Mental Illness? or - Salvation                                                               Copyright ©2014 Hazel Gay



Hazel Gay's To Heal the Broken-Hearted (Chronicle of a woman's 18 year journey through "mental illness" to healing, wholeness and transformation.)
Chapter 20 All quotes used with written permission.

Oregon
January 29, 1990
Jess, 
        Enclosed material I told you I’d send.  I want to tell you how much I appreciate hearing about your work. It’s never been very often you’ve volunteered that much. And, I think I heard it differently. 
       I suspect meeting T. (young resident psychiatrist from Sweden who said I reminded him of his mother) may have something to do with the change I experienced during our last conversation. 
        I don’t think “a therapist” could have helped me make this transition.  And the transition is not just with you; it’s across the barriers between “them” and “us.” 
        Dammasch at midnight: T. was on call one night.  He called me and jokingly invited me down for a cup of coffee.  After I stopped laughing, I had to take him up on it; it was too good to resist.  I got there after they’d locked the front doors but he had told them at the front desk he was expecting me so a woman unlocked the door for me.  I was treated like “SOMEBODY.”  He came down and took me to the little room where psychiatrists on call stay where we talked for over two hours.  Things were pretty slow; he had only a couple of calls; he could handle it on the phone. Needless to say, I’m sitting there all the while thinking, “I don’t believe this!!” 

 (A few years after this we were driving on the road  
  that goes by Dammasch.  I looked over where it should 
 have been and it wasn’t there!  It had been demolished! 
  THERE WAS NOTHING LEFT OF IT!) 

John Weir Perry. 
.      T. had put me in communication with him and I wound up going to his house in Marin. He’s one of the most spiritual people I’ve ever met.  As you know, I’ve never particularly believed in reincarnation but after being with him a while, looking into his eyes it was kind of like, “I knew you before.”  I thought it amusing when I told T. how we hit it off, that he’d invited me back and T. felt such a necessity to warn me about him, the rumors he’d heard about him (and most of the big ones) having had sex with clients.  I explained that in the first place, I didn’t meet him as a client but I appreciated him telling me, that it might keep me from being naively oblivious if he made a pass at me.  And I remembered standing in his living room and Freudianly wondering why, from all the objects he’d gathered from all over the world, that the South African fertility doll was the only thing he’d taken from the shelf and handed me to look at. 
        Quite frankly, he may be 75 but I doubt he’s lost anything! 
            (I was among the people his daughter notified when he passed away.) 
       On the phone you said, “and let me know how you’re doing.”  Yes, I believe you really want to know how I am.  But I also want to know how you’re doing.  And I know you’re never going to let me know how you’re doing.

1990
       I was still dealing with an on the job injury to my right hand that would not be resolved for two years and that only because of following my instincts.

June 8, 1990
Jess, 
       Two days before Mother’s Day, I got a card from my youngest daughter in Oklahoma that had delicate watercolor butterflies on the front and read “Thanks Mom – for loving me enough to let me be myself.”  If I never do anything else in my life, I have been a success.  Imagine my surprise when my oldest daughter in Oregon gave me the same card on Mother’s Day!!  They had had no communication about it.  I think I will frame them.  I’ve already used this – in comments at the conference the other day – in the workshop on the empowering relationship between a therapist and client. 
       The more I thought about it, the more I thought our last phone conversation was made quite momentous by your telling me “You’re doing good.”  In fact, you said it twice.  I don’t remember you ever actually telling me I’m doing good – with anything!  Now, in spite of the times when you might legitimately have felt I was not doing so good, I NEVER felt that you thought that.  Even during your troubled times when you pulled back from me, I never doubted your “unconditional acceptance” of me. 
       Yes, even I have my moments of satiation with “uncharted waters” and long for rest because of being actually and literally, bone-tired.  But I still have “faith.”  Whatever it is I’ve been following since ’76 has been good to me so why should I change horses in the middle of the stream? 
       Our communication has always been so much more than words.  And, I’ve had to wonder if there have been times when, just as I have maintained outer poise, composure and control while the inside of me was a basket case, that you might have also done that.   
       Writing this was a break from my sewing.  Had a few notes I wanted to get out before I leave for Oklahoma. 
       Hope all is well.  Take care. 

