Posts Tagged ‘Son’

Essence of a Holiday

Less than two days after my most recent post, I got a Christmas wish!cropped-santa-up-close.jpg

My son and I had a great day together!

We had a late start, but when we did make it out, the traffic was gone for the evening and we made it to the electronics store where we purchased him his first Tablet.  He’s so excited!

We stopped for lunch at one of my favorite local restaurants in the center of Chapel Hill.

Strangely, when we approached the street-corner, a hawk that looked the same as the Red-shouldered one that lives in my little corner of the world, flew through the intersection in the sidewalk’s path!

I couldn’t believe my eyes!  That hawk was flying about five or six feet above the ground in plain sight.  People were walking by, but nobody seemed to notice the hawk but me, which I thought was odd.

There is no way I can prove things that feel more than random or meaningful in a mystical way, but I admit to thinking that perhaps the hawk is helping me.

Life has been mostly difficult for me over the past couple of years.  A good day with my son came as a true blessing and desperately, what I needed.

I feel like my body is falling apart and perhaps, the way I had my life organized already has, but my spirit is strong and awareness is intact.

Nature helps me survive the hardest of times.

I’ve watched the Red-shouldered hawk since early Autumn.  The majestic bird perches close to my door on nearby electric lines.  I can get closer than I ever imagined I would to a hawk!  Honestly, I feel that if I got closer, I would disturb the animal’s hunting endeavors, but wow!  What a great bird to hang out with!

Since I haven’t been able to blog regularly or read other blogs, then sharing with you the beauty and interesting parts of my natural world is a way I can communicate.

Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you have a peaceful holiday.

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Green Healing ~ Recalling a Horticultural Summer

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BUTTERFLY BEAUTIFUL

The last days of Summer are obvious.  The light has changed coloring the sky a deep blue.  The clouds are big, fluffy and milky white.  Horticulturally, we’ve planted several seed beds for Fall harvesting. 

The wildly stimulating grand symphony of color and life that the excited Swallowtails, Fritillaries and Skippers performed has slowed to a soothing and reflective melody, with the pretty ‘Little Yellow’ and the cautious, interested beautiful Buckeye.

The Sunflowers are gone, along with the melon patch.  I was absent the day our volunteer group cleared that garden, but my son went.  

I spent the time in the parking lot lying down in my car due to exhaustion.  (I may add a personal note about that at the end of this post). 

“You should have come today,” my son said after volunteering with the Horticulture Therapy group.  “We had a great time.  You missed out.”

I was happy that he had fun and especially to see his smile.

“Smell my breath!” he exclaimed.  “Smells like Basil doesn’t it?”

The fragrance was strong, I thought.  Whatever they ate must have been good.  “How are the Sunflowers?” I asked him.

“We ripped them up and cleared all that out,” he answered, referring to the space where the plants had lived.

“What did you do with them?” I asked.  It was a futile question, I realized.  I knew they were in the compost, along with the dozens of caterpillars on the Fennel plant that I had hoped to see become Butterflies.

“Yep,” he reiterated, “They’re gone Mom.”  His tone sounded of a time and place when men must tell women of particular actions that simply had to be done and only by men.

He’d been perspiring and had dirt on his clothes.  He looked satisfied.  I gathered that his physical strength and abilities had served the group’s work efforts well, which I believe is good for a young man.

I did feel like a part of me had gone to wherever the Sunflowers went.  I wished, in one way, that I’d been there for a proper parting.  I loved the Sunflowers.  Upon reflection, I figure the compost is as good a place as any to be with Mother Earth.

The next day I stopped by the gardens alone.  I wanted to sit for a while, remembering my Sunflower Summer.

Each had unique differences.  There were the giant yellow ones, which did demand first greetings from onlookers.  Some were stunningly bright with pointed petals, while others were softer, with petals that looked like long blond locks of hair.  The pale yellows were almost transparent in a particular light of day.   I smile every time I remember the one with a head so big ‘she’ had to be tied to Bamboo.

Most surprising to me were the red Sunflowers.  The wonderfully rich colors are worthy of any camera!  They were beautiful.

There was one Sunflower still standing.  My son had planted it down below the main gardens against a tall cement wall.  His Sunflower was always different from the others in the most interesting ways.  A corner of the bloom’s circle of petals curled around the large spiraled center.  I often thought it looked like the small hand of a shy child, perhaps covering her face after a compliment, but mostly, the beautiful flower reminded me of my son.

In the brightest Summer days the plant stood tall.  As the days went on, it started bending forward, as though to watch over the smaller plants blooming closer to the ground.

