My view of the world

Squirrel Eye View of the World

Image by Douglas Brown via Flickr

My view of the world is not static. It changes constantly with the ever changing environment and my life experiences. When I was young, I was invincible. There wasn’t much that frightened me, and I seemed to survive the worst of it without too many physical and mental scars.

Moving into adulthood, I learned the rules and fought for life on my terms most of the time. My world was changing, and while some of my parents ‘ views were still my own, my quest for independence and my own identity would create new ideals to aspire to. My need to fit into categories that weren’t an extension of my family was strong, and probably borne of rebellion.  I shaped my own world for a time, and was only influenced by what was happening in the moment, to me, not world issues or how an economic crisis might affect me.

When my son was born, my views of the world changed again. I wanted to be a part of society and do the best that I could for this little person that was dependent upon me for his welfare. I was an information sponge, and learned more about how to become a part of the structure of the machine that was the society that I lived in. I toed the line, and became one with my neighbours and the local mothers’ group.

When my health deteriorated at thirty, and I was told that I had a brain tumour, the subsequent operation to remove it changed my health – and once again my life. I was a completely different person, learning about life and coping with the ongoing effects of the surgery. I became dependent upon my family, society, and it’s supports for a period of time while I recovered. My experience of the world became disorientated, as I lost touch for a while, more interested in my own misery than life itself.

After a while I learned patience and fortitude as I dragged myself up to begin again. I went back to college and university and got a taste for this new academic world that I moved in, as I researched material, presented arguments, and became critical of only one opinion. My world became interesting and contradictory, as I realised that there was more to it than what I could see.  I learned to question everything, and felt full of my educated importance for a while.

When my son developed full-blown schizophrenia, my view of the world changed again. The impact of  his illness on our  family was tremendous, and we fought long and hard to help him and get him the services that he needed. I was a skilled  and confident negotiator when dealing with government agencies and health departments. I was a fierce mother protecting my only child from harm when I could. I was humble enough to know that I didn’t know it all, and I could use as much information, books and education about schizophrenia as I could get – to help our family deal with it as best as we could.

All my life experiences of the world have brought me to this point. And at this point I have been the most use to my son as I can possibly be. I’m not perfect, but I’m grateful that my view of the world does change.

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My son, I love you

treatment #3

Image by the|G|™ via Flickr

I went out shopping with my son today, and we had a good time.

Nothing unusual about that I guess, but it’s been a long time since we have been able to function at, what society would consider ‘normal’ capacity. My son suffers from schizophrenia, and has slight autism. He is a loving and gentle person, with a high IQ – he did well in school academically, but not as well socially.  This inability to interact well with others has caused a lot of pain and confusion in his young life, and as I ache inside for him, I try to understand what makes him tick so that I can offer him the type of support that would be of the most benefit for him, but it’s not easy at times.

Before he was diagnosed at seventeen, he went through his own private hell for more than three years before he could admit that he might have a problem. He experimented with different drugs, self-medicating to try and make some sense of what he was happening to him, and make the noise in his head go away. Throughout is all, I had my suspicions, but was reluctant to admit that my bright and beautiful boy may have a ‘mental impediment’ that might have made him less than perfect.

After his diagnosis, rather than get better, his situation deteriorated when he decided that he wanted to move out of home rather than take medication, and take his own drugs instead. I tried to keep a close eye on his movements, and would ‘call in’ on him to take him out to dinner, take him shopping for groceries, or make sure he had enough money for his needs. A lot of the money went missing or on drugs, so I resorted to food vouchers that he had to use and couldn’t cash in. There were many times when we had to go into the places he was living and physically carry him out and take him to a hospital. I wasn’t sure if I was going to see him for another day or not. I would ask myself constantly if I was doing enough, and if I could do more. I was told that as long as he was over the age of eighteen, it didn’t matter what he did or didn’t do, I had no say and no right to his private information until he gave his consent. We would argue a lot, he and I, until one day an exasperated health worker at the local hospital, who’d seen him one too many times, told him that if he didn’t start to look after himself, he would probably die.

