontheraputic. Basically everyone sits around either sleeping or doing nothing, coloring in the tv room watching tv and that’s about it. Maybe a group every so often. When I went there with extreme suicidal thoughts including being stopped in creating a weapon no one ever talked to me about this!

For someone who uses, and needs the type of environment I described above this can only mean more disaster and a worsening of symptoms rather than any benefit. The benefits only being that she’d be supervised during a med change.

So everything is so up in the air. I’m hoping that if she can get through tomorrow things will settle down and she can maybe be able to go to Reddoor for some cat therapy.

Other things going on with me. Helping two homeless blind friends and following their journeys. That have included things like being placed in an extremely substandard care nursing home, not being given their rights, residents can only shower twice a week! The biggest thing is that while seeking a level of care placement that makes sense for her, literally no facilities, SMHRF or group homes would take her, or even come out to see her due to blindness. They admitted this. It doesn’t help that this friend has labels through diagnosis that make her seem unattractive as a possible resident.

She is currently in the ER hoping to not return to that particular nursing home and hoping to be hospitalized for psych and try again.

My other homeless friend is in LA. She’s bouncing around different shelters and living on the streets. It will be a couple of weeks before she can get some permanent or even transitional housing. It really disturbs me that when going to different agencies no one is concerned about the fact that this is a totally blind individual at high risk for all kinds of victimization.

This might be ignorant of me but I had thought for so long that the disabled were a protected population. The three catagories of people one is mandated to report are children, the elderly and people with disabilities. So I would think that if a homelessness agency or even hospital or anyone really saw this situation, they would promptly report to something like disabled adult services where the person would be then processed and worked with in the same fast and usually efficient way children are in the social services system, securing temporary care as a matter of urgency.

Sadly this is not the case at all. How these people, anyone who’s turned their back in these situations, can ethically if not legally, do this without any consequences makes me beyond furious. They’re not even looking at the person behind the disability. Services for these populations, mentally ill, homeless are really poor to begin with. Which perhaps is why there’s nothing extra to give for someone with additional needs. Have been hearing about even more cuts coming which is heartbreaking.

I’m hanging in there. Keeping busy trying to brainstorm with these friends. Things have been kinda chaotic with the PRCS recently as they just got a newby. Who seems to be doing ok. Someone who has worked here bout two years is leaving in two weeks. So that will be a shock to the system. Then another one literally just up and left. Which is an even bigger crisis. This does happen in the summer a lot and the transitions are very hard and so much is put on the already overworked and stretched PRCS that are there.

Even though obviously I was feeling a lot with everything going on, unfortunately Anna was very distracted with other things going on including Jess’s situation that she was monitoring as others were. So she basically said “ok” to everything and was this stuff effecting me more? I hate that phraise I think she meant to say how was it effecting me, or was I more stressed out than usual, were my symptoms more than usual. Which I’ve just figured out that’s what she means about that. Which is kinda like duh what do you think? But unfortunately like I said she was so distracted and pressed for time that we ended very quickly.

It’s the old thing that’s the huge negative of living here. Three hundred of us, two PRCS on at night/ weekends. It made me feel like I was one more problem for them to have to address. I haven’t felt like that in awhile like people are legit too busy to have the time for me which I see as understandable. And then want to just withdraw and blend into the woodwork as I so empathize with where they are mentally/ emotionally with their workload, and how they must prioritize situations and honestly what Jess is dealing with needs constant attention to every detail particularly with the Dr. hospital situation as it is.

Another hard thing is that Jonathan went on vacation for two weeks without telling me. It’s a big deal and part of our agreements around working together. Obveously I’m not gonna stop working with him but I do have a lot to say.

Hoping things settle down in one or more of these areas very soon.

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catch up on the week: jess struggling and new friends

Hey everyone,

Sorry I haven’t been writing this week. It’s been kinda crazy. My whole hormones are off about my period the last couple months might be the weather. But anyway it’s made me feel like crud for several days without fully getting my period. Only women would understand but trust me it’s annoying!

So that’s affected a lot in terms of energy to do things even write here.

Then starting around Tuesday but more Wednesday night Jess got in crisis. As this is her story to tell I won’t get too into it, but will say I’m so proud of her for doing things differently. Letting go of certain behaviors that have made these situations so much worse for her in the past.

