Tag Archive: Grief


This post is two interviews given by Monica Cassani on Nonduality Talk. I find I resonate with a lot that she says. She talks about her own experiences in the mental health system in America, and about her pursuit of healing Beyond Meds, which is the title of her regularly maintained blog. Each interview is about 55 minutes long and well worth listening to.

Everything Matters: Beyond Meds

PART ONE AND PART TWO ARE NOW INCLUDED IN THIS POST

For more visit Nonduality.Org

Jerry Katz says: We talk about the possibility of living without psychiatric medications, the implications, and Monica’s personal story of withdrawal from meds.

Listen to PART 2 here

Tracks:

0:00 – 4:35 Introduction to Monica Cassani. Monica talks about the possibility of living without psychiatric medications and the need to sometimes live with them to some degree. The nature of safe withdrawal.

4:35 – 11:21 The radical decision to stand up to the authority of psychiatry. Non-compliance: care and support needed, especially from the psychiatrist. “It shouldn’t be viewed as non-compliance.” It should be a right to get off drugs or to explore an alternative. Currently, people don’t have a choice. There’s no infrastructure to support options to standard psychiatric care.

11:21 – 15:20 Monica’s attempt to educate people as a first step toward building…

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The war on grief

Everything Matters: Beyond Meds

by Robert D. Stolorow

traumaThe DSM5, the most recent version of psychiatry’s diagnostic bible, makes it possible to classify grieving that endures beyond a rather brief span of time as a mental illness.

This pathologizing of grief has ancient roots extending back at least as far as the Stoics, whose stern ascetic morality preached a perfect indifference that eschewed all passionate attachments. The ideal of selfless asceticism was carried forth in early Christianity, showing up dramatically, for example, in the Confessions of the prominent 12th century monk, Saint Bernard, who was wracked with guilt over his grief for his beloved dead brother. His brother, after all, was enjoying eternal happiness in heaven, so Bernard could only feel his grieving his loss as a manifestation of a wicked selfishness on his own part.

The pathologizing of grief was continued by the philosopher Rene Descartes, usually considered to be the initiator of…

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Robin Williams 2

It isn’t possible to know what was in Robin Williams’ mind when he committed  suicide, as there has been no mention of a suicide note.

We are all in the dark.

It emerged today through his widow that he was in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease.

That might have been a factor in his suicide, it might even have been the deciding factor.

He might have done it for himself, he might have done it for those who would have had to care for him,

His mind might not have been clear at all in determining his final act.

Some of us are left wondering who he was, and feeling a bit betrayed.

Maybe there is something in the assertion that suicide is selfish.

(My father committed suicide.  I was 11.  I have missed him and made excuses for him to myself for years  I have felt a responsibility to understand and love him.  I have to see myself and my experience as separate, the burden of responsibility and identification is too great.)

Whatever may emerge, we don’t know why he killed himself, not really.

We can only guess and maybe come to a conclusion that is most comfortable for us, that we feel we can understand.

I feel sorry that he has gone this way.

He was obviously in great pain.

Why this need to make a god and a benchmark of a frail and aging man?

Loss, Mortality And Related Issues

I learned something I didn’t know yesterday.  I was watching ‘That Was The Life That Was’, about the late Sir David Frost, and I learned that ‘That Was The Week That Was’ had its first broadcast on my 2nd birthday.  A year later, 2 days before my 3rd birthday, President John Kennedy was assassinated.  I remember watching News at Ten on that day and I was aware that something serious had happened.  I felt very sad and shocked when I heard that David Frost had died.  I think the first I knew of him was when he presented ‘This Is Your Life’, which I always liked to watch.  I found myself wishing last night that my dad had watched TW3 and introduced me to it, but I was only 2.  The programme last night was followed up with ‘Frost on Satire’, and it showed clips from ‘Spitting Image’.  In its time I never watched it and wouldn’t have known who all the characters were, I think I might have seen it twice.  I recognised some of the characters last night though.

Hearing of many people dying, some of whom are not much older than me, makes me feel bereaved, and also aware of my own mortality.  I know I’m only 52, 53 next month, but I am feeling the fact of my own death coming up and it isn’t the best feeling in the world.  I keep feeling there have been so many missed opportunities.  I keep seeing people who have grown up, in the media, and wishing I was like them, that someone had fought properly for me to be educated when I decided that I didn’t like school so I wasn’t going, after my father died.  I feel no one really fought for my family.

I’m sitting in Costa at the moment.  I’ve just had a large mocha and downloaded the two Frost programmes I’ve just been talking about.

