Forced Surrender: Fear will make you a prisoner, but love will set you free

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“Sometimes our inability to control our instincts gives us a level of courage we don’t normally have.” -Jason Whitlock

We all try to hide ourselves with the mask, even if we do not know we are doing it. However, there are times that we cannot hide our true nature. It is usually in a crisis or a moment when our instincts take over. The true self bursts out despite our best efforts. Usually, it is a beautiful thing to witness. It is like seeing a picture of love. It is a rare occurrence. I was thinking of this example the other day and decided it might be a good moment in my life to share.

The courtroom was full. The custody battle has been long and complicated. Judge Harrington has heard this go on in his courtroom for months. Everyone was finally done presenting their cases and the evidence. It was full of emotion but silent. Judge Harrington is to address the court and the hundreds of people that are there with an emotional, vested interest.

He stands up and says “Tom, you are the mother’s father, you have been here for every single event in the courtroom. You have come to all the conferences and meetings. You have missed work for this, you are a dedicated man. What is your opinion on what should happen with the child?”

What? He is asking Tom what he thinks. He is the Judge and he is asking Tom what Tom thinks? Tom was the father of “Ally” who is the mother. “Ally” was his only daughter. He has one grandchild, and that was Kayla. He has been a large part of Kayla’s life up to this point. Kayla is the child in question here, she is 5 years old. Kayla and “Ally” live close to Tom, Kayla goes fishing with him, and she knows him so well. She hugs Grandpa Tom every time she sees him. He loves having Kayla around, she brings life to everyplace she is, like most 5 year old little girls.

Tom and his daughter “Ally,” have a great relationship. She has gotten involved in drugs recently, and he is trying to help her. He has always been a loving father. When “Ally” was young, she was emotionally abandoned by her mother, who never wanted children. So Tom raised her most of his life and was a loving, caring man. He was not perfect, as none of us are, but his heart was pure.

Is this why the Judge was asking him? I didn’t know. I did not like it. I was the one on the other side. I wanted my daughter and had been waiting my whole life for this moment. Her mother, “Ally,” was a full blown drug addict, and had been failing drug test after drug test. This should be a slam dunk. I was very upset that the Judge was asking Tom this.

I yelled at the Judge, “What the hell is this Bull****, why is it up to him? Why are you even asking him?” My heart was trembling in fear. I was shaking, I was sweating and nervous. I looked back at my mother and her lower lip was quivering. My father was standing in silence. All my siblings were looking. We were all so young. Ages from 16-24. No one had been in a situation like this.

Judge Harrington said “I suggest you settle down or you will be held in contempt of court, do you even know what that is young man?”

My lawyer had me leave the room. He said, “It may be best if you are not here for this, you are too emotional and you will be perceived in a poor manner.”

I am thinking to myself, “What the heck is going on here. I am not the one addicted to drugs. I am the one trying to go to school, I am recovering for my daughter.” My daughter was gone for years in Florida, then she had come back. I had started to get better and prepare for this. Now it seemed everything was falling apart right before my eyes. “I am going to lose this thing now,” is all I could think.

After doing the right thing, after going through the pain of losing Kayla, then getting her back in my life. Then I dedicate myself to bettering myself to become a good father. I tried to help her mother “Ally,” get into treatment, and still after this I am still going to lose her again? My heart was broken and I was in distress. The anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, embarrassment, and everything from my past was all coming up, and making me look to Judge Harrington like an out of control emotional kid. I had already lost her, my child, once, and I had thought forever. Now this second chance was being taken from me is what I felt.

Why was I so afraid of him asking Tom? Well in the beginning, I was good friends with Tom. But I was also a 17 year old punk that got his 16 year old daughter pregnant. We then fought for years. I said some horrible things to him and was rude and a jerk to him. He was the same to me. He did not like me and it was clear. Now he was going to decide my fate? How is this justice?

When “Ally” came back to the Midwest, and was getting involved in drugs. I was not trying to take the child away. This got Tom to respect me a little bit and earn a little trust. I was trying to get her in to treatment. I was trying to help. However, when you are not healthy yourself, and you are trying to help someone it is much like if a surgeon is bleeding while they are doing surgery. You are trying to help, but really you end up just injecting your own poison into that person.

I had no idea about addiction, mental health or anything. Yet here I was trying to understand it all and help someone who was a full blown meth addict and shooting up daily. I couldn’t understand why someone would leave their child for weeks at a time. I couldn’t understand why someone would say they wanted treatment then ditch out when they realized the cops were not after them anymore. I didn’t understand why someone would keep using after all the consequences. I didn’t know who this person was that was neglecting, and abusing my daughter.

The “Ally” I knew was a caring, and loving person who had been abandoned basically by her mother emotionally her whole life. Then her mother left for Florida when she found out her 16 year old daughter, “Ally” was pregnant. “Ally” was abused in many ways as a child, physically, emotionally, and sexually. But her heart was pure. I could not understand this person she had become. I was trying to help her. We all were. However it was not going well, and speaking for myself only, I was making it worse and I did not realize it at the time.

Tom was surprised that I was not coming down and just trying to get custody. We started to talk, we bonded as we tried to help “Ally” together for the child. Tom loved his daughter “Ally” and was a great father. We were so frustrated, she was calling everyone names, bringing up everyone else’s dirty laundry. We didn’t understand. Tom saw me prevent her from being arrested. Eventually, I had given up and we were now in this long drawn out custody dispute.

It got to a point that I bailed “Ally” out of jail once, and Tom had become mad at me for helping her too much. Everyone really was doing their best but we were all brining our own stuff into this situation and the years of mistrust and fear and anger were all present.

As I look back now, I realize we were all fighting because we all wanted to love this child. If you take away the fear, anger, anxiety and other negative emotions, we could have solved this ourselves. But here we were in a recess at court after my blowup in the courtroom with the Judge asking Tom of all people what he thinks. This was it, I was the crazy one. This was all going to be taken away and I knew it.

I sat alone in a room at the courthouse. I refused to talk to everyone. I was alone. This was one of those points in my life that I realized I really have no control over anything what so ever. It was not a painful thing. Well, at first it was frustrating, I could not talk my way out of anything, I could not throw a fit and get my way, and I could not manipulate. I could not take Kayla and run, I would be in jail then. This was completely out of my hands, I had no control. The funny thing is, we never do. We only think we do. Control is a human illusion.

This was one of my first forced third steps. Forced to surrender. I would forget it later, but also go back to it throughout my life when it was needed. I was receiving a painful gift. I got on my knees and I cried, first about how unfair it was, then about how mad I was, then about what I was going to do if things didn’t go my way. Then when all the garbage was out, it was just tears. Crying and hoping for the best. I was hoping that the best happens and just trusting that if I am a good guy and my intentions are pure and I do it with love in my heart that it will turn out ok. I surrendered that day. I was not mad, instead all the anxiety, fear and negative emotions were gone. What I felt was a freedom I had not felt before. I realized that I was allowed to love my daughter regardless of where I was or who she was with. No one could take that from me. This was not going to be the end. No one can take my heart or my soul. I felt an immense freedom.

I was calm and came back to the courtroom. I apologized to the Judge. The Judge continued, “Before we were interrupted by the outburst, I had asked Tom what he thought. Tom, where do you think Kayla should be. With you, with the uncles, or the mother or the father, what is your opinion?”

Tom stood up, everyone was looking at him, He had tears in his eyes, and his voice was shaking. This was a large man, he works on the railroads and has his whole life and loved life. His voice trembling as the courtroom was in silence, he said, “She should be with her father.”

Whoa, that was me. This man could have said his daughter “Ally”, and believed he could get her help. He could have said his son, the uncle, or himself. He did not. To stand up in a courtroom and say something like that when it held so much weight was one of the most amazing acts of unselfishness I have ever seen. This was true love. He had no idea if I would ever let them see Kayla again if I had custody. We had a rough history which was getting better. He knew this could be the end of his family and ever seeing his only grandchild. He still said what he thought was best for her.

Because of this I was granted custody. There are times that we cannot hide our true nature, we all try to hide ourselves with the mask, but at times, the true self bursts out despite our best efforts. Tom’s true character is that of one of the best most amazing people in the world. He is pure. He is real.

Why did the Judge care about what Tom thought so much? I was told this story after the fact. When Tom and the Judge were 6 years old. The judge was drowning in a lake. No one was around. Tom was the kid that pulled him out of the water and saved him. Tom had shown his true character before to this judge, so he knew he would get the truth. It was a small town, they grew up together.

Kayla still to this day, goes and sees Grandpa Tom all the time. He has been a major part of her life since that day. Tom and I used to talk a lot until “Ally” got out of prison. When ”Ally” went to prison, Tom saw Kayla every other weekend and summers and talked all the time. He was able to keep their family involved for when “Ally” eventually got out of prison.

The rest of the story is for another day.

Thank you Tom for showing me what love and unselfishness looks like.

Thank you Judge Harrington for showing me to treat everyone with kindness at all times, you never know when the tide will turn. To love each other always.

Thank you that day for forcing me to surrender my will for a moment, so I would have that to go back on later in my life when it was needed.

Thank you crisis. You helped awaken me.

On this day, I saw what real love was.

Thinking of suicide? Read me

“You see the giant and the shepherd in the valley and Elah and your eye is drawn to the man with the sword and shield and the glittering armor. But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose than we can ever imagine.”

 -Malcolm Gladwell

 

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I survived a suicide attempt, spent years in rehab centers, jails, psych hospitals. Now I have worked as a staff, and at times as a supervisor at these type of facilities.

However my friend, he did not. This is what suicide looks like. This is him after hanging himself, right before he died. February 25th 2010.

 

The difference between us is nothing except our resources. He grew up in rough environment, by that I mean school, neighborhood, friends, and life experiences.

I try to preach getting to know each patient regardless of what the chart says. It’s also important to take time with everyone, this is one of the major reasons why. Part of the reason Joe is dead is because the professionals he worked with neglected him and labeled him. He did not get treated as he deserved.

They didn’t have money, we did. He went to jail, he stayed. I went to jail, I got bailed out. I was sent to treatment, he had to stay in jail. My crimes were worse. My crimes were DUI, assault, assault, disorderly. His crimes; possesion, possession,possesion. You tell me who should have stayed. The only difference was money and resources.

When he did go to the M.D., he didn’t get to pick which one he went to, he went to whomever they told him to. The doctors, knowing this, did not have to negotiate anything with him such as what meds he liked and didn’t.

When I went to a doctor, I got to decide which doctor to go to, so they had to listen to me or I could go elsewhere. My mom had money and resources, his didn’t.

Some will argue that he had a brother that grew up in the same enviornment and did fine. That’s where the studies of innate temperament come in. We are all born with an innate tempermant. Low emotional reaction to things, normal, high, and extreme. The studies are numerous, and they all prove the same thing. Some people are more in tune with other peoples emotions, and are more sensitive. This is not to say every emotional person is going to have issues. It is the combination of being super emotional and not getting any support on a routine basis that creates the mask. That is the cause of addiction and mental illness. It is not the enviornment alone or the genetics alone, it is a combination of both genetics and constant problems in the enviornment. By enviornment I do not mean just home life, but school, friends, everything.

We all know people who we think are more emotional and we think to ourselves, “wow he really gets emotional,” and about things that we don’t think even matters. But in the severe cases, the super sensitive people, they get hurt more easy, get scared. Then if they get invalidated, or misunderstood their whole life and told to be quiet or are ignored routinely, they have to create a mask that gains some sort of acceptance. Or some role in life that gains you love.

Then others start labeling and judging for behaviors that the mask/false self does, and this only creates more shame. It is sad, we tell people to wear this mask, then judge them when the mask goes to far. So yes, it happens all the time that 2 people from same family can have different reactions to environment. That’s because we all have different genetics.

He didn’t have a car to go to places when he had time, he had to go when he could get his ride. He had no options, not as much support. If he didn’t show up, no one would believe him as he had been labeled as the “criminal,”  and I was labeled as the “patient.” Again, no difference except money, resources, and the labels.

He was the most sensitive, caring, loving person you could meet. However, that wasn’t acceptable by our culture or his culture. So he became the angry drug addict. That’s more acceptable. So he had his mask. While wearing the mask, his true self hides and he gets more depressed. This leads to more drug use, more crimes, and more erratic behavior.

Why drug use? It’s something that blocks all the pain for a moment. It could be anything, drug use was acceptable in his world, more acceptable than the other forms. Other forms can be overeating , gambling, sex, anger, co dependency, and many others.

It depends on what mask is acceptable to your culture. They are all of the same purpose, to run from your true self and emotions. Then, it gives us relief, so we think that the behavior is what helped.

We have a surge of dopamine. So of course we go back to that thing again thinking it is relieving pain, but in fact it is adding to it. Then we become so dependent on the behavior to relieve us from the pain, that we start doing it at the cost of anything. We do things we wouldn’t normally do to get the relief.

Then others judge those behaviors, telling us more and more that who we are is a bad person. The layers of the mask get to be more and more, we despise ourselves, we think. But who we truly despise is the false self we have created and society has helped us create.

So yes, kill yourself. But not literally, kill your false self. Thats how you heal.

No one in the profession reached out,  no one talked to him, or even knew how. Instead they saw the criminal, the anger and they judged. This just added more shame and guilt and more layers of the mask.

I remember one birthday, I stopped by and gave him 50 dollars. He said “you are the only one who even remembered.” So he went and spent it on other people

Whenever he had even 2 dollars, it went to other people. He was the kindest, most gentle, loving person you could ever meet.

He let me see behind his mask, because I let him see behind mine.

No one one in the field ever thought “Hey this is a genuinely caring kid who has never gotten a chance to show himself and been accepted.”

Instead they saw him as the angry man, drug addict,  and the continuous offender.  Once he is labeled, everything he does is attached to that label. It goes in his chart, and everyone reads it before they meet him. 

He’s the bad guy to them, which affects how they treated him. That affected his reaction, then they could say, “See, he just was not reachable.” When in fact I had done much worse, and I got to be a patient. “That poor sensitive kid needs someone to just love him.” That’s how I got treated and labeled.

The difference in outcomes is related to how the patients are treated; however there is no way to measure this because the egotistical providers will deny what they do, but I see it everyday and have for almost 20 years.

The problem is, in this field, if you start to spend time with the patients and try to reach out, you get in trouble for having poor boundaries. So,  you are told basically “Don’t get to know the patients, however they ask the staff to get the patients to trust you and open up without ever really becoming close to them.”  These patients have usually been in terrible situations, and they do not trust anyone and the staff is told “Stay away, watch boundaries, but get them to tell you everything.” That’s why people do not get better, thats why people don’t learn.

