Monday, January 6, 2014


Are you in prison?  You probably scoff at the very idea.  You may be thinking, "Of course not.  I'm not in prison.  I have done no crime that would take away my freedom."  Yet look a bit closer.  ARE YOU IN PRISON? 

There are many types of prisons.  Your mind can be a prison.  That is the hardest one to deal with.  You see you can NOT run away from yourself.  Believe me from time to time I've tried.  The annoying thing is that wherever you go, YOU go with YOU!

I have faced mental health challenges.  I have also had many friends who battled with mental health issues.  

In the past those with chemical depression often landed in "Sanitoriums," an institutional name for "Warehouse of the damned."  Anyone that did not meet the criteria of "normal," was in danger of landing in these places of darkness.  People were treated like brainless children.  Extreme measures were taken to "heal" them.  If you were not chemically impaired when you first went into the Sanitorium it would not take long until you WERE, permanently damaged.

It's a grand time to live.  We understand so much more about our brains.  Scientists have discovered many of the chemicals that cause our brains to create a feeling of satisfaction or euphoria.  Regions of the brain have been charted and explored to explain what may cause chemical depression, or any other mental disorder. 

Trust me when I say when you are dealing with clinical depression, schzoid disorder, or disassociative disorder you ARE in prison.  Your mind is telling you lies, but they seem like truth.  The lies are things like, "Stay in bed.  Sleep all the time.  You are nothing but a burden in this world.  Give up...your family and the world will be better without you!" 

It's important while you face this type of prison to realize that FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS!  Just because you feel as though you must die, kill yourself, or worse yet, OTHERS, these are not facts but strange derivations caused by abnormal chemicals in the brain.

Now let's discuss physical prisons?  I have been in TEN car accidents.  YUP...TEN.  Seven o f those accidents were without seat belts.  In my defense I grew up in an innocent time in America.  Cars were still a "New fangled invention" for the most part.  We didn't have seat belts in wagons, or on horses, so why would we wear them in a car?

The first accident occured when I was eight years old.  An extremely inebriated fellow hit our car from the back.  He was trying to pass us as we were going up a hill.  He pushed us down a ravine.  Gratefully the car did NOT roll.  The reporting officer told my Dad, "This is the only place along this entire stretch of road where you could have just slid down the hill without rolling."

I did sustain the traditional whiplash injury as the force of the crash threw me violently forward, and then back.

Next I am sixteen at a stop sign.  A car making a right hand turn hits ice, and slides into me.  NOPE, no seat belt. 

At eighteen I was riding in a car with two friends, and fellow Thespians from the Pink Garter Theater in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  A deer was in the road as we came around a sharp curve.  A rock mountain was on the right, a drop off down to a reservoir on the left.  No time for choice, my friend hit the brakes and down we rolled, once, twice, and plunk down on the wheels again.  I was thrown from the front seat into the back seat.  (Again without the seat belt?)

I will not regale you with the ugly other accidents but one thing I wish to point out.  The last wreck was my second accident on Friday the 13th of January.  The license plate began XCJ.  That's right X on CJ, (which is my nickname).  Twice on that date?  I will NEVER climb in a car again on the Friday January 13's of my life.  I didn't used to be superstitious.  Now I'm a little bit.

All of these automotive collisions resulted in a spine full of damage and disorder.  There are bone spurs, nerve damage, compressed and compromised spinal cord, etc. etc. etc.   The sum and total of all this is that I am now imprisoned in a body that will not allow me freedom.  Oh I am richly blessed.  I could have been hurt so much worse, or I could be dead.  I AM blessed.  Yet for the rest of my life I will have to plan and balance my life ever so carefully.  I have about a dollar's worth of energy and there is no pushing beyond that limit. 

You may have switched away from this point thinking, "What is her point?"  My point is that absolutely no prison can restrain your spirit, soul, the essence of your self.  My body does not take me as far and as busily as I would like it to take me.  Yet at the same time, my mind gives me freedom.

Two of my "Sheroes" in life are humans that others might discount as having no validity.  They might be called INvalids.  One has Multiple Sclerosis so badly that she can't function at all for herself.  She is totally in bed, can speak, think, but has no abilities beyond this.  She had her caregiver buy her a white board.  Daily she has a friend or caregiver list friends of hers that are struggling, and what the struggle is that they are having.  She calls herself a "Prayer Warrior."  Her life is certainly not INvalid.  Her spirit still soars!

Another story that touched my heart was about a friend going to visit an elderly friend in a care center.  The old lady was inching her way out of life, bound to a bed, unable to perform any of the daily tasks of self care that most of us take for granted. 

The young lady was sad thinking of this brilliant, multi-faceted, talented, lady now confined solely to bed.  To make matters worse, it was the Christmas season and this woman was a devout Christian.

Approaching the old woman in the bed the young lady bent and kissed her age worn cheek.  She couldn't think of one positive thing to say. 

The room was dingy, and dark.  There was a tiny Christmas tree placed carefully on a table so that the old lady could see it.  There were no ornaments, and just a few little white lights.

The old lady took the hand of the younger lady.  "Sit down my dear."  The old lady managed to make a bit of room on the small bed for her friend.

"I just want to tell you how grateful I am for my blessings."

The young woman again looked around at the dingy, dark room.  She thought of all the people this lovely lady had served.  She thought of the parties at her beautiful well-furnished home.  It seemed so cruel that her life had come to this kind of an end.

The older lady said, "When I was young I was always so busy.  First it was getting through college, then it was having a husband, bearing and raising children, participating in PTA, Church service in many capacities.  I was involved in many neighborhood committees, and always volunteered with the community voting booths."

"I always prayed so quickly that I wasn't certain if the Lord could even hear me."  The old lady sighed softly.  A tiny tear trickled down her face.  "Now I spend all day, and most of the night speaking to my Lord.  I'm so grateful for this sacred time of preparation to meet Him again."

I did embellish on these stories, but they are true stories that have touched and changed my life for good.

I used to think of my life in terms of "Good days," and "Bad Days."  I loathed and despised the idea of giving my life away to even an hour or two of "Bad Day."

One day the inspiration came.  Not "Bad Days," but "Quiet Days."  On a "Quiet Day," I may just sleep most of the day, praying as I awaken, and praying as I sleep.  I may speak on the telephone to those I love.  I may write a note or letter to a friend.  There are ever so many wonderful things that I can do on a "Quiet Day."  I have made a list of activities that I CAN participate in on "Quiet Days."  I make it a personal quest to focus on the things that I CAN DO, instead of the things that I CAN'T!

Jail, prison...there are so many things that can feel restrictive, as though they cut of our freedom of choice.  My ultimate goal in life is to not let the prison of my body or mind keep my spirit from soaring, high, and bright!

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