I have whined a lot here in the past, and I mean a lot… no, really… a lot, about how screwy my brain has become ever since I caught the leukemia bug nearly a decade ago and was deluged with excessive amounts of chemo.
Not to mention I still take a daily dose of the stuff as a prophylactic so I don’t come down with that nasty little bug ever again.
Anyway, long story short — I have developed some pretty heavy duty vestibular issues and other funky brain-related stuff as a result, so for the past little while I’ve been working on various techniques and exercises to try to strengthen the ol’ noggin up a bit.
I mean, life’s a bitch and all but come on Gen Xers, don’t let all that depressing music from the Nineties go to your head…
Or your heart.
I tell ya, last year we lost such notable Gen Xers as Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell*** and, before them, Scott Weiland a couple years ago, not to mention all those Gen Xer stars we lost early in their prime: Kurt Cobain, Tupac, Biggie, Layne Staley, Shannon Hoon, Bradley Nowell, and god knows how many others I’ve failed to mention.
And now this year we continue the tragic Gen X endings with the tragic death of Dolores O’Riordan.
By the time my generation gets in its natural zone of death, it seems all the stars from it will be long gone with no big names left for me to pay tribute.
But, as is evident by Delores’ recent passing, it’s painfully obvious the premature dying off of famous Gen Xers will continue unabated and I sincerely would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to the life of Dolores, for hers was a unique and beautiful voice that defined my generation*.
I may be mistaken, but it is my belief that we’ve all been to that dark, lonely place at least once or twice in our lives where we, and the lives we have led, seem…
It’s a scary place and one which I suspect, and hope, the majority of us visit only infrequently and fleetingly because our lives are fulfilling and rewarding enough to steer us clear from the depression that can lead us there.
However, I also suspect that there is a significant minority of us who visit this dark, lonely place more often and for longer periods than most since, according to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 19% of the United States’ adult population experience some degree of mental illness throughout the year . And, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States .
I, myself, became a frequent visitor of this dark, lonely place not long after I began taking high doses of the steroid prednisone to combat a deadly disease that was destroying my lungs, and one which I was given little chance of surviving.
It was a hard enough to mentally process that my life may soon be ended by an aggressively fatal disease — pretty tough for anyone to process, I would imagine — but couple that bummer news with a steroid that induces psychosis-like side-effects and, yeah… double bummer.
Consequently, it wasn’t long before I found myself spending nearly as much time in that dark, lonely place as I was out of it.
It’s hard to explain what I and my mind were going through whenever I visited there. I’m not sure there is a way to describe it wholly in just a few words. It is both a tangible and intangible feeling. A cold feeling sometimes. A heavy feeling other times. But it was almost always a feeling of pointlessness. A feeling of… Why bother?
I was dying. My body had failed me and I had failed my family. The only thing I felt I was good for now were my less than adequate disability checks. Were I gone, my life insurance payout would have been much more rewarding and helpful for those whom my absence would release from the burdens my illness had placed upon them.
Yeah… I was down there in that indelible darkness of depression pretty deep.
Fortunately for me I had a saving grace — several of them, in fact.
One, the primary one, was a support network of family and friends who loved me, cared for me, and prayed for me.
Another, was that I like to write.
I began blogging shortly after my leukemia diagnosis. Nothing too deep or introspective — though scared, I was completely confident I was going survive — just updates to keep my friends and family informed of my health and happenings during my treatment.
But months later after learning my lungs were slowly dying away as a side-effect result from my bone marrow transplant, and having to begin a hefty prednisone regiment in an effort to slow the dying process down, my positive perspective on things changed significantly.
Though the drug-induced and drastic mood swings made it difficult to focus, I began to blog more often and about more personal matters. And while I regard my blogging experience during this difficult time as a very beneficial, therapeutic activity — an activity I presume many others regard beneficial as well, for a simple Google search of the term “writing therapy” resulted in around 259,000,000 results — it wasn’t helping me to shake the persistent feeling of irrelevance; of feeling that I others would better off if I were dead.
Fortunately for me, since I was spending more time thinking deeply about my life for my blog, I eventually began tinkering with my blog’s “About” page.
And this tinkering proved to be yet one more saving grace; for it led me on a path to try to discover things about myself that others might find interesting enough to inspire them to read more of my writing.
And once I began thinking in more of a self-promotional, third-person kind of way about my life, I began realizing and rediscovering things about myself that I found to be very special and unique.
