Safety, Society, Stigma, Stability: Finding the Inner Child (repost)

For years I thought that my inner child within [1] was about ten years old.  This is about the time my parents separated for a divorce.  Like most children, I took this news personally and thought that I was personally responsible for their break-up.  I recall the Valentine’s Day after my parents separated I gave them both together a huge Valentine’s heart box filled with Russell Stover candies.  I could tell something was wrong by the look of sheer anxiety on my father’s face.   

In addition to this divorce, my inner child has been somewhat over-shadowed by being the replacement child for my older brother who died as an infant the year before I was born.  At least with my father, I always felt like the replacement child who did not quite measure up.  With my mom, this was not always so much the case.  

Today I feel that my inner child is more like 6 years old (than 10 years old) though I do not know of a specific incident that would have triggered this child within to “stop” at this age.  Perhaps my parents stopped communicating with each other when I turned 6, perhaps I experienced some childhood tragedy that I can no longer recall or name, perhaps this was the beginning of financial differences between my Mom and my Dad and all that that entails.

In any case, this six-year-old child within tends to believe in all sorts of magic just as would a child at six years of age.  She is a matchmaker at heart and seeks continually to imagine people together who might be good with each other – imaginarily or not.  She tends to see things in circular time or dream time often before they occur in linear time.  This early perception is not jarring to her mental health so long as there is not a safety component to it.  If there is a safety component to the perception, my child within seems to turn ten years old and not only feels ”unsafe” but also feels the responsibility for the “unsafe event.” 

I have spent years if not decades trying to understand this child within and her fears for safety.   I have particularly been focused on this child and her safety concerns since becoming a mother 17 years ago.   If I listen closely, it may be that this six-year-old child holds no fears only perceptions of a beautiful place and beautiful planet.  It may be that my true child within is largely guarded from feelings of unsafety, and it is more the child of ten years or the child of divorce or replacement that holds onto those feelings of responsibility and angst and anxiety.

If only I could get the ten-year-old child to listen to the six-year-old child, perhaps I could start to see and hear and experience a world in which everything is whole and in which God is truly in control.  If I am able to honor that six-year-old child fully, I may be able to let go of the ten-year-old child who forever feels responsible for any and almost every calamity that exists.  The ten-year-old feels responsibility for safety of self, safety of community, safety of nation and safety of the world, while the six-year-old appears unencumbered by these rampant safety concerns.  The six-year-old is largely concerned with whether or not people are happy and who might meet whom and what is needed in order to stay happy. 


[1]  I am aware that there are several texts that have been published that address finding the child within and healing the inner child.  I have never read any of these texts but I have worked directly with a therapist over several years in listening to and acknowledging that child.   I would assume that my therapist has read these books and has imparted their knowledge to me.  These books are not included in my Bibliography as I have never read them.

Found Ya Blog | Bloggers Interview | Mental Health is health

Here is an interview from a fellow blogger. Hope it sheds some light on things if you are unfamiliar with Mental Health.

A Writer's Deli

For today’s interview, we’ve got a topic which is of extreme significance. I, particularly am a huge advocate of mental well-being and eradication of the stigma surrounding it. To throw some light on the topic, we’ve with us a blogger whose life experience, optimism and practical ways to combat mental illness will be enlightening for the readers. The link to the blog is attached at the end for your reference. Happy Reading.

1.Thank you for this interview. What is your blog about and why the name Mental health is health?

My blog is about my journey through bipolar illness that started when I was in college and continues to this day, sometimes well managed and sometimes somewhat well managed. I feel that stigma is a major issue in the field of Mental Health – perhaps adding up to half of the battle for many people who are…

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Safety, Society, Stigma, Stability: a “Me Too” Movement Moment (repost)

Names and places have been changed in order to maintain privacy in these discussions.

During the fall of 1984 I was working on my thesis with a professor named Professor Dean Flannigan.  My thesis topic was somewhat controversial as I was using Modern Fiction in my research and drawing conclusions from authors of the times like Alice Walker and Flannery O’Connor.  I was looking at the way family is portrayed in Modern Fiction as an indicator of the socio-political developments and historical dynamics of the time.  It felt like the English Department was not altogether in favor of such a modern approach to a thesis, yet approval for my thesis topic was provided by the relevant committee.  This was a couple of years after my approval of a major in American Studies. 

Professor Dean Flannigan is a story in and of itself and one which I will not detail right now except to say I now feel that Professor Flannigan was someone who needed to be revered and admired by his students yet also considered a peer.  This situation was associated with risky behavior including serving cocaine to students in his home and invitations to Chicago which may have triggered my illness.

