Love, save the empty

1 03 2014

I spent so many hours in their world, and therefore it scares me how little I remember from all the plots and stories I`ve read. I have never been good at remembering things afterward, I cared more about the experience there and then. How it was to feel what they felt, how surprised I could be over certain ways to think, and how my heart would beat when something was dangerous. Emotions. They are still here. I don`t sit down to read, I just look at the covers and feel the emotions from the past tingling inside me.

It is so nice to see those books again. I couldn`t have brought back these memories and feelings on my own, no matter how hard I tried. I needed to see them physically to remember. I remember how I read a bit, put it down, and the happiness when I had time to sit down with it again. The sad stories, the horror storries and the romantic stories, they were all urging me to continue, to find out how it all would end.

 

It has been so many years. I still read my stories, especially biographies and nonfiction. I open the chest of history and look at it`s organs. I examine it, still, and while doing it I also realize how precious little time we have. How many stories will I hear, before I die? How many times will my heart feel joy when someone find their prince charming? How much rage will be motivating me because I hear stories about abuse and suffering? I need to dive in it, and I need to feel. But sometimes I must also remind myself that my own story needs content. It needs feelings and people and thoughts. It needs insights, hurts and happy endings.

Where am I right now? Still sitting and waiting for my family in the home where I grew up. Soon my two small (energetic) brothers will fill the rooms with laughter and babbling. I love it and I love them. And maybe I will find my own love, soon? Maybe in some years times it will be me who looks at our children, and feel happiness swell in my chest? I am ready to grab my story, lift it up and carry it with me whereever I go.

 





The sound of reaching the shore

21 02 2014

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I lie in my bed after a shower. I’ve tried to wash away the day and give
my feverish body energy to fight nasty bacterias who fight their (hopefully) dying battles. Birdy’s wings plays in the background, setting the mood. In two weeks my life will take a different turn. I will not live in the same apartment I’ve stayed in for three years, but move back to my father and then into the apartment me and my boyfriend have bought together. Changes, always changes. Sometimes so many that I’ll have to sit down and think about it all: The last year has been like living inside a bubble of crazy incidents. I’ve been like a manic cat trying to catch birds that fly in all directions. I have enjoyed the roller coaster, and will continue to do so. But sometimes I need rest, like everyone else. That’s when I type these words or let my eyes settle on solid pages that never change. Writing, reading and thinking have been my closest friends for many years, and they will be for many more. I love them as much as I love my exuberant new friends: They always smile, have thousands of dreams and ideas that they manage to follow through. My golden luck ill wear with pride around my neck. I’ll never forget the Chances I’ll been given, and try to give back as much of it as I can.

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The sound of angel wings

14 02 2014

I know heaven must be beautiful right now
Cause they got you, babe

To my friend Niko, who was brought back to heaven October 2013.

I also dedicate this to her true love, continuing the war against stigma on her behalf. Read more about them here

compassionDonate and help her fulfill her wish (to the Kindness project) on : Mirrorgirl: My life as a psychologist. The most of the money will be given to guest writers and to promote the kindness project.

 





It`s all in her head

3 02 2014


It’s AlI in Her Head is a dynamic collection of finely crafted, stigma-busting stories by a diverse group of women who have struggled with a range of mental challenges, from mild dysthymia to full-blown schizophrenia.


Mannen weten alles beter! Althans dat denken ze zelf. Maar waarom eigenlijk?
Pinned by Greg 

The statistics are alarming: one in six American adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, phobia, PTSD, eating disorders, or addiction. Half of all Americans struggle with some form of mental illness at some time in their lives. Many millions more face the challenges of less-clinical, still-problematic conditions, such as worry, pessimism, and self-criticism. Doubly alarming is the underreported fact that most of these people are women.

On an epidemiological level, women are 2-3 times more likely to suffer depression and anxiety than men; women are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than men; women constitute 90% of people with eating disorders. Furthermore, studies show that women of color are over-represented in mental health statistics, and frequently receive sub-standard care.

Leaving aside the question of whether and/or how gender disparities in mental health are attributable to biological differences in the brains of women and men, certainly cultural factors are partly to blame. Women’s emotions and ideas are frequently invalidated; our status in the workplace is undervalued; we are socialized against prioritizing ourselves and our health; and we are expected to remain cheerful despite all these things. Culturally, we are encouraged to distance ourselves from, distrust, and discount our emotions and our thoughts, which can exacerbate mood disorders and other psychological difficulties.

