Memories and empowering moments

Many years ago, my grandpa died in the month of May. Ever since then I have disliked the month. It seems like that if anything bad happens to me, it always falls in the month of May.

One of the worst parts of having schizophrenia is the way your memories are affected. For me, the day-to-day activities that fill up a day, a week and a month come and go like water dripping into the basin I call my life. If you asked me what I did today, yesterday or last week, I would have to look at my calendar where I jot the activities that filled a day in order to give some structure to my memories.

However, there are some memories in my life that schizophrenia has burned into my mind. There isnít a day that goes by, that I donít remember the physical pain of being hungry and too sick with schizophrenia to ask for help. On a night when the temperature is cool, I canít help but think of the winter nights I spent in Nebraska. The wind blew constantly. I was so close to being homeless and I spent endless hours walking around my apartment complex wondering what to do that day. I was not prepared to handle the cold, piercing wind of that winter, nor was I prepared for the hallucinations that consumed me.

To this day, I hate the sounds of wind chimes. In my apartment in Nebraska there was a collection of wind chimes on the patio one floor above my apartment. With every blow of the wind, they chimed and filled the night and my mind with a sound I could not escape. I would lay in bed covering my head with a pillow and the sounds would still penetrate through the wind and concrete to torment me. They would clang and bang with such force that even if I yelled back at them they would drown out my voice.

It was in the month of May after that winter, cold, confused and hungry, that I voluntarily admitted myself into a mental hospital in Nebraska. I am so thankful I chose to walk into those hospital doors, and it was the best decision I have ever made. However I can still feel the way I felt when I was driven to the hospital. Sometimes those memories come back and I canít help but feel depressed, and the weight of my diagnosis hits me. It is at those times that I struggle the most in my life.

When I have to make a decision that I know will affect my life in a major way, I always wonder what memories I am etching into my life. I canít control the way my mind decides to handle its memories, but I can choose what activities that will make those memories. I have learned that I can handle the cold I face physically and I have learned to try to cloak myself mentally from the harshness that lives in this world.

My memory filter of schizophrenia can be hard to handle at times. Sometimes I wish I could remember areas in my life and at times I am glad that some memories have disappeared into my mind. As I approach and experience the month of May, I have learned from my experience in Nebraska that seeking help when you are in need is not a weakness but an empowering moment of letting go of the hardship that one should not have to face alone. I do have that memory to hold onto.

Mindfulness is brought to you by NAMI Montelores, the local NAMI affiliate. NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nationís largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI recognizes that the key concepts of recovery, resiliency and support are essential to improving the wellness and quality of life of all persons affected by mental illness. NAMI provides support, education, and advocacy for individuals and families through community classes, in-service trainings, support groups, and more. For more information please contact Geri Sanders at (970) 759-2416.

Randy Davis is a member of NAMI Montelores . He can be reached at

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