healing

Overcoming Life’s Problems – Life Advice From a Mental Patient

Overcoming Life’s Problems – Life Advice From a Mental Patient

Often, we can learn from someone else’s life situation. What follows is my story, and a method I used to overcome a huge problem. At the story’s end, I’ll share a general rule you might use to help yourself.


The reception area is at the entrance—a hallway. I sign my name and am ushered in and, as the doors lock behind me, I survey the scene. It’s likely I will die here. I’d rather die fighting “the revolution” in the streets than in this place.

At the nurse’s station, I tell nurse I want out, but she doesn’t listen. I grab a table lamp to use as a weapon as the men in the white coats approach. I know they will kill me.

The next morning when I awake, the only thing that has died is my innocence.

The psychiatrist who previously interviewed me suggested I sign into the mental hospital. He was the authority and presented no alternatives, so I did what he said.

Mom brought me in to see him after I rolled my car off the road and hit a tree. I heard voices, thought someone followed me, and thought they had drugged my food. I was having flashbacks from the psychedelic drug experiments that had replaced my lab work in grad school.

The emerging counter-culture, with its rock-and-roll, radical politics, alternative schools, communes, and drugs, was far more interesting than my academic pursuits. Academic science was too competitive for me, a very sensitive person. During my first hospitalization, I searched my soul for what I should do to make life easier. I dropped out after eight years of college.

My personnel file was not available. After twenty job applications with no luck, I became suspicious, and sent the file to a friend who graduated, pretending to apply for work with him. He informed me of my professors recommendations—all bad. Is it reprehensible to give bad recommendations? Why couldn’t they tell me they couldn’t recommend me? They commonly call this stigmatization, but it’s prejudice.

Eight years and seven hospitalizations later, I decided I’d had enough of hospitals. I’d do whatever it might take to never return. Through trial and error plus hard work and persistence, I came up with three ways to beat the “revolving door.”

First, I was non-compliant. I didn’t do what the doctors suggested, as I knew these were ways to keep me hooked into the system. I didn’t take their meds, go to community outreach for therapy, or live in neighborhoods with other ex-patients.

Second, I got an apprenticeship with a fiber arts professor at the college. My friends told me I’d never find one, that it would be better to take workshops. But I persisted and was lucky. Weaving provided me with a calming moving meditation. It gave me a new creative outlet to replace my scientist identity. And it kept me busy and away from the streets and clubs.

Third, instead of seeing state-funded therapists, I saw a private one. She came recommended. I had to wait two years for her calendar to clear.

After two sessions that included my parents, she told me we had a family problem, and I was the one showing the symptoms of the problem. She explained that hearing voices originated from my subconscious to make me feel more important in the wake of a lifetime of rejections. She suggested that whenever I heard them, instead of listening in, I should take this as a signal to check out where I was feeling rejected, and to work on that. After doing this, the voices tapered off and disappeared after a year.


The lessons I learned and how I beat the system are useful to solving many life problems. I summarize them with the acronym L.I.P

LIP =

Listening to your inner voice

Intention fixed and strong

Persistence in what you know is right, not what others say.

Posted by Don Karp in Guest Posts, Reflections
How to Pull Yourself Out of the Darkness

How to Pull Yourself Out of the Darkness

How often do we really pay attention to what our bodies are telling us? I have always been one to overexert and push myself way beyond my limits, and unfortunately it hasn’t been until lately that I’ve really started to listen to my body. No matter how much it may make me feel like I can’t do this or that, I know that I am not shirking my responsibilities, but I am doing it for my better self. Also, it’s important not only for my physical health but also my mental health. As someone who has dealt with/is dealing with the darkness of depression, I often forget just how fragile my mind can be. Did you know, for example, that stress alone can be harmful to your physical body? It actually weakens your heart, causing many problems, the most common being a heart attack. But that barely scratches the surface—hair loss, loss of appetite, weight gain, and fatigue are all symptoms of stress.

