Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween And An Awesome Link....

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you all have a terrific holiday and that you all stay safe.

In my last post I discussed the fact that I wrote a pitch and sent into an online magazine that I really admire, CultNoise. Regardless, if my pitch is something they are interested in or not, I want to share their amazing site with you. It isn't just a site about OCD, although there is some very informative OCD articles within. There are opinion pieces and current affairs. There is fashion advice and an entertainment section. There is a whole slew of interesting things to check out...Basically, there is a bunch of really great articles written by really great writers and I felt the need to share all of this "greatness" with you. I am not trying to tell you what to do, or what to read, or who to be, but in my humble opinion, it is worth a good read. Maybe three or four good reads. Heck, you could even make it something you read all of the time, if you want to. I know I do.

So, please check out the link and get your read on. Have an awesome weekend full of joy, laughter, costumes, and maybe if you are very, very lucky lots of candy too.  Please eat it responsibly :)

Neurotic Nelly

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Hermit With A Mustache...

        I am tired of the OCD pushing me into a dark corner. I want to shine and feel the sun on my face again. I want to taste the air and feel it on my skin. Sink my feet into the dew dampened earth and breathe in the warm scent of rain. I want to appreciate the silence of winter only broken by the eerie skeleton bone sound, the ice covered tree limbs make whilst clinking together in the wind. I will be damned if this mental illness is going to steal one more thing from me. I don't care how small it is. I can do this. I will do this. I am doing this and my OCD can go to hell, where it belongs. I am stronger than it ever thought of being. I just want my OCD to know that I am still here, standing, climbing, crawling, and fighting even though that's not what it wants. I am not going anywhere and I clearly am not going to bow down to it. I am the warrior of my own mind and I will NEVER give up.

       My son jokingly called me a hermit last night.... I have yet to bloom into my full hermit mode, in my opinion. But as I told him with a strong sense of self assurance, I fully expect to get to that point by my mid sixties. I also plan to get one of those mustache tattoos on the inside of my pointer finger so when I put my hands a certain way on my face, I can look as if I have a handle bar mustache. No, I do not care if that is cliche. It's gonna happen....

        I guess I am closed inside my home more than most people, but I have been slowly working on it. I now walk outside for around four miles every other day for exercise. I sometimes sit on my front porch to read. I even went to the grocery store all by myself the other day. I dressed up a bit to go, so I felt good about myself. It was kind of nerve wracking but I didn't have a full nuclear meltdown. I was pretty proud of myself. I am thirty six years old and that was the first time I remember going anywhere completely on my own in the last few years. It wasn't too bad. I may do it again sometime. In all honesty, I was more worried about the fact that my dress was shorter than I was used to and I was afraid one wrong move could show the world my rear end. It didn't but I can't be sure if it was because it was just me being afraid of something new and well fitting or because I did some side ways calisthenics to get the things from the bottom shelves without bending over,  just to be sure. All I can say, is no hind ends were shown and that is a win for me.

           I also have been trying to broaden my horizons with my writing. I was actually terrified to write my piece on the Willard Suitcases. I was afraid that it wasn't good enough or that I would fail and let everyone down. I was afraid it wouldn't read well or that my opinion wouldn't come across. I not only second guessed myself, I third, and fourth , and one hundred and sixty eighth guessed myself. But I think when you have a passion you have to be willing to try even if failure is an option. Thankfully, it was readable and became a post I am very proud of. I got nothing but positive feedback from it which assuaged away any fears of what I sometimes see as my own shortcomings, whether they be real or imagined.

            Last year, I pitched a writing piece to an online magazine hoping they would publish it. They didn't and I shouldn't have tried at that time, anyway, because I wasn't really ready. It just reinforced my OCD negative thinking.  I want to keep trying  new things and sometimes when I have gotten an opportunity to be a part of something small,  I get scared and end up not doing it.  That has to stop. I know that I am a decent writer and that just because something I write does not get picked does not mean anything more than it was not what they were looking for. All of the "I am not good enough", "I am a failure", "Who would want to read something a thirty six year old high school dropout would write, anyway?" OCD thinking can not be allowed to take over my life. I don't need to listen to the lies I tell myself because of my OCD. I am capable of anything I put my mind to, including writing.

            To prove to myself I am at a better place mentally, I sent in a writing piece to a different online magazine. I don't feel worried about it. If they don't choose it, I am not going to be upset. I know it has nothing to do with me personally, nor does it speak of  my skill set. I have to keep trying new things. So, I am going to, and see what happens. If it doesn't pan out, who cares? It is not the end of the world. Publishing doesn't define me, I define me. Getting printed doesn't make me any more or any less talented. I am secure enough in myself now, to have a to hell with it attitude. If it works, awesome, If it doesn't, I will keep trying.

             I am afraid of rejection but I can't let rejection make me fear living my life. Hell, I am afraid of a lot of things. You can't live your life if fear controls it. The worst thing that could happen from this is people saying no. I mean, big deal. It's not like I have never been told no before. So, here I go slowly putting my toes in the water. I hope that it all goes well, but if it doesn't I can handle that too.  My OCD isn't going to be allowed to drive me around anymore. This is my life and I aim to step out of the backseat and actually live it.

Neurotic Nelly

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

OCD Week...

This week is the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Awareness Week!!!!!!

I would have taken my picture holding the sign like I try and do every year but my face has decided to break out and no one really needs to see that. I have no idea why this happens to me, I am not a teenager and haven't been for a very long time. Anyway, I will just post the poster on my blog sans my face and also the links to how you can get involved with showing support of OCD Awareness week.

OCD Awareness Week

Remember you can show support by using the #OCDweek hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to help get OCD Awareness Week trending!