One day I visited the gardens when my son wasn’t feeling well.  His flower was leaning so far over that the petals almost touched the tops of the relatively short Zinnias.  I couldn’t believe it was still standing.  I inspected the stem thinking the plant might need to be staked.  Surprisingly, it was thick, obviously strong enough to handle the form it had taken.

A garden and the life it brings is a continuous source of metaphors and personal reflection.

The critters who visited, along with the more permanent residents in the gardens, are treasures in my heart.  I remember my first ‘Green Healing’ garden friend, the little Lizard who lived in the Cabbage patch.  I fell in love.

My next Green Healing friend was a Ladybug.  The Horticulture Therapist pointed her out to me as we were walking to the Greenhouse on a chilly Spring morning.  She was sitting pretty on a leaf in the unforgettable garden of Crimson Clover.

The therapist knew I had enjoyed my camera and encouraged me to take a picture.  I snapped a few shots of the little ladybug.  Returning home, I uploaded the photos.  I saw what I loved.

That little ladybug was absolutely incredible, at least to my eyes.  I couldn’t believe the details in the photograph.  I couldn’t believe I took the photograph!  The morning dew spiraled down beside my new little friend like a tiny string of graduated pearls.  She’s my Lucky Little Lady who got me hooked on nature photography.

I’ve enjoyed all the wildlife in the gardens, most recently a new baby Turtle rooming with the Frog in the Pond Garden.  I love their photos, but Baby Turtle doesn’t like posing for the camera.  I try not to disturb him.  I guess, in my heart, I feel most connected with the Butterfly.  Everything about them is amazing and beautiful.

I’m not surprised that the Buckeye was the most prominent of the winged friends during my most recent visit to the gardens in the last days of Summer.

These beautifully winged wonders have an average life span of only about ten days, but their flight period is year-round in the southern United States.  The Northern ones do not overwinter and many return southward in great migrations. 

A small patch of the orange Mexican Sunflowers are still thriving.  I imagine they had a lot to do with the delightfully high number of butterflies in the gardens this year.

There are several other flowers blooming that obviously produce nectar, but I’m not familiar enough to know their botanical names.  I love the big white ones.

Nectar Producing Beauty for Hummingbirds and Butterflies

The hummingbirds and butterflies like them too.  I’m sure there is plenty of nectar for the late Summer and soon to arrive Autumn winged visitors. 

Sulfer Butterfly on Nectar Flower

Personally, the Summer was for the most part, difficult.  I’m grateful for my time with the volunteers and in the gardens.  It was time away from the harsh parts of my life.  People in that group care about people and those are always good kind of folks! 

I’m also glad to have spent time watching and being with the Butterflies.  On that note, I’ll recall the pretty Painted Lady who put on the most colorful show of the year with the orange Sunflowers and pink Zinnias.  ‘She’ showed up during my recent visit, but I didn’t recognize her.

After taking several photos, I asked a staff member to look and tell me if she knew the Butterfly.  “I’m pretty sure that’s a Painted Lady,” she said.

Ha!  I thought to myself.  “I don’t think so.  Look at the wings,” I replied.  They were jagged like those of a Question Mark or Comma.  I was confused and thought she didn’t know her butterflies all that well, which surprised me.

Again, it wasn’t until I saw the images on the digital screen that I realized the woman had correctly identified ‘my lady’ painted pretty.  She may have had a difficult summer too.  Her wings told of predators, but mostly of survival, because she’s still flying free.

Painted Lady with a few marks of a butterflies life

On a more personal note, I have pneumonia.  I knew I felt terribly bad, but I attributed the worsening of my health over the past six weeks or more to stress and possibly, utter exhaustion.  Also, living with chronic illness means it’s hard to know the difference between your normal way of feeling and a nasty infection.  According to the doctor, the large pills she prescribed should get me well.

Along with the medication, I’ll look to my jagged beautiful Painted Lady!

Thank you for visiting DogKisses!  Pardon the lengthy post.  It took me a while to write and there are probably grammatical errors.  I hope to be back to myself again soon, which would include having energy to read my favorite blogs.  Until then, I hope you are having your own Green Healing moments this Summer.

Peace and Pass it on.

Responding to Stress

red flowers on stems

While the tears poured,  I thought how I surely didn’t look like a green healing girl, nor did I feel like one.

Shingles had hit me fast and hard.  In the past, I’ve been able to recognize the virus before an outbreak.  Not this time.

I had been sickly for several weeks losing a precious nine pounds.  I even went to the doctor fearing I had a tick-borne disease, but my doctor said he didn’t think I have one and instead, blamed my symptoms on stress.

I get tired of my health problems always being blamed on stress, but I realize it’s a serious problem, particularly when it’s ongoing.

My mom and I were talking on the phone when I saw the outbreak.  I was relieved because I’d rather have shingles than a tick infection.

