Joan E . Childs shares a personal story of loss and connection to Liza Long

I read the blog written by Liza Long with heartfelt sympathy and interest.   I too am a mother recovering from the loss of a daughter who suffered from mental illness.  No, she was not a murderer, a criminal or an evil person.  She was a loving devoted daughter, sister, friend and clinical therapist holding both an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and Ph.D. in psychology.  She loved life, her work, her patients, her family and her friends.   She was sick and suffered from Bipolar I Disorder for ten years before she leaped to her death on July 2, 1998.  She was thirty-four years old.

Pam fought her illness tenaciously.  To her, they were demons brought to her by a demonic force she referred to as the devil.  They took up residence in her mind, and as the years progressed they slowly devoured her mind, her spirit and her life.  Pam did not choose to jump; the demons pushed her out the window.

Mental illness takes many forms and many diagnoses, most of which take a skilled psychiatrist to determine, as many mental disorders have co-morbidity, (symptoms that resemble another diagnosis’, such as schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder.)  It takes the time to obtain a differential diagnosis.  Until a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan cannot be implemented, not unlike any other illness.

Pam was the eldest of my five children.  She never revealed any symptoms of mental illness until she had her first break when she was twenty-four years old.  By this time, she was half way through her doctorate, working at the John Bradshaw Center in Hollywood, California as a therapist and was considered to be a “wizard” therapist.  The center was an in-patient treatment facility for recovering addicts and mood disorders caused primarily from abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment during their childhood.  Pam was a leading therapist, running groups and seeing the patients in individual sessions.  Her work was heralded by the staff, the patients, and John Bradshaw.

The illness insidiously crept in upon her slowly, steadfastly and with a force that ripped away all reason and rationality while it wove a delusionary system that was unshakable.  As the years passed, Pam was no longer the same vivacious, charming, charismatic young woman that made everyone who knew her fall in love with her.  As the invasion of this illness progressed, all that was before was no more.  Instead, only a shell of a woman who had seemingly lost her mind and spirit remained as my daughter.  Her soul passed before her body.

In my book, WHY DID SHE JUMP: My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder that was just released on June 16, 2014, I describe how this illness became her cancer; resistant to all treatment as her belief system prevented her from taking the medicine prescribed.  However, when she did, she turned into a zombie, unable to function and barely get out of bed.  In her twisted mind, she concluded that the medications were agents of the devil and managed to avoid taking them.  As a result, her illness gained strength and her mind lost contact with reality.  Oh, there were lucid moments, but the prevailing theme was insanity by the loss of reality.  The examples will be revealed in the book as well as the torture we, her family were all subjected to.  The worst of it was that there was no place for her to get the treatment she needed.

I wrote a letter to Oprah that became the preface to my book.  I described the trials and tribulations in depth, blaming the health system in our country as one of the leading causes of her death, claiming that my daughter was unable to obtain treatment that could have easily saved her life.    I urged Oprah to do a program on this issue stating that this was not just my child, but everyone’s child who has been stricken with this hideous disease.  I copied it to Hillary Clinton, our congresswoman Elaine Bloom at that time, Senators Bob Graham and Connie Mack.  None responded.  The Miami Herald published my letter, thanks to Sue Reisinger who felt a need to share this tragedy with her readers.

This was sixteen years ago.  Now we are facing a nation who has the worst record for healing our mentally ill citizens.  We had to wait for one tragedy after another to occur for people to start screaming about guns and the atrocities committed on innocent people, worst of all little children as well as the atrocious care of the mentally ill.  My beautiful daughter fell through the cracks because there was no facility that she could be given proper treatment.  How many lives to we have to lose before we get it?  What price do we have to pay to have our voices heard?  My daughter was not rich, nor was she poor.  She worked for a living, was raised in a home with a father who is a physician and a mother, a clinical social worker.  Yet with the vast network of friends and colleagues, we both had, we were rendered helpless, powerless and finally hopeless in securing the help she needed.

I don’t own a gun and no nothing about them.  Frankly, I would be terrified to have one in my home.  I live alone and cannot imagine ever using one, fearing that my life would be more at risk having one in my hand, than not.  Perhaps I am gullible, but owning a gun does not make me feel safe.  In fact, I would feel more vulnerable because the gunman would most probably be a better marksman than I.  Guns are only part of the problem.  We need to change our culture and cultivate more loving, caring and sensitive communities exhibiting kindheartedness to our fellow man.  We must provide a safe environment where our loved ones stricken with mental illness can go to get help.  Psychotropic drugs and therapy do help, but in order to maintain treatment, patients have to be in a long term treatment center as opposed to being admitted for 24-48 hours in a psychiatric ward In some hospital only to be released within a day or two, which by the way, makes them worse.

My story is not just about my loss, sorrow, grief and despair.  It is the story of our country, which loses thousands of loved ones every year either by suicide or homicide because they were not cared for in an environment that could support their healing.  It’s time for a real change; change in our health system, change in our gun laws, and most of all change in our culture.