Maybe it frightened him. I don’t know. But it was the beginning of his slow climb out of the dark and towards some semblance of sanity.

I got involved in his personal affairs even more, with his consent, and worked to get him the right specialist care and more involvement from the local health authorities.  I helped him through his medical assessments, went with him to meeting with welfare agencies and housing departments. I spoke on his behalf when he was not able to. In the end we were able to accomplish what would have seemed impossible to him two years ago. He now lives drug and alcohol free, and has been for the last twelve months. He is on the medication that is right for him, after various unsuccessful attempts with others. He has his own unit, and a disability income. He has not only our support, but the support of local agencies that teach him life skills and work to help him remain independent. He shops, he sticks to his budgets and he has joined local voluntary groups in an effort to improve his confidence and become more socially active.

I have stepped away a little, but I’m never too far away if he needs me. I am amazed at his resilience at times, and although I am sad for what might have been, I am grateful that he is here, and he has the chance  and the fortitude to move ahead at his own pace and be whatever he wants to be – not what I may have wanted him to be. He is my boy, and I love him to bits. I can’t change what has happened, but I can focus on what he is now and help him to work with what he has.

Schizophrenia is the most debilitating of mental illnesses. It’s cruel, it generally doesn’t discriminate, and it’s life-changing. Schizophrenia is only one of many mental illnesses and disorders that are suffered by members of our society. It is probably more likely that someone will suffer from a mental illness, than it is not.

My fur-kids

Champion Bichons Frises pretending to be littl...

Image by Al_HikesAZ via Flickr

I went on an outing last night with my mother, and as my husband is away, my fur-kids found themselves on their own at night for the first time in their lives.

I spend a lot of time at home, either studying or creating another pet or human ‘masterpiece’, so they have gotten used to having me around them ALL of the time – which may not be a good thing. They now suffer from separation anxiety as soon as I step out the door.

The crying starts way before I reach for the front door handle and try to gently shut it behind me. It starts as soon as I put my shoes on and reach for my handbag. They seem to know beforehand if they are coming or not. They must recognise a difference in the shoes I wear for their walkies, and the shoes I wear for my own walkies.

It reaches fever pitch by the time I make it to the carport and climb in the car. They are both howling miserably, and it’s reverberating around the neighbourhood. By this time I’m praying that I don’t find any nasty little surprises from any irate neighbours in my letterbox on my return.

I’m not sure how long it goes on for, and I’m definitely not sure if I want to go out at night again. Better to wear a bit of neighbourhood disdain in the daytime than to suffer neighbourhood abuse at bedtime.

My husband says that I should be more firm, but he’s a fine one to talk about laying the law down when he melts at the first sign of a ‘doe eye’. Yes, he definitely has his favourites, and ‘snuggling up on the lounge’ has taken on a whole new meaning.

Yes, I have created a couple of spoilt fur-monsters, but there’s nothing nicer than being on the receiving end of their excited rants when I finally decide to come home. They have forgiven me instantly and are consumed with a happiness that seems to be limitless. I am amazed at their ability to let go and hold no grudge for being ‘so hard done by.’ I remember when I was a child my mother went away for a couple of days, and the feeling of abandonment was overwhelming. It took me a long time to get over it and I didn’t speak to her for days – which must have been terrible for her. Having the ability to just let it go would have been a much easier exercise for everybody concerned.

We could all learn a little about life from observing our fur-kids.

Politics

It's all about me, ..... Julia Gillard

Image by Leonard John Matthews via Flickr

We had an election yesterday. Voting is compulsory in Australia, and whether you like it or not, you have to vote. Some people see it as their duty and their right to cast their vote and have a say in which party runs the country, some people just figure that its a pain in the butt, and lodge an informal vote, or not vote at all and risk the fine.