One of my favorite sayings “You can get anyone to tell you their secrets if you love them enough. “

I was one of the support people he had. He would call we would talk for hours and hours. When he was in Arizona, or St Paul, it didn’t matter. He always called when he was in trouble, or just randomly to talk. We were in it together. Although I got better treatment, he was the better man.

He was a boxer, loved it. We would box, he destroyed me. I watched him brag like I did, but he also had true humility when it mattered. The best boxing match I’ve ever seen was him vs his brother. He was a much better man than most people ever will be.

Then one time, he was in jail and he had no where to go. So he called as usual. He came to live with me for a while. I was starting in my recovery already. I remember Jenny making him spaghetti and him eating it like he hadn’t eaten in months. He said “this is the best food I’ve ever had.” I had become so selfish that it was nothing to me to even eat like that. It was just spaghetti, but to him, it was heaven. It shouldn’t be like that. I was no better than him, in fact I was less than him. Yet I got to experience this daily while he suffered, where is the justice in that?

Then the old friends started to come around. We had a 10 year old, I was recovering and going to school.

We told him after some warnings, that “Hey you can’t stay here anymore with all these people coming around my daughter, its too scary to come home seeing her sitting on couch with these guys.”

He said “I can’t control them,” he warned them and asked them to wait until he is home. They just come. Which was true, he just had a following people loved him. He was a truly good person and once he let you in, you loved it.

He had a son, Anthony, who was a little guy but was as fierce as his dad, you could see that. Joe and Anthony would box, fake of course. But you could see the love and it was special. Anthony would come around, we would all go on walks. Joe would say “I love you buddy” all the time and kiss anthony.  I never saw a man kiss his little boy before, but that was cool.  I make sure I do that with my 3 year old son now and think of Joe every time I do it. He loved Anthony so much, it was soo clear. Joe was a great man.

Anthony didn’t see the label of “drug addict, bi polar, criminal.” That’s the mask Joe had to wear. Anthony was a kid, kids are genius that way. They don’t see labels and masks. Anthony saw Joe as I saw him, an angel. A kind, beautiful human with some severe pain and couldn’t do anything about it. I loved watching them together, because I knew the feeling.

Then, I get an email that joe is dead. He hung himself. He didnt call me this time. I had kicked him out. The guilt is terrible. When people ask why I fight for patients so hard, this is one of the main reasons.  Just building that trust is important. I’m sorry Joe, and god do I  miss you. Again, the wrong one got treatment, and the wrong one is dead, it should be me. I am no better, in fact I’m much worse than him. What else can I do, but preach love. I have to do something.

I don’t believe people go away when they die. Their bodies leave, as all of ours will. But as long as we remember them and hold the love with us, it will live on forever. Some things that Joe passed on to me, I still carry, and will pass on to my kids and so on. He is with many of us that remember him. He’s here right now. As long as we let him.

I love you Joe.

Adios to Affluenza: Sentencing of the Rich and Poor

 

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Whenever there are drug-related court cases in the media, I tend to pay attention at the incident, the sentencing, and the public reaction. There were two that came out around the same time that have always stuck out to me and I thought I would compare them.

 

Child A was arrested for possessing Xanax, a benzodiazepine.

 

Child B was driving under the influence of alcohol (with a BAC three times the legal limit), after stealing two cases of beer, had valium (a benzodiazepine) and THC in his system at the time. He was driving 70 miles-per-hour in a 40 mph zone. Once his friends told him to slow down, he sped up intentionally. He then crashed the truck, killing four people and severely injuring two more.

 

Both are first-time offenders. Who spent more time in jail?

 

Let’s take a look at their court cases further:

 

Child A is dressed in an orange inmate jump suit. The judge issues her bail bond of $5,000 before wishing her a sarcastic farewell with a childish-like wave saying, “bye-bye.” Child A replied back the same phrase, only in Spanish, “Adios.” This resulted in her bond being doubled to $10,000, in which the judge then mocked the child by wishing her well with the exact same phrase, “Adios.”  In nervous frustration, Child A flips the bird to the judge and fires back more expletives and lands a 30-day sentence in jail.

 

Well, it seems a bit extreme, but certainly Child B must have served more time.

 

But Child B is wealthy and white. In fact, he is so wealthy that his legal defense team argued that he has never been able to learn consequences for his behavior since his money always gets him out of trouble – coining a new disorder, “Affluenza.” Although this is not a legal or medical term, it worked, and the child was put on probation and sent to a rehab facility that features horseback riding and massage therapy.

 

While there may be something to the argument that Child B was raised in such a way that he didn’t know any better, why can’t we argue that Child A was raised in such a way that she didn’t know you can’t tell the judge “Adios?”

 

It seems like a rather harsh penalty. Especially since Child B would get out jail free based on the notion that he was raised in such a lifestyle that he does not have the ability to determine right from wrong. Yet, Child B not only was taking a similar substance, he was also driving a vehicle and twice the posted speed limit, he had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system (for an adult, he is only 16), stole the beer from a Walmart, also had THC in his system, and killed four people. But he didn’t know he couldn’t do that?

 

But don’t take my word for it, here is an explanation from Judge Andrew Napolitno regarding the sentencing of Child A’s case:

 

“I think [Judge Rodriguez-Chomat] grossly over-reacted, I think the judge brought on her contumacious behavior, and he violated the procedures,” Napolitano continues, “She is innocent until proven guilty, she is charged with an illegal possession of a prescription drug, she has no priors.”

 

Typically in a case like this, the person will be Released on Recognizance (ROR) – basically meaning that she would not have to post bail with a promise they will attend all future court hearings. Rodriguez-Chomat posts bail at $5,000 based on his indifference towards Child A and then doubles it to $10,000 because she said, “Adios.” She reacted to his over-reaction and he gives her 30-days in jail? Where is the justice here?

 

“If someone misbehaves in your courtroom, you have to display some sort of tolerance,” Napolitano continued, “If you are angry at a person, you can not sentence a person in anger because that is not the right or fair mental framework.  Here is the rule on contempt, if you tell somebody not to do something and they do it – you can sentence them for contempt.  But if they do it spontaneous on their own and you are offended by it, you send them to another judge for sentencing.”

 

And this is just the quantifiable punishment that Child A would go on to face. She became a media sensation on YouTube.  With titles such as “Flipping the Bird to Judge,” being viewed more than 15 million times; “Judge DESTROYS Ditzy Rich Girl,” with more than 7 million views; “Judge Doesn’t Take Crap From Disrespectful Girl,” has more than 700,000 views; “Woman Curses at Judge, Flips Bird,” with more than 450,000 views; “Judge Flips out After Getting Flipped Off,” has more than one million; and “Dumb Girl Gives Middle Finger to Judge,” with 117,000 views.

 

Besides being viewed upwards of 25 million times by the general population, the titles are incredibly misleading of the entire incident. She took a couple of Xanax and was arrested, after receiving her sentence she simply states, “Adios.” The judge then abused his power. He initiated the entire incident as stated by Napolitano.

 

Judge Rodriguez-Chomat has a violent, disrespectful history of his own, as well as receiving the second lowest approval rating among local attorneys.  As a representative, Rodriguez-Chomat was advocating against school vouchers while sending his own kids to private schools. After being called a hypocrite by fellow lawmaker Carlos Valdes, Rodriguez-Chomat grabbed Valdes by the tie and started a brawl with him in public. Imagine what kind of sentence he would have handed out to himself for that incident? But who judges the judge?

 

Notice how this part never makes headlines? Our society doesn’t want to hear that, our society wants to hear about a disrespectful girl – as the YouTube titles indicate. But four days after this case, Child A made a second appearance and apologized to the judge for her actions, admitted to being under the influence, and had her sentence dropped. This video never seemed to get shared on any of my news feeds.

 

Just three weeks from her original arrest, Child A passed all eight of her random drug screens, was attending rehab classes, working towards her GED, and doing clerical work. She is improving her life, but we still only remember her in her darkest moment and crucify her for something that was erroneously titled and unjustifiably marketed on social media. It is truly unfortunate that this young child had to deal with the wrath of public condemnation during her worst moment, because a power-hungry judge couldn’t control his anger. Yet, we never share when she comes out of the darkness and makes positive changes in her life.  

 

Ironically, the video entitled, “Judge DESTROYS Ditzy Rich Girl,” has more than seven million views as if we want to cheer and applaud some judge for taking care of a spoiled rich girl. But that is not the case, she was under the influence (which explains the so-called “ditzyness”) and if she was rich…well then she would have never seen the inside of a jail house because she would have likely been suffering from Affluenza.

 

Chopping Onions: The Truth is in Our Core

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“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”

If you take an onion and cut it as close to the roots as possible, without cutting the roots, it can grow larger and larger every time. We are like this, we grow and become wiser and more loving by giving away what we get, as long as we keep the roots. This is a lesson I never believed to be true, I thought how can you gain more by giving things away? I thought I needed to keep it all to myself. That is what we are taught. This is the story of the day I realized I was much like an onion.

These toasts and things are common at weddings. They are also common at graduations and other special occasions. It is so bizarre to me that we only talk like this about each other at these rare times and usually when heavy alcohol is involved. Then we forget. We forget to tell each other how we truly feel. We are afraid, or embarrassed.

Dave grabbed his drink and stood up. Everyone listened as Dave spoke. “I remember one time, we were playing video games when we were kids, and it was so important for Bob to have the best team, that he went and bought a 12 pack of mountain dew and stayed up all night creating this master team so he could beat us. He always wanted to win, ever since he was a kid. But when he was done, then he worked on everyone else’s team.”

Everyone laughed and hollered. It was a great toast. After the laughing was done. Dave continued, “Bob is amazing, he is a rare person, and I love him and am lucky to have grown up with him. There was a time that I was driving without a license and crashed. He didn’t think twice, he jumped in the driver’s seat and pushed me aside and took the blame for the accident.”

Then after that, all of a sudden Jacob stood up, this was unexpected. He taps his glass and says. “Bob, Bob, Bob, he loves borrowing other people’s cigarettes.” Everyone knows this to be true and has a good laugh. Jacob continues, “But what Bob never bragged about was the time he had only 5 dollars left and gave it to me because he knew I was struggling. He never told anyone. He is kind and a humble man.”

Then Brian stood up and held up his glass. This was turning into something rare for us. Brian was not one to speak in front of a group like this, Brian says, “Bob and his heart. When I was in the middle of my addiction to heroin, Bob came and got me and drove me 6 hours in the middle of the night to treatment. Then I ditched it. He still came the next time I called. He missed work, and family time. He just took the heat. I love you Bob.” That one got everyone’s attention. People were getting emotional. Brian recovered from addiction, but none of us knew that part of it. It was starting to seem like Bob did a lot of things for all of us. We all had these stories. Brian’s was very strong because we all had pretty much given up on him, well, except Bob. We had wondered how he had finally beaten the addiction, I guess Bob had given him what I call “psychological life support.”

Danny stood up now. “I hate Bob. He makes us all look bad.” That was how Danny was. He then got serious, which is very out of character for Danny, and he said, “I got kicked out of my parents’ house and Bob came and got me every day, and he drove me to work for a month. Never asked for anything.” We all were surprised, we thought they hated each other but dealt with each other. They were kind of the arch rivals in our group that were always fighting.

Jim stood up and said. “I don’t have a story like any of you. However, I’ve seen Bob with opportunities to be unfaithful, and he was not. His loyalty, it really is something that changed me. In a hot tub, with women all over him, he left to go to his ex-fiancés house and be with their kid. They were no longer together at the time, and she was seeing other people. But he did not care. His love is strong. He is probably embarrassed by me even telling this story, but I think it tells you all you ever need to know about Bob.”

So I am sitting there, thinking about them saying these things. I am hearing words describe Bob, like humble, kind, caring, loyal, considerate, and unselfish to name a few. Wow, we all liked being around him all the time. I never had heard these things before. I felt like I should say something. I sat at the corner. This had become a moment that we were all speaking of our relationships. It was my turn it seemed.

I stood up. I said, “Bob is amazing. I remember one time we were walking in the city at night. There was a homeless man and Bob gave him his shirt and jacket. Bob went and got another one for himself. Everyone else was mocking the old homeless guy. But Bob made sure no one was watching. He did not do this for show, he means it. All heart.” Everyone agreed.

But listening to all this about Bob was hitting me hard. So I decided to say more.

“I was just wondering if anyone has ever said any of this to Bob’s face. Because I have not. I do not know why either. This feels good.” Is what I said.

Dave said, “No. I have never said this any of it. Why? I do not know.” Everyone else shook their heads in agreement. It was sad to hear that, everyone had the same look on their face. Why not? Why haven’t we?

Well, in this case, it was not Bob’s wedding, it was not a graduation either. Bob had died at the age of 26 about a week prior to this. He was in a boating accident. We all were just at the funeral 2 days ago, and no one mentioned a thing. Everyone was in shock. His best friend was Joe. Joe would later take his own life. He was emotional and crying and kissed Bob as he lay in his casket. No one else said a thing. I think we were all in complete shock. This was 15 years ago, I was 24. You do not expect things like this to happen when you are 24 and you are thinking you are invincible.

A couple days later, as we sat at this restaurant, just sharing stories, we were having his real funeral. This lasted until 5 the next morning. I sat that day, when it was over, thinking to myself if I ever see something positive about someone I am going to tell them. At first when I did this my face would get all red, sometimes I would tear up and my voice would crackle. Then I started to see the impact it had on me, and on others. I was growing more each time I gave more away. Much like the onion.

It doesn’t work if it is not genuine. But when it is genuine, it is amazing. It is almost like I get more out of it than the people receiving it. The more I give away, it seems the more I get given to me. By that I mean love. If I give it away completely, it seems that I get more placed in my heart.

I think people believe that it takes away from them if they give it away. They may think it will be scary or they will be rejected, but if it is pure, it is amazing. If it is a manipulation, and you have a hidden agenda, it does not feel the same. It has to be real. Even if the person already knows it to be true, it is good for them to hear it. I remember when I started doing this, my brother said, “I wish I could talk to people like that.” I said “you can.”

Anyone can do this if they want to. Try it. That is the key to growth, is doing things that you are uncomfortable with. If you only do things you are already good at and are strong in, you will never truly grow. That is fine if you are satisfied with the way things are, but if you want to grow, the way is by doing things that are hard or uncomfortable.

Imagine it is raining outside, and everyone has a bucket, if you try to keep all your water to yourself, and hold the bucket close to your chest, you will not get very much. If you take your bucket and start pouring what water you have into other peoples cups, someone is going to say, “Hey get that person a bigger bucket.” You will start to see more opportunities come, and you are never depleted. As weird as that may seem, it is true, the more you give, the more you get. Our minds do not think that way. Because we were trained otherwise.

