Mental Health and the lack of beds.

I have a friend. A friend with bipolar disorder who recently attempted suicide. I was surprised because he is so healthy. I felt sad that, although he is very popular and had tons of friends, felt so alone he attempted to end his life.

But it was in hearing about his treatment that really disturbed me. Right here in Asheville, NC.

He went to the ER to get help. He knew he needed help. He sat on a gurney in the Psych holding section of the ER for three days. I believe he said he never even saw an MD then was sent home. This is not a man who thought about suicide and this is NOT a man who cries out for “attention” as if that being assumed or not assumed has any relevance on whether or not treatment is needed.

This is a man. a strong man. a caring man. a dedicated to mental health treatment man. And he got no help.  After a suicide attempt and three days in the ER, he was sent home.

I know we are short of hospital beds not only in this country but also in the UK and elsewhere. I was reading just today that in the UK they have closed over 2000 beds since 2011. There are 18,000 psych beds for the entire country. I wonder on a percentage basis if that is more or less than here.

Here’s the thing about just counting beds tho. If we close 1000 state hospital beds, I don’t see that as a loss. They are warehousing beds. They are not “help people” beds. Now, if the choice is warehousing or death, I suppose warehousing is better but truthfully, for me, if I were put into a state hospital ever again, (last time was the 80’s in MA and I was raped!) I would choose to never tell anyone ever again if I felt suicidal.

Suicide is my default. It’s where I naturally go when I am depressed. Since it is my default, I use that knowledge in a weird way to talk myself out of it. I tell myself I am ok, it’s just where I go. I don’t need to do it. It’s ok to think it. etc.

I read an article on the bbc today that 7 people recently killed themselves when there was no bed for them inpt. Another killed his mother.

I don’t know how to end this. I don’t know where it all does end.

What is clear, is we need more mental health access in this country if we do indeed care about the mental health in this country. The way it looks to me is we are only pretending to care since we are “concerned” about school shootings and always find a way to “blame the mentally ill” but at the same time are removing money from the treatment. I read a lot of articles today. Most depressing. But I can’t let myself go there – I’ll get suicidal.

By The Process Of Wellness Posted in healing

Writing 101: 20 minutes of random writing.

This has nothing to do with the process of wellness. It just random thoughts for a random writing assignment.

Day One. Hour One. Minutes 20.

“Loosening up”

So, I joined the “writing 101” class at the daily post here on wordpress. The first assignment is to just write for 20 minutes. I don’t need to write about anything specific; just put pen to paper or fingertips to keys and plug away.

Ok. Sounds good. Now what? Where do I go from here. I’ve been doing a lot of reading online about the way the republicans are messing up but not sure I want to post that here as I don’t want to get a lot of comments about what an idiot I am for being a democrat or hate messages about Obama—who I back 100% by the way.

But I will talk about this. I am not hearing a lot of people talking about it. In my mind there were two really awful republican things that happened this week. Now, mind you, even though I am a dyed in the wool democrat, these two things would be equally awful regardless of who said them. In my mind though, democrats wouldn’t say them. So here we go. Please keep in mind this is just a 20 minute writing exercise. Disparaging comments will not be approved.

1. There was a debate between a rep. and a dem. county commissioner. The dem asked the rep. why he has on his fb page that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a fake. Apparently, there is a group of wingnuts out there who call themselves the “truthers” (as opposed to the birthers I guess). They believe (or just want to cause a commotion) that Obama has lied about the school shooting and that there were no children dying etc. WHAT? They want us to believe, as they say they believe, that it was all created and faked so that Obama could have more amunition against the NRA.

If that was true, worked will didn’t it? Children killed but still the NRA doesn’t budge.

Sadly, instead of leaving it alone, the republican responded and it got worse and worse. He was practically booed off the stage. He finally said he was just “putting it out there for discussion.”  What? You don’t believe it but you want us to waste our time talking about it? Wack.

OK, so here’s something even worse.

2. On the Jon Stewart show, there was an interview of a republican about immigration and the children on the border. In the discussion, the rep. said that we shouldn’t let the kids in because they have been trained in how to get in and are just here to hurt us or become terrorists or whatever he said that was all equally stupid.

