~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

Art and Creativity as Mediums for Empowerment , Connection and Change…

Archive for the ‘mental illness’ Category

The aftermath of War – no one “wins”…

Posted by carolom on November 15, 2007

We know that war extracts a huge toll…loss of life, devastation of environment…and the ruination of all that is Sacred…

I came across this article from the New York times in relation to the mental health and well being of the men and women who return from Iraq:

Link to the Article
A Flood of Troubled Soldiers Is in the Offing, Experts Predict

The nation’s hard-pressed health care system for veterans is facing a potential deluge of tens of thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq with serious mental health problems brought on by the stress and carnage of war, veterans’ advocates and military doctors say.

An Army study shows that about one in six soldiers in Iraq report symptoms of major depression, serious anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, a proportion that some experts believe could eventually climb to one in three, the rate ultimately found in Vietnam veterans. Because about one million American troops have served so far in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon figures, some experts predict that the number eventually requiring mental health treatment could exceed 100,000.

“There’s a train coming that’s packed with people who are going to need help for the next 35 years,” said Stephen L. Robinson, a 20-year Army veteran who is now the executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, an advocacy group. Mr. Robinson wrote a report in September on the psychological toll of the war for the Center for American Progress, a Washington research group.

“I have a very strong sense that the mental health consequences are going to be the medical story of this war,” said Dr. Stephen C. Joseph, who served as the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs from 1994 to 1997.

What was planned as a short and decisive intervention in Iraq has become a grueling counterinsurgency that has put American troops into sustained close-quarters combat on a scale not seen since the Vietnam War.
Psychiatrists say the kind of fighting seen in the recent retaking of Falluja – spooky urban settings with unlimited hiding places; the impossibility of telling Iraqi friend from Iraqi foe; the knowledge that every stretch of road may conceal an explosive device – is tailored to produce the adrenaline-gone-haywire reactions that leave lasting emotional scars.

And in no recent conflict have so many soldiers faced such uncertainty about how long they will be deployed. Veterans say the repeated extensions of duty in Iraq are emotionally battering, even for the most stoical of warriors.

Military and Department of Veterans Affairs officials say most military personnel will survive the war without serious mental issues and note that the one million troops include many who have not participated in ground combat, including sailors on ships. By comparison with troops in Vietnam, the officials said, soldiers in Iraq get far more mental health support and are likely to return to a more understanding public.

But the duration and intensity of the war have doctors at veterans hospitals across the country worried about the coming caseload.

“We’re seeing an increasing number of guys with classic post-traumatic stress symptoms,” said Dr. Evan Kanter, a psychiatrist at the Puget Sound veterans hospital in Seattle. “We’re all anxiously waiting for a flood that we expect is coming. And I feel stretched right now.”

A September report by the Government Accountability Office found that officials at six of seven Veterans Affairs medical facilities surveyed said they “may not be able to meet” increased demand for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Officers who served in Iraq say the unrelenting tension of the counterinsurgency will produce that demand.

“In the urban terrain, the enemy is everywhere, across the street, in that window, up that alley,” said Paul Rieckhoff, who served as a platoon leader with the Florida Army National Guard for 10 months, going on hundreds of combat patrols around Baghdad. “It’s a fishbowl. You never feel safe. You never relax.”

In his platoon of 38 people, 8 were divorced while in Iraq or since they returned in February, Mr. Rieckhoff said. One man in his 120-person company killed himself after coming home.

“Too many guys are drinking,” said Mr. Rieckhoff, who started the group Operation Truth to support the troops. “A lot have a hard time finding a job. I think the system is vastly under-prepared for the flood of mental health problems.”

Capt. Tim Wilson, an Army chaplain serving outside Mosul, said he counseled 8 to 10 soldiers a week for combat stress. Captain Wilson said he was impressed with the resilience of his 700-strong battalion but added that fierce battles have produced turbulent emotions.

