I felt like this today.
You don’t need to hear about the numbness, excruciating pain, overwhelming anxiety, residual anxiety, paranoia, dizziness or that I prayed to whomever was listening to just end it. Fucking end the ridiculous, relentless, ad nauseam, non-sensical hours that consume my days. Frankly it’s wearing me down, ripping me to shreds and fucking exhausting fighting invisible monsters.
Yes, I know I’m sick. Yes, I understand tapering off benzos is worse than hell it’s maggot filled shit. Yes, my empathetic, cool therapist talks it out. Reassuring me I am indeed strong enough.
Resilient enough. Tough enough. However. Makes me wonder.
Where in the hell am I going to replenish precious missing elements when the planet is currently fluctuating between earthquakes, tornadoes and drought? In a constant state of chaos, flux. How to replenish when I can’t remember pieces of yesterday. Blurred and hazed memories clog and pollute the brain.
Where? How? Why? Great questions. With zero answers.
I said NO anyway. For shits and giggles, ya’ know.
I don’t feel like shit, I feel eradicated, violated and obliterated.
I go to the hairdresser’s armed with my peppermint and lavender doused washcloth unsure I can make it through the hour-long dye process without flipping the fuck out.
Home. I want, need, have a deep desire to be home.
Grey roots and I have a larger more burning desire to feel pretty, alive, and validated.
Breathe, just breathe. You are safe. You are fine. You’ve been through this before. You are safe, breathe.
Your stylist is your dear friend who knows and loves you well she will take you home if necessary.
FUCK YOU anxiety, fuck off, go fuck up someone else’s day/ existence.
It’s sitting there threatening strangling my neck, throat, cramped shoulders, tingling extremities and limbs. Sitting patient, greedily waiting to pounce.
I apply eyeliner (Armani #02 pencil my fav.) and concealer to brighten my shiteous, difficult existence and in spite.
Tomorrow will come with or without me, isn’t that the cliché? What they say? Whoever the hell they are, Martians maybe. Fuck if I know, can’t be sure.
This first Friday in June, all I know is I am doing my best.
My very damnedest.
And it looks like this… on the outside
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Harper Lee
“As an artist do I need constant flux to create? How will I find words in the woods surrounded by trees and rotten cornfields? How will I find anything besides dying, wet leaves?
I cannot escape the volume in my head, the constant churning. The Jesus fucking Christ, turn it down chatter. I have been told to be patient. Wait for the drugs, the quieting veil, and the lavender calm to smooth out the ringing. My mind is full of death and black spots I’m sure, much like a stroke patient after a spell.
“The chaos comes with you,” simply stated my friend. He was right. I am here, here am I. Sick and tired, tired and bullshit sick.
The blank paper waits and my hands navigate the keys and the thoughts go where they may.”
Lupe and I must have walked the loop at Hoopes Park a thousand times, or more.
In ten-degree freezing black ice, navigating lethal dangerous walkways (and fallen more than once), on grey-cloud, weepy wet gloomy days.
You name it. We’ve dredged through it.
It helps, ya’ know. The walk.
To free the brain from the pressure, dark and dangerous thinking.
Easing up, releasing the unrelenting anxiety.
When we walk past the white pristine house with the red door, I have to fight the urge not to run up and knock.
Or barge in.
She’s not there.
I know this to be true in my head, but my heart searches for her.
Missing every puzzle piece and all her silly ways. Her sage advice, too.
The water fountain, Buddha and Zen room she created, so proud to show me the space.
Her home with the red door is just a dwelling now, somebody else’s house we pass on the walk.
Suicide was never her choice, she just couldn’t stay.
I don’t believe there are coincidences, I choose to believe there are signs along the way.
L.B.H., I believe you threw me one today.
It’s the perfect sixty-degree, pretty blue sky day with sunshine peek-a-booing through the clouds.
Like a child playing hide and seek, giggly and covering their mouth to contain the excitement.
Just like a happy child, exactly like you.
Thanks for the Buddha, water fountain, precious memories and luminescent magic that was your life.
The Zen room has a new home, with me.
I’ll do my best to keep them safe.
I’ll do my best to keep you safe, using my voice.
I stand against suicide, because your life matters.
Because you, more than anyone I have ever known loved being alive.
You, and your gypsy-free spirit, brilliant, bold, courageous, compassionate, goofy, non-judgmental, all-encompassing, curious, big beautiful love would be walking right beside me.
I can’t see you, but I feel your presence in mine.
I did not forget.
2 days and eight years gone is too long.
You were, and continue to be forever loved.
One of the many things that I admire about Jacqueline is that she embodies real compassion and humanitarianism. As a Stigma Fighter and advocate, Jackie shares her own personal stories, spreads awareness, and shines light where ignorance would prefer it remain dark.
Jackie has experienced so many different and fascinating adventures in her life, some haven’t been all that great, but they haven’t tainted her or driven her to become bitter in any way. Jackie believes in celebrating people for their accomplishments, and lifting them up when they fall. She expresses gratitude whole-heartedly, and this is rare to find today. Jackie is a gem, and it has been such a pleasure to get to know her. I love everything that she stands for, and I believe that she is changing the world. Thank you, Jackie. You are inspiring.
The Fault Line
By Jacqueline Cioffa
I keep coming back to one thought. Let…
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One in Four. No, not Really.
The very real, gut-wrenching mental illness statistics remain not far off from fifty years ago when pyschiatric institutions were the solution, lock them away.
As long as my beautiful chaotic mind and the words don’t betray me, I use my voice.
I am Three in Four even Four in Four, hit the mentally ill genetic jackpot. The reality is I could snap at any moment, I pray won’t.
