Friday, November 14, 2014


When I was young nobody committed suicide.  If somebody actually did, well that was somebody else's problem and we certainly would NOT discuss it. I grew up with the phrase secure in my brain, "If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all."  On the surface that seems like a charming, polite concept.  It was taken a great deal deeper in the society of the late 50's early 60's.  We did NOT discuss mental illness or similar things that we considered "not nice." 

Any type of mental difference was not understood.  People with these "mental" differences were often warehoused in enormous mental institutions.  That included people with sexual preferences that were different than the "norm."  So in these institutions were people with Schizophrenia, Clinical Depression, Autism, General Mental Retardation, Homosexuality, and sometimes people who were deaf and blind would land in there as well.

There was very little understanding of how our brains work.  Psychologists, and psychiatrists were using the mentally challenged as human guinea pigs...test animals.  Patients were often sedated and ignored as much as possible.

Some of the treatments were as follows: 

Aversion therapy:  This was used especially for those who had homosexual proclivities.  One of the many methods that were used involved showing slides of things that would stimulate the libido while giving the patient a severe, painful, electrical shock. 

Water Treatment:  Patients were put in very hot baths with a canvas top that had a hole for their heads to stick through. They were left in these tubs, sometimes for hours.  This was to calm agitated mental patients.

Electric Shock Therapy:  Patients would have electrodes attached to their heads.  Electrical currents were sent through these electrodes.  It is supposed to stimulate the production of chemicals our brain needs to feel content.  This can cause all types of horrid side effects.  It is still used today.

Lobotomy:  This was pretty much the last treatment if nothing else worked.  This one is totally egregious.  They open your skull and use a tool to pretty much stir up your brain.  It often completely destroys the personality of the person in the process.  The patients are MUCH less agitated because they are pretty much vegetables afterwards.

There was a very real stigma attached not only to having mental health issues, but the therapists who worked with them also were stigmatized in American Society.

I remember in my childhood hearing a whispered conversation about somebody that died at their own hand.  I don't think I had any idea at the time what that even meant.  Nobody spoke about panic attacks, or serious anxiety disorder.  My Mother told me that she had always been "High Strung."  That was the way to describe someone with a textbook case of ADHD.  The good news is that she had learned to use her fractured attention span to accomplish many, many tasks at virtually the same time. 

I just wrote a song that I feel very connected to.  I named it, "Shout it out."  The following are the lyrics,

When the world is dark and dreary and your skin don't fit just right
Shout it out from the rooftops, help will come to make life bright
Shout it out

Chorus:  Shout it out from the rooftops
Help will come to make life bright
Shout it out, depression is a liar
Says your death will make things right
Shout it out!

Verse 1:  Now just think of those who love you, see their faces when you're gone
The tears their hearts are crying
Show that they don't understand, how you could just leave them
A whole lifetime without you
Shout it out


Verse 2:  Your loved ones would do anything, ANYTHING at all
To keep you with them
Watching your children grow up tall
Your parents will never recover, they will miss you all their lives
How will you feel when from Heaven you can't help them as they strive
Shout it out

Repeat the Chorus twice at the end of the song

We can't just be silent anymore.  We need to shout it out!  We need to find ways and means to help those who face hideous decisions for their loved ones.  There ARE ways now that are effective to treat clinical depression, bi-polar, schizophrenia, and a plethora of other mental conditions.  We DO understand now that there are chemicals that we need to make our brains work properly.  The tools are out there!

Possibly one of the hardest parts of this discussion is the finances.  When my husband battled his brutal battle with clinical depression our insurance only paid the tiniest fraction of the cost for him to get any medical assistance.  We carried the incredibly heavy burden of the rest of the expenses.  There was a wonderful clinic that we wished to be able to participate in.  Insurance would pay none of the expenses so we simply could not access the necessary help.

Come on world, WAKE UP!  We lose valuable, wonderful people every day to suicide.  This ISN'T just a problem for the family, for those that were closest to them.  This is a societal problem.  Just like ripples in a pond when a rock is dropped in, the ripples spread outwards from such a tragedy.  First and foremost the spouse, children, and parents, siblings, and then further out.  Next line of ripples is the medical/mental health all the survivors need.  Then those they work with, their ability to take care of themselves financially, etc.  Ripples just keep spreading, and getting wider as they grow outwards.