So that’s been quite an up and down. Especially anxious for her as she had such awesome care around her past psychiatrist and hospital unit. Now she’s trying to get a new Dr. since the one she got after psychiatrist left was completely a no show half the time. With her illness how it is, and of course decreasing hospitalizations is a good goal, if you need the hospital you need the hospital. The unit of Masonic hospital really understood that and was a place for her to recharge and then come back at least somewhat refreshed and with med changes.

We’re hoping for her to get switched over to the Dr. that I have who personality wise is so much like Fyazz. She does go to the terrible St. Mary’s where I went my two first hospitalizations here. They do nothing all day there except lay around hardly any groups. The total opposite of how the other unit works. I would really worry about her going there. They seem emotionally neglectful though physically is fine they have good food and stuff but emotionally no therapeutic environment.

Anyway she does have her caseworker working on the switch which I’m happy about. Am really curious about how psychiatrests or any doctors, get chosen or are able to come out here.

Anyway so there’s that. Just a lot of anxiety about her situation. Having her in the room only seeing me a few hours a day and not at night makes me remember that painfully long stretch of time she was there earlier in the year. Just brought up a lot for me the whole trigger of the situation/ topic was so unexpected to me when it came up and will have far reaching implications for something very important in her life right now. So that’s also weighing on me.

Other news. Two PRCS are leaving. Well one left a couple weeks ago I think. Will be very curious to hear from Anna as the woman was her office mate. Another one Krystal, who has worked here about as long as Edith did is moving. She definitely did her fair share of time here for this position so no hard feelings or surprises about that. Augusta is our newby still. I wish this one male PRC we have, he belongs as a tech at the apple store or at a college party not in this job!

I’m really hoping one or even both of the PRCS are guys. We just need that right now.

It doesn’t help Jonathan went on vacation and didn’t tell me which is big. We’ll talk about that when he comes back! Anyway I have left messages and e-mails about that he better be back and telling him the situation with Jess. And just everything. Hope to see him Tuesday!

Have really been connecting with people in this online/ phone peer community. A very open diverse community of members mainly dealing with emotional struggles, there for each other and encouraging alternatives to the mental health system. However as long as you are nonjudgmental and a big part of the group is about being open to others experiences and learning and growing together. It’s been such an interesting process as I’ve learned more and more about the peer support, and psychiatric survivor movement. I’m meeting people who have been so badly let down and the “treatment” they’ve gotten for them, has been the trauma. And talking about ways they’re able to figure out a healing way forward is really an eye opener.

It’s an interesting dynamic as we have people like me, where I sort of represent the dominant viewpoint/ culture around favoring traditional mental healthcare, though in my case I really do see the complete need for changes and am very clear that many things are not right about it. That said as the mental health system has been my only access to support that’s colored how I’ve received things. I never knew alternatives existed. As I learn more I’m likely to be embracing some alternatives while others I will stick to.

However open minded I try to be there are many that are afraid of hearing this and having people around who have these beliefs. Because it represents the system of trauma they got so much of.

So it’s an interesting discussion. Something I will say about the group is it seems to be a place where those who have trouble fitting in with other online groups might find a safe place. And an added bonus is that Sarah the group founder has worked really hard on this phone chat line, accessible 24 hours a day. I think that’s awesome and a huge plus. So Hoping to be a part of the group and feel good about things. I’m already making a couple really good connections with people in the new England area, which excites me beyond belief. I know there is no rushing in or expectations as we’re just getting to know each other but would be awesome if they turned into in person friends.

I can let people know more about the group privately if anyone wants to and to connect with Sarah before joining the online group.

The phone aspect which has been the main format for several years is the following

• By phone: 331-205-7196, no pin (To block caller ID – Dial *67 first)

• Toll-free (if you need it): 855-661-1243 (no pin)

• By computer (use a headset for best results), click: uberconference.com/peerlyhuman

• International local access numbers: https://www.uberconference.com/international

And here is a post that talks about what these support groups are

http://peerlyhuman.blogspot.com/2017/03/peerly-human-weekly-call-schedule.html?spref=fb

I hope that helps people and hope I can meet new people as a result of sharing this information

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book review: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

I just finished rereading this awesome book by Sarah Dessen! She writes amazing books about real life situations teens go through such as teen pregnancy, abusive family ETC.

