Liven Your Space - A Resource for Healing from Mental Illness
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Getting Religion - Part VIII

Time goes by quickly when you're drugged. And I had been drugged throughout my stay in the hospital and my time was up.  I was being discharged to my mother and brother and instructed to go home to Virginia to get myself well.  The notion was overwhelming. What would happen now?  Would I loose my job as a flight attendant? Would I ever be normal again? I was in a state of shock. 

Over that two week period I'd watched and listened.  I'd eaten well and slept.  On May 31st, the date of my departure, I had come to understand the following:

I had to gain more weight.  I would be terminated from the company if I didn't.
I had to see a doctor regularly.
I had to take medication the rest of my life.
I must exercise.

Along with these instructions, Dr. Wong was adamant about one thing: I had been created in the image of God and consequently needed to live a life that reflected that.  The idea blew my mind.  I had never thought of myself in terms of God or a part of God's creation.  If I thought anything, it was that I was a separate, purely physical and emotional being; a creature with no other roots or connections other than biological and cultural.  And that the only value I had was determined by my place in society, as my mother had thought and insisted I believe. Society, not God, was the supreme being and I was a failed child by any criteria I'd imagined or inherited.

Because my family wasn't wealthy - although my mother insisted we were descended from Virginia gentry; because my father was an alcoholic from a family who had lost everything during the Civil War; because we, as part of an unbuffered middle class, had been subject to the destabilization of the depression and the World Wars, because we were not members of an established social order that offered messages of self-worth,  I had come to view myself and my family as misfits, set apart and valueless.  And these thoughts were depressing.  

I wanted freedom from these thoughts even as I had tried to bury them.  I wanted a different life without knowing what a different life would be. It wasn't about status or social standing surely. I wanted it to be a life with fun, excitement, a sense of style and beauty, one that involved flying freely across the friendly skies.  I could imagine such a life - I had tried to live this life during my time away from home, but being a child of God had never crossed my mind. 

Now that I was leaving the hospital, my recent mental episodes along with the drugs had clouded all I'd come to know about myself. I may have been shallow before my hospitalization but now I had nothing to hold on to but the instructions of a Southern Baptist doctor from mainland China.  

To be continued ...







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