Posts Tagged ‘J.K. Rowling’

‘“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”’—Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

One of the greatest coping skills I learned after yet another failed suicide attempt (have you ever had a tube inserted in your nose and snaked down to your stomach as part of a gastric lavage?) was something I realized when my therapist told me: “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

The realization—or rather, the skill—was so simple I was amazed that I hadn’t thought of it before was this: when things get so dark that I start to consider simply ending it all, I put on my headphones, fire up iTunes on my laptop, and put George Harrison on a loop. All Things Must Pass is my mantra. I listen to it over and over again until finally, I believe it.

The other realization changed my entire outlook on life in general and my lifelong chronic depression. This time it was something I read:

The question we should be asking is not “What’s wrong with you?” Rather, we should be asking “What happened to you?”

That changed my perspective from “What did I do to deserve this?” to “What caused this to happen to me?” And even then, it took a much longer time to drop the “to me” and stop looking at myself as a victim.

I am not a “victim of depression;” I am a survivor. I now approach this struggle in much the same way practitioners of Aikido approach their opponents: find your enemy’s strength—in this case, his energy—and turn it against him.

I’ve spent years discovering my enemy’s strengths. Knowing them, I have learned how to turn them against what Churchill called his “black dog,” and what Rowling put a face to with the Dementors.

The result? Between those two realizations, new medications, and therapy, it’s been over 3 years since my last suicide attempt, and 2 years since I’ve had even so much as a thought of harming myself.

We may be, as the Cheshire Cat claims, “all mad here.” But that’s no reason we can’t fight back. That’s no reason we can’t be mental health ninjas.


Do you suffer from depression? Do you have thoughts of self-harm? Of suicide? You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8255. Even though I’m on the mend, I still keep the number on speed dial.

dementors

The thing about the popularity of the Harry Potter books and films is that pretty much everybody who has seen or read them understands memes based on them. J.K. Rowling’s quote on depression is spot-on to anyone who has ever had to deal with this debilitating, crippling, and sometimes fatal disease.

And that’s why I’ve decided that the tagline for this blog is “Battling Dementors Since Birth.” My depression is genetic: I inherited it from my mother, who inherited it from her father, and so on back as far as the family can trace its heritage. My two brothers each suffer from it in varying degrees, and so do my daughters.

This is a blog about mental illness, the stigmas attached to it, and society’s slowly-changing attitudes to those of us who deal with it on a day-to-day basis.

Who Am I, And What Qualifies Me to Speak on Mental Illness?

A fair question. I am a 65-year-old grandmother of three who has been cursed from the womb with messed-up brain chemistry. As much as I hate it, the fact is that depression is a central pivot in my life, around which all other aspects of my life revolve. And while I generally manage to keep leashed what Winston Churchill (another noted sufferer of depression) referred to as “the black dog,” sometimes the bitch slips her leash and takes over.

My qualifications to speak on this illness is based on my degree from the College of Been There, Done That, Got The Scars to Prove It. In other words, unless something you read here is clearly identified as a quote from another source, and the source is cited, everything else is based on my own experiences and education. In other words, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary). What works for me might not work for you. We’re all different, right? So all I’m saying is, “Hey! This worked for me. It might be something that will help you, or it might not.”

I am also a mental health advocate. I am a member of the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Psychiatry Advisory Council of Consumers (DPACC), which has as its mission statement the following:

The Department of Psychiatry Advisory Council of Consumers is comprised of departmental leaders, peer leaders and families and friends of Strong Behavioral Health consumers. DPACC discusses ideas related to quality initiatives across its services and provides a forum for the department to hear feedback from a consumer perspective. By partnering with consumers, the recipients of services, we will ensure respectful and dignified treatment using the medical and recovery models.

Which is a fancy way of saying that as consumers of mental health care in this particular setting, we offer advice and suggestions for improving patient and family care in the Psychiatry Department. But more than that, our ideas and suggestions are listened to, and quite often implemented as hospital policy.

In fact, just this morning, a few of us from DPACC spoke to the incoming class of new psychiatric nurses and technicians as part of their orientation to the department. And Wednesday, we’ll be speaking to a new class of nurses in general. I always enjoy these sessions, especially the question-and-answer sessions that come afterwards.

I’ll Shut Up Now

I know your time is valuable, so I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information. (I’ll do that later, after I’ve hooked you and gotten you addicted to reading what I have to say! [Cue evil chuckle])

So thanks for stopping by. I do appreciate the time you chose to waste spend with me. I’m going to try to set up an RSS feed for the blog, so you don’t have to keep checking back to see if there have been any updates.

Anyway, until next time!

Robyn Jane


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