For me at the time, this was a “me too movement” moment. While I was not physically abused by Professor Flannigan, I believe I was psychologically abused. Professor Flannigan without any training tried to psychoanalyze me through the thesis advisement process and perhaps even tried to make me feel unstable. This unwarranted psychoanalysis triggered the response of a six-year-old child within me that likely experienced child abuse. Professor Flannigan’s attempts to psychoanalyze me I call psycho-social or psycho-sexual abuse. They left me with exposure of this six-year-old child with no way to regain security.

Today, I continue have high disregard for this professor and for Ivy College given the behavior of Professor Flannigan.  I also readily agree now that I was not mature enough to distance myself from his later “come-ons” and “innuendos.”  While an excellent scholar, I was not mature enough to tell Professor Flannigan to go to hell when he started to make advances toward me.  I was confused with feelings of respect I held for him intellectually vying with feelings of confusion and paranoia at being asked to travel with him unaccompanied to Chicago. 

Immediately after my first breakdown, Professor Flannigan began to distance himself from me in an effort to secure tenure.  This effort to secure tenure was after he and I had several thesis review meetings, after he invited me to join him on a trip to Chicago, after he tried to analyze my childhood on several occasions and after he tried to seduce me into coming solo with him to Chicago and after making zodiac references to me like “Scorpio riseth…” I had no idea what that saying was supposed to mean.  I also had no idea how to establish a boundary with Professor Flannigan.  On the one-hand, I thought he was brilliant and a brilliant scholastic role model.  On the other hand, I felt his actions to seduce me (as I understood them) were highly inappropriate.  But I did not have the strength to articulate this to myself much less to him. If I had perhaps been more mature myself, I could have indicated to this Professor Flannigan that while I revered his intellect, I found great fault with his personal behavior.  Bottom line I was emotionally too immature to know how to say no to a trip to Chicago or to an invitation toward some sort of sexual interlude.  I was academically brilliant as a scholar but not so much so as a student to a professor who consistently pushed the boundaries of appropriate behavior.      

Since that time, Professor Flannigan has enjoyed getting tenure at Ivy College and has secured virtually unprecedented popularity on campus.  I, on the other hand, have not enjoyed similar successes particularly in my professional life which has been hampered over the years on numerous occasions by my illness.

My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Clothing then and now (reposted)

As a note before this repost, I have successfully maneuvered getting 10 to 13 pounds off (and stayed off) in the last several months. This has largely been due to introducing daily exercise into my day – walking and/or yoga. This is the first time I have been able to stick to such a routine in 17 years. Oddly, my evening snacking has not made the weight gain disappear but it does tell me that I could get another 7 to 10 pounds off if I could just stop the snacking / stress eating in the evening after dinner. The repost is below:

I have continued to have some sort of fixation with clothes and clothing – not only the color in which they appear but also the “privacy” of the label.  Sometimes this label is not private and is emblazoned on the back pocket of the jeans as in Calvin Klein jeans from the 1970’s or even the Levi’s name tag on that ever so timeless brand of clothing.  I am unsure what this fixation on clothing entails exactly.  I do know that it is tied with some body image issues that get complicated because of my need to take regular meds for my bipolar condition. 

Throughout high school and college I remained a size 6 to 8 when I perhaps should have been a size ten.  After meds were introduced in my life I was almost always a size 8 to 10.  After bearing a child and substantially increasing my meds, I have been more a size 12 to 14.  My goal at this juncture in life is to be back at that size 12.  Perhaps my obsession with clothing is in parallel to my own body image issues, perhaps not. 

In any case, the preoccupation with clothing seems to have something also to so with pattern recognition.  If four people out of ten wear red to the office that day, I notice it.   If black was worn by person A on day one and by persons B, C, D, and E, I notice it. Not that I really ever did anything with the information, it was just a layer of the type of perceptions I would have – extraneous and meaningless maybe or maybe not.  Definitely with a focus on color patterns and patterning.

In my teens, I spent hours shopping for the right clothing.  Today, I abhor shopping for clothes largely because I am two sizes bigger than I would like to be.  The preoccupation with clothes at an early age is probably all wrapped up in image.  I have very little to say in that regard today as Ego is largely drained from my daily events.  I tend today to wear the same make of clothes all the time and often repeat the same outfit once a week.  In fact, I do not care about clothing at all.  It is a chore to buy clothes and it is a chore to pick out clothes for any given day.

