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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WHAT IS NORMAL AND WHO SAYS?

How do we live and breathe our lives? Do we walk around with the fear of what others think of us? Are we justified in feeling others are judging us? And unfairly?

It happens all of the time.

The Bible tells us not to judge others. And yet, has a day gone by that you haven't felt judged by a parent, a child, a friend, a clerk in a store? A stranger?

I WRITE PERSONAL

I amaze myself at times, that I care what a stranger will think of me. It happened yesterday when I was at the movies. I wanted to move back in the theatre because I had sat down too close for comfort to the screen. I hesitated, and hesitated some more. Then I waited for the movie to be at a place that was dark and made the move. I was letting it bother me what the other two people in the theatre would think of me for moving. A little absurd, perhaps. But I admit it to make the point that I let others' possible opinion of me affect me way too much. Unnecessary energy spent. But, probably conditioned to behave this way since I was born.

I always seem to manage to do what is right or what I want to do in spite of the angst inside, but it would be freeing to stop the internal dialogue going on and liberate myself.

I just went out to the kitchen to get some quotes that I have there that are relevant to this.

"Our own heart, and not others' opinions of us, forms our true honor." Friedrich von Schiller

" I am painfully conscious of my imperfections, therein lies all the strength I possess." Mahatma Gandhi

I saw Glenn Close and her sister, Jessie today on a show I don't watch. I skim by it sometimes. This skim by was worth it for the public service announcement alone. It is posted just below . Jessie has the bipolar condition, something she has suffered with since her teenage years. She only was diagnosed at 47.

In August, sisters Jessie and Glenn filmed the psa for Bring Change 2 Mind with the help of director Ron Howard. Glenn explained to The View audience why she decided to do this announcement and why you should not be ashamed to be diagnosed with this disease.
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Bring change 2 Mind
1 in 6 adults and almost 1 in 10 children suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. Yet, for many, the stigma associated with the illness, can be as great a challenge as the disease itself. This is where the misconceptions stop. This is where bias comes to an end. This is where we change lives. Because this is where this will happen: Bring Change 2 Mind.

U.S. RI Representative Patrick Kennedy

Below find text taken from Patrick Kennedy's website


Mental Illness

"We as a Nation have long neglected the mentally ill and the mentally retarded. This neglect must end, if our Nation is to live up to its own standards of compassion and dignity."
- President John F. Kennedy
Congressman Kennedy is a staunch advocate for mental health reform. He strongly believes that we must end the pervasive stigma that continues to be associated with mental illness and which plays a large part in preventing those who need treatment from attaining it. An estimated 26 percent of Americans — about one in four adults —suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Yet 67% of adults and 80% of children who need mental health care are not receiving it. Tragically, this translates into individuals with serious mental illness having a life expectancy of 25 years less than general population.

According to the Institute of Medicine, together, mental and substance-use illnesses are the leading cause of combined death and disability for women of all ages and for men aged 15–44, and the second highest for all men. When appropriately treated, individuals with these conditions can recover and lead satisfying and productive lives. Conversely, when treatment is not provided or is of poor quality, these conditions can have serious consequences for individuals, their loved ones, their workplaces, and the nation as a whole. In order to effectively combat this, our health care system must approach health as a whole body initiative. Health should be viewed not merely as the absence of disease or infirmity, but the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Kennedy is committed to continuing to work to integrate mental health treatment and prevention into the health care system.

Mental Health Parity

A profound obstacle to public understanding of mental health stems from the artificial, centuries-old principle of separation of mind and body. Yet, breakthrough discoveries in brain science show that this antiquated split between mind and body is simply inaccurate. As emerging technologies make it increasingly possible for researchers to demonstrate the extent to which mental disorders and their treatment are connected to physical changes in the brain, public policy must follow suit by eliminating the historical discrimination in insurance coverage for mental health compared to physical health care.

That is why Congressman Kennedy was proud to introduce The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act. This landmark legislation became law in 2008. On that day, a monumental victory was achieved for the over 25% of Americans who no longer have to face discrimination from their insurers when it comes to their mental health care. That day was a victory for Americans everywhere, as a civil rights gap was closed in this country, and a long standing form of discrimination was ended. The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act ensures that mental health benefits are offered at parity with medical benefits, providing access to mental health services for approximately 113 million Americans.


