Capture Your Memories
Sherry Joiner –Living A Life With Schizo-Affective Disorder - Lecturer in the Psyche Ward and In Our Own Voice Speaker for NAMI
When I was having trouble with mom’s suicide in my 40’s I dealt with my insecurities by sewing. I began with stitchery kits of flowers, sunsets, and Indian scenes. Mom loved to grow sunflowers in the Green District, a tiny suburb of Roseburg, Oregon. She gazed at the peach colored sunset and rocked back and forth on her old creaky rocker. She became an overnight Guru when she drove to Warm Springs Indian Reservation and dipped her toes into the mineral hot springs at the Kah- Nee- Ta Resort. It was then that mom boastfully announced to the world that she was a changed woman. These memories brought to mind the good thoughts I had of my mother.
In my 40’s I sewed buttons on my clothes as I tried to stay centered and in tune with myself. I also took an interest in dolls and brought my sewing experiences to another level. As I sewed, I regressed to my childhood in a healthy way. I remembered that when my sister and I were young, mom was a seamstress. She sewed roller skating and dance costumes for us and our dresses. A Singer sewing machine mended my doll clothes. When Christmas time rolled around one year mom hid two boxes in her bedroom closet from my sister and I and told us not to open the boxes. Of course, being young we didn’t listen to her and we cheated. We thought we were in a hide and seek game. The boxes toppled over our heads as we stood on chairs to retrieve them from the closet and what looked like the gift of a ballerina doll for me and black haired doll in rollers named Lu Lu for Diana, became a disappointment to the both of us. I got the Lu Lu doll and Diana, the ballerina Christmas morning. None the less, the ownership I placed of having a doll at the age of 7 was significant.
Upon mom’s passing, Wimpole Street Creations sold lamb and Miss Piggy doll bodies through their catalog. I filled out an order form and sent away for 20 of the critters. A White sewing machine, my brother’s gift to me when he died, aided me in my project. I made festive dresses and suits for the dolls each month of the year. There was a variety of costumes that I created. Valentine dolls, Fourth of July dolls with American flags, Roller skating dolls with sequenced outfits and toe-stop roller wheels, and dolls attending a wedding ceremony were among the many. As the dolls posed, I took a picture with a Kodak instant camera and sent their photos to a local print shop where a calendar was made. The title of the calendar being “Capture Your Memories.”
It was an endearing time. A time of forgiveness and healing. A time to understand my inner strengths. Through sewing I was able to come to terms with mom’s death and to recapture the positive memories of my mother. I found my base and fulfilled my present moment ambitions. As I acquired a new perspective on things and strengthened my mind, my days were no longer filled with precariousness and I had hope for a better tomorrow. “Capture your memories” became my favorite motto.

Author's Bio: 

I am living a life with scizo-affective disorder. To keep healthy I take prescribed medication and see doctors and a counselor monthly for my condition. I am a lecturer in the psyche wards for NAMI and an In Our Own Voice Speaker. I have spoken at universities and hospitals in Portland. I have been a Preschool teacher teaching children with ADHD, Autism, and Bipolar Disorder. As a certified nurse aide I helped patients that had Alzheimer's, Dementia, and Cancer. My article "Bringing Peace and Happiness to the Psyche Ward is published in the national publication of NAMI Voice Newsletter, Spring Edition 2013.