Take Me To Church

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My therapist Friday, “you’re an addict. You’re in recovery (say what?).

I don’t care how you got there, or which doctor gave you the pills. There are no healing shortcuts, no way around, over or under it. You have to plow straight through.” I looked up the twelve steps. Can my shrink please put me in a medically induced coma and wake me up when it’s over (approx. 2-3 years from now). On a beach, frozen margarita in hand. (to clarify, I’m just crazy and allowed one drink after the benzo detox.) ??? Step. # 1 yeah, yeah…

Recovery hurts. Recovery is not funny. Not funny, ha, ha, ha at all.

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And the Stars Align

Georgia Pine
Georgia Pine

When a milestone comes, embrace it. Do the happy dance, you deserve it.

Whenever you push beyond the comfort zone no matter how scratchy, ridiculously uncomfortable it is.

You win.

I push the limits of my broken mind on the hour. There is no slacking, no self-pity. There is only survival.

The writing saves me, the daily dose of oxygen replenishing the brain.

Every single day writing is the respite from the invisible, discouraging, terrifying, unforeseeable challenges I face.

Every single day, I push hard.

I am rigorous, disciplined and relentless with my mental health.

Self-Publishing a book is like, yeah right, no way you can’t do it. It’s Calculus to me and I flunked Algebra.

A book, not in a million years. I can’t. It’s too hard, all the screaming voices of self-doubt polluting my head.

Yeah, I am light years and galaxies out of my comfort zone.

I push myself, harder than anyone else. I set impossible limits.

Today, my illness does not win.

I do.

Milestone days, take them and embrace the joy. Hold on tight.

They fortify and strengthen your reserve to carry on.

I tried my best.

I was not alone on my journey. There will be many to thank who cheer me on.

This milestone, for one quiet minute is all mine.

The book of Georgia Pine is here.

My gift from the stars, sun and sky to you.

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http://www.amazon.com/Georgia-Pine-Jacqueline-Cioffa/dp/1507549202/ref=la_B00H4EZKVE_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1422730851&sr=1-3

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the prequel to Georgia Pine

shhhh, my brain is healing

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Benzo withdrawal and the excruciating road to recovery is well worse than the lowest, hottest depths of hell.

Actually if there was a hell, I’d probably choose to go there.

Okay, I understand prescribing a XaniBar for a short time because it is necessary to quash

the extreme anxiety tentacles vice gripping the brain.

I am Manic Depressive (not BiPolar, I despise the modernized, sensationalized term).

I understand that my illness is precarious, and all the uncertainty that is attached.

I understand that Lithium, the ‘gold standard’ drug is my best bet to stay alive.

I take it faithfully, like a daily chore you do not because you like it but simply because it’s part of your routine.

Everyday for the last 13 years I swallow my pride.

I’m not sure when Xanax became the necessity, after a traumatic event, suicidal tendencies, or the full-blown psychotic breakdown.

Does it even matter? I needed it to survive. Trouble is, it wasn’t enough. I needed more, to raise the dose to function, get through the day without doing something drastic.

I admit it, suicide is never far from my broken, tortured, chaotic mind. I am not sure why I’m still here, it’s a crapshoot.

Back to the Benzos.

How could I know back then what Benzo addiction and eventual withdrawal would do to my already damaged mind?

I am an addict. Not by choice, not by my hands.

I have lost a year or more (who’s counting) clawing my way out, chills, hallucinations, tremors, blurred vision, extreme temperature fluctuations, 94 degrees is a scary place to be trapped inside, nausea, headaches, dizziness, muscle aches, pain I have never experienced. Seasick waves, hyper sensitivity.

If you touch me I might punch you out.

I am at the benzo taper half-mark. I’ve missed so much. Trips to Cali, the beach, NY, hell just being present. Some days a trip to the nature trail with the dog is a huge accomplishment.

I am resilient. I am determined. I am not afraid to admit I’m paralyzed by fear. I blame the doctors, God, whomever is in close proximity. There is no blame, really. Bad shit happens.

I fill my arsenal with things that help with my recovery. Essential oils, strict diet, exercise, epsom salt baths, writing, watching movies, my dog. I try hard not to beat myself up. Rest, when necessary.

