Liven Your Space - A Resource for Healing from Mental Illness
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Getting Religion - Part 14 A Stake in the Ground

As Dr. Lebensohn's words crossed over the desk between us, my fingers pressed into cool brown leather.  My cheeks grew warmer.  I wasn't use to telling the truth.  Truth wasn't in my repertoire.  And yet now my livelihood and independence depended on it. On one hand I wanted to cooperate and respond honestly. He was trying to help me and might soon get bored. On the other, his question made me angry. I looked inward to see what words I could find: bright red tie, leather chair, homemade pant suit, Toast and Strawberries. I was stuck and naked with no defense.  And yet Dr. Lebensohn continued to look at me with a kindness and patience I had never known before.  

"What do you want to do, Miss Goin?" It took months before I could offer an honest answer,

Once a week, I would enter his office and be confronted by his gentle persistence, "How are you Miss Goin?"   Week after week, I hoped something meaningful would emerge as I jabbered on about books, painting, music, dance; activities and details that had busied my life. Sometimes he would mention his family. I never mentioned mine. And as the weeks progressed, I continued to worry he would send me off to someone else, that I was not a good enough patient for him and wasting his time. 

But during this first visit, my idle talking had resulted in something that seemed like progress:  an official diagnosis of my strange  and scary behavior. The courier type on the bill said it all, "Acute Schizophrenic Episode, Paranoid Variety in Remission."  Unlike those murky and frantic sensations that had pulled me deep into my illness, I now had a determination on paper that felt tangible and calm.   Together, Dr. Lebensohn and I had plunged a stake in the ground.   And as I walked down the stairs to the garden below, I wondered what was next. 

To be continued ... 

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