After I lost my baby, Michael in May of 1994, I wrote to help process the pain. It was early in 1997 that I entered a poetry contest that specified the type of poem that be submitted. The style requirement was that the poem had to be in villanelle format, and I had no idea what that was, so I researched it and found a description. The magazine Wish Women, where my poem was ultimately published, stated that the villanelle “strictly adhered to the meter (iambic pentameter), rhyme scheme (A1bA2, abA2, abA1, abA2, AbA1A2)” (Wish Women, Mar-Apr97). In layman’s terms this means, the first line of the first stanza repeats as the last line in the second stanza, fourth stanza and sixth stanza. Also, the last line of the first stanza repeats itself as the last line of the third and fifth stanzas as well. The iambic pentameter also requires that the second line of each stanza rhyme with one another throughout the poem, and that the first and third lines of the stanzas rhyme throughout the entire poem. The format was not easy and I read Dylan Thomas’s Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night to further comprehend the idea for a classic villanelle, and then I tried to emulate his pure genius.
When I tell you that writing this poem took great time and effort on my part, I am not embellishing. And now, looking back over 25 years ago, I realize God was guiding my fingers and creativity that day. I never expected to get published or win the contest, but I did and I still have the magazine to this day, and am still so very proud of this accomplishment and honor.
So, after much adieu, I give you Negligence:
May the sixth was the day my first son died, I never got to kiss his face or put my arms around him, God, tell me, will this continuous ache in my heart ever subside?
While I slept in ICU, his father knelt at my bedside, “Michael suffered severe asphyxia and is brain dead. The outlook is grim.” May the sixth was the day my first son died.
Why was Michael Joshua condemned to this infanticide? Did God choose my son to become one of his seraphim? God, tell me, will this continuous ache in my heart ever subside?
When I asked my doctor what happened, I was suspicious when she replied, "Sometimes these things just happen. You were my patient, not him." May the sixth was the day my first son died.
Michael never even had the chance to be lullabied, Now he's being lulled to sleep by sweet angelic hymn, God, tell me, will this continuous ache in my heart ever subside?
After my search for answers, my suspicions were justified, The chances of a mother's child dying due to eclampsia are quite slim, It was then I realized my doctor's negligence resulted in a child's homicide! May the sixth was the day my first son died.
-Lydia K. Lampert, Belvidere, NJ (LaPella at time of publication)
Breathe, Just Breathe
Today I am overwhelmed with a flood of emotions. You see, 27 years ago my son was born brain dead because I was in full on eclamptic seizures and the blood rushed away from him to save my brain. I never got to hold him, never got to say goodbye and that Mother’s Day was spent trapped on a maternity ward without my child. I woke up this morning and wished him a Happy Birthday and I prayed to God for courage to get through this difficult day for me.
To further complicate my current state of mind, I found out last night, that one of my fellow bloggers, who helped me through a dark depression 6 years ago, took her own life in 2016. I was crushed and so saddened that this stigma that exists for people with pain, not mental illness but pain so overwhelming they have no idea what to do with it, drives some to take their own lives because it seems like a better option.
I am coming up on 2 months sober this Saturday, and one of the main reasons I became so fond of alcohol was because it allowed me to cry for my son, when I was so angry at God for taking him, and couldn’t feel anything but overwhelming rage. I remember playing music so loudly in my apartment and drinking, listening to the Cranberries, Zombie and at one point in my inebriation, tears began to flow. It felt good, but for almost 27 more years, I only cried when I was drunk, very drunk.
Today, I cry when I feel joy, when I’m sad, when I remember my dysfunctional youth and when I find out someone I cared for died way too soon.
The emotions are many today for me, and all I can hear in my head is Anna Nalick, serenading me, telling me to breathe, just breathe. That’s all I can do today, in this moment of sadness, as there is still hope because my heart can truly feel again.
#loss #sadness #ptsd #depression #sobriety #healing #healingjourney #breathe #breatheinbreatheout
Missing: 43 Y.O. Blonde Woman Who Loved to Smile
Today I decided to take a trip down memory lane in a self torturing kind of way. Why, you ask? I have absolutely no idea, but I did it. I scrolled back through a year’s worth of Face Book posts and pictures and sat on my couch fighting back tears, missing the woman I saw in those pictures. I mourned the loss my daughter suffered as I viewed the pictures of the day we moved her into college and how happy and proud she was, only to have that ripped away from her by utterly evil people at her school. My heart was already heavy today, and I just made it worse. I am so damn good at that. I just love to torture myself.
