Monday, December 17, 2012


I read the blog written by Liza Long with heartfelt sympathy and interest.   I too am a mother of a daughter who suffered from mental illness.  No, she was not a murderer, a criminal or an evil person.  She was a loving devoted daughter, sister, friend and clinical therapist holding both a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and Ph.D. in psychology.  She loved life, her work, her patients, her family and her friends.   She was sick and suffered from Bipolar I Disorder for ten years before she leaped to her death on July 2, 1998.  She was thirty-four years old. 

Pam fought her illness tenaciously.  To her, they were demons brought to her by a demonic force she referred to as the devil.  They took up residency in her mind, and as the years progressed they slowly devoured her mind, her spirit and her life.  Pam did not choose to jump; the demons pushed her out the window.  

Mental illness takes many forms and many diagnosis, most of which take a skilled psychiatrist to determine, as many mental disorders have co-morbidity, (symptoms that resemble other diagnosis’, such as schizophrenia and Bi-polar Disorder.)  It takes time to obtain a differential diagnosis.  Until a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan cannot be implemented, not unlike any other illness.

Pam was the eldest of my five children.  She never revealed any symptoms of mental illness until she had her first break when she was twenty-four years old.  By this time, she was half way through her doctorate, working at the John Bradshaw Center in Hollywood, California as a therapist and was considered to be a “wizard” therapist.  The center was an in-patient treatment facility for recovering addicts and mood disorders caused primarily from abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment during their childhood.  Pam was a leading therapist, running groups and seeing the patients in individual sessions.  Her work was heralded by the staff, the patients and John Bradshaw. 

The illness insidiously crept in upon her slowly, steadfastly and with a force that ripped away all reason and rationality while it wove a delusionary system that was unshakable.  As the years passed, Pam was no longer the same vivacious, charming, charismatic young woman that made everyone who knew her fall in love with her.  As the invasion of this illness progressed, all that was before was no more.  Instead only a shell of a woman who had seemingly lost her mind and spirit remained as my daughter.  Her soul passed before her body.

In my book, WHY DID SHE JUMP: An Angel to Remember that will be released in the fall of 2013, I describe how this illness became her cancer; resistant to all treatment as her belief system prevented her from taking the medicine prescribed.  However, when she did, she turned into a zombie, unable to function and barely get out of bed.  In her twisted mind she concluded that the medications were agents of the devil and managed to avoid taking them.  As a result her illness gained strength and her mind lost contact with reality.  Oh, there were lucid moments, but the prevailing theme was insanity by loss of reality.  The examples will be revealed in the book as well as the torture we, her family were all subjected to.  The worst of it was that there was no place for her to get the treatment she needed. 

I wrote a letter to Oprah that became the introduction to my book.  I described the trials and tribulations in depth, blaming the health system in our country as one of the leading causes of her death, claiming that my daughter was unable to obtain treatment that could have easily saved her life.    I urged Oprah to do a program on this issue stating that this was not just my child, but everyone’s child who has been stricken with this hideous disease.  I copied it to Hillary Clinton, our congresswoman Elaine Bloom at that time, Senators Bob Graham and Connie Mack.  None responded.  The Miami Herald published my letter, thanks to Sue Reisinger who felt a need to share this tragedy with her readers.

This was fourteen years ago.  Now we are facing a nation who has the worst record for healing our mentally ill citizens.  We had to wait for one tragedy after another to occur for people to start screaming about guns and the atrocities committed on innocent people, worst of all little children as well as the atrocious care of the mentally ill.  My beautiful daughter fell through the cracks because there was no facility that she could be given proper treatment.  How many lives to we have to lose before we get it?  What price do we have to pay to have our voices heard?  My daughter was not rich, nor was she poor.  She worked for a living, was raised in a home with a father who is a physician and a mother, a clinical social worker.  Yet with the vast network of friends and colleagues we both had, we were rendered helpless, powerless and finally hopeless in securing the help she needed. 

I don’t own a gun and no nothing about them.  Frankly I would be terrified to have one in my home.  I live alone and cannot imagine ever using one, fearing that my life would be more at risk having one in my hand, than not.  Perhaps I am gullible, but owning a gun does not make me feel safe.  In fact, I would feel more vulnerable because the gunman would most probably be a better marksman than I.  Guns are only part of the problem.  We need to change our culture and cultivate more loving, caring and sensitive communities exhibiting kindheartedness to our fellow man.  We must provide a safe environment where our loved ones stricken with mental illness can go to get help.  Psychotropic drugs and therapy do help, but in order to maintain treatment, patients have to be in a long term treatment center as opposed to being admitted for 24-48 hours in a psychiatric ward In some hospital only to be released within a day or two, which by the way, makes them worse. 