For the next week or so, I stopped blogging altogether and, like a gold digger after finding his first valuable nugget, I worked passionately on mining through my past to dig up and write down all the meaningful nuggets I could find.
And when I was finally satisfied that my life was properly represented on the page, I began to craft the long, meaningful list of me into a voice that, when others read it, would be heard distinctly as mine.
When I was finished*, my “About” page was more than just being about me… it was me.
And even now when reading this long and winding written documentary of me, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and purpose so powerful that, even if I were to once again visit that dark, lonely place, I could never do so feeling as if my life were pointless and without meaning.
Links to all the health-related articles that I have written and posted here can be found near the end of the book.
Finally, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of HOW NOT TO DIE: In 13 Easy Steps will be donated monthly to my wife’s and my favorite charities and organizations committed to the curing and caring of those suffering from cancer and lung diseases.
I hope you enjoy the book.
Note: Even if you don’t have a Amazon Kindle or Fire, you can still read all Kindle products on your computer, tablet, or phone by downloading one of their free reading apps here.
We are all familiar with the term “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” An expression arising from a tale told of a young boy who in his innocence declared aloud during a parade by the ruling King of the Realm, where everyone had to bow down to the King’s will.
“The Emperor Wears No Clothes!” as all around him bowed low and refused to see the obvious, much less name it.
The ruled had been indoctrinated into believing the King was dressed in full regalia and no-one dared to challenge his nakedness except this young innocent.
When anything unseen and hidden is causing problems either within a society at large or as is often the case within the immediate family, first you have to name it. Until something is named there is no possibility of resolving it. Whilst people around the “hidden issue or situation” pretend there is nothing wrong, the hidden gets power.
Naming a problem that everyone around is trying to cover up takes courage. Whistle Blowers often do this, as well as the family “scapegoat.” Child abusers rely on the hidden, look what has happened within many establishments in the UK over endemic child sexual abuse, torture and in a couple of cases murder; and widespread cover up from leading establishment figures, currently being revealed through a major enquiry, some of which goes back 40 years and beyond.
How many of those in authority in the Concentration camps knew inherently what was happening was heinous yet never had the courage to speak out?
It takes courage to name something when everyone around you is accepting something as being “normal” or “O.K.” There is tremendous psychic pressure to keep the status quo, to not upset the apple cart. More so when one’s livelihood depends on such silence or in the case of family, one’s sense of belonging is at stake.
But we remain silent at the cost of the Soul’s Integrity. Do we want to spend our years racked with guilt or denial because we did not speak when we needed to?
By our silence we are complicit.
We remain silent sometimes within a bad marriage. We know things are going terribly wrong but the prospect of our whole world shattering and the pain and suffering that ensues causes many to put up with years of unhappiness.
Fear of being alone causes many to remain in stagnating relationships with an apathetic resignation because they do not believe that no relationship is better than a bad one.
It is the same with any involvement. Becoming a member of an organisation, whether paid or unpaid, if we start to see our own personal values and ethics being compromised and at odds with the organisations goals we may have life changing choices to make.
I have been personally challenged with this in two mental health charities and a meditation group I am affiliated to. Those of you who have read
or been following my work on this and other websites will know that I sustained a seven-year period of altered realities when undergoing an awakening, which is described in the book. This was followed by fifteen years of world wide travel, volunteering, learning from Buddhism, Hinduism, Quakers and some Shamanic beliefs. I was led to research Mental Health both through personal connection with someone who has and still does suffer from a range of issues and has had periodic placements in secure units for their own safety; and through my own short time need for counselling, following returning from a stressful volunteer project in India.
As my involvement with these organisations deepened, I saw that despite their ethos to de-stigmatise mental health issues and to not label many conditions as an illness, they stopped far short of opening their minds to an Holisitc approach.
But there is something else going on here apart from an inability to address the more Holistic aspects of the Mental Health process, and that is many of these and other organisations are reliant on funding, if the funding sources and committees of these organisations have little or no awareness of an Holisitc Approach to Mental health then would they also decide that something they cannot easily see or relate to as being “Wacky” thus undeserving? I have attended enough meetings to see clearly where these concerns influence decisions.
Everyone is entitled to their views and free to believe what they want to believe, but when those same people become rigid in those views and categorically refuse to consider other perspectives on Mental Health, because it involves a major shift in their comfort zones then do we wonder how the Mental Health Paradigm is still stuck in the Psychiatric/Medical Model? Which causes in many cases worse side effects and long term problems than the original episodes of psychosis – read altered realities.
