I’m Still Here


I’m Still Here…………

http://youtu.be/BbhEo-4_ETc

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

I’ll Cry Tomorrow


The Struggle of the Two Natures in Man George Grey Barnard (American, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 1863–1938 New York)
The Struggle of the Two Natures in Man
George Grey Barnard (American, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 1863–1938 New York)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Struggle of the Two Natures in Man

George Grey Barnard (American, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 1863–1938 New York)

We all face this struggle of good and evil within ourselves whether we acknowledge it or not. Refusal does not mean it ceases to exist rather it hides like a caged angry animal ready to leap out and cause destruction at the least provocation.  The dual natures is an ever present battleground existing within our various selves.  We are in one body a mixture of the sacred and the profane. We seek sanctuary from the island of lost souls populated but shades, ghosts of formerly flesh, blood and bone humans.  We bear the stigmata and battle scars of imploding internal battlefields.  Redemption and refuge will only be found by acknowledging our weakest points, applying salve and seeking greener pathways. Lest we fall into the rabbit hole. Drowning in quicksands of pride and stubbornness.  Our decisions. Our choices.  Help is available if we clasp the outstretched hand.

As the Apostle Paul states in “Romans 7:15-20

New International Version (NIV)

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

 

I’ll Cry Tomorrow

 

Self-Trust, Inner Guide, the Knowing Voice Within, Strong Internal Core, Ignoring the Experts; These appear to be the latest Buzzwords in the ever present Self-Help craze that has been going on since the 1970s.

Well I beg to differ.  I know I’m about to stir up a Hornet’s Nest but that’s what writers do, create controversy, ignite debate and hopefully make readers think.  Much to the consternation of the New Age Gurus yes there are wrong choices and bad decisions.

I’ve learned to run major  decisions by  trusted friends and professionals.  Got tired of making bad decisions which  backfired on me.  You need a few good friends as sounding boards because most of us cannot be objective regarding our problems, thus wrong choices.  You need someone or several somebodies to hold you accountable, slap you upside the head and say, “Get with the Program before you Kill Yourself!!”

Friends, ministers, pastors, some co-workers and close family can give objective advice.  Sometimes we are way too caught up in our emotions to make correct  or wise choices.  That guy may be so in love with yet who is violent and abusive is the wrong man.  Time to  take off the Romantic Blinders and see him as others view him. A violent, abusive, evil tempered jerk.  Poor financial choices.  Buying a home, car or some other big ticket item could be a very bad choice if you don’t have enough income to cover the outgo.

People have lost homes, jobs, their families and even their lives behind bad choices.  The lesson is learned too late for correction.  It’s like being a little bit pregnant.  No such thing.  As humans we are influenced by our fickle emotions, family backgrounds, how we were raised, and society’s expectations.  We can’t see the forest for the trees.

For years I was a prescription drug addict.  Though the doctors who liberally dispersed the pills are somewhat to blame the lion’s share of the blame is on me because I made the choice  to  keep taking them nearly to the point of death.  Now that I’m in my mid-50s  and living a cleaner life, yes my “Internal Core” has improved but it is still not as strong as it should be.  Also I still must live with the consequences of  previous dumb stupid decisions.   Yes I’ve lived through being evicted from my apartment in Queens, been in and out of various   hospital emergency  rooms, I have a terrible credit rating, plus certain health issues that I’ll be battling the rest of my life.  My Inner Guide was a damn fool and an idiot.  No I should have gotten professional help.  I put my trust in people who I thought loved me and who I assumed would help me.  I made choices out of fear and poor health and an addled mind.  Finally after seven years of struggle I’m beginning to see daylight.  I know my limitations.

I also know that at any point I could backslide but I believe I’ve finally reached the point where I no longer want to live in the Valley.  I want a Mountaintop experience.   Trust me when I say this wisdom  and insight I now possess has only come with fighting depression, fear, panic attacks, and anxieties.  Once you hit bottom and you’re tired of living there you’ll find a way to go up.  I learned to stop make excuses for my bad behavior, stand up for my rights as a middle-aged Black Woman living in a racist, sexist, ageist society, stopped dating men who don’t respect me, my dreams or goals and who really mean me no good, junked all the pills except for my high blood pressure medication, eat right, exercise and renew my faith.  I’m now an active member of the New York Shinnyo-en Buddhist community.  Through Buddhism I’ve become a stronger Christian.  Truly I’ve begun to understand what it means to work out your Soul’s Salvation.  The means of escape you seek is only a delusion. Life is meant to be faced head on.  This life is only yours to live.  No one can live it for you.  Now I’m on a better pathway because I have a clearer more focused mind.  I still have some setbacks but my life has improved 95% in the last two years.   