FAIR FIGHTING RULES by Joan E. Childs

 

Joan E. Childs presents FAIR FIGHTING RULES! Check out www.joanechilds.com Image provided by https://pixabay.com

Everyone knows that there is no intimacy without conflict; unless of course, you agree never to disagree. Then, you don’t have a healthy relationship; you have codependency. In healthy relationships, neither party subjugates their feelings to please the other. Conflicts need to be externalized and resolved. Couples need to have rules to argue by. Here are ten fair fighting rules that I learned from John Bradshaw that can be seen in his book: BRADSHAW: ON

THE FAMILY: BE ASSERTIVE
Learn how to ask for what you need and express your feelings. Unless your partner hears from you what you are feeling and/or experiencing, he can never read your mind. It is important to express your truth even if it means hurting your loved one or making him angry. It takes courage to confront someone you love, but if you don’t, nothing gets accomplished and your resentment grows, hurting both you and the relationship. If your dude can’t handle your feelings, perhaps you don’t belong with him or you need to be in couples therapy to help work them through with a professional counselor.

STAY PRESENT AND IN THE NOW
It is important to hear what your partner is saying and for him to be willing to hear you.
Going back in history and collecting data to make your point of what is happening now, is not as effective as being specific about what just occurred. If today’s problem is a re-occurring theme that you let swept under the carpet for fear of his response, then perhaps you can give him an account of several instances when this occurred, but from now on, stay in the moment with current issues. Collecting stamps and storing them up, often causes you to blow your top and come out acting like a shrew.

AVOID LECTURING
Nothing turns a dude off more than having you lecture him and force advice down his throat. Lecturing is a sure way for him to check out. It will surely remind him of his mother or father, depending who did the lecturing when he was being scolded as a child. Use the CHANGE MODEL I wrote about in my other article or that you heard in the recent video.
Remember lecturing is an invitation for a fight.

AVOID JUDGMENT
Guess what? Judgment is another sure way to invite a fight. Whenever you throw judgments around, it will spin right back to you. Judgments and criticism can be interpreted as shame, creating further distance between you. Remember to stay in the I (CHANGE MODEL). Use self-responsible statements.

HONESTY AND ACCURACY
Nothing works better than being honest. Changing the facts to massage your point, exaggerating to make a point, or stretching the story only creates a stronger defense from the other side. Remember, the brain does three things with information and perception: it distorts information, it deletes information and it generalizes. It is very important to be as accurate and honest as you can. Three people can see an accident and all three can report it differently. This is because we all wear different filters when we perceive. Try hard to be rigorously honest. It’s your best bet.

DON’T ARGUE ABOUT DETAILS
Another sure way to lose his interest is to detail him to death. Dudes want the bottom line. Just make it brief and to the point. If he needs more information, he will ask for it. If you repeat the same things over and over, add insignificant details to magnify the case, you will lose your dude to something that interests him more. Sometimes less is more!

DON’T ASSIGN BLAME
When you make him at fault, he will find a reason to make you at fault. If you use the CHANGE MODEL, you will avoid blaming. Remember, it’s not a blame game. Unless he abuses you, ignores you, or is MIA, don’t blame. If he does any of the ones mentioned in the above sentence, leave him!

USE ACTIVE LISTENING
This is a biggy! It’s real easy to unload a ton of shit on him; it’s harder to listen. And listen with a third ear. That takes practice. Most chics want to jump in and battle with their tongues. If you learn to listen, you may be surprised. Your dude may something you might have missed by jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Good listening is at least 50% of communication. Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s what you hear.

FIGHT ABOUT ONE THING AT A TIME
Many people have the bad habit of leashing out a laundry list when they argue. Remember, the goal is to stay with one thing at a time. If you present him with a list of character defects and instances that occurred last year, or maybe 5 or 10 years ago, he will either become defensive or check out. Many chics carry a gunnysack with them when they fight and stack up evidence that includes every infraction that occurred in their entire relationship. This is never foddered for resolution.
HANG IN THERE. GO FOR A SOLUTION RATHER THAN BEING RIGHT.
There’s an old expression: Would you rather be right or happy? Staying in there battling it out with effective fair fighting tools will be your best ticket to intimacy. Sure you will have differences. Who doesn’t? But, communication begins with discussion; not sex. Sex will not resolve your issues. Sex can be more exciting after the fight, but only with resolution. Many couples use sex as a distraction to the discussion; NOT A RESOLUTION. Use your tools to fight fair, and your sex life will improve!

If you still have difficulty resolving a conflict, you might want to consider setting up a session with a couple’s counselor. I have spent many years working with couples and I am thrilled to say that I use a technology designed by Hedy Schleifer called Encounter-centered Couples Therapy. I am a graduate of her three-year Master Class and have applied this methodology to hundreds of couples who have learned new ways to communicate and resolve issues that have played over and over in their relationships. I invite you to contact me if you want to learn how to “cross the bridge” to your partner’s world and re-connect to create a healthy, mature and sacred relational space.

Just contact me through this website and I will be happy to set up an appointment for you and your partner.
For further information, visit my couple’s therapy page on my website to learn more about healing your relationship.