Still, an enormous number of women have found ways to cope with their challenges and lead productive, creative, intellectually and emotionally satisfying lives. They’ve ferreted out helpful treatments, medications, practices, habits, and other mechanisms that enable them to make peace with their troubled minds.

How have they done it? How have you done it? It’s All in Her Head strives to provide readers with a glimpse into the successful strategies exercised by women whose persistent mental difficulties were met head on with something else in her head: resiliency, resourcefulness, intelligence, determination, and strength. Essays also include the powerful part played by supportive partners, health care providers, peers, family and friends.

Please consider adding your voice to this collection. There are far too many women who are in need of help. The involvement of talented writers will catapult this project into a realm that will have the most reach and influence, to those who need its wisdom most

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How long have I got left?

2 02 2014

How Long Have I Got Left?

Reblog By PAUL KALANITHIJAN. 24, 2014

People react differently to hearing “Procedure X has a 70 percent chance of survival” and “Procedure Y has a 30 percent chance of death.” Phrased that way, people flock to Procedure X, even though the numbers are the same. When a close friend developed pancreatic cancer, I became the medical maven to a group of people who were sophisticated statisticians. I still dissuaded them from looking up the statistics, saying five-year survival curves are at least five years out of date. Somehow I felt that the numbers alone were too dry, or that a physician’s daily experience with illness was needed for context. Mostly, I felt that impulse: Keep a measure of hope.

These survival curves, called Kaplan-Meier curves, are one way we measure progress in cancer treatment, plotting the number of patients surviving over time. For some diseases, the line looks like an airplane gently beginning its descent; for others, like a dive bomber. Physicians think a lot about these curves, their shape, and what they mean. In brain-cancer research, for example, while the numbers for average survival time haven’t changed much, there’s an increasingly long tail on the curve, indicating a few patients are living for years. The problem is that you can’t tell an individual patient where she is on the curve. It’s impossible, irresponsible even, to be more precise than you can be accurate.

One would think, then, that when my oncologist sat by my bedside to meet me, I would not immediately demand information on survival statistics. But now that I had traversed the line from doctor to patient, I had the same yearning for the numbers all patients ask for. I hoped she would see me as someone who both understood statistics and the medical reality of illness, that she would give me certainty, the straight dope. I could take it. She flatly refused: “No. Absolutely not.” She knew very well I could — and did — look up all the research on the topic. But lung cancer wasn’t my specialty, and she was a world expert. At each appointment, a wrestling match began, and she always avoided being pinned down to any sort of number.

20130602-215116.jpgNow, instead of wondering why some patients persist in asking statistics questions, I began to wonder why physicians obfuscate when they have so much knowledge and experience. Initially when I saw my CT scan, I figured I had only a few months to live. The scan looked bad. I looked bad. I’d lost 30 pounds, developed excruciating back pain and felt more fatigued every day. My tests revealed severely low protein levels and low blood counts consistent with the body overwhelmed, failing in its basic drive to sustain itself.

For a few months, I’d suspected I had cancer. I had seen a lot of young patients with cancer. So I wasn’t taken aback. In fact, there was a certain relief. The next steps were clear: Prepare to die. Cry. Tell my wife that she should remarry, and refinance the mortgage. Write overdue letters to dear friends. Yes, there were lots of things I had meant to do in life, but sometimes this happens: Nothing could be more obvious when your day’s work includes treating head trauma and brain cancer.

But on my first visit with my oncologist, she mentioned my going back to work someday. Wasn’t I a ghost? No. But then how long did I have? Silence.

Of course, she could not stop my intense reading. Poring over studies, I kept trying to find the one that would tell me when my number would be up. The large general studies said that between 70 and 80 percent of lung cancer patients would die within two years. They did not allow for much hope. But then again, most of those patients were older and heavy smokers. Where was the study of nonsmoking 36-year-old neurosurgeons? Maybe my youth and health mattered? Or maybe my disease was found so late, had spread so far, and I was already so far gone that I was worse off than those 65-year-old smokers.

