Archives for posts with tag: Borderline Personality Disorder

Every DAY is Mental Health Awareness DAY here at Ava’s Corner…as we try to help those of us who are challenged with our brains’ alternate states to define “normal” one person at a time…and often one minute at a time.
YOUR best normal is what you should strive for (not someone else’s definition of that) and, when life throws you a curve ball, find that new normal for you to try to maintain.
My normal before Ava Kauffman’s death was being on the phone with her any time of the day or night helping her stay focused on completing her degree and encouraging her to think past the moment of depression into a positive future. However, my life after that horrific phone call at 6:00 AM on March 23rd changed my “normal” forever. I now struggle with PTSD as a result of 40 years of cumulative angst, pain, anxiety and struggle to help my son help himself to stay alive (he was murdered), help Ava stay alive (she killed herself) and, finally, help my 90+ year old Mom stay alive in her last years.

Carl, Ava and me April 1984

Carl, Ava and me April 1984

 

Yeah!

Mom watching fireworks from my deck in 2011…before the world stopped spinning. 

The difference? As a mother, you ALWAYS have HOPE that prayers, hard work in helping your children, etc. will help them see a brighter tomorrow. When ALL fails and the most important people in your life are all gone…critical support team, best friends, loved ones…some of us struggle.

People who don’t really “know” me think I’m strong and dumber ones have asked me if Montana was one of those “fake” service dogs. That’s about the time they might just find out exactly why I have her! Word of caution! Don’t ask that!

Remember, you don’t always “see” who we are but that doesn’t make us whole! It makes us in a constant state of healing. The trick is finding YOUR very own way of creative coping and healing!

 

Montana doggie park 10-10 taken by Maya

Montana is MY creative coping mechanism. I could leave the house without her!

How many of you know someone who served in the military during World War II? How many of you heard them tell stories of sacrifice, pain (lice, foot rot, empty bellies), injury (medal plates in the head), death, poor upper level planning (D-Day landing nightmares), no equipment (WWI issue guns w/little or no ammunition), POW stories (Bataan Death March), adventures and misadventures?

Ed Friend leader of WWII Vet organization 10-1945

My Dad (middle) helped organize WWII Vet group!

 

Well, I have and am proud to say my Uncle Bruce survived D-Day and has talked about the horrors of it everyday since. How they were taken to the wrong drop off point and were told to get into water too deep with 40 pound backpacks on causing so many to drown. How they were so horribly mowed down by German machine guns on the beaches and so many other stories. My father’s flying escapades as confidential courier and goods/troop transport. My Uncle-in-law’s survival of the Bataan Death March and how 10,000 Japanese contained 40,000 Americans because we had no ammunition or rifles that worked and how General McArthur abandoned his men there.

Bruce Friend-1944 photo and story of his D-Day experiences!

Uncle Bruce Friend and the article about how his D-Day turned out!

How many of you have heard personal accounts of the Cuban Missile Crisis? How close we were to WWIII because of Russia sending missile installations to Cuba? I remember it well as I had a brother in the Navy who was on the front line of it. His stories are incredible.

This is a time, as is everyday, to pay our respects for ALL service persons, of yesteryear and today, and to do all we can to assist them in proper healthcare, emotional support and help them re-integrate with their families, friends and loved ones. I know I could never have survived the rigors of boot camp not because I couldn’t have physically performed but because it would have killed too much of my soul. Creative people are like that.

I just finished watching two movies out of my love of WWII history as well as the characters leading this country’s men during that most awful two-front war. “Patton” was a remarkable, revealing depiction of an extraordinary visionary and leader/warrior. He was so passionate about what he was supposed to do with his life that nothing else mattered. I then watched “The Last Days of Patton” which revealed the irony of this larger-than-life man’s last days and how it conflicted with everything he had envisioned for himself.

We, at Ava’s Corner, Inc., understand and appreciate those who make these sacrifices and their challenges upon returning. Please go to http://www.avascorner.org and find our “Military” tab under “Resource Center.” We try to keep up with all the wonderful non-profit programs available but if you know of one we need to add, please contact us!