Pamela Anne Glassman: An Angel to Remember – My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder By Joan E Childs

Angel to Remember
Pamela Anne Glassman

 

Angel to Remember

She was breathtakingly beautiful, brilliant and bewitching!  She was passionate, powerful and precocious.  Her power to heal transcended anyone’s imagination.  She was a goddess, a seductress, a sleuth, seeker of the truth and transformer.  Pamela was a magician and worked her magic on all the wounded souls who had the good fortune to be in her presence and professional care.  She was relentless to a fault, persistent, driven by internal forces that were challenging to temper.  She stood her ground no matter the consequences, drew the lightening to herself to exorcise her patients who had been ravaged during their childhood.  She was Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, Helen of Troy and Pami Annie Daisy, all rolled up in one sensational being.  She was a loving sister, a dedicated therapist, a compassionate friend, her Daddy’s little girl and my precious daughter.  We lost her to bipolar disorder and a dysfunctional sub-standard health system that today, still exists.

Her Birthday

October 1 was her birthday.  She would have been 53 years old.  Our lives were changed forever on that fateful morning eighteen years ago, when her mental illness pushed her out the window of a 15 story building.  Pami would never have made that decision.  She loved life, her family, friends, colleagues and clients, who until today, have never forgotten her life force and the impact she made on their lives. Her mental illness won the battle for life.  It sentenced her to death. It invaded her brain like a midnight stalker that slowly, surreptitiously, and steadfastly eroded her thought processes to believe she had been chosen as a mediator between God and Lucifer.  She had been made to believe that the devil was going to take her soul and cried out for help that never came.  Instead, she fell through the cracks of a system that failed her and so many others with mental illness.

Coping with the Grief

How could that have happened?  Why did she plunge fifteen stories to her death? What were the tortured thoughts that executed that decision?    I will never know.  I will never get closure.  This I have accepted.  I will never have the answer to those questions and more; this too I have accepted.  What I can never accept is the apathetic attitude our country has towards mental illness.   I made a choice never to be a victim.  I made a decision not to accept being just a survivor.  I chose to be a Phoenix, like the mythological bird that rises from the ashes to make a mission out of my loss; a loss that affected so many others and a loss that is pervasive in our country.  I want to eradicate the shame and stigma from mental illness.  I want to be a change agent for everyone who struggles with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.  I want to help families who have lost a loved one through suicide due to a mental disorder.  I want to help the families of veterans who lost their husbands, wives, fathers, sons, mothers and daughters.  Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day.  This is an epidemic and must be treated.  Post- traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness that can and often does, lead to suicide.

Understanding the Loss, Celebrating Life!

Pami’s life and death must have meaning.  Her work and unyielding devotion to her patients must be honored.  It calls for action.  It calls for conscious raising.  It calls for help.  No longer can we look blindly away from reality.  No longer can we ignore the 6 plus million people in this country who suffer from bipolar disorder.  No longer can we look away from the 40, 000 suicides a year.  No longer can we maintain denial when we know that suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults from the ages of 18-25.  It is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.  There are more suicides than homicides.  How can we remain indifferent? Passive?  Disinterested?  It is only when we encounter a loved one who suffers from a mental illness do we become militant in our quest for help.

Become a Phoenix

When the children of Sandy Hope Elementary were murdered by a madman, the parents became vigilant in their effort to raise the conscious awareness of gun control.  It was when Peter Craig Alderman, the 25 year old young man lost his life in the World Trade Center on 9/11 that his parents became advocates for change and created a foundation in honor of their son’s truncated life.  It was when John Walsh’s young son was abducted and murdered that he became a vigilante for finding predators.  We all chose to become a Phoenix.  We all chose to make our children’s lives matter.

Reflect

I wrote this blog two days after Pam’s birthday.  I was reflecting on the impact she made on others that eighteen years later, when I announced her birthday on Facebook, more than one hundred responses were yielded, all of whom remembered who she was and what she did to make this world a better place.  It is way past midnight as I close this blog.  I was driven to post it before too much time passes since it was posted on Facebook.  She would have loved to have known the impression she made on others and the legacy she left to those who knew her well.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Pami.  From all of us who were lucky to have known you.  May you rest in peace.

I am EXCITED to share a sneak peak and more insight to the building of my Speaking Career! Joan E. Childs, Inspirational Keynote Speaker

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Joan E. Childs presents, LIFE AFTER LOSS: Victim, Survivor or the Phoenix? Your Choice! Barry University

 

I am excited to share some great news and a sneak peak with all my readers.  One of the reasons you haven’t heard from me for a while is because I’ve been busy launching my career as a professional speaker.  My most recent presentation at Barry University where I spoke to the students and some faculty was videotaped so I could share some of the highlights with you.

My topic, LIFE AFTER LOSS: Victim, Survivor or The Phoenix, was very well received by the attendees, all from the school of Social Work.  Some of the reviews are shown here to illustrate the impact it made on them and what they took away with their experience.  Although very young and just beginning their journey, I presented information that is endemic to their profession.  Part of their learning is how to help their clients deal with loss and grief.  It was also not surprising how many of them had already experienced the loss of a loved one.  When asked how many had lost a loved one, every hand went up.

