americandream

“They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” –George Carlin

The Washington post reported that there was 462 people shot to death by police in the first half of 2015. The author also stated on NPR that all this information is normally something that is voluntarily reported. Police are not required to report these things. The reason the number is so high this year is because the Washington Post is keeping track.

We then see the communities blame each other, the riots, and the protests. We all want a victim and a villain. We all want change. By that, we mean we want the other side to change.

In my over 20 years as a patient and staff member, I have met some interesting, amazing people. These 2 people’s stories who I am about to share had a great impact on me. I became close to both of them. They told me their stories and I learned of them through the chart, family, and getting to know them.

They grew up 45 minutes apart. You would never know it by their stories. Read their stories, and tell me which one is the

“bad guy.”

Jerry was born a few months earlier. His height and weight for a newborn was normal. He had no physical difficulties. He passes all the tests needed. He is cleared as a healthy newborn baby. He is allowed to go home with his parents and his 2 older siblings.

The young couple is unsure of how they will handle this financially. The father did not have a job or an education. The mother worked as a secretary for little money. She worked long hours and she was not home often. When she was home, she was tired and not in the mood to cook for 2 kids and her husband.

The marriage was not well either. Neither of Jerry’s parents had a normal childhood growing up. There was alcohol, and at times there was drugs in the house. The father did not have the skills to be a father, as he was never taught himself. So while the mother was away, Jerry and his brothers were left to fend for themselves.

The first stage in a child’s life, age’s birth to 18 months, is important. It is when the child develops a trust or mistrust of the world. They decide if it is safe, or if it is unsafe.

Jerry was left in his crib most of the first year of his life. He was held and fed. He was given enough to survive. He was changed 2-3 times per day. The family needed to save on diapers and food. The mother was resentful of the father for not working, and she was tired from work. She held Jerry when she had the energy and did the very best she could.

The father was around, but he was beaten severely as a child and did not know how to care for an infant. However, he was the one home. He stayed outside and worked on the car most of the day and drank.

The older siblings, ages 3 and 5, tried to take care of Jerry. But they had no idea how to do this. They were rough with Jerry. They were kids unsupervised, so accidents happened.

Jerry developed severe rashes from not being changed. At one time his brother broke Jerry’s arm at age 1.

The family went to the hospital and the social worker examined Jerry and concluded it was an accident. The second time, she called it in to child protection.

Child protection came out and did a family assessment. The mother was working, the father was attempting to get on social security, and the house was clean. The children were not in “imminent danger.”

The social worker has 45 cases with loads of paperwork on each case because the county cannot afford more social workers. So she gives her card and closes the case.

The siblings were beaten harshly for Jerry’s injury.

At about the same time, in another part of the city, another child is born. His name is Ashton. He is born at a normal weight and height. He passes all the tests and is sent home with his parents as well.

His father was in the army for 10 years and was now working at the Airport as a mechanic. He had served in the War. He was considered a hero to most. Ashton’s mother was a Dentist and she had her own practice in town. They were very involved in the community and a well-respected family by all in the town. Ashton was the only child born to his parents.

Ashton grew up in a home that believed in performance and image. His mother was at work often. Ashton’s father was excited to teach him everything he could. He did not give many hugs or much affection. Ashton was taken to the best day care, and he was placed in the most expensive classes for kids. He was given the best food and the best clothes.

Ashton’s mother loved him, but she really never wanted children. She had grown up in a dysfunctional home and her way of escaping that was by performing. She was very unsure of herself even though she was smart and excelled at everything she did. She was a great mother, but she did not believe herself to be. So she stayed away, almost in fear of ruining her child.

That is where Ashton’s father came in, he took charge. He set the rules and the way things would be. He was the general. This comforted Ashton’s mother and made her feel safe. It also made Ashton’s father feel very important and powerful.

Ashton did not get much more hugs and affection than Jerry. However, it appeared on the outside that he did. In fact, he may have gotten less. He was always with some “expert” on some sort of child care. Jerry at least had his misguided siblings holding him.

Now they are toddlers. They are both learning to build self-esteem and autonomy. Learning new skills and right from wrong. When a child fails here, they can feel shame and develop low self-esteem. A child can also start to gain confidence at this point.

Jerry is growing up in the same home. It has gotten worse. He is older now, he can walk and talk. His brothers often use him as a toy. His father has gotten on disability so he has money. It is being spent on alcohol as he sits with his friends and drinks all day. There is rotten food in the refrigerator that the children eat during the day. They often only eat once per day. They go outside on their own and come dangerously close to accidents all the time. It somehow never happens.

Jerry follows his brothers around and is beaten a lot. He is teased, and no one is really there to protect him. No one is there to encourage him to try new things or to teach him. He sometimes watches TV, but often his father is watching a sporting event. Jerry watches sports. His dad will at times reach over and hug him when his father’s team is winning. Jerry loves this.

Jerry’s mother will come home and the fighting will start. It is getting pretty bad. The father beats the mother in front of the children when she argues or complains that nothing is done. The children run and scream. If they are too loud, they get hit as well. They learn to hide downstairs in the filth and dog feces.

The kids get sick but are not taken to the doctor, there is no health insurance. Now there is an added fear of the social services being involved. The older kids are in school and Jerry’s mother gets them off in the morning. They look decent enough that it is not worth it to the teachers to do anything. The teachers in Jerry’s school have 40 kids in a classroom. Many are worse off than Jerry’s family. There is nowhere to put these children if social services takes them away. Jerry’s brothers slip under the radar. No visible unexplainable bruises, they are clean, and not starving. So no one pays attention.

Jerry sits at home with his father. Jerry has accidents and his father will hit him very hard at times. Jerry is 3 and has no idea what he did wrong. Or what he should do. He learns to stay away and not speak up.

Around the same time, Ashton’s life has continued. His father is teaching him right from wrong and he is pounding his beliefs into Ashton. “We” are the “good” guys. “They” are the “bad” guys. He tells Ashton when they watch the news. He points to criminals on TV and tells Ashton “they are the bad guys. We have to protect people.”

He buys Ashton his army toys and his police uniform and toy guns. When Ashton plays along, he gets hugs and high fives from his dad. He is accepted, so Ashton now knows this is what he does to get attention. So he does it. He is rewarded for this.

When Ashton’s mother sees him crying, she will go to give him love. Ashton’s father steps in and ridicules her. She is insecure and does not believe in herself. So she listens and stays away. She hears Ashton’s dad spanking him extra hard for things that Ashton knows nothing about, but she sits off to the side. She goes to work and performs. That is how she has always coped.

Ashton’s parents are well regarded. Ashton is beginning soccer and tee ball. He gets special coaches and teachers to make him the best. He is taught all the time how to succeed. He must keep up the family image. When he does well, it is fun times. If he fails, not so much. If he cries about failing, that is worse. Then there is punishment.

The children continue to grow up. Now in preschool and kindergarten. This is the time children begin to copy adults and start to create play. They begin to experiment with what they think it means to be an adult. This is when the exploring begins and the “why” questions happen. The child may start to feel guilt over natural desires and goals.

Jerry goes to preschool and kindergarten and is a very rough kid. He is very sensitive as well. His feelings are hurt easily. But he knows not to show that by crying or speaking up.

However, it is acceptable to show anger in his family. His dad shows it often. So Jerry hits and kicks. It is what has happened to him his whole life, and so when he punches back he is sometimes rewarded. His dad has the boys have boxing matches for his own entertainment.

Jerry’s mother is withdrawn and depressed at this point. It is a complete disaster in their house. She does not care. Once every so often, she still stands up to Jerry’s dad. She will get the wrench, the belt, and it is getting worse.

Jerry and his brothers have learned to hit and kick their mom when she does not serve them as well. It is what they do now. “Get me my pop.” If she does not get it for the boys, she is hit and punched by her own son’s. This increases her withdrawal. She gets them to school and that is about all they see of her.

They get good enough grades to pass and fly under the radar. At conferences, the kids will get a beating if there is a bad report. The teacher knows that if she tells the parents, that these kids settle down for a while and that makes it easier on her. She has bigger problems in her classroom. So she threatens to tell Jerry’s parents if he is “bad.” Jerry learns to hide even more.

Ashton goes to the best preschools and kindergarten. He stands out and performs well. He is advanced, not because of his intellect, but because of all the training his parents have put him through so it appears that way. Ashton is told he is the best now by the teachers, the parents, and everyone. He is the star. He begins to tell the other kids how to act if they want to be “the good guys.”

He no longer does it for affection, he knows it as his truth. He does cry for his mother at times, but that is fading. She comes less and less. She will sneak him an Ice Cream and some hugs at times. She is spending more time at work.

Ashton’s father does not allow tears. Or talk of emotion. He studies and takes his classes and the family does their public appearances. They see family for a while, but never too often. You cannot keep up this image for too long before it cracks, so they make quick exits.

They prefer to send out emails and cards speaking of accomplishments and vacations. We “don’t have problems.” They say. “It is great. “

They have the image. Truthfully, there is not fighting in their house. Ashton’s mother is not home enough to fight, and she is too fearful and insecure to fight. So there is not fighting, but there also is no love.

The children begin to grow. They are now school age. They are learning new skills and knowledge. This is when the friends begin to have a major influence. A child can develop inferiority at this stage and low self-esteem if they have unresolved feelings of inadequacy.

Jerry is not allowed to have friends over at his house. He does not want them over either. Jerry goes over to his friends’ houses all the time. He is avoiding beatings by his father and his brothers. Jerry being gone gives his family one less mouth to feed and less problem.

Jerry’s mom eventually leaves in the middle of the night and no one knows where she went. Jerry gets the brunt of this for a couple years. He is the most caring, so he is the target. He begins to stay at friends’ houses more and more. There is older kids at his friends and they begin to introduce drinking, sex, and drugs to Jerry. He loves it. He feels at peace for the first time in his life. He finally is free. He begins to do this every day. He is bright enough to pass his classes.

Ashton is going to a private school. He has a little more competition than he or his father would like. His father gets on all the school boards and makes sure Ashton makes all the sports teams. Ashton starts to have a hard time, and other children are able to beat him at academics and sports. His father becomes angry. He demands Ashton practices more, and they hire more coaches. Ashton’s mother is told to work more in order to pay for the extra training. Ashton is starting to learn how to cheat to win. As if he wins, his father is happy.

He performs well and learns to cheat well. His father gives him accolades. “It doesn’t matter how you do it, you have to beat the bad guys for the good of the world. And we are the good guys.”

His father teaches him about the “scum bags” and the “losers,” and how they need to be locked up and put away. Ashton is ridiculed by his father if he does not have friends.

Ashton goes to all the family events to hear his father and mother talk about how amazing he is. This gives him purpose. Ashton sees another kid cheating on a test and reports him. He is awarded at school and at home for stopping this awful behavior. He is told he is a hero for stopping it.

The kids go to high school. They are developing their own identity.

Jerry is a full blown drug addict. He skips school and eventually drops out. He is sensitive so the girls like him, until he hits them of course. That is what he does. He drinks and uses for that peaceful feeling. Jerry cannot find a job. His drug issues land him in court a few times.

Jerry moves from place to place. Eventually he is placed on social security like his father was. He has a girl that stays with him for a while. She becomes pregnant.

They have a child and Jerry changes. Jerry loves his little boy with all of his heart. He hugs him and kisses him and he doesn’t care what people think.

He cannot beat his addiction on his own. Jerry still gets frustrated and has no idea how to deal with things. He hits his girlfriend often. She stays for the child, and because she sees how much love is still in Jerry’s heart. They are on support. They live in a subsidy. A one bedroom apartment.

Jerry starts seeking help, he goes to psychiatrist and although he misses appointments much of the time. He is trying. He has some brain injuries from his childhood that make things harder for him.

One night, Jerry comes home and his girlfriend is crying holding their child. Someone broke in to the house and stole the food stamps and money. Jerrys son is crying uncontrollably. Jerry does not know what to do. He screams at his son and his girlfriend to stop crying. She yells at him that if he wasn’t out partying and had a job this wouldn’t happen. Jerry is about to cry. All the shame and inadequacy comes back. He doesn’t want to hit anyone. He leaves the apartment. He is scared, he feels like a failure. He has no confidence or self-esteem, and he has no idea how to deal with emotions. He leaves in anger, he has to find out what happened. He has to provide for his son. He has to make this right.

As Ashton goes to high school, he fades as the academic all-star and sports star. He begins to lose his whole identity. He knows that when he serves a “justice to the community,” he is applauded and rewarded and at least not ridiculed. He sees kids having fun, partying, and skipping class and he makes sure they are found out. He begins to tell on his own friends.

Ashton will go to the parties, go to the events and fit in. Then he goes right to his father and the principal. This gives Ashton accolades and self-worth. He starts to get excited, and feel superior, as if he is above them and is able to deceive them. He is motivated to catch anyone who crosses him or anyone who makes him look bad.

Ashton graduated high school with a 3.4. He got decent ACT scores. He did not get accepted in to the best colleges so his father was greatly disappointed. So Ashton stopped applying out of fear. He told his father he was applying, but he wasn’t.

When Ashton’s father finds this out he tells him to leave and that he is on his own. He needs to find his own way and learn to struggle and to be a man. Ashton is heartbroken. His mother tries to hug him, Ashton’s father stops it. At this point, Ashton resents his mother so much for not helping him, he doesn’t care. Ashton has no idea where to go or what to do.

Eventually he is sleeping in his car, and surviving eating ramen noodles. He has no money. Eventually Ashton goes in to community college and it is easy for him. He is drawn to becoming the law, because that is “who he is.”

He is a child that has been taught this. In his mind he is sure who is right and who is wrong, who is bad and who is good. This is for him. He thrives and graduates in 3 years with a degree in criminal justice.

After he is in the program, his father begins to help him out again. Ashton is now waiting to become a police officer. His father uses his influence to get Ashton a job right away, which is rare for police. Usually they want people with life experience. Ashton, at age 21 is now a police officer.

Now in reality, their lives never crossed. However, this is a very likely scenario if they ever did:

On this night that Jerry has gone out after he has been robbed, Ashton is working the street.

Jerry sees a pizza man walking alone. Jerry runs after the pizza man and demands he hands it over to him. Jerry steals the pizza and in his anger he kicks and punches the pizza man. He is bringing this back to his family.

Ashton gets the call. He arrives on the scene and talks to the pizza man and knows he has to bust this “creep.”

He spots Jerry and chases him down. Jerry has the pizza in one hand and his pants are falling off. He has to get home. He reaches down in his pants to pull them up, as it’s the only pair of pants he owns.

Ashton knows this is his chance. Jerry is not going to get away. BAM!

Jerry is dead. Ashton has killed him.

This is how a police shooting happens.

Now Jerry is dead and his community is enraged. They are protesting, they are against the police force and riots ensue. They set fires. Eventually police are being attacked.

Ashton’s community is giving each other high fives, saying “no one steals in our neighborhoods. No one. We got him.”

They think it’s great that a “bad” guy was caught. Over a pizza.

There is a tape of the incident. Ashton is arrested and charged with murder. His community is outraged. His father is embarrassed and his mother is devastated.

Ashton is found guilty and is sentenced to 25 years in prison.

His family abandons him. He is alone. He is an embarrassment, and he has a very hard time in jail. He is beaten and attacked routinely. He spends most of his life in jail.

Jerry is dead. His girlfriend becomes involved in drugs and Jerry’s son grows up in a worse environment than he did.

What happened to the real Jerry is he did rob a pizza man and beat him that night. That is a part of his record. He now is in prison, for multiple drug offenses and never sees or speaks to his son.

What happened to the real Ashton is he has been to treatment multiple times, he is no longer on the police force. He lives alone and drinks daily with no contact with his family.

Both destroyed. It does not always end happy. There are many others like them out there suffering.

The crisis divides us by race. But what if I told you Jerry was white, and Ashton was black? Would that change your mind on who is the victim here?

What if I told you they both were black? Or they both were white?

Would that change your mind?

I do not need to tell you what race they were, because it doesn’t matter. This is more than a race issue.

This is an inequality, poverty, abuse, and a mask issue.

What happens is the system tells you how to behave, who to like, and what is acceptable. They tell you to get married and have certain cars and houses. They tell you what you need to be, they create many masks.

Then you do all the stuff the mask makers tell you to do, and we are all walking around depressed and don’t know why.

It is because it is their dream, not ours.

Then when a crisis happens, it creates an “us vs them” issue, when it is in fact a “we” issue.

Those that are profiting off the mask sit by, keep making money, keep creating masks, and are slipping away while we all fight against each other.

You know how to stop them? Stop fighting each other and start loving and accepting each other. Then the mask makers will go away.

But we need a villain, a “bad” guy. We have to take “sides.” There has to be a “right” and a “wrong.”

We are taught that as kids. It is all over the cartoons. Batman punching the “bad” guys.

What if there is no such thing as “good” guys, or “bad” guys? What if we were all in this together?

