Category Archives: Mental Illness

Stalking is a Crime – Why do Women Suffer in Silence?

Why do women suffer in silence and tolerate criminal behavior? I wish I knew. The police can’t help you unless you let them. And they need to know about men who are stalking women. It makes their day when they put a violent man behind bars.

I have a friend who’s ex-boyfriend is stalking her. He’s doing it a creepy, smarmy way. He left a magazine in her mailbox. He circled an article on the cover and wrote, this made me think of you. It’s just a magazine you may say. But she moved after breaking up with him and has not told him where she lived. So he discovered her whereabouts without her consent. The magazine was there to let her know that he knows where she lives. Not only that it against Federal Law to leave something without postage in someone’s mailbox. That – is – stalking.

Then her current boyfriend got a call from his bank that a man claiming to be an investment consultant came in the bank asking questions about him and his bank accounts. They figured out that it was the ex doing the snooping. So now this jackass is not only stalking her but her boyfriend as well.

I got a text message from her this morning asking me if I sent her a Valentine ’s Day heart boxed candy. I didn’t and asked if there was no card with the shipment. She replied no, that it was probably her ex. I told her not to eat the candy, and quoted her some facts from the National Center for Victims of Crime. This site lists the unwanted sending of gifts, cards, letters or emails as part of the definition of a stalker. She texted me back basically telling me to shut up about it, in a nice way of course, but the message was clear.

Well, fortunately for me I have a blog and so I don’t have to shut up. I can say it loud. Ladies you DO NOT have to put up with any kind of contact or communication from anyone from your past. Even a relative can be legally defined as a stalker if you do not want anything to do with them and they persist anyway. Also, there is a point where a person ceases being the “ex” and becomes a criminal stalker. And that line is drawn when you decide when you want no further contact with them. They don’t get decide this. YOU decide this.

Over the years I’ve known a lot of good women who were stalked by their ex-boyfriends or husbands. A couple of women ignored their stalkers and were terrorized for years before their stalker either gave up or went to jail for other reasons. Some even went on to receive threatening letters from their stalker from in jail. The misery went on for what seemed like forever. Their lives and the lives of the loved ones and friends were significantly diminished because the stalking.

The smart women went to the police, got restraining orders, and followed it up by calling the police every single time their stalker made any kind of contact them. The stalkers got the message and backed off. Turns out these tough guys were afraid of the police and the possibility of jail time.

Three of these women are in their graves now. They did not go to the police or do anything else to stop the stalking. One was beaten to death by her ex-husband after he broke in her house and shot and killed her boyfriend. One was shot in the head at a Wendy’s Hamburger drive though window by her ex at lunch time in broad daylight. The ex-husband of the third shot her and her female attorney to death in the stairwell of the parking garage next to the court-house.

Stalking is not like your car tires. If you ignore the problem – it will not go away. Stalkers get off on terrorizing you. It is not love or grief. It is a power trip. They didn’t get what they want and intend to make you pay and pay and pay. It’s sick – and it’s not your fault.

Resources:

Information about stalkers:

Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide*

  • 76% of intimate partner femicide victims have been stalked by their intimate partner.
  • 67% had been physically abused by their intimate partner.
  • 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder.
  • 79% of abused femicide victims reported being stalked during the same period that they were abused.
  • 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to police before they were killed by their stalkers.

*The murder of a woman.

[Judith McFarlane et al., “Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide,” Homicide Studies 3, no. 4 (1999).]

Stalkers

A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk. Most stalking cases involve men stalking women, but men do stalk men, women do stalk women, and women do stalk men.

  • 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method.
  • 78% of stalkers use more than one means of approach.
  • Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 out of 5 cases.
  • Almost 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before.
  • Intimate partner stalkers frequently approach their targets, and their behaviors escalate quickly.
  • All 50 states have stalking laws

Victims of Crime.org fact sheet

Happy New Year – 2014!

new-year-2014Soooo…did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I sort of did and didn’t at the same time. What I did was decide not to make any resolutions. I’m going to take it one day or week or month at a time. I’ve made some decisions that could be viewed as surrenders when taken individually.