So the take away is that death is inevitable, certain and an unavoidable, inexorable part of life.  No one escapes the loss of a loved one, be it a parent, sibling, child, family member, friend or even a pet.  Using the grief model, I shared how I coped with my own loss, my 34-year-old brilliant, beautiful daughter, Pam, who plunged to her death from her father’s 15th story building on July 2, 1998.  Although barely any of them are even parents, they understood every parent’s worst nightmare as I shared my journey through grief and healing.

I was clear to let them know that even though her death was considered suicide, it was not her choice.   Her executioner was her mental illness that pushed her out the window.  Having suffered from bipolar disorder 1 for more than ten years, Pam was delusional and succumbed to the illness that invaded her mind and destroyed her life.  Bipolar I and the substandard health system were the culprits who caused her to fall through the cracks and lose her life.

My mission has been to morph the pain into purpose and to take the shame and stigma out of mental illness.  It is to give my daughter’s life and death meaning as I help others who suffer from grief and loss.  The choice to be a victim, survivor or a Phoenix, the mythological bird that rises from the ashes, is ours.  I chose to become a Phoenix and by helping others, I continue to help myself.

Although I will never have closure, I have moved on and healed on my journey to recovery.

Book Marketing Buzz Blog interviews Joan E. Childs, Author and Inspirational Keynote Speaker

If you didn’t get the chance to read our latest Q&A with Joan E. Childs, Author, and Inspirational Speaker, here is your chance to read all about it!

BookMarketingBuzzBlog

A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

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Interview with author Joan E. Childs, LCSW

  1. What inspired you to write your book?

On July 2, 1998, my beautiful, brilliant daughter, Pam, plunged to her death from her father’s 15th story window.  The shock and grief gave way to a muse that compelled me to journal my feelings and thoughts.  I served as a catharsis.  I had no idea it would be a book.  Grievers are nocturnal.  My pain morphed into a purpose and seven years later, I recognized I had something to share with others who had experienced every parent’s worst nightmare.

  1. What is it about?

It is about my journey from shock and denial through all the stages of grief with bargaining being the only exception.  It was my personal experience that I shared unwittingly as a way of coping with my grief.  It begins at her funeral and takes you back through the trajectory of her fate from before diagnosis and treatment to her death.  I never believed that Pam would commit suicide.  It was her disease, Bipolar I that was her executioner and pushed her out the window.

  1. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?

Death of a loved one is inevitable, certain and an unavoidable and inexorable part of the human experience.  No one escapes.  The purpose of this book is to share “how to” find life after loss.  I learned to accept my daughter’s death and move on with life.  It is a story of tragedy.  It is my mission and how my pain morphed into purpose.

I, like many others made the choice to not just survive but chose to emulate The Phoenix, the mythological bird who rises from the ashes to grow stronger than before.  If I did this, so could others. By sharing my story of hope and courage with others who are suffering the loss of a loved one, I am also hopeful to wipe away the shame and stigma of mental illness.

  1. What advice do you have for writers?

Write what you know about and have experienced.  If it’s fiction, write it as if it’s not.  Be authentic.

  1. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?

I am not sure of how to answer this question.  It is nearly impossible to get published without a literary agent unless you are a known author.  Books are not unlike music or art.  They are food for the soul and with the advancement of technology, there are many ways to enjoy reading.

  1. What challenges did you have in writing your book?

I had none.  I let my heart write the words.  They spoke my truth and carried my message without conscious awareness. I never once thought that this would become a book.  It happened as a manifestation of my grief.  It is now being made into a movie.


  1. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?

My book is an existential, personal journey.  People who have suffered the loss of a child or loved one would find my story healing.  It would take courage to read it, but the challenge would be rewarding.

For more information, please see: www.joanechilds.com or http://www.joanechilds.com/store/

Human Being vs Human Doing: Which One Are You? by Joan E. Childs

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Joan E. Childs, LCSW & Inspirational Keynote Speaker presents “Human Being vs. Human Doing: Which One Are You?” Image provided by https://www.flickr.com/photos/tinkerszone/4233987708

There is something scary about a baby who knows how to navigate a computer at 8 months of age and prefers playing with it over her new doll. There’s something scarier when a 10-year-old doesn’t give you eye contact, when coming into her home with gifts for her birthday, because she’s staring at her mobile phone. As a grandmother to these aforementioned young people, my fear is that the human being that was once part of our culture and era is slowing disappearing and morphing into a new species of evolution that I call the “human doing.”

What’s to blame? A lot. Social networks are probably the best and worst invention of this new generation, not excluding the present one, which are all infected by the plague of the 21st century. The danger of these phenomena is that what we once knew as socialization is morphing into the world of cyberization; my own word that imbibes the world of today. It seems that we have lost the art of being present: We are no longer present in the interaction between others and ourselves.