This is one story, but behind each crisis there is a story that holds the truth.

However, we choose not to look behind the mask, we choose not to look at the real issues, and we choose not to look in the mirror.

That is partially because of the images shown to us over and over again. The images enrage us and creates a false story that gets us to take sides. The same people showing us these images are profiting off of our masks. How do they profit? Well they get higher ratings, and they can charge more for commercial time then.

Until we start to love and accept each other, this will never change.

We all are responsible for Jerry and for Ashton. How many times a day do we see a child struggling, or a family hurting, and look the other way? How many kids are starving throughout the world while we eat double cheeseburgers in excess?

Then a crisis happens and we react and blame each other. Which only breeds more hate, more violence.

Maybe they both were victims. Of all of us. Of society. Of the masks.

There is a solution.

It is simply to look in the mirror, and remember who you truly are, and dedicate yourself to love that day.

It is not just up to the families. How many people came across these kids and had the chance to be the one to love them in their lives? We cannot fix these broken systems over night, but we can give love to someone who needs it.

One person giving either of them unconditional love and acceptance, would have changed this whole story.

They both were chasing love their whole lives. Jerry to get rid of the shame and pain and feel like he is a good dad. Ashton was chasing love by getting the “bad” guys. It was not even real love they were chasing. They had that within them, no one ever showed either of them. They chased the false love and masks passed on to them.

It is time to stop making people chase after false love, and give them real love.

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“For no amount of our screaming at the people in charge to change things can change them… the powers bent on waging war against the poor and the young and the “other” will only be moved to kinship when they observe it.”

 

People with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are the most discriminated against people in the history of the world.

A psycho is a derogatory term for someone who is psychotic.  Someone who is psychotic is a person suffering from psychosis.  Psychosis is characterized by a disconnection from reality.

That is it, that is all there is to it. A psycho is someone who is experiencing a disconnection from reality.

At first the term was “mad,” then we called them “crazy,” then “insane,” which became “lunacy” or “lunatics,” and then of course “psychosis” or “psychotic.”

As I have shared stories of the ancient days and how people with mental illness were mistreated, a large majority of those mistreatments were towards schizophrenics.

Just as humans have always done, when we do not understand something, we label it as different and persecute those people. But, this is the one group of people that are still left in the darkness. We still do not understand it.

Even though we label it as a medical disease, they still end up locked up behind bars and it is the last group of people in society in which it is still socially acceptable to discriminate against.

In the very ancient times, in the shamanistic cultures they viewed schizophrenics as having a connection to the spirit world. They would train them as to how to use this power, this gift, to connect with their higher self and earn them the title of “healer.”

Eventually as civilizations started to form, governments were created, along with rules, laws, and norms were passed down to keep peace and order.

This was meant to conform to those in power. Schizophrenia then became viewed as different, bizarre, chaotic, and mad. People with this “disorder” were then persecuted, drowned, buried alive, burnt at the stake, locked in institutions, cut off parts of their brain, or highly medicated to control these abnormalities.

So what is schizophrenia? Medically speaking, it is a diagnosis that is characterized by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality and the sense of the self.

These “abnormalities” are described as hallucinations and delusions.

Hallucinations consist of hearing things that do not appear to be there, and seeing things that do not appear to be present.  Delusions are beliefs that appear “strange” and that only the person diagnosed believes them and they refuse to think differently – hence, refuse to conform.

On a side note, the next version of the DSM is planning on including non-conformity of a mental disorder. They have went from trying to be secretive about these things, to just being quite upfront. If you do not act as we want you to do, then you are sick. And if you are sick, you need to take this drug. But this drug is expensive, so you need this insurance coverage.

However, these descriptions are clinical terms used to help give a diagnosis, which allows for treatment in a society and culture that has agreed upon the best way of treatment of any mental illness is a drug. In the past it was hospitalization in which they never treated the person, but rather abused them and labeled them as insane.

What would happen if we were to actually look deeper into what these “symptoms” include in non-clinical terms, but rather, in terms of the client experiencing them?

The hallucinations are nothing more than an over-sharpening of the senses and experiencing unusual sensations. It can feel like an out-of-body experience and having difficulty deciphering the difference from reality and illusion. Everything tends to flow together as one. The wall never ends, but rather flows together with the flooring. Auditory hallucinations or the “hearing voices” which is so often mocked and ridiculed is a part of being in tune with higher frequencies.

It is scientifically proven that we do not see objects as they are, but rather a transformation and interpretation made by our eyes and mind. The brain filters out what it deems to be unnecessary information. This isn’t new age, make-belief information, this is physics.  Some physicists have estimated that the percentage of light we see on the spectrum is between 1.5 percent and 2.3 percent! That means that there is up to 98-percent of things that we are incapable of seeing.

We communicate daily via invisible radio waves through internet, cell phones, television, and radio. Radio refers to sending energy with waves. Energy is transmitted across the globe without any direct connection. The end result is an announcer speaks into a microphone and the signal travels at the speed of light via radio waves, is received by another signal, and if we tune our radio dial to the right frequency we can hear their voice without any direct connection.

With all this being said, is it possible that if someone has heightened senses to see part of the 98-percent of the world we do not see? Or to hear things at a different frequency in which we are not tuned in? I would say it is almost certain.

Psychosis, such as schizophrenia and mania, has to do with cracking the ego.

The experience is so intense that words can not describe. The ego, also known as the false self, is everything that we thought we knew to be true about ourselves. The reality, as we know it, is breaking right before our eyes. The ego, or mask, is put in place to protect us from danger – but it also is incredibly limiting.

During this experience, you break out of this mask you have been wearing your entire life. You feel an intense amount of energy that takes you to the depths of your soul. Your soul is set free for the first time since you were an infant, which is the reason for such rapid changes. As a part of this, all your senses are incredibly heightened and you start to question everything around you. You ask things such as “Is this real?” “Am I going crazy?” “Did I Die?”

If we are able to resist nothing and allow this experience to continue we will feel other symptoms such as feeling connection and a sense of oneness with the universe. You begin to feel that you are everyone and everything, and they are all you. An intense level of understanding takes over and everything makes sense, you finally see to just “get it.” All the answers to life are in the grasp of your finger tips. Along with the heightened senses of vision and hearing, you also are in tune with those around you almost to the point of feeling their senses, emotions, and thoughts. The sense of time disappears, all that exists is the present moment. All worries seem to disappear as an intense sense of love for everything appears and everything becomes incredibly sacred.  Along with this connection, you also may begin to feel that everything is a test from your creator and you no longer see people in their worldly form, but rather see their souls and see the message they are bringing to you.

As this state of consciousness comes down, it changes everything. Your priorities and values change quite dramatically. It is as though you have been given the answers to all of life’s mysteries and to return to the worldly form can be depressing.

I would like you to now go back and read the last three paragraphs and take them out of context. Just read what this experience of psychosis feels like to the person. Now, instead of saying psychosis refers to cracking of the ego, change the word “psychosis” for “enlightenment.”

“Enlightenment refers to cracking of the ego.” Now read those same three paragraphs describing the sensory experience. It is the exact same thing.

The difference is with enlightenment, people try many ways to achieve this experience through deep meditations, vision quests, soul dances, and psychedelic drugs, etc. Yet, those who are labeled as mentally ill and who have been discriminated against more than any other group of people, tend to have this same experience happen to them naturally. In fact, if you were to experience bipolar mania and explain it to someone the most common response is “I think you need help.”

And by “help,” in our society means to medicate the person so they no longer have these mystical experiences. Now, I do acknowledge that sometimes these hallucinations and delusions can be quite harmful in the sense they are asking people to act violently and they are seeing demons. This is likely due to the either trauma or repressed feelings. It is still a good sign that the person is breaking away from their ego, but they need to be guided by someone with experience so they can get closer to the enlightenment side of the spectrum.

This is the story of the lunatic on the grass:

Every week we would have our team meetings in which we go over treatment plans of the 16 patients in our “Intense psych rehab.”   

I had been off for a while since a huge relapse. I was now back and this was the first treatment meeting I had been to since. My mind was empty and blank. I didn’t know anything to be true for sure, I had given up. Which, as it turns out, was a good thing.

We would have the mental health practitioner present the patients and their goals and progress.

We talk about this new patient, a schizophrenic, and we discuss his goals. It is said that this is a career schizophrenic that goes to hospitals over and over. His goal is to marry Paris Hilton and play golf on the European golf tour.

Well everyone cracks up. The laughing is intense, everyone teases, ridicules, and assasinates his character.

20 mostly privledged white kids in their 20s sitting in this board room with their first psych job determining the fates of these patients.

I am a little intrigued because I love golf. I am terrible at it. However to be outside in nature with the sun for 4 hours I love.

The lessons it taught me was like exercise for my mind. Every shot matters in the same way that every moment matters. If I hit the ball by a tree, then because of that, if I get angry and impulsive, and try to smack it out of the woods, it will likely hit a tree and I’ll be in worse shape. However, if I let my ego down, and chip it out, then I will be better off.

It all adds up, little things matter, have patience, and the only shot that matters is the one in front of you. Swing soft and the ball will go further, nothing is as it seems. Do the opposite of what the ego tells you to do.

You can’t beat nature, go with it. Use your talents, don’t try to be like the other players. Stay within yourself, and be humble.

This is why I loved golf. It was some sort of meditation for me. Those things I learned in golf, could be said for life as well.

I walk upstairs and I see these ratty old shoes hanging over one of the couches.

I look over and there is the guy, the golfer Paris Hilton guy we talked about. He wears the same clothes every day, it is likely all he owns.

He says he’s not sick but he has to take medications. He gets angry if anyone tries to talk to him, about his “illness.”

I just walk by daily for about 2 months. The whole time thinking this guy is a typical schizophrenic so let’s write our notes, get him out of here and go home. Lets get our checks and continue living the lie. I was so embarrassed to be there, after the relapse. I just didn’t want to talk to him. I felt like a fraud.

It was nice outside early that spring so I brought my clubs in one day as I was going golf after work. They were brand new fancy clubs. I tried to act like I was the man, because truly I hated myself at the time and didn’t know why.

Now I know because that was one of my false selves. A mask I was wearing, it wasn’t who I really am. When you run from who your true self is, you suffer.

So at times I talked to him about golf to measure his awareness. He knew a lot so I was surprised. Just person to person talks.

He had started coming down to talk to me more because it was more of a friendship than me just asking him about his “coping skills” and his “goals,” and the bull they teach you to say in school and at these expensive trainings.

He didn’t feel threatened by me or that I was against him, or that I was writing things down in his chart. When patients do that, we are taught to think:

“See they are paranoid.”

However, is that really paranoid? We read their charts and decide who they are without ever getting to know them.

I think lacking trust and not wanting us to write things down is a perfectly normal response based on the circumstances they are usually in. If they say the wrong thing to the wrong person, then its another forced treatment and commitment.

I swung my clubs inside that day. He saw me, and said “Whoah, you got a good swing, not bad.”

He saw my clubs and said ” Hey can I take a swing?”

Now what I was doing here was something that most places would say is inappropriate and me displaying poor boundaries. The people mostly running these places would say that I should be discussing his treatment and goals and his plan. Teaching him the “coping skills” that the book says.

However, no one will talk to you if you don’t build a relationship first. We seem to miss that in mental health.

I think it’s funny that we ask people to tell us everything, and about the worst moments in their lives. When we give nothing. We force releases of information to be signed by court order, and we use the information against them. Then we call the patients non complaint if they refuse.

I wasn’t purposely manipulating a relationship either, I was genuinely talking to him like an equal, without regards to the societal roles we were playing.

So, I said “”yeah, take a swing, let’s see.”

This was the beginning of one of the most deep and profound moments in my life in which my false selves would all die. Was it in a church, in a school, in a huge moment, no. I was about to learn about life from a lifelong schizophrenic at a golf couse. Not quite how I had it dreamt it.

He swung the club and it was one of the nicest swings I had seen in person. I was shocked. Of course that didn’t mean he was a European pro.

I did start to doubt my own pre conceived notions as an “expert.” Could I, the all mighty one be wrong? It brought me back to a time when I was working at the county hospital.

One of the doctors training me said, “You don’t treat the diagnosis, you treat the patient, everyone is different.”

I then went to get support from the program director to take him and anyone else to the driving range. The university where I got my golf lessons, it was close and I was familiar with this place.

I got the ok and so we drive the van to the driving range. We arrive and there is is bunch of young kids with fancy clubs and clothes looking as we walk on the course, a group of mentally ill patients.

They had that look like “Umm I think you guys are lost” or the “Not in our neighborhood” looks.

Here is this schizophrenic guy with 20 year old shoes, long hair, and 10 year old jeans. We had no clubs, except mine. All the course can give him is a 9 iron for kids, which is typically hit about 150 yards by professional golfers. I’m sure they had better clubs to offer. They didn’t want the lunatic ruining their clubs. They didn’t want the lunatic on the grass.

He says ok, he wasn’t arguing. This man is 6’5. The club doesn’t fit him very well but he is just happy to be there as is everyone. He has a 20 year old club used by a kid.

Then there is that moment, the one that changes everything.

He puts the ball down. All these young kids, with their 3000 dollar clubs and their fancy clothes are all chuckling and watching, I am watching, the other patients are watching.

 

He says “Wow, I haven’t swung club in a long time.”

I was so nervous at this point, because I could see all the people watching, and I was watching. I was wondering, was this a delusion? Am I hurting this guy and embarrasing him? I felt my body get tighter. My teeth clenched, heart racing, I could feel it.

 

I look at his face, I watch his eyes, they aren’t schizophrenic eyes. His tongue was tightly wrapped on the outside left side of his mouth. He has this grimace on his face, it was extreme like focus. I look at his feet, they are not schizophrenic feet anymore, they are solid, on the ground, perfect stance. His arms are not schizophrenic arms, the grip is well, but the club does not fit him.

I sense the tenison and the energy as everyone was watching this “freak.” The thing is, he couldn’t sense it. He already knew what we were about to find out. He wasn’t hitting the ball for just him, he was hitting it for me, to give me hope. He was hitting it for the other patients. He was hitting it for the kids watching. The18 to 22 year olds who already have their mind made up, they want to laugh. He was hitting it for them.

 

He hit the ball. It goes well over 175 yards, with a kids 9 iron. The ball flew soo high in the air, like when you watch a pro golfer hit it. It towered over the earth, and the ball was soo beautiful in flight, it was like you see on tv. I could not believe it and you could hear a pin drop. Complete and total silence. Everyone was still.

 

The world stopped, and mine had changed forever. Had the first shot been a miss, no one watches again. The first shot was the key. This wasn’t a ball you could say was just struck well by an amateur. It had the look of a real talented golfer. He hadn’t swung a club in years, he had a girls jr club, and he didn’t have fancy equipment or shoes or a glove. He had a sweatshirt, jeans and those old raggedy shoes.

Then this happened over and over and over again. Eventually people were not whispering anymore. They eventually went back to hitting their balls.

Then more magic happened. At a driving range like this, you see all these golfers hitting all these balls. They all are in flight and all hit well.

There continued to be one ball that towered over the rest and made the others look like little kids.

Then, I started watching the kids, they started swinging and missing, and hitting terrible shots. He’s not supposed to do that. I could barely move. I had been shown the truth yet again. I hit some ok shots, but it didn’t really matter anymore.

 

Then he walked over and started giving me tips on my golf swing and they all worked. I couldn’t believe this. Then I look back, there is 20 kids watching him hit the ball, and watching him teach me. It was that impressive. Of course on the side you had our other patients trippng, laughing, running around. The world had been moved.

 

Then a moment that still tears me up as I write this happened. One kid with extreme courage and bravery comes up and asks him advice on his swing. What courage to do this on front of his shaken peers. Instead of teasing, he came and asked for help.

They had teased and judged, but our guy didn’t care. He said sure, and he loved helping.

Before you knew it you had the schizophrenic giving golf tips to these college golfers. I will never be the same and I knew it when it happened.

I remember getting back to the facility and sitting down. My co workers said “You must really like golf, I’ve never seen you so alive and energized.”

I could not describe what I had just seen and I am still not doing it justice.

All I could say was “yeah I like golf.”

We went again maybe 3 times. We had long talks in the car. He started talking about his life growing up, how he got involved in the system. I started teaching him about schizophrenia.

Eventually, he said to me, “Well I’ve been going to these hospitals and group homes for over 20 years, and no one has ever explained it to me like that. I think I do have that disease, actually maybe they are right.”

I think other people had explained, he hadn’t listened, becasue no one had ever listened to him. He was open, without fear to me.

I only talked to him by chance. I had ignored him for 2 months.

Everyone played a role, the negative mental health practitioner who tried to make a joke of his treatment plan, the great program director. It all played a part.

 

Then I started to listen carefully to what he said when he went on rants instead of just having preconceived notions. I heard him talk about the college he went to.

