Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC

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11 Reasons Why Too Much Sugar Is Bad For You (from www.healthline.com)

Experts believe that sugar consumption is a major cause of many chronic diseases, as well as obesity:


Note. The biggest problem for me is that sugar is addictive. I am unable to stop at one cookie or candy and can gobble up a cake or pie in no time flat. A sugar addiction has been compared to the craving for cocaine, but of course much easier to overcome. After about a week’s abstinence, I find I no longer crave sweets and a small taste doesn’t turn me on. But give me a cookie or three and they are back to their tantalizing deliciousness! Begone from me, I need you not!


In a world become impatient to possess material things

And where ‘image’ is promoted for the power that it brings,

Can we just pause a moment, and reflect upon the past

And consider for the moment how long these things will last.

For the things of real value were not built in a day

But grew on firm foundations in order that they stay,

Old buildings and old paintings, old tapestries and books,

Took many hours of skillfull work to acquire their unique looks.

And so it is with people, for character is made

By building individually on foundations that are laid.

Like graceful antique furniture, and the beauty of old lace,

There is also much of value in a lined and wrinkled face.

One hundred years of living it took to reach this day

And no one knows the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ you met along the way.

How many people’s lives you touched; how many secrets told,

How many happy memories you would not trade for gold.

How many hours of sorrow; how many broken dreams,

How many loved ones you have mourned. How long ago it seems!

But all of this makes you unique, a masterpiece of life.

Individually developed through times of joy and strife.

Today you reach a milestone achieved by very few.

Enjoy your 100th birthday. Let us celebrate with you!

Note: my friend Joyce Fraser wrote this poem for a patient when she worked in a longterm care home in Vanderhoof, BC. Joyce resided in Fraser Lake for many years with her husband Bill and daughter Shirley. She was an active and prolific member of the Fraser Lake Writers Group. The poem was included in an anthology titled Seasonings published by the Group in 1990.

A Poem For The Times

A pall upon the world’s a common theme

Our lives are not at all as they have been

A scourge has plagued the human race it seems

A killer known as Covid plus nineteen

We’ve hidden in our homes almost a year

We’re distanced from the loved ones we hold dear

We thought at first there really was no fear

‘Til contagion swept the Earth both far and near

U.S. politics replaced our hockey games

With penalties and scoring just the same

But NHL has rules that aren’t disclaimed

A losing team should not cast blame and shame

There’s things that we have learned in seasons past

Time has slowed our lives from soaring fast

We’ve noticed things we’d never thought to ask

With solutions that I hope and pray will last!


My son lives in Vancouver and each morning buses to the Gallery Gachet which has been relocated to Hastings Street on the Downtown Eastside. Strangely and thankfully,  amongst the addicted and mentally ill who roam and sleep upon these desolate streets, the Covid 19 virus has not appeared in proportion to the seemingly unprotected  population that reside here.



In this plague season

Black crows high on the wire

Look down on what we’ve created

From the dreams exuded

Like sweat from our bodies

From the visions in the blood

Of our outpouring

We weep to see our children

In times of sickness

And tribulation

We cannot even trust the breath

At our lips or the space between us

For there is absence -of wanting

And desire

What have we made of our lives?

How we have chased the ghosts

In the light -we have

Heard the thunder and lightning

In the cloud -we have seen

A wave rising on the ocean

Even so there are reasons to live:

There are trembling stars

In every lung -there are diamonds

Caught in the back of

Every throat

How we withstand all the devils

Of hell -and we resist

The inclination to give in and

Surrender  -in the plague season

We come together

In the worst time it brings out

The best in us




Oh, and if we grow flowers in

The garbage and we erect stones

On every hill

There is a dying star in the dark

Corner of the sky

There is a comet with a tail of fire

Flashing in the night:

These are signs that we see

As we look up into space

And some of us are packed and

Ready to go -we hear the call

For surely this the time

Of judgment

Oh, but I will be left behind

With my dirty soul -as I hold

My cup in my hand

For a fool will not be forgiven

I am the unbeliever and

Heretic -I’ve eaten the wild fruit

On the mountainside

I’ve stood at the gates of the city

In my beggar’s rags

I’ve been in the mouth of a

Wilderness -and I’ve been

Educated by the wolves

Now is the day of the cruel

Disease that comes:

It is like a force that moves in

Assimilating and taking over

Ever hungry and covetous

In it’s nature -it over’comes

What is a illness that doesn’t kill?