Currently I am involved in an Outpatient Program that focuses on DBT and one of the key steps is Radical Acceptance of your current situation, diagnosis, etc. I am stuck on this step. I am fighting the Radical Acceptance. I just can’t manage to say that everything that has happened since October is okay and this is where I am today and it is what it is and it is okay. After 43 days of hospitalization, multiple medication regimens, ECT and hours of therapy, I still want to scream out in anger and pain. I still want to hide away from the world and sit in my own bubble of sadness and despair.
My family is thrilled that I am home, but it is really just the shell of me. Today, I am actually home from the hospital 42 days, almost as long as I was in there, and to be perfectly honest, I am only slightly better. I am so numbed out by the meds that I am no longer agitated and irritable and yelling out loud, but instead, holding it all inside, unable to release any real emotion. These medications seem to rob me of my authentic feelings, as they do many people. I hate them with a passion. I really want to stop taking them, but am scared to death that I will end up back in the hospital.
I was just talking to my husband tonight and told him that although I am not suicidal any longer, part of me thinks I am even worse. The friends I used to reach out to prior to my hospitalization three to four times per day, I no longer call. Why? Because I am tired, sick and tired of feeling like shit and I hate to burst their bubble that the hospitalization and the medications have not cured me. I no longer want to take them on this roller coaster ride from hell with me.
Some may say I am in the infancy stage of medications, considering I have really only been trying meds since December, but to me, it feels like forever. I don’t know anymore. The ball and chains have been reattached to my ankles and again, I feel the depression slowly pulling me down as I try like crazy to tread water. Is it too much to ask to find my smile and laughter? Would an exorcism rid this awful demon from my body and return the old me to my family and friends? I know I sound like a broken record, but I just want to find me again. I miss me and looking at old pictures does nothing but remind me that person no longer exists right now. Lydia is MIA. And who knows when she will return if she ever does?
HELP!!!!!! Seroquel Induced Writer’s Block
I need some help, desperately! I have been on Seroquel for over 1 month now and I am suffering from severe writer’s block, so I thought of an idea. I was hoping some of my readers would challenge me and give me a subject or idea on which to write. It is killing me that I cannot just sit down as I have in the past and just start typing away, but think that if someone challenges me, it will be the big kick in the ass I need! Comment below with your idea and I will do my best to come up with something (hopefully to the idea giver’s satisfaction) and get rid of this block.
I was also thinking of starting an idea box and throwing the ideas, including mine, into the box and pulling them out randomly when I am stumped. Looking forward to seeing your challenges and ditching this block once and for all.
ACCEPTANCE IS NOT EASY
Acceptance in human psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest (https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=acceptance). I’m having a difficult time with the acceptance part of my disease. I actually feel as if I need to be transcribing a eulogy to my former self, because that woman I loved is long gone and despite all my hard work over the past two months, I realized, she is still missing.
Last night was a blaring reminder that I am not who I used to be. I used to love crowds, talking to everyone and being funny and entertaining. I liked that me, actually, I loved that me. Don’t get me wrong, at times there were parts I despised, I LOVED ME. And I feel that as soon as I sought help for my inability to manage my life this fall, following yet, another trauma, I am condemned for life to a diagnosis which requires me to be on medications that prevent that me (the old me) to exist any longer. I am even finding I am having a harder time trying to compose my blog or come up with funny topics. I don’t want to be a slow, kind, polite form of me. I want the one who would speak her mind, even if it was too rapid for some to keep up. I loved the rebellious side that would say to hell with it and do shots at the bar. I was a diehard flirt with everyone (including my husband), and one hell of a pool player. And when I laughed, that genuine laughter carried through a room, sometimes so much so that my husband would shoot me a look, but everyone loved me, so as far as his “quiet down” look would go, I would just dust it off.