It takes great leaders willing to sacrifice much to create a safe country. I’m ready for that again, aren’t you? Be sure to vote in all upcoming elections to ensure such a day in our future and that of our loved ones.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

At this time in my life, coming up with a topic concerning my best decision is quite the challenge because most of my “best” decisions are followed by strange, and, sometimes, tragic outcomes. This topic has catapulted me into a plethora of reflections this last month or so especially with the hallmark birthday which includes the number six at the beginning and the end of it.

First, I was sure it was when I was ten and my sister introduced to me of the Classics Section of the local library (specifically, Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy) which spurned me onward to bigger-than-life European history such as that of Catherine the Great and, eventually, to biographies of other famous and infamous women in history. It was their stories that made my  ancestors’  journeys burst forth with life…resuscitating them to breathe again through me. Their struggles for religious freedom or desire to invent a better bicycle brake or to be the best American Impressionist artist was the cause and effect of my destiny to fall in love with writing and, eventually, travel the back roads of the US and Canada writing this blog, fromafriend7491.com!

Our first major road trip in 2009 together

Our first major road trip in 2009 together.

But, then I remember being twenty-eight when I was sure my best decision was marrying the man I was deaf-dumb-and-blind in love with which was only followed by horrific tragedy and unbelievable loss that I surely couldn’t include that as my best anything except what I shouldn’t have done.

With her beloved big brother, Carl. They loved each other so much!

Ava with her beloved big brother, Carl. They loved each other so much!

Now I’m down to the one decision for which I’m truly proud; however, to be totally truthful, it wasn’t even my decision. It was a directive from my reliable third party directly related to a tragedy…the suicide of my beautiful gypsy opera singing daughter who lived/worked in Las Vegas, Nevada with her estranged husband.

Belly dancing magic in 2002. She looks like she has wings. Maybe, now she does.

Belly dancing magic in 2002. She looks like she has wings. Maybe, now she does.

As I drove west from my home in Georgia to handle Ava’s final affairs in early April, 2012, my reliable third party (call it God, Higher Power or whatever you wish) spoke to me in clear directives as he always does. Yes, my reliable third party always speaks to me in a very authoritative male voice. “Create an internet site to help others,” was all that was said.

As I love to drive the open road and have been doing for several years writing blogs about camping my way west alone with my dog, I have a tendency to drive anywhere from twenty-four to thirty-six hours with only pit stops and short naps. My anxiety of seeing the steel-hearted devil who was married to my daughter kept me pushing forward so as to get to my daughter’s house, git ‘er done (“Git ‘er Done Donna” is what they call me) and hit the open road again to parts unknown.

As you can well understand, my focus was on my grief and was totally not interested in hearing any message from my reliable third party concerning a task so outside my realm of expertise or knowledge. I wanted to focus on my loss, grief and how to move through finalizing things in Las Vegas and spending time on the real open road healing.

I argued. I argued my best to a silent, unrelenting audience, “I don’t know anything about creating websites!” I might as well have never even made that argument as it went flat as a fritter. Nothing. No response, no guidance, nothing for over twenty-four hours!

Finally, somewhere west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, I screamed at the silence, “What  has my forty-six years of real estate law experience got to do with creating a website?”

Finally, a response, “It taught you how to do the impossible!”

Ya’ know, I couldn’t argue with that one so my only retort was, “Now what?”

“Ask,” was the response but I knew what the real message was. I was to ask Ava’s friends who live and work in the performance industry in Las Vegas. So, I did and they all were excited for me to jump into this turbulent, bottomless task.

I started beating the drums and doing my research. I discovered that Las Vegas has a suicide rate fifty percent (50%) higher than the national average and has over eighteen bipolar therapy clinics. I obviously needed to start right there in Las Vegas.

My daughter had over 150 professional performer friends show up for her Las Vegas memorial and more would have been there but couldn’t because they had to work. Ava  was so very loved there and not a single person knew of her pain or despair save me. That’s quite a daunting task for one person and I didn’t want another friend, family or loved one to feel like there wasn’t a better decision for them to make or website to go like those my daughter visited her last night.

From her Memorial service in Las Vegas

From her Memorial service in Las Vegas

After returning home, I sat down at the computer and outlined the design of the website in forty-five pages in thirty days. I turned it over to a friend of Ava’s who was a web designer in New York during the .com days and she said it was the most detailed design she had ever seen. I didn’t want there to be any confusion about what I was “told” it was going to look like! After all, I was just following orders…very specific ones at that. This website HAD to be personal because there is NOTHING about suicide that isn’t personal. It had to be called “Ava’s Corner,” it needed to be entertaining and it had to be launched on December 2, 2012.