What is the rose without any thorns?

What is a tiger with no teeth?




And so it is now early Spring and the

Cherry blossoms are blooming

On every tree  -the branches are full

Of birds that sing

These days are full of sunshine

And laughter  -Oh, but in the bright

Light the shadows lengthen

Underneath heaven is hell’s shadow

The angels pretend to be devils

And a stranger come’s like a friend

And he opens up his hand

There is a knocking on our door

In the middle of night

We are cloistered in our houses

Like priests -we are isolated as we

Wait -pursuing our fears and living

With them as possibilities

Even so on these streets there is

No paranoia -in the places where the

Visionaries and dealers live

There is business as usual -I see the

People who sleep in the doorways

And the ambling madman who raves

As he stands on the corner

I know the desolation and seperation

that lives here -the disease

Is very faraway from here -there are no

Traces of the flue -just the sickness

Of heroin and cheap whiskey

And so I think on this as I walk

These dark avenues alone

Is a disease only for rich men?

Or is it just that currency carries

A virus as it is spread?

Oh, even so we are made equal

In the legacy of destruction

And pain -how we learn mercy

From the angels

How we are instructed by the

Spirits as we hear their voices

And in the plague season

We know the wind of madness

That blows




You cannot kiss your lover’s lips

You cannot take your

Children into your arms

You cannot touch another’s face

Or join your hands together

To walk in the rain

For now is the time of reckoning

And the day of the cold sun

And what did you see when

You looked straight into the light

Was it heaven or hell?

Who are these doubters and losers

Who walk the ancient highway?

Tug on the chains as you pray

Pull on the rope as you offer up

Your soul




How you come to the river’stream

That in time only flows


You look up at the moon and the

Many stars -it is said that if you

Drink deeply of the sweet wine

You will live forever

Now is the season of testing

And proving -there is prophecy

Murmuring on the waters

There is faith crying out it’s tears

As we dig at blackened roots

And we reach up to the tree’tops

Of silver branches

Oh, and we look for protection

In our society of believers

Oh, and we surround ourselves

With the light of darkness

And the darkness of light

Oh, what is a disease to God but a

Mist upon the lips of a pilgrim?

What is a disease to the devil

But a cleansing of energies?

Oh, in my time I stood on that hill

And I saw the fires burning

In the valley

Jewels were suspended from

The sky -and I saw reflections

On the river that flowed




Oh, now is the plague season

And black crows high on the wire

Are gazing with eyes

As black as night -how we sit

At the table but don’t eat or drink

In this time of great upheaval

We don’t make love or sing songs

For now is the age of verification

Even so we do not wait for the

Consequences -this is not a time

To give in -and this is not a time to

Shout from the rooftops




Musings from the Nineteen-Eighties

Musings from The Nineteen-eighties. [Before I Joined A Religion]

I discovered these lines on yellowed scraps of paper in a bundle of musings I had typed out on an old manual typewriter back in about 1983. I had been following the writings of Charles Lindbergh, world-famous pilot, and in later years, an environmentalist. His writings had been featured in serialized form in the Readers Digest magazine. I had also been reading books by a woman named Vera Stanley Alder about what she referred to as “The Ancient Wisdom.” All interesting stuff for a woman like me, raised in the bush, and never having paid much attention to any kind of philosophical or religious idiom. But I did consider myself as a Christian, after having read parts of the Bible from time to time.

Organized religion is often regarded with fear and/or distrust. The distrust stems from the tendency of the church elders and priests to dictate certain rules and to solicit money from its members. The fear is invoked by the mysticism shrouded around the interpretations of the religious writings. God (or Gods) are most often depicted as all-powerful beings who are somehow situated in a spot above the earth where they can peer down upon us and keep track of each, and every individual mistake made by man.

