- any of a number of sister goddesses, originally given as Aoede (song), Melete (meditation), and Mneme (memory), but latterly and more commonly as the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who presided over various arts: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyric poetry), Euterpe (music), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (religious music), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy), and Urania (astronomy); identified by the Romans with the Camenae.
- any goddess presiding over a particular art.
2.(sometimes lowercase) the goddess or the power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like.
3.(lowercase) the genius or powers characteristic of a poet.
My mother’s last birthday is coming up on September 13th. She’ll be 75 and she’s dying. She’s in hospice now, has been for two weeks and 4 days now. She had a stroke on Wednesday, August 24th.
This is the first time I’m faced with an odd situation such as this –
Mom’s dying and she’s still alive to see her 75th birthday.
What in the world do I do?
What do I say?
I will be calling her, or at least Dad, which we are not on good terms cause, well, I won’t get into it here. Do I say to her – You’ve made it to 75.
I really can’t seem to find anything on this matter at hand. I’m completely lost in what to do and how to say it. On top of that, I’m 2,000 miles away, she being in Tennessee and I’m in Washington state. I’m trying to gather funds to see her late next month if not sooner.
Time is ticking and I need advice quick.
A Walk In My Shoes
Brother’s Mind Is Lost
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was awake in my bedroom at the Canyon Creek Apartments in Phoenix, Arizona. I couldn’t sleep, so I listened to my New Kids On The Block album Hangin’ Tough. I turned down the music cause I felt a tension in the air. I could hear my mother in the living room waiting for my brother to come home, who was twenty-one of age at the time in 1991. The door slammed shut and my brother was in tears, nearly screaming at the top of his lungs.
I’ll call him, Travis.
“Travis, now calm down, honey,” mother cooed as I heard her follow him slowly into the kitchen. The kitchen and my bedroom shared the same wall. I didn’t even have to press my ear to it, I heard everything as though the wall was never there.
“No! I won’t calm down!” he yelled, his tone was fussy, growling almost, teeth clinched as he spoke.
“Shhh…you’ll wake Tara,” she soothed, getting slightly closer to him. I can tell in the location exactly as to where she stood before my brother. The walls acted like sonar bouncing their two voices right into my ear. My father, this whole time, was asleep in the bedroom down the hall, as far as I knew.
Travis began to cry. “I can’t calm down!” he growled.
“Did you take anything tonight?” she asked calmly knowing previously his past interactions with friends he hung out with.
“No! I can’t make the voices stop! Stop yelling at me!”
“I’m not yelling at you,” she spoke so calmly I was stunned. Where had she learned to be so cool under such pressure, I thought to myself.
A drawer opened. His fingers fondled around for a few seconds in the silverware container and then slammed the drawer closed. “Make them stop!” he growled, half yelling.
“Travis, take the knife away from your throat. Honey, please.”
I could hear his stance change. I could hear his foot move forward toward mom. All the while my hand was relaxed, open palmed, on my Joey McIntyre poster as I tried to calm my sobs. My other hand lay on the white of the wall. At that very second I could hear him move his arm outward. A slightly heavy jacket rustled as his arm moved forward toward my mother’s chest. I knew were the knife was headed.
“You can’t stop them! I want to die!” he cried, tears choking his words as the emotions poured out.
“Put the knife down. Here, give me the knife,” after those words were spoken by my mother, her full cool in action, the clatter of the knife was laid on the counter top.
“What’s wrong with me!” he sobbed into mother’s chest.
All the while, I cried. My body shook. My tear filled eyes I wiped with my left hand. I remember like it was yesterday – my tear soaked fingers trailing down the poster leaving streaks behind.
schizophrenia schiz·o·phre·ni·a [skit-suh-free-nee-uh, -freen-yuh] n. Any of a group of psychotic disorders usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations, and accompanied in varying degrees by other emotional, behavioral, or intellectual disturbances. Schizophrenia is often associated with dopamine imbalances in the brain and defects of the frontal lobe and may have an underlying genetic cause.
My brother had been in the Navy from 1988 to 1991. He was dishonorably discharged having done something against regulations while he worked in computer programming. He had also been caught too many times selling and using drugs on base. These were not symptoms of his schizophrenia. Even way before that, when he was little, Mom had told me stories that he was a very overly hyper child. Always getting into trouble and was hard to deal with especially in his teen years. He had dropped out of high school during his Sophomore year. That is when all his mental upheavals really started.
However, in 1996 he suffered a nearly fatal car accident in the state of Washington, were my family had later moved to. My brother was the middle passenger in the truck. A Marine friend was sitting on the right and a friend to them both, a blond woman drove. The light to turn left was green. Just as the driver made the turn half way, another driver ran the red light broad siding into the truck. The Marine died instantly. The driver of the truck my brother was in only bit off half her tongue.
My brother had the worst of it. Broken legs in two differently places. Broken left arm and broken right wrist. Shattered jaw. Closed head trauma. He was unconscious on impact. He was kept in a chemical induced coma for six weeks for his brain injury to heal. To encase his brain, a metal plate was placed over the opening. Due to his previous issues with the beginnings of schizophrenia from his teen years into his early 20s, this closed head injury activated it a hundred fold. The doctors and psychiatrist diagnosed him as: Paranoid Schizophrenic.