Removing the outer layers of the onion brings tears. In fact, it can be so painful, people publish articles as to how to get to the core of the onion without the tears including cutting under water, wearing goggles, or freezing the onion first. Similarly, we freeze or emotional feelings with things such as alcohol or drugs for an easier way to get to our core. Freezing vegetables, or feelings, similarly creates changes in texture and we lose the natural flavor.

This was what came of Big Bob’s death to me. Some people look at me weird, which is ok. I do not want to leave love left unsaid or undone when I go, I want to leave it here in the world. So it can keep being passed on forever. That will stay forever, regardless of where my body goes.

I hope Bob heard us that night. He never did when he was alive.

 

 

Hoover Damn: Unmasking America

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“Inquiry and investigation should begin with oneself. For what we see in others is the reflection of our own selves, our own prejudices are our preferences.”

– Sathya Sai Baba

 

Along the coast of a small village in West Africa, a 16-year-old girl is abducted from her family, taken into captivity by authorities without any explanations. Her innocence gone, lives forever changed, and she knows this is the last time she will see her family.

Near the sea, she spends a week in a dark, secure facility with about a thousand others from various tribes uncertain of the crime they have committed or where their future lies. Eventually they are brought to the surface only to be stripped naked, inspected, and branded with hot iron on their skin with an unfamiliar marking. An enormous ship is docked along the shore awaiting the human cargo.

Aboard the ship, there is an unbearable stench of death immediately creating nausea and vomiting. The prisoners are crammed into tiny docks about three feet high, forced to sit between each other’s legs, with no chance of lying down or even changing positions. The ship crams nearly 600 people into the docks like sardines with little breathable air, forced to sit in feces, and take on the scorching sub-tropic sun.

After a few months of these deplorable conditions, the ship docks in New Orleans at an auction house for white savages. Again inspected carefully, one-by-one they are sold as property, given new names, and sent to their slave master’s plantation.

This girl is renamed Elizabeth and she is sent to live with Christian Hoover, a plantation owner in rural Mississippi.

In the early 1800s, this is one of the final Transatlantic Slave Trade shipments as the trade was finally made illegal in 1807. In all, more than 54,000 journeys have taken place stealing nearly 12 million Africans from their home and put into the trade. But this is just the number that survived. It is estimated that more than 20 million, like Elizabeth, were abducted in West Africa during this time.

It was a worldwide three-part system. The Europeans would trade guns, rum, and clothing to African kings for slaves. At first, the kings would send criminals, or prisoners from war, but the demand from the Europeans was too great. This led to African kingdoms starting war, with the new guns they were purchasing, and hunting down slaves to keep the movement alive.

The middle passage was the horrendous transatlantic voyage described above putting the slaves into the fields for free manual labor. The essence of colonization is conquering an undeveloped country, strip them of their natural resources, to produce cheaper products to increase profits. In the Americas the raw materials were tobacco, sugar, rice, and cotton – all of which were labor intensive. In order for the colonies to succeed and America to prosper, they needed cheap labor, and the slave trade made this newfound nation an economic super power.

In elementary school, we all learn the famous line written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Less known, or told in school, is that Jefferson owned more than 600 slaves throughout his lifetime to help build his estate. Later, in a message to a friend, Jefferson then wrote:

“If there is a just God, we are going to pay for this.”

Stealing land from Native Americans for more room to grow and using stolen Africans to do the work, America soon became the leading exporter of cotton. In the 1800s, cotton was king just as oil has been since the 1900s. And America was exporting 75-percent of the world’s greatest cash crop.

On the Hoover plantation, Christian was married and had 11 children. It was not uncommon at this time for the women to be giving birth on a yearly basis. It was also common for select slave women to serve as “bed warmers” while the wife was pregnant, sleeping with their master.

Elizabeth served as a bed warmer for Christian and gave birth to a light-skinned daughter named Elizabeth Ann.  Although born with light skin, any slave child was considered black and was granted no rights – giving these children the most undesirable of situations being excluded by both blacks and whites.

From here, the Hoover family tree gets tangled which was typical on slave plantations. They are even more difficult to keep track of due to no records being kept of slave births in most states.

 1814 – Christian Hoover has a daughter with his slave, Elizabeth. They also name her Elizabeth Ann.

 1830 – Christian Hoover has a daughter with Elizabeth Ann (also his daughter) and they name her Emily Allen – making Christian both the father and grandfather of Emily.

1859 – Emily Allen goes on to have many children with all of her half-brothers. Her oldest son is named Ivery Hoover. This makes Christian both the maternal and paternal grandfather of Ivery.

 1834 – Elizabeth Ann then passes for white, moves to Washington, D.C., and marries William Hoover. They have one son, John Hoover.

 1857 – John Hoover then marries a woman and they have three children. The oldest is Dickenson Naylor Hoover.

After Dickenson Naylor Hoover marries Anna Marie he is put into an insane asylum.

While in the asylum, Anna Marie moves back to Mississippi and has an affair with Dickenson’s cousin, Ivery Hoover. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to John Edgar Hoover (J. Edgar Hoover) on January 1, 1895.

Confused yet?

Dickenson was aware that J. Edgar was not his child and he was abused and neglected throughout his childhood. The embarrassment and shame of having a slave child was too much for the family to bear and this became the dark secret of the Hoover family for decades.

Growing up, Hoover likely considered himself to be white until the secret was finally exposed to him in which he kept with him to his grave – in fact, he did everything he could to don his mask as a white man. And it was not the only mask Hoover wore.

At age 29, Hoover rose to the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (F.B.I.). Crime in America had been steadily rising and Hoover was the man to make the change. He gained prominence with his efforts for chasing down radicalism and communists with his landmark case of deporting Marcus Garvey.

Garvey was a pioneer in the black civil rights movement. Hoover, part-black himself, often targeted black activists and viewed their beliefs as radical. Perhaps this was his way of hiding his true identity – because if it were ever discovered his heritage he would have never been allowed to prosper in racist America in the early 1900s.

Garvey was born in Jamaica and traveled throughout the Americas and recognized everywhere he went that blacks were on the lower end of society. His vision was to improve their quality of life, self-determination, and repatriation to Africa. Hoover brought him down by hiring insiders to find dirt on Garvey and eventually got him arrested and deported on charges of mail fraud.

Although some of Garvey’s views were controversial, he did trigger the remarkable leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. who spread his message in the 1960s. Not coincidentally, both were also premier targets of Hoover in his prime.

Knowing the foundations of the African people in America, imagine all the good Hoover could have done for the civil rights movement with his passion, intelligence, and determination. Instead, he focused on shutting it down to protect his true identity. This is the danger of growing attached to our psychological masks.

Although crime was rising, the Alcohol industry likes to blame this strictly on Prohibition as the sole contributor. In reality, organized crime was on the rise and prohibition just opened up a new industry for the mafia – bring a product (alcohol) to a population that had a high demand and their supply taken out from under their feet.

In 1929, the stock market crashed. This was followed by banks failing, leading to fewer loans, less spending, fewer wages, no jobs, reduced trading, and a global economic collapse – also known as the Great Depression. Not too much different than what we experienced in 2008.

One out of every four citizens was unemployed, people waited in bread lines for food, or headed out west in hopes of finding work. Criminals like John Dillinger, “Baby Face” Nelson, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde weren’t necessarily viewed as criminals, but more like Robin Hood. They destroyed mortgage papers at the banks they hit.

Harry Pierpoint explained, “I stole from the banks who stole from the people.”

Dillinger became the most famous of all with lotteries putting up odds as to when he would be arrested next. More money was spent on trying to catch Dillinger than the actual money he stole from banks.

This was Hoover’s next prized possession. And cleverly enough, Hoover created a public relations campaign of his own – making the cops the new heroes. The name Hoover was synonymous with the FBI and soon people were cheering for the cops instead of the robbers.

With all his amazing capabilities to fight crime, capture secrets, and change the perception of America – it’s too bad his mask led him down a path of greater crime than that of the criminals he exposed.

And it is not just that Hoover did not like black progressive leaders, he abused his power in a hell-bent effort to bring them down.  Hoover’s used phrase such as “Neutralize black-nationalist groups,” or “Prevent the rise of the black messiah.”

But it wasn’t just blacks that Hoover was after, he was out to expose and eliminate the homosexual community. Hoover’s reasoning was that Communists would blackmail U.S. Citizens – specifically those involved in government agencies – to gather secrets. His claim was that no one had more at risk of being exposed than the homosexual population.

This was known as the “Lavender Scare,” which Hoover was focused on removing any and all homosexuals from office and exposing them to light. During the time of the Cold War, rise of the American Mafia, and all other events going on during this time, it makes one question why targeting homosexuality was a priority.

Although never openly admitted, Hoover was incredibly involved with his number-two man at the Bureau, Clyde Tolson. While there is plenty of evidence to support they had a romantic or sexual relationship, that is not the point of this article and more in-depths documents have been revealed. The point is that that, much like the Larry Craig incident in the Minneapolis restroom, Hoover’s anti-gay rhetoric was clearly a cover-up to prevent himself from being exposed. In fact, nearly the entire Hoover estate was willed over to Tolson at his death in 1972.

So, here you have the best cop in the world, in charge of the greatest police force in the world – yet we have a rise of the American Mafia?

Hoover adamantly downplayed the rise of the mafia or their existence. It baffled people inside and outside the organization as it was a glaringly obvious problem, which Hoover refused to acknowledge.

Well, Hoover had another vice which connected him to the mafia. He was a gambling addict. At the time, horse racing was king in the United States. The mafia set up gambling rings, set lines on the races, betting wires, and even fixed the races. Hoover was highly invested in this system, connecting him to the mafia, and if he were ever to try to go after the mafia – all his secrets, or mask, would be exposed.

On November 22, 1963, the president of the United States is killed in Dallas, Texas. This is in the height of the Cold War and you would expect the most thorough investigation in the history of the world to take place. But instead, Hoover was at the race track the next day. Again, it is well-documented that he frequented such places as the Del Mar race track and that every town Hoover went, you would find him at the local track.

But in testifying to the Senate in 1951, Hoover states, “The gambling problem must be viewed as a phase of the entire crime picture. Organized gambling is a vicious evil. It corrupts our youth and wipes the lives of our adults. It becomes a springboard for other crimes such as embezzlement, robbery, and even murder. “

The man who held the most secrets on others, held the most secrets about himself. It was all just another ploy to protect his mask.

It was a real-life game of Spy-vs.-Spy. The Mafia likely had secrets on Hoover and it was in his best interest to stay away from being exposed. Again, his mask prevented him from doing his work and corrupting a nation.

Regarding the killing of Kennedy, another highly unknown nugget is that Lyndon Baines Johnson hired Hoover to do his own investigation. His 500-page report alleged that Lee Harvey Oswald acted as the lone gunman. Rather than the Warren Commission doing their own diligence, they relied heavily on Hoover’s report and agreed that Oswald was the “lone nut.”

Even at the time of release, only 56-percent of American’s believed Oswald acted alone. Today less than one out of 10 people believe the government’s official story that stemmed from Hoover’s “investigation.” In the 888-page Warren Commission mockery of an investigation, it never gives a motive for Oswald killing the president. Just a lone nut.

Whether or not Hoover was directly involved in the assassination, it is clear he played a role in the cover up. Not only this protected Hoover directly, there is a more indirect protection here. The lone-nut theory, clears the mafia from any alleged involvement – protecting Hoover’s secrets from being exposed by his friends in the organized crime business.

On May 2, 1972, Hoover passed away and his body was found by his chauffeur (or possibly his live-in cook). His cook then contacted Tolson, who in turn contacted Hoover’s secretary Helen Gandy. At this time, Gandy went to work shredding all of Hoover’s most secretive files as one final attempt to keep Hoover’s corruption and illegal activity in the darkness.

Since his death, Hoover’s legacy has been tarnished due to the uncovering of some of his illegal activities of wiretapping, break-ins, bugs, confiscating mail, and blackmail. Hoover was discriminatory, racist, contradicting, and viewed everyone as the enemy. He rose to power by punishing those who shared characteristics of himself – African-Americans, homosexuals, and addicts.

Stigma about race, about sexual orientation, and disease of compulsion turned Hoover into a monster. What if he were to unmask himself and join the fight for equality and empower people like Garvey or King? What if the most powerful man in the world told us he was a homosexual, what would that have done to propel the gay rights movement? And what if he sought help for his addiction and freed himself from his allegiance to the mafia?   

A six-page pamphlet written by Hoover in 1957, entitled, “If I Had a Son,” speaks candidly about activities boys should be involved when in their youth. A strikingly odd title for a man who never wanted a son, nor did he ever want a wife. Indirectly, Hoover unmasks himself in this little-known document. In the booklet, Hoover writes:

“If I had a son, I’d do one thing. I’d tell him the truth. I’d never let him catch me in a lie. And in return, I’d insist that he tell the truth. When children go astray, it isn’t the fault of the children but of their parents…I’d try to understand my son. For if I didn’t, I’d be a failure as a Dad!”

The 危機 Theory: The Flutter of a Butterly’s Wings Creates a Typhoon Halfway Across the Globe.

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“Some believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small-every day deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay with Small acts of kindness and love.”

 

In traditional Chinese, the word for Crisis is composed of two symbols. The first symbol, “危 (Wei)” pertains to facing an imminent danger or threat. The second symbol, “機 (Ji)” describes an opportunity presenting itself.

 

Edward Lorenz, pioneer of the Chaos theory, coined the term “Butterly Effect,” illustrating how a seemingly mundane event results in a significantly different outcome than would have occurred without the original divergence.

 

Or simply put, there are no moments in life that are too small and there is no crisis too great. Because life is full of chaos, presenting each moment as a crisis, leaving us with a choice between the Wei and Ji – ultimately determining the course of the future.

 

I find myself saying this a lot lately. Then I think, do I live that way, and the answer is usually not. What is so hard about embracing the moment? We are running and running and we are missing the most important thing, which is that which is in front of us. We think these are all mundane moments and we want the big moment. The truth is, there is no huge moment. For me it was going back to treatment 3 times, psych wards 3 times, and jail 3 times. It is not a failure to return, because each time I was in a different spot. I was progressing further each time. Today I take 1-2 steps back, then maybe a few forward. My miracle did not happen with an explosion, it happened gradually, over years.

There were big moments, but not ever some epiphany. My gradual and eventual recovery came behind a super 8 motel in a building that was half assisted living, and half treatment center, some obscure building in the middle of nowhere that you would never know is a treatment center. Much less the magic that happened in that place. No one knows, but, I do. Does it matter? Yes, every single moment matters. Most of us addicts and mentally ill are always looking for that big explosion of dopamine and the sea to part, the problem is it won’t happen, and by chance it does then what? We are usually so bored with the mundane day to day activities. Sometimes, one small thing, one small decision, can alter your whole world. You don’t know what’s next, we have to stop pretending like we do and like we can control it. It doesn’t matter what we think we control, we control nothing. We only have right now. One of the great men I learned from, his name is Alan. He said “if what you are doing, you are doing with love in your heart, you cannot really go wrong.”