Now, I roam my hallways and look at all my family pictures. (I am addicted to pictures.) Could that Lydia that was smiling have been this sad and screwed up? At the time it did not feel that way. Maybe the doctor needs to interview my friends and family who may have more insight into my behaviors and history, because my mind or perhaps, my illness keeps telling me I was so much better the old way.
I want me back. I really, really want me back. I feel as if I am out somewhere in orbit and one morning I am going to wake to find some cruel joke has been played on me. I took my medications again this morning, but here I am again, questioning their necessity. Maybe I will talk to my doctor tomorrow when I see her about finding meds that help me feel like my old self as much as possible. I also question if there is not some other underlying issue as to why I can’t be happy. Does my marriage need work? Do I not feel accepted? God knows, I haven’t been shown enough love from my daddy (strong sarcasm noted here)! I don’t know. I just feel very frustrated. I expected the answers with all the hospital time I did and I am still coming up empty.
I want my friends to treat me like Lydia. I don’t want people pussy footing around me, or sheltering me. I am a big girl. I don’t need a bubble around me, and I certainly don’t need babysitters. I know it all comes from care and compassion, but it makes me feel worse. It makes me feel incapable.
Again, I revert back to Silver Linings Playbook. I feel like Tiffany in the diner with Pat when she flips out because he said he was not in the same category as she was. That moment when it dawns on her as to what he is really saying is one of my favorites! “Oh wait, so you think I am crazier than you…ahahahahahahaha” I believe that every person on earth suffers from some form of mental illness, it just depends on the severity and how badly it affects your life, and if it’s not mental illness, it’s addiction. Each and every one of us whom has come out and admitted that we have a mental illness does not deserve to be shunned, treated differently or handled with “kid gloves.” I am still me and I just want to be treated as such. I am ME, dammit! I am ME, aren’t I? I AM ME, STILL ME, lost in this mess somewhere. Don’t tip toe around me. Fight alongside me and help reel me back in from wherever it is that I have gone.
Cause tears to stream down my face,
Displaying raw pain.
Mental Jungle Juice
Triggers, triggers, everywhere. Triggers, triggers, should I care? On Monday at my outpatient program, we had a class called Understanding Triggers. There are five types of triggers according to Boon, Steele and van der hart, in their book Coping with Trauma Related Dissociation (2011). The triggers are: Time Related Triggers, Place Related Triggers, Relational Triggers, Internal Triggers and Sensory Triggers. The trigger I most related to was The Relational Trigger. Boon, et al, define Relational Triggers as:
“Relationships and any perceived threat to them evoke the most powerful feelings in everyone, for better or worse. When you have been mistreated by others, intense feelings of abandonment, rejection, humiliation, shame, panic, yearning and rage are often easily triggered by the minor ups and downs that are natural parts of even the best relationships. When a serious relational disruption occurs, it can feel catastrophic.”
According to that definition, I don’t think any of my relationships stood a chance, including my current relationship, until now. I immediately felt horrible for my husband when the therapist went over this type of trigger, because I was finally given some clarity about my behaviorisms. My poor husband has spent almost 17 years of his life with someone that has perceived everything as catastrophic, and the abandonment issues were never ending. Looking back over our 17 year relationship, I realize how exhausting it must have been for him, and yet he held in there. Why? I was the type of wife who could never be loved enough, or made to feel safe and secure enough, and now I know why. It’s because long ago, those feelings were stripped from me, and I have been searching for them since I was a young girl. It may sound hokey, but I never felt that love from my father, was traumatized by my father, then a rapist, then an abusive ex-husband. I didn’t even realize I was doing this, which is scary to someone who always perceived she was in control.
The outpatient program is helping me, which makes me thankful. I did manage to survive today without the program as well, but not really so sure it was in the healthiest way. I got up, brought the kids to school, prepared the Corned Beef for dinner then went to visit my friends that were still in the hospital.
You would think that someone that spent 43 days in the hospital would not want to go back for a visit, but I do. Maybe in some way I am avoiding my own issues? Maybe it is an escape from reality? Maybe it’s something else I am not completely unaware of, however, I like going to sit with my kindred spirits, even if only for two hours drinking coffee and talking. How twisted is it to say that I miss being in the hospital, away from everything? Pretty bad, huh? Maybe it is my way of dissociating from real life.