I’m not buying into the woe is me-ism of people who say “thank God we made it through last year; maybe this year will be better.” ***yawn*** My last year was pretty good overall. Sure there were less than stellar moments mixed in there. I got sick a few times and made a complete and total ass of myself on few occasions. But there were wonderful moments too. I’ve been having a blast with painting class.

I have a mother-in-law who takes finding the dark cloud in any silver lining to a whole new level. If she won 500 million dollars in the lottery she would bitch about paying the taxes on her winnings. If you gave her a brand new Cadillac, free and clear, she would complain that now she had to figure out how to operate the seat adjustments. Or worse, refuse to figure it out at all and call my husband every time she wanted to get in the car.

Surrender #1: I am never going to love my in-laws as a collective whole. It’s been an unnecessarily stressful endeavor to even try, and this has been dragging on for 10 damned years. OK, I admit it there are occasions when I out-and-out hate them. Sometimes just the thought of them makes me grind my teeth together. I’m going to stop beating myself up for having these feelings. Just acknowledge them and let them go, like the urge to install a laser cannon on the hood of my car to vaporize people who cut me off on the freeway.

My brother-in-law pulled the biggest gifting boner ever, and I mean EVER in the history of mankind. We got him a custom framed sports SIGNED jersey from a team member of his alma mater college. His reaction? He looked down his nose at it and said “I don’t think this thing will fit in my car. Days later he informed Hubman that it just wasn’t going to work in his house and refused to accept the present. I didn’t say anything when Hubman told me, but it festered all day and I finally told him, at the top of my lungs, that I thought it was beyond rude and that all jerky brother-in-law gets for Christmas next year is a subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club. I’m not kidding!!!

Surrender #2: Being bipolar I’m going to have mood swings. Taking enough medicine to prevent any swings at all is a chemical lobotomy. Not enough and I’m angry enough to take out the entire neighborhood. And furthermore, sometimes things happen that just flat-out piss me off, they would piss off anyone. (see above behavior by brother-in-law)

Surrender #3: My weight. No, I’m not going to give up trying and eat a chocolate cake every day for breakfast, but stressing out and beating myself up about it is not helping. I know what I need to do and I haven’t been doing it. I was talking to my sister the other day about it. The most dangerous thing about getting older is that you get really good at sitting on your ass for long periods at a time. That used to drive me crazy. My weight maintenance secret for the first 40 years of my life was that I was a fidgety person. I spent my time flitting around the room like a June Bug that flew in when the screen door got left open. Aging and medication has stopped that behavior so I have to consciously make an effort to shake my booty on a regular basis or turn into a mound of blubber.

Surrender #4: Some people, maybe even a lot of people, are going to laugh at my artistic endeavors. I’m just going to suck it up and go on anyway. I can’t control what other people think about me. Example: I had a wild and colorful dream recently. I woke up at 6:30 am and spent 4 hours painting it. When I showed it to Mr. Husband he burst out laughing and almost choked on his coffee. He tried to back pedal, but he didn’t succeed. I thought that I rose above the ridicule, but it just occurred to me this morning that I haven’t picked up a paintbrush for 2 weeks. Phooey on him I say! I’ll just cover up my paintings when I’m not working on them if he persists.

Well 4 surrenders is enough for now. I need some opinions to stick too. Why I don’t know, but there you have it.

PS: to fellow bloggers. Don’t forget to renew your web domain name, etc.

Guest Post: Healing and Self-Identity through Fiction

mysteryguest1Hello all. I’m trying something new here today. A guest post. This is exciting and a little scary at the same time. On the one hand this blog is my baby and I’m scared to let anyone else hold it. On the other hand I feel the need to grow and try new things. So here goes. Hope you enjoy.

Guest Author: Claire Holt

Healing and Self-Identity through Fiction

That beautiful quote by American-Iranian writer and professor Azar Nafisi continues to resonate with me until this day: “What we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.” It’s a succinct articulation which sums up my entire sentiment towards reading fiction which I could never put into words myself, but felt for years. And oddly enough, it is through literary fiction (as well as art, music, and film) where I have experienced the most fulfilling embodiment of revelation in my life. Whether reading a piece of short fiction or throwing myself into a multimedia project of elemental proportions, my sense of the world is encapsulated in this perpetual process of creativity and interpretation. And equally profound, it’s one of the few things which have empowered me to come to terms with my own psychological and metaphysical challenges.