  ******

Oklahoma 
Summer, 1991
        I had made it back to Oklahoma and applied for a position at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf that I didn’t get.  Took a temporary job in a clothing factory.  Through a series of
extremely unusual events I was contacted by the high school principal at the Arkansas School for the Deaf. A job came through from that in August, 1991.  I had left all labels and all “mental health consumer” activities in Oregon. 

Little Rock 
Spring, 1992
        The school trip the first year I was at Arkansas School for the Deaf was to Washington, D.C., New York City and Niagara Falls.  I let Jess know when I’d be in Manhattan.  He worked two blocks from the hotel where we stayed. 

  ******

Little Rock 
May 12, 1992
Jess, 
       Thanks again for the time in Central Park.  It’s a beautiful place and I felt safe with you. If you don’t look up it’s hard to imagine when there that you’re surrounded by Manhattan. 
       Got both NTE (National Teacher Examination) scores and I nearly fainted! Made the 95th percentile on Professional Knowledge section and 96th percentile on Specialty Area, Teaching the Hearing Impaired. 

Little Rock 
April 19, 1995 OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING 
        That was one of those times I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard about it. My home state, my oldest daughter was born in Oklahoma City.   The nation was in shock. A few days days later I was driving east on Interstate 40 when words started flashing through my mind.  I had to pull over and start writing as fast as I could. 

        On the Oklahoma City Bombing 

        There’s a shadow on “The City” 
        There’s a shadow on this land 
        There’s a shadow still hiding 
        Deep in the heart of man 

        We’re stunned and mad and scared and sad 
        There’s no foreign land to bomb 
        The babies may be the hardest part 
        Will we ever again be calm?? 

        As I walked through the valley of the shadow of death 
        I heard the old, old songs 
        By rainbow seas at the edge of the sun 
        I saw the angels reaching out 
        receiving them one by one 

        America the beautiful 
        America the brave 
        Are you brave enough to stand and face 
        The ugly shadow within your gates? 

        We call it hate; We call it fear 
        We call it many names 
        It doesn’t matter what we call it 
        It always ends with pain 

        Old Glory may be tattered 
        Old Glory may be frayed 
        But we sew here in the heartland 
        A new one can be made 

        For I heard the echo of hoofbeats 
        of a long ago midnight ride 
        I saw a tall black hat out of the corner of one eye 
        I heard voices of ’76, ’61, ’44 say 

        Did you hear the bugle call 
        that was sounded here today? 

                                         (1776, 1861, 1944) 

  ******

        On Mother’s Day I went with my daughter and her husband to Oklahoma City before what was left of the Murrah building was imploded, quite an emotional experience.   There were thousands of people who had come to look. I had NEVER been somewhere with that many people when it was so quiet, so reverant, with everyone speaking in hushed tones. 

  ******

Little Rock 
May, 1997
        As a Senior class sponsor (again) I was looking for appropriate graduation songs and found there aren’t many. So I wrote one for my class that I sang at graduation. 

                      Today 
                
               Today, a special song for you 
               from my heart and from my memories, too 
               for you see, I once was there, like you 
               in this the morning of your life. 
                
               Today, a day of endings 
               Today, a new beginning 
               Your tomorrows only a heartbeat away 
               Your tomorrows begin today 
                
               And now you must stand and face 
               a world where you must find your place 
               Going out the door of yesterday 
               Go to your heart to show you the way 
                
               And when the years have come and gone 
               as time just keeps marching on 
               This day will always be 
               your special day of memories        

               Repeat Today, a day of endings…… 

If you would like to hear this song click here: Today ©1997 Hazel Gay 

We took this small group of Seniors to Memphis to the Civil Rights Museum – very impressive and emotional. I got chills when I stood there looking up at the balcony where MLK was killed when we went around to see the motel. 

June 1997
I made a trip to New York by myself…I thought I might have died and gone to heaven when I discovered all the fabric stores! 