Let's TALK about this subject.  Imagine the horror that an innocent child feels, or an adolescent when one of their friends commits suicide?  It's happening more and more.  We need to talk about it, give our children tools to cope with such horror, and we need to have tools to cope ourselves.

SHOUT IT OUT!  Don't sit in quiet corners and speak in whispers.  I'm not going to be quiet about it anymore.  It's NOT OK for us to lose anyone to suicide.  We need to find answers.  In the meantime let's do all we can to love others, and keep our eyes open for those that are struggling!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Laundry Aerobics, and Other Interesting Subjects

Laundry Aerobics?  My dear Grandma's had one day each and every week when they did the laundry.  It was an odious chore.  They had to wash the clothing, mostly by hand.  Some used a washboard.  You would use this board with rows of tin by scrubbing the clothing up and down.  It's not very surprising that clothes wore out quite quickly.  If these ladies of the 19th century were fortunate, they had a wringer.  This apparatus pulled clothing through two rolling cylinders.  Unfortunately, it was very easy to wind up with your finger, hand, or even arm being pulled through that wondrous wringer.

My dear Mama was the leader of our church women's group.  That is the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints.  It's the oldest continuing women's group in America.  She often received frantic calls for help.

This particular day the call was frantic because one of the ladies in our group had her entire arm pulled through the wringer up to her elbow.  She and her children could not get the machine to release her arm.  There was a very real danger because the pressure of the wringer was creating a very effective tourniquet.  The longer her arm was stuck the greater the chance that they would have to amputate.

I often wondered how my Mama seemed to be so calm and reassuring in crisis.  Many times in her life doctor's told her that she should be a nurse.  As a child she had held her sister so that the doctor could investigate a fractured skull.  Her Mother could not do this task, so my Mama did what had to be done.

Somehow she managed to release that arm from that wringer.  Then she took the lady to the doctor.  Her arm was badly bruised, and the soft tissue in the arm was damaged.  On the other hand the damage was something that time would heal.

Now back to laundry aerobics.  We live in a lovely home with two sets of stairs.  They are not long stairs, but there is two flights of them between our bedrooms and the laundry room.  I have often wished for a laundry chute that simply dumped the clothing into the basement room.

I live with my two beautiful, adult, daughters.  My Mother ADORED pretty clothing.  I also ADORE pretty clothing.  My Mother taught me to be a savvy shopper.  I almost never pay full price for anything!  With my love of clothes, I happen to have, well maybe, possibly, a LARGE amount of clothing.  My girls have inherited that love.  So we have LOTS of laundry!

I toss it all down one flight of stairs, and then push it down the other flight.  (It also cleans the stairs as it passes by them)!  I usually have music playing while I perform this task.  Dancing and singing makes the "Bead on a string with no knot on the end," type of chore almost enjoyable.

I do enjoy the process of washing, and drying clothing, courtesy of my wondrous modern machines.  I enjoy folding, but I do NOT enjoy putting the clothing away.

I made a delightful deal with our daughters when we moved in together.  I offered to do the laundry.  In return the girls shop and prepare the meals for us to eat.  It's a great deal for me.  I don't really love cooking, both of our girls do...especially our oldest girl.  I hear her humming, or singing along to a song while she chops, cooks, and plates our dinner.  Her love of cooking did NOT come from me!

What tasks do you enjoy?  One of my friends LOVED ironing.  I used to love ironing Nyle's shirts.  I put lots of spray starch in them.  My friend used a "spritzer," when she ironed.  The spritzer was made for ironing.  As she pressed her clothing the scent of lavender was released by the heat.  In this method she not only got clothes pressed, she had an aromatherapy session.

Does a "Spoonful of Sugar, Help the Medicine Go Down," for you?  Whoever wrote that song was quite brilliant.  I find that finding ways to make everyday tasks, things that become mindless, repetitive, tedious chores, bearable IS to symbolically add that spoonful of sugar!  Music is my main spoonful.  Another of my spoonfuls is communication with loved ones.  Washing the dishes (which is the household duty that I loathe) is almost doable as I chat on the phone.  If I can't reach anyone to chat with, I sing and dance.

If you see a red, spiky haired lady dancing about while she washes dishes or does laundry, do not be unduly alarmed.  It's just me, growing old lady, finding a spoonful of sugar to make my medicine go down better!