An Introduction

Welcome To A Jackals Voice. The intention of this blog is to be an outlet for myself and others on topics that are not generally discussed...

Monday, 21 August 2017

Dealing With Unexpected Loss and What it Can Do to a Child. Guest post by Jay Chirino

I still remember my grandfather’s favorite rocking chair, one of a pair that he and Grandma used to utilize almost daily. On the hottest summer afternoons, they would take the red-oak rockers out to the front porch, to enjoy the breeze that flowed through the high ceilings of the turn-of-the-century house. As the blue of day gave birth to a fiery afternoon, they would gently rock and talk about their days, discuss current events and enjoy watching me as I played with my toys by their feet. Once I got big enough to ride a tricycle, they would sit out there and watch me go back and forth on the sidewalk, to make sure I wouldn’t pedal too far away.
My grandparents got married young, and even though they didn’t have much in the way of material possessions, they loved each other with that love that has no surrender. Their biggest challenge came when they took their son to the hospital with a relentless cough that had lasted for days. The doctor on call ordered one of the nurses to put the one-year-old in an incubator to try to stabilize his breathing, but an unnoticed defect in the machine resulted in the child getting less oxygen, and a few hours later my grandparents were stricken with the grief of losing their baby boy.
Grandma had to receive some psychiatric attention after that and was put on a medication regimen to keep her stable. Grandpa didn’t; his regimen became hard liquor, lots of it, every day after work. He would never miss a session, he couldn’t. A couple of decades later their first-born daughter was getting married and promptly after giving birth to another baby, a boy that, especially to Grandpa, deeply reminded them of the one they had lost all those years before. Suddenly they had a second chance at experiencing what they had been denied before, but along with the gift also came an overwhelming fear, one that made Grandpa start drinking more than what he already was.
I always remember him as a happy person. As a matter of fact, if there is one thing that I remember well about him is his smile, and the way his eyes squinted when he grinned. Every day after punching out at work, he would walk to the convenience store across the street and pick up a knick-knack, something that wouldn’t allow him to get home empty handed. I waited eagerly by the door, anxious to see what he would bring me that day. He always delivered; he never failed me once.
Until one day.
I still remember asking Mom why Grandpa was taking so long; I had been waiting by the door for a while now. Even though I was only four-and-a-half years old, I very clearly remember that she sat me on her lap, and with a somber tone she told me that Grandpa was not coming home that night. When I asked the reason why, she simply said that he had an impromptu work trip he had to go on, and they didn’t know exactly when he would be coming back. That was it, that’s where she left it at.
Day after day I stood by the door on the early afternoons, eagerly hoping to see Grandpa cross the street with a brown bag in his hand and his signature smile in his face, rushing to walk in and embrace me, but he never did. For years I was still convinced that he would be coming home, until I wasn’t so sure anymore.
My parents, knowing how close he and I were, thought it was better to shield me from the sad reality that my grandfather had passed away from a massive heart attack while sleeping. He was only forty-eight. They thought that if they gave me enough time, I, being so young, would probably forget most of the things I had gone through before I was five years old. But I never did, not Grandpa, I never forgot him.
After years of unfounded expectations, I finally demanded the truth from my parents, but not before developing serious symptoms of anxiety and convincing myself that not only Grandpa had abandoned us, but that it was somehow my fault that he had. I was nine years old when I learned the truth, and coincidentally the same age when I experienced my first serious depressive episode. After that things got shaky, and as the years went by the depression led me to an addiction problem that almost killed me at one point in time.
I’m not saying that all my emotional problems stemmed from the fact that I was denied a simple, yet harrowing truth, but I am convinced that not being able to properly process my grandfather’s death definitely influenced my emotional issues early on. Although I do not blame my parents for making an uninformed decision, I do wish there would have been more resources at the time that would have helped them deal with such an unexpected and painful situation.
Today I am sober and happy with the life I lead. As a father now, I do not take for granted what I learned through my own experiences, and I put great effort in keeping a strong line of honest communication between my son and me.  There are many topics that are difficult to talk about, especially now that he is becoming a teenager, but we tackle them head on, together, and we work through them. I don’t hide my weaknesses from him; he knows both my strengths and my flaws. In return, he has no shame in sharing his with me. This allows me to really know what is going on, to be able to give him the appropriate help.

Sometimes, in my dreams, I go back to being that little kid, eagerly waiting by the door for Grandpa to come home. Then I see him as he crosses the street, and smiling he opens his arms and runs to embrace me, happy to see me after returning from his long trip. He then whispers in my ear. “I am proud of you,” and I smile. Yes, I know. After everything, you would have definitely been proud of your grandson.
Bio: Jay Chirino is a writer and mental health advocate, soon to publish the novel The Flawed Ones, a in depth exploration into the struggles of mental illness through the eyes of the patients. You can register to receive a free copy now at
Take a look at the Authors Page to learn more.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A Debate on Psychology vs Neurology

Welcome back to A Jackals Voice.
Today I would like to talk about the difference between Psychology and Neurology in terms of Mental Health. Now I am no doctor, but I have been doing a lot of reading into this subject due to my current condition (muscular spasms, vocal tics etc). In the time since I became ill I have seen both Neurologists and Psychiatrists, and whilst I still don't have a confirmed diagnosis, my current symptoms are categorized as Neurological. In spite of this, my psychological conditions still aggravate my symptoms, so whats the connection? This is what I would like to explore today.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Why do I write about Mental Illness?

Welcome back to A Jackals Voice.

Since I started this Blog back in January, I've shared a lot of my own experiences in regards to Mental Health and how it has effected my life. In fact, since I was made unable to work I've done more writing and research than I did at university (To be honest, I did most of my essays the day they were due so not really much of a comparison). Especially in terms of the topics I have been writing about. So today I just feel like sharing a bit about what has happened since I became ill.

At this point it's been almost ten months since I stopped working. There was a short period early on when medication enabled me to work a little, but eventually the pills couldn't keep my symptoms at bay anymore. To be clear I'm not just talking about my anxiety here, mainly about my still un-diagnosed condition that I now have. If I knew back then what I'd be spending my time doing now I doubt I'd have believed it. I don't know what prompted me to think about it, but I think it's very strange how quickly things can change.