If your doctor writes a script for Xanax to ‘take the edge off,’ tell him to shove it and go for a walk, seek alternative treatment, try if you can to SPRINT in the other direction. If you can.

My brain is himages-1ealing. I catch a glimpse of my old, new and improved self. GABA is my new favorite word.

To everyone out there fighting, dealing with impossible challenges, breathe in 7 seconds and then breathe out 10.

Do it, again and again until your skin doesn’t crawl.

Educate yourself.

And if you meet someone who’s a little off-color, be kind.

You don’t know what hoops they’re jumping through.

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Benzo Withdrawal LINKS:

http://www.psychmedaware.org/recovery_tips.html

http://benzowithdrawalhelp.com

http://www.benzobuddies.org

If You Were President

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Banksy

…I wouldn’t last one day

if you were President What would you do???

Too easy to preach, bitch and moan

To act

Do something, something good

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Banksy

LYRICS Wyclef

If I was president,
I’d get elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday,
and buried on Sunday.

If I was president…
If I was president

Instead of spending billions on the war,
I can use that money, to feed the poor.
I know some so poor, when it rains that’s when they shower,
when screaming “fight the power”.
That’s when the vulture devoured
If I was president,
I’d get elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday,
and buried on Sunday.

If I was president…
If I was president…
If I was president…
If I was president

But the radio won’t play this.
They call this rebel music.
How can you refuse it, children of moses?
If I was president,
I’d get elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday,
and buried on Sunday.

If I was president…
If i was president

Tell the children the truth, the truth.
Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America.
Tell them the truth.
The truth
YEAH! Tell them about Marcus Garvey.
Tell the children, the truth, yeah! The truth
Tell them about Martin Luther King.
Tell them the truth.
The Truth.
Tell them about JFK

If I was President

If I was president,
I’d get elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday,
and buried on Sunday.

If I was president…
If I was president

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Banksy

[youtube=http://youtu.be/9pq_3OheqzU]

Happy, The Gyre Current Illusion

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The Red Bench

It’s funny how life thrusts you forward, ready or not. Every single thing has changed, and yet I feel very much the same.

You do the work, plan your days, look ahead with the hope you might find happy waiting. Happy is the illusion like gyre currents in perpetual movement.

I wrote The Red Bench half a decade ago churning in my brain trying to comprehend the mystery of living. The story evolved into The Vast Landscape, Georgia Pine and now I begin again, with EverGreen. Curious, all the titles have to do with nature, double entendres. Maybe the quiet, self-mandated daily walk, clean air, gravel crunching underfoot, allows the mind silence, and oxygen from constricted, over crowded spaces. The walkabout leaves a lasting effect. Tales of a familial girl in perpetual spin-cycle. An ordinary, average girl trying to comprehend the mysteries that are human emotion, loss, love and family. Strength and resilience are there too, squashed by fear and hidden below the dirt. Uncovering sparkling, dazzling quartz minerals right beneath the surface. We are the mistake happening by chance, moving along as best we can. Silly it seems, plans change, variables, decisions made, much like the secure future once envisioned.

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I return to the red bench to find my footing, the New Year’s mantra 365 days long.

The Red Bench by Jacqueline Cioffa

-excerpts

“It all comes back to a red metal bench in the woods, on a small hill by a nothing special pond. The air is sweet and wet and fall is here for now. Ducks sleep near the brisk, damp water waiting to take flight to sunnier places, offering no solution. I shiver and squirm in my own discomfort, clenching the bench, determined to will myself better. I’ll sit there god damn it, you fucking God cocksucker, I’m as stubborn as you, until there is something to look forward to. I’m not pretending rosy and cheery just maybe a hint of curiosity.

With one foot planted on the ground, the other dancing with parasol queens and subway kings, I’m off whenever the mood suits. I’m not sure I can keep up this charade of good health. My mind is winning you see, disappearing each day into the void, gray matter dying piece by piece. I say take it all, so that I no longer remember the unnerving beauty here on earth. They tell me I must fight harder, but I don’t see from where or how. The choice has never been up to me, no matter how heavy I wear the armor.

