Monday, 20 June 2011

Suzy with the Button Black Eyes

A Brief Introduction
This is the introduction to Suzy with the Button Black Eyes. It is a story being currently published in a private local newsletter. Each newsletter contains a Chapter. It is entirely fictional but the muse is my dearly departed Missy, who passed away at 19 years of age after a long and brave battle with a heart murmur. The grief one feels at the passing of a true and constant companion is extreme. This story and the devotion of a few new and old friends got me through the darkest part.

Suzy with the Button Black Eyes: Chapter One
At 40 years of age, Jane accepted her life as it was. Though her life did not in any way look as she had imagined, she didn’t care. It was not that Jane felt too depressed with her situation that she did not fight to have her life be as she dreamed it would. Instead, Jane did not fight since she believed her life was as it should be. At 40 years of age Jane was content for the first time in her life.
Jane sat in her favorite lawn chair under the huge maple tree in her back yard. The morning smelt fresh, with a soft warm spring breeze, scented of freshly cut grass. She could feel that summer was not far off. As she sipped her coffee, Jane knew that today was going to be a wonderful day. Today she had plans which she had been looking forward to for many months.
© Holly Ballantyne June 2011

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

In Consideration of Mental Illness

Sometimes, those of us who suffer with mental illness take some perverse comfort (perverse because; who should really wish their fellow human beings ill) in the knowledge that we are not alone. I am no different. When I was first diagnosed with chronic depression I needed to see what that illness looked like. As is my nature, I began to ask lots of questions which lead me to books on the topic.

Did you know that the author of the nineteenth century novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, was chronically depressed? She wrote the following in her personal journal,
“ My mind slumbers and my heart is dull—is life quite over? Have the wreaks and storms of the last years destroyed my intellect, my imagination, my capacity of invention—what am I become?”

Mental illness was treated very differently in the mid-nineteenth century. Patients were tided down, kept in the dark, or worse. Back then, mental illness was a subject that was never spoken of for the fear of what would happen to the ill person. Unlike our own experience, Mary Shelley had no one to model what mental illness looked like. She suffered in silence, in private, and only confessed her fears and conditions to trusted friends,family, and in her very private journals. I am grateful that mental illness is not so stigmatized (though there is still room to grow). All I can say is thank goodness for books.
©Holly Ballantyne 2011