With the love and support of her friends, we launched the Avascorner.org website in Las Vegas on December 2, 2012. We had performers and live feed for Ava’s friends all over the world to connect with us and Avascorner.org. It was the fledgling version of the vision I was given but it was a beginning. Later, my reliable third party reminded me the reason for that date (12/02/2012) because there are more suicides in December than any other month of the year…one very close to home.

We incorporated Ava’s Corner, Inc. right before the kickoff event in 2012 and we’ve just celebrated our first year and we are getting feedback from friends and strangers alike that we’re making a difference. We got our 501(c)3 IRS certification as a non-profit public charity, which I filed myself…a true miracle as  I hate dealing with any kind of government related paperwork; however, once again, I was told I could handle it. And, I did.

We have an all volunteer Board of Directors who have experience in finance, website building, law and professional performer…all the elements needed to make a team who loved Ava and who see the vision of saving lives and educating people in what I call brain malfunctions like Bipolar Disorders (BD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as Ava had, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and others.

Ava singing

Ava singing

Our broader Mission Statement:  “Ava’s Corner is a website constructed to encourage healing through creative energy and shedding light into the dark corners of mental disorders.

All friends or family of those suffering from brain disorders are welcome to utilize our education and support tools as well as participate in Ava’s Corner forums.”

We’re actively raising money to catapult this site into the final phase wherein members can create their own cyber community of support, freely expressing their pain through art, writing, videos, singing or other artistic endeavors as my daughter did. We have posted all the ways she found to cope until she couldn’t overcome all the negative influences of being bullied at home and at work. We had her thirty-five years, six months and ten days and we are all blessed to have had this remarkable, loving woman in our lives.

Ava's last painting from late February, 2012. Fitting that it has stars and an exhausted blue being. She was all that...a star and an exhausted blue being.

Ava’s last painting from late February, 2012. Fitting that it has stars and an exhausted blue being. She was all that…a star and an exhausted blue being.

There are other remarkable, loving people in our lives who need help and we at Ava’s Corner, Inc. and avascorner.org hope we can be there for them worldwide before another year goes by.

Ava was not just my daughter but my best friend and confidant. I have struggled valiantly these past two years to regain functions prior to March 2, 2012 as rote. I suffered from stroke-like symptoms of loss of vocabulary, thought processing, coping and more. I have only recently felt “alive” again…actually on the wee hours of December 7, 2013. I guess I’ll find out some day why that day other than the day this article was due…or that Ava visited me that morning and gave me clarity. Yes, Ava comes to me but that’s being saved for a book.

So, as I said, pain and joy, joy and pain can’t be separated when you have lived, loved and listened when making a best decision. It’s something that comes directly from the soul.

Jennifer, hit the ground running. She adored her big brother, Carl, at their first meeting in the hospital when she was born. Carl watched his baby sister raise up on her two palms and turned her head from side to side as if telling everyone to turn off the bright lights! He was so tickled by this that he ran into the recovery room to report to me. His eyes gleamed as he told all about what she looked like as if I hadn’t seen the baby at all!

Carl loved to fish better than anything and Ava loved her brother more. Here's Carl with his prized catfish.
Carl loved to fish better than anything and Ava loved her brother more. Here’s Carl with his prized catfish.

Carl and Jennifer laughed and screamed and played like two puppies…joyful as if to have found each other again during their first eighteen months as siblings. Everything started to unravel the day Carl’s step-father attended a meeting at the school. Carl was not the cookie cutter kid. He didn’t fit a mold for many reasons and the DeKalb County school system wanted to test him every year he was in their system but couldn’t find anything “wrong” with him.

In the seventh grade, a very “special” county worker tested Carl and reported to me that Carl just didn’t fit in at school. She reported he dressed too nicely, had his hair cut too short and was known as “preacher” because he carried his Bible to school.

My blue eyed baby...Carl around age 8.
My blue-eyed baby…Carl around age 8.

Outraged by the audacity of this county employee, I shared this report with Carl’s step-father. He went berserk and demanded a meeting with the Principal. Fool that I was, I thought he was finally being supportive and acting like the father he should have been these last two years and a half years.