Moving Forward.

Please check out the link for a Bio on the actress Susan Hayward star of the movie I’ll Cry Tomorrow.  Susan Hayward a BadAss Brooklyn Beauty who even with her cracks, fissures and faults didn’t take shit from anybody.  Susan Hayward’s story resonates with me.  We are both Fiery, Hotheaded Strong Willed Redheads.   Hers was natural.  Mine is from a bottle.  I Love actresses from the 30s, 40s, and 50s because they overcame so much and were some of the best actresses ever to grace the stage and films.  Exotic Beauty, Fame and fortune do not always bring happiness, sometimes just a new set of demons to conquer.  Ms. Hayward’s pain made her a better actress because she approached each role from her gut.  My pain has made me a better writer.  Like her there were times when I did not want to live.  I wanted to leave this earth because the pain was too great to bear, yet God sent someone my way to save me and make me realize the foolishness of my actions.

I suffer no fools and I pull no punches.  Shipwrecked. Lost.  Perhaps. But learning to rely on G.P.S. ~ God’s Positioning System. Shattered Portraits, we picked up the shards, put them in the kiln  to create an entire new piece of pottery changed but not consumed by fire.

Like her I struggled with substance abuse.  Mine was prescription meds, hers alcohol.  Like her I’ve had many failed romances.  But through it all we Strong No Nonsense Women prevail, persevere and triumph over defeat.    As the title of Susan Hayward’s movie states, “I’ll Cry Tomorrow.”

Ready for my Second Act.

 

  http://youtu.be/jh_Q9BOVUyo

 

Big Pharma — I’m Your Pusherman


I’m Your Pusherman

Curtis Mayfield

http://youtu.be/hCDAfa-NI-M

Yes I was a functional addict. A junkie in clean fashionable clothes, who lived in a nice apartment, drove a cute little Honda Civic, had a great job, that friendly voice who stopped to chat with you in the grocery store, had a handsome boyfriend, highly intelligent, living the good life or so it seemed. I was that one who could excel at work, attend professional and social events, school and sit next to your in the church pew on Sunday without nary a soul able to realize or see through my mask. A sanctioned addict because doctors gave me pills legally. But gradually cracks began to appear in my facade. A thousand little band-aids could not cover and certainly not heal my sick soul. It took coming face to face with my cousin who uses “illegal” drugs, drugs that the Rockefeller laws that could have you spending a long term visit at Bedford Correctional facility; to shake me up, empower me and force me to take a good long look at myself. Addiction is death. First it becomes a living death then finally once the body is broken and beaten drugs drags that empty shell into the grave. Death no longer carries a sickle in his skeletal hand but a bag of pills. Red ones, blue ones, green ones, all beckon you like Easter basket jelly beans. You think you’re chasing him to the false paradise of the next high but as in the movie Black Orpheus the Grim Reaper is in pursuit of you, mind, body, soul & spirit. And believe me the next opportunity to get high is always around the corner. Like the lyrics in the Beatles song, “I Get High with a little Help from My Friends.” Everybody is an aspiring junkie.

Rabbit Hole
Rabbit Hole

However I’ve managed to stay away from Ambien for over a month. I can’t say I’ll never fall off the wagon but my desire to live, progress, and do better is stronger. I know I have an addictive personality. My mother was an alcoholic. The overuse and misuse of alcohol was her only means of silencing the voices inside her head that came from having schizophrenia. Often addictions are passed from one generation to the next. Cravings to dull the pain are sadistic taskmasters driving the addict into a narcotic haze.

Addiction is often triggered by a traumatic life event such as sexual abuse, domestic violence or the death of a close family member. At first the addict thinks they can control the drugs but after a while the drugs begin to control them. Drugs are the new age demons that bid you escape your pain and heartache within the thrill of the next high. However within the last 20 years or so with the advent, promotion and marketing of anti-depressants, anxiety medications, pain pills and sleep aids Big Pharma is now the largest, strongest and most powerful legally sanctioned drug dealer in the United States. In hindsight it is interesting to note that within the last 5 years or so nearly all the anti-depressants I took from 1999 to 2007 have been shown to cause panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. Below are two blog posts about how I fell into the Rabbit Hole and the appeal of altered states to an addictive personality. Breaking free was and is very difficult because certain types of medications allow you to function normally at school, church or work yet enjoy those other dimensions or astral planes that exist in all our brains.

https://dancingpalmtrees.com/2012/02/25/pharmacia-cornucopia/

https://dancingpalmtrees.com/2012/03/30/holmesian-psychology-behind-the-rabbit-hole/

Mommy
Mable Elizabeth Palmer