These Beautiful Walls

These Beautiful Walls
8.3.19
Some people see what others can’t see
These beautiful walls that keep me safe from me.
People think this is where we come to hide
But this is where I find members of a “trauma tribe.”

We are people who have been through more than most.
And more than not several of us have a host.
For we have seen and been a part of the evils of life.
And for us it has caused lots of strife.

We have fingers and we have toes
But with that comes many woes
Listen to me as I begin to close
We come here beaten down and come to
recognize ourselves as heroes.

By: Dana Landrum-Arnold
#thispuzzledlife

Life Is Better When You’re Laughing

Life Is Better When You’re Laughing

“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”

—Woody Allen

The above title is the writing on the outside of my private journal.  Understand comedy however you wish but for me it has gotten me through a lot of situations both good and bad.  I have always prided myself on the fact that regardless of what events have taken place in my life, my ability to laugh and find humor in most situations was never damaged.  Often times humor was used against me as a form of humiliation and embarrassment.

As a child, I’m not sure if I was humorous or not.  However, with my dad’s quick wit and grandmother’s lack of a filter, in any capacity, there was always a reason to laugh.  In my teen years, clowning around became second nature and a form of survival.  I became a class clown that followed me into adulthood.  In most treatment centers and psychiatric units you can most assuredly find me as the guilty party wherever roars of laughter might be exhibited. This is not because I like attention.  I do, however, love laughing with like minded individuals.  Things I Have Learned on Psychiatric Units is another blog where some of this very humor was captured.

I am usually telling stories related to my late grandmother’s antics especially when birds, squirrels, her individualized driving abilities or lack thereof and Wal-Mart scooters are the topics. She never could quite understand the fact that birds and squirrels have co-existed for thousands of years together.  She also never realized that both birds and squirrels can survive on food even if you don’t personally feed them every day.  There were many days when you would catch her screaming at the squirrels in a murderous rage about staying out of the bird feeder because they had their own food (corn cobs) placed securely onto a tree.  After throwing random objects from her house such as knives, spoons, cooking pots, a tea pot and house slippers at said bird feeder and using language that would make even the most liberal of southern Baptist blush she would then proceed threatening them with verbalized thoughts of a mass squirrel genocide.  Even after her death some of those same house slippers were found buried beneath leaves of the once violent anti-squirrel tyrant.  The blog post Birds and Squirrels also reiterates some of these same scenarios played out by one of my greatest friends….my Nannie.

comfort zone

Her driving consisted of her ignoring street signs, mainly speed limit signs, because they were viewed as a suggestion rather than law.  My family and I started driving her around soon after we all realized that safety behind the wheel was not her goal or a priority.  When I would take her to Wal-Mart my 80 year-old grandmother used the same lack of driving skills on the scooters.  There were times when I would look up with her driving solo to the women’s clothing section right up into a clothes rack.  She then proceeded to tell me the scooter was broken  and that’s why the incident has occurred.  Never once did she acknowledge operator error.  She would somehow cuss her way into leaving the area on the “broken” scooter only to leave a trail of blouses that had been ripped off the rack.  She would also drive down to another section of the store with additional clothing and hangers swirling around and grinding in the tires.  I’m sure Wal-Mart wrote these damaged items off because they most assuredly could not be sold after my Nannie had done her damage.

The ability to laugh at our own shortcomings allows us to not take life so seriously.  Laughter helps to reduce pain, strengthens immune function and decreases stress.  Whenever I feel some type of major depressive episode coming on I’ll usually find a movie or a standup performance by one of my favorite comedians/actors to help chase it away.  Granted this doesn’t always work but laughter has been some of the best medicine for me.  Some of my favorite comedians are:  Kevin Hart, Katt Williams, Dane Cook, Tyler Perry, Rickey Smiley, Jim Gaffigan, Aries Spears, Gabriel Iglesias, Will Ferrell, Jim Carey, Dana Carvey, Margaret Cho, Amy Schumer, Ellen Degeneres, Tig Notaro, Melissa McCarthy, Mo’nique, Whoopi Goldberg, Wanda Sykes, Cedric the Entertainer, Jeff Dunham, Mike Epps, Russell Peters, Darren Knight (Southern Momma) and the late Robin Williams, Chris Farley, Bernie Mac, John Candy and Ralphie May.

While my ex-husband could be comical, he used his humor in a very demeaning way against me.  And in public or around family is when he would let these skills reverberate with only me having the knowledge that this was not done in fun. I picked up on those comedic verbal sniper attacks very well. Also, since tears and real emotions were not considered “safe”, humor whether appropriate or inappropriate was always acceptable.  To this day, I’ll deflect most emotions other than anger or humor because it just doesn’t feel safe even with safe people.  Luckily, my “coach” already knows this and gets my attention when deflection seems to be my goal instead of feeling uncomfortable feelings.

Learning how deal with feelings through laughter is ok.  However, using humor as a way to avoid feelings can be detrimental and deadly if taken to extremes.  Re-learning how to deal with feelings appropriately is not an easy task.   But I will still take time out with telemarketers to let them know that I have to end the call because I have a cow on fire in the front yard.  Again, another part of life where I must learn and accept the importance of moderation and balance.

