Sunday, August 7, 2011

Depression and Reiki

I just watched the movie The Beaver. I wanted to write while it is still fresh in my mind and heart. I want to give Jodie Foster kudos, one for directing the movie and two for being one of the main characters. Mel Gibson plays a mentally ill character that Foster is married to. They have two children a teen age boy and one a gradeschool boy. Early on in the movie you realize that Gibson is a depressive (perhaps schitzophrenic as the relationship between him and the hand puppet develops), the movie actually starts with him being asked to leave their home, he finds a beaver hand puppet in a dumpster and this begins the story about the Beaver that initially appears to be a friend and a tool to Gibson to work with his depression.

The main focus of the movie is really the relationship with Gibson and the Beaver, yet the other main story line is of a woman that is willing to attempt to be non-judgmental of her husband as he tries to work his way through life. Foster continues to directly engage Gibson with questions and expectations that at some point the relationship with the Beaver will end; Gibson repeatedly explains it away or blatantly lies to Foster. Again Foster puts her foot down and leaves her husband.

There is a scene when Gibson is alone and he and the Beaver are actually at odds, there is a fight, an actually physical altercation with Gibson and the Beaver in which Gibson is physically hurt. When Gibson recovers from a black out the Beaver is there telling him that he is his only friend and that he is the only one who loves him. Gibson in the end uses a table saw to remove the Beaver puppet from his arm... by now Gibson believes the Beaver to be real and is unable to simply remove the puppet from his hand.

Foster remains true to her husband. She is in the background of the story line choosing love for her husband over the fear, shock, shame, and disappointment that are so obvious during the movie. She always chooses her and the children’s safety over Gibsons sickness, yet she never slams the door in his face. In an emergency she is there, even though the story line revolves around the mental illness in Gibson, for me it was Fosters character that seemed the most courageous. As difficult as it is for someone with a mental disorder to exist and be in the world it can be even more difficult to love a mentally ill person.

I personally have spent my life attempting to distance myself from people with mental illness. I have become angry at their inability to change, their lack of stick-to-it-ive-ness, their lack of compassion for the people they live with and claim to love, and the selfishness living with a diseased mind can portray. Yet, there is no amount of smug judgmental behavior that is any kind of a match for true chemical imbalances in the brain of those affected with mental illness. No matter how much the rest of us know, no matter how many suppliments, medication, medical treatment, energy and bodywork out there; we aren’t the ones living inside the mind that can believe a stuffed Beaver is real and must be violently detached from the body.

I have spent years walking away from people that were unbalanced. Years weighing the behavior of my family and my friends and my lovers against what is or is not healthy behavior. And I have time and again walked away feeling disappointed and empty.
My father was schitzophrenic, certainly his time in Vietnam created an even worse case scenario for him, he lived across the country from me in my young years so I never got to know him and in my judgment that was just fine with me, who needed that kind of a father anyway? I would wager to say my own mother has dealt with differing levels of depression in her life, my brother is also dealing with diagnosis that makes his life harder than I wish it was for him. My own daughter had shown signs of chemical imbalance most of her young life and as she matured these chemical imbalances became worse as puberty set in. She battles with her own mind daily and I am happy to say whether it looks like it or not she is on top of that particular battle and I am very proud of her.

Below are a few statistics regarding mental disorders. It is frightening to see how many people are truly afflicted and affected with a chemical imbalance. As I turned 40 this year I was dealing with yet another person that I cared for finally getting real about their own mental imbalance. I am hopeful that she has learned a great deal from her experience and I do wish her well on her journey. Since that time my brother who has been missing in action from my life for about 14 years has resurfaced. My mother and I are actually talking about healing our relationship instead of me keeping her at arms length. I have begun to re-assess my own part in loving these people and learning to keep love in the relationship even when it appears that mental illness is winning. It has become painfully obvious (at times) that it isn’t for me to run away from those that I love to keep myself safe from them. The people I have judged are still real and still loving me, so my lesson now is learning acceptance and love in the face of what used to frighten me.

overall U.S. 2002 cost of schizophrenia was estimated to be $62.7 billion, with $22.7 billion excess direct health care cost ($7.0 billion outpatient, $5.0 billion drugs, $2.8 billion inpatient, $8.0 billion long-term care). (source: Analysis Group, Inc.)
Today the leading theory of why people get schizophrenia is that it is a result of a
with an environmental exposures and / or stresses during pregnancy or childhood that contribute to, or trigger, the disorder. Already researchers have identified several of the key genes - that when damaged - seem to create a predisposition, or increased risk, for schizophrenia. The genes, in combination with suspected environmental factors - are believed to be the factors that result in schizophrenia
The Prevalance Rate for schizophrenia is approximately 1.1% of the population over the age of 18 (source:
) or, in other words, at any one time as many as 51 million people worldwide suffer from schizophrenia, including;
6 to 12 million people in China (a rough estimate based on the population)
4.3 to 8.7 million people in India (a rough estimate based on the population)
2.2 million people in USA
285,000 people in Australia
Over 280,000 people in Canada
Over 250,000 diagnosed cases in Britain

At least 2 million people in the United States have this illness. When given proper treatment, most people with bipolar disorder can lead more stable lives.

The most important thing to remember at this point is that there is no winning or losing with mental illness. It is just what it is and people who are living with the diagnosis of a mental condition are not purposefully striking out at those they love, it is actually a manifestation of the disease itself. If I can keep that one single truth in mind perhaps I will lovingly accept my family with just as much compassion as I can a stranger, because in the past I believe I have actually had way more patience and compassion for people I do not even know.

Reiki assists me in delving into ever deeper levels of finding forgiveness inside myself. I can not imagine that I would be in this place in my life willing to mend relationships with family had Reiki not found me.

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