Language is a poor communication tool, and many words have changed in meaning over the years. I strongly believe the word “fear” in “fear the Lord” (from the Bible) is meant to mean “respect”

My dictionary says one definition of fear is: “The reverence or awe felt for God.” If this is so, the whole idea of being afraid of God and intimidated at the thought of punishment for our sins, is wrong. It may even be the cause for the wrongdoing of those who are naturally rebellious and have, for one reason or another, gotten their kicks from defying authority of any kind.

My favourite book in the Bible is Ecclesiastics. There is one word in there that is frequently used, but I believe is not meant to be interpreted as it is. The word “meaningless” reflects a note of despair in modern day usage. I think the phrase “without meaning” or “without importance” would be more in line with what the author intended to convey. The message in Ecclesiastics is meant to be a comparison between what man generally regards as of importance, and the insignificance of it compared to the spiritual way of life; of living as we are meant to live (in harmony with one another and all other creatures.)

My youngest daughter refers to God as “a feeling.” I believe her definition is apt. When God is referred to as “Him” it is not meant that He is a male being. (My trusty dictionary – one definition- defines He to be: “one of unspecified sex.”)

God is sometimes referred to as “Mother Nature” but the term does not denote femininity as such.

The word “Mother” is apt in one sense. It can mean: “that from which others have sprung” (Oxford dictionary) and denotes a sort of completion, which in my mind is what God is.

God is a completion, but his various components are in a constant state of change. God is the Whole: The Spirit which abides in each one of us (animals, vegetables, mineral, etc.) We are the pieces of a 3-dimensional jig-saw puzzle which, because of the 4th dimension (time) are in a constant state of change in relationship to one another. Each change necessitates changes in adjoining pieces of the puzzle….

PS would love some feedback on this blog. Thank you. By the way these musings are not necessarily what I believe now. But I do like the metaphor of the jig-saw puzzle…


In an earlier life, I was able to multi-task quite well. With a baby on my hip and a child or two toddling behind, I was able cook, launder and , sometimes, even hold down a job creating meals for hungry loggers and sawmill workers.

Now my short term memory only permits me one thought at a time to direct my everyday activities. As soon as I turn on a burner on my stove, I need to set up the timer on my cell phone for a designated period of time, to remind me of what I am doing. Otherwise the smell of burnt whatever, permeates the air, while I am watching TV or checking out Facebook.

It’s as if a curtain has fallen on that particular stage of my existence and scene one has been delegated into the past. Whenever the timer goes off, it’s almost always: “What the heck is that all about!!?”

My cellphone is the best timer I’ve ever owned. It plays loud music, rather than the pinging that dollar store timers are usually only capable of emitting. I am hard of hearing and often unable to pick up on their whimpy warnings.

The only thing is, I get excited when my phone plays that lovely “Down By The Seaside” song. I find myself streaking across the kitchen floor, anticipating a phone call or at the very least a text, from a friend.

What a let-down. But, thanks anyway Telus, no more burnt pies in my oven.

I drag my thoughts back to 15 minutes or so ago to when I put the pies in the oven. “Oh right, the pies!”

History is a learning experience

Thanks to my wonderful Chinese-Canadian first cousins, I have learned much about Chinese-Canadian culture and history – which is also mine.

It has only been since the end of the Second World War that our ancesters, originally from across the sea, were able to become Canadian citizens in a country where many of them were born. And some had even fought in one or two World Wars as part of the Canadian military.

Lately, apparently because the Covid 19 pandemic originated in China, their children and grandchildren are once again the targets of racial bigotry on the streets of Vancouver. It is heartbreaking to learn that some of my kind, gentle, and sometimes brilliant, cousins may themselves be judged because of their racial profiles. My own Dutch and English DNA has left me with predominatly White facial features. I cannot imagine being looked down upon as being racially inferior to anyone. I am one of the lucky ones.

I believe our social history- good and bad- should serve as a record of what to do and what not to do. All the nasty stuff needs to be piled up out there like a farmer’s manure pile. And it needs to be carefully examined. Injustices need to be acknowledged and compensated or, at the very least, apologies need be voiced. We cannot change the past but we should not minimize the horrors or neglect that have occurred.