Personal, Again

My brother was diagnosed with bipolar when he was in his thirties.

My family is full of anxious people, but I chalk that up to the volatile nature of our home environment. I know it affects me to this moment. When you never know when an explosive emotional, irrational outburst is going to happen as a child, you get conditioned to be on alert. It is, at least, unsettling. And in childhood, you don't know words such as irrational. So, you don't know it is not normal in everyone's household. I just realized this in the last few years - that having difficulty... feeling secure and knowing my own perceptions and intuition are right - are my reality. You see, I question my own perceptions many times because I was never mirrored in a healthy way by my mother. This may come as a surprise because I write here often with what seems like I own my own thoughts so thoroughly. Like I am my own authority. But I am admitting to you that I am human. I have flaws. And I consciously know it. I also have strong opinions and I find it therapeutic to express them. I love to write. And maybe that is why I love to blog. And write in my journals. It helps me feel more. It helps me feel balanced. It helps me process through the mind's mine. It helps me find words that bring me comfort in knowing what I am feeling. But, I believe too that writing is simply an expressive and rewarding activity that I love - just because I do.

I have been told that I have what is commonly referred to as PTSD or PTSS. Post traumatic stress disorder/syndrome. I never thought of that. But I can see why. I researched this phenonenon, years back because when I brought a child into my life from an extremely neglectful, abusive and disruptive background who was diagnosed with PTSD/PTSS I wanted to be able to help him. I didn't know I was researching my own life, too.

How many emotionally happy, balanced people do you know? And if we scratched the masks and facades that most people wear, we would find even those people on that list, probably aren't all that balanced and normal.

What is normal, anyway?

And what do we use to measure it?

And those who say what is normal, just may not be all that truly normal themselves.

This all makes me think of my college days, when I first realized that what I had been taught as the black and white way of looking at the world and people's behavior, isn't reliable. That anyone can move the line anywhere they choose to right and wrong or good and bad. Or normal and not normal.

I know the most important thing for me is to trust my own perception. Because most always it has been right. For me. Trusting others' perceptions has led me to a path of doubt of my own abilities, my own gifts. And why do that? Why give that away?

I bought a poster with these words in the early 1970s:


Friend, don’t be a perfectionist.

Perfectionism is a curse and a strain.

For you tremble lest you miss the bull’s-eye.

You are perfect if you let be.


Friend, don’t be afraid of mistakes.

Mistakes are not sins.

Mistakes are ways of doing something different,

Perhaps creatively new.


Friend, don’t be sorry for your mistakes.

Be proud of them.

You had the courage to give something of yourself.


It takes years to be centered; it takes more years

to understand and to be now.

Until then, beware of both extremes,

perfectionism as well as instant cure, instant joy, instant sensory awareness.


Until then, beware of any helpers.

Helpers are con-men who promise something for nothing.

They spoil you and keep you dependent and immature.


Frederick S. Perls


The following quote is on my refrigerator. I need to read it more often.

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." Audre Lorde


Inspirational Speech by Dr. Randy Pausch on the Oprah Show: The Last Lecture. Dr. Pausch passed away on July 25, 2008


If you click this post's title it will take you to the song

If We Only Have Love

If we only have love
Then tomorrow will dawn
And the days of our years
Will rise on that morn
If we only have love
To embrace without fears
We will kiss with our eyes
We will sleep without tears

If we only have love
With our arms open wide
Then the young and the old
Will stand at our side
If we only have love
Love that's falling like rain
Then the parched desert earth
Will grow green again

If we only have love
For the hymn that we shout
For the song that we sing
Then we'll have a way out
If we only have love
We can reach those in pain
We can heal all our wounds
We can use our own names

If we only have love
We can melt all the guns
And then give the new world
To our daughters and sons
If we only have love
Then Jerusalem stands
And then death has no shadow
There are no foreign lands

If we only have love
We will never bow down
We'll be tall as the pines
Neither heroes nor clowns

If we only have love
Then we'll only be men
And we'll drink from the Grail
To be born once again
Then with nothing at all
But the little we are
We'll have conquered all time
All space, the sun, and the stars.

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