Monday, August 09, 2010

In between dreams (on gratitude and hope, when the voices stop)

I feel a smile inside tonight. In the past, when I thought it necessary, I made gratitude lists here. I have been feeling particularly anxious lately, but it's important to state here that something very positive is occurring. For now, and for the past few weeks, I haven't been having auditory hallucinations hardly at all. Perhaps even the past couple months. I usually get the low-grade, maintenance variety auditory hallucination where I hear "double speak" when people are talking, and this usually occurs a few times a week, during good periods (and all the time during bad periods). It's not really happening much at all right now. That is something.

Yesterday I did several loads of laundry and made my bed. It feels nice to have a bed made. I actually never think of making a bed, or cleaning at all, really, as something necessary for my daily survival. In fact, I think it's a waste of time. Normally, I don't even sleep on sheets, just this down fluffy thing. Of course you should use sheets and of course you should wash them. Personally, I don't have the energy to do all the things you "should" do in life, so I have to cut corners in many areas. But yesterday I made my bed. And tonight it's nice to lie on smooth, clean sheets.

Let's see, what else am I grateful for? In an Alanon meeting the other night a woman sitting next to me said, "If you can't be grateful for what you have, be grateful for what you don't have." This was a statement that was important for me to hear. As many mental health issues and physical health issues that I've had in my life, I've never had an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and for that I am very lucky. Alcoholism, when it runs in your family, can be hard to avoid. I am grateful I don't face that demon that others face, as I know the far-reaching effects it has, not only on the person with the problem, but on everyone around him/her. I know that it must be as hard to beat as anorexia was for me, and in that sense I do understand the supremely difficult challenge that recovery is.

Speaking of anorexia, yes, I'm very grateful that ed is not part of my life anymore. I have been reading bits and pieces of a book called Gaining, which is about "life after eating disorders", and it contains some interesting ideas on how people who get eating disorders share obsessive personality traits. Since I definitely have obsessive compulsive issues to some degree, that connection has always made sense to me. The book sort of claims that the tendency to develop an eating disorder is more genetic than culturally influenced. I disagree there. I think the tendency to develop a problem of some sort is genetic. I think the fact that it becomes self-starvation is totally cultural, because women are only valued for how thin they are in our society, it seems, and the onslaught of media images of women who are bony and sickly, well that is cultural, and not genetic. But, I digress. I am grateful, right now, that anorexia is no longer a part of my life. And, I'm grateful that I don't think I need to look like Kate Moss, nor do I want to look like her, and rather than emulate society's ridiculous standards of beauty, I am a feminist who uses the knowledge of oppression of women to combat such societal ills. Therefore, I have power, whereas, I used to think I had no power over the eating disorder or the cause of it.

One more thing: my cat Ribbit has been sick lately. Today I found out what is wrong, and it's nothing too serious. He will need medication, but he should be fine. And I'm grateful for that because I adore my cats; they're like my children, and Ribbit never leaves my side when I'm home.
Today I received in the mail a photo I ordered from a professional photographer friend of mine who does excellent work. It's a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge, and I got it to give to my case manager who collects pictures of that bridge and has them all over her office. Soon, because I do not qualify as a person who needs case management anymore, I will not have the relationship with her that I have had for the past five years. So I wanted to give her something to remember me by, as I will always think fondly of her and am sad that I won't be seeing her much longer. So I'm grateful for Lauren for that photograph. I'm also grateful that Lauren has been my online friend since 1997, and though we've never been in the same state, we've had a close bond that I really value.

I'm also grateful to possess hope. I would not be alive without hope. Throughout all difficulties, I cling to hope. I know that things will improve. I know that I will make it through the decisions that need to be made and the scary things in the future. I have hope. That doesn't mean I'm not anxious or depressed. It just means I'm coping.

So, I just wanted to share these positive things with you. I've written many posts here full of descriptions of my problems and issues that plague me, but those issues and problems do not define me. I am, like everyone, a complex person, and sometimes I get through the muck with my soul intact and I feel content.

The title of this post comes from the album by Jack Johnson with that title.
Note: if you've stopped by and are not sure whether to leave a comment, please see the funny video linked on the left with a parody about that. Who doesn't love comments (HINT)??!


  1. I think the gratitude list idea is a good one. In fact, recently I have taken to writing a daily one, not for life in general, but for the previous day.

    I put down the experiences and things I was able to do, and also the good that I was able to take out of the bad experiences. Like the person at the AA meeting you quote said, being grateful for what you don't have can be useful. Even if things are bad, you can still be grateful and appreciative that they are not terrible.

    I've only been doing it for a week or so, but it seems to be very useful for me. It forces me to think in a positive way, and find the good in my life. And I think slowly it is helping me to think just a bit more positively.

  2. I admire your tenacity to do this every day. I have thought of it before (perhaps I did try it a few years ago but it's hard to remember), but usually I don't stick to writing any type of journal on a daily basis. It does seem to help, though, to look back on these lists. I think I need to take a look at ones I wrote in the past here.

    I sometimes am very cynical about the whole pop psychology idea of the power of positive thinking, but I admit it does have an impact on your daily outlook and life. I always think of that saying, "be the change you want to create" (or is it be the change you want to see?) anyway, I think that's great that you are doing this on a daily basis

  3. Hi Jen,
    I know what you mean about being skeptical about the power of positive thinking. I am not really on board with the whole "we create our lives by our thoughts" idea pushed by the self help movement either. I'm a bit more convinced by what Philip K Dick said, that reality is that which doesn't go away when you stop believing in it.

    That said, I find consistently looking for the good points of the day just past is very useful for me in terms of being appreciative of the life I have, rather than spending all my time beating myself up over not having some other life.

  4. Hey, I am glad that today is a good day!

    I found your blog when researching schizophrenia - my brother's started dating a girl who has it, and I wanted to know more without bugging her for details (I don't know her that well yet). Thanks for your honest and open writing, it's really helpful.

    A lot of what you've said about struggling with mental illness really rings true. My family's plagued with addictions and depression, and I've had my own rounds with depression and compulsive stuff as well. Days with hope are fantastic, aren't they? They're what makes it worth it to keep on trying. I'm very fortunate, I'm at a point in my life where the good days greatly outnumber the bad - and yes, it's worth every bit of the work it took to get here. The hope you're feeling now may disappear tomorrow, but it isn't a delusion, it's a peek forwards at what life can be for you.

    All the best to you. I'm impressed with your willingness to face your issues and sort through them, even when it scares you to no end. Please keep writing, and I'll keep reading.

    P.S. - So glad Ribbit is going to be okay! Watching pets struggle is the worst.

  5. Melissa,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I totally understand about the trouble with depression; I had that for a lot of years before the psychosis stuff started, and it runs in my family too (Bipolar Disorder is something two of my immediate family members have been diagnosed with).

    I know what you mean, the hope may be there one day and gone the next, but it's important to know that hope is real and is available for the taking.

    Thanks for reading; it's great to know what interests the readers here since I'm not always sure what people's thoughts are about the posts.

  6. Depressed Reader,

    I also have a problem with the whole idea that thoughts create life problems or create good things, and I really like a recent book called Bluebird by Ariel Gore, on this subject in relation to women, and also Barbara Enrenreich's recent Bright Side book.


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