While being diagnosed with an eating disorder is something I have considered as relevant to my mental health, I feel that my weight gain issues center more on body image issues and medication use.  For years, I bought into the fashion magazine mindset that you were not beautiful unless you were a size 6 or size 8.  For years throughout high school and college and into my twenties, I ate and exercised in order to maintain a size 6 or a size 8 figure.  Often this meant running three to five miles several times a week and counting caloric intake to be about 1000 calories a day.  When I became pregnant at age 38 I was about a size ten. After giving birth to my daughter, I have stayed at a size twelve if not a size fourteen.  I currently have very little discipline in the food and exercise realm largely in my own view because I feel I am reacting to years of over-exercising and over-dieting. 

So it is that my size in clothes has moved from a size 6 in high school to a size 14 in married life and after child-birth.  This continues to be a goal of mine to return again to size 12 through a combination of exercise and food monitoring.  However, it is something admittedly that until quite recently has fallen off the radar screen.  Some of this frustration and back-pedaling about eating and exercise may include the fact that meds are often associated with weight gain.  In my mind, I tell myself it is better to have an extra twenty pounds on while taking medicine than it is to be a at a model’s weight with little or no mental stability.  This is particularly true when I start to be honest with myself that fasting from breakfast time through lunchtime is associated with mood issues since blood sugar levels are not being addressed.

My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Airports Then and Now (reposted)

Follows Fear of Flying post

As you may understand, for years if not decades after this event at the airport (see Fear of Flying post) , I have had an intense fear of flying.  Every time I go to the airport I feel the original anxiety of that day in February 1985.  The intercom voice announcements seem to echo off the walls and the floors in some surreal fashion.  The lack of windows to the outside leaves me feeling claustrophobic always.  In the early years, this meant I had to be escorted by family to the runway gate if I were traveling alone.  (This was before the days of post 9/11 security checks.)   Years later even if I am traveling with family, I tend to be hyper aware of safety issues at all times when I am at an airport. My thoughts become more elevated and I am prone to high anxiety.  Strangely (or logically) enough these fears largely take place at the airport itself and seldom revolve around safety issues pre-flight or mid-flight while on the plane.  I am not very fearful once I am on the airplane or in flight.  The anxiety is almost always associated with being in the airport and feeling unsafe.  Gladly, my husband is also not fond of flying, so we tend to make marathon drives for our summer and family vacations. 

As a side note on airports and airport travel, I tend to have a very hard time with changing time zones when I am flying.  When I am traveling by car or by train this is not so much the case as the time change is gradual.  Because of this time zone change difficulty, I largely avoided flying to Europe for almost thirty plus years.  Even a flight from Baltimore to San Francisco was difficult in that I would experience a three-hour time change and all the difficulties associated with that, particularly impacts on sleeping.  In the last few years, I have progressed through my fears and my sleep issues of changing time zones and have traveled to Europe twice – once was for a conference in Zurich, Switzerland in July 2012 and once was for a wedding and a conference in the United Kingdom in July 2013.  Thanks to Melatonin as prescribed by my psycho-pharmacologist, I was able to make these trips with relative ease in the area of jet lag and adjusting sleep cycles.

I am very thankful that my psycho-pharmacologist as an MD was open to prescribing a relatively non-traditional form of medicine for jet lag.  This option worked beautifully for me and has given me hope that overseas travel is no longer a huge worry or huge hurdle to overcome.  In general, I am very blessed to have care givers for my bipolar illness who bridge traditional medicines and their prescription with alternative medicines such as Melatonin. 

My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Smelling like a Dog (reposted)

The idea of paranormal thought and healing was referenced in a book suggested to me by a friend from college, also a Medical Doctor, about twenty years ago.  The book called The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot [1] suggests that paranormal thought and healing may be more common than we realize.  This is a tricky insight, but I think one that is worth exploring.

Consider thought as if it were on a continuum from normal logical thought on one extreme to paranoid thought on the other extreme.  Where would we place the thoughts of autistic people who are on the spectrum and able to compute incredible math equations or know any date in time without any degree of difficulty?   What if every person with bipolar illness or a behavioral health disorder has or had an autistic or quasi-autistic child within?  What might be needed to give room to this quasi-autistic child within to develop and gain confidence to move forward in life with the accompanying adult?  What if the adult with bipolar illness or a behavioral health challenge could regain health by honoring this quasi-autistic child and his/her inherent fragility?  Perhaps if the quasi-autistic child within had an audience who listened to these fragile thoughts, communication exchange might be able to occur before thoughts reach the other end of the spectrum at paranoia? Perhaps if the child within is acknowledged for having some extra set of insights, care givers might recognize those abilities and acknowledge them, perhaps stopping the paranoid thought process before it occurs. This is a hugely large question and one that requires behavioral health scientists to review and explore and evaluate.