My story is not just about my loss, sorrow, grief and despair.  It is the story of our country, which loses thousands of loved ones every year either by suicide or homicide because they were not cared for in an environment that could support their healing.  It’s time for real change; change in our health system, change in our gun laws, and most of all change in our culture.         

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Just got dumped?  Filed for divorce?  Your fiancĂ© got cold feet and cancelled the wedding? Ex-wife wants to reconcile? Found out your honey had another on the side?  No good guys in sight?  Don’t worry!  Being dudeless for a while might be a refreshing surprise; that is if you know what to do.

Staying sane and single can be a challenge, but can offer some pleasant surprises.  Here are 7 tips to make the ride a pleasant journey.

#1 Begin to think of you first.  Start making plans that include activities that you love to do.  Sign up for a ski class, tennis class, yoga class, dance class, Spanish class, computer class, etc.  Choose anything that you have wanted to do but your relationship swallowed up your time and didn’t allow for personal stuff to take center stage. 

#2 Think vacation! Travel alone on a single’s cruise or a Club Med, or ask a friend or family member to get away for a few days.  Sometimes, just a change of pace and scenery, can be liberating and help your healing.

#3 Take some time to discover you.  Spend some nights alone and find that waking in the morning without a man can be tolerable; perhaps even pleasant.  For sure you won’t die! Try using meditation, say positive affirmations to yourself, (i.e.: I am a worthy person; I deserve happiness and joy; I am complete and lovable.) Take baths, read a book and watch old movies to entertain yourself instead of spending time choosing an outfit, primping, applying make-up, and wearing shoes that kill your feet and your pocketbook. Go ahead: Veg out, chill out, zone out and have a good cry.    Journaling is a wonderful way to discharge your feelings. 

#4.  Exercise!  It worked for Forest Gump and it will work for you.  Bike, run, walk, work out, swim or participate in a sport.  Exercising is like exorcising.  Revving up those endomorphins is a great release to rid you of bad feelings.  Masturbation is not a bad idea either!  You’ll meet a better class of people!

#5. Spend some quality time with your girlfriends.  In the end, you’ll discover they matter the most anyway.  Boyfriends come and go; husbands do the same; kids grow up and start their own lives, but girlfriends are forever.  Furthermore, no one understands a chick’s pain better than another chick.  Maybe you’ll have to pay for your own dinner, but the nurturing, empathy, understanding, support and friendship is well worth it. Dudes simply don’t have the programming in their brains to do what your girlfriends can do.  A champion fight or basketball game will take precedent over  a“let’s talk” every time.

#6. Pamper yourself.  Get a massage; change your hair color or style, sign up for a spa day, relax!  Nothing works like treating yourself like a princess. 

#7 Check out some dating sites.  See what’s out on the market.  Most therapists would agree that spending alone time for a while is the best medicine, but nothing works better for enhancing self esteem than finding a dude who thinks you’re gorgeous and wants to get into yours pants.  Remember, you are vulnerable, so you don’t want to put all your emotional eggs in a new basket, but it sure feels good to know that there’s a dude with a hard on just waiting for a response from you.  One word of advice: Don’t let hot sex replace a good solid healthy adult relationship.  Too often women make the mistake of confusing sex with love once they go between the sheets.  If you have this problem, be aware.  Chicks tend to project what they want to see on a dude when it’s not really who they are.  So beware!

In reality, there really is no quick fix to get over a broken heart.  Time, talking out your feelings, and having faith that things happen the way they are meant to be, are your best resources.  Learning to let go, forgiving your dude and most of all, forgiving yourself for anything you might blame yourself for.  Never look back with regrets.  Shit happens, we go on to something that may be better than what we lost and we hold our heads high with dignity and the knowledge that we are too good to feel this bad!

When I went through a heartfelt break-up, it was my inner adult voice that I kept hearing.  She spoke to me like a Wise Old Women residing in my soul.  I know this archetypal energy exists in all of us.  It was she who told me to write.  So writing became my release, my nocturnal companion.  It was writing that nurtured my wounds and discharged my pain.  When my last lover chose to close the door to what I thought would be my last chance at love, I took to writing to a book.  Still in process, it gives me a vehicle to let go and accept what I thought would be impossible.

Whether you write, paint, play an instrument, sing, dance or act, find your bliss, use it and I promise it will bring you the relief and transformation you yearn for.  Trust that you have all the resources within you.  Just look inside and give yourself permission to use what you already have.  We already know what we don’t know that we know!