Australian voters are as peculiar and as temperamental as Australian politicians.  You have your die hard loyal party supporters, your green environmental voters, your mavericks and your swingers. The swingers are, without doubt, the most dangerous lot for a politician – one step in the wrong direction, or a failure to uphold all of your past election promises, and you can kiss your pollie ass goodbye at the next election.  Wound up swingers are as fickle and as volatile as the late Summer monsoonal season – you never know what’s going to happen or how bad it’s going to be. Hence the name ‘swinger’. It could go any way and anywhere.

The day after the election and the outcome is still not clear. There is talk of a ‘hung parliament‘. No real winner, and no real loser.  After final counts, an equal amount of seats may be held on both sides, and negotiations may be necessary for any real solution for leadership of the country.

If  you listen to the pollies right now, they have both fought bravely and campaigned well. I would agree with that in part. My television and my letterbox were systematically inundated with all types of political paraphenalia, innuendo and all out attacks on the opposition – weeks before the election took place. I have no doubt that my fellow Australians all copped their fair share – you would have had to be living in a vacuum to have been spared their onslaught.  

I have concluded that the outcome of the election is a true reflection of our society. The pollies can read it any way they like, but I believe that there is no true winner here right now. Australians are undecided on who they want to run their country. Even the dreaded swingers – who, in the past, have been able to despatch an ‘out of favour’ government in the blink of an eye – can’t seem to make up their minds this time. In reality, nobody is really sure that either party can do the job properly. The Green party secured more votes than at any other time in their political history –  this is more of a vote for environment and change, and a wake up call for those who would care to listen.  

My dogs’ antics

I'm a Bichon not a retriever. If you want it, ...

Image by Al_HikesAZ via Flickr

I busted my fur-kids underneath the house the other day. I try to keep them from getting under there, but every now and again they discover another unplugged hole or diggable patch of soft earth and run rampant amongst the dust, old wood and furniture, dirt, dead insects, and god knows what else when they find it. I guess that’s why they find it so appealing. It’s new territory and fun and dirty and ….off limits. I’m sure that they know that, but the lure of adventure is strong in my adolescent pair, and I must be forever vigilant.

It’s not that I don’t want them to have fun, that’s a part of being a dog. They go for walks and they do the normal doggy fun things. I just don’t want them to get into things that may be lurking in the darkness beneath my floorboards.  We are prone to the odd poinsonous snake and spider, not to mention a dead rodent or two every now and again. And as it is difficult for me to get underneath and have a really good spring clean – it’s only lower thigh height – I would prefer prevention rather than cure.

They are really  clever, and extremely quiet when they are looking for a route underneath, or are already in, sniffing around having a lovely time.  Now, I know that quiet doesn’t necessarily denote good behaviour in ANY species –  my internal alarm goes off immediately, and I go into search, find and modify mode.

I usually find them either making their getaway from their secret location, or dashing madly underneath the house when they discover me standing at their point of entry – which is not hard to find – I just look for the dirtpile and the big hole. There’s only one quick way out – the way in – so it’s inevitable that our paths will cross sooner or later.

I have to admit that it is hard to keep a straight face, although I probably should be stern.  I try – but their antics when they know that they are in for it are really quite entertaining. The commando crawl is a good one – keep as low as possible to the ground and maybe she won’t see us. The rollover – ok, I’m busted, but I’m cute and cuddly – whaddaya gonna do about it? The wobbly whine – ok, I’m really sorry, truly – but I’ve had a hard time and I’m really quite traumatised by the whole thing. And of course the statue – If I don’t move, maybe she’ll think I’m part of the decor.

My dogs’ antics will keep me amused forever.

Useless facts

The openminded philosophy

Image via Wikipedia

I was lying in my bed the other night thinking about stuff, as I do when I can’t sleep – my mind wanders into and around all sorts of inane and and strange topics. I wonder how things were made, why some things were invented at all, and how much money I might have made if I had thought of something as non-descript as Velcro, a clothes peg, or even the sticky note first.

