Tag Archives: One in Four

“We are left with the prisons of our own minds and that is heavy enough.” J Cioffa #MentalIllness #Treatment 

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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.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/30/a-shocking-number-of-mentally-ill-americans-end-up-in-prisons-instead-of-psychiatric-hospitals/

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.

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Support #theloveeffect film – #SuicideAwareness

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One Love.

As an Advocate, Buddha Collector, Spiritual Seeker,  Author, Being, and Human how could I not stand up in support of #theloveeffect film ?

Living with mental illness, suicide and the dark are the all too familiar and unwelcome visitors, close companions.

Experiencing the personal devastating loss of someone precious, brilliant and beautiful to suicide is unbearable, impossible to comprehend. And, yet somehow we manage to go on.

Not without help, none of us can do life alone.

I use my voice. Everyday. Every single day I make a promise to write the hard unspeakable truths, insurmountable pains and blinding bliss. To choose hope, not fear.

To always seek out the light.

I support #theloveeffect because the film shares the uncomfortable truths, the ones that matter today.

Every life matters. Suicide and depression are real, they aren’t going away.

The time to #StartTheConversation is right now without shame, only courage and joy.

The sea, sun, and the elements make soothing, stunning backdrops in #theloveeffect trailer.

The perfect setting to vital, important topics.

One love.

Please visit my author site at http://jacquelinecioffa.com/ for an updated post and fantastic news about #theloveeffect film’s progress! #TheLoveEffect link: http://bit.ly/1NyBc8t

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“SUICIDE AWARENESS – A CALL TO ACTION

• Over 1,000,000 people die by suicide every year.

• There is one death by suicide in the world every 40 seconds.

• Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

• Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15 – 24 year olds.

Why aren’t we discussing this? As filmmakers, we have an opportunity to be fearless, vulnerable and open by sharing a story that’s both universal, dramatic and ever so poignant.

THEME

A film dealing with suicide and pain is never easy. Especially when it hits so close to home for so many of us. With the support of many celebrities, organization groups and people around the world, we have decided to take this head on – connecting our own struggles and pain with suicide, loss and depression to make a film that poetically expresses the importance of LOVE and its EFFECT. Short films are a difficult thing to create, however with suicide being such a relevant topic, we feel this story is a voice that needs to be heard.”

Walk On By. suicide, triggers, one perspective from a manic depressive

Twelve years and however many months, I sat across from the very together, all business woman shrink, who handed me a ‘life sentence.’ I looked at my mother, and burst into tears. No, no, no please god. I could not believe it, yet I already knew. Hallucinations, ghosts, talking way too fast, dancing in Radio Shack (mortifying), writing furiously on stacks and stacks of paper on a cardboard box. Brain zaps, months with no sleep, sobbing in fetal position, alternating between Nascar velocity and black, nothingness. The me, the traveler, the unafraid mouth, unpredictable was gone. I should have known, seen it coming. My father was lying home, fighting his own battle with the insidious, genetic mad mind disease. His eyes recognized me, his mind did not, stealing the best parts of him. Fast forward today, the present. It takes between one and two hours for me to wake, take the required psych drugs, supplements, to quash the anxiety, numbness, physical pain, tremors, the thousand questions flying through the diseased brain that betrays me. I look to her, my mother for grounding, keeping me here, asking her fifty times over the course of a day, “do you think I’m going to make it. Am I strong enough?” She nods, “of course.” Even her empathy, understanding, patience, waivering. She is tired, it has been a long, thankless journey and I am exhausted. Triggers. There are triggers, so many triggers I cannot rationalize, wish away. There is no control, no choice, there is only fear and the will to fight. I dig deep, some days the Marianna Trenches aren’t deep enough. I can not win. The crickets chirping sound like an air missile strike, I fight because that’s what I’m told to do. Twelve years, ECT, pills that don’t work, the invisible pain only I see. Only I feel, without reasoning, rational answers. Do I think Robin Williams ‘chose,’ to die? No way, I fucking don’t. That’s absurd, his exhausted, beautiful, chaotic brain did. He chose to live a rich, empathic life, sharing his genius with the world, passionate, to keep on loving, giving for as long and well as he could. He chose to ignore the voices, squash them under layer upon layer in his ‘mad’ mind. He didn’t give up, give in to suicide, he didn’t quit. Nor did the rest of the millions afflicted by the brutal, incessant war that is Mental Illness. So, fuck you. Fuck them. Fuck everyone who has voiced their uneducated opinion on the why, how, the particulars, mob mentality spectators. None of us are smarter than the intangible, invisible mystery that is the mind. I keep the one piece of control I have, a mental note zipped in my back pocket with the words, exit strategy. Realistic, I’ve read all the statistics, had my heart shredded watching loved ones lose the battle. I’ve done everything ‘right.’ And still I know, there is the very real possibility, that someday for no apparent reason, I may whip it out. So if you see me and think, she’s doing great. I’m not. No, not really. I’m not at all. Don’t make assumptions, because a person smiles, laughs on the outside. Know that I am working very, very hard to make you, less uncomfortable.

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