I’m Still Here

I’m Still Here…………


Mable Elizabeth Palmer
Mable Elizabeth Palmer

Today I am 55 years old.  It is a Blessing to be this age.  I have depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I’m also a domestic violence and sexual abuse survivor.  I’m the person sitting next to you on the bus, subway, at work and in church. No I don’t want pity just acceptance. Recently I had a conversation on my Facebook page regarding mental illness. It was good sharing with my FB buddy who works in the mental illness field about the obstacles and hurdles faced not only by the mentally ill but their families.  The government just seems to put more roadblocks in our way so we wind up taking many detours towards a place called Wellness.   My mother Mable Elizabeth Palmer lived most of adult life as a functioning schizophrenic. There is a serious lack of support services for the mentally ill thus we read of all these horror stories in the newspapers but for the most part many mentally ill folks carry on with their daily lives.  Despite all that I’ve been through as a child and again as an adult I’m happy to be alive.

Sometimes when I tell my story people who have these “happy lives” meaning a satisfying long term marriage, house in New Burbia, kids, grand-kids, successful careers feel sorry for me, pity or think I’m a walking tragedy living a substandard life. Not true!  I live in full life in spite of my numerous desert and valley experiences.  Perhaps an even fuller more substantive life than those who eat from silver platters.  Mine is not a half-life of only the sunny side of the street but a full life that includes the alleys, back-roads, ghettos, and dimly lit streets populated with voices yearning to be head.  I like it that way.

Nothing to be sorry about. Despite all the things my parents went through, especially my Mom’s battles with her demons, she was also an alcoholic, overall I had a good childhood. We have a choice to dwell on the sad past or the fond happy times of the past. I think about the good things.  The fun stuff our family did when I was growing up. Of course now being an adult I have a different perspective. I was not so accepting myself when I was younger but age, maturity, experience and time changed my viewpoints.

It’s the government and people’s approach to mental illness that needs to be healed. It should not be a stigma. I readily admit to my struggles with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. That’s my life. It is not a tragedy.The tragedy is other peoples reactions and perceptions of mental illness. My Mom was a good wife and mother. I served my country in the Army, earned my BA in English, held down jobs all my life, went to church, now a full participant in Shinnyo-en Buddhism etc… It would be good if people with mental illness were more accepted. If there was more help for those of us suffering. If people would stop trying to impose their expectations on me of what happiness means. Everybody has a past. Everyone has a story. Life goes on. I’m just happy to be alive.  Pitiful prayers, slapping oil on my head, telling me the latest New Age positive thinking strategy 12 Steps to Happiness, and sad sack face looks going tsk, tsk, tsk are an insult to my intelligence as a human being.  It is what it is. Raw, exposed and uncut.

I have health insurance so I do have the option of returning to those mind-numbing anti-depressant drugs I took after my mother’s death but I choose not too.  I choose the full gamut and range of my emotions and feelings as opposed to being a drug induced zombie.  During the high points in life I love my odd slightly off center sense of humor. The times when I’m at my lowest are the times when I’m most creative.  I’m a better writer, a better photographer because I know what it is like to live life in the margins, the outskirts of society, to be a misfit and an outcast.  I’m drawn to people living alternative lives.  That’s why I love Street Photography.  I don’t want what’s staged, posed or set-up. I want real. The nitty gritty. The down and dirty. The quirky and unusual.  If life was meant to be perfect happiness or total sadness the books of Job and the Song of Solomon would not be in the Holy Bible.

What would the world look like if gave a helping hand to the Mentally Ill by supporting organizations like NAMI, prosecuting men who abuse their wives and girlfriends and pulling the collars off ministers who are rapists.  What if we weren’t treated like modern day lepers?  Instead of further victimizing people living with mental illness write to your Congresspersons and Senators to create laws that will enable us to receive the treatment and support systems we so desperately need.

No I don’t need to be “healed” but our society does.

Me in 1961
1961- A Very Good Year

Holmesian Psychology Behind the Rabbit Hole

Holmesian Psychology behind the Rabbit Hole

Mental Orgasms

Matrix – The Red pill/Blue pill



Addiction – some habit usually unhealthy that takes over your life, an activity over which you have no control.  For those lost in the throes of prescription addiction there is no escape from the horrors of the mind except via medications freely doled out by more than willing physicians and pharmacists. Drug induced hallucinations for those possessed by insecurities, depression, psychosis and various types of mental illness open previously closed doors in the mind.  The addict seeking to escape earthly pain often unwisely even unknowingly opens portals to new cerebral dimensions, portals that eventually lead to the gateway to Hades.