Little Rock 
September 27, 1997
Jess, 
        According to the rules of etiquette, this is unpardonably late.  However, I haven’t written to tell you thank you for the coffee and conversation last June so I am now.  Thank you very much. 
       I am now a great-grandmother.  My granddaughter had a boy about an hour after I arrived in Portland July 12.   She’s a wonderful little mother.  Perhaps you remember when she was born. 
       Not only am I teaching high school full-time, I’m also teaching deaf adult ed. two nights a week and trying to start a sewing club for interested high school students.  I’m a Jr. class sponsor, again!  We took our students down to Central High School last Thursday to see President Clinton and the “Little Rock Nine.”  WOW! It was the 40th anniversary of the integration of Central High. Central High school integration happened in September, 1957, just after I had graduated in May that year. 
       My stay there in New York was wonderful;  I’m trying to plan when I can do it again. If you haven’t seen “Phantom of the Opera” you MUST see it.  I spent most of my time, not being a tourist, but learning my way around (which I did), conducting business and doing research at the library. One thing I noticed that was different from what I’m used to was that many men over, say 50 or so were so “gentlemanly” to me! 
       In the past I’ve always told you later what I saw during a visit.  This time it’s not what I saw; it’s what I didn’t see – no sparkle in your eyes, no intensity, no “soul” showing through. And for the first time absolutely nothing with any possibility of ever being interpreted as love of any kind.  I did hear some conflicting statements. 
       Once again you protested my perception of you as a “strong” person with what was approaching an “imploring” look. Are you aware this is my ONLY perception you have ever contested?  Why is that?  You’ve even allowed me my “delusional” perceptions. 
       And “strong,” “weak” – What are those?  You told me once I was one of the strongest people you knew.  Yet many people think I am extremely “weak” because I’ve “lost control” of my mind, “weak” because I got a divorce, “weak” because I needed to see a psychologist, “weak” because childhood experiences were still affecting me, so “weak” I couldn’t put them behind me.  There are others who STILL see me as “weak” – because I have never been able to control my feelings about you. 
        Yes, there have been some “weaknesses” that I’ve told you but there are some you’ve never heard about, that I never wanted you to know about because I felt they weren’t part of who you think I am. When one is looked at in “adoration” one is not quick to reveal too many “unadorable” aspects. 
       When I realized I had gone past the “Thank you” on the “old lady” stationary I started writing on, I suddenly had the answer I had been searching for since I saw you.  What do I mean when I tell you I perceive you as a “strong” person? 
       It doesn’t mean you are never weak.  It doesn’t mean you are never afraid.  It doesn’t mean you don’t give in to temptation.  I’ve seen you do all of those things.  And I probably know some things about you that you don’t know I know.  I don’t even have to know what it is that prompts you to disagree with me about your being “strong.” 
       What happens AFTER you were too weak to do what your soul told you was the right thing, AFTER you were too afraid, or too lonely to stand alone – AFTER you gave in to temptation, AFTER you did not live up to your, and society’s, expectations for yourself – AFTER you are not strong enough to be perfect – AFTER you fell down and almost drowned in your judgment of yourself, in self-recrimination, self-reproach and self-pity?  What happens AFTER? 
       YOU PICK YOURSELF UP. 
       It might not be very quick; it might not be a graceful getting up – but you get up. You may be black and blue and you may hurt like hell but you get up.  You start putting one foot down in front of the other.  You may be dirty but you start scrubbing.  Don’t ask me why.  I don’t know. It’s just what you do. 
       A strong person is not one who is never weak enough to fall down, but eventually, he’s strong enough to get up. 
       Perhaps you need to once again read something I wrote to you in 1976.  It’s enclosed. (I’m strong enough to..) 
       I don’t know why I’ve written this but it’s been on my mind ever since I saw you.  You had changed so much.  You may have gotten a kick out of watching me walk past you on the sidewalk.  I would not have known you if I had been looking for you there leaning against the side of the building. 
       The visit was too short.  As the cab pulled away from where you stood there by the street, a singularly holy word blossomed from the depths of me with such rich clarity, a time-stopping, enveloping, unwavering crystal clarity, a word that has never been in my mind before: “Beloved.” 

  ******

Litttle Rock 
December 1997
I wrote one more song: “How Can I Draw the Wind.”  I had written the first stanza and used it as a Christmas card I had sent Jess, then decided it needed more. 

      How can I sing a miracle 
      How can I draw the wind 
      How can I tell a story 
      That will never have an end 

      How can I count all your teardrops 
      How can I hear all your smiles 
      How can I show you the Eden 
      That waits in your heart outside time 

      And how can I paint all the colors 
      That I see so deep in your soul 
      And how can I share all the feelings    
      of a love that makes me whole 

      Repeat first verse 

If you would like to hear this song click here: How Can I Draw the Wind  ©1997 Hazel Gay

  ******

September 11, 2001     9-11 
Jess was running in Battery Park, only a few blocks away when the Twin Towers came down.  Three days later we talked a long time on the phone.