This story focuses on what happens when someone in a family does something completely unexpected. Steps away from/ runs away from, their role/ long time personality in the family in order to build their own life, and how everyone shifts and compensates and absorbs the loss/ change.

On Caitlin’s 16 birthday, her eighteen year old Sister Cass, runs away. She was headed to Yale in just a week. She left a note saying she was with a current boyfriend, safe and that she needed to do this. This move on Cass’s part, usually rock solid responsible always the one getting top grades, winning every activity she’s a part of, totally popular, is traumatic for the family in many ways. Though Cass is 18 so legally n adult, the family is shaken by this total change in character of their oldest daughter.

Her mother compensates by becoming even more frantic and emotional, throwing herself into housework, shopping for weird victorian dolls, and once contact is made with Cass a few months in, hanging on her every word. Her father is simply withdrawn and focused on work.

This leaves Caitlin in a place she’s never been before. She’s no longer in her big sister’s shadow, always coming second. Now she is free to be anyone she wants. Her best friend Rina talks her into trying out for cheerleading, and getting into the squad gives her a short lived feeling of approval from her family that Cass had. It is at a party that she meets 19 year old Rogerson. He has mysterious eyes, dreadlock ks, is brilliant with trivia, and wants her all to himself. This is extremely inticing for Caitlin. Soon she is entered into the world of drug dealing, mostly pot which she starts smoking in order to fit in with him. This again, is something Cass would never do and is part of her new identity.

She loves the attention she gets from him, and the mystery around him. When she witnesses a scene of abuse by his father, she vowes to be his soft place to fall. It is new for her to be the strong supportive one, when in the past always feeling weaker.

So she slowly lets Rogerson take over her life. Her grades drop. She’s never home, lying that she’s at cheerleading or studying. She has no time for her best friend Rina. Or anyone because if Rogerson sees her interacting with anyone, especially another boy no matter how innoscent he lashes out in physical abuse. The first time he hit her in the face, she lied to everyone and said she fell on the ice. Since then she kept the ever terrifying and increasingly violent secret of the rollercoaster of their relationship. There was no way she could prevent these attacks as much as she tried to understand his motives. She knew that 24 hours after one she was safe. He would give her unexpected gifts and she would feel love for him. Seeing him in so much pain and knowing there was so much he didn’t share about his own life, made her feel guilty for hurting him as he made her feel she had.

Even when not stoned, Caitlin felt and seemed more and more far away. Half awake emotionally/ mentally. Withdrawn from everything except Rogerson. When things finally reach a head, her family and friends are forced to take a hard look at what has been going on in their family for the past year.

The ending is realistically untidy. Clearly Caitlin has a long road to recovery ahead of her. As do the whole family, in needing to form healthy and not co-dependent or emeshed relationships. Caitlin’s time in a residential treatment center was realistic. Though I wish more of the therapy sessions were explored. There were some scenes, enough to know that her therapist was genuine and good. I wish they had explored group and family therapy, and how others, particularly other residents reacted to her story and helped her heal. Photography, and dreams figure largely into Caitlin’s healing process. I highly recommend this book. It shows realistic representations of the pattern and reasons behind an abusi e relationship, changing identity within a family, and what it takes to heal.

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tired day close to my period

Hey

So today was very tired. Hot and fussy as Jess says fussing and bussing! Did not absolutely did not want to go to lunch but Jess made me or else I just wouldn’t eat. It’s so hot in this building even with the AC in our room on it’s hot but probably because I sit with all the covers on me!

But anyway yeah this building is so bad in the summer hot and smells disgusting because people don’t take baths and stuff.

Anyway in the afternoon just took a really long nap reread a casey Watson book and was on facebook.

Really not a whole lot else. Talked to Kat. She’s having a really hard time with her polydispia which is like your brain stops telling you you’re not thirsty and you drink all this water and it flushes out your whole system. She actually drank from the toilet! Which I’ve heard is common.

Anyway someone said she had diabeties and that’s what it is so will talk to her about that. They said that it won’t stop unless she gets off the a antipsychotics.

So yeah but had a good time talking to her. We’re both just so totally sad and frustrated she’s in the state hospital.

Anyway tomorrow I have my monthly meeting with my psychiatrist which should be fine. I wish we didn’t have to meet with them if we cdidn’t want/ need to. But I guess that’s why we live here LOL!

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