Racism is what people in a minority group, such as our First Nations people, have experienced and what they can relate to. Their emotional content is not something that we, a bs part of the larger group, can understand. If we have never been personally racist, I don’t think we should feel guilty. It was not our fault to begin with.

The blame is in the system. I suppose that is why it is referred to as “systemic rasicm”. The British-run colonial government created the “Indian Act” and First Nations people were herded into a separate category from the rest of us. It may not have been entirely racist to begin with. The British had a tendency to herd their own citizens into groups. Many of their “upper crust” children, including my grandmother, were encased in boarding schools.

When all is said and done, though, I hope we honour the differences in our cultures and races. We don’t need to blend in and become bland. I enjoy and respect our indigenous cultures – it is exciting for me to hear the drumming, the singing and watch the dancing. I wouldn’t want that to change.

But we must remember that the blame and the shame belong to the past. Eventually we need to move on. Time passes and in the scheme of things, life is short.


Those with severe mental/emotional disorders can relate to an opression similar to that of racism. Bullying by authority and others has always been rampant toward the mentally ill and those in the throes of drugs and alcohol addiction. I recall seeing a drunken indigenous person being thrown into a paddy wagon years ago. The door was slammed against the poor guy’s leg and there was no sympathy expressed by the officers. I remember cringing but actions by those in authority was never questioned in those days.

In the early nineteen eighties my son who was hallucinating on the streets of Toronto was taken down by police who launghed as they ground his face into the sidewalk.

The lower nature displayed by some humans reminds me of young turkeys towards those that fall or are sick. Bullying has to do with survival of the biggest and strongest of the species.The human world should be long past that stage of existence.

One policeman who had taken the new “sensitivity” program developed for police officers said he was pleased that it was available. The program helped police distinguish between erratic gestures displayed by mentally incompetent and those exhibiting genuine criminal behaviour. But, as the officer pointed out, the intense RCMP defensive training in Regina for recruits, would most likely cut in when faced with the necessity for an instant reaction toward perceived life or death situations.

I like the idea of trained and empathetic mental health professionals working in the field together with law enforcement officers.

One thing I do not understand is our sublime acceptance of groups advocating obscene and dangerous racist attitudes. There is no excuse for allowing the Neo-Nazi and Klu Klux Klan groups to exist, after so much horror and bloodshed has been documented regarding the history behind these groups. It has been noted that their mandate can inspire dangerous psycological imbalances just by their very existence; particularly among young not-quite-developed minds. Many years ago Oprah Winfry took a chance by inviting KKK members to be on her show. The show went quite well and it appeared that these fellows had an attitude change. But the horrible aftermath was that Oprah received a huge number of calls – from young men who inquired how they could join the KKK organization!


BRAIN CHEMICAL DISORDERS by Doris Ray [ this was a series of blogs several of which were published in the book “Making Noise: Northern Women, Caring & In/visible Dis/abilities” edited by Si Transken & Lynn Box of Prince George BC in 2007]

On Being a Mother

Sometimes I think we mothers have no control at all over events that shape the course of our lives. After the last babe has fled the nest, we should be able to rest upon our laurels. The big job is done. We have fed and diapered our flock and launched them successfully through infancy, adolescence and other milestones such as attaining that all-important driver’s license. Now they are married or in college or perhaps hitchhiking around the world. Your only obligation is to send them money periodically—if you have some. (If you’re really lucky and I know I’m fantasising, they’ll send YOU money once in awhile.)

But that’s not necessarily the way it works. We are allowed five minutes or so to bask in a state of warm complacency before our REALLY big job begins. Unforeseen circumstances loom that are beyond our control and we find ourselves caught up in a brand new facet of the human experience. Destiny points the way and we have no choice but to hang up our hats and become enmeshed in something that is in dire need of our particular talents and dedication.

For me it was mental illness. At the age of 21 my son Bruce was struck down by the symptoms of an illness which at times was so bizarre that it was beyond my capacity to comprehend. Despite his doctor’s diagnosis of schizophrenia, I sometimes suspected that he had multiple personalities, or else was in a state of being possessed by otherworldly entities. Bruce was puzzled and bemused by the hallucinations he was experiencing. At first he recognised that they stemmed from his own runaway imagination; later on, he became overwhelmed by them.

