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We Give Hope

“Stories are living and dynamic. Stories exist to be exchanged. They are the currency of Human Growth.”  Jean Houston, PhD

Twenty-five years ago, these words flowed out of me: “Balanced within exultation and despair is the state of mind called reality.” The words were written above the title, States of Mind, and beneath the title was the author’s name: Leslie D’Angelo. The self-publisher? Resources for Living. And what was States of Mind? The chaos in my mind. The yearning in my heart. An embodied voice that needed more than anything else to feel, to write, to speak, and be heard.

My name is Diane Kaufman. What experiences have I had and how do I allow them to define me? Or do I dare to define myself? Here goes….

I am a suicide survivor. I am a poet, artist, child psychiatrist, humanism in medicine awardee, and founder of Arts Medicine for Hope & Healing, ARTS for Living, and Creative Life Lines.

I am still becoming who I am.

I am a hurt little girl who grew into a sensitive and brave woman. I have Bipolar II Disorder. I am a mother, a grandmother, a sister, Aunt, and friend.

Most of all I want to be a humane human being and I don’t want to stop growing. I want to cultivate and share the gifts I was born to give – just as we all are born with special gifts to help illuminate the world from human inflicted darkness.

Who was this Leslie D’Angelo? My middle name is Leslie. Perhaps I wanted to be an angel. D is first initial of my first name. Diane.  Was I distorting, destroying, bending, shaping, and/or creating reality? Did I know who I was? What reality was? Was there a reality beyond the jumbled thoughts in my mind?

We live the questions and in that living we may come upon answers when we are ripe and ready to understand them, to paraphrase the poet Rilke. We are all on a journey whether we know it or not. That journey is our life and all its experiences and what we have created from them. What we have learned. 

My mother Rebecca named me after her one and only doll. Actually, my chosen name was Sarah, but I was sick at birth and had to remain in the hospital. My mother, fearing I would die, felt the name Sarah, evoked the Yiddish “tsuris,” meaning “trouble and distress” from Hebrew, ??r?h, and so instead I was named Diane. The Roman Goddess Diana, Greek Goddess Artemis, Huntress, and Goddess of the Moon. Her twin brother is Apollo – Greek God of Medicine and Poetry. And so, I became upon a few days birth Diane, and as a little girl my older brother called me the diminutive Dianey. I was a doll who wanted to become real.

Decades upon decades later, I spiritually named myself, Miadyanah. Mia for I am. Dhyana, the Sanskrit word for meditation and creativity. Creative Intelligence. Does Miadyanah travel from the infinity of stars? All I know is that she was an idea that popped into my head one day. Not MD – Medical Doctor but MD – Miadyanah. I wanted to make her real.

An excerpt from the opening poem of States of Mind:

What do you see when you see me

A face

A body

Skin covering bones

When you look in my eyes

Do you see your own reflection

Or perhaps me

Hidden in the shadow

Somewhere in that eye

Hovering in a corner

Looing out cautiously

Waiting so patiently

Afraid of what I might see

Afraid of being seen

How did that poem come to be? Was I gazing into a physical mirror trying to catch a glimpse of myself? Was I hoping to find myself in another’s eyes and heart? Were my eyes turning inward trying to empower and release my spirit? The poem’s ending is a wish for freedom:

I have courage

I know I exist

But not yet throughout the body

Only pressed up against a corner

Of the eye

Anticipating freedom

Waiting in eternity

What do you see when you see me

A face

A body

Skin covering bones

It can be hard to live in this world. Yes, there is beauty but there is also so much pain and cruelty. There is love but also so much hate. How do we sustain hope and trust in goodness? Especially now with the ever-loudening painfilled cries for social justice in a violent, brutal, and uncaring world where power is meant to dominate and does not seek to serve the people. 

There is so much to learn and so much that needs to be left behind. Where are the teachers? Can we teach ourselves to keep opening our hearts again and again so that we may learn from what can nourish us? These words from Anaïs Nin come into mind “And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

When I wrote “What do you see when you see me” what a difference it would have made in my life if I could have heard the words of Jean Houston beckoning to me, “You are not an encapsulated bag of skin dragging around a dreary little ego. You are an evolutionary wonder, a trillion cells singing together in a vast chorale, an organism – environment, a symbiosis of cell and soul.”

The great scientist Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand. While imagination embraces the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The poet Emily Dickinson wrote:

I dwell in Possibility –

A fairer House than Prose –

More numerous of Windows –

Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –

Impregnable of eye –

And for an everlasting Roof

The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –

For Occupation – This –

The spreading wide my narrow Hands

To gather Paradise –

Possibility of what can be – who I can become and be – what our world can be – inspires infinite hope in me. 

In cruel contrast is the toxicity of shame. “Shame is an especially painful emotion because one’s core self, not simply one’s behavior, is the issue. Shame involves a painful scrutiny of the entire self, a feeling that “I am an unworthy, incompetent, or bad person.” People in the midst of a shame experience often report a sense of shrinking, of being small. They feel worthless and powerless. And they feel exposed.” (

I know of shame. The poem “Who I Am” is also part of States of Mind:

I can’t show you who I am

I’m ugly

I’m worthless

I’m nothing

You can’t love who I am

No one can love who I am

No one has ever loved who I am

If I show you who I am

I will have to kill myself

Because being dead will be the

Only way I can hide once more.

I read this poem now, knowing that Bipolar II Disorder depression intensified all my feelings and distorted my thinking. I am sure I was going through an emotional time and there most likely were triggers, but this suicidal outpouring was also a part of a psychiatric illness that I did not know I had.

I am thankful for being able to write my experience in the most accurate way I could. These words upon paper were a safe way for me to express my anguish. I am forever thankful I did not end my life.

In the States of Mind, “I Must Purify My Heart” speaks of transformation from self to Self:

To break the glass

Of my reflection

Fist would bleed

But not the heart

These eyes do yearn

To see inside themselves

I must purify this heart

I must learn

To love and live


I have learned and I am learning to renew myself in life and in love. Who am I? I am life’s energy flowing through time. And life is inherently creative. Life is resilient. That is the reality I want to live and share.

“Yesterday My Heart Cracked Open” is the final poem in Cracking Up and Back Again: Transformation Through Poetry. This book was self-published in 2007 which is twelve years of living beyond my 1995’s States of Mind. May this poem be a blessing and gift to you.


My heart cracked open

All birds in the sky

Flew within


My heart cracked open

There was thunder


Downpour rain

My thirsty earth drank it

Flowers again


My heart cracked open

There was you and I

There was nothing

Different between us

We were just

The same


My heart cracked open

There was I

There was nothing

That was not different

I will never

Be the same


I pray for you

Your heart to crack

Wide open

Be not afraid

Be free instead


My heart cracked open

All birds in the sky

Flew within

And I like they

Have wings

Diane Kaufman, MD

September 5, 2020

Diane Kaufman, MD is a child & adolescent psychiatrist, artist, poet and ASHA Storyteller.

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