******

During the school year I was fortunate enough to chaperone 4 deaf high school students for a week in a program called “Close Up” in Washington, D.C. Since chaperones didn’t have to stay with students all the time, I took a very emotional bus tour of Gettysburg. It was absolutely outstanding! One night a few of us went to a play at Kennedy Center.

******

Little Rock 
June 23, 2003
Jess, 
        Yes, I’m still here.  No, I haven’t forgotten.  I’ve just been busy – staying sane and getting old.  It’s been a long 12 years in Little Rock. 
        I just got some great wireless headphones so I can listen to music the way I want. (For the past few years I haven’t listened to very much music.)  With these wonderful headphones, my soul started reawakening. 
        I still don’t know where music is in me but I discovered that memories of you were in that same “space.” 
        For the past few days, I’ve felt a need to communicate.  I’ve tried to think of what I’d say in a letter to you.  But words aren’t enough; it needs to be multi-sensory. 
        If I only had the magic to capture some perceptions of my senses just long enough to seal them up in this envelope so you would open it to let a gentle breeze escape to brush against your skin, to smell the uniqueness of rain that’s coming on the prairie, to hear the sounds of footsteps walking on dry leaves down in a dry creek bed in the fall, to see a vision of eternity in prairie grass undulating in the wind. 
        Oh, that I had the magic to make some of the space in this envelope be a continuous thread from the deep music space in me invisibly and irrevocably weaving its way to find correspondence and convergence…. 
        Though our worlds are becoming further apart, you know, it’s still the same sun we see coming over the horizon and it’s still that same moon we watched ascending above the Oregon fir trees. 
        I’m including this picture I took of the oak tree behind my daughter’s house.  I have many pictures of this tree through the seasons.  But this one is how I have felt for the last few years….

 

Little Rock 
June 2004
         Since I had turned 65 the previous February, I retired from the School for the Deaf and moved to Oklahoma on my sister’s property out in the country.

Portland, Oregon 
Summer 2005
        I was able to get a marker for Jonathan David’s grave in Portland.  When I went to see it I could not believe how it hit me – just like it was yesterday – as soon as I arrived at the old section where babies are buried in Lincoln Cemetery on Mt. Scott in southeast Portland.  To my astonishment, my reaction was very emotional; it was like a floodgate opened up – 37 years later.  I guess that hole in my soul will be there till the day I die….. 

Oklahoma 
July 5, 2006
Jess, 
        This is just to make contact with what may be a spiritual being journeying through this human experience. 
        I guess I’m taking out some memories that I haven’t looked at for a long time.   As I slowly let them rise to the surface I remember the magic.  I remember the wholeness.  I remember the rightness.  I feel the timelessness. 
        Last night I listened to most of the songs I’ve written.  I’ve been feeling for a few years that something had changed in me.  As I listened to what I had created and thought about my life I realized the word I had been looking for was passion.  I seem to have lost some of the passion.  I don’t know if this is simply part of the aging process. 
        Every now and then I see something on TV about what many of the people who were there at 9-11 are going through with various health problems.  And I always wonder…I know emotionally you suffered but I don’t know about physical. 
        One thing that crossed my mind at that time was that many people had been thrown into a world similar to what I had grown up in – where one can’t even trust the universe. 
        The pic – I was working with some pictures on my computer and ran across this.  Not the best photography but unique I think because I got the rainbow and moon together… 