After their meeting that fateful Thursday, Carl’s step-father decided Carl should go to military school on Sunday in the spring of his twelfth year. His step-father totally failed to understand Carl’s sensitivity and artistic brilliance.

Carl about the time his step-father decided he needed military school.
Carl about the time his step-father decided he needed military school.

I had dated boys who had attended military school and thought the disciplinary training might be good for Carl even though my heart was broken over this outrageous unilateral decision.  And, although I was known to be a strong, independent woman, I felt powerless to stop him. I’d never lived with a man other than my father and older brothers and didn’t have a clue on how to usurp my own authority over a man much less a husband. All I knew to do was pray the Lord would slam the doors shut to prevent my determined husband’s decision, confident he could never come up with the money necessary to carry out his plan. Even years of  therapy didn’t give me the tools I needed for this nightmare. So, on the third day, Carl and his step father flew to the Florida winter camp of the military school designated to train and mold him for the next three months and twenty days.

Carl called me often…crying from the terrible hazing and unfairness of the system. As soon as the boys relocated to Georgia, Jennifer and I would drive to spend every visitors day with Carl trying to encourage him to learn from the experience and be his cheerleader assuring him he would be back home. It was after one of those visits that I came back home knowing things were getting ready to change. I had my spine back and wasn’t going to be bullied by her husband any more.

But, it was too late for Carl. He came home an angry, bitter thirteen year old. Sadly, military school had taught Carl about hazing, abandonment, drinking and drugs. Not a single therapy session gave me the tools to handle this conundrum. I ended the ruse of a marriage to save my children but Carl’s psychological damage was done and Jennifer’s was just beginning to show at a whole new level.

In those days, there were no resources readily available like today. Everything learned was done by hundreds of hours spent on the phone begging strangers for help, resources and/or funds. My fight for the mental health Carl needed over the next six years included therapists, psychiatrists, counselors, attorneys, psychological testing, law suits against local School Board, numerous unproductive meetings and red knees from praying but every single time I thought I had the answer, a tragedy would strike from outer space and topple all the hard work into ashes. Hope was hard to come by but it was all I had. Carl’s drug exploration continued until the day he disappeared when he was just two months past his eighteenth birthday in 1984 when there were no resources for missing young adults.

Jennifer was six years old the last time she saw Carl. He was celebrating his eighteenth birthday at their grandmother’s house. He was getting his driver’s license, a car and his freedom. There was a big fight and he got into his car.

Jennifer ran outside to tell him she loved him but hesitated. He drove off not knowing he was leaving the six-year-old forever blaming herself for his disappearance sure that if she had told him how much she loved him as she intended to do, he would have stayed and been safe. No amount of words, therapy or assurances ever convinced her otherwise.

The last picture taken of the three of us in March, 1984. Twenty-eight years later, Ava was gone too in that same month.
The last picture taken of the three of us in March, 1984. Twenty-eight years later, Ava was gone too in that same month.

The only thing consistent about Jennifer’s father was his absence…emotional and physical. Jennifer’s losses were coupled with challenges she had from birth.  Days old, she began displaying severe separation anxiety. When I tried to take a shower or do anything without Jennifer glued to my hip, she would cry so hard she would hyperventilate. This little one was presenting challenges the pediatricians would categorize as spoiling her. They didn’t know anything about mental health…only physical.

Washing her hair was like pure torture to her. She screamed so loudly the first time I washed her hair that the neighbors came running to see what was wrong with her. They saw me holding her closely while she was on the kitchen counter next to the sink, my hand gently messaging her head while the water trickled. I was as stunned as they were. I didn’t know until after her death that this is one of the symptoms of Asperger Syndrome in children!

Dropping Jennifer off at pre-K was always a traumatic experience to her. She would stand at the windows watching as I drove off as if it was going to be the last time she ever going to see me.

Out of compassion and understanding of this child’s challenges, I spent all my non-working time with her trying to give her the love and support she needed. But, Jennifer’s need for love was insatiable. There was no way I could fill the void Jennifer’s father and brother left behind but I sure tried to give her lots of love and stability because I discovered early on that her brain didn’t process like most and I didn’t know anything else to do.

From past experience, I knew the public school system didn’t know how to deal with an intelligent child who couldn’t “fit” into a box so I moved back into Mom’s so Jennifer could attend the private Christian school affiliated with our church. I kept waiting for Jennifer to settle into the school but even these teachers weren’t trained to know how to deal with a child who didn’t fit into the mold.