As of late, I have been experiencing all of this. On top of all that, I have also been very tempted to go back to my deepest, darkest days, to go back down that rabbit hole and revert back to my old habits that I thought were helping me but I know were only making things worse. I find myself going through the same thoughts, which I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking: What do I do? How do I make it stop? And wanting it all to just go away. For all the times I have said these things to myself, one thing I always reminded myself is that I’ve come this far. I made it through so much worse. Yes, I still feel pain and sadness, but I see the light; no matter how faded, I see it. I  remind myself to think of all I have fought for—personally, and emotionally.

All that being said I wanted to share how I climb out of my darkness, my hole.  It’s a rough fight, I won’t lie. I often start very small and go through the things I feel thankful for. For me it helps to not actually think of myself, but to think of all the other people in the world and all the things they might be going through. I recently had a conversation with a homeless person that left me almost angry with myself for having these feelings. Here was this wonderful man before me with not a touch of sadness in his eyes. He was living a better life than I was at that moment and I was ashamed to be thinking less of myself.

I often also think of all the other horrible things that are going on in the world that haven’t actually touched me personally. I guess you could say I try to make myself feel small in this large, large world, and that gives me a sense of space to allow myself to breathe again. After I don’t feel so surrounded and suffocated, I think of the personal things I have fought through in life, even if little. I get up every morning and realize I have two legs to stand on and am thankful for that. Despite the mental health and stress issues I face, overall I am healthy. Again, those are just the little things I think to myself that I know will mean something to me; everyone is different, and you may have a different perspective to take. When being thankful doesn’t seem to work, I turn to meditation. There are so many different kinds of meditation out there that you are bound to find one to help you. I have done multiple different ones and now seems I have a different variation for every mood.

Finally, something else I truly find that helps is an escape. If you can, try and get away for either an hour or maybe even a weekend. Thanks to my wonderful sister, I am often allowed to escape to her house across the country. Being with her and back home gives me time to myself and time to reflect on all the things that have been piling on over the months. I also love being in nature to reflect, calm, center, and strengthen myself. I highly encourage going out in nature to those who are struggling to find a way to feel like themselves. Go for a walk, go camping even. If you aren’t really an outdoors type, maybe just sitting on your porch for a little while can help.  “Me time” is always beneficial, and even though being alone with your thoughts can be scary, it may surprise you to learn what you can overcome on your own.

Lastly, I want to express how important is to talk to someone, be it a friend, a parent, professional or even me. The true path to healing has to start somewhere, and it doesn’t have to be a path you walk alone.

Posted by Jude in Hey Jude, Reflections, 0 comments
Why Your Grief Should Be Given Its Due

Why Your Grief Should Be Given Its Due

We have all had lots of different types of relationships in our lives: parents, cousins, coworkers, and friends. From the time we are children until the end of our lives, we will form hundreds of different relationships with people. Many relationships will last throughout our lifetime; however, there will be the select few that don’t always last. Most of the time those that don’t last tend to be simple friendships. By moving away or simply growing up, people develop and change and drift apart. Nothing wrong there; that is just basic evolution. Sometimes you may have a relationship that, no matter how it developed or how it ended, still ended and that ending was not easy. You are left feeling as though you lost that person forever.

I learned recently about a type of grief called ambiguous grief, which mostly describes when a loved one is ill and you are about to lose them, but I also feel that this type of grief applies to the ending of a relationship. Whether it be a friendship or a romance, I believe you still go through this grief. You go from talking and spending all the time you can together to—nothing. You are left to deal with a hole in what was your normal life. You essentially have to go through the grieving process.

I don’t know how many of you have actually experienced this yourself; if you have, you most likely have felt this kind of grief about a family member before their passing. Personally, this is something I have gone through, and feel I am still currently going through. I often cry and get angry. I want nothing more than to “fix” the problem. Part of me, however, knows this will probably never be fixed. I have to come to the acceptance stage of my grief, and it’s hard.

As with regular grieving, we all need to find positivity so we can reach the acceptance to move on with our lives. The only thing different between normal grief and ambiguous grief is that the person you are grieving is still here. I constantly remind myself that as long as they are happy, then we don’t need each other in our lives. I believe that everyone comes into our lives for a reason, no matter how brief the impact, or how long they stay, and it is up to us to find the lesson from that relationship. But no matter how strong my beliefs, it still does not make not having them in my life any easier. It’s easier to change a habit when it’s only been a few days, weeks, or even months. When it has been years, things tend to get more complicated.

