The World Has Gone Mad

By Michelle Lemme

I’m definitely superstitious.  When I was a child (and even into adulthood) I was, without a doubt, convinced that if I did not say my prayers, and include virtually all of my loved ones AND “all the people in the world who are suffering”, something bad would happen (or at the very least, nothing good would happen) and I would be directly responsible.  Talk about guilt (I could never suffer enough to compare with those caught up in the atrocities taking place all over the world) and anxiety.   Even now, when my sister emails me these crazy “send this to __ people or ___________ will or won’t happen”, I go mental.  I mean WTF, why does she send me these things?  Rationally I know that something happening as a result of not forwarding an email is absurd.  And yet, I am compelled to send those darn things on, just to be on the safe side.  The only way that I can delete these emails, without any risk, is if I don’t actually open them! I should probably mention that avoidance, coping by not having to cope, is one of my fallback behaviors, I have always believed, “ignorance is bliss”.   It’s one of the ways that I manage [...] continue the story

Dying and the nature of friendship.

By Doug Gosling January 7, 2012

Having cancer can significantly change your friendships. You lose some and others surprise you by becoming closer. This has certainly been my experience. And when I became terminal, it changed even more. I’m finding that this is quite common. I thought it would useful to share some examples with you to help you understand what life can be like for those of us on the downslide.

You can lose friends for lots of reasons. One way is pretty obvious. If your illness prevents you from working, you are going to suddenly find yourself disconnected from dozens of people who have been your “”friends”” for years. Unless you have established a couple of strong friendships outside of work, you just won’t see them anymore. I’ve left behind lots of work friends as I’ve moved around jobs and really don’t see any of them anymore. Once in a while I will get a call or an email, which I really appreciate, but none of them are part of my support system now.

But then there are your other friends, the ones who have been with you for years before you were ill. Many of our friends are couples, originally met [...] continue the story

Why I am an Advocate

By Brandon Staglin August 5, 2010

I have schizophrenia, and sometimes I think about whether I have let my illness define my life. I work for my family’s nonprofit, International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO), as a mental health advocate. If you asked me when I was a kid what work I would want to do, the last thing I would have said was to take on a family enterprise. I used to value my individuality above anything else, and dreaded being corrupted by conformity. Thanks in part to my illness, my values have shifted since then. I had a psychotic break in 1990, the summer after my freshman year at Dartmouth College. A friend managed to get me to a psychiatry ward. At first, I could not accept that I had a mental illness. I had a life plan, to be an astronautical engineer! I would not be cut down by a schizophrenia diagnosis.

Three nights into my first hospitalization I decided I would get out of the psych ward immediately. I was unable to sleep, furious, and refused to take meds. A nurse was on her way with an injection to make me sleep. I would not let her violate my consciousness! [...] continue the story

Assumptions and the School of Cancer

Assumptions and the School of Cancer By: MsInterpretation October 11, 2011

As with many living with a chronic, terminal or unresolved health issue, I’ve become a student of my condition. I’ve found, in the course of my schooling, that Assumptions abound.

Diagnosis and the assumption: I felt in pre-school when my doctor said, in gentle tones: “You have DCIS: Ductal carcinoma in situ.” She handed me the lab report, and wrote down a website, instructing: “Only look at this particular information, The rest will just freak you out.” Providing specifics of a website seems responsible, recognizes the power of the internet, and is in keeping with the principles of Participatory Medicine.

I remember none of this. I know it happened, because I have the paper to prove it. What I do remember is that I understood DCIS to be exactly the opposite of what it meant. What I understood from DCIS was, “Cancer’s in my ducts. That’s the same as lymph nodes. That’s bad. In situ. That must mean it’s inoperable. I have to prepare myself for death. And I also need to prepare my family.” I left the office a dead woman.

It was a friend (diagnosed with DCIS more than a decade before) who described [...] continue the story