of the palm and fingers cut, bruised, and
stitched. And my Dragonfly totem is with
me to see me through...
stitched. And my Dragonfly totem is with
me to see me through...
First of all, I must tell you that I am right handed and I am currently only able to hunt and peck with my left hand and now -- and quite gingerly at that -- the index finger of my wounded hand. I can't do it too long or it hurts being connected to the middle finger which is stitched at the base going round to the ring finger side. The tip of the ring finger could have been cut clean off and is quite nasty. But as my body opened and the blood flowed profusely, I was carried downstream in this river that was not blood but the beginning of a long overdue shamanic journey and a very important one at that for many reasons. Today, in pain and knowing that it will take a frustrating amount of time to heal, I am filled with gratitude for all of the teachings that are now very present and necessary for this time in my life, and my life is about to change radically, in a very good way. It wouldn't have happened had I not plunged straight down into broken glass, but sometimes we have to break a window to get in, or out, sometimes it won't open on it's own.
I must also include another aside here. I am about to discuss a drug I have been taking long-term, 8 years, for a severe anxiety disorder. I will not name the drug and my reason for writing about this is just to share my experience, not to advise anyone to take or not take any medication at any dose for any length of time. That is between you and your doctor. The medication is one that was needed at the time and served it's purpose, but in the end as the dosage was increased, and the years went by, I experienced a serious disconnect with my body. Again, I am a lay person simply sharing my story.
For over thirty years I have been in and out -- more in than out -- of therapy for a childhood filled with experiences I need not speak of. We all have our wounds and no matter what they are when they are ours we must find our own way to heal, with the help of medical professionals or other naturopathic doctors (or whomever you see for your health care needs). As a young married woman I had a nervous breakdown after barely a year of marriage and ended up in the hospital for a month on tranquilizers, sleeping pills, anti-depressant medication, and more. Just after getting out of the hospital I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. I was so terrified being that those first precious weeks of pregnancy when the wee tiny fertilized egg is growing into a person, I was taking drugs that could severely impact my baby's health and growth. I went off of all of my medication cold turkey and was seen several times a week by my psychiatrist because he were so concerned about my mental state, just out of the hospital and now, so quickly, off of the medication. The whole experience shook me to my core, and despite my fragile nature and ongoing clinical depression, and the fact that, in my child-bearing years I could again inadvertently be taking medications that might have an adverse affect on my babies, I stayed off of any medication and was carefully watched by doctors.
I had my three children by the age of 29, but then I nursed each baby for a long period and couldn't take meds while nursing. I was hanging on by my fingernails at times, but the welfare of my little ones was the most important thing. For two decades I would touch no medication at all, much to the chagrin of my doctors who saw me have two more breakdowns and being so fragile I was practically transparent. They begged me to take drugs. I would not.
In 1993, on the cusp of my 40th birthday, and in terrible shape, I went on an anti-depressant that I stayed on, with a 2 year break half way through, until the last few months. It helped, but in 2002 I had another breakdown and had to go on two more meds. Eventually I would be medicated for Bi-Polar disorder as well, but as my nights were full of nightmares and I could not sleep. I was given a mild sleeping aid that I only took on hard nights, but with my increasingly elevating panic attacks, and diagnosis of PTSD, as well as moving closer and closer to the edge of full blown agoraphobia, I was given a common anti-anxiety drug that helped so much for the past eight years that I did not question the need to take it, nor did I think anything of it when the dosages were increased because my body was developing ongoing tolerance to it the longer I stayed on the drug. I have always been very cautious about medication, only taking the minimum amount, and the prescription would often last for 2 months, but still there was an ongoing stream of medication in my body and it was having a serious effect on my physical balance in this world, causing numerous falls and injuries, some serious, which were, unbeknownst to me, a side effect of the drug.
My lesson is that we, many of us, have to take medication, but we need also to do our own research and watch our body's signals and work with our health care providers very mindfully and not just pop pills as directed without even thinking of the ramifications to our bodies. I have had a number of serious injuries because I was not listening to my own body or questioning the drugs I was taking. Some I will always have to take, my Bi-Polar medication which gives me a balance and normalcy, as much as I can have, in a world where I have spent my life in the middle of a see-saw watching each end go up and down, up and down, up and down, being swept away into sometimes cyclonic states that only another Bi-Polar person can understand, I will always have to take. My medication has balanced my life and made me more whole and for that I will not only be forever grateful that after nearly 30 years in therapy I was properly diagnosed. Finally, there was a proper name put on the seesaw, and with the right medication my life changed dramatically. But...
