Afterlifethoughts & Angels: Part One

What Dreams May Come is a film based on Richard Matheson’s book and stars Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra and Cuba Gooding Jr. It’s one of my favorite movies, but I can only watch it when I’m feeling relatively stable (TW) as it contains themes of suicide and children’s deaths. An amazingly vivid, imaginative & groundbreaking film, it won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

 * I apologize for the spacing/formatting snafus – WordPress seems to have a glitch today!
I intended to post about the afterlife and angels the week before Halloween, but it simply didn’t happen. Since I’m unable to write coherently (or even incoherently) about the election (plus I’m sure you don’t need to read more about that) today’s the day to expound on the afterlife. Next week’s post will focus on the angels. 
As a special treat, I’m not writing about ten topics in one 2500 word post – hurrah!
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The Afterlife
I’ve always been fascinated by the possibility of life after death. However, I didn’t think about it constantly until after my father died in 2009.
I’m reminded of Prince’s solemn “sermon” in his classic song Let’s Go Crazy:
A world of never-ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night…
Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the afterworld
In this life
You’re on your own.
I think Prince got that right.
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A few days ago I was walking Lucy among the peaceful redwoods…
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As we trudged along the muddy path, I thought about my friend Ulla who died by suicide not long ago. A wave of guilt hit me because I realized I had stopped thinking about her every day, and while that’s no crime, I felt like an ass. I began speaking to Ulla out loud, not caring if another hiker heard me. I told her I was sorry for placing her on my mental back burner. I said I hoped she was happy wherever she was. And then I begged her to give me a sign she was okay.
I thought a mountain lion sighting (far, far off in the distance) would be cool, or even a brush with the hirsute Bigfoot….yes, Bigfoot allegedly likes to hang out there too. But I settled on a deer sighting. 
As Train’s Pat Monahan sings in Calling All Angels,
I need a sign to let me know you’re here
‘Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me 
During the remainder of the hike, I didn’t see a deer or even a bit of deer scat. Even though the skeptic in me thought it was unlikely I’d get the sign I wanted, I was disappointed. I wanted to believe with all my heart, not just some of it, that we move on to a better existence, yet remain connected to those we care about here.
Although I didn’t get the sign I wanted this time around,that won’t stop me from asking her again on another next hike.
Psychic Mediums
An authentic psychic medium can see a client’s past, present, and future and communicates with those who have died. I’ve met with one affordable psychic medium who told me some details about my life that were accurate, but I didn’t have the transformative experience I yearned for: to communicate with my Dad. I wanted to receive a message from him that would prove it truly was him.
I could try another session with a different psychic medium, but our family doesn’t have the financial means to do so. The practitioners with stellar reputations charge astronomical amounts. Unless I’m blessed with an unexpected windfall, I’m not pursuing it.
Books
I love reading well-written books about the afterlife. I admit these works aren’t exactly up there with Shakespeare, so they are a bit of a guilty pleasure, but when I read them I relax. I relish escaping into another world – whether that world is a fantasy or reality, I guess I’ll eventually find out!
Some of my favorite authors include Dr. Raymond Moody, a psychiatrist with a colorful personal history, Maureen Hancock, James Van Praagh, Suzan Saxman and yes, Theresa Caputo, the wacky Long Island Medium. You can give me a hard time about her – I can take it! 🙂
Calling All Angels

This is such a great song, even if you’re not a Train fan! The lead singer Pat Monahan reminds me of a lizard.
Next week in Part Two, I’ll focus on the angels. I want to share something I learned about angels that affected my life for the better. I know that sounds like a dubious claim, perhaps fueled by a “special” brownie, but I’m sincere. When the post is up, please give me the benefit of the doubt and take a peek.
In the meantime, I want to thank you for reading this blog. I know it’s a particularly hard week, so please take care of yourselves. I hope you do something nice for yourself this weekend!
lots of love,

Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.

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Losing Ulla

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Ulla’s dog Solo

 

Ulla. Where do I begin?

When I told someone yesterday my friend died by suicide, adding that we never met face-to-face, I sensed that she didn’t understand the power of a virtual friendship.

Of course that’s not her fault – if you haven’t experienced being friends with an online “kindred spirit”, it’s hard to relate to the idea. But I was frustrated all the same because it was a genuine friendship.

How I hate writing that word “was”.

Ulla was a better friend to me than most of the friends I’ve ever had; hell, she was there for me during some of my toughest times far more than some of my relatives.

Oh Ulla.

She supported my writing, and — this was big– she helped me grieve my father’s death. She truly understood what it was like to lose a parent since she had been through it too.

She sent me e-books. She made me laugh through her original, feisty, always-brilliant blog posts. I looked forward to her provocative, witty, informative linkdumps – check out one example here

Even when she was way down, Ulla would check in with me out of the blue to see how I was doing.

We loved going off about crazy Scientology – Jeez, they gave us SO MUCH to make fun of – we couldn’t help it!!!!

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Thetan looks like a lady

 

Best of all, Ulla sent me pictures of Solo, her sweet hound.

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We tossed around the idea of her making a meme of my Lucy, and she gave me this fabulous image:

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I feel guilty that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) didn’t help her out of the evil treatment-resistant bipolar depression. When Ulla began asking me about my ECT experiences, I shared how the treatments helped me.

I was suicidal after my father died, and once again after I relapsed after  tapering off meds. (Word to the wise: just don’t do it!) Anyway, I had ECT each of those times, and it brought me out of those horrendous states.

While I didn’t feel happy after the rounds of ECT, I stopped thinking that I had to kill myself all the time.

She tried ECT. It didn’t work. Should I have encouraged her the way I did? Maybe I shouldn’t have been so gung-ho about it. If I go down that route, I feel worse. Ulla would probably tell me to shut the f*ck up and remind me that she wasn’t a puppet – ever the meticulous researcher, she made an informed choice.

When I found out the news about Ulla, even the lithium coursing through my bloodstream couldn’t prevent tears from falling down my face. (The salt usually does keep my tears at bay; it’s a very odd feeling. But that’s one shitty, unhealthy side effect this drama queen could do without. We need to be able to cry sometimes.)

Upon seeing their mom’s twisted-up face shiny with rare tears, my daughters wrapped their arms around me. A concerned Lucy circled around us and barked as if ten ambulances were speeding past our front door. 

Ulla.

Platitudes come to my mind:

“She’s in a better place.” “She’s at peace.” “She’s with her mom now.”

I’ll be honest with you – I want to believe those cliches are true. I want to believe Ulla’s okay, and that she’s no longer suffering. And here’s the final kicker:

I want to meet her…and thank her…. in person in “Some Fantastic Place” (a beautiful Squeeze song written about their friend who died) because I’ll never get the chance to do that here.

On Saturday, September 10th (World Suicide Prevention Day) Jill of My Spanglish Familia and Yvette of Yve’s Corner have organized an online vigil at this link at Ulla’s blog Blahpolar, the blog I’ve mentioned numerous times as being my #1 favorite.

Yve and Jill invite us to: Bring…your fondest memories, your favourite posts, some ‘food’, ‘flowers’, ‘candles’, and let’s honour her struggle and mourn her loss together.”

I’ll be there.

 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October, 2017. 

Post Hill