Look Alive

11 February 2011

Sweet as Pi(e)?

Yesterday evening, I sent a quick idea post that I'd complete in the hushed solitude after my nightly regimen. It was simply the title that you now see (minus the "e" for energy), but in the body text was a brief personal reminder of another dream's sliver that led into this day. Good thing I did! As the night progressed, I checked my e-mail where a timestamp of the original post at the very least nudged me to realize that almost four hours of rest from writing had elapsed. I'd procrastinated enough. It was time to finish up and prepare for the next day's mercies.

As for the dream: Ending as quickly as it began, I stood by in a large room with wooden or just dark brown walls witnessing a relatively young woman slice a pie to tantalize and hand-feed a few seated men who were lustfully focused, if not hypnotized, on the confections. I have no idea of or attachment to whose place it was, how any of us got there, who the people were, what flavor pie was going around or its baker. This just happened to take place when my head met the pillow.

Maybe she could use a good pillow, too.

Later, before sitting down to complete this post, I decided to do a quick surf, pausing on a Discovery channel when a feature chronicled one young family's challenges with raising a schizophrenic daughter. The girl, like the talented artist and popular, protective case reference of "Sybil" whom I mentioned in an earlier post, had shown remarkable intelligence in her earliest years.

Her loving, camera-toting parents captured the infant's frequent tendency to stare at-length towards ceiling areas, following the motion of something invisible to them. They just filed it under the same advanced banner of development her early color and letter identification warranted and kept growing with each other daily. Mom, Dad and her sibling had no idea that what they once considered "genius" would morph into the child's penchant for presenting random slices of herself, even without traumatic events that can understandably trigger such splits in human behavior.

"This is like your stage name, huh sweetie?", her smiling dad asked just after filming a personality debut during her formal recital of a nursery rhyme. She was calm and confident in stating that it was "just [her]" amidst a happy little girl's world of accepted imaginary friends and drawings of magical wonderment. Shortly thereafter, that video clip was juxtaposed with footage featuring a multiplicity of numerical, animal and other personal names along with their varied temperaments. 

The most heartfelt frames were of the same child, screaming and thrashing as she forcefully hit the adult male who then had to restrain her following questions of yet another name. "Nooo!", she insisted, "[Her birth name was] not [her] name! Help me, Daddy! Please help me! Pull me out!!!" I turned the TV off, not wanting to peek into her silently stolen innocence anymore, imagining with great concern what pain the entire family must have endured daily and receiving a hint of decent application for my dream instead.

In the far reaches of time and geography, the realities of mental illness have been painted with the "demoniac" perspective, subjecting many sufferers to biases, fear, isolation and even death. (Try switching to views of The Message or the Amplified translations in that last link only for better exposition of the parallel.) Even in the Daniel 4 story of King Nebuchadnezzar, staggering instability of mind was mentioned albeit as the latter's wage for his excessive pride and injustice.

Closer to home in time and space, however, people with mental illness are regarded more clinically, often without considering any spiritual implications when it comes to prognosis and treatment. If he were real, the brilliant mathematician character, John Nash, from 2001's A Beautiful Mind could certainly run mental circles around a not-as-smart square like me while eating many lifetimes' supply of pi, irrational as that sounds. The film did offer a very creative glimpse as to the address of mental illness in the late 20th century and the way we measure our social circles, particularly regarding the educated and otherwise "well-off" who are often seen as beyond such indiscriminately human conditions.

In an unfortunately real exception to the (golden) rule, the mental health needs among so-called ethnic minority communities go far unnoticed, misdiagnosed or ignored beneath the pride of historic strength and perseverance. I believe it's safe to say that sooner than note seeds of real sicknesses, at some point everyone has joked about that friend given to odd pretense as being 'perfect for showbiz' or that another's tendency to go to harmful extremes for their desires is 'so crazy', leaving conditions to worsen.

At the other end of the spectrum, some of those with official diagnoses are undermined without accessible advocacy and are subject to the horrors of inhumane treatment. Institutions like Staten Island, NY's Willowbrook have been closed under such pressures. Along this life path strewn with dynamic acquaintances including those made during past case management work, I have seen the suffering of both types of neglect. Over time, the blessing was in realizing that individuals could eventually emerge from such lions' dens of sorts, adjusting into the sweet, highly functioning ones who can now pursue their peace and purpose.

Found through a Google search for 'human energy pie'
Is this accurate to you? How might you change it for
a better, more responsible life?

Even if we have been granted sound minds and understand the importance of their maintenance, we all tend to divide our lives' pies among many chosen or given duties, roles and projections. By giving ourselves away like this to earthly outlets, much unlike the beautiful William McDowell song of gentle surrender to the Almighty, the next step is often the "burnout" of crashing energy levels or other crises that can result from taxed faculties.

In our own self-destructive ways, we then bite, kick, scream and attack (people who go) by any other name, doing what we can to fight the Loving restraints of our Father all the while crying out for help. If the rightful attention of skilled and even God-fearing professionals can improve the quality of life, how much deeper will healing by the Creator of All -- possessing the Wisdom to form the bodily systems and functions we seek to regulate, place architecture in the minds of civilization to build the schools, make the raw ingredients our degrees are printed on -- be? May we learn to relax while His pressure is yet mild.

Maybe I'm making too much of a dream/TV show coincidence and should go to bed sooner to prevent more of the REM-level sleep activity once I return to that pillow. Still, the opportunity to share some healing light, instead of sweeping what's ignorantly considered dirt under the rug, leaves a good taste in my mouth that won't require a second brushing. 
Conscious ignorance - never!
Little pillows of blissful chocolates - not before bed! :)

For more info about prevalent mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, please visit The National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI)'s website. For autism spectrum disorders increasingly affecting the youth, please visit The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's page as well. Thank you.

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