Maybe I have been intermittently detached from my normal life over the past and just did not recognize it. For example, in 2010, I could not deal with anything and would walk around the house with my headphones on, listening to music all the time. Who the hell knows? I just wish I had more answers, but I know that there’s no quick fix and no easy way for the doctors to pinpoint my exact issue at this time.
The conglomeration of my mental illnesses is like that college drink Jungle Juice, where they throw in whatever kind of alcohol they have on hand, add some Hawaiian Punch and cocktails are served. You have no idea what you are drinking but it sure tastes good.
And me? I’ve got a little bipolar, mixed with some PTSD, a dash of anxiety and an abundance of depression, but unfortunately, it’s not as likeable as the Jungle Juice. You see, all my zaniness comes in a cute little package until you undo the pretty pink ribbon to expose what’s inside!
Everyone has a story to tell. I met a gentleman while I was in the hospital that heard me talking about my blog, and he approached me to see if I could help him write his life’s story. Of course I told him I would, so we got to work forming an outline. We swapped email addresses and phone numbers when he was discharged and I do have all intention to help him, but it got me thinking. Why don’t I write my story myself? It’s not like I don’t have one to tell. Personally things are very raw for me, but as I am getting ready to begin trauma therapy, I thought maybe I would write the first memory of trauma in my life.
It began with my father. When I was about five years old, I was helping my dad rake up leaves in the front yard so we could make a mountain of leaves for me to jump into for fun. As the day was coming to an end, I forgot to put my rake away. My Dad got so mad he locked me outside on the front porch in the dark and told me to think about what I did wrong and to see how it felt to be forgotten. He would not let me re-enter the house for what seemed like hours to a five year old. I was scared, cold and left, abandoned in the dark. I remember crying and crying until my mom finally won the battle with him and let me back into my home. As unstable as I may have been throughout the years, I can’t imagine ever doing that to any of my children. I ponder frequently what was wrong with him. How do you do that to your little girl? And the worst part is he never apologized or hugged me to tell me he loved me that night. Instead I was sent to bed without dinner and probably cried myself to sleep.
One New Year’s Eve our family was at a friend’s house and all the other kids were going to go for a walk and he would not allow me to go, so like a typical teenager, I rolled my eyes. Guess where I spent the rest of New Year’s Eve? In the corner, in front of my friends, crying and completely humiliated. I swear he got off on it.
He also would force me to give him back rubs. I can’t believe I am putting this on a public form, but it completely disgusts me. Here I was at 14 or 15 years old having to rub and massage my father’s bare back and it always had to be for at least an hour. The goose bumps are covering my body and the taste of my morning coffee is coming back up into my mouth as I write this. I had to straddle his back down by his butt and rub and massage away because I had “strong hands.” It repulses me. And God forbid I said “No” for I would face unbelievable and inappropriate punishments. To this day, I can still feel the coolness of his skin squeezed by my fingers and I regress back to that young lady praying the minutes would move faster and fighting off the feelings of self disgust because I knew this was wrong on so many levels. I would never tell my friends or anyone. I carried this secret for years and years, for fear that people would think I was weird or disgusting, but in all actuality, it was my father that was disgusting and inappropriate. In today’s day and age I’m sure he would have been arrested for some form of child endangerment or investigated by DYFS, because although I was never molested by him, I feel that what I was forced to do, was a form of molestation. He had a wife who could have done this for him, but instead forced me.
No wonder I have had issues with men my whole life. Your father is the person you are to look for love, affection, and protection. Although he was present in the physical sense of the word, emotionally, his soul was empty and his heart was cold. I’m sure he was mentally ill. You never knew how he was going to behave or what his mood was, and to grow up in a home such as that was traumatizing. His words were so harsh at times, and he loved embarrassing me in front of my friends. The worst part was that he was also a good looking, charismatic man, whom everyone loved, because he was smart, witty and would tell stories that would have people falling off their chairs. He would help anyone. That was the man the world knew. So of course everyone loved him. No one truly knew the monster we had to live with behind closed doors.