I decided to look it up, then there it was. I saw a picture of him, clean cut, very well groomed and dressed. He had a 4.0 and was captain of a division 1 golf team. I wanted to be his caddy and get him in tounaments. That never happened.

 

Did he have the talent ot be a pro golfer?, I don’t know, but good enough to make money for sure.

 

My life changed forever, for that first swing was the swing hat changed the world. It came when I had given up on mental health and thought it was a fraud.

Then I realized this wasn’t always a terrible business. Yes there are terrible things that happen, terrible abuse. Horrible things happen. That was not a reason to give up, that was the reason to stay. To stay on the inside and do my best to create change. It is only a fraud if we make it one.

We have the power over every present moment we are in. That will always build on the past moment, much like golf. We can find evil if we look for it.

However as socrates said “Our energy is better spent on focusing on positive future than on the negative past.”

I think ghandi also said that “The best criticism of the bad is the practices of the good.”

Maybe it wasn’t Ghandi, however I know it wasn’t me. Everyone is a human, we are all connected, and we all have things to offer.

If we start to treat people as equals, who deserve respect and love, instead of superiors and inferiors, you start to change.

When you drop everything the ego tells you to truth, magic happens.

When we take that leap, or are forced into it. What we happens is a freedom and beauty that I can’t explain woth words.

My greatest teacher was a “schizophrenic,” that had been committed for over 10 years by the court as crazy. I almost closed myself to him as a teacher because society had labeled him as sick and delusional. That’s how labels destroy.

When we lose the mask, the world becomes beautiful again.

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“The progress of the sun throughout the year symbolizes the process of attaining enlightenment, and the summer solstice is the final climax of this journey as the day of most light in the year. The summer solstice is a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness in the individual. Summer solstice is a time to celebrate the light of consciousness within ourselves and within each and every person, and to reflect upon the potential for consciousness to awaken.”

The False self has died, but this is only the beginning. There will be many trials and tribulations. Some of these happen after the death of the false self. Some of these have already happened and are from previous times. You now can look back on and are able to notice that they were lessons that were being taught.

The teachers you have had in your life are not always someone you think it would be. Lessons come from unexpected sources. So when you feel something terrible is happening, know it could be a lesson and a gift eventually. Just let go of the expectations.

I will be gone someday, who knows when. This is what I hope to pass on. This is what I have learned through life’s trials and tribulations, so far.

Following this list will not make you a millionaire, it is not guaranteed to get you a great job, or have money. My hope is that it will make you happy, content, and make your world a better place.

 1: If you are different, you will be separated and labeled.

It is ok if you are lonely and feel different. That does not mean something is wrong with you. It in fact is a sign you are on the right path if you do not fit in. People in power are not always the ones that are the wisest. It is ok to question authority. This lesson came from the social workers and teachers at a preschool.

When I was in preschool I would not talk. I did not want to participate

These social workers and teachers, who were trained, stated that I was likely mentally retarded.

The school had me do special tests and go into a special room away from the other kids. I had a special teacher. They had decided that I was defective. It took them over 2 years to realize I was not mentally retarded. I still have the papers to prove this.

I acted differently than those in the “normal box,” so there was a rush to label me. That is how it works. Do not believe the labels you are given.

 

 

 2: If you speak the truth, be prepared to be attacked and ridiculed.

 

This is done to keep everyone in the “normal box.” To keep things under control, and to give everyone a mask. If you speak the truth through actions or words, people will be threatened. People who are threatened and in power will do whatever it takes to quiet you down. This is where the judgments, labels, and forced isolation come from. My lesson here came from my family.

We all have different reactions to difficult and dysfunctional times. I acted out. I started to throw things at age 7 and rebel against everything. I yelled, screamed, and got in a fight every day at school.

I was labeled as the “bad seed.” I was told that I was the issue. My own family had turned on me and labeled me when they knew deep down inside what the truth was. I was 7 years old, scared and confused. I was acting out based on what had been happening to me in my life.

 

3: Just because a group of seemingly “educated” people say things to be true does not mean they are right.

If there is one person against the group, they may be the only one that is not willing to go along with the community lie. Sometimes, the teachers are wrong. This was taught to me by my extended family, my relatives.

My grandma’s death when I was 11. I saw all the adult kids come into town for the funeral. I had never seen any of them before. They were all calling my dead grandma a drunk and stating she is going to hell.

I knew in my heart that she was kind. She was an alcoholic that had been through psychological and emotional torture. She gave me her last 5 dollars for a football. She was a kind woman. These adults never spent any time with her.

My mother is the one that took care of my grandma as a child and as an adult. She was the only one that seemed to see the good and she was the one that took the abuse the most. It was surreal how silly these adults could be.

4: How well your message is received depends greatly on how you deliver the message.

 

The world is full of people in power who know nothing. This lesson came from the school system. If you feel what is going on is wrong, the way you respond and your attitude about it will determine if people listen.

I acted out continually as a reaction to what was going on in my world. I continually was labeled the bad guy. My actions hurt me and helped the labels continue and contributed to the cycle continuing.

I was expelled from middle school. The way I tried to get my message across is what caused this. I was to go to a special school for “bad kids,” or kids labeled “delinquents.”

They were the opposite of the labels they had been given. They were the kindest kids I had ever known to this point.

5: Stay true to yourself and who you are, even if it upsets others and they reject you.

 

The person who suffers the most from being someone that others want you to be, is you. What is in your heart is all that’s real. Embrace who you are in your heart. Show the world that person. That person is beautiful. This lesson was from my suicide attempt.

I continued to be the bad guy and fill that role. I stole cars, gambled, and stole money all the time. I was always in trouble. I was of course acting out still, but I was also listening to others beliefs about me and taking them as truth. I eventually could not take it anymore and tried to kill myself.

I had held in the pain for 17 years. It exploded and I tried to kill myself. I had the concept right. I needed to kill my false self. I did not know that at the time.

I almost died and had a 3rd degree heart block. I woke up in the middle of the night with my mom there crying with doctors all around me. She was scared. She was in tears and had me committed.

If I had been myself, and accepted who I was, then the pain never gets this bad.

 

 6: There are many people in this world that have it much worse than you can possibly imagine.

 

There is serious abuse and damage being done to kids, which will affect them and those that they come in contact with their whole life. It is going on right now. There is true sadness and pain out there. I saw what true beauty was in this group of abused and neglected kids at the adolescent psychiatric hospital. They were my teachers in this lesson.

I was in the inpatient adolescent psychiatric ward for an all-time record at the time (this is what they told me,) of over 60 days. In this Hospital, I met the best people with the saddest stories in life. Some of them had never had parents. They had been beaten, neglected, and harmed. Sexually and physically abused their whole entire lives. They had never been loved. Yet, they were the most loving, kindest, and most gentle people you will ever meet.

 7: It is not really about what you say but how you make other people feel.

The staff at the adolescent psychiatric hospital. I loved being around them. I do not remember much of what these people said, but I remember how I felt around them. I felt accepted, loved and safe. Safe to be me, they planted the seeds.

If you believe in someone or something, do not let anyone or anything stand in your way. You may change someone’s life by believing in them. This lesson came from staff at a hospital.

The staff at this hospital were amazing people. Especially a social worker named Mary and an RN named Daryl. They did not force love down my throat. They waited for me to be ready. They started by saying hello. They did not force treatment, they did not try to fix me.

First they accepted me and got to know me. Then they taught me about a world I had known nothing about. They gave me hope.

My mom came and gave me a cupcake on her birthday and I threw it in her face for committing me and “ruining my life.” The staff did not even judge me for this.

The whole hospital staff eventually had agreed that I was unmanageable for even this hospital. They had agreed to send me to the state hospital. That would have ended my life. A 17 year old going to the state hospital system is basically throwing in the towel. Even the staff here had done that. However, these 2 people fought for me and saved me from going. May you be someone’s Mary.

 

8: Hurt people hurt people.

 

You have to love yourself first, or you will hurt others unintentionally. Monsters are created by other monsters. People who are very sad, especially when they are children, can do damage to the world. It does not mean they are bad people. It means they are hurting. This lesson came to me from a teenage girl in a lot of pain.

I met a girl who would become the mother of my first child. We were best friends. I soon learned of many terrible things that happened to her in her childhood. I saw it was not all beauty with people that have been hurt as children.

She loved me I believe, she did not know how and neither did I. We hurt each other because we were hurting ourselves.

It is like a surgeon trying to do surgery while they are bleeding, they would spread all their blood into the patient, all while trying to help.

 

9: Everything you gain and all you love will one day go away. Attaching the idea of love to other people or things is a set up for suffering.

 

If you attach all your hopes and dreams to what other people do, say or think gives them ultimate power. It is also power that’s false. The only one who can give you the love you need is you. I would learn this lesson again a few times. The lesson will repeat itself until you learn it. This was another lesson from the same teenage girl in pain.

This young woman could not handle my attachment and love. She did not think she deserved it. She ended up cheating on me and crushing my new found love for life and the world.

I was crushed because I had attached the whole idea of a good life to her. Had I not had this attachment, the suffering would not have happened. The attachment is caused by emptiness. If I did not want anything to do with her at the time, I would have been relieved by this. My perception, not the event, was the problem.

However once I attach anything or anyone to happiness, I set myself up for suffering. Everything goes away, all that you gain and cherish, will disappear and go away. Attaching to things is a set up for suffering.

 

10: There is a truth out there that when you get to it, is the most magical, exhilarating thing you can ever experience. When it happens, enjoy it and remember it for future use.

 

What is important is love. True love. That word does not do it justice. It is like experiencing a oneness with the world and everything pours out. You will one day experience this. Hold on to that feeling whenever it comes. You will need to use it again. It is there. That is who we are at our core. This lesson came from an infant. Kayla Ann, my first child.

The birth of my first child at age 19. Everything slowed down. Everything changed. I saw true magic and love. Everything dropped from me, all of the stuff previously thought to be important was gone. I got to see the truth. The most amazing moment of my life. All emotions at once.

Tears pouring down my face in front of a group of people and I did not really care what they thought about it. Something I never would have done, ever. I was the rough tough kid. What they thought didn’t matter anymore. This was pure truth. All I had was truth.

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 11: If there comes a time you lose everything, it may be the best thing that ever happened to you.

 

If you have deep pain, It means you are about to awaken. Soul search and look within yourself. All you can change is yourself. If you want change, take a long look in the mirror. You can only change you and your reaction to things. The loss of everything can be liberating. It brings an immense freedom to be yourself without anything to worry about. This lesson came from pain.

My daughter, my hope, was taken from me, she was taken out of state. At the time I did not even know this was illegal. It was kidnapping. I had her taken from me for 3 years. Usually not knowing where she was or who she was with.

One time, my daughter had called me to tell me her “daddy” bought her shoes. She was not talking about me when she said daddy. This left me motionless. The phone dropped. I was broken open. My mind emptied, I was broken completely for the 2nd time. This one brought me to my knees.

It opened the light to me as I broke open. As Rumi says, “The wound is where the light enters you.”  I learned to look deeply into myself and change my behavior, regardless of any wrongs I thought were done to me.

It was complete defeat. It was in some sense complete freedom. I saw once again what truly matters.

This pain is one of the 3 major moments of truth in my life.

 

 12: When you are silent, still and deal with emotions, only then will the answers come. Only then, can you move forward. The only way out of it is through it.

You cannot escape pain. Pain may not end up being a bad thing. Seemingly great things at the time can end up hurting you. Withhold judgment and let things play out. You can spend your whole life running from your pain. But then, at the end, you are tired, and you have spent your whole life running and not living. This lesson came to me from a serious physical injury. A shattered leg and knee to the point I could not move.

Drugs, booze, drug dealing, and more stealing. For years a tried to numb the pain. I had the original pain, then added on pain. If it is never dealt with, it stays in you. It won’t be released.

Anything to block the pain. I stole from people to get money when I lost my jobs. I stole from friends. I was a drug addicted drug dealer thief.

All to block pain. In reality it was an escape, a temporary escape that caused more damage. The brain never dealt with these emotions, I had never learned to. I always learned to escape. It used to be anger, then it was other people. Now it was drugs. I just wanted to get away from the world and this allowed that. I was hurting many people, but I just wanted to go away. The drugs took me away.

On the outside, it looked as if I was a complete selfish jerk. Behind that was immense pain of my original pain from family, and now add my daughter thinking someone was her dad. My only hope and chance at life was gone. No one saw the pain. No one looked. I tried to overdose every chance I got. I made sure to remind people, “If I OD, just let me go,” I said that before every time I used.

Eventually, I broke my leg in half playing football and was forced to sit at my mother’s house on a couch for 6 months. No drugs, no escape. Just me and my thoughts. I was finally forced to deal with the emotions of losing my daughter and all of the previous pain. A forced meditation and return to truth.

My mom makes a suggestion. LPN school. I had my GED.

 13: You never know how close you are to the miracle.

 

Human angels come in unexpected spots and from unexpected people. You never know what good you are doing in the moment. This lesson came from an ex stripper and drug addict. One step at a time. Stick it out. Keep fighting.

I had never finished anything in life. I did not know how. Too scared, distracted and fearful. I went to a few classes. I met a former drug addict stripper trying to get her life back together. She kept me going to school on my depressed days. She motivated me to change and be better.

Eventually, I finished. She did not. I do not have any clue where she is. But for the first time in my life. I finished something. I graduated college. Not on my own.

The person who was the most judged and ridiculed in school, the ex-stripper drug addict, she was the one that got me through. She never finished.

She disappeared. I have not heard from her since or of her.

14: Do not ever leave words unsaid.

 

Speak from your heart in each moment. Every moment is precious. Tell people the great you see in them. It takes nothing away from you. In fact, you grow from it. This lesson came from the death of one of my best friends.

After LPN school, I was working at a group home for mentally ill. I get word of one of my best friend’s death. He was killed in a freak boat accident. We were 25 years old at the time. He was gone forever.

We all talked about how much we loved him and how great he was at the bar. No one had ever told him this stuff to his face.

 15: It is hard to give love when you are in pain. But try it, and watch the miracle. If you give love away, love will come back.

 

You will get what you need, if and when you are prepared for it. If you start to heal yourself and be good to others, regardless of your pain, then great things and even miracles begin to happen. You will be amazed at what the world gives you. This lesson came from giving effort to the world.

As I continued to try and get better. Using some of the lessons above, I start to call people that I had hurt before. I apologized to them.

One kid, said “what happened to you? You used to be a tough guy, now you are some wussy.”

I said, “No, I used to be. Now I am real.”

People were thrown off, but I was starting to use previous lessons. Then, out of the blue, I get a call that Kayla and her mother are coming back to town. I get to see my daughter again. She still thought someone else was her dad, and it took her a while to adjust but she did.

Her mother, due to her own undealt with issues, became a full blown meth addict that was being investigated by the FBI. I ended up with full custody of this 6 year old girl.

Her mom would eventually go to federal prison with a sentence for over 10 years.

What was lost forever, was now back. The miracle had happened. There was more to come.

 

 16: Where you end usually depends on where you start.

 

We need to equalize things for people that start off life with less opportunity. Those with privilege need to stop acting like they are on 3rd base because they hit a triple, when in fact they were born on 3rd base. We need to give everyone the same opportunity. Or stop claiming that we are the land of opportunity when we are not. We have to stop penalizing people because they have less resources. It is not equal, most of the young men and women in jails and institutions have much less opportunity and resources.

Before Kayla’s mother went away, she would come around. We would fight and then get along back and forth. Eventually I took her phone when I caught her making a drug deal and threw it away and threw away her drug money. I ended up in Jail for the way I acted out.

She was in pain, and I was panicked. As I went to jail, I realized it was because I saw issues and I wanted to fix them. I now had jeopardized losing my daughter again and her going into foster care. My actions affected everyone. My mother helped me get a lawyer and get me advice and bailed me out. Got me out of trouble. She worked double shifts to do this.

I also saw how biased and racist our system is. I saw many young men with less resources and money were locked up for much lesser crimes. I sat in court and it was almost all young black men, all with no one to bail them out, they were looked at differently by the system. I was not better than them, in fact I was worse. I just had more resources and money

 17: Who you surround yourself with is one of the most important decisions of your life.

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. This lesson came to me from being in different environments.

I had escaped long term jail thanks to my mother’s working extra. I went back to work at group homes. I met my future wife. While at the group homes I was in charge. I let my ego back in. I believed myself to be in charge. I thought I knew everything so I acted like it.

When you think you know everything, disaster happens. The ego built back up. The false self. With the new girlfriend taking care of everything and myself making my own hours thinking highly of myself, the false self-emerged again.

Drinking heavily started again. I spent more time in jail for a DUI, and a 3rd time in jail for disorderly conduct and fighting 7 security guards. I had such an ego I thought I could take them.

I got less time than I should have. When I got out of jail worked at a county hospital. I was not only NOT the man, I was the lowest on the totem pole. I was the peon. Because of feeling insecure and inadequate around all these genius doctors. I decide I need to be better and entered RN school.