Finding Our Inner Strength through Fiction

I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for several years, and my constant mentors have revealed themselves through the heroic and not so heroic endeavors of protagonists and narrators from classical epics, Renaissance poetry, modernist fiction and pretty much everything in between. If the resilient strength which emerges and encompasses an inspirational sense of humanity prevails in even the bleakest of circumstances, then this is enough to restore faith in the greater good, and the readerly response will transcend from the page and into “real life”. When we sympathize with key characters, regardless of what superficial similarities they might or might not appear to share with us, we begin to discover the world through their perceptions and perspectives as well as holding our own. Their story becomes our story; their suffering and triumph becomes our suffering and triumph; and the experience carries with it a poignant kind of reality where we have felt and responded in very real ways.

Within these experiences, we discover a remarkable inner strength. Often, long after we have finished reading, we continue to spin around the ideas of the last great book we read in our heads, contemplating, analyzing, in a way giving life to the work’s ongoing legacy. Some people may argue that dramatic fiction fuels dramatic notions about the world – that we get this sense where good must always prevail and where people who choose the right will eventually be rewarded. Yet here is where fiction becomes the most crucial – we see what should happen, what could happen (whether for better or for worse, like in a critical dystopia) and what does happen, revealed in a light that few of us get to see. Works like P.D. James’ Children of Men highlight a reality which is not so far distanced from our own, while Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns sheds a staggering truth about what already is. But because in the midst of this we see the perseverance of our protagonists prevail no matter what the cost and our hearts echo their resilience, we too learn to be better human beings, even by relating to less than ideal archetypes who are not cardboard cutouts of the perfect hero.

Self-Identity

So fiction in one sense teaches us to be good, or at least digs deep inside us to resurrect the urge to live by greater strength and become true to our morality. But it also helps us explore the many complexities and facets of our own personalities with a sometimes brutal, but sometimes gentle honesty. I did a lot of reading during a dark period of my life, where I felt shamed for my own disregard for myself and longing to turn my back on everything. I never touched a self-help book despite appreciating the importance of resources available to help those of my demographic, but buried myself in required reading for my classes and if I had time, my own choice of fiction. I found tremendous consolation in both – not because they distracted me from my own turmoil, but because I found an opportunity to face them in another universe so to speak. I learned that my emotions were complex and tangible, that I was actually quite an average human being, but one who merely felt the intensity of life a little more burningly than others. Even through collaborative efforts such as classroom discussion, I was able to come to terms with not only varying outlooks on life but with my idea of self. The healing process which takes place through reading is a very powerful one and even recognized worldwide.

But then there is also the fiction which directly deals with mental illness itself. I’m not just talking about iconic pop-culture works like Ken Kesey’s brilliant piece One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which is more about countering institutionalization than mental illness itself – but about all kinds of fiction where a particular character is featured who appears to be facing an internal adversary. Sometimes these characters are almost mis-portrayed, with their unique attributes played up for dramatic effect – while at other times they can produce a heartening effect, whether through courage or empathy or both. Even more bizarrely, I found that in a profoundly grounding sense, the more bizarre the work, the less of a bizarre individual I felt, learning to process my own world with a greater perspective.

Even through the exploration of delusional antagonists, out of the world plot sequences and disturbing events, we can find healing through reading, and help to better outline the contours of our identity and take this with us into the world. After all, literature only seeks to find a way to define what we already know deep inside.

God Loves You Just as You Are – But the Rest of Us Need a Break

GAAAaaaa

GAAAaaaa

Sometimes when I’m down on myself I find comfort in muttering “well God loves me just the way I am.” This is true… I guess…if you believe that stuff…could be the Cosmos, or Buddha, or even the Great Pumpkin. And then I try to apply this to other people who are at the moment behaving in a rather unlovable way. Sometimes though, I go sailing right past the limits of my patience and medication and that’s when I find myself thinking “OK, yea, sure, God loves you just as you are – but the rest of us need a break!”