He delighted in making me the target of his cruelty. To this day, I have no idea why, and he’s dead and gone now, having passed in 2006, and having not spoken to me in over seven years prior, but yet, he haunts me from the grave. What he did to me shaped me and my behaviors and my refusal to allow a man have power over me.
Did he ever beat me? No, but his behaviors damaged me beyond imagination, even into my adulthood. When I was in the hospital a year after I lost my baby, I stupidly reached out to him. My parents were divorced and when I started to tell him why I was in the hospital, he interrupted me to enlighten me with more of his crazy, irrational wisdom on me.
He stated, “Well good luck with the witch doctors. You had better figure it out because no other man is going to love you, let alone accept you grieving over a baby that was not his.” Once again I was shattered. And, I have blocked a tremendous amount of the trauma out, but that is enough for now. It’s all I can remember anyway, right now, and it’s upsetting enough.
After he passed away, I had to fly to Florida to identify his body. I was a mess, and of course overridden with guilt because we hadn’t spoken in so long. I felt awful that he died alone. They escorted me to the morgue, pulled his bin out and told me they’d give me a few minutes. As I wept, I leaned over and kissed his forehead which was cold, just like his back used to be.
When I left the morgue that night, I had a dream in which he came to me and said, “It’s over. It’s okay.” If only that would have been the truth, because those words were coming from a liar as far as I was concerned. And how dare he tell me it was over and that it was okay, as if I was the one who did him wrong? I truly hope he rests in peace, because he obviously didn’t live in it.
My Very Own Breakfast Club
During one of our journaling groups, I was asked to write about what I have gotten thus far from Princeton House (the hospital in which I spent 43 days). At the time, I had already been there 38 days. I think they were looking for concrete answers, but you know me, I know of no such thing. I realize when I went in I promised all my readers a day by day account of my stay, never realizing it was going to be so very long. I figured I would share some of my most memorable experiences, rather than barrage you all with my day by day account. But for now, this is one of my more meaningful contributions and most heartfelt, so here goes it:
My experience at Princeton House has left me with feelings of nostalgia. We, all, as patients have all come together in this very place, despite the various roads we have traveled, the conditions under which we have been raised, the various burdens each and every one of us has battled and survived, and regardless of our educational backgrounds, and despite the many variations we had, commonalities have been established and friendships have been formed. Had I not come to Princeton House, I would have never realized that I indeed have many things in common with drug addicts, alcoholics, others diagnosed with Bipolar, people with paranoid delusions, schizophrenics and many others whom I never learned their diagnosis or had no real interest in knowing. We were all people, young and old, and I grew to love them. I realized we all have many things in common such as the love of music, the need for laughter and jokes, sarcasm and most importantly, we were ALL striving for the same things: peace within ourselves and an overall sense of well being, acceptance and love.
Princeton House is my true life Breakfast Club Experience. I have many new people I consider friends, and sadly, I know there is a great possibility that I may never see or talk to them ever again, just like those in The Breakfast Club. However, that will never change the significance and impact each and every one of them had throughout my stay here. With that I close this journal entry, humming silently in my head, that famous tune from the closing scene, as John Bender heads off into the sunset, “Don’t you forget about me…,” and visualize my own cast of characters, including my Claire, John Bender, Sporto, the Weirdo and the Nerd, holding them all forever close to my heart.
If you have ever seen Breakfast Club, you will understand the parallels, just as every patient had some deeper seated issue, we as the patients do as well. Claire was spoiled rotten but felt unloved. John Bender grew up in an abusive and traumatizing home. Sporto could never do enough to please his father. The Weirdo tried to commit suicide because his woodshop project did not go as planned and that was going to be unacceptable to his parents, and Ally Sheedy, who played the Weirdo, was lonely and felt as if her parents didn’t even know she existed. I can only imagine, that despite their own group therapy conducted during their detention time, the director, John Hughes, could have easily been able to create a sequel where they are all in a place such as the Princeton House with depression, anger issues, drug use, PTSD and serious self esteem issues.
There are so many of us that suffer from one mental illness or another. I went into Princeton House scared to death, but it wasn’t that bad, actually it was good to finally be surrounded by people that understood what I was going through. I missed you all, but I am happy to report I think they almost have gotten my meds right and I will continue my road to recovery and acceptance.