The therapist Jennifer had been seeing since age ten was seeing wasn’t any help either. I withdrew her before the seventh grade and home schooled this hormonal hellcat for the next year. As Jennifer progressed through puberty, she resented her body changes…willing it not to happen. She told me she didn’t want to be a woman. It was during those pre-teen years that she started talking about suicide. Jennifer’s psychiatrist didn’t know what to do with her either never giving a hint of treatment or diagnosis.

In the hope of getting Jennifer outside of herself, I had kept her enrolled in many activities from modeling, modern dance to ballet to competitive ice skating since she was two years old. It was one of Jennifer’s older friends at the ice skating rink when Jennifer was eleven years old who mentioned to me that she, herself, had a chemical imbalance and that it might just be what was wrong with Jennifer. I didn’t know what that meant and, in 1990, there wasn’t much available about it…no internet or resources at the public library about this brain malfunction. What I did learn was it was possible for the brain to fail to produce the right chemicals for the brain to process information properly. That sure sounded like it might be the answer but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just drugging Jennifer as none of her therapists ever mentioned this disorder. Drugging my daughter for everyone else’s convenience wasn’t going to happen. I wanted to make sure that Jennifer’s demanding, narcissistic, clingy tendencies weren’t due to me needing to be more or do more.

The summer of 1991 was tragic. Jennifer was involved with an unitarian youth group who allowed the thirteen-year-old Jennifer to associate with an eighteen-year-old pedophile. After the pedophile raped her, Jennifer dissociated for the first time. She became more outwardly angry at me and more inward in her behavior until she attempted  suicide just six days before my father died. Knowing how much Jennifer hated doctors and needles, I was sure the Emergency Room visit would surely jerk her out of her strange behavior. Strangely, it fed the monster which always needed more and more attention. I now know that she was exhibiting symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

It was time. Medication was in order. First the doctors tried Prozac but to no avail; they doubled and tripled it but nothing helped her chronic, severe depression. They tried every anti-depressant available but nothing worked. In fact, her depression got worse.

It was 1992 when I purchased our first home (with no job, no money or reliable income) through an elderly gentleman who owned hundreds of rental houses. I  did all the paperwork for a seller finance and presented it to him; I could because I had been in the real estate legal business for many years. The owner was very happy to help us realize our dream. However, being in this house would mean  Jennifer would have to attend public school. The good news, as I told her, was she could start off with a clean slate. No one knew she’d been raped or knew any of her past. It would be up to her to share what she wanted. She could just be fourteen years old and try out for team sports at the new high school while the doctors played with her meds.

Public school proved to be a disaster for Jennifer as it was for Carl. During the summer of 1992, Jennifer started acting strangely aggressive and defensive. I asked her to sit down and talk with me about what she was going through. We realized she was steeling herself for going back to the public school. I couldn’t put her through it. I searched our new community for a private school to put her in and there was one. All I needed was six thousand dollars. It might as well have been six million as I was still self-employed. Somehow, I made it happen and everything rocked along for the next school year and summer until the wheels started falling off the wagon again.

I registered her for the private school again because I had no direction from any of her therapists, the school or my counselors. Plus, I needed to find work. I couldn’t keep this up no matter how much I wanted to be home for her. In March, 1993, I went back to work full-time. In May, Jennifer called me to say she was going to kill someone at school and then herself.  I walked out of work without even telling anyone what had happened.

When I got home, she was sitting in her room holding a knife totally dissociated. I couldn’t reach her at all. I cried and phoned everyone I knew to call…therapists, doctors, family, school. Finally, my only choice was to call the police. Here I was again but, this time with my daughter. I hadn’t had any good experiences with getting help from the police before so I didn’t have any good expectations with this scene either.

I hadn’t had any good experiences with getting help from the police before so I didn’t have any good expectations with this scene either. She was on large doses of Zoloft. She was now sixteen years old. The most amazing thing happened when the police came. They were wonderful! They spent hours talking with her, helping her reconnect with reality. We dodged another bullet but not for long.

By the time she was seventeen, I had gone as far as I could go without having another nervous breakdown. I was drowning. I had to keep my own head above water if I wanted to help this strong-willed, independent, recalcitrant, self-destructive, narcissistic, chronically depressed, drop out teen. She thought she had all the answers and, by now, was wanting emancipation. I felt I had done all I could do and the world would have to finish raising her.