When at the group homes, I gained an inflated ego, and started drinking again and failing. When at the county surrounded by great doctors and nurses. I wanted to learn to be like them.

Who you surround yourself with plays a major factor in your life.

2 of the greatest teachers in my life were doctors at the county hospital. One was a pig farmer and started school at age 33. The other was homeless, living in his car, and then took one college class and started at age 33. Both ended up being great psychiatrists. They were the smartest of this group of geniuses. They were the best with the patients also. They had a freedom to them that I could not grasp.

They were enlightened folks and I wanted to be like them.

 18: Living for others approval will kill you inside

 

Buying and accumulating things is not the answer. You will walk around depressed because you are living someone else’s dream for you. This lesson came from false success.

The drinking was something I was doing nonstop now. We got married, I finished school, and had our first daughter. I finished school by coming home and studying every night and at lunch time instead of taking breaks.

I figured I wasn’t a drunk if I did this. My wife watched the kids nonstop for this and my mom would travel 50 minutes at night to help watch kids and study. So I finished and got a major raise.

We bought a fancy house with the new money. We bought a BMW and Mercedes. The house we bought was a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom “look at me house.”

On the outside, it looked like I was the comeback kid. I got a lot of handshakes and pats on the back. On the inside, I was falling apart. I was living for other people’s approval. I was getting the approval that I had never gotten before. I was accepted by society finally. I soon forgot everything that had upset me about it. Because now that they accepted me, I became a part of the corruption.

The American dream is a lie. It is made up by people who make money off the wedding, the cars and houses we do not need. I had forgotten my true self again and now I had a new false self. The successful rich guy. This all was eventually going to crumble because who I am at my core is someone who cannot live the false life. Some can, and my hats off to them.

 19: It does not always end happy.

 

It is not people who work hard who get better and ahead. It is a lot about the breaks. Society is set up to keep the people in the gutter, in the gutter. It is not right. Life is not fair sometimes.

You can be a part of the problem or the solution, which is up to you. You may not see the results you wish. Do not let that keep you from trying. When we start planting trees that we will never benefit from, then we have grown as a society. Joe’s completed suicide is where this lesson came from.

One of my best friends kills himself by hanging. He had been living with us. Eventually all the old friends came around my about to be teenage daughter and we had to have him leave.

He had always called me when he was in trouble. He did not this time. He was dead. He was a better man than I will ever be.

He did not have the resources or money to get better. I did. I was 33.

20: When you make someone the center of your world for the moment you are with them, you can save their life.

 

You can change the world by simply being present with someone in pain.

Taking time with people, and listening to them is what is important. This lesson came from a doctor.

I was about to have a son. I go in for help finally. I had gone in before and was told that I have chronic fatigue syndrome and I was blown off by the doctor. He did not really talk me.

This final time I was seen by the magical Dr Michael Broeker.

He took time, he listened, and he remembered my name. He was the man that led me on the right path.

As Dante said. “In the middle of my life, I was in a dark wood.”

This man’s actions saved my life. I was about dead when I met him.

I was close to death when he psychologically resuscitated me.

 21: Lessons will repeat themselves until you finally learn what you are supposed to.

There are many different ways to try to escape. Other people, food, gambling, anger, self-harm, alcohol, drugs, and many more. I think I have tried them all. This lesson came from a relapse.

I had relapses. First was on the day after my son was born and the week following. Then I broke my own record of 24 days without booze, then relapse. Made it 60 days after that, then relapse. Then made it 90 days, and then the worst relapse possible.

The drinking was so bad that my wife was leaving me. Kayla had left to live with her mother who had just gotten out of federal prison early. I took my mother’s pills and all of my anxiety medications. I was taken by ambulance to an out of state hospital. I would in the end have 3 stints in rehab, and 3 stints in psychiatric hospitals. Along with the 3 jail sentences. Every time in rehab I was at a different point, they never judged me, always welcomed me. There are many reasons for relapse. I think I went through them all.

Life was too hard and there was too much pain. I could not deal with it. I knew I had to, but I did not have the tools necessary. My life was over. What kind of person abandons there only son to be drunk?  Then still cannot quit? One in pain.

I learned to be ok with emptiness. This was very similar to when Kayla told me someone else was her dad. I was once again, for the 3rd and final time, reminded of the truth. I remembered what matters, and what is important. I was certain I would lose my RN license and my house and my cars. You know what, I didn’t care. I felt freed.

 

 22: You’ll never help anyone by punishing them.

Those that attack others usually have the most to hide. Loving is a sign of strength. To see someone for who they are despite everyone what everyone else says is a special person. If you ever have decision making power over someone’s life. Get to know them. Do not ever base it on what other people say, they have their own biases and agendas. If someone gossips a lot, they have a lot to hide. If you sit in silence while they gossip, you are an active participant. Gossip and talk is not harmless, it destroys character. Punishment does not work ever for an illness. I learned this lesson from my mom, my wife, and my brother Larry.

 

No one would talk to me after the final relapse. Everyone had turned on me. A loser, a criminal, and a bum. I had been given everything by this world and I kept throwing it away. I was a no good and rotten person. These are the things that I heard. I was going to be committed for the second time in my life. The character assassinations were constant. All that did is make me have more pain, more depression and more anxiety. This leads to more drinking. When you are down and lose everything, you learn a lot about everyone.

I never realized that subconsciously, I kept throwing it all away because I truly never wanted it. I knew it was all bull. I didn’t want it.

The 3 people that I had been hardest on, the 3 that I caused the most pain. They were the ones that were there for me and helped pick me up. My brother, my wife, and my mom. They had yet to throw in the towel.

I never got committed thanks to these 3 people sticking up for me. If I was committed, I never would have had a job or been able to help others in the same situation. That’s what punishment would have done to me, is prevented me from ever working with other troubled people.

The nurses at this hospital told the doctor to commit me based on gossip. Not one of them ever even talked to me. I was drugged up and out of it. I could not talk, so they called me non-compliant. No one asked. No one said hi or welcome, their minds were made up about me. They said I did not eat meals, if they would have talked to me, they would have known I was a picky eater.

I learned to say hi to patients and people every day.

 23: Drop all preconceived notions of everything.

You cannot truly see the beauty and magic until you lose all the things and knowledge you think you have. You have to lose that. When you do, you see magic. This lesson came from a lifelong committed schizophrenic.

I made it back. I was working again as RN supervisor. I had an empty mind and I was open to anything. But also lonely and depressed. I was an infant at this point. Just been re born. I did not like this old life of working with mentally ill people. I believed it all to be fake. Then I met the lunatic on the grass.

A schizophrenic told us that he was going to be on European Golf tour and we all laughed. I talked to him, he knew about golf. I took him to range, and my life was changed forever. I now knew the direction my new true self wanted to go. More to come on this story in the future.

Do not ever think you know everything about anything or anyone. Having preconceived ideas will stop you from being able to see the truth, which is beautiful.

This moment proved that for me.

24: Fierceness and toughness are not always loud.

 

Sometimes it is timing. It is not what you say but when you say it. The best way to know what time to say something and what advice to give if any, is easy, but easy only if you are truly listening. Do not force it, timing is everything. This lesson came to me from Mary, a counselor. This happened at a treatment center in an obscure building behind a super 8 motel.

I had to go in to forced treatment. I am going on rants that I am a bad person. I am convinced that this alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, anger, attachment to others, and over consumption is a sign of a bad person. I take over the group and I am trying to convince everyone else how bad we are and how we need to change.

Mary walks in and says “Time for the video.” Everyone agrees. The video changed my life. Addiction can take over your brain and torture you. The video is Dr David Ohm’s video. The disease of addiction.

Mary was gentle, like a grandma that says c’mon in and have some cocoa. But when she meant it, there was a fierceness in her eyes that told you it was time to listen. She never yelled.

 

 25: Appearance means nothing at all.

 

People at the top can be much, much sicker than so called “sick” people. What people tell you a crazy person looks like is different than the truth. This lesson came from a CEO of a major treatment center.

Do not be swayed of by others opinions. What we see in others, good and bad, is a reflection of ourselves and what we like or dislike of ourselves.

I got a new job as supervisor of an alcohol and drug program. 6 figure salary. I was on top in my deluded mind, and at a job that I loved. Helping other addicts find the truth. I was certain everyone in these major jobs are the healthiest, most normal people in the world. They have to be, right? To get to this point, they must be smart.

I met the leader of the company, Debby. The people in these positons are sicker than anyone I learned. They are good at manipulation, gossiping and throwing people under the bus. She would come out and get to know staff. I thought she just was nice. In reality she manipulated them.

She worked to fill beds and to make money. She did not care about the patients at all. I did not ever think that addiction and mental health had become a business, and an evil one at that. I started to be her friend. She taught me how to manipulate the system and make more money.

Then I spoke up against her and I was fired. I lost the big job for speaking up to her bosses about her corruption. She told me I had to dress a certain way and I refused. This eventually was my downfall was thinking she was healthy. I also had the assumption that some of these executives cared about patient care.

She showed me what true mental illness was. She trained me to be still and to be quiet and to observe people at first when in a job like this. This lady with this huge job and fancy clothes is mentally ill. While the misfits she claims to help are healthy. Just needing guidance.

 

26: If you choose to fight for something, make sure you are fighting for something that you are willing to lose everything for. That way, you can fight without reservations and with all you’ve got.

3 things will help you to fight when you have to. Your intentions must be pure. You must know how to fight, and you must be willing to lose everything in order to fight with all you have got.

I lost this fight because I did not do any of these 3 things.

Justice can be served if you fight the right way. There is a time and a way to fight, There is an art of war. This lesson came to me from a 55 year old man with so called ADD, Asperger’s and was working as an assistant making 12 dollars an hour.

After I was fired. I fought and yelled and screamed about the injustice. Another person was fired at the same time. I fought because I wanted the money. I held back because I was not willing to lose everything.

He did not scream and fight and yell. He stayed positive, he just wanted to be with the patients. He got a lawyer, he stayed silent. He fought the right way. He got his job back. I did not.

 27: Labels are destructive.

People are not their illness and no one fits the pattern of the book. Do not treat the illness. Treat the patient. What helps the most is love. This lesson came from an 8 year old confused, scared boy.

I met a young child named Jonah. His family had labeled him the bad kid. He was, like me at that age, the bad seed. Labeled anything from ADD to ODD, to you name it. They wanted him diagnosed for funding and to validate that he was the bad guy and they were somehow ok. It is all about perception. It can be the same behavior and one person sees ODD, another ADD, another aspergers, and another could see it as gifted. None of it is truth. Truth has no words. No labels.

I treated him as if he had all these disorders, just as the book said to. It never worked. We would manipulate things to make his behavior fit our preconceived notions. It never worked, because he was not an illness, he was a person. I researched over and over again all these diseases, only to find some of these diseases meet the same criteria for gifted people. What worked for him was love and acceptance.

He showed me myself as a child. He gave me the idea that maybe I wasn’t a bad kid my whole life. He allowed me a glimpse into my life as a child He brought me back. He showed me my own truth.

28:  Sometimes, people live up to the hype

 

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Words can change people. But they must be pure and genuine and come from truth. This lesson came from the great PVD.

As I make it through the full 8 month treatment for the first time, finally getting towards the middle to the end, all the other patients talk about PVD. They say he is a game changer, and you have to hear him speak. Blah Blah Blah. I cannot stand when people hype things up, I always end up disappointed.

I meet the man, the man that eventually took my mask off. He more than lived up to the hype. He dealt my false self a blow that it never recovered from. His name is PVD, and he will take your mask off and never give it back. He saved my life. He gave my true self life. He put the thought in my head that maybe my own, and others ideas about me may be wrong.

He was the program director for the treatment center. It is a small place, and it shared a building with an assisted living facility. It was not a million dollar huge treatment center. It did not stick out, in fact, it was hidden. You would never know it was a treatment center or the magic happening in that building.

Being there was like being in the womb, once I was done there, my true self was going to be released to the world. His success rate is 70 percent in a time most people’s success rates are 10 percent for addiction treatment.

Everyone should get to meet PVD. I again caught a break.

 

 29: Little things add up to big things

 

When trying to change things, patience is crucial. Systems don’t change fast. First, listen and observe. Pay attention to small things and details. You gain credibility and build up through small things. You lose credibility if all you do is fight. You don’t need to fight all day, every day. Pick your battles. This lesson came from an old Manager at the jail who I constantly fought with.

I was supervisor of a jail now. I saw the injustice and all the mental illness in the jail. I came in and started trying to change things right away. I fought for patients’ rights, I fought for justice. I was loud and was free.

I was missing crucial little details as I constantly fought for justice. My new found true self was being used by myself incorrectly. It is like a child learning to walk. Stumble, stumble. I went after anyone who mistreated patients who were mentally ill and did not deserve to be in jail.

Eventually I angered enough people and was fired. Told to resign or be fired is more like it.

I never got to the big things because I didn’t do the little things right.

 30: Do not believe your own thoughts sometimes, they come from other people.

Your false self is just that, false. Acceptance comes first. You can change yourself, only after you accept yourself. This lesson came from a therapist, Dr Nasaff. He showed me that my thoughts may in fact be false.

Forced therapy from all my self-destructive episodes. I walk in and there is this man in his chair. I would spend 3 years with him. It ended up feeling like I was walking to the Himalayas to see the great wise man. He never judged, always listened. Accepted me, then when the time was right, he challenged me. He is the one who finished the work that PVD started.

He rewired my brain completely. He took it to a new level. He made me look in the mirror. He reframed things. He showed me how my thoughts affect me and my emotions I saw him every week for 3 years. He sent me to EMDR.

I miss him. He gave me armor every week to get me ready for the world. He never labeled anything, ever. Not one time. He went back into my hell with me. He taught me how to earn trust. He taught me to reframe things. He gave alternatives to my beliefs. He worked out all my deep underlying emotions with me. Instead of calling me a psychopath, he said I like to live by my own rules. That I am just outside the bell curve.

Then after gaining my trust, then he challenged me.

He finished what PVD started. He finished taking my mask off. He taught me about challenging my old false self. He placed the dagger in my false self.

31: If you want to help people, walk with them, not above them.

Stay in the senior slow lane of life. Let people rush by you if they want. Patience and walking with people is how you help them. Even if you get in a position of power, there is more corruption at the top. This lesson came from a 77 year old psychotherapist former alcoholic.

After I moved. I was sent to see this retiring old school psychotherapist/psychiatrist. He believed in paper charts. He believed in the relationship with the patient. He was the master. I got 12 sessions with him before he retired. We talked for over an hour a week. I was trying to get all he knew passed on to me. He called it “giving you my molecules.”

He had been an alcoholic and suffered as a kid. He was a true healer. I was learning how to emerge, I was trying to learn how to guide and how to manage my new found true self. I was trying to figure out how to live in this world of falseness and how to function. I wanted to stay at a job, and with my family. I wanted to create change. I tried to take all his molecules of knowledge from him before we were done. I got a job at the state hospital that I was once committed to.

He taught me how to manage in this messed up world. How to function. He showed me how to operate.

 

32: Sometimes you have to walk away.

 

You have to take care of yourself. Sometimes you cannot change things, self-preservation is necessary. Enjoy the great moments, as they do fade. Do what you can in the moment, nothing lasts. You never know the results of your actions. There will come a time the truth will be exposed. Do your best. That is all you can do. Be ok with that. This lesson came from people who abuse patients that they had complete power over.

I get a job at the state hospital. The same state hospital that I was committed to as mentally Ill 20 years ago. What an immense rush. On March 2nd 1994 I was committed as mentally ill to the state hospital (I still have papers.) On March 2nd 2014 I was in charge of one of the unit’s at the same state hospital. It was the 20 year anniversary of my commitment and I could tell no one due to stigma. Instead I sat with an internal glow on this day. It would have been so great to share this, with staff and with patients, but I couldn’t. As soon as they would know, I would be treated differently. I was right, that is what happened.

I did things right, I was patient. I spent time with the sickest patients that there is. I changed things. I used everything I had learned. This is where my destiny unfolded.

However, people that have been abusing patients there for 20 years did not like this. Soon there was a split in staff. Those that are for the new way of person centered care, and the old school. They abuse patients if the patients disagree with them or tell the truth and make them work.

I reported 3 vulnerable adult attacks by these people. One that I know of was substantiated abuse of a 22 year old DD female. I was disciplined each time I reported abuse. For not reporting it correctly, like not filling out their form. Their way to quiet me down.

They all had built relationships over 20 years and knew the system. I refused to be quiet about abuse that I saw. I told them of my history and why I think I am able to help, then the retaliation came.

About a month ago. I walked away from this abusive system in tears and in defeat. Walking away from these patient is heartbreaking.

33: If what you do comes from your heart and is genuine, you can’t go wrong.