There was a push-pull in my life that made me increasingly panicky, unable to sleep almost at all, more withdrawn than ever, and it happened during my mother's five year battle with cancer that finally ended her earthly journey this past December. The dosage of the drug was raised, and while it calmed me I became less and less in touch with my physical body taking more and more falls. As I had gained a lot of weight and already had compromised my feet by serious surgery that left me with a wonky unbalanced walk, I chalked it up to those things when I kept falling, including falling down a staircase and breaking both feet so badly I was in two casts for 6 months, then a wheelchair, walker, crutches, cane ... it was one year before I could walk again. And the hits just kept coming.
I moved into my new home the first week in February and I cannot begin to count the number of times I have fallen both inside and out. Once I went down so hard on one side on my tile kitchen floor I was afraid to move for fear something was broken, and the whole right side of my body was badly bruised for weeks. Still I chalked it up to my feet, and even though I have lost about 75 pounds I still have quite a way to go so I still considered the weight a factor. Talk about walking around with blinders on.
Too, for sometime, after decades of writing for magazines and newspapers, having had 3 small presses, and written a number of books, I couldn't finish anything, and any creative project I took on, or something as simple as housework, I was not able to stay focused enough to do. With a lifetime of clinical depression the fact that my writing and my art, which I could no longer get a handle on, and which have always been my life's blood and kept me going through the worst of times, was disappearing into the mists. I was becoming more and more profoundly depressed and cut myself even further off from the world. I despaired that I would never have a creative productive life, and for someone who has the history I have had, including suicidal thoughts, I was treading in very dangerous territory. And then I hurled to the ground last Sunday night and cut myself to pieces. I've never seen so much blood and my right/writing/art producing/working hand was rendered unusable, at least for several weeks ahead of me. As I plummeted to the ground for one brief moment, a mere blink in time, I saw the dragonfly tattoo on the back of my right hand, but then lost the memory in a pool of blood with my daughter and son-in-law rushing about getting towels and getting me into the car to head to the Emergency room.
It was 2 days before I really looked at my tattoo again, and I sat in awe and wonder because at the same time my closest friend who had worked for 20 years in the hospital consulted one of his doctor friends who immediately questioned the long-term use of the anti-anxiety medication. On further study I found that the drug not only causes an instability in the body and falls are common, but it also dulls the mind and all in one instant the fact that I was always falling and unable to do my precious work had a name. It was decided, with the advice of one doctor and a consultation with my own, that I needed to come off of this drug completely. I have been on it for so long I have to be carefully monitored as the decrease happens in increments every 2 weeks and it will take 8 weeks to get me off of the drug completely, but all of a sudden I felt a strength and a sense of hope and joy that I didn't know I would ever feel again. I was not in a hopeless body that would be constantly falling down causing worse and worse injuries as time went by, and my creativity would rise up from a deep well. I wept with a kind of release and relief I have not felt in too many years to count. I will be alright.
Throughout this whole journey my dragonfly totem has been leading me, as dragonflies do as totems, out of the darkness and into the light, taking me through a metamorphic journey that will, very soon, allow me to fly, not fall. My tattoo is a beacon of light and hope and remembrance. I meditate on it, and my heart lifts. The large dragonfly flys over a full moon amidst the swirling cosmos around it in a sky twinkling with stars. He can see everything from his vantage point. I am beginning to see a great deal more from mine.
For the time being I prefer to look at the back side of my hand rather than my palm and fingers that are all cut and stitched up. Stitches, no matter how minor the injury might have been in the whole scheme of things, have always made me embarrassingly squeamish, but they too have a part in the story. As a metaphorist I see everything in metaphors. The profuse bleeding caused quite a lot of blood to flow out, in a cleansing way, and seeing my stitched hand and fingers, I realize that I can be healed and whole in my own way, and, like my dragonfly tattoo, the scars on my hand will be marks of remembrance. I must remember to stay in touch with my body, to live mindfully in it, and to realize that there are many other natural treatment modalities that can help me ease anxiety while keeping me upright on the ground and at work both writing and doing my art.
Again, I share this story with you not out of pity or remorse but as an awakening, and the knowledge that we can always find new ways to live and be as long as we are alive. May we all follow our hearts, the bright light within, and seek to follow our spiritual path, whatever that might be for any of us, as a steadying force in our lives.
I wish, for each of you, health and wholeness in mind, body, and soul, and will continue to share with you, through the series of books I am working on, the continuous, conscious journey that I am on, in hopes that it might help others. If even one person is touched or helped by what I have to share, I am deeply blessed. We are not here alone. If I don't do well out in the world, I give from the deepest part of my being through my writing and art. May my work be a vehicle of peace, hope, light, love, and joy. This I pray.
Now my hand is asking you to beg our pardon. It is telling me it has had more than enough for today, and, hidden under the dragonfly, where it can rest in a cocoon and heal, it will continue to teach me through this long healing process more than I know I can imagine in this moment. The veil has been lifted for me, my world comes into clearer focus each day.