Technology’s Effect on Human Beings
Sitting on a back porch, taking walks with great talks and enjoying a family dinner is no longer a significant part of our culture. It has been replaced with super-sized HD television screens, computers, iPads, iPhones and a dozen other creatures of technology that have interrupted and interfered with the human being in us, transforming us surreptitiously into human doings. According to a recent study from Pew Research, “67% of cell phone owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating” and 29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as ‘something they can’t imagine living without.’”

Today, couples lie in bed holding their laptops or iPads rather than each other. Moms use computers to help their children with their homework, rather than working on problem solving by speaking to one another. Libraries are obsolete, as are books to hold and feel in your hands. Encyclopedias have been replaced by Google and Bing for instant gratification. It’s not that all technology is bad; it’s the abandonment of the human being-ness that it’s replacing in us as we slowly disappear into the “Brave New World.” Balance is key!

The Future of Human Doings
Human beings are wired for connection. When we disconnect, we go into crisis. What I see in my practice as a psychologist is that human interaction as it was once known will no longer be part of our civilization. The depth and wisdom of knowing each other will vanish with pushing fingers on a keyboard as opposed to looking into the eyes of each other and seeing the soul of a human being. Instead, conversation will be looking down onto a keyboard void of feelings, touch and love.

The scariest part of this, as a mother who’s daughter suffered and took her life due to mental illness, is that mental illness can no longer be ignored. There isn’t a person who doesn’t either have a family member or knows someone who suffers from mental illness. In my own practice, it has become clear to me that much of anxiety and depression is a result of loneliness and especially, human touch. It has become pervasive not only in our country, but worldwide. The loss of this magnificent part of our being a human being, is that we may never know the inner part of our beautiful essence and authenticity.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

WHY DID SHE JUMP? ARTICLE POSTED IN THE HOLLYWOOD GAZETTE!!

Please check out Darline Pistocchi’s article as posted by the Hollywood Gazette

http://www.hollywoodgazette.com/wp/index.php/why-did-she-jump-hollywood-mom-shares-her-daughters-battle-with-bipolar-disorder/

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Darlene Pistocchi Community Correspondent at Hollywood Gazette Darlene is a professional writer, voice-over and performing arts specialist Image provided by Hollywood Gazette

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Joan E. Childs has been in private practice as a psychotherapist (LCSW) for nearly 40 years in Broward and Dade counties. She is also a resident of Hollywood for the past fourteen years living in West Lake Village and the mother of five. Sadly, she lost her eldest daughter, Pamela, when she was just 34 years old.

“On July 2, 1998, my beautiful, brilliant daughter, Pamela Ann Glassman, a clinical psychologist and social worker, leaped to her death from her father’s 15th story window.  She battled bipolar disorder for ten years,” shares Childs. “When in a delusional state, the disease pushed her out the window.  I don’t believe my daughter committed suicide; it was her illness that was her executioner.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. for all ages, ahead of homicide which is ranked 17th, and takes the lives of over 38,000 Americans every year and 800,000 worldwide according to the World Health Organization.

 “As a child, Pam was precocious, lovable and adored by her family,” recalls Childs. “She did not exhibit any mental disorder until she was in high school; however, it went completely unrecognized as a mental disorder for many years.”

Childs says Pam appeared more like a typical contrary teenager with bad habits that included sloppiness, haughtiness, being confrontational and telling lies.  Her behavior became intolerable and after a confrontation between the two, Pam picked up and left home in November of her junior year to live with her father.

“There was no way I was able to convince her to stay and complete her junior year. She was a cheerleader, in Thespians and had many friends who tried desperately to convince her to stay and work it out with me.  But we were all powerless and in a split decision, she left her siblings and me. It was a shock to all of us and my heart was shattered when she refused to reconsider.”

Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year; with suicide as the 2nd leading cause of death in young people from the ages 15-25, according to the CDC.

“It takes about 10 years to make a differential diagnosis for Bipolar Disorder,” explains Childs. “There are no tests to determine a diagnosis.  Today there is a spectrum.  We know of Bipolar I and Bipolar II, but now are convinced that there is a spectrum including I, II, III and IV depending on the symptoms and interview.  It is a very difficult diagnosis to determine because it mimics so many other psychiatric disorders.  Obtaining a differential diagnosis takes a skilled psychiatrist and a lot of time.  It’s a treacherous mental disorder often causing suicide in very violent fashion.”

Pam did move on with her education and graduated from University of Missouri, then attended Adelphi College where she received her Masters in Social Work and later a PhD in Clinical Psychology in L.A.   She was extremely successful as a psychotherapist where she worked for the John Bradshaw Institute in L.A.

“John referred to her as ‘a wizard therapist’,” shares Childs, “drawing the lightening to herself to help her patients who were there due to childhood traumas that were interfering with their lives as adults.  Many had been using drugs and alcohol as a way of self- medicating.  When they were sober, Pam would do the Inner Child work and teach them new ways to define themselves.  Her work was transformational.”

At 24, Pam came back to South Florida for a short time to be hospitalized.