This is the last lesson. It came from my mom. It is the lesson of how to love. This is how you change the world.

Through all of this. I have had something to always go back on. Someone who was always there for me. Every single moment, there and with love. With unconditional love and acceptance. I did not make this on my own. There have been many teachers, many breaks. Many opportunities. But we go back to our core when we are in trouble. What was given to me was a love that cannot be matched. This person that did this for me is my mom.

I watched her take care of my dying grandma who had abused her. She always was there. She always sat by my side with love. If I never had that to go back on, then I am dead 10 times over.

My mom grew up with an alcoholic mother abusing her. She retuned love. She did not have a father. She had no clothes. She buried dead fetuses. She had no food. She was tortured. She returned love. She meets the criteria for a saint. I always come back to her love. That is the most powerful.

She was the girl you see on the street wearing the same clothes, hungry, and dirty. No one taught her anything ever. No guidance and only abuse is what she has always known. But you know what she knew? Love. That doesn’t have to be taught. That is us at our core. It was all she had.

So when we say there is evil and bad and why it does happen. Well my mom went through hell. But if she didn’t, I would not have the same mom. I would not have the same life. So the answer to me is that there is good and bad in everything. We choose what we see.

My mom took care of me and everyone in our family. She helped me raise Kayla when I didn’t know how. I would say a greater good has come from her suffering. That is why that particular evil existed.

Why her? Why are some people sacrificed? I believe they are the chosen ones. They are special. The ones that are open and able to do it. They are the strong ones.

I learned a few days ago that at age 39 I am going to be a grandfather, (A YOUNG GRANDFATHER) which is humbling. Kayla is pregnant and 20 years old. Kayla’s first thought was to move in with my mom. Everyone knows the gold that exists in that woman.

My grandchild will be blessed if they get 5 minutes of what I got a lifetime of. Thank you mom.

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“Our lives will represent the rising of the phoenix if we allow it. Out of the fire and ashes of our crash and burn lives, we are offered a new beginning. And this Grace is offered over and over again.
This mythical bird never comes out of its ashes despondent and dejected; it arises with great power and beauty, undamaged and strengthened by the flames of its self-created fire. We can be encouraged by the power of this timeless myth to rise up—to be re-birthed— into a new beginning, a new opportunity and sometimes, a whole new life.”

This self created fire of the phoenix is what we could refer to as our Dark Night Of The Soul.

Most people, when they speak about addiction and mental health issues, they will tell you of the terrible things that happen to them and their families. The awful days, the time in jail, institutions, everyone looking at your family and judging, 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 and other institutions. 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. I even lost a dog.

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 and mental health issues, I refuse to call it mental illness anymore. How can I refer to it as an illness when it brings so many people home to their true selves?

I found out what was important. It was like in the movie “The Grinch who stole Christmas,” when the Who’s down in who-ville have all their presents ripped away from them. In the morning, with everything taken from them, they still sing, and they learn what Christmas is truly about.

Alcohol and mental health was my Grinch, it took everything from me that I THOUGHT was important. 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, mental health issues, and my recovery. Thank you alcohol and mental health, you are my Grinch.

Like the Grinch stated at the end of the movie, “Maybe Christmas is not about what you get in a store, maybe Christmas is about much more.”

Well, maybe life is about much much more than what we have:

Doctor: “She cannot have any more children, she is infertile.”


9 months later:

“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. Something I had dreamt of my whole life. Something that seemed impossible 9 months ago.

Inside my head, the thinking was this:

“God I hope this is over so I can get a drink, this cannot be real. She is just faking it. I need to be able to drink tomorrow, it is Saturday, and I want to golf and drink.”

So the next morning, before I visited them, I went to have a drink. I wound up in the garage passed out all day while my family sat in the hospital. Everyone was there, all the relatives, and my now 3 kids awaited. I was passed out in a garage. Exposed for everyone to see.

I missed the first 3 days 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 for treatment and I ran. I got out of the car and I ran as fast as I could.

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. People tend to think of waking up as a finale. That is completley wrong, it is a beginning. After the waking up comes serious trials and tribulations. This is a waking up, you are beginning again. Nothing about waking up is final, it is a start, not an end. Well, maybe a bit of both.

When she said, “It is 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, and in things. I know the emptiness we feel, yes we are empty. However, we are all part of one, we belong to each other, and to the earth.

We must love each other. Little things do not disturb me, my thoughts are just that, thoughts. I let them pass. I observe them and watch what they can do to me if I let them.

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. Sometimes, they are successful. Sometimes I put the mask back on. Sometimes, I am very afraid.

The others that try to push down my true self 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, fear, and depression. The result of that is more relapses.
Be open, it does happen. Learn from it and it is not a mistake. It then becomes a learning experience.

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 the true self 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. I am still creating myself.

Focus on right now. Do the very best you can in this moment. Then repeat.

My son’s birthday is June 30th. He is too young to read this. Hopefully, when I’m gone, someone will show this to him. Maddoc, you are my miracle. My phoenix, my proof of the true power of love. Whatever comes your way in life, carry your head high. Your life started by saving mine.

I held him so tight when I finally got a hold of him. People were gathered, whispering, and rolling their eyes. I cried and whispered to him:

“No one believes I can do it, and I don’t even know if I can do it. But I’m going to try my best, little buddy. I’m going to use this love to try. No more. Let’s be born together.”


Focus on right now. Do the very best you can in this moment. Then repeat.

My son was born June 30, and a week later, so was I.

“Wake up, it’s time to wake up.”

Thank you addiction. Thank you mental health.

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“You will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.”

This was years ago. This is about a patient who had relapsed terribly. He had many troubles throughout his life with the law, and with school, and just about everything. This was his worst moment he said this as he entered treatment. All this information is in his chart. This is a well-documented case of the mask.

These are 2 emails he received from his 2 brothers. Now this was less than a month after he started treatment for the first time.

Less than a month after his whole world fell apart. These are the actual emails. I’ve taken names and dates out for obvious reasons.

I think this gives a great example of the 2 different ways people treat the addicted and those with mental health issues.

Email 1: From brother 1. (Dale)

After talking to you last night, I am convinced more than ever that you haven’t changed. You are no different than the teenager who would trash the house and punch holes in the wall to get attention. Now you just go about getting your negative attention in less physical ways. Everything still needs to be about you all the time. You can’t stand it when anyone else has any kind of attention. You still engage in negative attention seeking behavior because that is the only way you know how to communicate with anyone. That’s why you sent a prank message to the family last night. NOT because it was a joke. You KNEW it would get people upset. That’s why you sent it. You did it to get a reaction and to get attention for yourself. The “joke” is a convenient excuse so you can just say “people are over-reacting” when they get angry, that way your behavior never has to be dealt with. It’s a clever little game you play. It’s manipulative and you’ve been doing it for years.

It’s no different than two years ago when you called me a “phony” when I volunteered to be a pall bearer at grandma’s funeral. Again, you couldn’t stand attention being on someone other than you. You couldn’t be silent and respectful even at a funeral. You still had to draw attention to yourself. It’s sick. But if anyone had called you out on that disgusting behavior, you could’ve said it was “just a joke,” that way you weren’t to blame. It’s a very clever game you play.

I can’t even go to a family gathering and have a quiet, adult conversation with someone without you screaming and yelling over the entire room because you can’t stand for people to be having a conversation that doesn’t involve you. You need everything to be all about you all the time and all eyes to be on you. It’s like you’re a 5 year old. No wonder you like treatment so much. You get to sit down and have everyone talk about you for three hours. It must be your dream come true.

I’m even starting to think you couldn’t handle the birth of your own child getting more attention than you, so you “created a crisis” by going down to the bar and getting drunk so the attention could be directed back at you. You’re not trashing the house anymore or punching holes in the wall, but it’s the same behavior…it’s seeking negative attention to yourself.

But what really got me was last night you had the guts to tell me you won’t tolerate stuff from me. Who the heck do you think you are???? YOU’RE not gonna take stuff from ME?? Are you kidding? After all you did when we were kids? You should be on your hands and knees every day thanking god that anyone in this family still wants anything to do with you after all the crap you did when you were a kid. Do you need a reminder???? You stole my clothes, my videos, my high school graduation money and my drivers license so you could gamble. You pushed mom down on the kitchen floor when she refused to lie to your parole officer. You chased our brother around the house with a baseball bat. You dumped a glass of pee on our sister’s head. She used to sleep with a knife under her bed she was so afraid of you.

These were YOUR actions. YOU did them. And for you to say to me that I did NOTHING? That I just hid in the basement and “ran away” from high school to high school? Bull! I used to have to disconnect the engine on my car every night so I could drive the other kids to school in the morning (otherwise you would steal it and take it to the casino and we wouldn’t get to class). I used to get up early in the morning in the summer and take our sister’s out of the house and we would sit at the park all day until mom and dad came home because mom said you were “too violent for them to be around.” I bought bread and milk for the house and sometimes even furniture when I was only 18 because mom and dad were so broke paying your gambling debts.

And after all that, I let you back into my life, and for that, you give me a sarcastic “oooh, that was big of you.” IT WAS big of me! Do you know how many people I’ve talked to about you and the things you did when you were a kid? They are all shocked when I tell them I let you back into my life. I remember Uncle B, Aunt K and Aunt M. As well as all of our cousins asking all the time what it was like to live with the “psycho.” You made my life from the time I was 16 to 18 terrible, every single day. And never ONCE did I EVER hear the words “I’m sorry” come out of your mouth. You are such an egomaniac you are incapable of thinking anything is ever your fault. Your actions are never dealt with. No one in this family has ever stood up to you. Your behavior is accepted and that’s why you have never changed.

I am done with it. I was right about you all along. You haven’t changed. You are still the ego-centric, attention-seeking, loudmouthed sociopath you were when you were a teenager. The worst mistake I made in my life was forgiving you. You are no different. You will never change and no one in this family will ever make you change because your behavior is tolerated by them. They are just as messed in the head as you are. There was a reason I didn’t talk to you for five years when we were teenagers. Looking back, it was actually the happiest time in my life. I should’ve never started talking to you again.

You said the other day that you “challenged” people to have a relationship with you. No thanks. You are not worth having a relationship with. I get nothing out of knowing you as a person. You are not worth knowing. I’m getting too old to still be dealing with the same old bull from you 20 years later.

I remember when we were kids, the only thing that worked when you had an outburst or a tantrum was when we all left the house, so you didn’t have an audience anymore. Well that’s what I’m doing now. Your negative, attention-seeking behavior won’t have an audience from me anymore. Go get it somewhere else.

Email 2: From Brother 2 (Larry)

We are never born and never die. We are all eternal spirits. But you took this current human form on this “day.” I think you are one of the smartest, funniest, greatest people in the world. You always share all your wisdom and knowledge and love. Even though it is not always accepted by others and that hurts you. My life got a little crazy and I was not always available lately. I apologize. I know I have done this before, but I have mental issues, a disease. I’m trying to get better. I feel bad, and feel worse that you do not want to talk to me anymore.

You continue to teach me every day. Since we were kids you have always done this. You were the one that was always there for me. The only one. You are always right. Everything you say becomes true. Everything they say in college, you have already told me. Now working in this field, I use your wisdom (well THE GREAT SPIRITS wisdom through you).

You see the good in everyone and you wish for what is best for the world. I wish more people were able to hear your message of love and the world would be a better place. You are my friend and my greatest influence in life. You have been the greatest role model anyone could ask. I continue to look up to you, listen to your words, and strive to do the things you do. Just following your path, I know I am making a difference in the world thanks to the words you have spoken to me.
Well hope you have a super duper DAY and that you don’t hate me. Sorry for my sadness in the past. Being friends with someone who is depressed is one of the most difficult, yet kindest acts someone can do.

There you have it. Strange to think they are talking about the exact same person. They grew up in the same house, during the same time.

It shows that people’s reaction to you has a lot more to do with them, than you.

As it turns out brother number 1 (Dale) had many issues of his own. He was also an alcoholic, and he still is to this day. He lives isolated from the world. Depressed, lonely and without help. He is said to be a brilliant man, which creates loneliness and is often one of the causes of addiction and mental health issues. When you have no one to relate to, and you are able to notice things that others do not, that can be very lonely.

Was he a bad guy? No, I don’t think so. He was also in pain, you can tell that in his email. He felt he had to grow up and be an adult. He suffers from the same issues but did not act out. However, he never got the help the patient did. The patient being the identified “sick” one, prevented this guy from ever getting help. This is how the ego can hurt you.

When someone is so adamant against someone or something that is usually a red flag to me, as it was in this case. If you notice, brother 1 (Dale) mentions how bad it was. However, he also mentions that they didn’t talk for 5 years as teenagers. It’s hard to imagine that all of this is based in reality if you never have talked to someone, yet you are saying they are the person that ruined your life during this same time. How is that possible if you never interacted? We all have perceptions about situations whether they are truth or not.

In family systems there is usually a scapegoat. The one that is the strongest and most sensitive takes on all the blame for the family’s issues. In a way it’s also a blessing, because the scapegoat is the one that gets the help. While the others live in pain, yet not an open to the world type of pain.

In this case brother 1 (Dale) is so mad at the patient for things the patient did as a child.

Did this approach help the patient? Well, in truth, it did. Not because of the way things were said, but he was able to see the lessons in this. Lessons are usually painful. The more painful, the better the lesson. It also crushed the patient and set him back. It is ok to tell the addict and psych patient how they have affected you. It needs to be heard. It can be therapeutic.

However, only when the time is right. The intentions needs to be pure, and it was not in this case. There needs to be trust, and a relationship first. Without the relationship with the patient and trust, nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter if you have a cure to their particular condition. If there is no relationship, and the intentions are not pure, nothing else matters.

To kick someone while they are down, and at their worst moment is not at all an approach that heals.

What it did though was show the patient that he had hurt others, and that some people will never accept him. It taught him that it is not about him. The patient can’t force others to become healthy by his standards. He had to detach. There is a lesson in every interaction.

He also heard things in this letter that helped him see what had happened. The patient had forgotten about how everyone in the family including aunts, uncles, and cousins that had rarely ever seem him and spent no time with him at all, were getting together talking about how “psycho,” and unsafe he was. How could that even be possible unless the patient’s own family was telling people this? It broke his heart.

It crushed him. You could tell his heart was breaking. From the patient’s perspective, he was a good guy that was sad and had been acting out. He thought everyone knew that he loved them and this was not really who he was.

However, family systems that are broken do not want to admit fault. That is due to shame, fear of judgement, rejection, and ridicule. They place on a family mask. A false front. They are in pain themselves. Generational pain will get passed on for thousands of years. You may have had anxiety passed on to you from things passed on to your parents. It could have started thousands of years ago. However, it only takes one person to reverse it.

The scapegoat is born when there is a serious system dysfunction. The scapegoat then acts out as if to say, “Something is wrong here.” Which takes immense bravery for a child to go against the adults and culture telling him to be quiet. It is also usually to help younger siblings as well.

Children know nothing about how to communicate, so they act it out. Want to see how a child is feeling, play with them. Let them lead.

In this case, this patient punched holes in the wall. He was a child in serious pain. So he was acting out, because he likely was more sensitive and could not keep things in as well as others. Some say that is a weakness, it is not. It is a strength.

This is how the scapegoat is born.

This is great for the family. They don’t have to talk about their issues any longer. They can now say, “See it is him.” He is now the “identified patient.” Again, this is not a purposeful thing at all. A bunch of pain and hurt. They have basically turned on their own.

However, the same system that helped create this violent child, now is blaming him for being violent. He has become the sacrificial Lamb of the family. There are other roles that are formed in these families, but this is the one that leads to addiction and mental health issues.

Then the gossip begins, which is like murdering someone’s character.

Now, these adults who have never truly spent time with him are somehow disgusted with him. Lies have speed, but the truth has endurance. Not one of these adults ever sat down and talked with his child. Instead, they chose to talk about him.

This gains the family acceptance and saves them from ridicule.

The children, in this case, the brothers, sisters, and cousins all gained acceptance from the adults every time they agreed and told stories about how awful this misfit was. I’m not saying the adults cheered them on. But they paid attention, they talked to the children, and they told these kids “I’m so glad you’re so well behaved and not like that.” It again is not purposeful.

We now have adults teaching kids how to put on the mask.

The scapegoated patient is a hurt child that acted out due to system dysfunction. Now they have their own family turn on them. They now are told by adults, and everyone around them, that they are the issue, that they are the bad seed.

That then causes even more pain and isolation and depression. Acting out in school begins. The patient has been reinforced not to talk about things, and never taught honesty (real honesty). So he acts out in school.

You can’t bottle these emotions, the scapegoated patient is always the most sensitive by nature. So the emotions will come out soon, especially in a child. With the added stress of kids at school who are socializing, acting human and communicating, the extra stress is bound to cause an eruption in the scapegoat. So when kids act up in school, and I hear teachers say, “oh yeah, just a rough kid.”