I find myself walking through Bedlam calmly and quietly observing the poor wretches imprisoned within the only separation of safety between me and they glass with reinforced steel bars.  Until I come to a long hallway on either side a series of rooms each secured with double bolt thick steel doors the only openings a slot in which to slide a plastic meal tray and a small window used by roaming psychotherapists who occasionally looked in upon the inmates deciding which mental miracle drug to dispense to these unsuspecting unfortunates.  Compelled to stop in front of one particular door I peer through the small grimy window only to be shocked yet not too surprised to find my gaze met by my doppelganger.  There I stand frozen to the spot my extremities taking root and branching out seeking crevices with which to penetrate the unyielding door that separates me from myself.

Jesus explained the dilemma of mind altering drugs the best in Luke 11:24-26

New International Version (NIV)

   24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most celebrated fictional drug addicts known to most Americans. As played by the late Jeremy Brett, Brett’s Holmes captures the true brilliance of a man possessed by a troubled mind. He is the quintessential eccentric elitist, misanthrope and misogynist. In between cases Holmes uses cocaine to escape from the commonplaces of existence. Subject to long bouts of depression his drugs of choice morphine and cocaine, hence the 7% solution in his reasoning clarified and stimulated the mind. Often this is the case with talented, gifted genius level individuals. They abhor boredom and stagnation; craving constant mental exultation whether through industry, work, artistic, musical or literary projects. When the normal stimulants’ of challenging work are unavailable the well respected and recognized addict resorts to any number of remedies to recreate and/or achieve the same high gotten from recreational pursuits.

Holmes is the atypical functional drug addict. This is not to glorify or elevate prescription drug use above the use of common street drugs; the results from both are about the same. Both types of addicts experience dependence, cravings, reliance, and slavery to substances that destroy mind, body and spirit, eventually leading to death.

Like many possessed of a tortured brilliance only known by members of the “Talented Tenth” Holmes is an insecure elitist. The luster and sparkle of genius seeks to be delivered from the mundane, the trivial and from the insecurities that threaten to destroy a superior intellect.  The trick is to elevate and expand the thought processes and at the same time hoping to eliminate present daily realities of pain and suffering.

Drug addiction is a false cure, a fake hope, phony sanctuary, ever failing to grant rest or repose to its seekers. If the Sherlock Holmes character was updated to these modern times his drug of choice might be Ambien the sleep aid that bridges the gap between conscious and subconscious mind.

Ambien transports ones soul to that place between wakefulness and sleep. It appears to enhance ones innate natural creative abilities.  Users of cocaine and speed often make the same claims. These drugs both legal and illegal offer a false escape from the mundane.  Substance abusers even leave the natural human sexual relationships in order to experience the multiple mental orgasms they cannot achieve through physical sex with a partner. Reality becomes the bad dream. The user finds her/himself caught up in an almost inescapable quagmire.

In one episode Holmes states that, “There’s no escape from the terrors of the mind.”  Many times I secretly wished that life was like Etch A Sketch, that famously popular toy we children of the 60s played with for hours on end. If only life were like that little plastic Neanderthal laptop where with a few vigorous shakes you once again had a clean slate and the ability to start over.

It was a secret desire born out of stress, depression, and hard times to return to a time of innocence and being care free.  However I realized that there was no turning back the clock.  I had to face my inner demons.  I had to ask myself did I want to live the rest of my life in the Twilight Zone when everyone around me constantly telling me I have a gift, a gift that needs to be shared with the world. Also what about my family? What about my beloved autistic brother?  Where would he be if I suddenly was not on the planet anymore?  In addition how could I ignore the calling I knew God had on my life?  The answer is I couldn’t.  Never at any time did God give up on me.  That in and of itself amazed me.  God kept sending people my way to set me back on the path of life.  Even when I wanted to let go of this earthly life and move onto another plane, God said not yet.  I’m not ready for you yet.  You have more work to do on this earth.

No God did not immediately take away all the problems and challenges I’ve been experiencing but He did reveal to me better ways to cope.  Through my gift of writing He has opened doors for me that never would have opened had I allowed myself to sink into the substance abuse quicksand.  Of course there will continue to be bumps and potholes along the roadway but isn’t life somewhat like an obstacle course where the prize for those of us who esteem intellect the ability to successfully negotiate those obstructions by being quick thinkers and thrill in the victory of being an Overcomer?  Enjoy the Treasure Hunt!  Enjoy the excitement of the chase while in your right mind because you’ve been given everything that pertains to life and godliness and you are Empowered to Succeed!

Suffering — A Character Flaw?