Now, to the technical information that I have studied for years. How I come to find schizophrenia so fascinating and kept up with my studies on the subject, even though I never went to college to obtain a degree, was when I unknowingly married a residual schizophrenic (that subject will be for ‘Schizophrenia: A Walk In My Shoes Part 2: The Saint Could Not Save Him’).
All the information I fill this article with, up to this point, are all coming from one book: Writer’s Guide to Character Traits (second edition) by: Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D. Published by: Writer’s Digest Books, copyright 2006.
Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia:
None of these signs by themselves indicate any mental illness.
Sleep disruptions; inability to sleep or unusual waking hours
Withdrawal from family and friends
Difficulty concentrating and paying attention
Deterioration of personal hygiene
Rambling or disorganized speech
Flat or expressionless gaze
Unusual sensitivity to stimuli such as light or noise
Smelling or tasting things differently
Steady, noticeable decline in school or work performance
Threats of self harm or harm to others
Can demonstrate sexual promiscuity
Opposition to authority; truancy, vandalism or theft
Feelings that others are watching or laughing at him
Extreme preoccupation with religion
A growing sense of deja-vu
Believing that independent events are connected
Irrational fear or anger
I can not stress this enough – the list above shows all the basic signs. It takes a combination of them, each person is different in combos of symptoms, to exhibit full on or medium functionality with schizophrenia. A regular person can experience ‘deja vu’ at some point in their lives or many times in their lives, but for a schizophrenic they experience it often to the point it can make them paranoid to take precautions that can endanger themselves and others.
The most common food that I found that my brother did not like and still does not like to this day was – tomatoes. I found this to be strange, so I looked into it years later. What I found confirmed even more that my brother had a chemical imbalance in his brain that caused his schizophrenia. A schizophrenic will absolutely hate the taste, texture, and smell of tomatoes and bananas due to the potassium compounds in the fruit. The smell especially triggers a reaction to their frontal cortex instinctively to stay away from the fruit. It may seem irrational to normal people, but to a chemically damaged brain it is a sign that there is something wrong. Now, there are people who don’t like tomatoes for other reasons, but a normally healthy brain will still try to consume something new.
As for the preoccupation with religion, in a normal person they will do ritual actions that make them happy. A ritual is only something someone does constantly at the same day and same point of time. This does not mean the person will ‘worship’ their toothbrush in the morning. This means a normal person has a routine that they are comfortable with every single day. In a schizophrenic the constant actions of something religious in scope can become so obsessive they take it as full on reality. A fabulous thing my brother said more than once in 1993 to 1998 – “I am an angel from God! I am here to guide you into the righteous light!” He would scream this during false arguments with my parents just to get a reaction from himself onto others. He would then go into a fit and slam the front door screaming at the top of his lungs. He was not under the influence of cannabis. However, cannabis can induce more schizophrenic behaviors if someone does not know they have the chemical imbalance.
Not to be confused with ADHD, having a lack in concentration for a schizophrenic person is sporadic and has no pattern. What can make them lose concentration easily can be the voices in their mind or the basic stress of being in a crowd of people that are talking all at once. For a regular person, losing concentration can stem from being overly interested in different stimuli all at once or being easily bored with one subject you are working on and then needing something to awaken you to get back on track. A normal person will take breaks if they are becoming distracted, but for a schizophrenic taking a break from distraction is very difficult to master if at all.
Those are just a small handful of what my brother exhibited in many combinations of onset schizophrenia when he was not on any medication. In the list above, he experienced nearly the whole thing in varying degrees throughout his 44 years of life so far. Today, for the last five years or more, he has been on three different medications to maintain the symptoms. At this time there is absolutely no cure for schizophrenia.
Traits Of A Person With Schizophrenia:
Experiences bizarre delusions; alien thoughts are inserted in the mind
Has disorganized speech: rambling, incoherent, wandering from topic to topic, provides answers that do not respond to questions
Has bizarre thinking patterns: unusual associations, illogical connections
Experiences disturbed moods: may go from very stubborn to peaceable
May exhibit peculiar behaviors: disheveled appearance; lack of hygiene; inappropriate sexual behavior; agitation; talking to self; jumping around
Is confused; responds to internal stimuli, not to cues in the outside world
Hallucinates; any sense can be affected but the most common is auditory: hearing voices that comment, threaten, or instruct
Is anxious, apprehensive, and plagued by self-doubt
Is socially alienated and feels misunderstood
Is usually expressionless in speech with little body language
Shows inappropriate affect; laughs or cries without reason, or shows no emotion
Feels estranged from self; does not feel real
Has difficulty concentrating; poor memory
Avoids new situations
Can be out-of-control and impulsive
Withdraws from others; is secretive and inaccessible
While growing up with a brother with schizophrenia, I found myself keeping away from all that he exhibited toward the family. His outbursts of raising his voice because mom, dad and myself would be talking nearly at the same time, he would be overwhelmed and yell to us to shut up. Whenever the television was turned up load cause dad’s hearing was going, and if anyone, even one other person was talking along with, he would get visibly agitated. He would then demand the sound be turned down. The slightest argument, or hint of it from my parents to supposedly scold me over something minor, my brother would raise his voice to shut everyone up and then burst out of the room saying, “I can’t take this anymore! Will you all just shut up!”