I was aware of David Frost partly because I knew he was a Christian.  I feel really upset writing this.  ‘That Was The Life That Was’ showed clips from things that formed a fair bit of my memory.  I remember the President Nixon thing, I saw ‘All The President’s Men’ when it came out.  I remember being in a prayer meeting at Talbot Street when the Watergate Scandal erupted and Gerald Ford took over.  In the meeting people were praying against sin and for righteousness and I wanted to pray that God would help Richard Nixon and his family, because I felt very sad for him, but I didn’t dare pray that way.  No one else was.

I’m not sure how much of this is sadness, really, over these past events and memories, and how much of it is just displaced sadness and grief over my present situation.  Feelings can re-attach to anything.  I admire people like Ian Hislop so much but know they don’t know me and probably wouldn’t be interested in me if they did, because the truth is I have nothing to offer.  Maybe that is what idolatry is, attachment to so many people who don’t even know I exist and might not be interested if they did know.  It is miserable, painful and embarrassing and fruitless and pointless, maybe that is why God commands against idolatry, because in the end it is so painful.  I am nursing a hope that Ian Hislop and so many others will see this and care.  How silly is that?  But what if?  THAT would be fun . . . !

Maybe that is the skill of the programmes I saw last night, hitting on so many memories for so many people, and bringing them to life again.  I feel a bit left behind and I’m crying for someone to help me catch up.

I’m missing Tommy Boyd as well.  I met him properly once.  We tried to have a proper conversation.  He’s deleted his blog and left Facebook and Twitter.  I never thought he would do any of that, especially not deleting his blog.  I feel lost without him and I feel attached to him.  I thought he was trying to help me.  I never thought he would leave broadcasting, but from the lack of information about him on the web at the moment it seems he has done jut that.  A lot of my stability and courage, when I had it, came from him.  I went to his house a few months ago, after I absconded from Macmillan Close, ad his wife was there and we had a conversation in which she told me he probably wasn’t interested and reminded me of when they had called the police.  I am grieving because I thought he wanted to help me.  I feel hopeless and helpless without him.  He told the story of a gorilla that was castrated for raging and throwing stones at people that used to taunt it.  He said that was what they were doing to us as well.  I identified with that with regards to my situation with the mental health services.  He said he thought it was wrong, that people should have been told not to taunt him and a proper environment maintained for him.  Anyway, he is inaccessible now.  I don’t know if he will ever be accessible to me.  I thought he was going to be.  I thought he wanted to be.  I never thought I would have to abandon hope with regard to him, and indeed I dare not.  I wonder what is going on with him?  I wonder if he is OK?

This Is Madness

I’ve read a bit more of this book and I’m finding it very interesting.  For me one of the most important things it says is that with physical illnesses diagnosis starts with something happening in the body and ends up with the diagnostic concept, but with ‘so-called’ mental illness it is the other way round, that it starts with a concept and mental conglomeration in the minds of physicians and they then go looking for people who fit the concept, like crusaders.  The concept is fleshed out in committee and applied to individuals, rather than subjective symptoms first being recognised in the individual and a remedy sought.  That is my memory of what was said in the chapter called ‘Diagnosis’.

I’ve just ordered another book as well called ‘Untrain Your Parrot’ by Elizabeth Hamilton.  It is a well grounded and often humorous approach to Zen.  The book is in the Multi-Faith room at the hospital but we are not allowed to take them out, and sometimes no one is there who can unlock the cabinet where the books are kept.  It makes sense that the books shouldn’t leave the room, it keeps them available and in good condition.  I have found that when I have spent time reading it in there I approach things in a better and lighter mood.  I’m looking forward to having my own copy because I think it is something that I will read and dip into more than once

I’m a lot more open and self-controlled on the ward these days, but I still feel angry, hurt and frustrated at what I see happening with other people.

I’ve got a bad cold at the moment.

We have started making approaches to accommodation.  It seems to me it could move either very quickly or more slowly than I would like.  I would like it to move quickly.

I’ve been reading a few ‘Freshly Pressed’ selections and really enjoying them.  They are so interesting.  I just read one called ‘There was no escaping his father’s words’ which made quite an impact on me.  It’s about a man who meets up in later life with his father who had told him that he was going from fad to fad and I felt those words from his father had partly shaped the man’s life.

