When I woke up this morning I was very short of breath. Just making myself a cup of tea was exhausting, and once I had my tea and something to eat I went right back to bed. I wanted to rest until my friends Celia, Angela, and Lauren came for a visit. They had driven up from New York City yesterday evening and stayed in a hotel nearby; Celia called around nine to say that Lauren was still sleeping but they would be here soon, and I just rested until they arrived at about eleven.
Since the weather forecast was for an overnight snowstorm tonight that might leave as much as a foot of snow, I called Marty and told him I needed him to sleep here tonight, since otherwise he might have trouble getting here tomorrow (I don't know if we'll be able to get to acupuncture tomorrow). He said he'd pack up what he needed, but that he'd be going out this evening for a meeting.
I was in bed when Celia, Angela, and Lauren arrived. As with most of my visitors, I told them to just let themselves in through the back door, saving me from having to walk through the house to open the front door. They brought me some nice gifts, including a copy of "New York City Voices," which calls itself "A Consumer Journal for Mental Health Advocacy," and which Andrea edits. Another gift, which I know I will get a lot of use out of, is a small pillow filled with some kind of little beads that conform to the shape of my head, just the right size to wedge behind my neck, and with an adorable picture of teddy bears on it! A third gift is an amazing book called Magic Eye, which contains computer generated pictures that become 3-D by staring at the images. And they also brought a selection of drinks and snacks.
We moved into the living room, where I lay on the couch (using the new pillow) and they brought in chairs from the dining room. They are all active in New York consumer/survivor groups, and said that New York state finally has a functioning coalition, which has been a long, hard struggle, but which seems to be working well. We talked about how hard it is to fight for alternatives when the mental health system has such a stranglehold not only on the money, but of the underlying beliefs that people with psychiatric labels don't know what they need and can't be trusted to operate services. Marty arrived and joined us (he had met Celia at the MindFreedom conference in Connecticut last summer), and after awhile suggested he go out and pick up some lunch for all of us. He got out a Chinese restaurant menu, called in an order, and went out to pick it up. It was snowing lightly but the forecast is that the heavy snow won't come till tonight. After we ate, everyone opened a fortune cookie, and I got the most amazing fortune, under the circumstances: "If you don't have time to live your life now, when do you?" I'm definitely taking this as a good omen!
After lunch they left to drive back, hoping to beat the storm (which is coming from the south), but with plans to come back in April and shoot some video. All three of them talked about how inspiring my work has been and how they thought it was extremely important to have it to show to people who might not get the chance to hear me speak in person. Marty and I also told them that when they come back they should definitely bring us some authentic New York cheesecake!
I've been resting since they left, but to my surprise haven't fallen asleep (yesterday I kept drifting off)--I put on the TV and caught the old Hitchcock thriller Vertigo right from the beginning--a very dark and intense drama, although definitely reflective of mid-twentieth century psychololgical concepts.
As almost always happens, I get really energized by having company, and felt so much better than I had when I first got up, and have continued to feel well for the rest of the day. I get very short of breath whenever I get up, but I have managed to do a few things. I ate a huge lunch, so I probably won't need more than a light snack tonight.
Maybe it is time to try to take a nap!