“Her roommates contacted me to advise me that her behavior had been inappropriate and frightening.  They were extremely worried about her and could not continue to live with her due to her messiness and rapid mood changes.  They suggested she come home to be treated.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment.

“Depression is a very devious disorder,” shares Childs.  “It comes in many different forms. Looking back through a rear view mirror, it was easy to recognize that something was not right.  Even in her therapeutic modalities, Pam was extreme, taking chances that most therapists would not do.  She broke down her patient’s defense mechanisms while drawing out the trauma that was stuck inside their brains. Fortunately, they were in a safe environment while she performed miracles, as they would say.”

What are Some Warning Signs?

“Watch for grades sliding, social changes like a loss of friends, not wanting to attend school or work, drug and alcohol use and abuse to numb out and self-medicate,” explains Childs. “Suicidal ideation, cutting, loss of appetite, staying in their rooms too much, isolating, lack of hygiene, overt sexuality, changes in their personality from vivacious to sullen.  Listen to their tone and attitude. Any changes from their normal behavior that sustains itself for a long period of time is suspicious.”

“I saw my daughter change from a beautiful, intelligent, successful woman into a regressive, frightened little child fearful that the devil was going to take her soul. She was hallucinating and fearing for her life that would be taken by the devil.”

These additional signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Pam passed when she was 34 years old.  She was born in North Miami Beach on October 1, 1963, and appeared to be a normal, healthy, engaging, bright and precocious as a child.

“She had a charismatic personality,” shares Childs. “She was adored by her father, her siblings, her teachers, friends, grandparents, and of course me. I survived every parent’s worst nightmare.”

Childs says she had to make a choice. “Was I going to become a victim of this tragedy?  Would I simply survive and move on?  Or would I choose to take this loss and turn it into something that would make my daughter’s life and death meaningful and raise the conscious awareness of mental illness?”

Childs chose to be a PHOENIX, “not unlike the mythological bird that rises from the ashes to become stronger and more empowered.”

WhyDidSheJump_BookCoverImage_Small

“This has become my mission,” she states. “To share my story and help others who have suffered similar tragedies, whether from mental illness or any other loss of a loved one caused by any other reason.”

After seven years, the culmination of Childs’ anguish became a book, Why Did She Jump? My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder, which can be purchased at Health Communications, INC,Amazon.com   or ordered in any Barnes & Noble.  For more information visit Child’s website.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area,anytime 24/7.

“Conversations with my Dog, Motik” by Joan E. Childs

Motik

Motik, (a Hebrew word meaning “sweetie”), my 10 year old Pekingese”Conversations with my Dog” by Joan E. Childs

 

Motik, (a Hebrew word meaning “sweetie”), my 10-year-old Pekingese, recently ruptured a disc for the second time in four years.  After a week of going to my regular vet with an inconclusive diagnosis, he advised us to take him to a specialist who could ascertain a diagnosis and treat him properly.  On Christmas Eve day, 2011, my daughter and I rushed him to a neuro-surgeon some 20 miles away from our home to learn that he had to have surgery.  Within a week we brought him home and after a quick recovery, he had since been well. On July 2, 2016, it was another trip to the neurosurgeon; another $3500.00 MRI but this time a different neurosurgeon as well as a different disc.  After learning the rupture was considered to be “moderate”, the decision was made to treat Motik conservatively.  This required medical boarding at the cost of $55.00 per day.  He needed meds and cage rest for a minimum of one month.  I was about to board a flight the day after I had taken him to the hospital.  I was picking up a cruise ship and deliberated whether I should make the trip to Amsterdam with my daughter for 20 days or stay at home while Motik was hospitalized.

The doctor assured me that he would be taken care of and by the time I returned, he would be ready for discharge to convalesce at home.

“Even if you stay at home, you will not be able to help him or see him while he is under treatment.” Dr. Frank said.  Dr. Frank was a young, well-spoken, and compassionate man. His professionalism and manner convinced me that I could trust his advice, although he was careful to say it was a “personal decision.”

I heeded his advice and left for Amsterdam.  The staff was remarkably caring and emailed me twice daily as to his condition.

Twenty days later I returned to a dog that was ready to return home.  I paid the bill that now was an additional $1100.00.  But, seeing him well, took the sting away from my pocket and put a smile on my face.  My little man was coming home.  I was overjoyed when I put him on my lap while Monica, my daughter, drove home those 20 miles.

“The worst is over”, I said, feeling greatly relieved that he would return to his old happy self.

His recovery lasted only one week.  I heard the familiar, ominous “yelp” after we returned from our nightly walk as he entered the front door.  That “yelp” drove a knife into my heart.  I was not prepared to go through this again.  Two days passed without a drop of water or food.  I knew we were in trouble.  It was a Saturday afternoon and I was in a dilemma.  Should I bring him back to the neurosurgeon, or to my regular vet’s office?

My choice was made to get him taken care of as quickly as possible so I drove him with my daughter to my local vet.  As luck would have it, he was away so I saw a vet unknown to me.  I explained what had happened including his history and my concern.  She was very pleasant and reassured me that they could keep him, hydrate him and give him the proper care that was needed.  The cost for the overnight medical boarding would be $148.00.  I had no choice that eve, but called the neurosurgeon’s hospital and was told that their medical boarding fees were $250.00 per night. It was a no-brainer, so I decided to have him stay the night as he needed emergency care that they could provide.