I’m beginning to suspect that a large percent of the population who subscribe to the “I’m just fine and peachy keen just the way I am” have forgotten that they don’t live on a desert island. We all live together in the desert of the real. Those of us who are relatively sober and sane anyway.

I’m still in recuperation mode from Thanksgiving. I better get on the ball here and finish percolating and ruminating because Christmas is just around the corner. Having a large immediate family of 4 sisters and 2 brothers and all their children and significant others, the chances of making it through the holidays unscathed, without at least one person, and usually more than one, going bat shit crazy are slim to none.

This Thanksgiving was no exception of course. I went to New Orleans knowing full well what I was getting myself into or so I thought. Why do I keep doing this? It’s because it’s my family and I can’t just throw my hands up in the air and pretend they don’t exist. OK, sometimes I do go through periods of pretending this, but it’s not sustainable over the long run.

This season sent me a bit of a curve ball. A relative who just 6 months ago I initiated a failed intervention for alcoholism, was a clean and sober and behaved in a perfect lovely manner; helpful, talkative, a joy to be with. However, another relative who is usually pretty well pulled together, this time became completely unglued. This particular person is usually fastidious, well groomed, soft spoken, and kind. Every time I saw them they were in the same clothes, disheveled, ranting and raving, smelling of stale beer, throwing things, verbally attacking anyone who crossed their path and just in general acting like they needed a trip to the hospital in a padded wagon.

Unfortunately in New Orleans there is no padded wagon. Mental health care is in abysmal short supply in the U.S.; in New Orleans it is non-existent. If someone has a meltdown all the emergency room can do is shoot them full of tranquilizers or anti-psychotics and then turn them out on the street. Usually the hospital does not bother to inform the family that their loved one was put on the street in a bad part of town at 3:00 am.

I’m waffling back and forth about what to say to this relative who took temporary leave of their senses. Should I say anything at all? I don’t know. I think I’m going to have to because they have a mood spectrum disorder and claim to be handling it on their own. Unfortunately, this past Thanksgiving it was excruciatingly obvious that this is not the case.

I Wonder – I Wander

blue pill red pillWhen you get diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, they should hand out a list of bizarre moods that might overcome you and also clue you in that it will be excruciatingly obvious to everyone EXCEPT YOU. What will be going in your head “what the hell is wrong with all you ass hats, would you get with the program here, and make it snappy!” Lately I’ve been in the taking 200 milligrams of I don’t give a shit about anything zone, also known as Seroquel.  A right amount can be a good thing, slip over the border into too much and you have a chemical lobotomy. I stopped painting, writing, brushing my hair, even getting out of bed seemed to be a task that just really wasn’t worth the effort. And at the time it all seemed so logical, so right on the spot. I wasn’t really worried about it either other than a vague feeling of life shouldn’t be like this. I used to look forward to speaking my mind, slinging paint around the room, saying things that pissed some people off, etc.

Finally I got all scientific on the problem. I’m good at that kind of stuff. My major in college was Accounting until I realized that it meant that I would have to spend the rest of my life massaging numbers. That major came to a screeching halt after I realized that I had a better grasp on the subject than the teacher did, leaving me with no one to go to when I had questions. I’d rather massage people anyway. People I know of course. I’m not talking about massaging random strangers I encounter in the shopping mall.

So I started tracking my moods and the amount and type of meds I was taking on a spreadsheet and on the calendar. Sounds a bit complicated but it’s been worth the effort. On the calendar I just use little emoticons so no one would know what it was about if the glanced at our day timer that lies on the kitchen counter. I use a smiley face for really good days, a frowney face for bad days, and a confused face for those days when I’m in a “what the f@ck is wrong with me, and everybody else?” type of mood.

After this semi-scientific method of evaluating my sanity, I realized that I had exceeded the limits of my meds and that it was time to cut back a bit and see if my brain would do a kick start. I think it did help. Proof in point is that I’m actually writing a post. Yippee!

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