In 1993 I became inadvertently drawn into the dark world of mental illness where tragic circumstances sometimes occur when its victims are unmedicated or wrongly medicated. Schizophrenia adversely affects the lives of family members, friends and other members of the community, as well as the victim. Sufferers don’t always realise that they are ill. Sometimes they express disturbing and even criminal behaviour. When that occurs we can no longer ignore or sweep under the carpets, the plight of the mentally ill in our society.

I’ve learned that schizophrenia is a disease that has concrete and specific symptoms due to physical and biochemical changes within the brain. It strikes one in every hundred young people—world-wide, and is usually treatable with medication. It has nothing to do with diminishing intellect or talent. Over the years my son has managed to retain his ability to write poetry and draw cartoons. For that I am grateful.

Doris Ray is a board member on the BC Schizophrenia Society, a non-profit organisation that advocates for those with a family member or friend suffering from a brain chemical disorder such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, depression or an anxiety disorder such as OCD. To contact the Prince George Branch of BCSS call: 561-8033 or 1-888-561-8055 (toll free)

Upon Being Politically Correct

Nowadays being “politically correct” has become a part of our social conscience. Sometimes I think it has swung too far: I would not in the least mind being referred to as a fisherman, even though I am biologically a woman. I am also against feminising manhole covers and Manitoba. But I do see red whenever someone in the media uses the word schizophrenic in reference to anything other then the disease. The other day I half listened to a CBC Radio broadcast featuring some long winded intellectual. I could not believe it when this smart person misused both the word “schizophrenic” (he was referring to a situation where there were two or more options) and also the word “psychotic” instead of “psychopathic”.

Psychosis is an acute symptom of a brain chemical disorder. The sufferer has withdrawn from reality into a delusional realm of existence. His behaviour is most often not criminal, although he is a high risk for suicide. A psychopath, according to my dictionary, is “an individual who is emotionally unstable to a degree approaching the pathological, but with no specific or marked mental disorder.” People diagnosed as psychopathic often express antisocial and even criminal behaviour patterns.

There is the same social stigma attached to a brain chemical disorder such as schizophrenia as there is to homosexuality. During my son’s adolescent years I believed the worst thing that could happen to him was that he could turn out to be gay. (He’s not.) He was shy and didn’t date so that thought had occurred to me. Many times over the past twenty years I have reminded myself of that paltry concern. I have wished fervently that one morning I would wake up to the knowledge that instead of my son’s having been afflicted by a devastating brain disease, he was merely gay. Everything, it seems, is relative.

When The Hard Drive Doesn’t Work

It must be very hard to accept the fact that you have a chronic, incurable illness. It must be especially hard to acknowledge that your brain—the part of you which houses every piece of remembered information, as well as the emotional content associated with each experience, can become faulty. But the brain like every other organ in the human body, is subject to the possibility of becoming diseased or of malfunctioning.

The brain is similar to the hard drive on a computer. When it doesn’t work properly, it may begin to churn out garbled information. You have relied on that hard drive ticking away inside your head for all the days of your life. At first you have a tendency to believe the false information you are receiving. If your brain informs you that you are not sick, how are you supposed to know the difference? If your brain tells you that other people can read your mind and are plotting against you, you may believe that as well. When you finally realise that you have a brain chemical disorder and its not going away anytime soon, you need to develop a sense of humour—big time!

Retaining a Sense of Humour

I was down at the Coast during the “big blow” on Easter Sunday 1997. A big wind in the country is merely an interruption between the snow or rain and the ever-popular sunshine. The important thing to remember is to stay off the lakes in your rowboat or canoe. But a wind storm in an urban setting can be an eerie experience, especially if one is imaginative and spending the night on the Riverview Hospital grounds in Port Coquitlam.

Mental patients–I have found–are like everyone else. Those whom we know and love are just fine. It’s the strangers we have a tendency to mistrust. But when I am anywhere south of Hope or Princeton, I begin to notice that there are a lot more strangers strolling about than there are friends. Many have attributes that would qualify them as being “weird” in downtown Fraser Lake. (Simply not wearing parkas and winter boots in April would do that.)

