Category: The Blog of SamDoum Art - Blog Posts
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Hello all!

You know what? After careful consideration and deep prayer and many conversations with my Lord, I have decided that I will have to sit this one out for the 30 in 30 Challenge.

But don't be sad!!! I'm doing great, my family is doing great and no major incident has taken place in my life that is stopping from doing the challenge. Recently, however, I've just had an epiphany that time is short and that we can't predict the future and there are so many dreams and accomplishments that I have to bring to fruition. I've had some difficult years in my illness, battling schizophrenia, and things had gotten so bad at some point that I couldn't even read and comprehend what I was reading, and worst of all I couldn't even pray, no matter how hard I tried. Yes, the voices were that loud, and yes, they were that constant in my ears during those times. Every second, of every day, of every minute, of every hour, of every month, of every year, for a long time was spent in torture.

So folks, I've recently, since, had a couple years of good health, and as a result, I am seizing the day, and I am going back to my other first love: writing!

Well . . . , specifically going back to one book, titled, "If We Could Tape Record Our Thoughts."


This book is my life story. It is an autobiography written in diary format which chronicles my life from the ages of 19 to present. 19 years of age was a big event in my life, as that is when I first got diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. This book, I'm hoping will not only show others what it's like to live in the head of someone like me, but I am hoping that it will build understanding in the eyes of not only normal civilians, but in the eyes of those in certain medical professions as well. A doctor/ psychologist may study schizophrenia in college and may practice treating it in life, but he/she will never have firsthand experience with the illness until he/she goes through it him/herself. The problem, is, however, that so many like me, so many with my condition, cannot and will not ever be able to tell their stories, because they are so deeply rooted in their illnesses, so sickly, so suffering, so tortured, that they will never, because they can never fully be able to express it in a manner that others, yes, even doctors, will be able to fully understand. This book will not only tell you what a schizophrenic thinks, but WHY a schizophrenic thinks what they think, and how hallucinations feed into delusions and vice versa.

Now, this book is no text book, though it does touch on what causes the illness. However, it more importantly tells the story of one who suffers from it. And that is what I want to do. Therefore, It reads more like a novel than a text book: It reads this way, in order to take you on a human journey, to evoke emotion, and pain, and laughter, and joy: which are all things relatable to all human beings. Though we all suffer a different struggle, per se, we all share one struggle, called the human condition. We all know what pain is. We all no what suffering is. And if we've ever felt it once in our lives, we can easily sympathize, relate, empathize, and have compassion for ALL those who suffer and feel pain. And thus, I hope to bring everyone into the understanding of what a mentally ill person goes through. There is so much discrimination, hate, prejudice, and injustice inflicted on someone like me who has my diagnosis. It may not come full force, but it can be seen even in the most minute and subtle forms. How many of us have laughed and pointed our finger at that homeless stranger on the street, laughing out loud about how he or she talks out loud to themselves? How many of us have carelessly called someone "crazy" just because we couldn't understand their behaviors, mannerisms, and/or actions? And how many times have we wrongly judged criminals who have created crimes, only because their minds had been taken away from them, at the time of their crime? We are all guilty. Before, my illness, I even laughed too.  I was guilty too. I judged things which I simply could not understand. You've heard the expression:  ". . . Until you've walked a mile in my shoes  . . ." Well guess what? You can't just walk a mile in someone's shoes, you have to walk a LIFETIME, to FULLY understand them. And you should NEVER judge, what you cannot FULLY understand. These are the lessons that I've learned from my illness. And I've learned a lot. I've learned so much about myself and others, and I can easily sympathize with others, because I know suffering. Whenever I've come out of something, whenever I've come out of a moment of suffering, no matter how long the period, I find myself asking,  "Why me?" In fact I know we all find ourselves asking that very same question. But how many times do we actually answer our own question, and reply back to ourselves, " Why not me?" Maybe there is a lesson in all of this that God is trying to teach me. Maybe He's trying to show me something. Maybe He's trying to show me how to be more compassionate, but not only towards others, but ourselves?

Several years ago, and I won't go that deeply into the story (I'll save it for the book) I was discriminated by several people in the medical profession who did not think that I could be a good mother on account of my illness. Now my babies, my twins, were just born, and in fact they had not even came home from the hospital, before they were threatening to take them away from me on account of my diagnosis with paranoid schizophrenia. In fact, they said I would be neglectful, that I could not "protect them" (but do you know my very name ("Samara") means "Protector" in Arabic?) So they called CPS on me, and forced my babies into day care as soon as they were discharged from the hospital. It was a long battle and it was hell, but in the end they never took my babies away from me, though CPS stayed in my life for more than a year. And even though they threatened to take the babies away from me, though no actual neglect had ever occurred (I have all me and my babies medical records from the time of hospitalization through discharge, including the visiting log at the NICU- so they can't even say that I was neglectful in visiting them before they were released from the hospital).

