Cheshire Cat's Grin

Walking on the Moon, Part II

Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional. My frank discussion of my personal journey should not be construed as medical advice. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or any other medical concern, there is no substitute for qualified professional guidance.

Orbiting with Grief and Loss

While I was waiting for my application for therapy at the Women’s Center to be approved, I reached the most difficult part of my journey so far.

In the first week of June, I confided in my Mom about the symptoms I was experiencing. I told her I was panicking about our financial situation and felt like the anxiety was putting me over the edge. That maybe the stress was triggering symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD. She was naturally concerned about my health, but since then, she has been operating on the assumption that we will be filing bankruptcy and moving in with her and Bruce when our lease is up in November.

On the afternoon of June 7, I logged on Facebook to find a post saying my friend Tess had passed away unexpectedly, with a link to this article about what was known so far: http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2013-06-05/story/jacksonville-police-investigate-womans-death-mental-health-center

At Tess' memorial, we made this flower mandala to honor her life and vibrancy. Afterwards, we each took a few flowers to scatter. I put ours in the family garden, and I think Tess would have approved.

At Tess’ memorial, we made this flower mandala to honor her life and vibrancy. Afterwards, we each took a few flowers to scatter. I put ours in the family garden, and I think Tess would have approved.

It was disturbing enough to read that my friend had been living in the woods and was brought in by police to a mental health facility, more so that it was unclear exactly how she had died. Of course, the assumption was suicide, but you never can tell. I heard later she had been tasered repeatedly by police.

Then I read some comments about how Tess had been traumatized as a child, and recently had some frightening symptoms like mine, only worse. Psychotic breaks were mentioned.

Suddenly, I was experiencing Tess’ suffering empathically – her overwhelm, her fear, her rage, her crazy. I felt guilty that I didn’t know about it or get to know her better. It pained me immensely to imagine she might have been suffering alone. I broke down, sobbing uncontrollably, which freaked Charlie out. His attempts to calm me only made me feel like a cornered wild animal, and I ran out of our apartment.

I ended up at The Tribe headquarters nearby. (The Tribe is my alternate family of hippies and freaks like me. I mean that in a good way.) I sobbed hysterically to my bewildered friends that I was sure I needed to be institutionalized or I’d get as crazy as Tess had been. I wanted to die with her.

My empathy for Tess brought out repressed memories of my first marriage, and led me to rework a poem I started writing in 2000. At that time it was only safe to write about the anonymous perpetrator who tried to abduct me from a JU parking lot when I was a student there. But what I was really angry about was how my ex had done much worse to me than an attempted abduction, while using the random attack as a way to instill fear and control my whereabouts.

I read my poem, at the Chamblin’s Uptown Open Mic on the night of June 12th (You can read it here: I Said “No” ). My performance was quite intense. It frightened the men and made them look away, but I got high fives from the women in the audience.

Unfortunately, I was so amped up from the performance, I was in a constant state of rage for the next three days. There was something else I was angry about, but I could only conceive it in the form of questions, What made me so insecure as to accept the treatment of my first husband for so long? What kind of person was I to yoke myself to him? And, I’d rather die than have to live with my Mom and Bruce. Why?

To be continued…Watch for Walking on the Moon, Part III – A Breakthrough

4 thoughts on “Walking on the Moon, Part II

  1. Charles

    And when is that loser husband of yours going to get something? You’re not allowed to both have mental issues, Amy is the girl so as the man you must step it up. Sound familiar? Paradigms? Old school thinking? I hate to admit, on some levels, our grandparents and their band of friends were better than us. They helped each other out knowing at some point the investment was worth it. Because at some point they might be in a bind and the ones they bailed out are now capable of picking up the slack. It’s a wise approach. Now it’s everyone for themselves and at some point we are forced into a corner feeling quite alone and unloved. We’re spoiled and soft is the thinking, no, it’s a different world. The rules, what’s left of them, have changed. And the brain is an organ, a physical object, capable of illness. We know lung disease, we know bone disease, we see the symptoms without character changes. The brain when it gets sick, we just say take a pill. Environment is integral in mental health, we don’t seem to know the boundary between the physical condition of the brain and behavior triggers.

  2. Charles

    I’ll caveat this with the word adaptation. Scientists have shown that we adapt through gene expression based on environmental stressors or factors. Yes, stressors underline editor (for a software created by a collective mind you rack a disciprine). We don’t therefore evolve, we change in response to the environment. When met with hostility, it triggers a gene expression, when we see, feel or hear anything enough, voila! certain genes are expressed, but others remain dormant as they are not of use or need. So I suppose from scientist’s point of view (the ones who really work in microbiology) we’re born a blank slate with a genetic combination lock?
    For my mom the biochemist professor http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%253Adoi%252F10.1371%252Fjournal.pgen.1002596
    for the rest of you guys http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2012/01/human-behavior-over-the-ages/
    May we all shine on.

  3. Amy Cherie Copeland Post author

    If anyone can write random, stream of consciousness thoughts that have substance behind them, it’s Charlie. Some of this stuff may be worthy of a new blog topic.

    To summarize for the more linear readers: Rapid societal changes are eroding our economy and we are experiencing it firsthand. It’s hard on self-esteem and family relationships to find yourself in this position. The key is to understand our genetic predispositions, our triggers, and how to reprogram ourselves to survive in a changing world.

    And so we press on!

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