I talk about this “paranormal thought” in terms of a dog’s abilities to smell or to hear because we readily accept that a dog can smell and hear things that we don’t smell and hear.  However, it is much more difficult for us to believe that some of us humans may see or hear things beyond that of a “regular” person or differently from a “regular” person much like a blind person may have a corresponding enhanced musical ability.  For every disability might there be a corresponding ability? The paranormal thought process may also be linked to the age of my inner child who for these purposes may be about six years old – more discussion on that later.

Shortly after reading The Holographic Universe, I wrote a letter to physicist David Bohm requesting that a study be performed that looked at human perceptions of time, including circular time (the world of dreams) and linear time (the world of events).   I had no idea that David Bohm was deceased when I wrote that letter to him in the mid-1990s but have felt and continue to feel over the years that work in quantum physics and work in paranormal thought are somehow intrinsically linked.  Matter and anti-matter may correlate loosely to real time and to dream time.  

Recently in the past few years I have come to understand my six-year-old child within through these lenses.  I feel that I must learn to listen to what this child has to say or what she is feeling.  I feel that by listening to this child I may be able to connect to the child and the vulnerability before my thoughts have migrated to full-blown paranoia.  This is an extremely important but difficult path.  There is a huge amount of research out there about honoring the child within.  However, there is not a lot of research out there about how honoring extra-sensory perceptions or thought patterns may help quell or disperse or render neutral paranoid thoughts and paranoid perceptions. In addition to dispersing paranoid thought before it begins, this approach may potentially shed light on some insights that are down the scale from logical thought but not at the other end of paranoid thought either.

During the past few years as I have been locating and holding up that six-year-old child, I have felt extraordinarily vulnerable, prone to having extreme bouts of tears as past fears have come unglued.  During this time of elevating this child of six, I have sought more frequent meetings with my therapist in terms of translating this new dynamic of an elevated inner child to everyday realities of a job search, getting a healthy dinner on the table, taking and managing meds, getting an exercise regime established and managing moods in general.

Quite late in my own emotional development, I have concluded that this six-year-old child may have certain insights beyond normal sensory perception.  The challenge now is to find the means and wherewithal to listen to that child within rather than minimize that child’s “doglike” abilities.  The impetus in this world is to discount any sort of extra sensory perceptions we may have (that that child may have) in preference for logic and all things explainable through reason in this world.  So far, it is clear that as a society we value perceptions that are logical and shun perceptions that may arise through intuition or some alternate form of perception not related to logic. 

I call this type of intuition or perception “unknowledge” or “illogical communication” or “ecological communication.”  We don’t expect nature or feelings to follow the linear laws of logic.  We expect nature to follow cycles and courses of development that are multi-dimensional and cyclical.  It follows that some of us, perhaps those with a bipolar or other mood disorder diagnoses, have trains of thought that are ecologically informed rather than logically informed.  Perhaps a lack of reason may not necessarily be a bad thing if we can tease out the dangerous components that are correlated with paranoia before they can even exist or present. Perhaps if we catch illogical and ecological thought at the onset before connections to paranoid perceptions, this illogical and ecological thought can provide insights and awareness that the logical mind cannot perceive.


[1] Talbot, Michael,  The Holographic Universe, copyright 1991 by Michael Talbot (Harper Collins Publishers: New York, NY). “Chapter 6: Seeing Holographically:” pp 162-193.

If I can do it, you can do it!

I recently have gotten back into a physical exercise regime, what I have not done for about 15 to 18 years. I have been keeping a log of my walks and my yoga. So far it has been five weeks since I started. I have kept the log each day and include any comments like what yoga positions were difficult (code for I could not complete….) or whether the walk was long or short. I also include a day of rest each week.

In my prior life, I was an exercise fanatic, sometimes going on runs twice a day. Later after running I was an aerobics enthusiast and actually taught classes in college and later after I graduated in clubs. Later in life but still before meeting my husband, I was a self-taught dancer. I always considered myself to be very fit, but after my lovely daughter was born, I slipped into a not-so-fit lifestyle. I gave up on exercise and succumbed to the idea that meds cause weight gain.