 

How do we know which small moments will change the world. Well, we will likely never see them, but every single moment builds on the last. So the truth is every single moment is huge, and every single moment alters life as we know it. We do not see the results, but it happens. I want to share a story of a man, who to him, made one little mundane choice, and it altered the world forever. He still does not know he did this, it was an everyday activity. The choice he made was one we may say, “Oh man, what the hell this is pointless and interrupting my day.” What I see when I remember this story, is that just because we do not see the results, does not mean every moment does not have a huge impact on the world, because it does. This is not to say to you to have all this pressure on you to think “oh I better do the right thing, it matters too much I have to do the right thing.” You don’t have to think, you just act out of love, and not fear, and there is nothing else to it. That takes the pressure away. That’s the answer, act out of love with each moment. No need to put pressure on yourself.

 

This was a cold day in January. It was about 15 below 0 in the location that this took place. It was a moment in this man’s life that he changed everything. Many lives where altered. Here is how.

My daughter, at the time was 6. We had her when we were very young troublemakers. Her mother “AK,” had left across country with our daughter for a couple years and now they were back in the Midwest. AK, the mother of my daughter, was in the middle of the terrible disease of addiction .She was shooting up methamphetamines and was deeper into this addiction than most people ever see. I mean we are talking hourly, and at a minimum daily use, she was not eating. She had lost tons of weight and would rage at anyone and call them out on their faults if they said anything.

AK, the mother, was being investigated by the FBI. My daughter, who I will call “K” was hungry on this day. She had to eat. Her mother was not feeding her on this day. AK was passed out, and K was hungry. My young 6 year old had already missed about half of the days of school, she had been left with drug dealers and at stranger’s homes for up to 2 weeks’ time. Her mother would not wake up on this day, so little miss K left a note and decided to walk towards my home. Which at the time was in the next state over. With the temperature of negative 15 degrees my daughter and her friend decided to head across state lines and to find me. My daughter, who I remind you was 6 at the time, had no mittens, no hat, and an unzipped coat. I know this because I’m reading the police report as I write this, that’s when I see these details. Going through these old files, I see that this man saw my daughter, and stopped his van. He saw 2 little girls not dressed appropriately walking down a highway and they were freezing. What he did was he called the police and brought them in. As I read this report, what sticks out to me is that it states there was “another van” coming up to her at the same time. I don’t know who was in that other van, but who knows. This could have been tragic. This was his act, his kind seemingly simple, courteous act. One that may seem long ago and meant nothing to him, maybe even an annoyance. However, there are many people that see wrong and do nothing or just drive by. This man didn’t, now I want to show you the ripple effect of his actions.

K, then 6, was started on a child protective case in which eventually she would live with me full time. She had been tardy and was not doing well emotionally or in school, neither was her mother. This man started this ripple effect that brought change to millions of lives, here is how.

K graduated high school early, from 7th grade to 11 the grade, she was on the honor roll, captain of cheerleading team, and went to state in forensics. Now has a job and a life, not free from struggles of course. She struggles severely with depression and has a very hard time with relationships. She has gone to the psych hospital a couple times. But she has the warmest heart in a person I’ve ever seen, she spreads love to the world. She used to take special care of the kids in special needs at high school, she is one of the greatest people alive. She is kind and loving. If he didn’t pick her up that day, she may have been dead or worse. Something very tragic could have happened to her or her mother. She had been neglected, and left alone many times. She had been physically, and sexually abused while her mom was using, or sleeping. She had missed many many days of school. She was behind emotionally and academically. We got her in therapy, we, as a village, took care of her. I had my own demons, so when I say village, I mean my family, her family and everyone got involved. It was a community parenting effort. We got her on track. Well, now she has normal struggles, we don’t talk much, but I’m sure when she grows up, matures, that maybe she will realize what love I have for her. At this point she almost never speaks to me but that is ok. That is normal rebellion and I am way over protective of her because of what I saw her go through. I’m sure she needs to be on her own for a while. I will wait for this time. It is painful, but she has opportunity and happiness.

As for me, she was my whole life. At age 2 she was taken by her mom to Florida, her mom had then told her someone else was her dad. She came back, and we were building a bond after I thought I would never see her again and she was basically lost to me, that is another story for another day. Then her mom, with her depression became addicted to meth. She was deep in it. I was eventually granted sole custody and K was full time in my life. This brought me closer to my family, they helped raise her. This made me appreciate my mom more. I got better for a while and went to school and graduated college the first time, I would go back to finish more school later, but this was the first time I ever finished anything. My motivations was to finish so I could care for her. If not, I likely would have floated through life in depression and drank my life away. Now because I was back on track, I met a great woman, married her, and we had 2 children. Now 4 and 3. They are the joys of my life. They wouldn’t exist, my life as it is now wouldn’t exist, if he hadn’t picked up k. There would be no little ones walking around with me if this did not happen. I went through addiction, jail, treatment myself. But with the love and hope I had on the other side, I got through.

I was going to be an addict either way. That has always been my destiny. However, my reaction to this destiny was now different, that is where choice comes in, is reaction, now I had hope. My addiction and mental health collapse were the best things that ever happened to me, but that is for another day.

My wife, her life was altered as we met and married. We never would have even met if I hadn’t gone to school. I wouldn’t have gone to school without k, without school, I wouldn’t have had that job, and so never would have met my wife. We would have not had these kids. J was a mother figure to k for a long time, while I drank and destroyed things. J took care of her, kept our lives in order. All this does not happen without this man’s action. Why was this good for j? Well you would have to ask her, but when I met her, she was against many things, and closed off so she wanted to work her way through life. Through my addiction, she discovered her codependency, we both found truth. Not the truth we were taught about, but we had an awakening to the truth together. Then my kids, and the love she has for them, watch them together once, she’ll tell you it was worth it. Her family may not think so, due to the pain she has had because of me and in their view, it is one sided. But she does, the kids do. She is a strong, amazing person, her spirituality and soul were developed they this, without his action, this doesn’t happen for her, none of it.

K’s mother then started on an amazing journey. She did end up going to jail, then federal prison for about 12 years. However, she beat an addiction almost no one beats. Became a manager at her job. People want her to talk about how she made it. Her and k are now best friends, get along great, and are great for each other. She is an amazing person and mother. I share her comeback story with many of my patients who are down and think they cannot get their kids back. If he didn’t stop, the cops never get involved, who knows, maybe she overdoses, or dies, or something terrible happens.

 

This man stopping his van and acting out of love, changed the world. I think if he didn’t stop that van, who knows where the world would have gone. He does not know this. We all affect each other in ways like this good or bad.

 

I think of patients I have come across, and the change they have told me I have had in their lives. Well, I wouldn’t be there without this one act. The thing is, once you start offering yourself to do this and to live in the moment and look for opportunities to spread love good things happen. You start to see opportunities not to judge. All of sudden you will see the opportunities arise, it will seem like they just show up more. The thing is they were always there, we just were not looking. This is how ripple effect occurs and how we can change the world.

 

When I say I am here writing this it is by chance, I mean it. One bounce in a different direction and I am the guy on the street corner. I am not here at my job with my kids because I am special, I had resources and things turned my way, it is not me. It is my responsibility to do as much as I can to give it back until my body goes back to the earth. We all are special. No one person is better than the other. I am not one of those people that was born on third base and act like they hit a triple. We have to stop this separation, because separation is man-made, and it’s not real.

 

We have to let go of the results. Just keep throwing love out there and being kind, and looking past the masks that others put up. If you are doing it for appreciation or to see it, your intentions are wrong.

Imagine we are building something, one piece at a time. When it is completed, we may not be here, but the idea and the thoughts will be. Instead of thinking of the past, or the future, just let it go, and think about right now. We feel joy just by giving. It doesn’t have to be something like this act of this man. It can be simply a smile, or letting someone who seems in a hurry go ahead of you.

 

You see you pull these weeds out of a garden and throw them behind you, and keep digging and throwing them behind you. You are tired, you say what is all of this for? What is the point? But behind you there is a beautiful garden that you have built that you may never see. If we all do that for each other, then we all have these beautiful gardens, then no one is trying to take from each other.

 

If you end poverty, you end violence.

 

You may not see the results. But there are results of every action, good or bad. The choice is yours.

 

The end

SHOW ME THE MONEY: A Story About Professional Farts

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“I do not like that man, I must get to know him better.” -Abraham Lincoln

I often hear people wonder out loud why there is such a high rate of recidivism, why do our patients come back, and why is there a high rate of repeat “offenders” in the Mental Health System. We can’t fix Mental Illness they say. We can’t “cure” it. The problem is we are trying to cure the wrong people. It is the staff that needs to be “cured,” or fixed. Not the patients. The patients are not the problem. The staff members and the stigma of society is the problem. I can give many examples of my over 20 years as a staff and patient to describe it. This is one that really sticks out to me.

She walks in she is wearing and old dress, it has stains on it. It may be the only dress she owns. It is green, with tan. She has hair that is getting gray, but it is still brown. She has attempted to put it in a nice pony tail. It is off to the side, the left side. The hair is still very frizzy and sticking up. She is trying so hard. This is a big day for her. She is interviewing to get into this program that will likely get her into an apartment.

That has been her dream, this is the way to accomplishing her ultimate dream, her own apartment. She enters the room with the “team”, she comes to the interview.

She farts, and farts loud. She laughs, it is a loud loud laugh. She says she is sorry that it keeps happening. It happens throughout the interview. She answers all the questions, she seems very nervous. She is trying hard to look her best and be on her best behavior. She has a whiny screechy voice. I watch and I see the “team” roll their eyes and shake their heads in disgust.

After she leaves, the team of Doctors, psychologists, OT workers, Social workers then are to evaluate her and decide if she is a “fit” for their program.

They all are dressed up in their fancy clothes, and they all laugh. They all grab the hand sanitizer and clean their hands, because “she touched my hand.” They laugh and tease her. They mock her hair, they laugh about her dress. They say “ick” and shake their bodies like they just touched a rat.

They are really feeling good about themselves. Remember, these are the so called healthy ones that need to “fix” and “stabilize” this patient. They are all getting paid over 100 dollars an hour, each of them, to analyze this woman. If they accept her, their program gets 8500 dollars a month to “treat” her.

The owner is there, she teases the patient as well. The owner goes to France 3 times a year. They all tease her. I know, I was in the room. I was new, I was watching. They accept her to their program, only because they had 3 open beds and they needed the money to pay for their vacations, they said this. Then they mocked her. Money, Money, Money, Money.

After her admission, I got to know her. She had a screeching type whiny voice that sounded like fingernails against the chalkboard. That loud laugh, then the farting, the gas was nonstop. It was a big joke to the staff and the patients.

Everyone blew her off, and no one wanted to talk to her. She annoyed everyone. So she isolated. She was crying uncontrollably one day and came into my office and sat down.

I wanted to say I was busy, but for some reason I didn’t. She said, “Please help, just listen to me.”

She told me about her dream and how nice she thought she looked that day of the interview. She told me that was the best dress and she saved it for so long for her big day. She wanted to impress these guys so much. She practiced for hours about what she wanted to say. She did practice interviews. She told me how she would do whatever staff wanted. She wanted that apartment so bad.

The thing is, they didn’t really care. They didn’t listen to her. They rushed it, it didn’t matter what she said, and they were focused on how “icky” she was.

They were feeling superior. They took her because they had open beds, they wanted money. This was the biggest day of her life, and the “team” they didn’t really care not one bit. What they cared about was getting her out in the hour, so they could admit her and leave on time.

She heard the mocking, the teasing. She had to take it. She wanted the apartment. The counselors never really met with her, the groups only lasted 10 minutes, and no one really asked her about her medications or what was going on.

They didn’t want to deal with her. They were annoyed. She was a thorn in the side of their day in which they did nothing and collected pay for it.

She made them pay attention and that bothered people.

I sat down and talked to her. She cried. She knew, she heard. Why was she always farting? Was it a medication?

N0.

When she was 4. She was raped by her father continually. Then he beat her when she told. He slammed the kitchen table against her stomach, over and over and pinned her against the wall with the table. This all crushed her insides.

He jumped on top of her and beat her. She was age 4. Around the same time that the doctors at the same age were worried about what was for dinner and where they were going on vacation that year. This was happening. This is happening somewhere near us every day. It is happening to someone right now.

She had to have most of her insides removed. This created the farting. But no one cared. The staff were “annoyed” The doctors and psychologists were worried about filling the bed. They don’t want staff to: “feed into this attention seeking behavior.” They said “use your boundaries.” “We don’t need to talk to her when she is doing this for attention.”

This is how they guide treatment. Well, I didn’t listen. This story was then confirmed by records we were able to get.

This is why the mental health system is broken, not because of medications, not because it is untreatable. Not because of people that were institutionalized. Not because they are so “violent” and “dangerous.” In fact mentally ill people have less occurrences of violence than the general public.

The term Mentally Ill is a terrible term. Mental Illness in this culture, in America, is considered this bad thing.

In other cultures it is a healer waiting to be born, in other cultures mentally ill is a term used for those that live in excess.

The reason the system is broken is because of 75% of the people that work in the system are like this. This is changing, I want it to change more, it is coming, and the revolution is coming.

This is why I will keep writing about these things. I have sat in team meetings for the last 18 years hearing stuff like this.

This won’t be over, and I will not be done until we have stopped the feeling of superiority and labels and trying to find what’s “wrong” with people.

Until we stop treating people like this it will never change. Sure we will react when there is a school shooting, or some tragedy happens. We love to react. To over react after the crisis. When we do that, we completely screw it up. We are having an emotional reaction to an event so we overdo it.

We can prevent that by dealing with it right now, everyday. Simply by engaging people and talking to them and showing them that we have love.

Next time you see someone that annoys you, or that you just seem to not like for no reason. Maybe it’s time to get to know them better.

That is how we change things. Sometimes people do whatever they can to “get attention.” A whine, a cry, a yell, a fart.

Either way, it is just that, a cry for attention.

When we see that, it is not time to “put up our boundaries,” as the so called professionals will say, it is the opposite, it is time to let our guard down and remember we are all in this together.

Boundaries create division. Money creates division.

Love brings us back to humanity.

Fight on.

Til the end.

Self Righteous Suicide: An Alcoholics Journey Home

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“If you live in the dark a long time and the sun comes out, you do not cross into it whistling. There’s an initial uprush of relief at first, then-for me, anyway- a profound dislocation. My old assumptions about how the world works are buried, yet my new ones aren’t yet operational. There’s been a death of sorts, but without a few days in hell, no resurrection is possible.” 