It may sound as if I am being pedantic here but I am attempting to convey an overall picture of how much minds are still closed, despite the information age of one-line Internet. There is no excuse for not being informed in today’s climate.
The question is “Do we want to be informed if it disturbs our reality?”
No one grew or evolved without touching the darkness within themselves or came to conclude that you cannot have a Universe made up of positive experiences only, it would lack substance and be completely out of balance. We need an amount of negativity in order to move and create time and space. The problem is because we collectively have not evolved to this understanding we are stuck in this Earth Reality where we allow our need for comfortable untruths to rule our minds.
It perhaps sums it up when a Committee Member commented when I said
“You do a lot of work for this Charity don’t you?” They responded “Well it gets me out of the house.”
We all have different reasons for volunteering but I guess meeting and interacting with someone like me who is convinced she has a “soul’s mission” to reveal all, including her own dark journey into a trail blazing brilliance of light, and refuses to shut up about it, would invite the comment, “She’s wacky!”
I speak of Psychic Attack and I speak of Possession. I also speak of life changing 500 mile pilgrimages, of Oneness and the need for discernment in these accelerated times. Reading or hearing the words Psychic Attack or Possession can cause a reaction of repugnance, well I have been there and discovered traumatically that…
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio ~
Sadly the hidden does have power, it’s only by shedding light on the darkest of realities that we have any hope of raising it into a space where it may be seen, understood and dealt with, thus opening the gateways of higher Universal Consciousness.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
~ Edmund Burke ~
Avril Meyler, author of A New Human and A Multidimensional Paradigm, is a qualified counsellor, hypnotherapist and holistic practitioner. She is now retired and a full-time writer and volunteer for a Mental Health Charity. For more about the author visit her website at
BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★
To one who considers some of his favorite literary works to be those about World War II – SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE and CATCH 22 being the obvious ones – the war seems to be very present for me, when in fact it is now eighty years in our past. With it now so far removed from us, and with the space filled in by so many countless other wars, it really is quite an accomplishment that author J Hardy Carroll was able to bring the period back to us in such a vivid and entertaining way.
HAWSER, our selection for Volume 3 of the Indie Author Book Selection & Review (IABS&R), is a finely weaved, fascinating tale of Hawser (don’t bother asking him his real name) as he recounts his time as a B-17 bombardier during the Allies’s bombing campaign against the Germans.
We meet Hawser in a prisoner of war camp and it is from there he recounts for us all that has happened to him in the war before that point. We learn how he washed out as a pilot to become a bombardier, how he had to abandon his unit because of a murder, how he was abandoned as a child, how he met his arch nemesis, how he became trained in subversive warfare, how he became an expert bombardier, how he became burnt out and disillusioned by the war, and finally, how he tragically became a Nazi prisoner. From there we pick things back up from the present time in the story and we go along with him until the book’s conclusion.
Within that very rough sketch that I just laid out of the novel, there are so many – too many some may argue – different plot twists and sub plots filled with suspense and murder and love and passion and discovery and deceit along the way that several times throughout the course of my reading the book I had to stop to marvel at Carroll’s ability to manage it all so seamlessly and with such intrigue, all the while bringing out some of the larger and more poignant lessons learned from the war: mainly of the incalculable death and psychological and material devastation that the war wrought across the entire globe, as well as teaching us – or reminding us – that war isn’t always honorable and that not all people go to war to be heroes…some go to war simply because they want to kill.
And I was equally impressed with all the military and war jargon with which Carroll was able to flavor the story. It it his description of the B-17s and all their guns and ammunition and flight formations, and his knowledge of England during the war and its pastoral settings and its pubs and its quirky dialects that truly bring the story to life. Now I don’t know how much research Carroll had to do – my guess is a lot – and I don’t know how much of the detail he writes in the story is accurate – my guess is all of it – but I don’t really care. I don’t care because it all seems so real and so accurate that it significantly enhanced the story’s ability to pull me into that zen-like space of blissful verisimilitude.
In the end, the only flaws to be found with the book are in its ambition and achievement. At times the sub plots pull back the tempo of the story and I never really felt that there was that one thing, that one element of the story that had enough heft to bring an immediacy, an urgency of discovery, from the beginning to the end of the tale. But I see that more as a good problem for an Indie Author to have, as it is always better to have too much material to work with than not enough.
So I say congratulations and thank you to J Hardy Carroll for writing such a powerful story that both entertains and reminds us just how much effort and expense throughout history we silly humans have invested in our seemingly never ending quest to kill and conquer each other.