Please, don’t judge. Don’t judge the ‘crazy,’ the insane, the unfit, the unwell, the lunatic that is me. Help us instead.
We are left with the prisons of our own minds and that is heavy enough.
From the Washington Post, “A shocking number of mentally ill Americans end up in prison instead of treatment.”
I Am Adam Lanza
By Jacqueline Cioffa
A decade ago I lived a frivolous, spoiled, privileged life. An International fashion model, I worked in more countries than I can count. Freedom was something I took for granted, until the earth fell from under me and my whole world shattered. My first psychotic breakdown took away everything I knew to be true and buried me whole.
The paranoia, delusions of grandeur, mania, the irrational and out of control behavior. I wanted to die, too exhausted by the fragile, broken mind. I wanted to let go of the rage, the fear, the despair, I wanted to end my life. The slicing of the wrists, my escape and a way out. Dancing in the streets, in stores, I was too out of my mind to be ashamed, by my behavior. The shame and isolation would come later, as thick and heavy as a steel beam, freight train crushing my soul. I lived with my brother, exasperated, helpless, not knowing what more he could do, he put me on a bus back home to my mother. My Irish, stubborn, loyal, family first, capable mother. She had experience dealing with Mental Illness; my family had been plagued by the unlucky 1 in 4 gene pool.
My sick, wracked mind betrayed me, no longer mine to control. The whole and intact me, I used to know now gone forever. The carefree, compassionate, strong, independent person is living her worst nightmare. Even on the hard, horrific days, the dark evil thoughts dominating my brain, I fight desperately to regain control. If you have not been exposed to Mental Illness, please do not talk to me about it. You are out of your league, cannot begin to comprehend the exhausting toll it takes. On a family, friends, that is if you are lucky enough to have any left. Mostly, you are left with isolation and shame, your own.
My second breakdown brought black days, numbness, and a shell of a person. The depression and anxiety, so crippling I was forced to leave the big city, retreat back home to the safety of familiar surroundings. The pain so deep, so heavy, the fear immense, death seemed my only option. A welcome release from the demons, the evil lurking in the corners of a tortured mind. I work hard to beat the beast daily, as soon as my feet hit the floor, shaking. I take the psych drugs, Lithium, Xanax, Valium, the shock treatments and practice alternative medicine. I do yoga, eat healthy, exercise and live simple. I try to avoid the triggers, terrified of the next episode.
I never know when the outbursts will come, when paranoia will convince me the man in the park wants to kill me. In my heart and my soul, I know this is completely irrational. But, the mind plays tricks. I have to fight, every minute, every second to control the grappling Illness I must live with. Day after day, in constant fear of what I might do next. I don’t own a gun, I would be afraid to have one in close proximity. I hate violence, I find it abhorrent, but I do not trust the beast.
There is no concrete help for the Mentally Disabled; there is half hour, once a month consults with the overworked, underpaid psychiatrist, who spends your time glancing at a clock. There are no solutions, into the mysteries of a broken mind, they throw pills at you. Pills that may very well be your undoing, send you deeper into depression, trigger manic episodes or worse an acute psychotic episode, and the killing of innocent souls. Those are the worst breaks, the psychosis, and the hardest to come back from. I have visited them firsthand.
I watched, helpless as my beautiful, brilliant, Yale educated, compassionate cousin ended her own life. She was a Dr., the smartest person I know and she could not find a way out of the Mental Illness that plagued her. My own father, who endured 17 years of Mental Illness, endless pills that made him worse, psychiatric hospital visits, a dementia ridden mind at the end. My mother, who fought every battle with him, and for him when he couldn’t. His daughter who would always be in my memory, his adored, precocious, funny face, happy and intact child. He died not knowing my name. Although, in my heart and my spirit, I know exactly what I meant to him. His last breath I was beside him, holding his hand and on his heart. I felt the unbearable pain and destroyed mind, set free as he floated up to heaven. He was a good man, the kindest, most selfless I know.
I am a good person, who doesn’t deserve this fate. I am not a violent person, but I am Adam Lanza. He may have committed a horrific, unspeakable EVIL, act. Did he start out evil? He must have been an innocent, child himself at some point. When did his broken mind take over, when did he lose all rational, self-control? It’s too hard to grasp, too big to think about without immeasurable faith.
When are we, as an empathetic society, going to care about the Mentally Ill? Fight for them; stick up for them, as eagerly as we fight against gun control. When will we do something about the fact that there is no place for ‘us’, when the evil, mind disease takes hold? They send you to the ER, push a pill, perhaps a 72 hour hold to the Psych Ward. There is nowhere a parent with a disturbed, sick child can turn. We are in trouble, as a society. Take the guns off the streets, a mentally disturbed individual will find another way to kill. Help us fix them, with more research, better facilities, more culpability from the Government and its people, for the Mentally Ill.
I weep for those children, the families, the unimaginable depths of pain and sorrow. I rejoice in my youth, safe, happy and healthy. I’m grateful for that. I expose myself, sharing my story. Perhaps it can help bring insight and perspective. I don’t believe human beings are evil, I believe they are defective and commit violent, unspeakable acts.
Mental Illness has afflicted me, but it could’ve been you or a loved one. One in four is not great odds. I am alone, completely and utterly alone with my Illness, even while surrounded by an empathic family. I am not a child; I am an adult, who’s better equipped to manage this bastard disease.
Please, don’t judge me. Don’t judge the Adam Lanza’s. Don’t judge the ‘crazy,’ the insane, the unfit, the unwell, the lunatic that is me.
Help us instead.