Instead of despair on these sub-zero days, in parades of endless succession. I hate gray the color, the boring winter blank sky. I hate the cold, the incessant bitter freeze I can’t shake off. They say ECT may be the only way back, my mind resistant to the drugs they shove down my throat. I don’t care, zap my brain, shock it, and bring back hope. Where is this God they talk so highly about? He’s a slacker, watching tsunamis, disease and earthquakes swallow babies and their families whole. How could I think for one second he might take pity on me? When the rest of the blue planet has gone haywire. Killing for nothing, stealing, lying, cheating, concerned for number one. There is no honor and trust amongst new millennium thieves. We are a nation consumed with stuff, ego and greed. Hey, look at me, how fabulous the façade. Maybe by spring, the hatred and contempt will be gone. Some warmth and compassion brought back into these cold-hearted bones. If I can hang on until then, I might have a shot.

I hope the world my predecessor lives in is a kinder place to dwell. I pray the blue people have learned compassion towards the ill, the weak and the mind sick. I hope that time has made her world a softer, more humane place to visit. Shame and fear have been obliterated from her planet, coloring her life with only happy minutes. She will grow up to be a healthy woman, headstrong, a great healer, fearless traveler, and the gypsy traveling the globe on her sacred walkabout. She is me, only better, the direct descendant of all that I was not. She will do everything I hoped to accomplish in life. She will not fall short, cut down by a disease more than complicated than life itself. She will grow up brave and strong, a clearheaded, fine woman. I get to watch, dust particles in heaven floating over her head, living out the perfect life. We have come full circle, my limitations never mattered, disease didn’t win. The spirit guides that went before me showed the easier, less complicated route.

Things always seem brighter, warmer, kinder, and less drastic under the beautiful rays of a golden sun.

My death never mattered one bit, only the courage, grace, and strength of how I lived carries on. In the face of adversity, I hope I was remembered as kind.”

Prose flows.

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Thread the Needle

lavender, peppermint healing

Authenticity. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the word, gargling, swishing it around in my mouth and spitting it out.

If I only show you the photoshopped, concealed, makeup pretty me you’ll never understand the underbelly. The crunchy grit, rawness hidden beneath. The really good stuff, the honest kind that matters. Most days I can only see how my illness defines me. Every single piece that’s been stolen, the immeasurable, inexplicable loss of self. The shame, self-hatred, feelings of worthlessness, doubt, insecurities, paranoia, fear, inappropriate remarks, irrational behavior and the myriad of negatives that live inside my broken, chaotic mind. Not to mention the physical excruciating pain, dizziness, anxiety, numbness, sweats, chills. Or the forty-ish pounds of added weight, the personal fuck you reminder of the crazy scales. Matters of life and death, I stopped counting the pounds. There are the ‘friends’ who conveniently vanished, stopped calling, texting. I admit, I’ve cried, hid my face in shame, lived with resentment and assumed the worst. It must be my fault.

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truth. same me.

That’s not what this day or this post is about. Today is about threading the needle and the incredible luck I’ve been dealt. Yes, luck.

Somewhere in-between psychosis, wanting to die and twelve years of psyche meds, twelve years of disappointment, fight, agony, fear, mania, depression and feeling sorry for myself, I forgot. The crucial element. Luck.

My therapist, whom I adore talks it out with me. She said something that kinda’ stuck, “you’re not the norm.” I didn’t quite get it. “Most of my patients (mentally ill) don’t have anyONE. You have more than one, you are not alone.” It’s so true, I am never alone while living with this solitary, suck-ass, fuck-off, bite-me disease. It’s authentic no doubt, there is no room for false illusion.

I am lucky. I’m lucky I have a home, a comfortable safe haven. I’m lucky to have a kindred spirit animal, Lupita lovely who comforts me when I am buried inside the madness, teaches me patience, moral responsibility and makes me smile more times than I can count.

I’m lucky no one asks too much of me, no conventional job, financial stress triggers. Don’t worry, I own that guilt. Guilt is a wasted emotion I excel at. I am lucky I still have the capacity to have a clear thought, battle the bad ones. I’m lucky I live with someone who does not let me wallow and knows when I am not wallowing at all. I’m lucky I have the one who puts her aches, pains and disappointments under her tongue and bites down hard dealing with the crazy that is her daughter. I am well aware even when I’m not gracious, nice, and pretty goddamn awful. I’m lucky there is more than one person checking in, wishing me well. I’m lucky for the ones I didn’t expect with the kindest hearts.