#thispuzzledlife

Things I Have Learned On A Psychiatric Unit

Things I Have Learned on Psychiatric Units

“It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself and the problems you face in life.

Sense of humor can save you.”

—Margaret Cho

 One thing that I’ve been able to do most of my life is find the humor in just about any situation.  I’m also really good at roasting myself at any given moment.  My recent blog posts have been pretty heavy in both topic and emotion and I thought that I would lighten it up a bit with some giggles.  Having been in the mental health system the majority of my adult life has afforded me many different and often times hysterical stories about my interactions with staff and other patients.  They are not that funny in the moment but give it some time and I’ll start giggling about some of the asinine situations that I get myself into.

A lot of my trauma has to do with the perception or the reality of being trapped.  So, even though psychiatric stabilization units are, in theory, suppose to help.  They seldom do for me because you are behind the steel doors of “safety.”  The system is so incredibly flawed that even to be stabilized completely destabilizes me further.  I’ve just be blessed with the incredible ability to laugh with other “battle buddies” who are some of my best friends.

If you’re way out of control or having complications related to your particular labeled disorder you get sent to the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit otherwise known as the PICU.  This is where you will see some really odd behaviors and will get a new label as a “poop slinger.”  I’ve also learned through trial by fire how to take care of myself on these units.  And being confrontational where not always the best idea makes other clients and staff rethink the idea of you being an easy target.

Recently, I’ve been on one of these units and others with no success just more funny stories.  With the amnestic barriers that were designed early on in my brain to protect me from the abuse, they just seem to cross over into a lot of my blinking and breathing time.  After looking through some of the material that I arrived back home with I found that my alters had actually been writing a blog about such humorous  instances.  I didn’t have the memories of all listed but they sure do.  Try not to take this blog too seriously as I’ve been able to laugh so much that I’ve almost gotten one abdominal muscle developed as a result.  Here’s a compilation of our experiences on different types of units over several states.

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  1. When you find someone lapping up water out of your toilet bowl like a dog, this DOES NOT necessarily mean that said “human dog” is friendly.  If this mixed species starts to growl a gentle reminder about how animals are decapitated at the head if the suspicion of rabies is serious enough.
  2. When staff asks you if you want to take a trip on the van?  They are really talking about the ATIVAN.  Educate yourself about this drug in high doses.
  3. If you don’t drink fruit juices or cow nipple secretions well…..you’re just thirsty.
  4. Taking showers minus shower curtains always sucks ass.
  5. Often times the only type of material to dry off with after such a revealing shower are pillow cases or your own sweatpants.  Because apparently paper towels are harmful and could be used as a weapon.
  6. The food is not really food.  It resembles some form of horse abortion.
  7. When meeting with the dietician about the couple of foods that you feel comfortable eating, hummus being my main source of protein, when it arrives and looks like caulking with complementary graham crackers not saltines.  This will not in any way encourage one to eat something that looks like it was recently bought at Lowe’s.
  8. The only way to air out a bathroom after someone has pooed is to take shampoo and squirt it around the rim of the bowl.  Because……Poo-pouri is not allowed.  Yelling, “We have a Shituation and need Shitrus Spray!!!” like you’re auditioning for a Poo-pouri commercial gets you absolutely nowhere. However, the other patients will find it quite comical.
  9. When cigarettes seem to be your only coping skill germs and diseases no longer seem to matter.
  10. There is absolutely no help that is given on these units other than colors “safety writing utensils”, word finds and coloring sheets which has been shown to just increase rather than decrease aggression.
  11. Some of the psychiatrists on the units are definitely on the spectrum of serial killers.  You can look at them and tell that they probably keep a jar of human eyeballs or embryonic puppies on their desks as decoration.
  12. Telling the staff and/or other patients when you get mad that you will kill them and their entire family NEVER ends well for the one who said it.  This will, however,  ensure that you have a 3 day “nap” courtesy of a shot of “booty juice.”
  13. A combination of drugs simply known as “booty juice” given in the ass cheeks of patients that simply will not comply or become too violent has been known to stop zombies dead in their tracks.
  14. Scratching incessantly because of hives due to these stressful conditions only make the other patients think you have mange.
  15. While entering the psych hospital cafeteria yelling, “DEAD MAN WALKING!!!!” is very comical to other patients it is NOT to the staff.  This makes the whole situation that much funnier.
  16. Benzodiazepines will be order just because you’re getting on the nerves of the staff.
  17. Being given stool softeners and laxatives in your daily medicinal regimen as someone who has active eating disorders is  just a bonus.  And yes the staff and doctors knew I was actively anorexic and bulimic.
  18. Eventually having a “Code 10” on out of control patients so many times a day is like watching the TV show Cops and cheering for the criminal.  It’s just another form of entertainment.
  19. You might just meet a celebrity fighter that resembles Mike Tyson.
  20. Serving trauma patients red beans, rice and a link of sausage DOES NOT encourage them to work on their sexual trauma.
  21. Chest compressions are now an acceptable form of treating panic attacks.

Every Diagnosable mental disorder can be found at some point right here on these units.  You think you’ve seen strange behaviors?  You can’t even imagine the behaviors that are exhibited by human beings.  I hope you’ve enjoyed some laughs and know that these are things that I’ve personally experienced.  It’s really this bad.

#Thispuzzledlife