My son was a resident at a small farm, where I thought he might live for three months.  I had gone to visit him two days before getting sick and thought he was going to stay. 

He had said he was homesick and sometimes felt pretty down, but after spending more time with him, he said that most of the time he felt good being there.  Most of the time is a lot to me, so I encouraged him to stay.

He wasn’t sleeping well at the farm and as a result, was often so tired that he was a little late for the chores and classes.  He was trying really hard and the farm’s director informed me that he was improving.

I left the farm after that visit feeling more hopeful than I have in a decade.  For the first time since my son was diagnosed with a mental illness, he was at a place where people treated him like a full human being.  He wasn’t a ‘case’ to be managed.  He was treated the same as the other residents, which meant he was expected to arrive on time for classes.

During the few weeks he was away, even though I had to drive a lot, which was difficult, I had enough time to see what it was like being me.

I was not a full-time caregiver.  I was Michelle.  I was a single woman.  I saw parts of my personality that I hadn’t seen in a long time, such as my sense of humor.  I’d forgotten that I have a pretty good one.  I had fun.

It’s not my son that I need a break from, but instead is the caregiver role that I don’t have help with.

Two days after our weekend visit together, my son was an hour late for one of the farm’s classes.  He said he was so tired that he lied down for what he intended to be five minutes, but then fell asleep.

The man leading that particular class, which was a prayer time, asked him to do a writing assignment.  It was a long and arduous assignment.  He refused and as a result, had to leave the program.

I am not proud of myself for the way I responded to the situation.  I was angry and didn’t handle my emotions well.  I needed someone to talk with about the situation.  Someone with experience, empathy and a positive attitude.  I didn’t have anyone who could offer that.

I told the manager when I arrived that I was sick.  I also confided in him that I wasn’t sure how long I could keep going the way I have been.  He said they would pray for me and we parted ways.

The six months before my son went to the farm had become more and more difficult for us.  I didn’t get a break.  I deeply desired and needed help. 

My son needs peers and friends, something to do with his time and more activity than I alone can offer. 

A few months ago, he was rejected from membership in a clubhouse for people diagnosed with a mental illness.  The reason was because he’s doing well and doesn’t have a case manager.  They aren’t used to that.  I’m not sure their response is altogether a bad thing. 

My son talks about recovery and has a reputation in that particular community of not taking medication.  Sometimes this causes ripples in the water.

I had begged God for somebody to help me.  The director of the farm called to say they would accept my son as a resident the same day that I had nearly screamed at the sky.  I thought my break came and it was one that I believed could change my son’s life. 

Things simply didn’t work out the way we had wanted.  I wish I could go back and respond to this fact differently than I did, but of course I can’t.  I can only try to do better in the future.

I feel better now.  I don’t know exactly what to do or where to turn in life, but I’ll keep on keeping on.  I’ll keep on trying and hoping and praying that there is a way to help my son, that we both can heal and recover, and that perhaps one day our lives will look much brighter.

I learned from the farm experience that I need to work on myself.  I need to take time for me.  I need personal time, as well as time for healing my own wounds.  I want to  heal.  I want to respond to life in a way that doesn’t cause me illness or worsen existing health conditions.  I certainly don’t like responding in ways that bring harm to others, hurt feelings or make the situation worse.  All easier said than done I suppose, but giving up is not a good option.

I’d like to say thanks to my blogging friends for the awesome support and encouragement you have given me.  I’ve said it before, but I’m proud to be a part of this community!  Thank you so much!

Even though my mother will likely never read this, I must say here that I am truly grateful for her love.  She sure stands by me when I’m sick and for that I sure am grateful. 

I am proud of my son for trying the program the farm offered.  He’s a strong young man with a kind and good spirit.

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!

Red flowers in the garden, by Michelle and Son.

The Fence Sitter

Fence Sitter for Lady DogKisses aka Michelle. Image by Leslie S. IconDoit, the blog)

Fence Sitter

I wrote to my friend, Leslie Sigal Javorek, trying to describe the images and feelings I have when I consider ways to help my adult son in his healing journey, which has in the past meant navigating the mental healthcare system.

Leslie is a talented artist and author of the blog, IconDoIt, which is how I first came to know her. 

The drawings of the “FenceSitter” surprised me.  I loved them right away. The insight I saw in the image amazed me.  Little details, such as the red velvet fairy-like trousers and the white ruffled shirt reminded me of myself.  

The cute alligator came first and the dogs later.  They were perfect really.  I’ve only played with painting and drawing a few times in my life, so the Fence-Sitter was the first time I had seen my experience and feelings in a tangible form.

