Wednesday, August 12, 2020


Dripping wet. Sweating so much right now that I'm slippery, sweat dripping from my eyes and my nose, my chin. I can't possibly touch the computer keys like this. So I am dictating into my phone.

I took another walk today. I'm up to 4.8 miles. I walked up a very long hill, in the beastly sun and heat. I walked by the cornfields that just go on and on.

At one point, I saw a big swimming pool behind a farmhouse. I had all I could do not to run across the fields and their lawn and jump into the pool and explain to the owners later what drove me to it.

When I get back to the house I turn on the cold water hose and spray it all over my head. I am drenched. I feel my body throb with heat and with fatigue. It feels wonderful.

Eckert Tolle says stay in your body.

That's the way to stay close to God. 

That's the way to stay healthy, physically and mentally.

My sister Holly just put in a gorgeous above ground swimming pool at her house and yesterday she and I and my  husband and my daughter spent an hour or more soaking up the cool cool water. Just floating. Just floating.

I want to tell you this next part of the story but I am afraid to. BUT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO DO THE HARD THING.

I told Peg this morning that suddenly writing -- after three decades -- feels dangerous. Like it's a powder keg waiting to detonate. Or a searing probe that can go places I'm not sure I'm ready to go.

And this book. Whatever possessed me to think that writing this book, a healing story, would be easy? Why was I so naive to think that talking about the past would, in a flash, take away all the pain?

My daughter was in a bad mood yesterday and she was giving me and my husband the cold shoulder.

I woke up in the middle of the night feeling desperate.  All I could think was, it's back to the way it was in the old days, when she wanted nothing to do with me because I was so deeply depressed.

I could hardly blame her. She was in her early twenties. She saw her mother go into the hospital for electroshock treatment. She didn't understand. And she was petrified, as I would have been.

Oh please God I want to go back and erase that awful awful time. 

But here instead I'm writing about it. No one is forcing me to tell this. But I am getting sucked along by the narrative. THERE IS A VERY STRONG POWER IN WORDS AND IN STORIES. THEY TAKE OVER. THEY TAKE ON A LIFE OF THEIR OWN. THEY TAKE YOU DEEP INTO PLACES YOU HAVE KNOWN AND ALSO, MIRACULOUSLY, TO PLACES YOU'VE NEVER BEEN.

I saw this writing my novels. The story ballooned and took over. The characters became real presences in my life. They consumed my imagination.

OK enough stalling. 

It was mid-August 2012. The light. The sky. All of it feels like it did then.

Beastly hot. The grass at the psychiatric hospital was burnt to a crisp in places.

I WASN'T ALLOWED TO GO FOR A WALK. I wanted to jog. I was used to jogging four or five times a week. But I WAS FORCED TO STAY INSIDE ALL DAY EVERY DAY.

We had to walk as a group from the house where we lived to the cafeteria. Three times a days. Brown plastic trays. Bland food. I had no appetite. 

My husband came almost every day, making a drive of more than an hour each way. He played cards with me. He supported me like only he could. I don't know what I would have done without him.

I knew only one thing: I was deeply unhappy. I was willing to do or try anything that might make the depression go away. And that included being wheeled into a room three times a week where they placed me on a bed and attached electrodes to my head and sent electricity sizzling through my brain.

I wanted out of that  place. I wanted no more therapeutic circles of people talking about their mental illness and their coping strategies. I wanted no more arts and crafts hours. I hated arts and crafts. I hated the whole place -- considered an upscale psychiatric hospital-- with every fiber of my being.



It forces me to stay in the moment.

It forces me to COME TO TERMS WITH THE FACT that I went through something awful, but I survived it. And eventually a medication took me out of the depths of despair. And a very skilled therapist helped me realize that what I needed was -- and is -- a deeply spiritual life in which I call on God and the angels every day to guide my way.

And I am here today and while I have my moments, I am healthy. I keep my focus on the now as often as I can. 

Like right now for example, I am sipping this cup of spicy turmeric tea. I combine it with Tension tamer. I make a cup every afternoon and add spun honey and oat milk. And when necessary, meaning, when my anxiety gets uncomfortable, I lie on the living room rug in the corpse pose and do a relaxing yoga nidra sequence. I highly recommend it.

Sometimes yoga nidra puts me to sleep. Most of the time, it makes my psyche feels cleaner. Fresher. More organized. More relaxed.

"I am healed."

I say that and then I wonder.

What does healing look like?

I hope it looks like a woman who is walking almost five miles a day. A woman who is writing to try to stay sane. A woman who takes photos and paints canvases. A woman who is blessed to have two healthy grandchildren and a wonderful family. And incredible friends.

One of whom, Peg Woods, is holding my hand as I find my way through this book. I think about that and I feel a flood of goosebumps. And gratitude.

How did I get so lucky?

Thank you God, for guiding me to this place, and giving me this serenity.

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