Most people, when they speak about addiction, they will tell you of the terrible things that happen to them and their families. The awful days, the time in jail, and the hangovers. I can tell you that is all true. Jail, mental hospitals, and destruction. I hid alcohol in dirty diapers so no one would look. I screwed up about every holiday and special occasion for 8 years. I went to jail. I lost a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom house. I lost a wife. I lost a daughter. I lost a best friend. I lost a Mercedes, I lost a BMW. Yes, it is terrible. It is awful. It is also the best thing that ever happened to me.

Because I lost myself, I killed myself. My false self. I became enlightened through addiction. I found out what was important. It was like in the Grinch who stole Christmas when the Who’s down in who Ville have all the presents ripped away from them. They still sing, and they learn what Christmas is truly about. Alcohol was my Grinch, and although I am sad about the pain, I would not change a thing. The thing I am most grateful for is my alcoholism, drug addiction, and my recovery. Thank you alcohol, my Grinch.

“Wake up, wake up, it is time to go!” Words we wait for, words I waited for my whole life. My wife says the words to me. It is time to wake up. It was time, it was time for my only son to be born. Inside my head, the thinking was this, “God I hope this is over so I can get a drink, this cannot be real, and she is just faking it. This is ridiculous, I need to be able to drink tomorrow, it is Saturday, and I want to golf and drink.” This I did. I missed the first week of his life. Then when he was a week old, after I had sworn off drinking and drugs, we were at a huge family gathering. I drank, and did drugs. I was driven to the hospital and I ran. I was run down by my 240 pound brother in law. How he outran me on that day I will never know. He was the tortoise, and he won the race. It was the most important race of my life, and I had to lose. Thankfully, he ran me down and drug me into the hospital. Then, I began to “wake up.”

It wasn’t one aha moment. It is a continual process, 1 step up, 2 back. Constantly learning, like an infant. Because that is what you are. You are being re born.

When she said, “It was time to wake up.” She was right. In more ways than one.

I now know what life is about, what is important. I know the reasons why we say do not judge people. I have seen the true power of love. The true power of forgiveness. I have seen magic. I have seen what it feels like to be at the end, with nowhere to go, and people thinking you are some monster. Being annihilated brings a sort of freedom that I can not explain.

I have seen how we get caught up in money, in things. I know the emptiness we feel, yes we are empty, but we are all part of one, we belong to each other, to the earth. We must love each other. Little things do not disturb me, my thoughts are just that, thoughts. I let them pass. It is ok to feel emotions, they are a sign. I finally decided to be my true self, the one I was hiding for so many years. The one that wants to love everyone and tell everyone how great they are. The one that writes, and finds beauty in every moment. The one who talks openly about everything. The one who has let go of what the results are. The one that just puts himself out there. And you know what, I do not need a substance to do that. I never did, that was an illusion.

Others still try to push that true self down. They benefit from the false self I created. However, recovery taught me about resentments, and cleaning my side of the street. I have learned to love myself, to have gratitude, to have affirmations and meditation. To have a good group of people that you trust. Do not be ashamed if you relapse. Shame creates isolation, and fear, and depression. Be open, it will likely happen, learn from it and it is not a mistake. It then becomes a learning experience.

My Ex-wife is back with me, our family is back. We live a humble life. We teach love. I see people for who they are, I see the good in them. I refuse to push this true self down.

Others pushed him down before, that is where the drinking came in, because it helped bring him out. Now I sing out loud, act goofy, play, speak my emotions, love, and let the thoughts go.

I am at peace. And it is all because of my addiction and recovery. There was pain, but because of the pain came great joy. It was like getting a second chance at life, it was a rebirth. I got to find out who I am, and I still do that every day. Every moment builds on the new me.

My son was born, and a week later, so was I. “Wake up, it’s time to wake up.”

Thank you addiction.

HMO Hitmen: The Dehumanization of Human Services

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Amidst an incredible round of golf on an unseasonably beautiful November day, I receive a text message that changed my life forever. And while my life was forever changed, the message itself reported the loss of a different life.

“Susie is dead.”

That’s all it said. “Susie is dead.” What kind of message is this? Is this a sick joke?

Susie is 24-years-old. She is a hard-working, good-looking, young girl without an enemy in the world. She is my co-worker in a fairly large company that has its typical cliques among the younger crowd – but not Susie. She is the person who naturally connects to everyone in the building and genuinely cares about others. How could she be dead? Did she die in a car accident? It is the only thing possible, right?

Nope. A heroin overdose.

I heard these words and it literally floored me. We hear of the figurative expression of being brought to your knees – well this is where it comes from. It really happens when you can not physically stand and the pain and anguish is so overwhelming and unbearable that you involuntarily sink closer to the earth.

Who does heroin? That was my instinctive reaction.

Apparently, a lot more people than I knew. I have associated with hard-core users and never thought twice about trying crack, huffing gasoline, snorting meth, or even intentionally burning ourselves for a quick adrenaline rush – but the word heroin was like from another planet. I have never seen heroin in my life and never even knew anybody who has tried it.

It must have been engrained in our culture and generation that if you touch the stuff, you instantly die. But, in a way, that is not too far from the truth.

Heroin is back and stronger and cheaper than ever previously known. And what comes with that is a desensitized public attention and understanding of our nation’s most recent drug epidemic – Heroin 3.0.

 

Beginning of the Epidemic:

Let’s look back at Susie’s death in 2011. She was one of 10 heroin-related deaths in the state of Minnesota that year. The next year, 2012, that number skyrocketed to 46. Last year, in Minnesota, there were 98 heroin overdoses.

The United States is home to five percent of the world’s population, yet we consume 80-percent of the world’s prescription drugs – primarily opioid pain killers.

And this is where our epidemic begins.

Eighty-five percent of households in America have prescription medication in their house. Most of this medication is not locked up, typically found in the bathroom medicine cabinet. The ease of obtaining prescription drugs legally is a joke, but perhaps more disturbing is that fact that it is easier to get them illegally.

I walk into my friend’s house and ask to use the bathroom, open the medicine cabinet and take a handful of drugs and empty them into my pocket. Stop by the local garage sale, ask to use the restroom and do some shopping in their medicine cabinet. An open house down the road? Let’s stop by and ask to use the bathroom and see what they have to offer.

Vicodin is the highest prescribed medication in the world. Not just pain-killer, the highest prescribed medication overall. With 85-percent of homes having prescription medication and Vicodin is the highest prescribed drug, it doesn’t take a genius to find a way to get an easy high by making a few visits to “friends” houses and using the restroom.

But this is just the beginning of the problem. This is called supply. When supply is up, prices are cheap. When prices are cheap, new customers are found. With new customers, increases demand. If this sounds like I am describing how to operate a for-profit business, I am. This is the for-profit business of legal drug dealing.

Back in the 1990’s there was a shift in the way pain is treated in hospitals. They used to only use morphine-based substances for major surgeries. But the hospitals were in agreement that they had been doing a terrible job treating pain. The consensus was that pain needs to be addressed with each client and monitored as a vital sign. I’m sure you’ve seen this before in hospital beds with the smiley faces and you point to the one that indicates your level of physical pain.

Then this trickled down into primary clinics and it became our God-given right to have our pain needs met immediately.

I coach high school football and hockey. They are high impact sports in which you have people running (or skating) at an excess of 15 miles per hour and crashing into each other – well guess what, there is going to be pain associated with this type of activity. In the old days, we would tell the kids to ice down their sore muscles or “rub some dirt on it,” and take some ibuprofen. That is no longer acceptable from kids and/or parents. They want the quick fix, they want the oxycontin, the Percocet, or vicodin. They know all these medications by name and the doctor is happy to oblige.

Side Effects May Include…

Kids and parents know all these drugs by name because they have been bombarded with advertisements for the past 20 years. It started with the 1997 FDA Modernization Act, allowing drug companies to advertise directly to consumers.

The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow this ridiculousness. The laws previously stated that all side effects must be included, but that is not possible with the number of side effects of drugs toppling the thousands. Instead, they are only required to list a few. And as we have seen thousands of times, at the end of a corny commercial a tiny segment that states “side effects may include…”

This led to pharmaceutical marketing blitz of the late 90’s. Patients flooded clinics demanding new drugs and doctors felt pressured to take out the prescription pad. Because, if doctors were to “just say no” to the doctor, they lose business and the next doctor would say yes. The inmates were running the asylum.

The increase in prescriptions, increased the supply to the general public. And with an increased supply of a mind-altering substance, you will naturally have an increase in demand. It started with high school students misusing painkillers in the late 1990s, which soon led to addiction. An astonishing number of overdose deaths were reported each year over the past 20 years led to congress acting on this self-induced epidemic.

In 2012, more than 41,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. More than half of those were from prescription drugs, including 16,007 from an opioid analgesic – A 300-percent increase since 1999. Meanwhile, sales on painkillers alone has topped $1.3 billion in 2013 – preventing any desire for the legal drug cartels to pull back the reigns on this gravy train that is destroying a generation.

Eventually tracking programs were put into place to discover who was overprescribing medications – known as “pill mills.” While well-intended to put an end to the unexpected surge in overdose deaths, this system also became available to the legal cartels. Pharmaceutical companies used this information to help increase sales. They found patterns in physicians prescription patterns, who was most likely to try new products, and they actually knew more about the doctor’s prescription patterns than the doctor himself. This allowed the pharmaceuticals to send their finest salespeople to these clinics and convince doctor’s to prescribe their drugs. They used all the tricks in the book – giving away gifts, vacation packages, sporting events, and even free samples.

But there was some good that came out of the tracking systems as laws were put in place to reduce prescription practices to risky clients, along with mandating education programs to health providers on how many prescriptions they are signing.

Slowly, the supply in the general public is shrinking but the problem is we already created record-high demands for these drugs. And, when the demand is strong enough in any industry – people will find an alternate supply.

Enter Heroin. It is more potent than any pain killer on the market. In many cases it is easier to obtain and oftentimes cheaper. Basically, we created a demand for a product and then increased supply to fill that demand. Then took the away the supply, leaving a huge unmet demand for a product.

 

History of Heroin

Around 10,000 years ago in ancient China, the indigenous poppy plant was sliced open and they discovered a white-milky substance. When ingested, this substance gave intense feelings of euphoria and pleasure.

Primarily used as a spiritual ritual and then as medicine for pain in ancient Greece, opium eventually made its way into the public realm and was used recreationally. This led to early preaching against the drug and efforts to encourage recreational use in moderation as early as 160 AD.

In 1492, Christopher Columbus intended to sail around the world to India and was to bring back gold, slaves, and opium to the kingdom of Spain. Landing in the Caribbean Islands instead, Columbus could not find opium, but found a different substance – Tobacco. He brought this back to Europe and they were forever hooked. It also introduced a new method of administration. In smoking any substance, it is in direct contact with your lungs and then rapidly enters the bloodstream, bypassing the liver and gives a much more intense high at a quicker rate.

This helped fuel the opium epidemic in China in the 1800s. The British Empire grew opium in India and sold to their Chinese neighbors to the east. China had an alarmingly high rate of opium addiction at this time and the emperor attempted to ban the substance on multiple occasions.

But state-sponsored drug dealing is lucrative business. Drugs are ridiculously cheap to make and the mark-up is astronomically high. Some estimates report as high as 17,000-percent profit margins! And when we are talking that kind of money, fines and legal expenditures can never alter the way these products are pushed to the public. Two wars were fought between Britain and China over the opium trade, but with an advanced military the Brits won both wars and were allowed to continue to sell opium to a nation that saw over 1/3 of its total population addicted.

Technology continued to evolve the drug in Germany as scientists discovered the curing molecule of Opium – Morphine. This became the world’s new “magic drug.” It was to cure addiction to alcohol and opium. It became a popular medication in the United States during the Civil War for the ailing soldiers in the battle field. However, even the strongest pain killer in the world was not acting fast enough to ease the pain and shock of wounded soldiers. Leading to another technology shift – the hypodermic needle; the newest method of administration to quickly get the drug into the bloodstream.

And it worked.

Too well, in fact, it worked so well that it led to the “Army Disease,” referring to civil war veterans that came home addicted to Morphine and a drug epidemic was rampant throughout the country. It turns out, not only is morphine addictive, but is the most addictive drug known to man.

At the end of the 19th century, this pattern continued in America. The introduction of cocaine, a derivative from the South American coca plant arrived in every product around. It was deemed as the “magical drug” with no side effects, non-addictive, and a cure to all other addictions. But that only lasted a handful of years before the truth was discovered.

Then the Bayer Company in Germany synthesized morphine further – developing the world’s newest “magic drug.” They call it Heroin. Introduced in 1898, heroin was available to everyone and marketed in mail-order catalogs and in many products at the local pharmacies. It was deemed non-addictive, a cure for morphine addiction, and no side effects.

This too was short-lived, as the effects of heroin were glaringly obvious. By 1914, the Harrison Tax Act placed major restrictions on using the drug and by 1925 heroin was forever banned, just 27 years after celebrating the title of “magic drug.”

The demand for heroin slowly faded along with the supply. Mandatory sentencing laws also turned the public off to the drug and it stayed that way for about 50 years. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the next wave of heroin use arrived in America.

It was an interesting time in America. The country was divided by the war in Vietnam, kids were being drafted to serve in the military and fight a war we really knew nothing about. People stopped believing the government, and with good reason, as we were fighting secret wars in Laos, Burma, and Thailand – an area known as the “Golden Triangle.”

The Golden Triangle produced 90-percent of the world’s opium during the time of American occupation from 1954-1974. A secret war, with a secret army, needs a secret airline, right? Air America is the name of the CIA’s owned and operated airline in which its fleet supplied arms and ammunition to the rebels and insurgents in the Golden Triangle to help fight the war in Vietnam and the threat of communist expansion from China. In exchange, Air America transported opium grew by the Hmong farmers to the area and made its way to South Vietnam and sold to American Soldiers.

 

The War on Drugs

In 1971, Richard Nixon declared the “War on Drugs.” The war is still active today, making it the longest war in the history of America. While much is to be said about this complete failure, its beginnings stemmed from the soldier’s addiction to heroin in Vietnam.

The Nixon campaign launched “Operation Golden Flow” before ending the war in Vietnam. This was an effort to get the soldiers clean before coming home. They took urinalysis tests, and if they failed, they were forced to go to treatment before returning home. Just like the civil war, this was a generation of soldiers addicted to a derivative from opium. This newfound control of the world’s opium production gave Americans a peak in supply, and as history repeats itself, a demand would surely follow back home with Heroin Epidemic 2.0 coinciding with the Vietnam War and military occupation in the Golden Triangle.