Every weekend for six weeks, I sold everything in our home. I rented the house out and moved in with a friend. She asked what she was supposed to do and I told her to call her father because I didn’t have any more answers to her questions. For the first time in her life, her father was there for her even if it was for selfish reasons. His mother had recently died and he needed someone to pack up her belongings and label the boxes. She could move into her other grandmother’s house if she was willing to do the work. Jennifer moved in and turned that quiet neighborhood on it’s ears with her tattooed friends and late night partying. After a respite, I could give her a helping hand up as long as she was helping herself.

It was late 1994 when I heard her sing opera aria for the first time as we packed her up to move. I couldn’t believe my ears. She was blessed! She needed to be learning music. It had always been her passion from birth. It was the only thing that would calm her down as a fretful baby or as a disturbed teen. She delved herself into all kinds of music. She never discriminated…heavy metal bands, hair bands of the 80’s, Mozart, big band sounds, opera, jazz, blues…everything. It was then that I told her I would provide for her living expenses (except for gas, car insurance and spending cash) as long as she obtained her GED and registered for a full schedule at the community college toward a degree…any degree. She now had a dream and her private lessons started immediately as she obtained her GED and moved forward with her college goals.

The next ten years were wrought with psychiatrists sleeping through sessions, group therapy, medications, breakdowns, suicide attempts, failed treatments, successes, failures, highs, lows, research into what was wrong with her and, finally, marriage.

It was a therapist who finally diagnosed Ava right before her marriage as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). She has a diary full of documented moods, thoughts and fears. She was very fearful…of everything and nothing. It is one of the most prevalent common denominator of this brain malfunction. When she was diagnosed, there wasn’t much research about this condition.

In the meantime, her psychiatrist was treating her for Bipolar Disorder with antidepressants and not even addressing her prior diagnosis at all. I have several family members in the mental health care industry in a range of jobs from admissions to certified therapists to college professors. They all say the same thing. Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis is one that has no chemical treatment and, until recently, little therapy treatments with any substantial result. The “professionals” appear to all have the attitude there is absolutely nothing which can be done to help people with this disorder.

There is hope, however, due to an ever-increasing diagnosis of this brain malfunction. There is a treatment called “Dialectical Treatment” which helps. It doesn’t have to end the way Ava chose to.

Ava was an opera singer in Las Vegas (an unforgiving town) married to the wrong person. She was bullied at work by her co-workers and at home by her estranged husband. She was exhausted from a grueling two year, accelerated college schedule trying to finish her degree in vocal performance so she could have financial freedom and all that would mean for her future.

She chose, however, to take advantage of the perfect storm. All her closest support members were in the Emergency Room dealing with life threatening issues. Friends in Vegas were oblivious of her despair or intentions as is customary with BPD.

Ava took her life on the night of March 23, 2012. Since then, I’ve been caught up in a tsunami of grief and work.

It was during my drive back to Vegas just a few short weeks after her death to attend to Ava’s final affairs that I was “told” to create a website to help others. Not having any experience in such matters caused me great confusion about the directive. I argued and negotiated. I was “told” to “just ask.” So I did. I asked all her friends in Vegas and they immediately responded “YES!”

At that time, I didn’t know that the suicide rate in Las Vegas was fifty percent higher than the national average.

With the help of Ava’s closest friends I now call my chirrens and through nothing short of many miracles, AvasCorner.org (AvasCorner.net and AvasCorner.com) was kicked off on December 2, 2012, just in time for the holidays…the month that has the highest suicide rate of the year.

I designed it and professional volunteers put the vision into action. Ava’s Corner, Inc. is a Georgia corporation with 501(c)3 non-profit public charity status with the IRS. We are a grassroots project to change lives giving them new ways of thinking about therapy through Art, Music, Yoga, Massage and more. We want to help our visitors find hope. The mental health industry may have given up on our loved ones with brain malfunctions, but AvasCorner.org (.net & .com)  hasn’t. We’re here for them.

http://www.avascorner.org/

I have said it before and I’ll say it over and over because I’m a break the rules kinda’ girl when it comes to my retirement years…just in case there was some confusion ’bout that! I travel outside the box, write that way and, now, I’ve written a website to help Las Vegas performers and artists of all persuasions to find outlets and resources in a way that everyone says it shouldn’t be! Oh well. I was TOLD how the Home Page  was supposed to look in early April as I drove back to Las Vegas to handle Ava’s final affairs. And, as  I travelled with her small urn to the redwood forest where more was revealed and so forth as we drove through this great country into Montreal and back home again. I have followed very specific instructions. So if any of you web techies go nuts over the design, keep quiet! But if you have a valid point, I’m interested…always! And if you don’t believe in a greater power, you’re just making it harder on yourself than you need to!