I don’t feel able to write much more today.  I am generally feeling quite upset and that I need to cry.  That is what I usually feel inside.  I’ve had no intimacy for a very long time now, and I feel very much that I am getting old.  I am nearer death than birth.  For a wonderful period in my 30s I was unafraid, but now I feel a bit wobbly.  I’m not sure if I’m a real Christian, and I have been taught and believe that only Christians go to heaven.  I have not been taught to be a liberal, and my emotional attachments don’t really allow it.  I have been taught, and believe, that there is a hell for people who are not Christians.  I know to some people that will make me sound really archaic.  I have found myself praying that love and mercy will be my judge in the end, that love (God is love) will save me at death.  There is also the teaching that not everyone will die but Jesus will come back and some people who are living will be caught up to Heaven.  I suppose many people want to believe they will be among those who do not die.  I would like to live beyond 80, even to 100.  I’m afraid I will die much sooner.  I’m really afraid that I might go to hell, and I’m afraid that there will be no one who cares for me intimately when I die.  I have no children and no partner, and the only member of my family I am in contact with is my mother.  I would like not to feel so tired and worn out, and upset and vulnerable, and as if my time now is not worth anything and won’t be, that I have passed a point where there was a point.

Can’t Be Bothered

I can’t be bothered keeping up with everything, everything is too much of an effort.  I’m not helping myself, possibly, assuming that no one would want to be my friend.  I’m realising, I think and hope, that I have had plenty of opportunities to make friends away from the hospital with people who stop and talk to me, but I am afraid for when it goes further and gets complicated, not to mention even the first risks, because I feel as if I am unsure what being and having a friend is these days.  I’m not watching TV so it almost feels as if the things I have believed to be happening aren’t anymore because I’m not watching to see it.  Enough.

Kicked in the stomach

Today has been a day from hell.  Kerry had a go at me again, staff didn’t help, it escalated, they wanted ME to go to my room, at lunchtime, 30 minutes before I was due to see my psychologist, they brought medication, after 6 women, at least one of which had been nagging me in the dining room to calm down, had been standing around in the corridor near my room.  I said I didn’t want medication, that I wanted to speak to my psychologist with a clear head, and they said if I was shouting I wasn’t going to see him, so I accepted oral medication so that, if unchallenged, I could pretend to swallow it then spit it out.  I decided to hang around the communal area so that he couldn’t be sent away in my absence.

Kerry kicked me in the stomach this afternoon.  I have been told by one of the young students that even if I report it, because it is an acute psychiatric ward, I might not be separated from the threat.  I hope she is wrong.  The staff mismanagement of this has caused this situation.  Yet I feel it is my fault.  I had my door locked on Saturday, for the first time since being there, then told myself my suspicions were racism and my objection to her trolling outside my window was the same.  I told myself she had been risk-assessed and that she would not be on the ward if she was a threat to other patients.  I am tired this evening and have kept bursting into tears.  I feel even if I were to press charges successfully it would be a sign of failure on my part.  As a Christian.  There are no adequate words for my distress and desolation and fear at the moment.

Today at Macmillan Close

We just moved back (three of us) to our own house on the close after we had to move out two weeks ago for decorators.  Can’t see much difference myself.  It smells of paint and one of my windows has been repaired.

Last week I wrote Dr Leaske, my psychiatrist, a long letter explaining that I thought my diagnosis should be more around trauma and grief and menopause.  I was hoping he wouldn’t renew the section 3 (I thought he wouldn’t anyway) but he did, and he wasn’t at all impressed when I said that I wasn’t violent and that the things from the community were just malicious slander.  He said he had to take them into account.  So white van man with a nasty streak is allowed to dictate the decisions made about my life.  Dr Leaske talked about building up trust, but really it all seems to be required one way.  Even when I gave my word that I would continue to take the poison if he didn’t put me on another section he wouldn’t accept it.

After we moved this morning I had an appointment with my key nurse.  All the time she was talking and reading me my rights, all I wanted to do was cry.  I believe that would be more healing than any drugs they gave me. She didn’t seem to pick up on that though.  Some nurses vent around me, reacting in not their normal voices when I open my mouth and sound relaxed.  One man actually shouts out, like ‘oh’, effectively.  I find that shocking and frightening.  Also abusive.  It is like psychological rape.  I know I’ve said all this before but this saga continues and elicits the same feelings.  It’s control and domination, and its unprofessional, I think.

I feel what they are doing to me despises me as a human and a woman in grief and menopause.  In spite of the fact that he (my psychiatrist) reduced my medication and agreed to let me come off it and see how I got on, they are still defining me and controlling me as before.  I feel normal and happy and positive, under the grief, if they would just leave me alone.  He wants me to see a psychologist/psychotherapist.  We are at loggerheads but I feel as if I am having to come round to seeing some things his way in spite of that.  I don’t want to deal with my situation under the auspices of the mental health system.