When the sun goes down in the city I never know what to do with my purse. Draping its strap across the opposite shoulder used to deter snatchers, but now I hear that is not enough. Seasoned crooks merely cut the strap and run. Even though it contains nothing more valuable than Kleenex and an occasional coughdrop, I clutch mine closely to my bosom. Holding my head up I stride confidently, gazing neither left nor right, hoping to create the illusion that I am armed with a lethal weapon or at the very least have a black belt or better in karate.

Cottage 119 at Riverview is for patients’ family members to stay when they are visiting. Conveniently, it was right around the corner from where my son resided. At five-thirty on Easter Sunday, Bruce and I were finishing dinner when there came a tremendous burst of wind, followed by a high volume of screeching and wailing sounds from somewhere outside the building. The creaking of branches from nearby trees, as they gnashed and rubbed together, completed the symphony.

Each succeeding gust of wind produced more banshee-like shrieks that pierced the air above the droning sounds of traffic on the nearby highway. These high pitched sounds were not unique to the Riverview area. Later that evening my daughter phoned and said the same eerie noises emanated from outside her in-law’s home several miles away. The hydro was off over there, she stated, which made things even spookier.

She wondered if her not-very-courageous, nervous and overly-imaginative mother was up to handling the situation. I assured her that in the event of a power failure, my finger was poised to dial the telephone for a taxicab.

My son had to leave at 9 P.M. If I was alone in the dark at that time, I was out of there!

Bruce and I discussed the history of the large tract of land known as Riverview. We agreed that the lush grounds would be a wonderful place to live, if one were considered “sane” and did not have to be there. There has been a concerted effort afoot by entrepreneurs to get their hands on the valuable piece of real estate, and build condos and monster homes upon it. That hope is not being shared by mental health advocates and promoters of Hollywood North.

People in the film industry are often seen skulking and lurking in and around the architecturally-pleasing old buildings. I have noticed that mental patients are usually pretty laid back. Chances are if a really weird character was spotted on the Riverview grounds, it would be a movie or television star and not a resident.

There are many beautiful trees on the Riverview grounds, most of which shed their foliage in great heaps in the fall. Now outside our window, we could see these wrinkled pieces of brown parchment, the corpses of last year’s beautiful leaves, begin to rise and dart erratically up into the darkening sky like flocks of small, hungry bats. The scene was more reminiscent of Halloween than Easter.

My son was now mentally stable. I could tell because his sense of humour was evident. He had mentioned that there was an historic graveyard located a short distance from the cottage. Just then a gust of wind blew up, setting in motion whatever it was that caused the shrieking noises.

“Perhaps its the ghosts of long dead mental patients,” Bruce suggested with a grin. I was not amused.

Major Depression

Major depression is the most common of all brain chemical disorders. According to statistics one man in ten and one woman in five will suffer a serious depression at some time in their lives. Many of us become depressed when we anticipate or experience unpleasant situations. It’s that “blah” feeling that envelopes us when our least favourite aunt arrives for an extended visit and the anguish that tears us apart (after the murderous rage has subsided!) when we discover a parking lot dent in our brand new car. And in my case, the ultimate down-in-the-dumps despair I once felt when I stepped on the bathroom scales. (I remedied that a few years ago when the offensive measurement of poundage went out with the garbage!) Those dark feelings usually dissipate within a reasonable length of time and are a part of everyday living. But when those feelings don’t go away, the sufferer may become trapped inside a demoralised and hopeless state of existence.

Symptoms of major depression are: tearfulness, brooding, irritability, obsessive rumination, anxiety, phobias and excessive worry over physical health

Panic Attacks

I had my first panic attack when I was about 13 and in the eighth grade. The teacher in our small rural school had asked me to read a poem to the class from our English textbook. I had been reading aloud to this same bunch of kids since Grade 2 so this should not have been a big deal. But that day an idle thought drifted through my mind that was to cause me consternation for more than four decades of my life. For some reason I thought, “What if I can’t do this? What if the words get stuck in my throat?” And that’s exactly what happened! My throat closed up tightly and I could barely breathe, let alone talk.