I also succumbed to stress eating and snacking particularly at night before bed. This is not good for weight control and not so good for being at risk for Type II diabetes either.

I share my recent success with getting into a yoga and walk routine because I am proud to say this is the longest duration in forever that I have kept up such an exercise regime. I also want you to know that if you are on the fence about exercising, motivation can happen for you! If it happened for me, it can surely happen for you, too!

I am also proud to report that I have lost ten pounds and have kept it off over the last two to three months. I still am having my evening treat which I hope soon to discontinue or to substitute with a price of fruit. While ten pounds off is a good initial accomplishment for me, I would like to update that goal with an additional ten pounds more to lose. We’ll see if that’s doable.

Although I have known about the connection between exercise and stress management all my life, I still have been somehow unwilling to get back into the routine of things. This last month has reminded me how crucial exercise is to helping with mental health — especially anxiety management which is one of my biggest challenges.

I keep a basic log in WORD and write down a daily account of my walks and my yoga. I write down what was particularly difficult in yoga and what I did as an alternative pose. There is no room for judgement or for feeling bad if I cannot do a certain pose. I simply do what I can and modify the pose if it is too difficult for me. Whether I complete the class doing all the work or some of the work, I still benefit from a good bit of stress and anxiety reduction.

Anyway, I wanted to share my start back to a successful exercise schedule. Hopefully this will help keep me motivated. Also, I hope if you too are experiencing trouble getting going in this area, you will use the idea of my simple log to help you start your version of the same sort of regimen.

Dear Reader,

Dear reader I am writing to ask you a question. What happens after a person has had some reconciliation of the fact that he/she was very much abused as a small child? If this doesn’t pertain to you, please disregard this post.

I have just undergone gut-wrenching and extensive therapy since December 2020 which for me had its origins in treatment I received as a small child of about 6.

I have been clinging to the earth these last few weeks so as not to slip again into the abyss where for some extended period of time a portion of my psyche had been living.

According to my own assessment, I have successfully crawled and clawed my way out of a 100 foot deep pit with slippery mud sides.

Now that I am completely out of the pit ( I hope), I am wondering what to do with myself, what to work on, what to avoid, what to learn, what to enjoy. Take a shower and wash off the mud? Take into account exactly where the pit is so as not to fall into it again? Designate this exit from the abyss as my new “rock bottom” and be thankful for hitting it so as to get the $%^&* out of there? Allow myself to tell myself, I deserve happiness? I deserve good health and fitness?

As fodder for knowing I have exited the abyss, for the first time in 20 years I have been able to stick to an exercise routine composed of mostly yoga and some walking in the neighborhood. I have recorded a log which is two weeks long and growing which for me is super progress. In my youth I was very, very fit, so getting back to that place with mindfulness is huge for me.

So if anyone here or there has also climbed out of their own pit of abuse or anxiety or depression, I would love to hear your story as to what you decided to do next once you found yourself alongside the edge of that pit but no longer in it.

Of course I will talk my therapist about it, but I thought I would ask you dear reader in the meantime.

My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Imprinting (reposted and a continuation from prior post)

What I took away from this first break experience during my Senior winter at Ivy College is that being mentally ill meant I was first a criminal and second a person. I know that first responders were doing their jobs to watch out for the safety of all those who were boarding the plane and/or in the airport. But that experience told me: “You are a criminal. You were trying to bomb the plane. You are guilty of anything and everything until proven innocent. You need to be handcuffed. You do not have the right to have fears much less to express them. You do not have the right to have perceptions that are not 100 percent clear. You are a danger to others around you and you need to be locked up.”

My first episode imprinted me for the rest of my life. For years, I would try to escape the label of criminal that had been imposed on me by circumstance and happenstance. But try as I might, I still felt like I was a criminal every time I had a subsequent break-through episode no matter how big or how small.

In hindsight, things could have unfolded quite differently. I could have reported to the school clinic that I was having anxiety about traveling to Chicago and had been having some trouble sleeping. I could have gone into the clinic for a routine evaluation and perhaps been put on lithium or some other drug for bipolar. But sadly, that is not the way my first episode and subsequent diagnosis of bipolar went. I remember to this day looking at those pictures on the wall in the police station and thinking they must be looking for me as “most wanted.” Being mentally ill simply meant I was a criminal.

I will talk later on about stigma and first responders — including the importance of training first responders how to recognize the signs if a person is a danger to him or herself or whether the person is also a danger to those around him or her. But that discussion about stigma and first responder training is for another day.