I’m lucky my heart is the bigger muscle and my mind the smaller one. I’m lucky I have a wicked imagination. I’m lucky I can still lose myself in the words, writing and dreaming on the page. I’m lucky god, buddha whoever sent me and gave me some gifts to share. There is something beautiful in the ethers, beyond our fixed expiration date. I’m lucky I believe in that. I’m lucky I’m sensitive enough, intuitive enough, aware enough and kind enough.

I’m lucky I have a stubborn, ugly mean streak too. It keeps me alive.

I could go on and on but that might seem manic, crazy, mad. Stirring up all the uncomfortable feelings, words and foreign adjectives that swirl inside your mind. Forget it, I didn’t write this for you.

I’m lucky if my experience helps the solitaire, lonely person  struggling like me feel less alone.

I’m lucky I choose authentic however scary it may be, I am the lucky in-between.

I’m learning luck is not a state of mind but one of heart.

Labels, I am lucky I’ve plain worn them out.

Walk it out
Walk it out
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End the Stigma      http://bringchange2mind.org

Reading is SEXY

Because reading is smart. Smart is beautiful. Beautiful is SEXY. The Vast Landscape is soul stirring, emotional, authentic, raw truth in a moment of chaos when the whole world could use, something beautiful. Faith. Strength. Love. Hope.
Fine Lit., Not Chick Lit.

Amazon Readers *****

“A glimpse inside the intimate, very personal view of a world. ”
Colleague| 5 reviewers made a similar statement

“Filled with raw emotion..a page turner from the start! ”
Kathy Aiello| 6 reviewers made a similar statement

“This is a sisterhood amongst girlfriends that are there for each other through the good times and the bad. ”
Amalia Colyer| 2 reviewers made a similar statement

One Piece of Pretty ‪

9-13-14 The Vast Landscape Book Signing

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Grass roots marketing, a friend mentioned the other day. Yes, I suppose The Vast Landscape is just that. I am just stubborn enough, crazy enough, ambitious enough to believe I could self-publish a book. Those of you who know me, understand living with mental illness is no joke, any step forward and out of the house is a huge accomplishment. Thanks for coming out, for the humbling support. The Vast Landscape, the novel’s appeal is for the reader to decide. For me it’s solid, rock steady and the skin I’m most comfortable in.

“Harrison is beautiful chaos. She saved me in many ways.” Jacqueline Cioffa 

“I am allowed one piece of pretty to call my own.”  The Vast Landscape by Jacqueline Cioffa

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#‎TheVastLandscape‬ ‪#‎signingSuccess‬ ‪#‎NeverQuitYourDreams‬ #ShopLocal

http://downtownbooksandcoffee.com

I Am Adam Lanza – by Jacqueline Cioffa

I Am Adam Lanza.

A decade ago I lived a frivolous, spoiled, privileged life. An International fashion model, I worked in more countries than I can count. Freedom was something I took for granted, until the earth fell from under me and my whole world shattered.

My first psychotic breakdown took away everything I knew to be true and buried me whole. The paranoia, delusions of grandeur, mania, the irrational and out of control behavior. I wanted to die, too exhausted by the fragile, broken mind. I wanted to let go of the rage, the fear, the despair, I wanted to end my life. The slicing of the wrists, my escape and a way out. Dancing in the streets, in stores, I was too out of my mind to be ashamed, by my behavior. The shame and isolation would come later, as thick and heavy as a steel beam, freight train crushing my soul.

I lived with my brother, exasperated, helpless, not knowing what more he could do, he put me on a bus back home to my mother. My Irish, stubborn, loyal, family first, capable mother. She had experience dealing with Mental Illness; my family had been plagued by the unlucky 1 in 4 gene pool.