So, here’s the latest. As of last weekend, we had no entertainers lined up and, as of today, we’ll be packed with a wide variety of grateful performers and artists all interested in helping to raise awareness of Vegas’s horrific suicide statistics because they have been personally touched by it in their families, friends or co-workers. All it takes is knowledge and perseverence and getting the right help in time.

This website has resources specific to bipolar, borderline personality disorder, the available facilities and other more alternative methods of healing like art, music and yoga therapy and to encourage friends and family not to be afraid of the bright light that MUST be aimed in the dark corners of brain malfunctions of this type because I think the statistics prove out more suicides result from these disorders.

My beautiful daughter wasn’t properly diagnosed as BPD until she met a psychologist, Andy, in late 2005, even though she had been seeing psychiatrist, therapists and psychologists since she was ten. However, the leading psychiatrist who handled Ava’s medications and therapy was treating her for Bipolar because that was easier. That’s my conclusion after interviewing people in the industry who automatically shove BPD’s under the rug as not being treatable. Her doctor was so highly revered in Georgia that we couldn’t get second opinions from anyone after they learned of his involvement. She had to be hospitalized to take her off the cocktail of six meds he had her taking in 2005. She continued to see him when in Atlanta and he continued to give her meds. It was the easy way out. I trusted this learned man. If you’re a parent of a bipolar or BPD child, arm yourself with knowledge. Our website provides that with links to reliable resources of information.

As this fledgling website grows, so will city speciic therapy alternatives but Ava’s Corner can be used now everywhere to work on that learning curve regardless of where you live. But for now, we want to help one family, one person, one life change for the better because of our one-stop-shopping approach to valuable information.

By the way, I’ve been “told” it will go global to buckle my seatbelt. So, watch along with me to see how it goes!

Ava’s Corner, inc. Mission Statement bears repeating:

“Ava’s Corner is a website constructed to encourage healing through creative energy shedding light into the dark corners of mental disorders. Artists of all genres can come to the Avascorner.org forum to voice their suffering through art, music, Videography, photography or poetry.

All friends or family of those suffering from brain disorders are welcome to utilize education, support tools and participate in Ava’s Corner forums.

These resources include broad scopes of therapy and self-expression to encourage loved ones to get the help they need.”

Here’s the press release that went out today.

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Donna Friend (404) 313-3707

avascornerorg@yahoo.com

NEW RESOURCE OFFERS HELP, SUPPORT TO CREATIVE PERFORMERS —Singer Elisa Furr, Comedian Penny Wiggins headline Dec. 2 AvasCorner.com Launch Party— Las Vegas, November 27, 2012—

On December 2, AvasCorner.com brings a much-needed suicide prevention resource to Las Vegas’s creative community, and in true Vegas style, the site launch party celebrates the performers it’s designed to support.

The site is the creative labor of Donna Friend, whose daughter Ava Kaufman committed suicide earlier this year in her Vegas home. Like so many performers, Ava—an opera singer, animal activist, and graduate of UNLV—struggled with depression and borderline personality disorder that she hid beneath a confident veneer.

“After Ava passed away, I learned that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for people between the ages of 18 and 65,” says Friend. “I wanted Ava’s death to change that. And that’s why we’re launching Ava’s Corner.”

Members of the media are invited to attend the AvasCorner.com launch party on Sunday, December 2, 2012 at Olive Mediterranean Grill & Hookah Bar (3850 E. Sunset Rd.) from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. RSVP to Donna Friend with your name and the name of your media outlet at avascornerorg@yahoo.com by November 30.

The website reveal and walkthrough begins at 6 p.m.; come early for appetizers and a jazz ensemble. The entertainment starts at 7 p.m., and features Ava’s friends in the Las Vegas community, including local performers singer Elisa Furr, comedian Penny Wiggins, singer Kelly Vohnn, and musician Charly Urso.