You see, I lost one of my best friends this way. I could tell this person everything and always felt safe around them. We shared something special in the ways we were similar and even the ways we were different. After years of friendship something changed, and I felt shut out. I have my theories as to what may have led to this, but without a proper conversation I’m left to my thoughts, and to deal with my grief in my own ways. I try not dwell on the past we had, and to focus on my future and the possibilities that lie ahead of me. Losing anyone is always hard, especially when you had such a strong relationship. I still find myself wanting to call or text when something funny happens that reminds me of them. Like with anything that was once a constant in your life, it’s going to take nothing but time to help you break out of that habit.

The best advice I can give to you is to not think that your life is any less because they are no longer there. Think instead how you have changed and how you’re better for having known that person. We can’t make everyone happy, and we can’t keep things the same forever. Change is inevitable, and moving on is part of that process.

Another thing that I find helpful is to write. I have written letters to the person I am grieving and haven’t sent them, but just getting the emotions out helps to move on. I remind myself that people will always come and go in our lives and will always leave an impact on us.

We are creatures who make connections, and we grieve the connection as much as the person. The way someone makes you feel and how you see yourself because of them is a powerful thing. When we lose that connection and/or that person, it is a shock to the system, more so on the emotional side. I guess we can’t really see or understand the impact a person can have on us until they are gone.

How we deal with the loss of the person will be different for everyone. I know that I need time, I need to work through everything, and most importantly I need to remind myself that I didn’t do anything wrong. Blaming yourself creates such an emotional strain that you may find yourself slipping into a depressive state, and no one deserves to be the cause of their own unhappiness.

Anyone who feels that they are grieving a friend, or an ex, or even a family member—please know you aren’t alone in these feelings. I know the heavy heart you carry, as I too carry it. I would be more than happy to talk through it with you if you wish to share your story with me.

Posted by Jude in Hey Jude
Jude: Thankfulness & Healing in a Busy World

Jude: Thankfulness & Healing in a Busy World

Hey, everyone! 

I want to start off this month’s post with some of my favorites from last month’s Thankfulness Challenge:

Day 9: I am thankful for my friends, family, and those who love me. Knowing that I have them in my life is a true blessing, which I will always be thankful for.

Day 13: I am thankful for the beauty of the state I live in! I am so happy with the decision to move here—it makes every morning worth it!

Day 21: I am thankful for my fiancé. He has done so much for me, and helped to shape me into the person I am today. I honestly would not have the confidence to open up as much as I have without him always there to support and love me. I am beyond thankful for him, and know the rest of my life will be enriched for having him in it.

Over these last few weeks, taking the time to think on what I am thankful for has been wonderful. It has especially been nice to look back on days when I felt like it was a pointless day. By re-reading what I was thankful for the day before, or even the week before, I could find a new outlook on what had started as a bad day. It was a real boost in perspective and confidence to turn a bad day good again.  

This month, I have also given some thought to a subject I haven’t ever touched on before, and I want to do that now. I recently found an article that I can relate to, and that discusses the healing that hiking and experiencing nature can provide during grief. Grief affects us all at some point in our lives. Sometimes we expect these losses, and sometimes we don’t. I have always tried to run away from any sort of painful emotion, believing that I didn’t have enough strength to deal with it. In years past, I acted self-destructively instead of dealing with my pain in a healthy manner.

As I began my long journey of healing, I found the best places for me to heal were in nature. I began with short hikes up the bluff, then started taking weekend camping trips in the desert. Being in nature reminds me not only how different the world is, but also that it constantly changes, evolves, and grows—much the same as human beings do. It is important to learn and grow from our emotions. We all grieve in different ways, which is perfectly acceptable. As long as you are doing it in a healthy manner and not harming yourself or others, I support finding your own method. We are all different, and we all grieve over different things: the loss of a loved one or pet, or even something as small as a friend moving away. Understanding what causes your grief is a wonderful first step to healing.

If you currently find yourself grieving, try being in nature for a little bit. Take a walk alone, let the fresh air help clear your mind of the chaos, and most importantly, begin your healing journey.

Posted by Jude in Hey Jude, 0 comments