Flying into Healing


V has to be returned to his mother today. That’s a 10-hour roundtrip for his father to drive so his father’s friend said, “Not a problem. I’ll fly you—four hours tops.” And so V—six years old, twinkly blue eyes, blond hair, dimples—will get his first view of Earth from low altitude.

I studied for my pilot’s license and never flew off the Earth without learning a life-lesson before I returned. One day the lesson was that, from altitude, cows and tombstones are undifferentiated. Another day it was simply that it’s okay to be tired and need to return to Earth. I was young and had to learn that.

V will be flying out of an FBO (fixed base operator) that has a poster that is a photograph taken at medium altitude from a light plane looking down on a small city surrounded by green countryside. The caption is “It’s an ant-eat-ant world out there.” From that point of view, people are not big, complicated and problematic, and the world is green, rolling endlessly into more green. It’s the God’s-eye view: it is man who makes boundaries and fights over them. God made one whole world, indivisible.

In 2001, I called my psychologist and psychiatrist to have breakfast with me on inpatient psychiatry. I told them that I was taking doctors prescribing drugs out of the middle of my life. Henceforth, my health care decisions would be made directly between me and God. If He wanted me to get better then He would show me the way. If He wanted me to dead then I was ready to meet Him on His terms.

In the past thirteen years, God has led me on an extraordinary journey of healing and suffering, truth and justice, good writing and growing in love.

The suffering has been withdrawing from drugs, living with the permanent physical damage caused by antidepressants, and the horrors of the American medical industry, which refuses to admit their drugs do damage or to learn anything about how to heal the damage. When confronted by the unknown, the American medical industry closes its eyes, makes moral judgments instead of medical observations, and acts with meanness: it is the patient’s fault because the patient is a bad person. And no matter if their treatment does no good or actually causes damage, they get paid.

The healing has been entirely in the hands of caring people who believe that the body will heal itself if the treating professional just removes the blockages. They really care about the patient and frequently engage in pleasant conversations about God, medicine and Syracuse University basketball while they are applying healing techniques: Yoga, Swedish massage, Reiki, psychotherapy, physical therapy, lymph massage, LED light therapy, homeopathy, craniosacral therapy, chiropractic adjustment and acupuncture. Medicare and Medicaid will not pay for alternative therapies but the health care providers, when they find out that you are really poor, will treat you for free or a substantially reduced cost. Their primary commitment is to your health, not to their wealth.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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