Suffering – A Character Flaw or an Expose of False Doctrine

Isaiah 45:7

New International Version (NIV)

7 I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things.

I hope that this essay will invite some intelligent discourse on suffering. I for one do not subscribe to the false teachings of the Prosperity Preachers or the Name it and Claim it gospel of greed. Christians under the delusion of these falsehoods seem to find fault with those of us who are sick, have a disease or disabled. Always the cries of you don’t have enough faith or any faith. It puts an unrealistic onus on the sufferer if they don’t get delivered or don’t achieve some material fame, fortune and stardom.

I have to admit up until maybe a year and a half ago I did subscribe to the false teachings being broadcast on so-called Christian Television.  Around 2008 my fortunes changed for the worse and I was looking for a way out. I was in such a bad way and so desperate I played the fool by ordering tapes, blessed cloths, etc… in the hopes that God would heal my situation. As my physical health continued to deteriorate my mental reasoning began to rise to the forefront. I realized these TV preachers, the ones on the Internet and the false prophets within my own neighborhood were just preying on my desperation and that of fellow sufferers. These false prophets in the guise of Christian ministers of the Gospel were and are no better than that fake psychic Miss Cleo who promised similar salvation from life’s ills. As we all know she was exposed for the phony she was and her racket went down the drain

Recently God has given me peace in my storm. A knowing that no matter what happens, good or bad He is still with me.  I gained a new perspective away from the shallow and superficial allowing me to add much needed depth to my character. Having a chronic illness coupled with chronic pain has made me more sympathetic and empathetic towards others. When my finances began to go down the drain along with my health I was forced to reorder my life and my priorities. Over the last three years I’ve gotten rid of my car and my cable service, therefore I have not watched television other than at a friend’s house or in the beauty shop for nearly two years. No boob tube = clear thinking. Physical and financial deprivation gave me the opportunity to concentrate on more reading and my writing.

Prior to a personal encounter with serious illness I had just been an outside observer. I saw both my parents suffer horribly from cancer, especially my mother. It was a painful experience to see my Mom go through that hell but I never lost my faith. I just prayed that God would take her. For my Mom and Dad healing and deliverance came through death. Over the last ten years many of my close friends, co-workers and school mates have passed away at a young age. Truly I was saddened by all their passing’s but I knew in my heart they had not suffered or died in vain. This past May a very good friend and co-worker from my former job went to be with the Lord at age 51.  She was a true example of Christian faith, charity, love and understanding. She left behind a loving husband and children. No I don’t understand why God allowed her to die so soon at the peak of her life but He did and she’s gone.

The affect of her early death was a re-examination of my faith, my life. Am I living right? Am I a blessing towards others? Do I negate others feelings or emotions just because they may not be in line with my own experience. In addition to pray what are some practical hands-on ways I can help my sisters and brothers in need. That last sentence is what the church or rather its people have gotten away from.

In my personal walk with disease the people who have helped me the most were whom Christians “non-believers”.  As a result of the kindness from those of other faiths and belief systems I’ve redefined who is a un- or non-believer. A Believer is one who follows God’s laws and rules of conduct, who reaches out their hand to help those in need regardless of whether that person follows their faith system or any belief system at all. Some Christians have a bad habit of letting “Wounded Soldiers Die”. So quick to criticize.  So easy to body slam fellow believers with snarky phrases like, “Living beneath one’s privileges”.  That statement is so shallow, empty and superficial. Well you know life is a privilege in whatever form it manifests itself. The next time you volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless center, Battered Women’s Shelter or help out at a local Special Olympics let’s see how far your guilt trip gospel will get you.

Thank you God for slowing me down. Thank you for helping me to live within these new bodily limitations. My suffering has produced purity of my soul, clarity of the mind and charity of my heart. I do not consider myself a failure because I’ve learned to adapt to physical changes in my body. Yes the times in various doctors’ offices and local hospital E.R.’s are frustrating and frightening, but now I just pray for peace and the strength to get through these episodes. My personal physical healing is not necessarily the objective. Then when I return to my job I can be a real blessing to co-workers and friends who are also going through.

Thank you God that I’m becoming better not bitter. Yes the landscape of my life has changed for many reasons. Healing, Deliverance and/or financial/material success are not my testimony but steadfastness, patience and purity of heart. My hunger, passion and desire are to live out God’s calling upon my life in whatever time I have left on this earth. I have been called by God to witness and to be a witness. Thank you Lord and May readers receive this writing in the spirit in which it was written. If it is for you receive it, if not shake off the dust as we agree to disagree in Love.


DeBorah Ann Palmer