American withdrawal from the Golden Triangle subsequently slowed the heroin epidemic of the 70s. And the “War on Drugs” found a new target in South America, in which the CIA empowered dictators that favored American corporations. Drug trafficking, and the huge profit-margins, ran under the cover of “War on Drugs,” led to an increased supply in cocaine and crack during the 1980s.

At the same time, there was also a new switch in the world’s leader in opium production – the “Golden Crescent.” This is an area is Central, South, and Western Asia defined by three countries – Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – with Afghanistan being the world-leader in opium production since 1991. During the 80s, the CIA funded a group of rebels, involved in the opium trade, to fight off soviet occupation in Afghanistan. One of those rebel groups funded by the CIA is known as “The Taliban.”

Sound familiar?

Dr. David Musto, a member of the Carter administration’s drug advisory board, issued a prescient warning that the United States was moving “into Afghanistan to support the opium growers in their rebellion against the Soviets. Shouldn’t we, try,” Dr. Musto asked, “to avoid what we had done in Laos?”

In 1979, the DEA agreed with Musto and already anticipated huge shipments from Afghanistan to reach eastern shore of the United States. To give perspective on how supply/demand work in the drug industry along with profit margins, during the Soviet-Afghan War, annual heroin sales in Pakistan peaked at $8-$10 billion – about ¼ of the country’s total GDP. At the same time, the rates of addiction increased by 26,000-percent! Just 5,000 reported cases of opium addiction in 1980 up to 1.3 million in 1988.

The CIA’s control of the Golden Crescent put America in control of the world’s opium production again. The formula stays the same – increased supply precedes an increase in demand. But this time, corporations found their way into the world’s most profitable business. Remember this is the same time that the healthcare industry decided that pain management is needed at every level of care, new laws allowed for direct- consumer advertising, and customers were literally demanding opium (err..pain medication).

Opium is grown in four places in the world today; Southwestern Asia (Golden Crescent), Southeastern Asia (Golden Triangle), Columbia, and Mexico. The majority of illegal heroin in the United States comes from the Western Hemisphere, but prices remain at an all-time low because the world’s supply has created competition. Lower prices will encourage more people to use and with the astronomically high profit-margins, the loss is minimal to the cartels – both legal and illegal.

 

The Final Part of the Problem

The industry known as “health care,” does absolutely nothing to care about our health. The for-profit system is a business, just like any other major corporation, with intents on minimizing costs and increasing revenue.

But first, let’s go back to the Clinton administration and look at another act of 1997 – the North American Free Trade Act. Although not heath-care related, there are substantial indirect consequences. This act allowed free trade between Canada, U.S.A., and Mexico, which flooded the borders with traffic and customs agents were unable to stop the increased flow of illegal drugs.

While well-intended, this law led to an increase in black tar heroin in America and put the control of the supply in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. And while the cold war ended in 1990, Afghanistan became the largest producer of opium, and Americans no longer had a reason to occupy the Golden Crescent.

Until September 11, 2001, and the “War on Terror” was created. The Taliban, controlled 90-percent of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 and was quickly eliminated following the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01. Since the fall of the Taliban, opium production has actually risen each year since American occupation.

The terrorist attacks also changed things back home, with Bush creating the NSA and Homeland Security put tighter restrictions on the Mexican border (even though the terrorists snuck in through Canada). So, this meant we cut off the largest supplier of illegal drugs in America (Mexico), but we already have established a new demand. With such large demand, and our hands in the world’s new largest supplier of the drug, a need surely be met to feed addictions.

President Bush had the answer with the Medicare Prescription Drug Act of 2003. This act was a handout from the United States taxpayers to the Drug and Health Care Corporations of $800 billion. This bill gave pharmaceutical companies freedom to charge whatever they wish, healthcare as the middleman, and the consumer as a life-long customer (also called a drug-addict).

So, now we have a need for drugs (literally addicted), the supply in Afghanistan, and cut off supply from the biggest competitors from Mexico, and free reign to the corporations (the same corporations that lobbied billions of dollars to congress to pass this bill).

And Now Comes the Sick Part…

Capitalism is about making money, I get it. But why are we allowed to have corporations make huge profits off getting people addicted to drugs (pharmaceutical industry), by creating diseases to justify drugging them (psychiatry industry), and then denying them the help they need for this addiction we created (health insurance industry).

I am going to end with a story that shows the sick ones are not those addicted to heroin, but those in corner offices deciding the fate of those in need.

Meet Ben. He is a 16-year-old boy in a treatment center for heroin addiction. After a visit in residential treatment, he has had a chance to clear his mind and work on skills to avoid further harm. While working on building support, Ben has a relapse by injecting heroin over the weekend.

Heroin relapse is often fatal because after abstaining from using for a period of time, your tolerance drops. The person uses the same amount prior to sobriety and can not handle it, leading to an overdose. Furthermore, heroin is at an all-time high as far as lethality. Back in the 1970s it was about 10-15 percent purity and now the numbers are closer to 70 percent pure heroin. The reason? Again, because of competition. Heroin dealers typically put alternative products in the heroin to increase their supply and profits. But with supplies escalating, dealers need to provide higher quality for repeat business – just like any good entrepreneur.

So, Ben survives the relapse but is in need of further treatment. When contacting his insurance company, you will be transferred eight times before you are told a “clinical specialist” will be in contact with you shortly. The specialist is an untrained 22-year-old kid that is to determine the Ben’s fate. The substance abuse counseling field requires you to go to school, continuing education, pay an assortment of fees and tests to obtain a license which gives the counselor the professional requirements to access an individual’s treatment needs.

However, counselors are overruled by these cue-card bimbos at insurance companies that are trained to deny coverage. These cue cards tell them to “JUST SAY NO!” to the coverage of mental health services.

Literally, they are told to deny claims. In the medical industry, a claim is referred to as a “medical loss.” Think about it; if you deny care, it saves the company money. If you save the company money, they have more profits.

How did such a corrupt system begin? How else, but from the genius work of President Nixon. Nixon passed the HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) Act of 1973, which eventually gained many federal subsidies and virtually eliminated affordable individual health care plans.

In a meeting at the White House between President Nixon and John Erlichman (speaking for Edgar Kaiser) in promoting HMOs, Ehrlichman quotes Kaiser stating, “All the incentives are toward less medical care, because—the less care they give them, the more money they make.” - Mr. Ehrlichman quoting Edgar Kaiser to President Nixon on February 17, 1971

The Story of Ben…

After two hours on the phone going through every aspect of the assessment with cue-card bimbo, they are giving you a reverse sales-pitch. They determine how much they will cover and they justify it by questioning a licensed professional.

“Well what will be different this time? They were already in treatment, how will things change? Where are their parents? Where do they get the drugs?”

They challenge everything you say to them, they simplify the situation, they look at a written assessment and believe they have more answers about a kid than you know first-hand. Written assessments do not tell a full story. Ben wants to make a change, but his impulse was too high and he caved.

But insurance girl “just says no.” Eventually after fighting and arguing with cue-card bimbo, she agrees to cover four days of treatment. Four days will not even get Ben through withdrawal. But, it is a start. Let’s get him in the door, get him detoxification services, and then hopefully authorize payment for more services and cue-card bimbo will be on board.

Nope. Now since Ben is doing well these four days, cue-card bimbo decides he no longer needs residential services.

You see, cue-card bimbo doesn’t realize how relapse works. She doesn’t realize that it can be fatal, she has become desensitized to the word heroin because the epidemic has normalized its use.

“This is too serious and I am terrified that if we do not authorize a higher level of care that we both might be attending a funeral in the near future.”

Cue-card bimbo does not know what to say to that threat. But I do.

“Actually, only one of us will attend the funeral because pieces of papers and numbers don’t have funerals. They just get filed away in ‘failed services’ categories which further justifies your reasons to deny care.”

Two weeks later, Ben died from a heroin overdose.

At the same time, United Health Group CEO Stephen Hemsley is paid a salary of 3.2 million dollars and owns a $10 million home in Wayzata, Minnesota. Every day in 2009 he earned 819, 363.10.

The best treatment center in the world is the Hazelden-Betty Ford Center located in Hemsley’s home-state of Minnesota. A 28-day residential treatment program at the world’s finest facility costs $30,000.

Hemsley’s hourly wage was around $102,741.68 in 2009.

At this rate, if Mr. Hemsley were to not pay himself for 17 minutes of one day in 2009, he could have paid for full services at the world’s best treatment center for this kid for 28-days.

In all fairness to Mr. Hemsley, the $3.2 million does not cover his entire compensation package. And in 2013 he took a 19-percent pay reduction. It is quite honorable for him to reduce his total compensation from $34 million in 2012 to a mere $28 million in 2012.

But let’s not single him out, the top ten health insurance companies CEO averaged a salary of $13 million per year, with their average worker making $35,000.

With all that money, imagine all the services and care people could receive, instead of increasing the wealth of one person? We could create an entire industry and call it, “health care.”

Psychiatry and Psychology’s DSM: The Devil’s Dictionary

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“When you start to sit on your throne and decide who is good and who is evil, you become capable of doing great evil, without even thinking of it as evil.” -unknown

Relationships are the key. Relationships. By that I do not mean an “I’m above you” type relationship. Not uppers and lowers. Relationship, me getting to know you, you getting know me. No regard to rank. No one’s better, no one’s worse. When I talk about relationships, I mean a relationship in which we both can challenge each other when we think it’s time. We have to get away from this “I’m the wise healer and you are the lowly patient that needs help.”

That is the attitude of many in the field of psychiatry. That’s why they have phrases like “professionalism,” and “Boundaries.” I love it when they say to the patient, “tell me all about the worst times of your life and I will write it down and make decisions about your life, but I am not allowed to tell you anything.”

That is why it doesn’t work. Martin Luther King Jr. said something like, “you get justice fastest by rendering justice to the other party.” Who is going to open up to you as a provider when they have no trust in the system to begin with and we tell them no, we don’t talk about ourselves? There is a reason for that, of course. Some people end up making it about themselves, however we need to teach this skill. It is a skill that when used and well-timed and for the benefit of the patient is an amazing tool. It is what I call a “relationship.”

We told a patient the other day that she cannot high five staff. The rationale for it was, because it is a “boundary.” This person has not gotten a hug in probably 15 months. Then we wonder why things go wrong.

It’s not about one person walking in the room with a hundred thousand dollar a year job. The provider has a Mercedes, a fancy suit, and giving medications to the other person. We do this by reading a book that tells us how to label people. That is what the DSM is. It is a book written by rich privileged people that guides us on how to label and control those that have not had opportunities. It is an evil book. It takes special people, takes away their person and tells them what is “wrong” with them. It is essentially a “how to be like us” book.

The bell curve theory says that about 96% of the population is inside this box. The DSM helps those in power to pull anyone who is different and special into that box. They do this to anyone that they can influence and change and take advantage of. It uses shame, medications, and even brute force if necessary.

We are getting this all wrong. We are trying to make everyone safe, and the same. Not a threat to those in power.

I remember a time in my life when I was working at a rehab center for mentally unstable kids and I learned this first hand. I was trained by many people coming out of my recovery. Some say to me now, “you were lucky to have the people train you that trained you.”

I disagree; I think we choose who trains us. We have these beliefs already, and we have everyone throwing knowledge our way. We choose who we cling to and who we take ideas from. If we are gifted with humility, (which I was not,) we learn a bit from everyone. If we see everyone as good and bad, and every experience and person as a teacher, we become amazing. Even if someone does something wrong and bad in our eyes, is it really bad if we learn from it and become better? It is a rare person that can learn from everyone that they meet.

We are taught to listen to authority and to think like the teachers and elders tell us to from the time we are young. We get rewarded when we repeat what the adults want us to say. With positive reinforcement, we are basically domesticated early. In school, we teach children to remember, repeat, and memorize what the teacher wants. You are labeled “good” if you are able to do this. If you question them, you are a non-conformist and a rebel and get a bad grade. It is passed on throughout the school that we need to “keep an eye on him/her.” It starts early. We reward conformity.

However, we need to be careful when blindly obeying authority. I have a very good example of when I made a huge error and ended up learning a lot about this whole psychiatry, psychology, mental health and addiction field. My lesson came in the form of an 8 year old boy and a 55 year old woman. Not exactly who they tell you who the wise teachers are.

This happened at a point in my life when I was in full recovery mode. I thought I had this addiction/mental health whooped. In my mind, I am now on my way to becoming the great healer. I had been cured in my mind. As the great man I’ve mentioned before “PVD” says, you can become complacent, or addicted to thinking you are recovered. He warned me, I didn’t listen.

I get this huge supervisor job at a rehab center. I am the man. I now will teach my great wisdom. This is what I am telling myself. My ego was through the roof.

In pops Deborah. She is dressed very nice, walks the walk. She is the ultimate “professional”-she hired me. I feel I owe it to her to listen to her and keep her on my side. She seems legit. I am in the big time now, so I need to last here, so I look like I have made it.

She is very adamant about making sure we know who the staff is and who the patients are. She tells me I need to dress up more. That If I dress nice, that I’ll perform better. She says “studies show this is a fact.” I was her puppet. The truth is that studies that evaluate this do not take in to consideration other factors, like those that are evaluating the person’s performance, likely has a biased. They want people to play grown up professional like them.

In my heart, I didn’t believe this, what I noticed is, it causes separation. But she’s the boss, maybe she’s right. So I get dressed up. I’m making all this money, dressing nice, feeling special. I went out and got myself a BMW, and a Mercedes. I am now the rich healer. “Look at me! Look everyone, I’m not a loser! Accept me! Accept me! Tell me I’m ok!”

I’ve arrived. The money of course is to try to prove I’m not that addict. I’m a success. Problem was that I was living for other people. I wanted acceptance from family. I also wanted acceptance from others. I wanted an image. I have heard it said, “It is better to be hated for who you are than be loved for who you are not.” I found out that this is not just a saying, it is a fact.

My ego loved this. I had made the full comeback. I told myself that I don’t need any more recovery talk. I beat it. I don’t need no “PVD.”

Deborah had taught me, that what we do is go into offices, go to meetings, make up committees, and more meetings. Socialize with the big shots, find the good staff, and befriend them. Show off at meetings. Get information from the staff, use it to our advantage, and manipulate the numbers. This is why money should not be involved in this. It is not a business, it is people.

Something felt icky about this. But of course it was another addiction. Not booze, drugs, women, but image.

Now I learn the game, let’s label all the patients, look at the DSM and categorize everyone. We did this and it would make me feel superior. I got to sit back and label people in need and determine who they were. If they didn’t get better, it was because they weren’t ready. I learned these neat phrases on how to say things and how you can use words like that and manipulate and cover up your deficiencies.

We were making money. We didn’t track success by recovery, but by beds, and cash flow.