The interviewer asked “Or maybe they are coming to escape terrorism in their own country.” The republican’s answer was “That could be. (seconds go by then he says)  Oh, well, we all have to die some day!”

WHAT? He is like this 75 year old white man, with money and power and he is saying that these kids should be sent back to die because ‘we all have to die SOME DAY?” What kind of inhumane statement is that? Sir, this needs to be YOUR day! I do believe this is really the republican thought on this and many topics. Kill anyone who wants money from us.  Including us. Like the disabled.

Seriously, regardless of what party would have said these things, it would have been equally despicable. However, well, yeah. It was republicans.  I wish the interviewer had responded “So, is killing children on the republican agenda? Is this part of the platform?” The pro-life party?

I heard someone say “If you are pro-life, then how can you send kids back to a country where you know they will be killed?”  Good question!

Don’t get me started on the anti-abortion movement. They care about fetus’ but once they are born, they could give a crap. They certainly aren’t making it easy for the poor parents, who can no longer afford an abortion because they don’t have the money to pay for a hotel for three days hours from home, to be able to feed the child they just gave birth to. Nobody cares about the child after the delivery date.

So women hating and now wishing children dead. What next?

Why isn’t the news media jumping on this? Shame on you Mr. old white man. I could say something I’d regret so I’ll stop now.

Thanks for listening to my meanderings. I’ve been wanting to voice my repulsion for a few days now. You can find this info on google. It’s all real. The tapes of both are on youtube.



We called my grandmother, my maternal grandmother, Mom (pronounced mum.) It feels important to me that you pronounce it right. It’s not “mom” as in “mother.” As in “my mom.” It’s Mom. My grandmother Mom.

So, why is Mom so important to me? Why do I choose her to talk about in my second post?

Because Mom was my savior when I was a child. Mom was the one who threw herself between my mother and myself when my mother was hurling a glass of water at my face to get me to stop crying. My mother used to say “you can’t cry and choke at the same time.”

The other day, I saw my T for the third time. I was telling her about the choking and crying stuff. I heard myself call it drowning and I talked about Susan Smith who drowned her kids back back in the 90’s. I don’t believe my mother was trying to drown me. In fact, I know she was not. I was surprised when I heard myself drawing that correlation.

But, throw water in my face she did. It did get me to stop crying. I was about 4 or 5. She was right. You can’t cry and choke at the same time. But that’s another subject for another post perhaps.

My grandmother died in 1984. Today, in 2013 we still speak of her in my family. She was well loved and she is still missed. Today when I was listening to Brene Brown speaking about empathy and shame, Mom came back into my thoughts. Brown says “Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our life: secrecy, silence and judgement. It will creep into every corner and crevice of your life and will change the way you think about everything.” “Take shame, douse it with empathy and you create an environment hostile to shame.”

One day, when my mother was throwing water into the face of a scared young me, my grandmother came into the house. She sat next to me on the couch and threw her trench coat over me while saying to my mother “You leave this poor child alone.” To some, this might seem too little to do. In the mind of a child, it was huge. It was 1959 or 1960. Reporting abuse was different back then. For me, this was what empathy looked like I learned later in life. At the time, I just felt protected.

My grandmother was my biggest teacher of empathy. When I was about 12, my aunt said to me “Your mother has no empathy.” I am now 58 and my mother is 82. It remains true. I will say more about that in a much later post but Mom, my grandmother? Empathetic. My first knowing of it. and I miss her. Still.

This week I took a friend who was visiting up to Mt. Mitchell. In the gift shop they had Balsam pillows. My grandparents had a Balsam pillow on the back of their couch when I was growing up. I would always sit and hold it close to my nose and smell of it deeply. It was the odor of safety for me. It’s been a long time since I have smelled balsam. It’s a strongish odor and very distinct.

In this little gift shop, on the top of a mountain, they had the same design pillows as the one my grandparents owned 50 years ago. The same green and white pillow with the same log cabin with the same smoke pouring from it’s chimney. Made by the same company. Mt Mitchell is in NC but the little balsam pillows are made in Maine. Closer to where I grew up. The smell was the same.

I bought three of them. One for me, one for my aunt and one for my mother. Mom’s birthday is July 4th and the smell is her. I thought they would like them. Today as I was watching and reading the words by Brene Brown, and reading about empathy and shame, I went into the bedroom and got the little balsam pillow and held it close to my nose. I decided this would be my healing pillow.

