Monday, December 6, 2010

Letters from Paul

Paul was constantly writing letters to his girlfriend while he was at home in Manhattan Beach and she was in New York City. Here are a couple he wrote in February 1996. Though he says he mailed them, I don't know if he ever did. He wrote them in long-hand, so if he mailed them, he must have written out a copy.



February 26, 1996


Hi, I have the taste of peaches and strawberries in my mouth. I haven’t eaten any lately, I’m just imagining. I don’t know why, but I associate these fruits with you.


Actually there are some peaches in the bowl upstairs but I don’t want to eat any until I’m next to you. I’m looking at a photograph that you took of yourself. The photo shows you laying on your couch with some light shining in from the window. I love this photograph because the combination of your creativity and physical beauty is breathtaking. The sun here is nice, I like to walk on the beach, and I’m also meditating. I know that you’re happy in New York. Please stay strong. I love you.

February 27, 1996
Hi. I’m looking out at the clouds and they are dense and gray. There is almost no wind and the air is hanging in a humid mass over the neighborhood. I feel closed in here: my only light comes from myself and the awareness that I am constantly expanding my consciousness of the world around me. When I go to sleep at night, I feel you laying next to me. When I wake in the morning, I wonder when I’ll see you. The garden outside reminds me of your innate talent for growing things. I now realize that I have learned more about myself from you than from anyone else. I’ll probably be here in LA for a while: my mania has calmed significantly, but it’s going to take some time for my mental state to return to normal. You sound lovely. I can’t wait to see you again. I love you.


PS: I’m sending these letters now (on Sunday). Since the Saturday evening of my last breakdown I’ve been troubled by my inability to communicate my feelings on the phone. I wanted to send you something to read and to hold on to. Please be strong and love yourself. 


If only this next sucicide prevention and education organization had existed when Paul was first diagnosed as bipolar. 

The JED  Foundation, founded in 2000 by Phil and Donna Satow after they lost their 20-year-old son, Jed, to suicide.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, and untreated mental health problems prevent thousands more students from graduating every year. The Jed Foundation’s programs, guided by an expert board of mental health professionals and target students, parents, colleges, the medical community, and the general public, are designed to reduce the rate of suicide and the prevalence of emotional distress among college students.

To achieve this end, the organization collaborates with the public and leaders in higher education, mental health, and research to produce and advance initiatives that:
  •       Decrease the stigma surrounding emotional disorders and increase help-seeking in    the college student population  
  •       Increase understanding of the warning signs of suicide and the symptoms of emotional disorders among college students 
  •       Build awareness of the prevalence of suicide and emotional disorders among college students 
  •       Strengthen campus mental health services, policies, and programs

 For more information about the JED Foundation go to:
http://www.jedfoundation.org

2 comments:

Janice Phelps Williams said...

What a lovely writer your son, Paul, was. His spirit shines through in these two examples. I am so sorry that the various systems were not there for him, were not enough, were not sufficient, were not ... whatever it would have taken to have been enough, if that were even possible. He had a beautiful soul and at least we can know him through your book...
Peace,
Janice

Madeline Sharples said...

Thanks, Janice. Yes, he was a wonderful writer and artist besides his skills as a musician.

Unfortunately in the last few years his beautiful soul didn't shine very often -- especially through to his family. And he expressed himself most tenderly through letters to his girlfriend rather than face to face.

Hope you have a wonderful time in Florida.
Madeline