Two months ago my husband and I packed our Hyundai sedan with the essentials: my husband’s guitar, his ukulele, his big-ass amp, our Chihuahua Haley, a five-day supply of Haley’s organic homemade (by me) perfectly balanced nutrition-packed food, her favorite toys and water bowl, a customized-for-a-Chihuahua baby stroller (don’t judge), a thermos of frozen broccoli (healthy Chihuahua snacks), and every comforter and blanket we own stacked high over the back seat area so said Chihuahua would have a 360 view of the open road.
I brought one suitcase (that I shared with my husband) and my laptop.
We drove for four days from Bradenton, Florida to Northwest Las Vegas. Scott (husband, best friend, confidant, and reluctant chauffeur) did most of the driving while I sat white-knuckled in the passenger’s seat, silently criticizing his driving skills, except for the times I criticized them out loud. I did drive some through Texas (because Texas never ends). Scott didn’t mention my driving. He mostly just slept through the Lonestar state.
Why Vegas? We came to this desert-of-the-misfit-toys to pursue our dreams. Scott’s is to win a World Series of Poker bracelet. Mine is to finally write the memoir I have talked about, obsessed about, been discouraged about, been excited about, and been afraid to start for 25 years. My memoir is about my experiences as a patient at the John Bradshaw Center at Ingleside Hospital in Los Angeles in the early 1990s.
This, my first blog post, is the beginning of that beginning.
The purpose of this blog is to hold myself accountable to write diligently and honestly, and to invite anybody who happens upon this effort to assist in holding me accountable. I am looking for help–thoughts and insights from both my fellow writers and anyone who has struggled with or still struggles with mental illness (I note that these two categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive). I am hoping for comments from people who have had experiences (either positive or negative) with the mental health industry, who have done outpatient work, inpatient work, or both. Maybe you know someone who was damaged by time in a mental health facility, or maybe you know someone who has been helped by it. I want to hear from counselors and therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists. I want to start a conversation about mental illness and its place in our healthcare system.
I aim to tell my story with transparency, keeping in mind the need to honor and protect the privacy of my fellow patients. I am not here to judge anyone else’s perceptions or experiences, but I do hope that by sharing my own I can encourage more conversation about how mental health issues are addressed in our society.