When I did do a lecture, people didn’t listen. I wasn’t getting to anyone. What happened? I didn’t get it, that’s what I thought my strength was. But I wasn’t me anymore. They just weren’t ready I told myself. “I know this stuff; I used to be an addict I told myself.”

Then the magic happened over the next year and a half.

In walks this kid with his mom. Jonah is his name. She says he’s tough. He also has Asperger’s. He’s almost impossible. No one has ever been able to get to him; he has been kicked out of many placements. He is only 8.

Well I have to meet all new patients within 72 hours. Or I need to just sign off. So, as Deborah taught me, just sign off. So I did. They just needed my signature.

Then I can’t get over it, for some reason, I’m interested in this Asperger’s, so I look it up in the manual. “Wow, this is interesting,” I think to myself. So I get books on it and read them. I read them over and over. I got this figured out. We are going to do this! We will be the ones. I had a spark.

Meanwhile, the kid is wreaking havoc and we don’t know what to do with him. Everyone is at a loss, they said at one time or another, “discharge him, send him up the river, and lock him up. He’s a future ax murderer.” My ego wanted to be the one to figure it out.

But I, the self-proclaimed expert, have read the book. So I know how to treat him. I set up organized activities. Make sure he understands what people mean when they are talking to him. I say, don’t give him negative consequences, because of his Asperger’s, it won’t work. These are the theories I’ve learned. I had this master plan to fix this. I had done hours and hours of reading as well as research.

I decide after coming up with my master plan to meet the kid. But of course, I’ve already got him figured out. I’ve read about him. I have also read his chart and asked EVERYONE ELSE what they think about him.

So in this research, I had read the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s. Here it is:

(I) Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

(A) Marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction

This kid, he made weird movements, had weird facial expressions. He didn’t make eye contact. He didn’t regulate social interaction like most people.

So here I am and I have already read his diagnosis. He has Asperger’s. So I did not take into account that maybe he was shy, maybe he was just quirky, and maybe he was just a goofball. He would say weird things to start interaction. Maybe he didn’t know how, maybe he has been told he is no good and to shut up his whole life. So he doesn’t know.

What I also failed to realize is that we all have these traits sometimes, and the phrase here is “marked impairments.”

I never questioned the word impairment. Who gets to decide what impairment is? It is worded here like it is a defect. Really, Impairment? Would we say that about Bill gates, that he is impaired?

I looked it up and impaired means being diminished, or weakened. Why is it that because this kid did things different that he was diminished or weakened? Who decided this? Why does the APA have the power to tell us what “normal” is? And if we don’t meet their standards we need medication?

But I did not take any of this into consideration. He was labeled, so I didn’t think about other possibilities. I attached it all to the “Asperger’s” label. This is what we do. This is what we teach in school. We label, we teach to find what’s “wrong” with people. Then we reward those that remember and repeat. We reward conformity even in the psychiatry and psychology schools. We do not reward free thinkers and truth seekers. The students want to be the next great healers, so they learn what the elders want them to learn. This is the only way to stop the issue. We have to change the way we teach.

The problem in this case is it is not a “problem.” It is not an ”impairment,” at all. We have a bunch of old white guys who are paid by drug companies to come up with these “problems.” We all feel superior being able to label people and sit on our throne and decide how we need to “fix” everyone.

(B) Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level

Well this kid definitely met this standard. He did not develop peer relationships normally. So, it’s got to be Asperger’s, right?

Yes! Of course it is! He already was labeled so that is who he is. He is “impaired,” poor kid. I say to myself, “I’ll fix him, and I am going to be the one to get this.”

What I never took into account was that maybe he was smarter than the other kids, so he was on another level. Or perhaps, he was very sensitive, and got his feelings hurt easily. Or perhaps he was just ok with being alone more, like maybe a very introverted kid and a deep thinker.

But he had been labeled by someone that read books about how to discover what is wrong with people, and I wanted to feel superior. Of course this poor kid can’t develop relationships. We think “It must be Asperger’s.”

Or maybe he doesn’t want to do it like the rest of us; maybe he is not domesticated like us.

I didn’t think of this, I didn’t have the capacity.

I love in this criteria they use the word “appropriate.”

What is the definition of “appropriate?” -particularly fitting or suitable.

So this means if you do things how most people do things, you are “appropriate.” If not, you need to be looked into and maybe medicated. Maybe you are dangerous.

If it were not for people that were not “appropriate,” women still would not be allowed to vote, we would still have slaves, and many other atrocities would still be happening. I could name a million things that “inappropriate,” thinkers at the time changed.

Do you think Bill Gates or Martin Luther King or mother Theresa did things how everyone else wanted? Or Gandhi? You see what we are doing here to this kid? What I was doing?

I didn’t know any better, and most of us in the system truly think that those they are helping are still in the same boat. No one does this intentionally. It is just that absolute power corrupts. In psychiatry, we have built it so one side has absolute power.

 (C) Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus

So this kid did this as well. Of course he is the impaired Asperger’s kid in my mind. So I ignore the fact that he does not always do this.

He didn’t show interest in others things sometimes; this is a trait we all have. Some people are obsessed with certain interests and thank god for them. That is how we come up with cures for diseases and how we fix serious issues, is those obsessed with their own interests.

What would we do without people that are obsessive? Michael Jordan? He was so obsessed with himself and basketball he became the greatest basketball player of all time. So I guess he may have had Asperger’s as well? We need to fix him also.

Or others like him…

Einstein

Bill Gates

Just to name a couple.

Think about some of these obsessive people. How about instead of finding what is wrong with people, we start to find what is good and pure about them.

(D) Lack of social or emotional reciprocity

The kid I am discussing did this as well. He did not always want to listen to others’ opinions, or care what their opinions were. If you didn’t do what he wanted, he just did his own thing.

I did not take into account that maybe he was just sure of himself, and liked what he liked. Or that we all do this sometimes, which is true, we are all selfish at times and it can be seen as healthy.

We are also told to take care of ourselves and we only have one life. So maybe he was happy with his own stuff and talking to people with the same interests. Maybe we just didn’t like this kid deciding what he liked and wanted.

Maybe he was sensitive and a loner, but why there is such a need to make our children extroverts when they don’t need to be? It is poured into peoples’ heads that you need a lot of friends, you need to be popular. This is done even if it is completely against your nature. So you are taught that who you are is wrong. Voila, the mask!

We all get selfish at times. It is self-preservation, and we all have different levels. In fact, we call a high degree of unselfishness a disorder known as “codependency.” If you’re too selfish, you’re wrong. If you’re too unselfish, you need help. We listen to these psychiatrists and therapists like they have all the answers. The truth is, they mostly read a book passed down with studies made by people that manipulated them to favor their own beliefs. They repeated and remembered. Now not all of them, there are great ones out there. I am simply saying look around and don’t blindly follow. Not all therapists and psychiatrists are created equally. Don’t judge someone by the plaque on their wall.

If it wasn’t for great doctors and therapists, I wouldn’t be here. They saved my life, but bad ones exist. I’m saying they are like every other profession. Some are robots. Some are people. If someone diagnoses you right away, then run, run, run.

(II) Restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

As I had him diagnosed and as I read this, I started to think, “Man, this sounds like me. I don’t make eye contact a lot, I get selfish. I am inappropriate at times.”

I started to think, “Wow. Maybe I have Asperger’s and that is what has been wrong with me my whole life. Maybe this was me.” However, I thought that as I went through every diagnosis. So apparently I am a Borderline Narcissistic Anti-Social Asperger’s with some major depression and a little ADD with some Bipolar.

(A) Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus

“Yes!” I said, “This is it!” He was preoccupied with reading, and with nature and animals. He was very obsessed with many things.

Some would say “abnormally obsessed” but I start to ask myself….

What is normal and who gets to decide this?

Normal- conforming to a standard.

So if he is abnormally preoccupied with things, can’t that be good? Why is there this need to “fix” this, and to place everyone in the “normal” box?

(B) Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals

He loved things the way he wanted them. We would say, “ Must be the Asperger’s, must be a defect.”

I did not think for a second that maybe he was abused and needed to have some kind of control over his environment. Or that he was just rigid, and liked structure and having a voice. A voice that maybe he was denied his whole life.

A lot of these criteria are also that of a gifted person. But I did not consider it. He was at our mercy, and we had him labeled and we had to fix him and get paid for it as well.

 

(C) Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g. hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)

Sometimes he had weird movements so check mark on this one also. What is “weird” though? It is a term used to shame people that we don’t understand. If Bill Gates wasn’t famous, you would call him a weirdo, same as Einstein.

However, we all have weird ticks, I pick my head, I chew my nails, and people that truly love me just laugh and say that is me being me. My brother chews his tongue, some people grind their teeth. But that is “normal.” If the loud powers that be have a tic, they market it as normal. It is all about the language we use.

“We need to stop him from his movements,” we say. So we give him more meds that make him sick, but he is not allowed to complain. So he is now sick and told to be quiet. Then he is angrier and we say “Boy, they were right, he is very difficult.”

Some people move more often. They are hyper. I did not even consider this because I already had him figured out. See I read in his chart he had Asperger’s. So, that is what he had.

(D) Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

Preoccupation of things, yes he had this, He was very obsessive about things he likes.

But aren’t we all?

So why do we need to fix this? Why is this even a disorder?

I started to think, “Ok he only needed to have a couple of these, he has almost all of them, wow!” I am thinking how this diagnosing and labeling was going to help us deal with him.

We ignored the fact that sometimes he did some of these things, sometimes he did not.

For instance, when he showed empathy, we ignored it because it went against our preconceived notions. When he showed eye contact, we ignored it because it went against our label; we do this with everything in psychology and psychiatry.

So as time goes on, I spend time with him. I have come up with a plan on how to help this poor Asperger’s child. I am going to be the one that helps him, that was what was in my heart.

People want to help and there is ego and superiority involved, wanting to focus on others’ problems as an escape from yourself. There is a sickness in that.

So I gave him a routine. He needs that, which is what is written. I had him talk about his feelings, he needs that. I watched him and watched him and spent hours and hours with him. Fascinated, (must be my Asperger’s.)

It occurred to me, as this master plan was not working, that half the time he does not do this stuff. He does show empathy, he does smile, he does share, he is not always obsessed, and he is not always rigid.

I realized I was always looking for this stuff as he was labeled. So I attached everything he did to that label; and if he did something contrary to the label, I ignored it. If he did something neutral, my own mind twisted it to what I wanted it to be. I was becoming aware of this.

After hours and hours I thought, “This isn’t working because he DOES NOT HAVE Asperger’s. It’s a poor diagnosis.” Now that is something that is upsetting to most in the field. I told them their label was wrong.

So he goes on to another series of tests and analysis, they come back with agreement. He does not have Asperger’s. Of course I told them in my report that I do not believe it and gave specific examples. I of course gave them the referral that was paying their money. I represented future business. So that of course influenced their minds. Same as my mind was influenced previously.

I told them the things we tried and how they didn’t always work. It says to not discipline the Asperger child, and to let it out and he will stop, that he needs routine. I had evidence he was not by the hours that I spent with him and the notes that my biased mind had made.

They came back with something new. Now I was invested in this diagnosis because I had helped fix it and get him the correct diagnosis. I had to make sure this was the right diagnosis, and manipulate the chart so it seems like I was right so I can keep making more money. That is what happens. I was a part of it.

His new diagnosis was Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Here is the criterion:

Diagnostic criteria for 313.81 Oppositional Defiant Disorder

 

  1. A pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior lasting at least 6 months, during which four (or more) of the following are present:

(1) Often loses temper:

He did that for sure. First we were sure it was the Asperger’s and he was throwing Asperger’s fits. Not anymore, now that we know he does not have Asperger’s. It was just the fact that he was angry and had temper issues.

We didn’t look at his history of abuse, isolation, inability to speak up. Or his sensitivity that caused hurt. Why would we, he was oppositional. That is not good.

You see how most of these diagnoses revolve around conformity and normalcy and appropriateness? As defined by the powers that be.

 

(2) Often argues with adults

He did this almost nonstop. We thought before it was because he didn’t understand, he had Asperger’s and didn’t get things the same way others did. Now we were convinced it was just defiance.

He argued with me all the time.

We now knew he understood, he just wanted to be in control. He was basically a punk.

We didn’t think about him being hurt, sensitive, caring and afraid of being hurt or punished. We didn’t have to, especially me. And this was my monster.

(3) Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules

This kid did this very often, almost nonstop. However as you see some of these are the exact same as Asperger’s, just written differently. With Asperger’s, he “doesn’t get it” with this label he is just a “rebel.”

So here we are again with conformity. We teach kids in school to listen and obey. Repeat and remember. Do as we want you to do. We domesticate them. Those that do not believe the lie or buy into it are labeled in one of many ways.

Maybe he didn’t trust the system because of the abuse he endured, the isolation and terrible life he had. We didn’t want to think of that, we had to find out what was “wrong” with him, so we would know how to “fix” him.

Maybe he was scared.

(4) Often deliberately annoys people

He did this to everyone every day. So he met these criteria for the disorder already.

We never thought that maybe he is in great need of attention, had never gotten it, and was doing whatever he needed to in order to get his need met. Maybe his soul was screaming to be heard, “Someone pay attention to this!”

We had to fix him, we had to fix that.

This is a dangerous diagnosis. It sets kids up to be labeled as “trouble.” If they have this diagnosis and then trouble as an adult, it is an almost automatic diagnosis of “Anti-Social.” Or “Sociopath.” Basically, life over. You are not reversing that.

Martin Luther King may have met the criteria for this, Gandhi, and Mother Theresa. They were all oppositional as well.

This is only a bad thing for people that want to control the masses and keep everyone in a box.

(5) Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior

Yes he did that. This 8 year old never took responsibility for his actions. Maybe because monsters are not born, they are created by other monsters and the APA labeling system.

With Asperger’s, he didn’t understand. Now we think it’s intentional.

Maybe he was scared of rejection, or that no one would love him if he said he was wrong, or the things that he notices, or maybe he didn’t know. Maybe he learned that this was a way to stop abuse or get it spread out to others to escape a beating for one night.

We don’t think like that in the west. We think, “What is wrong with this person, how can we label them and come up with a plan to help them.”

(6) Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others

He was bothered by a lot of things. Again, this is almost the same criteria as Asperger’s, just worded different. He got upset by people and things in his environment very easily. He was highly sensitive to the environment. Even this is now a disorder.

Why would a kid be this angry? Maybe hurt, pain, abuse, or fear. We don’t focus on that, we focused on his “problem” because he is the “identified patient.” We come up with these “problem statements” that guide us in how to repair these, in our minds, “defective” people.

(7) Is often angry and resentful

Yes, he was an angry kid. Mad all the time. (Guess he is oppositional.)

The same possibilities exist that we ignored as we focused on his “problem,” and how this will guide us in saving him and correcting him.

