The Return of Synchronicity

It finally happened. It is October, so I don’t see it how it could have happened at any other time really. My life is a pattern of events, which I have watched flowing from one moment to the next – always seeing a connection without realizing what it means. Everyone goes through cycles in their lives, but many fail to notice it. Instead, it appears there is no correlation, while in reality everything is connected.

I have come to believe there are no coincidences. I subscribe to the idea that I am meant to see what is to be revealed to me when I am ready to understand. I do not believe myself to be a wise person; I am simply someone who has felt deep pain as well as great joy. It is not a competition. After all, none of us are getting out of here alive.

Perhaps it is my brother’s death that continues to haunt me that makes me feel inclined toward doing the same, but I think it is more than that. I feel sorrow for the people who are starving, who are suffering from disease, those who are tormented by people who believe they are above others, and those who do not care about anyone but themselves. I hold the pain of the world in my heart – that is why I cry so. That is what makes me want to die. Yet, I do not want to die today.

Today, I celebrate my meager existence because I still have it. Last week, I did not want it any longer. Then something happened.

I was forced to go to the hospital against my will. My wrists were swollen, cut, and bruised from the handcuffs when all was said and done. And the officer who brought me there? One of the men who responded to my brother’s suicide almost two years ago. I would not have discovered that had the officer not accidentally entered the highway, but by mistake we ended up driving right past the site of his death.

Just like when I went to photograph the site where he died months ago (because it will be torn down soon), a man rode up on a skateboard behind me wearing a shirt that read, “Suicide Squad,” but all I saw was “suicide.” Right where my brother died. Coincidence? Hardly.

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This is what is known as synchronicity. There are parallels in the universe that bring us together with people, places, and things that we are meant to learn from. Our experiences are indelibly intertwined with those of others, yet we often see ourselves as apart, or separate, from them. Whenever I notice a pattern in my life, there is usually a link to something or someone else that concurs with it.

Perhaps this is why triggers for people with mental illness are so easily brought on. Reminders are created by certain things. For instance, while practicing a guided meditation technique in the hospital, the image of a knife was brought up to describe the sensation of cutting a lemon. However, the words, “see the knife cutting into the flesh” – yes, those were the actual words used – brought up imagery in my mind which upset me deeply, as I have used a knife on my own flesh in the past. Prior to that exercise I had been happy, but that immediately sent me into a downward spiral. I was triggered.

It is these connections that help us to learn, but they can also be incredibly harmful if we do not have the tools to manage them. I understand now that I must be mindful of these triggers, these correlations of human and non-human reminders. The power to heal is within me, as is the power to harm.

Those of us who struggle with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder will never fully recover, but we can manage the illness. Our minds are not like other peoples’ but we have to accept that; we may as well enjoy the ride! There are a lot more of us out there than we realize, so let’s find each other and be friends. No one else will ever understand us, but we can at least find solidarity with one another and try to live life as best as we can.

St. Nick’s Presence

Phone May-December 2012 131

I went upstairs to ask my mother a simple favor for something mundane. My stepfather was playing his piano in the other bedroom and neither one of them heard me come up the stairs. My mother jumped when I entered the room, she had been crying quietly to herself. “I hate it when he plays the piano,” she said, “it makes me sad because it has an underlying tone of melancholia. But I can’t ask him to stop because that’s all he has…” to deal with the loss of our son, is what she meant.

I have lived in my deceased brother’s room for three weeks now. At first, it tormented me to an almost unbearable point. Then, I began to focus on other things besides my brother being gone and successfully landed a position at a patent agency, which is so amazing. In fact, it was almost meant to be, but I will discuss that in another post.

Since then, I have seen my mother frustrated and angry at our broken mental health care system. My stepdad is declining into paranoia and depression from taking anti-depressants and too much anti-anxiety medication. I understand where they are coming from, but I cannot help them deal with this intense feeling of failure that they both seem to suffer from, other than just being present and mindful of the situation.

I understand why they feel the way they do, but perhaps they could also look at it from another perspective. I was “this close” (holding two fingers closely together) to dying myself after an attempted overdose in October 2013. What saved me was the goodbye note I wrote to my child on the back of her school photo. I looked at it while I was waiting to pass into oblivion and it brought me back, just like in “What Dreams May Come” (Robin Williams). I almost died back then, but I didn’t and now I am here to help them get through this. Does that mean anything to them? I think so, but it’s still difficult.

I suppose it saddens me that (sometimes) they appear more hurt about my brother being gone than they are glad that I am here. My relationship with my parents has always been bittersweet, so I didn’t really expect things to be any different, especially now. Yet, I still wish sometimes that I hadn’t been torn away from my mother twenty years ago over a load of laundry. Maybe if I had been around, things would have been different. It’s all in the past, though, so there isn’t any point in pulling out the should’ve card. It doesn’t help anything.

Since it is Christmas, I am trying very hard to focus on the good things in my life because it is so easy for me to be consumed by unhappiness if I let myself. After living with “the wrong Nick” for so many months, I really began to believe I was worthless. That was just a reinforcement from others from my past, especially my snotty, wanna-be model cousin. Maybe she’s different now, but I doubt it. People don’t really change unless they see the error of their ways.

That in itself is why my brother died. Too many people did not realize they weren’t helping him and he got lost along the way. I miss you, Nicky. No matter how much strife we suffer in this life, it is always worth it if we can find the good in something. If we only focus on the bad, there is no reason to go on anymore. I still have a reason to go on, and for that, I am blessed. Not by God, but by life.

6 Reasons Why You Need to Sign Up for Health Coverage Now

It’s November now, and that means that it is, once again, time for open enrollment in the health insurance marketplace. This may come as a subtle reminder for some of us, but for others it can be life-saving. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), “research shows that more than 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder at the time of their deaths.”

People with mental disorders often need treatment and do not realize it, I personally have been one of those people myself. In fact, my counselor continues to insist that I should get on Latuda for my mental health issues. However, after many years of experimenting with medical drugs and having my brother die while taking prescribed psych medication, makes me hesitant to jump on that train very quickly.

Aside from how I feel about meds, there are lots of you out there that need ‘em, and badly too! Now is the time for you to get medical coverage, so you can start getting healthy and move on with your life. If you’re ready to do that, the AFSP Webinar on Obtaining Mental Health Insurance Services has some great information and resources to get you started.

If you are not ready to take the plunge into the marketplace quite yet, consider this:

  1. It’s the law. You need to have coverage in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act. People who choose not to get covered end up paying a penalty at the end of the year. So why not just pay for health coverage?
  2. Life is unpredictable. The average cost of a hospital visit will put anyone without insurance in the red, big time. If you break your leg this winter, you could end up filing for bankruptcy in the spring.
  3. Federal law now requires mental health services in health insurance plans. This means no extra work trying to figure out if your meds will be covered by your plan.
  4. There are different levels of coverage, depending on your needs.
  5. With the tax credits that are available, most plans are reasonably affordable.
  6. If it’s still too expensive…People who are considered to be living under 100 – 400% of the poverty line can usually qualify for some type of government assistance, such as Medicaid or Medicare (65 and over).

Now that I have convinced you why you need to sign up for health coverage, keep in mind that open enrollment ends on January 31, 2016. Special circumstances may allow you to enroll throughout the year but now is the prime time. So get signed up, before the holiday rush and tax season. By the time all that stuff is done, you know won’t want to deal with your insurance too. Take care of it now, you will thank yourself later.