Admittedly, these are not the only things that I think of, I often ponder the meaning of life and why I am here – or anybody else is, for that fact. I have read all sorts of books on evolution and studied paleontology as an extra at university. My mind ticks over constantly about what, when, where, how and why – coming up with all sorts of scenarios and nonsense that would make Stephen King proud. My dreams sometimes take on the flavour of an epic novel as I find myself lost in the jungle searching for holy grails and being thwarted by creatures of unspeakable horror.

My husband thinks it’s my hormones, and the drugs that I take that give me my ‘sleeping psychedelic’ episodes, and wishes he had some of that ‘stuff’ too. While this may be a contributing factor, it doesn’t explain my brain’s nocturnal activity while I’m still awake, and the fact that am even interested in why things are the way they are.

I sometimes find myself on the net, that marvellous information superhighway, trawling for information on things of question that others probably don’t even bother to question, and it’s amazing what type of information is actually out there. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not the only one who wonders why bees can fly, even though aerodynamically they aren’t supposed to be able to even get off the ground. I’ve found all sorts of strange things, from who invented scissors and parachutes, to shadow stealing myths. Did you know that a group of 12 or more cows is called a flink?…I thought it was a herd. (Leonardo Da Vinci invented both the parachute and scissors).

You are probably thinking by now that I don’t have much of a life, I have a borderline mental condition, or I should be using my unusual talents to do good for the community. Well, I think I am ….using my talents, that is…and maybe a touch of mental eccentricity added into the mix doesn’t hurt either.

Life would be pretty boring if we were all the same. And although I’m amazed that I have made it this far on the amount of sleepless nights I endure, I’m equally amazed that I haven’t come up with ‘the next big thing.’   

Angel

I wasn’t happy when my grandmother came to live with us when my grandfather passed away. I loved my grandmother, but I was just a kid. I had to give up my room and my bed and sleep in Mum and Dad’s room, with no possibility of return.

The only upside to the situation at the time, was that my grandmother brought her dog, Angel, with her as well. Now this was something that I could deal with, and having a dog to play with took my mind off the fact that I had absolutely no privacy and no space of my own.

After a while I got used to having my gran around, and we would go for walks together to the shops. I started to look forward to this for two reasons, it got me out of the house and away from my brother, and gran always bought me a milkshake. I would always leave some in the bottom of the container and rip it open so that Angel could share it with me. We’d sit on the front step of the grocery store in vanilla bliss while gran went off to buy her usual newspaper and loaf of bread.

When gran went off on holiday, I was in charge of Angel’s welfare. I was in heaven. Not only did I have my old bed back, I had my ‘own dog’ to sleep on my feet at night. I’m pretty sure Angel enjoyed it too, and cried at the door to get in with me after gran returned. There were a few times after that when I was found fast asleep on the lounge with Angel sleeping on my feet. My childhood had it’s ups and downs, but I had the love of a dog – what more could I want?

Angel and I grew older and eventually Mum and Dad sold the house and moved north. Gran went to live at the beach and took Angel with her. I missed her a lot for a long time, and we moved to a place were I couldn’t have another dog, although I had my own room. I would have gladly shared a room again just to have Angel with me.

I left home at sixteen and went to live with my Gran for a while. It was like a homecoming. We were together again. We’d go to the beach and stop off at the shops on the way home for a vanilla milkshake.  I’d just settled into a routine when Angel passed away. We had grown up together and were the same age. Unfortunately sixteen in dog years is a very long life.  I was devastated.

Angel came along at a time when I was a shy lonely child. She made my loneliness more bearable, which allowed me to grow and experience life differently to what might have been. I was able to express my love to another living creature, and not be afraid. Angel accepted me for what I was, and I was happy. I will never forget my beautiful Angel girl.