After that excruciating experience I avoided reading aloud to my classmates, or to anyone else. As a young mother I usually joined whatever organisation happened to be sponsoring my children’s’ particular endeavours. I enjoyed the interaction with other people although it seemed I was forever being nominated for the position of secretary. I would always decline. My heart would beat fast and I ‘d be trembling as I fumbled for an excuse. I knew I would have no problem with the business of keeping track of the minutes; it was the thought of reading them aloud at the next meeting that terrified me.

Panic attacks can occur at any time. You might be shopping, sleeping or in the middle of a meeting. An episode usually begins abruptly, peaks within 10 minutes, and lasts about half an hour. Signs and symptoms can include a rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling and shortness of breath, as well as other body alarm signals. The symptoms of panic are so intensely physical that it often doesn’t occur to people that the attack they are having is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. They may even think they are having a heart attack.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The plight of victims suffering from a psychiatric illness known as obsessive compulsive disorder was the theme of a Jack Nickolson movie entitled “As Good As It Gets.” Jack did not experience hallucinations or delusions but he was overly concerned about things that made no sense to his friends. Common fears are: fear of contamination, concern with order and neatness, doubts of having injured someone, left something on (or unlocked) and inability to throw anything away. The person will be driven to perform specific ritualised behaviours calculated to temporarily reduce their discomfort such as: repeated hand washing and cleaning, excessive ordering and arranging, checking and rechecking, and collecting useless objects. A diagnosis of OCD is made when obsessions and compulsions become so marked they interfere with social and occupational activities, or cause intense subjective distress. Thankfully, there are now effective treatments available for those who suffer from persistent panic attacks or OCD.

Bi-polar Disorder

Psychosis can occur in extreme states of mood disorders as well as in schizophrenia. Psychotic depression often takes the form of delusions of imaginary poverty, terminal illness, cosmic self-blame for world problems. Conversely, psychotic mania (in bipolar illness) involves delusions of wealth, great personal power, unlimited abilities or cosmic importance—symptoms that in psychiatric terms are referred to as “grandiosity.”

Those suffering from manic depressive disease or what is now referred to as bi-polar disorder often experience a constant “double whammy” of symptoms.

THE SPANISH FLU – 1918(from my book”Common Threads” page 185)

[Note: the book is categorized as “Fictionalized Biography” but the following incident is from an interview I had with my uncle in 2007. His mother (my grandmother) had worked as a care aide at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria where she contacted the disease] I never met my grandmother but I like this story!

“….For two and a half weeks Nell lay on a cot in the crowded Women’s Isolation Ward, not caring whether she lived or died. In all that time she only permitted liquids to pass between her swollen tongue and clenched teeth. Her body shrunk and she suffered from fever induced hallucinations- but no nosebleeds…[note apparently it seemed that: “patients with bleeding noses survived more often than those that did not” ]

“……. That evening [November 11th 1918] when the physicians made their rounds their voices were boisterous because of the alcoholic spirits they’d imbibed in celebration of War’s end…

“By the second week in November, hospital admissions with symptoms of influenza had decreased considerably. The larger number of beds now housed patients who were on their way to recovery. In Nell’s ward there remained only three women in a semi-conscious state. These patients displayed the blue skin tones of cyanosis caused by a lack of oxygen. The physicians making their rounds noted that Nell appeared to be one of them.

“‘ I’d wager a whole wad of money that woman won’t make it ’til morning,’ one of the doctors was predicating. ‘I won’t take you up on that one,’ his companion chortled, with a slight slur in his voice.

“The callous tone of the physician’s remarks penetrated Nell’s consciousness even before the words did. A wave of indignation swept through her and she was suddenly determined to prove them wrong. All that night Nell lay on her cot forcing tiny spurts of air into her tightly congested lungs. By morning she was coughing so hard hard her chest hurt. She was alive but the two other women in the ward were not….”

Note: my grandmother’s story told to me by her son, was related using terminology and reminiscences picked up from separate research (not necessarily factual)

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