“Out in the Milkweed” & Stigmama

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Happy Friday My Blogging Friends!

I wrote this piece “Out in the Milkweed” for the cutting-edge, award-winning website/blog STIGMAMA.

STIGMAMA’s tagline is “Motherhood. Mental Illness. Out Loud.”  I loved it as soon as I read that.  I started writing for Stigmama just after its inception in March, 2014.  STIGMAMA was founded by Dr. Walker Karraa, a trailblazer whose new book “”Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth”, is an Amazon bestseller receiving rave reviews.  Last year I asked Dr. Karraa if she’d write the foreword to my upcoming (i.e. by the time I’m 90) book “Birth of a New Brain” – I was deeply honored when she said yes.

STIGMAMA has showcased the work of 70 talented contributors, giving writers a chance to shine (some for the first time) in a public arena writing about deeply personal experiences.  The STIGMAMA page has over 15,000 likes!  Not bad for a blog that’s less than a year old!

Perhaps you’d like to be a STIGMAMA contributor too – visit http://www.stigmama.com and check out the 2015 writing schedule for details.

This free verse (very free! 😉 piece “Out in the Milkweed” expresses how I’ve felt stigmatized by those who see me as mentally ill despite the fact that I’ve been stable for quite some time.  While it’s obvious that I’m very angry about this situation, I believe there’s hope for some healing.  It will take time.  For those of us who are adversely affected by stigma, we can practice vigilant self-care, stay current on research, and do all that we can to become and remain stable.

In turn, we can once again have conversations with our loved ones about stigma. Perhaps our family member or friend could attend a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) family member support group.  We can give them a handout or a book that includes how to be aware and sensitive about mental illness stigma.

Even if we can’t change the way others see us, we can focus on ourselves and work on our self-stigmatizing issues, either by ourselves or with a trusted friend or therapist. If you have any suggestions about this topic, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for reading!

love,

Dyane


"Out in the Milkweed"

In some disturbing way that you would never openly admit
You want me to remain
Mentally ill, labeled by the seven-letter word bipolar
You prefer me to fit neatly in a suffocating cocoon
From which I can never fully emerge
As the soaring, vibrant Monarch butterfly that I once was

If I speak with “normal” cadence and joy
You scornfully say that I sound manic
Your words cut me deeper than you could ever imagine
And I shut down, hesitant to share myself with you again

I’m not manic, but you continue to see me in stifling ways
And no matter how high I soar within the realm of stability
You view me through shame-colored glasses

Why do you choose to see me as permanently damaged?
Could it be schadenfreude?
To make your own ravaged self esteem and depression not seem so bad?

I believe that you regard my brain as forever broken
due to ever-present stigma, insidiously affecting us all
I may even permeate your misconceptions by living fully
and throwing my own shame to the wind

Now that I’ve returned
To a life where I don’t stay in bed wanting to die
I can be a writer, a mother, a wife, a daughter
I can laugh, weep, and be present

I will research about what prevents relapse, and be proactive with 
self-care

After years of looking to others for biochemical salvation
It feels good taking care of myself

I don’t know what the future holds
But I’ll do everything I can to remain a butterfly
Hovering amongst milkweed drinking nectar
No longer in need of hermetic, protective coverings
It's time to fly, unencumbered, once again

Just chillin’

Aside

 

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It’s a gloomy Sunday morning – it’s cold, sprinkling, and just plain-old blah.  (My daughter picked out this font color and I couldn’t tell her no!)

For me these aren’t very inspiring writing conditions, but according to the revered writer Madeleine L’Engle, the weather  is no excuse to abstain from writing unless a typhoon interferes with it.  She advises writers to write a little bit every day, even if it’s “only for thirty minutes”.  Now that I have two little girls, thirty minutes of uninterrupted writing time is a lot  of time to write!

I have nothing profound to discuss today, no brilliant insights du jour.  But I sit here anyway, typing with sparkly blue fingernails, sequestered in my husband’s office downstairs while our children gobble Gorilla Puffs.  Bob Marley sings softly in the background, and I’m waiting for any bit of inspiration to strike in terms of devising a writing topic.

It’s not happening.  

I usually generate my blog topic the day before I write each one.  I cook up ideas while working out, carting my girls to school, taking a shower, or doing other mundane tasks like laundry and dishes.  It seems the more banal the activity, the better in terms of a successful brainstorm!

I could follow WordPress’ Daily Post (dailypost.wordpress.com) for a writing prompt, but silly me, I feel like it’s cheating to do that!  Many writers would argue that it’s better to find a topic that’s worthwhile to expound on, even if the topic comes from another source, than write gobbledegook.  But so far I just can’t do it.  I’m stubborn.

The day ahead has no major plans except for some cupcake baking with nine-year-old Avonlea, who loves to bake.  She has chosen to make lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting. Now, I’m a massive chocolate fiend, and while I love lemons, to me a real cupcake must have chocolate as a primary ingredient.  I also loathe plain cream cheese, although the rest of my family can’t get enough of it.  I can’t touch it or smell it, so I’m delegating the frosting task to my husband.

I’ve only had half of my morning coffee ration, the day is still young, and who knows what could happen?  Perhaps I may even generate a blog topic while making the cupcakes that gets me excited.  One never knows.

But I’ve discovered through reading other blogs that sometimes I really enjoy simple, brief posts.  I don’t require 100% profound, Huffington Post-worthy blog posts from my virtual friends.  No matter what the blog author writes, as long as there’s something for me to peruse, I still feel connected to the writer.  

So today’s the day I’m putting a stop to pressuring myself to write something provocative in every post.  I’m accepting that divine inspiration, as much as we writers want it to descend from the heavens complete with fireworks, won’t always come.

While I wrote the above sentence, a great song came on the Bob Marley Pandora channel.  I first heard this song in one of my favorite films, The Mighty Quinn, with Denzel Washington and Mimi Rogers.  (Plus Esther Rolle – remember her?) The 1989 thriller, which film critic Roger Ebert called one of the best films of 1989, has an upbeat, reggae-infused soundtrack.  It was shot on location in stunning, sunny, warm Jamaica.

 

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The song is called “I Gotta Keep On Moving” by Curtis Mayfield.

“Lord, I’ve got to keep on moving,” rings out the first cheery line.

That’s just what I’ll do…instead of go hide under the bedcovers, I’ll keep on moving, slow and steady.  I don’t have the win The Grand Race of Life or anything like that.  I just want to keep on moving, nurture my stability, love my family, be a good friend, and help others when I can.

imgresimgres-1Have a good Monday!  And thanks for reading!

Dyane “Turtle” Harwood

 

Please donate to my walk benefitting Postpartum Progress! 

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For more information about the June 21st walk for Climb Out of the Darkness and to donate please visit:

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/join-climb-out-of-the-darkness-2014#comment-18563