That is a cop out. There is always more to it that can be done. If you sit back and do nothing, then you are part of the problem. Anyone can see another person struggling, we can do something if we choose to.

So now that this patient is acting out in school, now we have a defined trouble maker at school. More back up and evidence that this child is the problem, this is the bad kid. Now he even has more people telling him this. The chart is already building.

When I worked at the juvenile home for boys, the guards were teaching the kids how to act “when” they go to prison as adults.

This patient now believes himself to be a bad person. He is now more depressed, more isolated, and now more fearful of the world.  He is unable to trust anyone.

Eventually these type patients will meet other outcasts. Then the normals will say, “all the bad seeds find each other.” More gossip, when one act of kindness would change the world. Then these outcasts have a drink, or use some drugs and it takes it all away.

Relaxation, the mask is off. If anyone ever says to you, “I love when I drink that I become myself.” You have an issue on your hands. But it can be a blessing.

It’s all gone. This mask is off. The outcast gets to be this loving, sensitive person that they always have been. They are also around others just like them. This is a perfect storm.

Everyone is calling them losers, the outcasts will then attach to each other more. Many of them will quit school. No one is surprised, they shake their heads, and the chart is building already.

At any point during this one person could step in and change everything. One moment, one minute of time, anyone can do this. We want to take care of “our own.” What if we looked at is as all of us were in this together, we all are “our own.”

But the real reason they quit school is they are usually bored at school, and they are mocked and ridiculed. They also are learning things by being told to memorize things that the outcasts don’t believe. The way our system is set up is that those that get the good grades are those that repeat what the teachers want. We are not teaching people how to think, but how to pass a test.

The outcasts have learned to question the answers, not just answer the questions. This gets them further labeled as disruptive and challenging. This develops early on in life as they found out early that just because adults say things are ok, does not mean it is true. To have a kid who questions things should be embraced, not punished.

So the outcasts would rather go with friends and use or drink or whatever. No one really pushes them to stay, because, you know, they are “losers.”

They have proven everyone right. They believe it, although on some level they don’t believe it. Which is where the misunderstood attitude comes from. Which is why you hear the stories of “one person believed in me and that changed my life.” Because one person understanding will stop all of this.

At this point, usually they are only able to function with substances. So if you take the substance away, and on top of that, they still have never learned to deal with emotions or situations. So jobs are hard with this lack of how to be a human skills, or domestication. Add in no “education.” Now the outcasts are also addicted.

You now have a drug addicted high school dropout without a job. Loser? I do not think so.

Everyone says they just knew it, poor family has to deal with this.

This is where you see the complete brainwashed brother number 1(Dale). He sees this patient getting help. That may mean that the lie is going to be exposed. How will brother 1 (Dale) cover up things he has done (and there was plenty). Without the patient to trash, the family must look in the mirror. They do not want this. So they subconsciously try to direct the patient back to the sick role. The identified patient.

This patient getting better will throw everything off, he was starting to speak up. He was not afraid to tell the truth, like back when they were kids again. Like when the patient was saying the funeral was phony. As the patient put it, they never saw the grandmother. Maybe one time in 15 years. Now she was dead and everyone was acting sad. The patient could not understands the phoniness. So again he acted out.

Again, he is the bad guy.

Families do not do this on purpose. But everyone deep down knows the truth. Yet they are not strong enough to get help. Forgive them father, they know not what they do.

The scapegoated patient is lucky in a way. He gets to go to therapy, to treatment, and to hospitals. These patients often do so well in treatment, and then relapse and we wonder why.

Well you have helped the most sensitive person. Then you send them back to the same dysfunctional system.

How many times do families refuse to participate in the treatment? I would say about 80 to 90 percent. The excuse is often that it is not them that is the problem, it’s not their issue. That is more proof we are going to have a relapse. A relapse of acting out.

Mental health and addiction are systems diseases, you help one part of the system, usually the strongest part. Then send them back to the system. Until we start calling it a family disease and treating the system, it will not get better. The patient either has to leave the system, or the whole system has to change without help the way we do it now.

The scapegoated patient in this case was getting better and telling everyone that he is not a bad person after all, thinking everyone will embrace him and say they are sorry. Well that threatens the whole community lie. If they are out of character, it forces everyone to change.

So the family will try to make the patient take the sick role back. They usually will. It is a way to be accepted by the dysfunctional system. Be the sick one, or leave. People are afraid of taking that leap to something unknown. They would rather stay in known dysfunction, than leave to the unknown. They are scared of the world. We must remember that. This is why support systems are so important.

The patients are lucky if the family has money to get help. Otherwise these patents end up in prisons or hospitals or homeless. Most will see the homeless, drug addicted, and those with mental health issues and see trouble.

I see the most amazing, sensitive people we have on this earth. I see future awakened and enlightened souls. I see beauty and pain, but potential.

I love when someone gets to the point that they either want to or have to get help. Because I feel like it is another scapegoated modern day leper about to awaken to the truth they have always known. It is a thing of beauty.

This brother 1 (Dale) has the anger, the shame, and the same old issues he has always had.  With no one to blame, he has gone into isolation. He has some serious issues that were never and still have not been dealt with. I hope he finds peace.

He still reaches out to Brother 1 (Dale) from time to time. But he let’s go after that.

Brother 2 (Larry) saw past this patients mask his whole life. Brother 2 (Larry) saw the true person. He was the younger brother. Scared, but as you can see from the email, since he saw the true self of the patient, the patient had always shown this brother his true self. He did things like being there for him when he needed something, helping him when no one was looking. Teaching him. Talking to him about life. But you have an unskilled, wounded young animal trying to guide a younger child. Disaster awaits.

This scapegoated patient saw his younger brother, and knew that brother 2 (Larry) was vulnerable. He was very sensitive. So the patient was able to be his true self with his younger brother and show him love. The patient felt safe. But the patient only did this when no one else was around. Otherwise he put on the mask.

The patient was actually very mean to brother number 2 (Larry). When others were around and watching, the patient was abusive. Emotionally and physicality to brother 2 (Larry). The patient was cruel and he embarrassed brother 2 (Larry), and humiliated him. The patient was so insecure that he did that to feel better about himself. Although it always worked opposite.

There are many reasons the patient did this to brother 2 (Larry). One of them was when people were around, the patient didn’t want everyone to see his true self. The other was this younger brother was so kind and saw his older brother as this great guy while everyone else saw a monster.

This scared the patient. He tried so hard to push the little brother away. He had to show brother 2 (Larry) that he was this jerk. But be couldn’t do it. The little guy kept seeing the greatness. So slowly, the greatness started to come out.

This younger brother talks in his email of the older brother teaching him so much. But in reality, it was the younger brother doing the teaching. Teaching him it’s ok to be loving, and caring, and sensitive. To help others. He kept the true self of this patient alive.

When the other kids would all get together and decide to blame something on the scapegoated patient, they would offer to pay the younger brother to go along with the lie.

He would refuse. Even though this caused him great isolation. The scapegoated patient was at this point gone a lot, with his “loser” friends gambling or drugs or crimes.

So the younger brother was maybe the bravest person you could ever meet. Even as a young kid. But many adults will do that, but a child?

He taught the patient. Kept his hope alive.

So that’s why the emails are so different. They saw two different people.  But it was because of how they interacted.

One of the most astonishing parts of this to me was the younger brother was the one abused more than anyone. Yet he’s the one that loved the most and helped this patient the most. A child shall lead them.

However, people that live like Brother 1 (Dale, ) get desperate when they feel a lifelong lie is going to be exposed. They have so much fear, and that’s what I see in brother 1 (Dale) and his email. What I see is fear.

It is too bad because being exposed is the best thing that can happen to you. Then you heal by killing the false self. That’s why the scapegoat is lucky. It is always a great moment when I hear someone come out of the closet. It is a moment. A very special moment where they say I am going to be myself.

Brother 2 (Larry) is now a LADC, in recovery himself.  He is on his way to becoming a counselor as well.

Of course he became addicted. He was isolated, alone, and attacked by his idol. He spent his childhood scared and all alone. So of course he became a fearful and depressed person. He had learned to hide his loving caring self as well.

The patient did serious damage to his younger brother, as hurt people hurt people.

So they got older and would get drunk together and talk about life and love and be their true selves together, that is the basis of all of this pain.

Now they are in recovery together.

This was the story. This true story.

I was there. This is my story. I was the patient.

I remember when I was 14 years old playing a football game with my uncle from Detroit. We all thought he was the coolest guy. We didn’t see him much. But he was cool. He came back after football and told my mom how surprised he was at how well behaved I was. I heard it, I heard a lot, but that is all that needs to be said.

They were so proud of me. But my heart broke in half that day. I realized that everyone hated me, and I didn’t know why, because all I did was love everyone in my head, I didn’t know how to show it. Or let it out.

I didn’t even know I was being so good. I was just being myself, I was relaxed and my uncle was nice to me, I had never really spent that much time with him so I was heartbroken to hear that he thought I was awful. I looked up to him. That was when I realized I had a mask on.

Then I tried to kill myself. I knew I had to kill myself, but didn’t realize I only needed to kill my false self. So I tried to end my life. My brother 2 (Larry) this young soft loving kid, wrote me this handwritten letter telling me how much he loved me and wanted me alive.

To me, someone who just realized they were a monster and was locked up, that was something that put my heart back together. I wouldn’t be here without any of that.

This is why the mask is important to me, and I know anyone can step in at any moment and change the world. This was just the beginning of my story. Please, spread love. Everywhere you go.

Did I do all those things? Throw pee, steal cars, and trash the house? Yes. I did not graduate, I robbed houses. All of it and more is true. I was chasing love and acceptance. I did terrible things. Terrible. I now have worked at these institutions as a supervisor and staff for over 20 years. On the other side of the desk.

The comeback was made because of love.

I was my brother’s first patient.

Thank you Larry. You deserved better. I was only a kid, and I did the best that I could.

I am sorry with everything I have got.

I love you.

You are my teacher, and my hero.

“Being friends with someone who is depressed is one of the most difficult, yet kindest acts someone can do.” -Larry Pfeffer

To be continued……

image

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

I walk into the jail. It is my first day as the new supervisor of the medical unit. What a great opportunity to change things with this job. I did not know why they hired me to do this job. I had at the time 10-12 years working in psychiatry and this was a jail, which is mostly medical I thought.

I was there for a few minutes, and met the staff members. Right away there is a behavior code called and we are to rush to the cell to see what it is. I follow along and watch. We get to the cell and there is where I would first meet Anastasia. She was a 21 year old Russian female. She was cutting herself with an object she had stolen.

“Anastasia, give us the scissors NOW!” screamed the guard.

“No, you guys don’t care. No one does, I want to die anyways.”

She continues to cut and the guards with the riot gear on jump on her all at once and put her down. She is screaming and screaming and crying, “get off of me, get off of me, I will give it to you.”

“Too late for that!” Scream the guards and the nurses.

They bring her into the medical unit and she is checked out by one of the nurses. The nurse, as she goes over to check Anastasia’s blood pressure and her wound is furious. It is obvious. She came into work, and she was just getting her coffee started, listening to her music, and catching up on the gossip of the day. She rolls her eyes as she walks shaking her head towards Anastasia.

Anastasia is sad and crying and asks the nurse, “Are you mad at me now.”

The nurse replies, “Well why do you keep doing this?”

This would be typical of what I would see in my time at the jail. I heard many of the staff say things like, “They get free care and I do not.” Or “They are taking our tax dollars every time we have to call the ambulance.”

I watched my boss come in and yell at an inmate who was going through withdrawal. “Shut up!! You are annoying! Just shut up and leave us alone.” He had paperwork to do and she was interrupting him.

What would happen when an inmate made a self-harm gesture as Anastasia did is that we would place them on intense observations. Meaning they had to come in to talk to someone at least once per day and we would have a series of questions to ask them to gauge how they are doing. Then we would decide if it was to continue. Great idea I thought, this will be fun.

However, I soon realized that no one really wanted to do this, and no one really made any effort when doing it. However, you are less likely to help someone if you have it in your head that they are just a bad person instead of taking the time to get to know them.

“She just wants attention.” “She is a manipulator, a baby and playing games. Now we have to do all this paperwork.” These were things some of the staff would say.

I began to see why they hired me. By diagnosis, about 75% of the jail inmates had mental illness. But I can tell you from my lifetime of experience, it was 100%. That is not an exaggeration. This is now where we are housing our Mentally Ill. In jails. Across the country and this was my first taste of it personally. It costs 1,000 dollars to send a patient to CD treatment or to Mental Health treatment per day, whereas the jail only costs about 100 dollars.

Every single inmate that I encountered would have benefited from mental health or CD treatment. The charts are all similar. Abuse and neglect as a child. Then drugs, alcohol, cutting, gambling, some sort of escape. Then fights, crimes, and then jail. Then back in jail, again and again and again.

We have this high recidivism rate and we wonder why? The reason is the system. We don’t treat the underlying conditions, and we punish the result of the condition. That would be like punishing someone for having a heart attack, but not telling them about the heart disease or helping them with diet modifications and lifestyle changes. Then when they have another heart attack, we punish them again and say “they just do not get it.”

We are the most incarcerating society in the history of mankind. We have private prisons that make money of people being jailed. We have people who lobby congress to make tougher laws so we can lock up more people and everyone makes more money. Most of these people that are locked up are mentally ill.

So we are taking those that were abused and traumatized, and we are not treating them. We are locking them back up, and making money off of it.

So how did Anastasia get here, and how do we solve this issue of locking up the mentally ill?

You see the picture at the top. That is a Russian orphanage. That is where Anastasia spent the first 4 years of her life. In a crib, with no human touch or affection. Fighting for food. Forming no bonds with anyone.

“Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much like smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.”

There was also a study done using monkeys regarding early bonding and its significance and how it affects our future development. It showed that lack of early maternal interaction, and early adversity in life, as well as lack of bonding significantly increases your chances of developing addictions and mental health issues, and behavioral issues later in life. Here is the full study if you want to read it.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3161556/

So, in Anastasia’s case, she was in an orphanage the first 4 years of her life. Which altered her brain development significantly. Russian orphanages are well known for their lack of resources, neglect, and abuse of the children. Some have been shut down. There are many awful images that can be seen online and article about it.

She then was adopted by her American adopted parents. They were excited to bring home this child, to be helping out the less fortunate. However, as in many cases with these adoptions from Russia or other countries, they did not get what they thought they were getting. They were not equipped to handle this young girl.

She was 4. 4 years old. Imagine a 4 year old. They are exploring life, starting to gain independence, asserting themselves. Many studies state that the personality is almost fully developed by age 3, some say by age 6. No one argues that it is fully developed very early on.

So now imagine a 4 year old sitting in a crib most of the day with no one to bond with or hold, no one to love her, or care for her. No one to ask questions to. No one to smile at or to play with. How is that fair that when she gets older we expect her to just have somehow magically “figured it out.”

She gets home and she is not a typical 4 year old. She screams, she throws fits, and she yells, hits, and kicks. She has no idea where she is or what is going on and she is scared and does not trust the world, nor should she.

Her adoptive parents were sold on the idea of bringing this kid to America and giving her a better life. They were not ready for this.

So, by around age 5 or 6, Anastasia’s new mom is holding her down, locking her in her room, and making her stay outside. Almost hiding her from the world. She is once again punished when she has emotions, or feeling. If you scream and feel, you are hit, held down, or locked outside. That was the message that was being sent to Anastasia. What this teaches the developing brain is that when you are feeling something, you deal with it by inflicting pain. It is how her young brain was molded over and over again.

When a child is abused like this over time, the hippocampus sometimes shuts down, that is the part of the brain that involves memory of events. However, there is also proof that the chemical reactions in a child’s brain at this time are similar to that of heroin withdrawal. So what I am trying to say is imagine a child going through this much pain over and over, and getting this sick over it. No one is explaining any of this to her. She doesn’t understand why she is dying inside. Then the memory part of the brain shuts down almost so she doesn’t have to remember all of the events. I would ask her all the time about the orphanage, she didn’t remember. But I read the chart. So I knew, but she didn’t. It is probably best that she didn’t.

So we see these children as adults and we say, “Well only half of them were traumatized.” I am certain that is false, you still see the behavior, because the body remembers. The brain does not always remember the things that happened. But the body does.

Just like an alcoholic or drug addict learns to use the substance when emotions come up. Someone who self-harms usually has learned at an early age that when emotions come up, you inflict pain and punishment. Then it goes away and the surge of dopamine happens much like it does in an addict. However, the feelings stay inside. They are never released. So now, this temporary relief has actually made things worse. Now there is shame over the self-harm, and the original emotions stay. Now you have someone with all these emotions bottled up. Eventually it’s going to explode.
Anastasia began cutting herself at age 7. I asked her how this started. She said “It just made the pain go away, when my mom would hit me, I would not be sad about whatever I was sad about anymore.”