  ******

Oklahoma 
December 8, 2008
Jess, 
        It’s been a while.  I can’t believe in just a couple of months I will be 70!  I’ve been thinking about having a birthday party every 6 months. Just in case… 
       I retired from the school in LR when I hit 65 in ’04 and “got the hell out of Dodge.” I had often said being there in LR away from all family was the closest I wanted to get to “doing time.”  My sister offered me two acres of their land in Ok so that helped me decide where I was going. A friend I started to school with in 1945 contacted me about her deaf grandson.  He was attending public school and after a lot of rushing around to get an OK teaching certificate, I started commuting about 120 miles a day to interpret, tutor and provide speech therapy for him.  My retirement had lasted six weeks!  It’s a dream job (except for the commute).  No classes to contend with and he has very good behavior and work ethic.   He also rides bulls and breaks and trains horses.  Besides playing almost every sport at school.  I’m trying to make it till he graduates in May 2011. 
       There’s a saying about “The best-laid plans of mice and men…”  That also applies to women. Two years ago last April my mother died.  Four months later on August 27, their 47th wedding anniversary, my sister died. 
        (Ironically, the diabetes insipidus was probably responsible for my mother’s death. We were never able to make the people at the nursing home UNDERSTAND that she needed so much extra water. When we were called at 4:00 AM Sun morning to come, that Mother was in a coma, the very first thing the nurse said to us upon arrival was, “She hasn’t had any fluids since Friday!!!” I looked at my sister and said, “That’ll certainly kill her,” and I have no doubt whatsoever the nurse didn’t have a clue what I was talking about!  Mother was already mottling so it was too late.) 
       Incidentally, after I moved up here my sister told me “I choose to take medication so I can continue living with the people I live with.”  That’s what I call “losing your soul.” 
       Last August a year ago, my middle daughter’s husband committed suicide in Washington state. (He found a very isolated logging road.)   About that same time my brother’s son-in-law in Texas killed himself.  My son-in-law was already planning his when C. shot himself in the head in the presence of my niece. Both of those marriages should have ended long ago.  People just don’t know where that point of no return, the line where there’s no going back is.  (I knew I was too close to it in ’76.) 

(I enclosed a picture of the label I had made for the CD of the music from my son-in-law’s memorial service.) 
       I guess the reason I’m sending this is that I know that as long as you are alive there is at least one person in the world that understands me.  It’s kind of hard to find someone on the same mental wavelength in the Bible Belt.  And this is one step up from throwing a note in a bottle into the ocean. 

Oklahoma 
May 23, 2010
Jess, 
       Very light paper on which to put some words that try to convey a heart with the weight of Gibraltar.  I am now the last of my immediate family.  My brother passed away last December 6.  His transplanted kidney of eleven years gave up. 
       I’m still recovering from quadruple bypass during open heart surgery of March 13, ’09. I feel like I’m finally starting to make progress. 
        Please overlook my handwriting.  I’ve been dealing with some kind of “movement disorder” or dystonia – arms, shoulders, neck, jaws.  Five neurologists can’t find anything.  Started fall? will be 5 years this fall.  (I still think I hurt myself pulling all the nails from lumber after my son tore down a house.) 
       Oh, I’ve also had cataracts removed and eyelids lifted.  And what a surprise!  I found I still have eyelashes!  Wonder what’s next? 
       I hope you have faith.   I hope you still hope.  I hope you still really feel raindrops on your skin. I hope you still FEEL….I hope you remember. I hope I see Oregon again. 

Oklahoma 
May 2011
        With the graduation of my one student, I really retired! 


Oklahoma 
June 2014
        There’s been a lot on TV lately about the veterans of WWII dying off.  I heard a high-ranking officer say, “That generation saved the world.” 
        I had never heard it put that way before!  And I thought about it.  At the same time he was literally trying to make a perfect species, Hitler wreaked havoc all the way across Europe and was devastating England.  There was war in North Africa.  There was war in the South Pacific.  I remembered a book I had run across at the library about a Japanese submarine that had fired on Fort Stevens and Battery Russell on the Oregon coast.  I remembered the stories about the Japanese hundred feet diameter “balloon bombs” carried on the jet stream to our west coast with the intention of starting forest fires.  Six people near Bly, Oregon, had been killed by one of them. I remembered the view slits of the bunkers perched high above Hoover Dam. 
        That man was right; they had saved the world.  And my father was one of that generation that had saved the world.  Quietly, I felt a settling calm come over me.  Somehow, it made it more OK what he had done – at last.


        And I would like to think that he would have been proud of me….. 

 
PFC Leon C. Gay
 

  *******

        Without investigating the background of the individuals involved, the psychiatric profession just knew my family had hereditary “mental illness” or “schizophrenia.” Through my persistence I blew that theory into the next galaxy. By collecting data on relatives that had been diagnosed with “mental illness” I discovered varying biological etiologies. Then by following my journey to its culmination and clarifying the lack of a hereditary foundation for my diagnoses, I freed my descendants from a life haunted with the ominous, negative weight of a scarlet label of hereditary mental illness. 


“By listening to the inner self and following one’s instincts and intuitions, a person may be guided to safety.” 

Dr. A.C. Ross aka Ehanamani, LAKOTA SIOUX