The woman I imagined can never decide which side of the fence she should be on.  “She has one leg on each side,” I had written Leslie.  “I’m not sure what is around her or the fence.  She simply can’t decide which road to take or what opinion to have.  She’s always wondering which side has less potential for harm.  Hard choices are on both sides and the fence is starting to hurt.  She needs to be free.  She knows in her heart she will probably never fully stand on either side of the fence.”

I haven’t always been a Fence-Sitter.  In my twenties I had strong opinions and was not afraid to express them, at least to people whom I trusted.  I was reluctant in academic arenas and sometimes in the jobs I held.  I knew what I liked.  I knew what I thought was right or wrong.  I knew what I believed in, but over time, I lost my footing.  Everything changed when my son was diagnosed with a mental illness.

 

“Fence Sitter” Image copyrights belong to Leslie Sigal Javorek.  Visit her here: IconDoIt.

Also, I wanted to share that Leslie has a store on Zazzle where she sells her original art– (IconDoIt, the Store).  Her art is very cool!  Thanks for visiting DogKisses.

What is right?

My heart beats too fast and my hands shake when I think back remembering all the hospital admissions, the doctors, the pills, God… the pills!  As I write, my gut feels like it’s being ripped apart.  What if I made a mistake?

What if I made such a huge mistake that my only beloved son shall never forgive me?  And if he does forgive me, has my mistake(s) ruined some of his life already?  Has it already carved out part of who he is?

I just don’t know what is right.  I don’t know what to do.

Join a group?  There’s pretty much only one to choose from, which is through NAMI.

“Forget his liver,” I remember the young psychiatrist telling me.  Was she suggesting that I’m neglecting my son by not neglecting his liver, I wondered.  Sometimes psychiatrists think in strange ways.

“We can treat liver disease, diabetes and Tardive Dyskenesia,” the young psychiatrist said, “but we can’t treat schizophrenia without antipsychotics.”

That part about treating liver disease, well, I don’t think so.

My son’s liver panel always changes when he takes the type of medications recommended by psychiatrists.  His family physician told him, once in front of me, “never take antipsychotics again.”  He told us that they would damage his liver.  

In response, my son’s ACT team social worker and a psychiatric intern at the hospital told me that we should get a new family doctor.

“You must go against your gut,” I’ve been told by professionals in the psychiatric community.  “You must abandon everything you understand as a mother in making decisions to advocate for treatment,” a well-respected social worker once said to me. 

“Treatment,” ultimately can mean forced injections.   The social worker added that if she was a parent in my shoes, that she truly didn’t know what she would do.

“We’ll commit him for not taking medicine and keep him there until he gets so tired of it he will do anything to get out, even accept regular injections of anti-psychotics.  We’ve had to do this many times with patients like your son — who are consistently non-compliant in taking their meds,” his psychiatrist has suggested.

“He wouldn’t have rehabilitation there,” I told the psychiatrist after she threatened to send him there if he, “made one wrong move.”  My son is not a criminal.  He gets sad and lonely and out of sorts.  He isn’t out breaking the law. 

The doctor had a bad attitude and let her personal feelings get too involved.  She was angry because the day before my son had gotten out of a car in town, instead of going to his apartment, while riding with one of the team’s social workers.  He’s an adult and can get out if he wants to whether anyone likes it or not.

“The only thing he would be able to do up there since the psychiatric rehabilitation unit is full would be sit in their community room all day, watching television with patients who are much worse than he is,” I told her.  She reminded me again that this was an effective technique to get some patients to decide to take medication.

I feel like I’ve had to give my son over to the enemy.  I feel like I agreed to join them too — but never with my whole heart or without the ongoing feeling that there must be a better way to do things than the way our modern-day psychiatry does them.

I stopped going to the support groups because there is a collective attitude that supports denying another person’s human and civil rights.

I once told my son’s psychiatrist about research suggesting that people with diagnoses, such as schizophrenia, can recover.  She hadn’t heard about the studies nor had she ever read anything about treating schizophrenia in ways outside of antipsychotic medication.   Personally, I find it disturbing that she’s been a psychiatrist for more than twenty years, yet hasn’t taken time to read about other forms of treatment. 

We need an alternative.  My son and I, and possibly many other families, need people to join an exploration in healthy ways to treat “mental illness” and we need to start a conversation about recovery.

“What causes schizophrenia?” someone asked a famous psychiatrist who was speaking at a meeting I attended.

“Nothing,” the doctor replied.  “Nothing and everything causes it.”

I don’t have the answers.  I do believe that if we had places where we can find what a former professor of mine called, “The Three Ms’,” that healing could happen.  “Meaning, Mastery, and Membership,” he called them.  “People will go crazy without these things,” he said to our class one day.


Thank you for visiting Dogkisses’s blog.