She was eventually sent to groups homes. Her first one was at age 11. She would cut and self-harm. She has scars all up and down her arms.

She has tried to walk into traffic, and she had tried to overdose. She has tried to stab herself with a knife.

Her life has been this. Placement after placement, event after event.

Now in the jail, the staff when she is not around state that she is “attention seeking” and “manipulating” and “playing games.”

They are not motivated to help heal her because they believe in their head that it is made up. I think she does want attention, because she has never gotten it. What you think of someone in your head affects the way you treat them.

Some of the oppressors of the mentally ill and addicted walk around like they are superior, like they did something to have this privilege. Like it was earned. They were born on 3rd base and act like they hit a triple.

I learned all of this about her life as I talked to her, and confirmed it by reading her chart. I would get my eyes rolled at by the staff and guards, and told “You spend too much time with the inmates.” and “You are causing issues because now they expect everyone to spend time with them.”

However, some agreed with me. That’s another thing I learned, there is usually a silent majority that agrees with being kind to people. Everyone has this at their core. They are more willing to do this if they have a partner in doing this. So by acting out of love, you usually bring out the others that have been fearful to do things different.

The oppressors of the mentally ill and addicted take someone abused, who never had near what they had, and lock them up. Then they punish them and do not treat them. However, they continue to make laws and laws to punish and punish. Prison is a big business here. We have people making 100,000 a year. In their minds, they need to keep making that money, and more if they can. They do this at the expense of the mentally ill and traumatized and addicted.

The oppressors say, “They do not want to get better, they keep coming back.”

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

When Anastasia was 18. She was in an adult foster care program. She had a staff member that was very strict and had this attitude like the staff at the jail. She felt Anastasia’s behavior was purposeful and deliberate. She ordered Anastasia around. She bossed her around, she had power and abused it, much like the jail staff.

How did this staff member grow up? She was told she was a princess and got everything she wanted. She was told she was special. She was told she deserved all that she had. She was a victim of all of us also. She was also told lies as a child. She ran her house since she was little. She was abused in another way. We create this, our society creates this. We are all co responsible for the staff, and for Anastasia.

How is it all of our faults, some say to me. Silence is consent, if we say nothing and do nothing, we are consenting to it. Some live in excess, and as a whole, we have a lot that we do not need. We spend billions per year on Christmas, and the super bowl alone costs billions of dollars. We as a country and society have all this money. We see the suffering in the other parts of the world and we do nothing. We say we can’t change things. We are only one person. So we sit on our couches, and we watch TV and we over consume. We pay entertainers billions of dollars. We are using up all the resources.

We are acting like a virus. Viruses attach on to the host. Viruses eat, multiply, and use up the hosts resources, then move on.

There are people suffering all over the world. They are the future Anastasias. Or worse. We can prevent the next school shooting, or the next serial killer. We are capable of this.

We also see the spoiled little girl and think it is “cute.” We watch the shows that encourage this, we show children by our actions. We consume and teach young girls what beauty is, by how you look. You have to be skinny, you have to look a certain way. You have to act a certain way. Very rarely do I see someone just accepting their young daughter for who they are.

The young spoiled staff members are victims of the lies as well. We all see it, but do we do anything? NO.

It’s hard, I do it. I try my hardest not to and I am getting better at it. But it is all over and it is hard not to become a part of it. You have to be aware. I am not always, it is a process.

We sit and wait for people to come along and change all of this.

But, what if we are the ones we have been waiting for? What if you do something each day, and someone sees it and it continues. The effect of one kind act or word is much larger than you can ever imagine.

So yes, you are only one person, but you can change the world if you want to.

Anastasia was hurting one day, and having intense emotions. So she left to the store. She came back late and was yelled at by this staff member. She told Anastasia she cannot eat supper. The staff was mad that Anastasia was not following “the rules” which really were “her rules.” She did not like Anastasia doing her own thing and going off. This was not the first time Anastasia has disobeyed her. No one had ever challenged her. These 2 people and their generations of pain collided on this day.

Anastasia was doing poorly on this day. She had bought a knife. She pulled it out. She was going to hurt herself. The staff member was scared, this was not how it was supposed to go.

The staff called the cops and they surrounded the house. They broke in and arrested Anastasia because they had to evacuate the house. The staff was angry, and said she felt threatened. That was enough for felony terroristic threats.

What happened was they then officially charged Anastasia for felony terroristic threats. She did not know what to do, Anastasia had a public defender that was overwhelmed with cases so he got her to plead guilty. No one really advocated for her. You have this young, law abiding staff member that was scared and this brutal criminal that tried to hurt her. Lock her up. That was the perception.

So now Anastasia is at jail. A felony terroristic threat. She was getting punished more in jail. She was not getting any treatment. She was continually shamed by staff. She never had visitors. She was now a mentally ill person in a jail. This is how it happens. This is just one story, but there are many like it that result with mentally ill being in prisons all over.

What will they think 100 years from now about us? I hear people of this generation always say, “I can’t believe they had slaves,” and “I can’t believe they didn’t let women vote and men just did what they wanted to their wives.”

What do you think this says about us? We take people who were abused, and traumatized. We charge them with crimes and lock them up. For money. We do not treat them either. We make money off of it. We are taking sick people and locking them up, we are the most incarcerating society in the history of mankind. Most of which are mentally ill and have been traumatized and we do not treat them. We can fix it, we choose not to.

Anastasia and I talked daily. I read her chart, got her records, and got to know her. She was a kind, loving caring young lady that never had a chance. Now she was not perfect, as none of us are. I still heard the talk from staff and guards, “She just wants attention, game player, and attention seeker.”

So, at times she was afraid to report symptoms because she was convinced that she “made things up for attention.” That’s what she was told her whole life.

One day, during clinic, she passed out in the hallway. A medical code was called. They all rolled eyes and said “Anastasia again.” She would say she was ill at times to get an opportunity to talk was the perception of many.

We went down to the code, but this time she wouldn’t wake up. If she was faking it, it sure was a good job. We called 911. She went in.

She was in the hospital for a few days. She would have to go back and get tests done.

It turns out she had developed cancer that had spread all over her body.

She was not going to make it. She was going to die.

She was placed in the hospital ward for end of life care. At age 22.

Everyone was surprised by how she handled the news that she was going to die in 6 months. She said to me, “I hope my dad visits me now.”

I lost it. I lose it again now writing this. I cry every time I think about this moment.

That’s all she wanted was a visitor.

She came into the hospital ward as we had to monitor her hourly now.

What I saw from everyone was their humanity. Everyone was truly sad over this. They started to see her every single hour on the hour as they had to, due to her illness. Since she was now in the ward right next to us. So the staff were almost “forced” to interact with her and get to know her.

They got to know the true Anastasia. They treated her so gently and kindly. Everyone was laughing with her.

Everyone got to know her quirks. They got to know who she was. Because of this, they all knew when there was a change in her behavior, so they knew when she needed attention. They knew her so well they could see when she needed extra when she needed time alone.

They knew her favorite foods. Some would sneak her in treats and pop and everyone was breaking the rules for this kid. Some of those that were the roughest on her were truly the ones with the softest hearts.

I saw so much beauty in this such painful moment. Everyone had their masks off.

Why does it take this for it to happen? Why did this kid have to die for people to see her for who she was?

They were forced to get to know her. It was amazing.

At one point during all of this, I sat down at the desk next to the oldest meanest nurse in the building (my false perception.)

Her name was Dorothy. I just started small talk. Her head was down, she was shaking. I said “what is it?”

I looked in her eyes, now this was probably the toughest woman I’ve ever met. Smart and rough and tough. You know, old school. She was crying.

She said “you know it just hurts. I lost my daughter at age 21 to a drug overdose and I see a lot of her in Anastasia. I was mad Anastasia was wasting her life and going to kill herself like my daughter.”

I never would have guessed that is where all her anger towards Anastasia came from. Everyone has things that lead them to be who they are, give them their beliefs, and things that dictate their behaviors.

Which is why we all are co responsible for each other.

When Anastasia died, she died with all the nurses and guards around her crying. Everyone came in on their days off to say goodbye. She finally had her family. It was us.

I sat next to her as she passed away. She had this huge smile on her face.

I said “What the heck are you smiling for?” That was our relationship. We teased a lot and goofed off. Even as she was going away.

She put her hand out, she held my hand gently, which was very unlike her. She looked at me dead in the eyes and said. “This was the best 6 months of my life.”

She finally got treated the way she should have been her whole life.

She finally got what she always wanted, and what she never had gotten.

Love.

Anastasia means resurrection.

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Photo credit to brian Meyer, amazing work.


“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” -Albert Einstein

Robin Williams didn’t kill himself, stigma killed him. It kills many people like him everyday. Here is how:

STIGMA, that is the reason people do not ask for help. STIGMA is the reason people do not go to the doctor and say I’m depressed, or I’m an addict, or I do not feel things like anyone else. Who wants to say that they feel all these intense emotions?

Especially when you know what the result is likely going to be. When you know likely what will happen is the doctor will likely give you medication. People will tell you to change, or to just feel better.

The issue is we have it backwards, the depressed and mentally ill don’t need to change, society and our culture needs to change.

We, as a society, we do this. This is why people with great talents still kill themselves. Much has been written about Robin Williams; however why do you think he was such a good actor?

I’ll tell you what I think, it is because he got to wear a mask and pretend he was somebody else. That is easy to do when you hate yourself.

Why don’t they ask for help? STIGMA. Why do people kill themselves? STIGMA. We are all Co responsible for this, and until we take responsibility for our part, things will never change.

A few years ago I was sitting with a patient. I’ll never forget as I watched her as she sat with her hands in her head crying. She was crying like I had never seen anyone cry before. She had just been told by her husband that he was leaving her and he would be taking her child with him. He would be divorcing her if she didn’t “change.” This child was 6 years old at the time. I remember the look on her face like it was yesterday.She had a look of pain and anguish that I have never seen before. Her lips were shaking. I could see her chin trembling. Her knees were banging into each other as her feet were shuffling back and forth, back and forth. She was shaking. The tears were coming down her face. They were clear tears, very clear and big tears. Her eyes were squinted and almost closed. Her mouth was leaning towards me as she trembled in fear as if to say to me, “do something, I don’t know what to do.” It took everything I had not to cry. I still cry as I write this. That day, I did not. I sat and I was there for her. She said to me, “I don’t know what to do. My husband’s going to leave me if I don’t change and I don’t even know what that means.”

She paused as she saw me pause. Looking at me with eyes like a child saying “make me feel better, help my soul, this isn’t fair.” I didn’t save the world this day. However, for this moment, I was able to take away some pain, or teach her how to do this for herself in the future. That is good enough, because that is all we can do. That is how we can cause a mass ripple affect and stop suicides and pain. One moment at a time, every single action and every single moment matters, every single one.

So what I told her was “I know you’re feeling like somebody just hit you in the stomach and you have a dull aching pain that will not go away and you just want to keel over and surrender.” I knew this because I have been there. I spoke from the heart, not from a book.

However in my experience, this kind of pain is a beautiful thing. Why I say that is because in the moments like this in my life, this is when the truth entered me. Rumi the poet says it best in my favorite quote of all time, “The wound is where the light enters you.” There have been times in my life where everything was ripped away. When I lost all the things that I thought that were important. Things like cars, houses, fake friendships and relationships with family members. These were the things I grasped to. I was certain I needed them or I would die. The beautiful thing about adversity is that it will rip away everything, so you can see what really is important. However, I wouldn’t recommend saying that to someone while they are going through this, unless you want to get punched in the face. It is painful as hell, but it is beautiful as heaven if you let it be, then it becomes a wonderful gift.

She said “All I want to do lay down and go to bed.”I know she meant forever. The pain she was experiencing was shame. She felt like she was not ok. She had to change. She was sick. Her whole life as she knew it, her husband, her son, and everything she had ever known was going to be taken away from her because she was sick. She then put her hands on her head and cried and cried and cried. She looked at me and I said to her,
“Sammy, look at me, just look at me.”

She put her face up, she stopped crying, her hands stopped shaking, and her chin stopped shaking. It was like I had her attention. She paused, and she looked at me. I said, “Sammy, there is nothing wrong with you.” She looked at me like this was the first time anyone had ever said that to her in her life. She bawled and bawled and put her head in her hands. Then she pulled her head back up and said, “I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to do!”

Her husband was offered talks and education and all other kinds of resources and ways to find out about her illness. He declined this every time he was offered. He always stated that he had to work. He declined every single time.

I said to her “We don’t know that he’s going to leave you. He’s probably stressed out because he has a kid all by himself for the first time and he’s working full time.Maybe he had a bad day.Good days come and go, and bad things come and go. That is life. We try to do our best with what we know at the time. Life flows.”

She shook her head yes.

Then I said to her, “I’m sure you’ve had hard times before and it didn’t last forever. What you are doing is healthy because you are feeling your feelings. You aren’t running from the pain, you are taking off your mask; you are being strong and healthy. You aren’t cutting and you aren’t drinking and you are not gambling.You are feeling your true feelings and it sucks and it hurts what you are going through. You aren’t blaming anyone, you aren’t telling anyone they have to “change.” You are just being loving and hurting, you are being real.”

I told her a lot that day, but the only thing that really mattered is when I said, “There is nothing wrong with you.” That was the moment of clarity and truth.

I am going to finish her story towards the end of this. I have to talk about something else first.

The reason I tell this story is because of the stigma and how stigma destroys people, and stops the patients who are suffering from asking for help. It prevents people from wanting to get help because they are scared they are going to lose everything. They are scared that people are going to look at them weird and tell them to just get better. Stigma, that’s what it is. People don’t want to ask for help because of STIGMA.

STIGMA is created partially because there is a large group of people who do somewhat fake mental illness. That’s the truth. There are people that pretend to have mental illness because there are some benefits you can get if you are diagnosed with a mental illness.

However, if somebody is faking a disorder to get benefits there is probably some kind of mental illness in that act alone. People see this and they think to themselves and say it out loud,“They are taking my benefits and they are taking my tax dollars. This is bull, they are faking illness!”

These loud, and opinionated, yet uniformed people have power. They assume everybody in psychiatry is faking an illness. That is why we must stop stigma by education, not by hating. If we treat them the way they treat those with mental illness, then we are no different. Anger does not stop anger, hate does not stop hate. Only love can do that. So you look for opportunities to educate and you use them wisely. If we just randomly spout of at the mouth we lose credibility, even if what we are saying is accurate. If we try to reach people that are not ready to hear the truth, we will lose them. When you see an honest opportunity, we must use it, and jump on it. Educate every chance we get. You prepare yourself through reading and knowledge, then you will see more opportunities come, and that’s when you jump at them.

I want to talk about the most stigmatized illness in mental health. It is the illness that “Sammy” had. We call it a “disorder,” however, I want to try and show you how it is a gift, and not a “disorder.”

I want to talk about Borderline Personality Disorder. This is what they say is the single most difficult mental health diagnosis to treat, and the most difficult illness to have as a patient.

What is said is that those with this illness depend completely on the external enviornment for clues as to what emotion to feel. We say that they are manipulative, they are gamey, and they are attention seeking. We say they want everybody to love them and that they feel like it’s up to everybody else to make them feel good. We say they are dependent on the external for all emotions. We say that they don’t know how to feel. They feel intensely connected to everything therefore affected greatly by everything. We say we need to teach them how to handle emotions. If you ask me, the wrong people are in the role of teacher.

The truth is that science is finding out very quickly that we ALL ARE IN FACT connected. Science and studies have found out that we are breathing the same air that people breathed in and breathed out thousands of years ago. The air we breathe is composed of mainly nitrogen, gas, and oxygen gas. Very little is lost in space, and only occasionally is there a new source of carbon or oxygen introduced into this planet. So every breath you take has atoms that have been here for billions of years.

There was a computer program set up in various spots around the world. It would shoot off random numbers, there was no pattern ever seen for years.This is called a Random Number Generator. However when the September 11th attacks happened, or other moments that human consciousness became coherent, things changed. For instance, in the case of a severe tragedy in which all humans are thinking about similar things and having similar emotions, all the numbers become structured and organized. They show an unpredictable sequence of one’s and zeroes.The odds of this happening by chance is one in a trillion.

Some people still think that Darwin said evolution was about competition, survival of the fittest.However, that’s just the part that got popularized by people who had a hidden agenda. The truth is he said compassion and cooperation is what is essential. This is truly what he was about.

Years ago, I was in a Biology class for school, at this time, I was convinced wetlands were unnecessary and it bothered me that we had all these little ponds all over the place. I believed that we were the only species and that we didn’t need birds, fish, or bees. They were ok, but not essential and at times they were an annoyance to me.Then the teacher then explains how if we lost algae, then we would lose fish. If we would lose fish, the whole food chain would go away, and we all would die.

Every single thing you can see around you. The rocks, the birds, and the trees all are comprised of the same atoms. Just expressed differently.