Many friends and family members provided anecdotes along the lines of my-friend’s-friend’s-mom’s-friend or my-uncle’s-barber’s-son’s-tennis-partner has this same kind of lung cancer and has been living for 10 years. Initially I wondered if all the stories referred to the same person, connected through the proverbial six degrees. I disregarded them as wishful thinking, baseless delusion. Eventually, though, enough of those stories seeped in through the cracks of my studied realism.

And then my health began to improve, thanks to a pill that targets a specific genetic mutation tied to my cancer. I began to walk without a cane and to say things like, “Well, it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll be lucky enough to live for a decade, but it’s possible.” A tiny drop of hope.

In a way, though, the certainty of death was easier than this uncertain life. Didn’t those in purgatory prefer to go to hell, and just be done with it? Was I supposed to be making funeral arrangements? Devoting myself to my wife, my parents, my brothers, my friends, my adorable niece? Writing the book I had always wanted to write? Or was I supposed to go back to negotiating my multiyear job offers?

The path forward would seem obvious, if only I knew how many months or years I had left. Tell me three months, I’d just spend time with family. Tell me one year, I’d have a plan (write that book). Give me 10 years, I’d get back to treating diseases. The pedestrian truth that you live one day at a time didn’t help: What was I supposed to do with that day? My oncologist would say only: “I can’t tell you a time. You’ve got to find what matters most to you.”

I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.

The reason doctors don’t give patients specific prognoses is not merely because they cannot. Certainly, if a patient’s expectations are way out of the bounds of probability — someone expecting to live to 130, or someone thinking his benign skin spots are signs of impending death — doctors are entrusted to bring that person’s expectations into the realm of reasonable possibility.

But the range of what is reasonably possible is just so wide. Based on today’s therapies, I might die within two years, or I might make it to 10. If you add in the uncertainty based on new therapies available in two or three years, that range may be completely different. Faced with mortality, scientific knowledge can provide only an ounce of certainty: Yes, you will die. But one wants a full pound of certainty, and that is not on offer.

82e286270dbd7d085204a944fe240ce7What patients seek is not scientific knowledge doctors hide, but existential authenticity each must find on her own. Getting too deep into statistics is like trying to quench a thirst with salty water. The angst of facing mortality has no remedy in probability.

I remember the moment when my overwhelming uneasiness yielded. Seven words from Samuel Beckett, a writer I’ve not even read that well, learned long ago as an undergraduate, began to repeat in my head, and the seemingly impassable sea of uncertainty parted: “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” I took a step forward, repeating the phrase over and over: “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” And then, at some point, I was through.

I am now almost exactly eight months from my diagnosis. My strength has recovered substantially. In treatment, the cancer is retreating. I have gradually returned to work. I’m knocking the dust off scientific manuscripts. I’m writing more, seeing more, feeling more. Every morning at 5:30, as the alarm clock goes off, and my dead body awakes, my wife asleep next to me, I think again to myself: “I can’t go on.” And a minute later, I am in my scrubs, heading to the operating room, alive: “I’ll go on.”

Paul Kalanithi is a chief resident in neurological surgery at Stanford University.

mirrorgirl

General introduction to “Mirrorgirl”

 








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Working through the Dark Night of the Soul to emerge as me.

AdilaMKarol

Keep it simple, but significant!

The Word Forge

Casting truth, melting down golden calves

Neurodivergent Rebel

Rebelling against a culture that values assimilation over individuality.

Human Life Run

Mistakes Are Reality Of Life.Lets Understand and Move on!!

Solace

Your inner health with Jason Lee

Logical Quotes

Logical and Inspirational Quotes

jennifersekella

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

MAKE ME UP MARIE

An authentic lifestyle blog and open journal | Written by Marie Penrose

raynotbradbury

We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

Oriana's Notes

Just some stuff you might like. Or not. What do I know about you.

Child of Cynicism

"We're just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl year after year."

Eric's Corner of the Globe

Within the confines of one's mind lay the keys to eternity

Musings of PuppyDoc

Poetry & Medicine

Invisible Illnesses

Awareness, Education, Research & Quips

aspergerinformator

en opplysningsblogg om Asperger syndrom

Captain Awkward

Advice. Staircase Wit. Faux Pas. Movies.

Emerging From The Dark Night

Working through the Dark Night of the Soul to emerge as me.