“There are usually two things they are dealing with,” said Captain Wilson, a Southern Baptist from South Carolina. “Either being shot at and not wanting to get shot at again, or after shooting someone, asking, ‘Did I commit murder?’ or ‘Is God going to forgive me?’ or ‘How am I going to be when I get home?’ ”

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Posted in Depression, mental illness, Stress, Trauma, War | 1 Comment »

The Sha’manic. The Manic. And the Mists of Madness in between…

Posted by carolom on April 21, 2007

*This piece is shared here for my friend on the Lonsdale Street Tram who has asked many questions over the years about my view on “Energy Management” and why I think that energetic and Emotional Mastery of the often chaotic forces within is such an important part of our journey to reaching our fullest potential.

For a number of years I had several highly creative, highly emotional, charismatic people in my close inner circle. Some have remained and others have taken a different path.
During one particularly chaotic year three of my friends were diagnosed as having bi-polar (manic depression)..a state that highly creative, often emotionally unresolved people experience as the sharp side of the brilliant Sword of creativity and a highly imaginative Mind.
I have never experienced that place myself, though the mirrors of my relationships reflected back the choas that often accompanies the highly creative state and I sometimes had a “there but for the grace of god go I” perspective.

These days, unswayed, uncharmed and unconvinced by the hyper-energetic excitations of another’s “wow”, I am ever mindful that once sleeplessness begins, it is often followed by a gloriously seductive technicolour dream that is merely a nightmare awaiting to enter centre stage..

I read and researched widely during that chaotic time and have no doubt that much of the entertainment, paintings, movies, stories and ideas we enjoy collectively were birthed within and as a result of the hyper-manic realms and from the depressed and darkened place that most often follows.

Those books I bought are now boxed away and happily removed from my everyday life but I remember what I have learnt and am Thankful for the lessons though I have no need to return to that place of learning ever again..
Through those many journeys that I walked with friends and family and in my work in the areas of homelessness and welfare, I came to realise that there is a “Mist” of ‘madness in this realm of “mania” / hyper-mania, bi-polarities and chaos.
One of my friends ( we were Thelma and Louise in our teens) finally realised how seasonal her manic-eruptions were, that was the beginning to transcending the chaos that visited her every winter for several years.

It is not a ‘line’ that one crosses from ‘sane’ to ‘crazy’…it can begin with a little thought here or an odd reaction there droplet by droplet like when we begin to enter a fog that we can see in the distance and suddenly realise the fog has consumed us and we can no longer see a single foot in front of us.

What is ‘crazy’ anyway?
The Shaman and time travellers of Indigenous ways of old – and not so old – required the altered state to access their gifts and the Other Realm.
Our mental health system is one based on pathology and sickness not the Mythological state and individual giftedness, which is often defined by those ‘manic’ currents and imPulses.
Our visionaries, shaman, mystics and time travellers are most often sedated, mislablled, interned and squashed by medical practitioners and therapsits who are themselves uninitiated into those higher, precarious realms.

There was a time in my life when the seemingly Shamanic erupted into the Manic so brilliantly and outrageously that I barely had time to grab my floaties and goggles before the tsunami of a thousand volts of creative and chaotic currents crashed down upon my world and swept me to the outer realms of the human Mind…

At the time I referred to the “Demon” who entered our home and whilst I may not use that term today …I am not so sure I would not still refer to the Demonstration of such chaos with anything less than dislike and take great care in its unpredictable presence.

 

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The Mists of Madness…
A semi-fictional Story remembering all of those who I walked with upon that crazy path over 10 years ago…

Remember how much I used to hate your snoring? Well I’ve never told you this but sometimes I welcomed the raucous rumbling with delight! I would prop myself up on one arm and smile as I watched you sleep. I’d stroke your hair and pull the sheets over your shoulders, serenity in the beauty of our Love.

It was at those times that I welcomed your snoring like a reliable old friend.
You see I had come to understand that you never snored when the demon was nearby.
Your snoring told me that you were resting deeply and your mind was not stinging with the relentless attack of whirlwind thoughts, paranoia and tormented thinking.
The raucous racket of your snoring told me that we were in for a peaceful night.

We laughed that time I video taped your snores as they went from a quiet hum to a hullabaloo. After that you didn’t doubt me when I said I had to leave the room in order to sleep. You even looked a little embarrassed that such an undignified racket was beyond your control.
We were both convinced that you had gifts from God and we were in agreement that much was expected from one to whom much had been given!
Snoring was outside of this dignified realm.