My Imaginary Friend

I have a friend, at least in my imagination, that I always want to contact with sensitive and intimate information.

On Friday I was walking along Queensway/Bayswater Road and for some reason I was remembering the time when an old lady died who had always been in Church, never said much, or anything at all, that I remember hearing, but always, without fail, had a smile on her face.  I thought she was lovely and beautiful and serene.  I know nothing about her life.

I was remembering that, when I heard she had died, I went back to my grandparents’ house crying my eyes out.  When they asked me why I was crying and I told them, one of them said ‘what are you crying for?  She wasn’t family’.

I can’t remember who it was so no one can be betrayed by me saying so.  I can’t remember if and how I answered the question.  I know my feelings and crying were not affirmed.  For a moment in Queensway I felt the pain and the emotion again, and I wanted to write and tell my imaginary friend.

I believe my imaginary friend reads my blog.  Imaginary because we have never had a close up relationship, and imaginary because, except for when things seem very simple and obvious in his favour, I feel and believe and know that things are far too complicated.  It is imaginary because I am in denial, even having it as imaginary.

But there is pain in my heart as I am writing this, and it is always him that comes to mind when this kind of thing comes up and I want to tell him.  I used to write to him a lot.  Almost always, as soon as I started, I had to push through my ambivalence and anger to do so.  He knew that, I told him so.

I once heard him saying, in answer to someone’s question, that if someone attacked him (or something like that) he would hold them in a bear hug.  On my side there is often so much resentment, and on his there must be some exceptions, that even if no attack was involved not everyone would be treated equally.  Even if there are no exceptions for him, I think, apart from my imagination which tells me I am wrong in the strongest possible terms, that I would find it awkward and difficult.

 

 

BBC World News

It is 11.42 am here, 9.42 am in the UK

I was just watching BBC World News, and they were up to their usual tricks.  Squawking porcelain skinned blonde girl ending up with ‘that is how it is for some people’, and me thinking that’s what I said, but it is true for me and not for her, or at the very least it is true for the people I live among, while she has probably chosen to live among privileged people, if she has had that all her life or not. A very aggressive, angry cat indeed.  Interestingly enough, it was followed up by a very peaceful scene of a mother big cat (lion or something) suckling her cub, and I felt really angry and upset because of what seemed to me deliberate jarring and provocation.

The Indian girl who was doing the main report, just before Hardtalk, ended up with a story and adopted a strict, telling off, disciplinarian tone to say the decision had been taken in order to protect the crew, and she used exactly the same tone with a hard stare to say immediately afterwards, ‘This is BBC World News’.

I’m upset, OK?  Everyone knows that, they know there is good reason, and they carry on regardless, don’t change and do nothing to help.  So me, I change quickly, normally, if I believe I am wrong.  That is how my heart works.  It’s working that way now.  I’m not only afraid of reprisals for what I’m about to say, but I also feel like backing off from it because I believe I might be wrong to say it.

However, in light of the fact that these people don’t change and don’t operate that way, and in light of the fact that they keep patching this incitement and intimidation together, and in light of the fact that they have been using me and my family for years, knowing what is happening to us and the effect it has had on us as individuals and as a family, I am now saying that if they are trying to say that the decision to stalk us was taken to protect themselves (there was obviously some significance in the way she rounded this off), I am now saying, and I call on people to witness this, that I am now asking God to remove their protection. I personally find what they have done and are doing disgusting and disgraceful and very distressing, so does my sister, and my brother was somehow roped into a documentary interview following a murder inquiry in Nottingham and they keep using and abusing him as well (a comedian on one of the cookery programmes last weekend is just one example, either Something for the Weekend or Saturday Kitchen, it started off with sea urchins and ended up with this comedian doing my brother to a tee and going on like a moron, which my brother is not, he is just as traumatised by all this and other things as we all are).  I love my brother.  I just feel tears in my stomach when I think about him.  So personally I find it disgusting and disgraceful, as I have said, as well as still maintaining that it is completely illegal.  And I am praying for the removal of their protection, and believing God for it to happen in the Name of Jesus.

There you are, now they will call me fanatical and dangerous and increase the mental health angle attack.  Just keep watching, and wait and see.

PS I have to stop believing that, because these ladies appear in perfect make up, underneath it all they are lovely, reasonable people who just want to help.  They are not.  If they were they would use the right legal channels, and they don’t.

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