The worst onset of his schizophrenia was a day I will never forget. He was hyped up on cannabis that was laced with something. He had been gone for a week and my parents were worried sick. He came home one afternoon totally out of his mind. An argument, as I would call it a false argument ensued. I don’t remember what exactly was said, as I was traumatized by his outburst to block it out. I remember coming down the stairs in the house we lived in in Marysville, Washington. I had enough of it. I sat down in the leather chair and yelled at him to just leave the house. He then got into my face, nearly nose to nose yelling at me. I do not remember to this day what he said to me, but I remember gripping onto the arms of the chair shaking. Both my parents rushed behind him grabbing his arms and both saying, “Don’t you touch her!” My father then rushed to get the camcorder to video tape the event. My brother noticed this right away and changed his tactics. He acted normal again as though everything was fine. He then stormed out of the garage yelling at our parents that they were being paranoid.
I was then fussed at for starting a bigger argument. I was in tears and my mother said, “Why are you crying over this? He didn’t do anything to you. You have nothing to cry about.”
What they did not know and still do not understand to this day, now that I’ll be 35 of age this year, because of my brother’s wild behavior due to schizophrenia has caused me to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are other factors for my PTSD that I will be discussing in a later article about that subject alone.
As for now, I will conclude this article by saying this to all readers: If you love someone no matter if they are a family member or a dear close friend, even in school, and they exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia you must guide them to the help they need. Schizophrenia is a quiet mental illness that the person does not know they have. Their consciousness is so removed from reality it takes a healthy person’s mind to recognize that there is a problem. However, there will be times that the one you love can not be saved. No matter how many times you try, a schizophrenic person may never find treatment. There are those that are just coherent enough to allow the realization that they have a problem.
At this time there is no cure only medication treatments and years of psychotherapy will a person with this mental illness be able to cope with their daily lives on a schedule.
In the next article, I will discuss my experiences being married to a schizophrenic and show examples of other people I came in contact with over the years from school all the way into my working retail career.
I laugh at the numbers in which you were given about Schizophrenia. My brother has paranoid schizophrenia and takes meds and drinks along with. 3 of my classmates in high school have schizophrenia – 1 is in prison for murder, 1 committed suicide, 1 is under house arrest for life and not allowed to leave Everett, WA cause he’s a level 3 rapist and takes a heavy cocktail of meds (this one I also dated for a month in high school before I discovered the truth, I nearly was raped by him, too). An ex boyfriend from high school, his step sister, one of the twins, has schizophrenia and lives on the streets. In the apartment building in which I lived with my husband, there were 3 schizophrenics – 1 now lives on the streets his name is David, 1 might be dead now, but was in a mental hospital after she was removed from the apartment due to how she lived in a hoard of filth, and 1 just left everything she owned and left, don’t know what happened to her.
Oh, my now ex-husband, has retental schizophrenia all his life and has never taken meds. His family never told me until after the divorce what his condition was. I found out on my own the hard way and left before he did more physical damage to me. Another neighbor next to the apartment building brought a woman in to help her, she had schizophrenia and committed suicide three years later. I know of 20 other schizophrenics I’ve seen, interacted with cautiously cause all of them didn’t take medication. Half of them were physically dangerous. All these people I’ve come to know, including my brother, all live in Everett, Washington. Everett used to have a mental institution, but was shut down in the 80s. Now, most of these people walk the streets with no meds cause they can’t afford it even with Obamacare. They don’t even know they are that mentally ill to get help.
Now, there’s the story of a family in Tacoma, WA back in 2008, I think it was. The father went to work. His 10 year old son went to school. The wife and her two younger children stayed home. The husband’s grandmother had lived with them for nearly five years under medication and living in the attic just fine. She was coherent and normal, took her meds every day….Until one day, she stopped taking them. Within three days time her mind reverted back to it’s original schizophrenic state but snapped. The father came home, the son came home. What they found shook the state of Washington to it’s core. The mother and the two children were found dead in the kitchen. The grandmother had committed suicide.
Now, tell me again that schizophrenia is not dangerous? That the numbers are a 1% of the population? 1 in 4 people now know someone or has someone in their family with some form of schizophrenia. It used to be 1 in 9 people 15 years ago. The numbers have exploded due to people’s awareness of symptoms and meds being given only if someone can afford them.
My brother can barely afford his meds to keep down ‘the demons’ in his head. The insurance companies cut him back at least four times a year cause THEY THINK he’s overly dependent when they don’t understand how much he needs them that badly to function. When he doesn’t have his meds, it only takes 3 days for his mental disorder to go wild. I won’t go into any further details as this hurts me to know that you and your production group think that it’s only 1% of the population. Well, news flash buddy, I’ve lived through all that 1% which is getting bigger. I’ve seen it all my life. I know things I shouldn’t, but it has kept me alive.