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We are a mother (Elizabeth) and daughter (Aradia) team and we are BESIDE OURSELVES in many ways.  Hence the name of this blog. We decided to take the mountains in our lives and turn them into molehills. The mountain range is mental illness. That wicked phrase that strikes fear into both those with it and those that come in contact with it because it has been stigmatized and dramatized by our media and entertainment industries.

We are BESIDE OURSELVES because that is literally a symptom of disassociation – a spontaneous survival technique that each of us have experienced during traumatic circumstances. As some of you already know, disassociation is the feeling of being outside of your own body and observing yourself from a “safe” distance.

I (Elizabeth) was beside myself with grief when my daughter Aradia asked me to commit her to a Mental Health Hospital in January. Thank God she did. Those ten days were some of the worst of my life but also the most precious because so many puzzle pieces finally fell into place and for the first time I began to truly understand my daughter and she began to understand herself. Between the two of us we have dealt with a broad range of dysfunctional, dangerous and tragic situations brought on by or resulting in destructive mental health issues of ourselves or others.

We decided to share what we have learned, will learn and what we have felt and been through over the years with others so that somehow someone BESIDE OURSELVES can be helped through this blog.  Aradia and I are both creative people, have both had psychotic breaks, and each of us have expressed ourselves over the years through writing stories, songs, poems, and skits, as well as acting and art.  But the most important traits we share are a dark sand self-deprecating sense of humor and our determination to make the best out of whatever situation we find ourselves in…as long as we do not get distracted.

For as much as we have in common, we are very different people and will do our best to provide genuine insight into each of our perspectives. Our hope is that you will find something in this blog that will at best inspire you and make you laugh and know that you are not alone or feel relief that you’re not as goofy as we are.  At worst, she and I will just have another creative outlet, another reason to hang out with each other and to share another adventure together. Win/win. Also, we are so counting this as homeschool.  We are not experts at anything other than being ourselves.

It is important to let you know that this will NOT be a blog for young children, the overly delicate, people who get triggered easily or the otherwise faint of heart. Neither Aradia nor I have a verbal filter nor any desire to. Some things we have written or created over the years are rough, and there’s not enough sugarcoating in the world to cover it. However, if you have or have been affected by someone with mental illness we suspect you are tough enough to handle it. The main thing we want you to know is that mental illness is not the end of the world. It is not your fault. It is not a death sentence. It is not shameful. We are putting the ham back in sHAMe. Okay, that was lame, but you know what we mean.

We would even go so far as to say there is a certain amount of freedom in being certifiable, so work it to your advantage people! For instance, if you master the crazy-eyed look people give you space in elevators and let you have the first piece of pie.  You can even cut directly out of the center of the pie, eat it before the main course and chances are people will pretend not to notice.  You only have to go to the family reunions if you want to and nobody will complain if you leave early. Your neighbors will not say a word if you paint a spontaneous twenty-foot paint pallet on your roof and make a giant paintbrush from an old mop and pvc pipe, because…well, no reason really. We just had some extra PVC pipe and an old string mop. God bless our neighbors.

If you have any interest in learning about how one or the other of us and sometimes both of us have dealt with, live with, or use any of the following plus some random stuff about us that makes us either incredibly deep and riveting or just lovable eccentric nutjobs, buckle up!

  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Depression
  • Self-harm
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Sexual  abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Bullying
  • Mood disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Hoarding
  • Bitterness…with the sweet comes the sour
  • Faith
  • Confession
  • Redemption
  • Peace
  • Hope
  • Love
  • Healing with humor
  • Creativity
  • Music and the Mind
  • Random ridiculousness

This is about our struggle to stay sane in an insane world.  We’ve got it all, folks! So keep checking back with us as we build our blog. We would love to hear your stories, questions, feedback and comments.  Just keep in mind that this is our little corner of the world and if you don’t play nicely and use your manners we will put you outside and lock the doors to you.

From mental illness to mental chillness,

Elizabeth and Aradia