The biggest thing I want people to understand about having OCD is that many people that have OCD do not have the symptoms everyone associates with the disorder. Not everyone has a fear of germs, or contamination fears, or shows physical compulsions. OCD is a very complicated disorder with very complicated symptoms and although all of sufferers have the same types of feelings of guilt for our intrusive thoughts and self doubt, that doesn't mean we all do or have the same symptoms.   You may know someone that suffers from OCD and have absolutely no idea that you do. We tend to hide it as best as we can. So, please support us because we could use it. Please share the awareness for our disorder. It is important that we not only teach others about just what OCD is and how hard it is living with the disorder, but also that we give those of us that suffer from it, a podium to open up publicly about it. We need to be honest, be real, and  help others by tearing down the stigma that surrounds not only our disorder but all mental illness, everywhere.

Thank you for your support,
Neurotic Nelly

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Their Names Matter....

        When the volume of the world around us is ear-splitting, the silence of the stigma we face daily, is deafening. It is proven with the way we treat those that have suffered before us. By the looks we avert and  the absence of our questions. The disregard we pass on to the past. Who were these people? What were their lives like? What were their names?

         Questions that Jon Crispin and his amazing website Willard Suitcases makes us pause and think about. Questions that need to be asked and in some small way, answered.  Willard Suitcases is a record of these people's lives  through the contents of their personal suitcases. With four hundred suitcases ranging from 1910 to the 1960's it is an open and honest depiction into the lives of the patients that called Willard Psychiatric Center home.

        A few days ago I stumbled upon Jon Crispin's work and realized that he had held a mirror to my face. What I found there was something that not only could I not turn away from  but needed to see. It is a window into the past. The past of people much like me and you. People that suffered from the silence of stigma and in many ways, although they are long gone from this earth, still suffer from the affects of it. I saw these people through the eyes of an amazing photographer who showed us their lovingly packed away belongings, the little bits and pieces of their forgotten lives, the soft whispers of their past. I saw their talents as an artist, a leather worker, a budding author, an academic. I saw their dreams and their faces smiling back at me in black and white and sepia tones. At some point, unbeknownst to myself, these pictures of simple suitcases filled with their clandestine contents stopped being something to view out of curiousity and became something very personal to me. I read some of their thoughts, gathered minute traces of their lives, and in doing so found myself lying there somewhere beneath the satin shoes, little carved terriers, books written in German, old records, letters written by loved ones,  blackened shoe polish, matching Bakelite hair brushes, and brightly colored embroidery string. These patients were not silent ghosts that lurked the halls invisible and forgotten. They were people. They were you and me.  I could have been them if I were born in their time. One of those suitcases could have been mine...One of those notebooks could have had my name scrawled across the top in pencil.

       Difference being, that my full name can be printed and photographed and their's can not. Not because they weren't real people. Not because they aren't worthy of such an overlooked privilege, but because they were mental patients and  because of the New York patient privacy laws, their full names are forever redacted. Many of them have numbers on their tombstones instead of names as if their lives did not matter. As if they did not have talents, loved ones, aspirations, or dreams. As if they were simply cogs in a wheel. Nondescript.  Unmentionable. Undesirables, graceless, faceless and nameless because they suffered. Their voices, or in this case names, remain silent. Much like the creator and photographer of the Willard Suitcases site, I feel this is unacceptable.

 Their names matter.

       The sterilization and sanitation of the ignored and forgotten has become all too familiar. The turning of a blind eye to things we do not understand or the shame we dole out onto things that make us feel uncomfortable. These hauntingly beautiful photos speak of a person's life as the individual. Not just as the inmates of an asylum scrubbed raw and washed clean only to become indiscernible from each other. These people had families, friends, lives, and dreams. Lives that don't simply disappear just because they were institutionalized. Having lived in Willard Psychiatric Center in no way makes them any less remarkable, less talented, or less human than anyone else.

       I applaud Jon Crispin and his site for giving these people  their dignity and individuality back and for showing us the humanity the world has stripped away from them for far too long. For showing us the human face behind the diagnoses. For reminding people that mental illness sufferers are not any less unique and individual than anyone else.

In closing:
      Their names should be allowed to be said, printed, and remembered. They deserve to be heard in death as they should have been in life. They should have their names on their grave markers above their bodies. They deserve to be seen. We have to stand not just for their names but by their names because it is not just  taking a stand for these remarkable people, it is taking a stand for all of those that came before them and for all of us that have come after. They deserve better.

      I have never been to New York. I have never visited Willard, but that doesn't change my opinion on doing what is right. These remarkable people deserve to be recognized for the people they were and the lives that they lived and should not be allowed to fade away from history slowly and deliberately, simply because they suffered from mental illness.

Please take a a few minutes to look at Jon Crispin's site  Willard Suitcases and leave him a message of support for his remarkable work in keeping these people's memories alive and in the public eye.

And if the story of these people has touched you in any way, please check out these links to help support the cause of giving back these wonderful souls the rights to their names.

For a more detailed look at Willard Psychiatric Center and it's suitcases story click here to purchase:
The Lives They Left Behind:Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic by Darby Penney.

For more information and updates on what is being done to restore the name rights to the former patients of Willard Psychiatric Center, please check out The Willard Cemetery Memorial Project.

For New York residents that want to get involved, Legislation for The Willard Cemetery Memorial Project.

For more information on the patients of Willard Psychiatric Center, check out The Inmates of Willard by Linda S. Stuhler and a link to her book The Inmates of Willard 1870-1900 a Genealogy Resource.

Their names matter. They always did, and they always will.

Neurotic Nelly