Now what these people did was so wrong, and at times I even doubted myself. They doubted me, so I doubted myself. But God, The Original Child Protective Services, protected His child, and I am a child of God, and He protected me. Those people knew not what they did because they were ignorant. They did not know that a paranoid schizophrenic can and could raise a family. They did not know that despite my illness, and I've been suffering with it since I was 12 (though it went undiagnosed until I was 19) I have graduated not only from high school, but college. And that at both colleges, I attended, my grades were so good, good enough to earn me scholarships: A big scholarship (though only partial to RISD, my first college, and a big scholarship (though only partial) to RIT. One thing I know about myself is that I'm a fighter. I've been fighting from a very young age, living my life in what many would call extreme, tortured conditions, but despite it all, I've ALWAYS pulled through, not at the top, but pretty close to it. I've accomplished many things in my life that even many people without my illness, will never.

But despite all these things, I still doubted myself. Because these ignorant people had judged my future, before I even got the chance to live in it. And as a result, a part of me did too. But you see, I am only taking God's class. And no matter what anyone thinks about me, or what they think about how well I perform or WILL perform in life, only He, hands out the score. He is the only one with the credentials to judge me, because as Judge, He is All Knowing, and knows what it's like to walk a lifetime in my shoes.

But I myself, am not all knowing. So I doubted myself. But oooooh, how He tested me. Not to see if I would pass, for He already knew. He tested me, so that I could see if I would pass.

Shortly after the babies were born, I did get sick. And did suffer from a full blown schizophrenic episode, which I believe was partially brought on by the stress and wounds from CPS. But oh, how I took care of those babies. Again, oh how I fought! With voices yelling in my ears, at the highest volume, at times, threatening me, insulting me, threatening my family, I was scared for my life. Scared for my family! What would I do, I believed the voices and I believed they'd make good on their threats. I was terrified, sleep deprived, tortured, and suffering! But oh, how I fought! Despite my suffering, I cooked meals for my family, I fed bottles to my babies, I wiped wet and soiled hineys, I cradled them in my arms, while threats were being yelled in my ears, and no matter how much medication I took, the pain and agony would not stop for several years. But oooooh, I tell you, I was a good mom! No, I was not a good mom, I was a GREAT mom! I protected my children, I nurtured my children, I rocked my children in my arms, I bathed my children, I fed my children, and though at times, I couldn't make sense of the words I read, I even read to them. That is the life of a tortured schizophrenic. And that was my life for several years. Then the storm calmed and I looked up into the heavens and was able to find God there, where He called out, (only in my heart), “That My child was your test. And because of it you've been blessed." He opened my eyes to understanding and taught me compassion for myself, because never in my life had my illness gotten so bad where it had become impossible to read or even pray, or even, for many nights, sleep. Never in my life, has my illness been at its worst, and never in my life had I fought so hard through my illness. God showed me that I was a good mother, that despite the fact that many ignorant ones had judged my future before I got the chance to live in it, when my illness was at its worst, not even then, would I neglect my babies. I needed to see it for myself, I needed to live in my future, and I did, and He showed me the truth! Though they, and I, did not know my future, He did, and He not only showed it to me, but proved it to me! And one day, when He is ready, He will show and prove it to all those who were involved in that hellish day of when CPS was called on me. Now I am not Christian (I'm Jewish) but I can still appreciate the Christian teachings in the New Testament, in which Jesus states, that “All things done in the dark, will be brought to light." And one day, my friends, those individuals who poorly judged me will see themselves in the light. I already have, and I know God has too.

Believe it or not, that's the short version of that particular story and the full version, amongst other stories, will be in my book, "If We Could Tape Record Our Thoughts."

Now, because, I know where my mind can take me in my illness, and because I know that I am not invincible, that this could happen to me again, I would like to seize the day, and tell the story, my story in full form, for the rest of the month, and for however long it takes, as long as God will allow. So again, I will not be participating in the challenge, but I do offer this beautiful pink rose as a salute to all of the other artists who are. I hope you enjoy!

This pink rose is not for sale. It is a gift to myself, from me. This particular blog post is an important one to me, and for that reason, I will be hanging on to this particular painting, to commemorate the blessing, the gift of writing, not just the talent, but the ability to do so. Never take for granted what you have. And I don't mean material possessions. I'm talking about: people, talents, and abilities: Abilities like reading, writing, and prayer. Have you ever heard of someone who lost the ability to pray? It could happen. It happened to me. Prayer is a gift that should not be taken for granted. Spend your time here on earth wisely. Spend it in prayer, spend it with family, spend it with friends. Look up at the sky and see your gift of sight as a gift. Imagine if you could never see a sunset or a rainbow. Imagine if you could never again hear music. Yes, your ears are gifts too! Take nothing for granted, and pray and thank God for these gifts, and thank Him for the most important gift of all: Prayer.

'Til later, my fellow art lovers! Take care, and God bless! And thanks to everyone who read this extremely LLLLLOOOOOOOooooooooonnnnNNNNNGGGGGggg post!

P.S. If you'd like to check out all of the other artists participating in the challenge, click HERE.
Also P.S.- I'll still be painting and posting on this blog, I'm just slowing things down a little, so please stay tuned. :)