When the going gets tough and I need some empathy, I will hold it close to my face and inhale deeply the scent of an empath. And all will be well inside of me.

“Shame can not survive when spoken. It cana not survive empathy,” Brene Brown says. I believe her. I have a quote about shame. As I said in my intro post, I have the ability to create memorable quotes.

Mom was my savior. Mom showed me empathy when the world was chaos for me. A little balsam pillow I picked up on the top of a mountain will help me get through as I plunder into the hills and valleys of this blog.

Taking a whiff,

Walking with Brené Brown


“Think long and hard about who has earned the right to hear the story and who I am in relationship with who can bear the weight of the story.” —Brené Brown

I created this blog a couple of weeks ago. I wrote a poem by this name decades ago. The Process of Wellness is just that. It’s a process. It takes time. For me, decades of time. Longer than I thought it would take. Decades longer than I always think it should have taken.

I remain a work in progress. I have talked myself blue in the face. I have been angry, disheartened, felt shamed, guilted myself into eternity, laughed with others when others were laughing at me. I have talked a good game about healing. I’ve been locked in rooms without windows. I’ve been tied down to plastic mattresses. I’ve been jolted with electricity. I’ve been hurt by those who I thought were trying to help me to heal. And I still need to heal.

I am a smart one. Like you, I talk a great game. I pretend to get it then leave the room and do it, the same thing, all over again. I write great quote. Others love them and repeat them yet way deep inside, I don’t incorporate all the stuff I spew and know – or think I know. On too many levels, I don’t get it.

The truth is, I don’t know anything. And that is not the truth. I know lots. Tons. Like I said. I am smart. But I am messy inside. I have a lot I need to take out, put on the table and learn about. Learn from. Expose. Let you all see. Show to you so I can own me. Be vulnerable. It’s about healing the shame. and the guilt. and having the courage to be who I am all over the place. I will practice here first though. Where I think I can’t be hurt. (I know that is not true. You don’t have to know me to hurt me. Please remember that?)

I created this blog with a purpose. I’ve played with themes. I’ve played with backgrounds. Colors. I’ve procrastinated. I didn’t play with the title and the subtitle. I have known what this blog must deal with. I must write to heal. But how? But what do I say? How will it help me? Why would you care what I need to say? How to write and heal I’ve had no clue.

I was introduced to Brené Brown this week by a brand new T*. Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW.  Harriet LCSW, my brand new T who loves Brené Brown and her work. Her work about courage and shame and guilt and vulnerability…

and here comes me. and my story. and the time to heal.

Being brought into Brené Brown’s world this weekend via her blog, her interviews, her TEDx talk (with nearly Ten million views!) and her first book The Gifts of Imperfection, I might have found a structure to heal. If you have never heard of Brené Brown like I hadn’t, google her. Watch the hour of videos of Oprah interviewing her. Go to her website. Watch her on TEDx. If you don’t fall in love with what she is saying, chances are you will not like my blog. It’s ok. These words will not be for everyone for sure.

If what she is saying hits home, you might want to stick around. It’s time I get serious about “healing the shame that binds” as John Bradshaw once wrote in his healing classic. And it does bind. TIGHT.

Click your seatbelt. I am about to be vulnerable…and it’s not going to be pretty! It’s going to be a bumpy ride hopefully for us both. If it’s not bumpy for me, I’m not sharing enough. If it’s not bumpy for you, I am not sharing enough.

I will post comments on this blog only after they have been reviewed. None of us need to be shamed further in life by anonymous folks not willing to “be in the arena.” (watch the Oprah videos!)

I need to say I will only post responses that contribute to my life and my followers blogging experience. The rest will be thrown out and I will try to not take them personally. Maybe they will become foder for my post? If you have the courage to comment, and it takes me a little bit to approve your comment, fret not. I will get to it and know I do appreciate you. Just consider me too busy getting up after falling down today. I will get back up. I promise.

This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. Let’s start though. It’s time to pick that scab! Get out the bandaids and hang in there with me?


*T stands for therapist for all future posts. When you break TheRapist into two words, it’s just creepy. If you hang around this blog long enough, you will get to know why saying “T” will just work better for me and other rape survivors.