(8) Is often spiteful or vindictive

. We are limiting ourselves out of ego. We know what’s wrong with others, we are superior. WE GET PAID. We have the fancy cars. We are above them. That is the attitude.

It is very rare to hear someone say, “Why would a kid be this way. What caused it?”

No one looks at the family system. That is the last thing the family wants. They have identified their family problem. Don’t bring them into it, just fix the broken piece.

Often the kid reacting to the dysfunctional home is the strongest and healthiest. They see it and act out. They do not know how to verbalize it, so they act out.

We take the strongest and most sensitive, tell them they are ill, and label them. This leads to a lifetime of labels going from chart to chart.

This labeling is sick. And this was my doing. This was my error, one that will never leave me.

Note: Consider a criterion met only if the behavior occurs more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level.

I love this one. It says only if it is more frequently than individuals of comparable level. Well how can we compare a kid that has been abused and isolated to a kid who has not. Again, conformity is normal. Be like we tell you to be and you will survive this world. Domesticate or suffer.

So how do you treat oppositional defiant disorder, the opposite of Asperger’s? So one week we are convinced he shouldn’t have consequences, he should have routine, have him talk about things.

Now with the next diagnosis he needs order and discipline and consequences.

To my surprise, after a few months, it did not work. I was astounded. I got to know him after even more hours and hours. I saw the anger, but I also started to see the caring and loving kid. He lowered his guard. He cried. He was scared, nervous, and shy. He said that he wanted to die. A 9 year old that wanted to die and said he hated himself. He said that he was not ok, that no one loved him.

His sister never got the abuse; he did, so he was of course spiteful of her.

I’m watching this kid crumble with this discipline and my heart is breaking. I watch his family when they visit. When they come in, they want a diagnosis; they want him to be sick. It takes responsibility away from any of them.

If he is sick, they have an excuse. They take the strongest most sensitive family member, the one who speaks up through his actions, and place him in therapy and in centers. They then get mad when I say, after 8 months now, “I’m sorry, but I think this is a systems issue. I do not think he has Asperger’s and I do not think he has oppositional defiant disorder.” They want Asperger’s, because that opens up funding for in home care. So they get people to come in and “deal with his stuff.”

What is it then? What is wrong with him? His mom is raging. Can’t you see what I see? He acts different here than he does at home, and she is mad that we aren’t diagnosing him. What is wrong with us?

He cries and clings to us. We are all starting to get to know him. He is obsessive, strong willed, funny, caring, sensitive, and a very gentle soul. He also gets mad when things don’t go his way, and he doesn’t make eye contact. He has a hard time connecting and he can be selfish. He also wants to die and hates himself. I think I would call him, “human.”

I went into his room. I said Jonah; I want you to write down 10 good things about yourself.

He couldn’t come up with one. It broke my heart. I cried. I said ok, I’ll make a list. I did. He hung it up and framed it. Of course, he later got mad and ripped it up.

Then we gave him structure, we talked it out after he had outbursts, he wrote out feelings and what they meant, how his body felt, what he could do, what he could do to stop it.

I realized we were now incorporating some of the Asperger’s and some of the ODD treatments. And it was a mixture that was working. I was starting to see the picture of the truth.

The next one was ADD. That made sense to us all. I won’t go line by line but he met them all and that guided our treatment. Now we got it.

Medication and organization again, we were treating this kid on a label. Now it was all ADD, we were convinced. That didn’t vulcanize him or make him unaware.

He didn’t respond to our perfect treatment plan. We never asked him, so now as more time goes on, we are at almost a year with this kid now.

Yes he may have had ADD, maybe some of everything. I didn’t know.

He was scared of adults, he lived with a man that locked him in his room at night and abused him. The daughter got none of it.

He loved rocks, science, video games, organization, and rules. He was strong willed and sensitive.

We came up with lists of why he likes his sister because he got jealous. We gave him complements. When there was an outburst, we processed it. The feelings, and processed what happened.

We did discipline him and took things away, but also gave more positive reinforcement and caught him being good. I do not think he needed discipline, I think he needed something else.

He absolutely loved animals and little kids. He was wonderful to anyone who was helpless. He was such a loving kid; he was so sensitive and had a hard time with criticism. Ghandi once said, “You can tell everything you need to know about someone by the way they treat animals and those that can never pay them back.”

We treated him, not some fake label, but the person, who has traits of all of these. We found his strengths, things he liked and talked about that.

He was seriously abused. Never allowed to speak for himself, hit, thrown, and never told anything good.

He started reading his “good things about himself” list, the one he made. He loved reading it to me. He grew, he smiled, and it was his favorite time. He started adding to it. It was my favorite time as well.

I watched him get well and start to thrive, and then he would act up just so we can talk. I realized I was failing and needed to give him time when he was doing well.

He had taught me more than I taught him. I don’t believe in these labels and diagnoses anymore. I believe in people.

If you get diagnosed with bipolar, schizophrenia, bpd, major depression, you get major funding. It’s a money making scheme.

This is not supposed to be about money, but about people.

I wondered to myself, why was I so invested in this case? He was teaching me. I enjoyed the time, and it was like watching me at age 8.

I acted up, got in trouble, didn’t want friends, and didn’t know how to communicate or make eye contact. Wet myself at times in school, afraid to ask the teacher, trembling in fear.

You could have diagnosed me with all of these at one point. In fact in preschool and kindergarten they thought I was mentally retarded because I didn’t talk or participate.

No one said “That is odd, whey won’t he participate?” I was scared, then I acted up and got expelled from junior high, then I didn’t graduate. The labels continue.

The family wants you to be sick.

I became very attached to him. I would not diagnose him or follow Deborah’s rules anymore. I stopped dressing up, I realized I was not above anyone, it was about getting to know people and talking to them and teaching them what I had learned through my life’s trials and tribulations.

I survived by luck. So I broke rules of “dress,” “professionalism,” “self-disclosure,” and I didn’t follow their rules. They decided to get rid of me. Once again, I was not following the script.

I gave up the house, the cars, all of it.

The kid taught me more than I ever taught him. It was like going back to the 8 year old me and understanding the pain I was in and it made me feel ok.

It was an equal relationship. When I screwed up, I said “I’m sorry, I screwed that up.” I got serious eye rolls from Deborah and she told me that I cannot apologize to patients like that. You should have seen the look on his face when I apologized. That was worth it.

He wasn’t Asperger’s, ODD, or ADD. He was a person, as we all are. He was not a label.

When the Dali lama came to west and met with western psychologists and he was baffled. He said “What is this, you are always trying to figure out what is wrong with people, and all people are beautiful.”

It is a good thing the DSM wasn’t around for these people:

Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read.

Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school.

When Thomas Edison was a boy, his teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything.

  1. W. Woolworth got a job in a dry goods store when he was 21. But his employers would not let him wait on a customer because he “Didn’t have enough sense.”

A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had “No good ideas”

Caruso’s music teacher told him “You can’t sing, you have no voice at all.”

Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college.

Verner Von Braun flunked 9th grade algebra.

Admiral Richard E. Byrd had been retired from the navy, as “unfit for service” until he flew over both poles.

Louis Pasteur was rated as mediocre in chemistry when he attended the Royal College.

Abraham Lincoln entered The Black Hawk War as a captain and came out a private.

Fred Waring was once rejected from high school chorus.

Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade.

I was fired and learned many lessons from this. Jonah actually was hospitalized multiple times. He took his own life at age 14. At the wake, they all talked about how he was “messed up.” I sat in the back of the room, waited for everyone to go away and, as they do at any wake, go about their gossiping and use it as a social event. I went up to his casket and said “Thank you Jonah. I am sorry, and I love you. I will take this with me everywhere. There won’t be another Jonah.”

Deborah finally got her wish and got to open her own treatment center. It was run into the ground within 7 months.

I have since researched this. I think it was actually a different kind of label that fit him.

That label is gifted. This is a list of gifted traits:

High moral standards.

As a gifted person, you have a strong sense of what is right and wrong and how others should be treated. It hurts you to see others mistreat each other, animals or the environment.

As I said, he was great with animals and helpless people. He knew what was right and wrong. That’s why he acted up when things went wrong at his home. Instead he got pushed around and beaten and blamed.

So in this case it is called a strong sense of what is right and wrong. I if you look at the ODD criteria that would call this behavior as actively defiant of adult’s requests or rules.

I ask you, what if the things that the adults are doing is wrong? So he was gifted and standing up against that, but we called it “defiant.”

It is all about perceptions.

Passionate devotion to what interests you.

What absorbs you. You easily devote your energies to what moves you.

He did this.

But look at the Asperger’s diagnosis criteria.

If you’re labeled as “gifted” it is about passionate devotions.

If it is Asperger’s it is called:

“Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.”

See it depends on the one doing the labeling.

One says passionate devotions, the other says abnormal preoccupation.

It’s the same behavior.

 

Independent, tend not to be a follower.

You may not do well in groups or have much patience for processes or ineffectual leaders. You tend not to admire authority figures. You seem them for who they really are. You value people for their gifts, not their positions.

Again he did this. He did not want to participate if it was not something he believed in.

So here it says if you are gifted, you do not admire authority figures and you are independent.

Now let’s look at the ODD and Asperger’s definition of the same behavior:

Asperger’s calls this same behavior:

Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals

So, what they are saying in the DSM is that he is inflexible and not a follower? It is the same behavior, not always following.

Here is what ODD says:

Often argues with adults.

Again, what if the adults are wrong and he is just smart enough to see through it all?

So he is labeled as “not a listener.”

Whereas someone not obsessed with labeling or that looked at the whole person AND gets to know him MIGHT SEE THIS as gifted.

It’s the same behavior labeled differently.

 

High degree of sensitivity to inner and outer stimulus.

Whether or not what you attune to is relevant, you can easily be overwhelmed by stimulus – visual, auditory, mental, emotional, physical or energetic.

This is another hallmark sign of “Asperger’s” and “ADD.”

They say it is impairment, and that it is not normal.

They are right, it is not normal. It is gifted.

This is the same behavior and is labeled as a “good” thing and sign of being gifted

So we take someone who is in tune with their environment and notices thing that do not make sense, is sensitive, doesn’t know what to do, so acts out. Instead of thinking of this as special, we say it is a problem.

The problem is the whole practice of psychology and the DSM.

 

 

Depression or boredom if you are not engaged.

Because much of what is in the world is simply noise for the gifted person, you may avoid stimulus. In fact, as a gifted person you require stimulus in the areas of your passions. Without the proper stimulus, your gifts can turn against you.

So this says that if you are gifted, you like to tune out the world and focus on the areas you are passionate about.

ODD would call this defiance.

Asperger’s would call this preoccupation abnormality.

 

Feeling something is wrong with you because you are unlike others.

Living as a minority, it can take a great effort to stop comparing yourself to others. One tends to compare one’s level of energy, number of friends, activity level, and personality with that of others.

So these kids, in tune but in an environment that does not know what to do with them, act out and WE want to know what is wrong with the kid.

The answer is nothing.

So this kid doesn’t have a LOT of friends. We say it is Asperger’s, it means he doesn’t get social cues. Maybe there is something wrong with society that he understands.

In ODD they would call this pre antisocial behavior, trouble maker.

It is easy to label and write it down and walk away. These kids are different, but it is not a bad thing.

Elaborate inner dialogues, thoughts or imaginings.

Whether it is what you think when you watch a movie, read a book, hear a lecture, or what you dream – you have a rich inner world. You have rich inner dialogues or imaginings.

If a kid like this is obsessed with his inner life and is an introvert, we think that is wrong. We say he is shy like it is a disease, we have to fix him. He needs friends.

Maybe he doesn’t, maybe he needs a couple and that is it. That doesn’t mean he is socially awkward. Maybe he gets the world and what is important.

But we label it. Call it a disease.

In ODD we call this antisocial behavior, manipulation, or trying to scheme.

It’s all in the person doing the labeling.

Seeing the underpinnings of things.

You tend to think about, explore and see the place of origins. You look at the causal level of interactions in the field of your gifts – whether human interactions, agents of disease, warring countries or foundational aspects to color. You are aware of the place of essence, the place before things have form.

We call this being a weirdo or an introvert, thinking deeply, being quiet and analyzing. Of course someone like this would not have a lot of friends their age level.

But it is certainly not a disease.

Seeing outcomes before they occur.

You tend to jump ahead. This can occur when you read, listen to someone talk, or when you consider an issue. You often see what has not happened yet. Outcomes seems obvious to you because you are considering the variables in a way many are not.

When someone jumps ahead in ADD is a bad thing. We have to stop calling that ADD, a disorder, when really it is someone who figured things out quicker and has more thoughts in 4 hours than most do in 24. But we want to “slow them down” instead of embracing it.

Interrupting is a hallmark of ADD, which we call a disorder.

Little interest in much of what interests others.

You don’t find yourself easily absorbed in what interests others – events, activities, news or reading matter. You want to go deeper than most.

Remember what Asperger’s says about this behavior:

“Lack of social or emotional reciprocity.”

But we like to jump to this label. It is superiority and ego. We can find someone who is sick, and then they go back to the same sick environment and wonder why they keep coming back.

They don’t need meds, they need a therapist that gets it and they need a “system fixing.”

A rapid learner in the fields of your gifts.

You tend to have natural abilities without formal training. You are a rapid learner in the area of your gifts and a creative thinker – seeing beyond the given.

So you do things differently, you make your own rules, do things your own way, don’t conform.

What did ODD say about this behavior?

“Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules.”

What did Asperger’s say about this behavior?

“Lack of social or emotional reciprocity. Doing things their own way means these poor kids with Asperger’s are “socially clueless” when in fact they may just be advanced.

 

A maverick.

Because you process in a different manner than most and tend to attend to many different directions of thought or experience at once, you may find it difficult to be part of organizations or situations that value consensus.

So someone that doesn’t blindly follow is gifted.

We know that is not what Asperger’s and ODD say. They say they are impaired and abnormal.

Many skills or interests.

Many (but not all) gifted people find themselves gifted in more than one area. This can make focusing energies and prioritizing very difficult.

So disorganization is a sign of giftedness.

The APA would have you believe that it is lack of empathy, ADD, or something that needs to be fixed.

You approach the world and problems differently than others. You may be concerned about things that do not concern others.

So if you are different than others it is a gift.

Other phrases that may describe you: too smart, feelings of despair, alienation from culture, authentic existence, meaningful life, critical inner voice, highly motivated, driven.

Or Asperger’s, ODD, anti-social, bpd, bipolar, depression, etc.

If you meet a mental health professional that diagnoses you in the first visit, run.

We need relationships, not criteria. Treat people, not symptoms.

And in the end, all of these so called “disorders” have an antidote:

LOVE.

End the DSM.

DSM2

addiction mental health stigma

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