The website will offer a safe place for Las Vegas’s creative community to share their struggles through conversation and creative works, creating a support network to remind depressed or suicidal performers that they are not alone. The site also provides resources, from suicide prevention hotlines for severely depressed visitors to local listings for music and art therapy. People who suspect their friends or family may be struggling with personality disorders or depression can find information to help them better understand and support their loved ones. Members who struggle with bullying or on-the-job harassment can find support tools and resources. The heart of the site, though, is the ability to share with other people who are struggling with the same issues.

“AvasCorner.com is a safe haven, reminding its members and visitors that you are never as alone as you think you are and as Ava felt she was in her last days. That awful night, Ava couldn’t remember that hundreds of loving friends would have done anything to help her. At AvasCorner.com, you don’t have to phone a friend if you don’t want to; you can reach out to any venue on this site to find hope and comfort,” explains Friend.

Friend started work on AvasCorner.com with a small group of committed volunteers, many of whom had known her daughter in Las Vegas and, like Friend, felt inspired to build a meaningful tribute to Ava’s memory. It felt only natural to launch AvasCorner.com in Las Vegas, the city where Ava, who had battled depression for much of her life, found her “tribe” for the first time. The fact that Las Vegas residents are fifty percent more likely to commit suicide than other U.S. residents and that so many of them pursue the same creative passions Ava embraced were also factors in the decision.

“Without performers, Vegas is just another desert,” Friend says.”

Ava’s Corner Logo – her own 1993 art of the lion and the wolf. Both significant to her.

From her Memorial service in Las Vegas

Kinda’ weird how Thanksgiving comes on the eighth month anniversary of Ava’s leaving us but it does make me pause and try to find the silver lining in the message. The easiest one to find is that a handful of dedicated individuals came together at the first calling to help build, create, engineer and formulate what is going to be an amazing tool for hurting creative people like Ava in Las Vegas (and beyond) to find comfort in knowing others who feel as they do are there listening and caring. Avascorner.org kicks off on Sunday, December 2, 2012 in Las Vegas thanks to these incredibly giving, loving, pay-it forward kinda’ folks.

The harder part in finding “thanksgiving” is the loss of my best friend and daughter who alternated from being a brilliant light in the night to the darkest of dark. But, I would take all the dark, heavy nightmare stuff back in a blink if I she were here again. Did I get exhausted and frustrated? Absolutely! But, somehow God gave this impatient person, flawed in many ways, the unconditional love that enveloped my soul in the form of my shooting star, Ava.

They say when you see a star that it’s really already gone. It’s true.

After Ava left, I stood on my deck looking up at the black velvet night sky where God placed twinkling diamonds for us to enjoy. There was one in particular that was brightly flickered in a seemingly meaningful pattern. It was, on that night, anointed Ava’s Star.

Every night since coming back home from Vegas in July, as Montana did her final “business” for the night, I would talk to the star and feel a connection with Ava. A real connection like that umbilical cord which was never severed that we both felt while she was here.

Recently, I couldn’t find her star in the sky. I knew it had taken its autumnal course away from its normal spot, but that knowledge gave me little comfort. I stood frozen as I examined the sky hoping to find Ava’s Star. My final logic (after some panic) was that it was probably too early and that I just needed to look again when it was darker.

As Montana has me trained to take her out when she rings the camel bells hanging from the door knob (that Ava gave her because who else would give a dog camel bells for Christmas to train their owner but Ava),  I took her out upon her signal. This time, the sky was black/blue velvet but I still had trouble finding Ava’s Star.

I stared at the western sky trying (in vain) to recognize the surrounding stars. I obviously was looking too high because, just then, a shooting star blazed from the spot where I was looking right down to the tree-lined horizon leading me right to it. I probably can count on my fingers how many shooting stars I’ve seen in my life…maybe even on one hand.

I proceeded to try to memorize the surrounding stars so I could find her even though she’ll be moving again.

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find her when I got to Vegas but now I know I just need to look westward for a shooting star. Ava, I love you forever…my very own star.

Look for Avascorner.org and I pray you will never need it nor know anyone depressed enough to need this site. However, it’ll be there waiting for the one life we hope to save.

Happy Thanksgiving.