On my way home I received a call from the neurosurgeon who told me that they would be willing to board him for the previous fee of $55.00 per night, so the following morning I picked up my disheveled, frightened little man, and once again, with my daughter drove down to South Miami, but not before I was handed an invoice for $367.00 in charges for the previous night.

It gets better.  The neurosurgeon told me that they would try once more.

“Three strikes and you’re out.  The next relapse would mean surgery.”  The look on his face was sympathetic.  He said they would try once more and see if they could resolve the issue medically.  I drove home with Monica in a state of despair, however, hopeful.  Another week and another $700.00 including hospital boarding and meds had been successful.

The following day I applied for an equity loan from BB&T as they were offering a rate of 2.4% for the first years and 3.5% adjustable thereafter.  The vacation, plus the time away, combined with the medical costs exceeded my budget for animal care.  I had another dog and cat at home, and this event was over the top.  However, I had no options.  This was my baby and I could not let him suffer or euthanize him.  I was told that if I cage rested him for another 4 weeks, chances were that he would be good for another 5-6 years.

My neighbor, Adele, a saint, angel and blessing provided me with a crate large enough to house Motik with his food and water. She came daily to assist with his home boarding along with sharing a glass of wine.   I had been given strict, militant instructions not to take him out except for a 5-minute walk 3-4 times a day.  This was to be the biggest challenge of my life.

Motik accustomed to a 20-minute walk 3-4 times a day had to adapt to a 5-minute walk.  Although he had no problem urinating 5 times in 5 minutes, he was not used to pooping in less than 20.  The staff was adamant about the time, so wherever we were in 5-7 minutes of our walk, I had to pick him up and carry him home, up the stairs and place gently back in his crate.

For the first week, he did nothing but cry and scream.

“Get me out of here!  NOW!” were the unspoken words in dog demands.  Over and over, hour after hour he relentlessly shouted those phrases in barks, howls, screams and dog cursing.   I thought I was going to lose my mind, so occasionally I let him enjoy a 10-15 minute rest on the bedroom carpet where I lied down with him so he would not need to stretch his neck to look up at me or jump.

My conversations began.

“Motik, this is not a punishment” I would say.  “I need to keep you confined so you will get better and we can go back to getting you the way you were before.”  He listened intently but became sad each time he had to go back into his crate, which to me, was a prison.  We both cried for the first week.  I don’t know who cried more; him or me.

I marked off the 28 days on the calendar as each day passed.  I shortened my work schedule so I could be at home with him as much as possible.  It seemed as though Minnie, my one-year-old Shih Tzu and my 2 and a half-year-old Hemmingway cat understood our precarious situation and never interfered with his recovery.  They stayed downstairs and Motik, upstairs in his crate.

As the sixth morning approached and I awoke exhausted, drained from the undivided attention I had to give him including his six meds, five of which were in pill pockets and one by syringe, I dreaded getting up to start the day and routine.  I awakened bleary-eyed and anxious.  This would be another rough day I thought.

I opened the crate to a very sad face, with a look of eagerness to get the hell out of there.  I picked him up, tucking him under my left arm to go down to the landing and switching arms as the railing changed sides. Once down in the living room, I placed him outside in the lanai to put on his harness and leash so as not to have him even go down the one step from the foyer to the lanai.

It was steaming hot even before the sun came over my house on the preserve where I live.  We began our five-minute walk followed by the carry back to the house.  I placed him once again back in his confined space and went to take care of getting Hemmingway and Minnie their breakfast followed by Minnie’s walk.  When I returned, I expected the same shrilling sounds that had become familiar over the last five days, but instead, much to my chagrin, there was no sound.

I prepared his breakfast, disguising the meds in the pill pockets, but he refused to eat.  I left the food in the crate for the hour and a half as prescribed by the staff, and when I returned, all the food was still there.  Disappointed, I took it away but managed to hand feed him the pill pockets with the meds.  I was aware that for the last few hours, he had not made a sound.  I was at first concerned, but when I went up to visit, he was relaxed, tucked in his bed fast asleep.

As the day progressed, he remained quiet and settled.  I began to realize that I had trained him to be a spoiled, demanding, little prince who always had his way.  By following the advice of the doctor and staff I had re-trained him to know that I was the boss!

It’s not over yet, but we are on our way to full recovery!  I told him that if he stays quiet and behaves the way he is supposed to, I would take him for his usual and customary 20-minute walk again and give him the hugs we both miss so much.

Another 24 days to go before it’s over.  I have to keep strong, with tough love to get my little man back to wellness.  So many lessons learned by both of us.  Sometimes we must be tough to show our love, even when they don’t understand the reasons.  (This applies to kids too!)

I don’t know who suffered worse: Motik or me.  Wellness takes patience, consistency, and discipline.  I had to work hard to keep walking the line, but I tried to convince myself that it will be worth it.