My sick, wracked mind betrayed me, no longer mine to control. The whole and intact me, I used to know now gone forever. The carefree, compassionate, strong, independent person is living her worst nightmare. Even on the hard, horrific days, the dark evil thoughts dominating my brain, I fight desperately to regain control. If you have not been exposed to Mental Illness, please do not talk to me about it. You are out of your league, cannot begin to comprehend the exhausting toll it takes. On a family, friends, that is if you are lucky enough to have any left. Mostly, you are left with isolation and shame, your own.

My second breakdown brought black days, numbness, and a shell of a person. The depression and anxiety, so crippling I was forced to leave the big city, retreat back home to the safety of familiar surroundings. The pain so deep, so heavy, the fear immense, death seemed my only option. A welcome release from the demons, the evil lurking in the corners of a tortured mind.

I work hard to beat the beast daily, as soon as my feet hit the floor, shaking. I take the psych drugs, Lithium, Xanax, Valium, the shock treatments and practice alternative medicine. I do yoga, eat healthy, exercise and live simple. I try to avoid the triggers, terrified of the next episode.

I never know when the outbursts will come, when paranoia will convince me the man in the park wants to kill me. In my heart and my soul, I know this is completely irrational. But, the mind plays tricks. I have to fight, every minute, every second to control the grappling Illness I must live with. Day after day, in constant fear of what I might do next. I don’t own a gun, I would be afraid to have one in close proximity. I hate violence, I find it abhorrent, but I do not trust the beast.

There is no concrete help for the Mentally Disabled; there is half hour, once a month consults with the overworked, underpaid psychiatrist, who spends your time glancing at a clock. There are no solutions, into the mysteries of a broken mind, they throw pills at you. Pills that may very well be your undoing, send you deeper into depression, trigger manic episodes or worse an acute psychotic episode, and the killing of innocent souls. Those are the worst breaks, the psychosis, and the hardest to come back from. I have visited them firsthand.

I watched, helpless as my beautiful, brilliant, Yale educated, compassionate cousin ended her own life. She was a Dr., the smartest person I know and she could not find a way out of the Mental Illness that plagued her. My own father, who endured 17 years of Mental Illness, endless pills that made him worse, psychiatric hospital visits, a dementia ridden mind at the end. My mother, who fought every battle with him, and for him when he couldn’t. His daughter who would always be in my memory, his adored, precocious, funny face, happy and intact child.

He died not knowing my name. Although, in my heart and my spirit, I know exactly what I meant to him. His last breath I was beside him, holding his hand and on his heart. I felt the unbearable pain and destroyed mind, set free as he floated up to heaven. He was a good man, the kindest, most selfless I know.

I am a good person, who doesn’t deserve this fate. I am not a violent person, but I am Adam Lanza. He may have committed a horrific, unspeakable EVIL, act. Did he start out evil? He must have been an innocent, child himself at some point. When did his broken mind take over, when did he lose all rational, self-control? It’s too hard to grasp, too big to think about without immeasurable faith.

When are we, as an empathetic society going to care about the Mentally Ill? Fight for them; stick up for them, as eagerly as we fight against gun control. When will we do something about the fact that there is no place for ‘us’, when the evil, mind disease takes hold? They send you to the ER, push a pill, perhaps a 72 hour hold to the Psych Ward. There is nowhere a parent with a disturbed, sick child can turn. We are in trouble, as a society. Take the guns off the streets, a mentally disturbed individual will find another way to kill. Help us fix them, with more research, better facilities, more culpability from the Government and its people, for the Mentally Ill.

I weep for those children, the families, the unimaginable depths of pain and sorrow. I rejoice in my youth, safe, happy and healthy. I’m grateful for that. I expose myself, sharing my story. Perhaps it can help bring insight and perspective. I don’t believe human beings are evil, I believe they are defective and commit violent, unspeakable acts.

Mental Illness has afflicted me, but it could’ve been you or a loved one. One in four is not great odds. I am alone, completely and utterly alone with my Illness, even while surrounded by an empathic family. I am not a child; I am an adult, who’s better equipped to manage this bastard disease.

Please, don’t judge me. Don’t judge Adam Lanza. Don’t judge the ‘crazy,’ the insane, the unfit, the unwell, the lunatic that is me.

Help us instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published by Brooklyn Voice.