I knew that when the demon was nearby you would not sleep. You would be pacing the floor, bouncing up and down on a crazy see sore of euphoria and tragedy.
You might wake me up with that crazy secretive look that alluded to mysterious knowledge of far away thing – no time for sleeping, no time for eating and no time…absolutely no time… for me..

In fact unbeknownst to me I may have turned into the enemy whilst I was sleeping. That took some adjusting to!

When the demon was in our house you would watch me sideways, seeking out the signs that would confirm to you I was now foe and not friend..

I was a cryptic enemy to be decoded
When the demon was in our house even our animals were plotting against your Divine purpose and none of us were to be trusted.
Except our beautiful dog who walked tirelessly by your side.
When she panted with thirst you no longer saw the need in her eyes…all you saw were the things you thought were true.
Even when they weren’t.

When the demon wasn’t in our house I tread carefully lest it be merely slumbering and ready to pounce at us from behind the madness veil.

Although the demon spoke to you, spoke with you and saw through you …it was not you who stood before me…you had disappeared in the mists of time.
Where did my snoring, contented mate go when the monster was here?
The moments of brilliance and knowledge twisted in a frenzy of certainty and not.
When did they merge to become one big knot until your thinking confused you and your thoughts were like rattle snakes stinging wild monkeys in the prison of your mind?

Sometimes I found myself drawn into your swirling, twirling mists of madness.
It was easier to pretend the bizarre to be true, than to plunge into my heart break alone.
Then I would cry and beg you to come back, rest, sleep, slow down.
Return to me and the world we will never again share.
You looked at me with brash confidence.
Your new world was far superior to mine.
You said my tears were cleverly plotted to draw you in…you weren’t to be fooled by the hysterics of one such as me!
I lay there sobbing and watched the tears turn deep velvet red.
My heart had split open, broken on the bed.

You were euphoric in your mania, swinging recklessly through unexplored terrain.
You invited me to join you, oblivious to my pain.
When the demon was in our house there were messages in unseen things.
Sometimes we had to go to the bathroom to speak lest the enemies were listening through wires thread through neighborhood yards.

Your look suggested I was your co-conspirator but I misread you, I was so pathetically happy to be on your side again that I joined you in whispered secrets made safe by a running hot, noisy shower.
Whatever it takes!
And it took my peace of mind.
Puffed up with bravado and conviction you were ready to confront those spies who were cleverly hidden in a neighbor’s disguise.
You had begun to burn things and you abandoned objects in the street.
The mists of madness now consumed you in a swirling, fog in your head.
Not even the incense could rid our sacred scarred home from the acrid odor of fear and dread.

I called you and I called you ….“Please come back, don’t leave me here. .. don’t let them take you away”.
……and when I realised you were no longer with me I yelled at that demon to return you to me.
I thought it was too late, you had gone but then I saw a glimmer of you in your eyes.

Teary, weary, fearful eyes, I grabbed your hand and brought you home. You only stayed for a minute or two.

Your body quivered and shook from the tremendous bolts of energy that charged forth from the darkness and wrapped you in tentacle embrace.

There was fear and euphoria, confusion upon your face.
Electrical currents surged through the once peaceful, reflective place.

The demon barged into our scared home and wouldn’t leave
…so I had to call the police and have them take you both away.
I no longer had a choice.

And you looked at me with a little smile that said… “See, I knew I was right…you were plotting against me”.

And I stood there and I shattered before my own eyes and bled into tomorrow.
Much was lost and too little was gained when our home was invaded by the demon from the unrequited past.

Grandiose certainty lay shattered and smashed in the debris of our life.
The demon mocked all that we once believed in.
We were once so confident about tomorrow…but were left with shattered yesterdays.

Forever in my heart you will remain
and I close the door on that place knowing that
we all learnt was needed
for where we were
at that Time….

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Finding our Sacred, Peaceful Pathway….spending time in Nature enables us to Breathe once again…

Posted in Chaos, Charlie Sheen, Charlie Sheen's behaviour, Creativity, Drama, Dreaming, Energy, Fear, Grandiosity, Imagination, Journeys, Lifes Stories, Manic, mental illness, Shamanic | 2 Comments »