A note to my readers:  I had five children in eight years.  I was divorced when the eldest was 11 years old and the youngest, just 3.  I don’t remember a time that I suffered as much during the years I was a single mom with five kids as these past few weeks trying to heal Motik.  I’m sure there were, however, time heals all wounds, so hopefully, time will do the same again.

Stay tuned to hear more as the days pass forward.

THE REINVENTED ME! (At almost 77)! – Joan E. Childs

Joan E. Childs, LCSW & Inspirational Keynote Speaker

Joan E. Childs, LCSW & Inspirational Keynote Speaker

 

What does it mean to be reinvented?  What does it mean to keep changing and growing?  What does it mean to fulfill your dreams and aspire to reach your full potential?

These are the values that matter to me.  So, at 3 months short of turning 77 years of age, I decided to create a new career to augment the work I have been doing for nearly 40 years.  Forty years ago I was divorced with five children all under the age of eleven.  I was a single parent, living without child support for nearly a year trying to keep a roof over my family’s head.  I had been awarded the house in my divorce settlement but did not have enough money to maintain the debt service.  The child support had been garnished by the IRS from my ex-husband’s bank accounts along with his declaring bankruptcy.  I took the $18,000 I was awarded in alimony and invested it in graduate school. So, in 1975 I went back to school to obtain an MSW.  I was 38 years old when I graduated Barry College in 1978 and had no idea where or how I would begin to get on my feet and support my family.  I was twisting in the wind not knowing how I could manage.

Raised in the 50’s, the last era of innocence in this country and coming out of the Victorian era, entering the women’s movement, I was unprepared to meet the challenges that faced me.  I was too busy raising the children and surviving to consider anything else but to fight my way into a new brave world, leaving behind the norms and values of my time.

Nearly forty years later I can look back through a rear view mirror and see myself forging a trajectory that was not always in my conscious awareness, but instead in the deepest part of my inner self.  My muse pushed, prodded, fostered and generated the energy and the fortitude it took to take me to where I am today.

In 1998 I lost my beautiful 34 year old to suicide.  Pam did not choose to leap 15 stories to her death.  Her illness, bipolar disorder, pushed her out the window.  That same year, 6 months before she passed, I lost a husband followed by my best girlfriend who passed away from breast cancer she had been battling for more than 14 years, followed by my father.  Two months later, my mother-in-law passed and then Pam.  That was the hardest year of my life, never to be forgotten.  However, that was the year I made the most important choice of my life.  Were these losses going to make me a victim, a survivor or a Phoenix, the mythological bird that rises from the ashes to become larger than life?  I chose the last because that was the ONLY choice I had.  I took the pain and transformed it into power.  Survival wasn’t enough for me.  I had to find meaning in Pam’s life and death.  I had to find a way to take the shame and stigma out of mental illness.  My mission was to help other families who suffered the same tragedy as I.  If I could do it, so could they.

So approaching my 77th year, I made a decision to reinvent myself again.  Not unlike Madonna and so many other creative people, I decided to re-engineer myself once again and launch a new career as an adjunct to my private practice and bring my message to the masses.  Unsure of what to call myself, or what to title my message, I ruminated until one day my muse, that goddess that resides within all of us, came to me as she had so many times before. A title was born: Life After Loss: Victim? Survivor? Or the Phoenix?  The choice is yours.

The loss comes in many respects.  We can lose a loved one, the worst being a child as I have.  We can lose our health, our jobs, our money, our marriage, our relationships, our beloved pet and our peace of mind.  I decided to expand my thesis from losing a child and/or loved one to any loss that causes grief.  I decided to write my next book that will be released in 2017, SEVEN STEPS TO LIFE AFTER LOSS.  My hope is to share my story, courage and healing with others who suffer losses and help them grieve until acceptance is achieved.  I want to give hope where grievers feel there is none.  I want to give solutions where grievers believe there are none.  I want to give courage where grievers lost their desire to move on.  Not unlike John Walsh, Joe Biden, and the parents of the murdered children of Sandy Hope, I have chosen to become a Phoenix and make the life and death of my daughter matter.

Stay connected to my website and read the blogs that will be posted.  Write your comments so I can receive your feedback and find the answers to the questions you have.  I have re-invented myself to become the person I was intended to be.  So can you!

 

Keynote Inspirational Speaker – Review by Christine Williams

Review Key Means Revaluate Or ReassessAs a member of Compassionate Friends of Boca Raton, a bereaved parents support group, I was pleased to meet Joan Childs at our last meeting.

She spoke to our group about the tragic loss of her daughter and what she went through. She was very cordial and composed but I could feel her compassion for us, also, as bereaved parents.

Ms. Child’s was very professional in her answers regarding prolonged grief and treatment recommendations. She was very thorough in her explanations of the grief process and offered hope in spite of our deep feelings of loss and grief.

I am looking forward to reading her book, “Why did She Jump”.

I will also recommend her to other compassionate friends groups, as she was very helpful in validating many of my erratic emotions during my grieving process.

Christine Williams