There is science out there that shows if bees were to go extinct, that humans would not last more than 10 years. This is debatable, however we would suffer greatly, that is for sure. Albert Einstein once said that humans would not last 5 years without bees. One third of our food needs to be pollinated. That is mostly done by bees.The scary part is, they are going extinct for many reasons, some is unknown, some is pollution, and some is due to the unnatural insecticides used by Monsanto. However, I am getting off topic, and that is a whole different story. Studies after studies after studies are proving we are all connected. Science is finally catching up to the truth, that what I do, affects the whole world, same as you.

Science has also proved we are all connected in other ways. Humans and chimps have 90 percent identical DNA. Humans and mice have 88 percent identical DNA.Humans and cows have 85 percent identical DNA. Humans and dogs have 84 percent identical DNA. Humans and Zebra Fish have 73 percent identical DNA. I could go on and on. My point is, we are all connected. We use our genes differently, express them differently. Science is figuring out what borderlines and great sages and philosophers have always said. We are all connected. So why is this a disorder again?

What we do is tell the people with this “Disorder” we call BPD, who have always felt connected to everything and everybody. We tell them that they are too emotional. What we are doing is we are telling these people with a gift, the gift of the truth, that they are crazy.

There is a trick that I see, especially in the hospitals. Someone comes in with Borderline Personality Disorder, and it is very easy to look at the mood swings and say “It is a chemical issue.” We then diagnose them with Bipolar Disorder. Then what we can do is give them these “mood stabilizers” or these “antipsychotics,” and they will be sleeping and tired all day. Then what we say as we pat ourselves on the back is “Look, no more behaviors, we cured them!!”

We didn’t cure them, what we have done is chemically restrained them and shut them up because they speak the truth.

Marsha Linehan said they are like 3rd degree burn victims, if you just walk by them you can hurt them. My biggest questions and concern is, why do we call that a disorder? They are the ones that know the truth and we don’t, we lie; we put a mask on them because we do not like what they have to say.

How Borderline personality disorder is developed is very simple. We are all born with an innate temperament which can be on one of many different levels. We can be born not very emotional, slightly emotional, or normal emotional, (whatever that is). Then there is highly emotional and extremely emotional.

Once again, there are studies that prove this. They tested babies when they were first born and followed them. There were babies that cried more when their mothers would leave the room. When they were tickled by a feather they were much more affected by it. These babies grew up and continued to have the same innate temperament. It is something we are born with, like blue or brown eyes.

Temperament alone will not cause Borderline Personality Disorder. We all know emotional people, you know those people who we say “Wow they took that harder than anyone else.” The pain that they feel is intense.

Imagine you are eating a pizza, and you feel it is luke warm. The guy you are eating it with thinks it is burning hot and it is burning his mouth. We don’t understand him , we do not get it, and we roll our eyes and we make jokes and tell him to settle down, “What is wrong with you,” we say.

That is invalidation; we all do that from time to time to each other. That alone does that cause BPD.
 

Let’s pretend there is a boy named little Johnny. He is a very emotional person or perhaps an extremely emotional person. He has some “weird” instinct and/or intuitiveness where he can feel everything around him in his environment. He is in a family that is perhaps functional or dysfunctional. Regardless, the family and his friends do not understand his emotional states of being. Let’s say little Johnny is very connected to something he finds very important and we don’t understand his attachment. Then one day, he loses this item and he is crying continuously. An invalidating environment forces him to stop. We tell him that it is not OK, we tell him to quit being a baby. What we are really saying to him in other words is to “quit being yourself little Johnny.” Johnny now feels like something is wrong with him and he is not OK. Now he looks to the external environment to tell him how to feel.  He watches for cues on how to feel and how to act because he does not trust himself or his feelings

Congratulations to society, he now is wearing a mask. The intense feelings are still there, just because they are hidden, does not mean they are gone. In fact this makes it much worse. The emotions are building up over time. He can’t take it so he gambles, he drinks, he cuts, he overeats, he steals, or he becomes hyper sexual to mask the feelings. The behavior depends on what’s most acceptable to his certain environment.

The next step is then the judgments come in about this behavior, the criticisms, and it’s usually from the ones that caused the behavior that are doing the most judging. The original shame about who he is, still is with him. Now he wakes up and he feels worse, he has more guilt and more shame. The intense emotions are worse now, so what does he do again? Well, first he fakes and fakes and fakes until he blows.What they call this in the books is “unrelenting crisis” what I call it is blaming the victim.

We have it backwards; it is hard to see someone go through all this and especially when we do not understand. However,to say “It’s all attention seeking and drama,” is really making it much much worse.

Sometimes the only way anyone understands is if he attempts suicide. This may be the only time he gets reinforced by family. Still no one ever tells him he is OK. What we have done accidentally is told him that he has to be somebody else. Sometimes people with this so called “disorder,” you will see an unusual reaction to something that is happening.

For instance, one day I was talking to a patient and said “Wow I heard your mother is dying.”

Her face was blank, and she said “oh well.”

I said “well if that happened to me I wouldn’t be ok.” Then she understood that it was okay to cry. She had to take cues, she was afraid to feel.

One invalidating moment will not cause Borderline Personality Disorder, it is repeatedly invalidating someone and telling them who they are is not OK is what causes it. We must remember that these are the people that understand life and connections. Instead of validating them, what we do is we drug them up until then they have no behavior, when really they have a gift.

That’s where stigma comes in. Let’s shut them up.They don’t play pretend like the rest of us. They don’t play grown up very well. They just speak the truth so we get them drugged up and we put them in hospitals, and we call them names behind their backs.

What we think of them is something which affects how we treat them. This, in turn, affects the reaction we get. We have made it so that they don’t think they are OK. What we have done is we have tricked them.

The truth is, we are not OK. Another thing we are told is that this is the toughest mental health diagnosis to work with. I was told this before I knew what it was. It would frighten me. The behavior frightened me. When I first started about 20 years ago and I was training in, I was told this was all attention seeking behavior and manipulative. I watched the elder staff roll their eyes so then I started doing it. I thought it was fake and I didn’t want to deal with it. I didn’t want to have to dig deep.

Then it was explained to me this is a trauma disorder. 100% of people with this disorder have suffered trauma. The statistics say 70%, I do not believe that for one second, I am convinced it is 100%.What is a trauma is different to each person. What is a trauma to me may not be a trauma to you. If you are on the top of a ladder when you fall down, it is a lot more painful to fall than if you were only on the first step . I believe that they have powers and they are locked in darkness, like a genie in a bottle.

I am NOT saying this is easy to deal with. I have had relationships with many of them and it is difficult to understand. They are not bad, they have a gift. They know your emotions instinctively and they sense and feel things that we can’t feel. They know how to make people happy, they can read your soul.

In a way they are lucky, and in a way they are not. The way they are not is the way that our society treats them and tells them that it’s not okay.

Back to the story I started with. This patient was crying with her head in her hands and trembling in fear while her husband was about to take her life away because she was sick. How is this justice?

I said “What do you need to change Sammy?” and she said “I don’t know.”

I said for the second time “There is nothing wrong with you.”

I didn’t save her life. A few months later, she killed herself.

However, for that one day she felt she was ok. I know this because she was brighter, and happier.She looked better. She felt ok. That is all we can do is embrace every moment with each other and make it the best moment possible. In that room, for that day, she felt ok for once in her life. She got better and was discharged in a week.

So to all you Sammy’s out there, and all the Sammy’s I will meet in the future. My message is you are ok, we are not. She didn’t kill herself, Stigma killed her. This is the same thing that killed Robin Williams. He will get enough attention, the Sammy’s of the world will not.

We will never change the problems of the world until we start embracing diversity and gifts.We have these intuitive, special people and they are invalidated and abused. We continue to abuse and punish them. We need to stop punishing them. I agree, yes , the behaviors are tough. But there is truth in their behavior.There is a truth that sometimes we do not want to deal with.

We have to simply change or reframe the way we see things. See beyond the mask. To do this, sometimes we have to forget all the knowledge we think we have.

What we don’t see, is we don’t see past her mask. We cannot see that her behaviors are telling us there is something wrong here. Maybe it’s time we stop drugging them up and start listening.

Sammy, there was nothing wrong with you, there is something wrong with us.

the end

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“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems to by keeping it’s dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared. You see you wouldn’t ask why the rose that grew from the concrete had damaged petals. On the contrary, we would all celebrate its tenacity. We would all love it’s will to reach the sun. Well, we are the rose – this is the concrete – and these are my damaged petals.”

 -Tupac Shakur 

 

 This is the first real case, my first time of seeing beyond someone’s mask, this stuck with me and changed my life. 

 I didn’t do it, I watched someone else do it. My world changed forever. I guess it was my first lesson in how to look past behavior, and see beyond a persons mask.

 I’m going to read what you may see in this woman’s record if you are a doctor or nurse or social worker. These are the facts of the case (perceived facts). This is what you will read about if this patient just came into your office, hospital, or group home.

This is also what a judge will see when making important determinations about this persons life. When reviewing this womans case this is what they all see and read. 

 This is a woman who had her 8 children taken from her, for neglect and abandonment. 2 of them were over 16, one went to group home. So technically 6 for accuracy. The children were abused physically and emotionally. They were also neglected, and tormented psychologically.

 She would force the children to kneel down and pray as they cried. She would make them swear she was not drunk. She, however was drunk, and she would threaten to beat them if they told the truth. She would call the kids awful names.

One of the children fell on a beer bottle at age 2 and split her foot wide open. She said it was just a cut and to get over it and put a band aid on it.

Then the 14 year old girl had to drive the 2 year old child to the hospital to get stitched and surgery at one point. There was another time that she fell on one of the children and all the other kids had to all get together and pick her up so he didn’t suffocate the child that she fell on.  

 They didn’t have much food, the oldest girl cooked ramen noodles outside in freezing temperatures. She would grill them, and that was all they had to eat.

They did not go to school often, and when they did, they had the same clothes on. They were teased and ridiculed. No one said anything. The oldest girl in the family, she was the caretaker of the much younger siblings. She was called names like 4 eyed baboon and Russian half-wit (I still don’t know what that means.) 

Where and who was the father? Well he was a doctor actually, a hero to the community. Behind closed doors he hit and abused this drunk lady. One time he had drug her across the room with a belt while she was pregnant and she had a miscarriage. The children saw this type of abuse daily. The oldest girl buried the fetus in the backyard.  This was not the only time this happened. The good doctor was not such a good guy sometimes. However the chart says very little about him. So there is really no way for me to tell. However, there are many reports of physical fights seen by the children. 

 The father then died of a heart attack at age 40. At this time, the oldest girl was about 12 or 13; Leaving the kids with the drunken mother.  She had a great inheritance that was blown on alcohol the chart says. Most of the children were under 10 years old. There were 3 of them that were older. They are the ones that saw most of this firsthand and were old enough to remember it.

 Eventually, the money was wasted; the kids were all taken away. She would call and harass the foster parents, but she never would show up to see the kids and she never really knew them.

The oldest son moved out, he moved in with his girlfriend. The other son went into a group home, then to jail for stealing cars, and then he moved in with his girlfriend and got married young. 

 The oldest daughter, the one that buried the fetuses, took the kids to hospital, and the one that cooked the ramen noodles, she always kept going back. She kept coming back to this woman who was this “monster” to everyone else and she kept receiving the most abuse. She had a choice, and she chose to always believe in this drunk, she saw something in this drunk that others couldn’t see; she was old enough to make her own decisions. So she spent her life trying to care for this “drunk,” and to save her in some way.

She even blamed herself when she eventually left the family. She felt her leaving the abusive situation is why the other children were taken away. We all know that is not true, but in her reality it was true, causing even more psycholgical distress and torment.

 The drunken lady kept abusing and calling this oldest daughter awful names and was awful to her. She did psychological damage to this young lady who only wanted to be loved.  This little girl could not figure out why her mother hated her. She thought something was wrong with her. The things the kids in this family went through was nothing anyone should ever have to go through. I’m only cracking the surface and I don’t think I need to go into more details. 

 So you read this stuff, and you are thinking what the heck? How am I supposed to be compassionate towards the drunk? She did all this terrible stuff and I am supposed to embrace her? It was her choice to do all this damage! She is the one hurting everyone. She is the evil one, the bad one, correct?  Much like we think of those with mental health issues. They are no good and need to just get over it. 

 Well, it’s easy to be compassionate towards the Doctor, and the kids. That’s easy to do and they have plenty of people to do that. When you look down on the drunk and criticize, you are only making the problem worse. When you sit on your throne and decide who is good and evil, you are capable of doing great evil, without even thinking of it as evil. That is a very dangerous place to be in for any of us. We feel superior talking like that. However, if  you really want to change the world, then the way to do that is to be compassionate towards the drunk.  It may be hard, but if not you, who? If not now, when? 

 These are the people that need it the most, it may be hard. I think impossible for some. That is ok and it does not make you a worse or better person. It is actually a  very brave thing to say, “I can not help this person, it bothers me too much.” Then the key is to walk away and find someone who can. However, if you ignore this inability to care for the person. You begin to subconsciously attack, belittle, and blame them. Then you are creating more issues. 

Sometimes you can give all the compassion you have, but the person is gone or not ready. Sometimes they are never ready. But we have to still try if we want to change the world. This is the spot where it is done. It is done in the gutters, where no one wants to go.

The world is not changed on the green grass with the sun shining. You have to go to the gutter or the perceived gutter. You usually will never get a thank you, but that’s not why anyone should do this. Never do it for rewards, because with poor intentions, you will fail. 

 I’m going to finish this ladies story but I want to give some facts first about this disease. 

  Alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease. There is no argument in the medical community, or in the science communities. There is no one that even debates it, the evidence is overwhelming.

The only ones debating it are those that are in the public and don’t have the information, or are restating things they have heard others say.  There is a time that it is a choice, just like it is a choice to eat a cheeseburger if you have just had a heart attack. The people I am talking about, it is long past that point.  If some of this next stuff you already know, I am sorry, but I am trying to prove my point.

 This little story is told by PVD, one of the men who saved my life. I can’t tell it like him, but here is my best effort.

 Imagine a 13 year old girl and boy and the boy wants to ask her out. All his friends leave the scene, she is all alone. He is thinking to himself “Here is my shot; I’m going to go ask her out.”

  He looks in the mirror, adjusts his hair. He is sweating and his nerves are killing him. He slowly walks over to her. She is sitting there with her pink notebook and pen; it’s a spiral one with one of those flowers on the end of it. He slowly walks up to her and says, “Umm did you hear about the dance coming up this Friday.”

She twirls her hair, and looks down and says “ya.”

He is getting more nervous and scared, but he’s in it now, no going back. He says with his voice trembling, “Umm do you think you may want to go with me.”

She looks at him, then she looks down. She says, “I don’t know, maybe.”

Then as he sweats this out, he says, “well can I call you?”

She looks around, twirls her hair, then she grabs the pen with the flower and opens up her pink notebook starts scribbling on it and hands him her number and says “sure.”

He walks away, goes into the bathroom and screams “YEAH YEAH YEAH.” 

Now same exact story, same thing happening. This time, before he asks her out he goes into the bathroom and smokes a joint or takes a shot. Still goes up to her and asks her out and gets her number. The difference here is that he never learned how to deal with the emotion of stress, anxiety, or fear. He never really risked being rejected.

What has happened is that he never really put himself out there. So next time that these emotions come up, what will he do? Same thing as he always does when these tough emotions come up, drink, use or whatever it was. The reason why is because he got a positive outcome, so that is how it starts. Then the mask has begun. 

 That alone will not cause addiction; it is repeated use and repeated positive outcomes.

Then eventually you start to organize your life around it. There is a genetic component and an environmental component. You can have the gene and never get it. You can have the environment and never get it. It all depends on all these factors coming together. Still you don’t have an addict. 

 What happens when you drink, is you have a surge of dopamine, the chemical that makes us happy. So let’s say you put a quarter in the gumball machine and get 10 dollars in quarters out of it plus a gumball. That’s a greater than expected reward, so you get a dopamine surge, and your brain is told to remember this because it is good.

Our brain is taught to remember things that feel good for survival, like remembering how good a piece of cake is. It has to feel good so we keep doing it so we keep eating and we stay alive.

That’s what it is supposed to do. Addict’s brains handle dopamine differently and break it down differently.  

 There were studies in Sweden of twins of alcoholic parents. One was raised in a good “normal” non-drug using home. The other was raised in the same “dysfunctional” home. What do you think the rates of alcoholism were?

They were the same, about 48% of the time they both became alcoholics when the general population was about 2%. How is that possible if it is not a disease with genetics involved? 

 Now as an addict, you have naturally low dopamine, then you drink or use and you get this surge and your brain says wow!! Remember this and you get high as ever and feel better than ever.

Then the next morning, it crashes, you have no dopamine. Your brain thinks it had a surplus of dopamine so it stops producing as much. Plus you now have guilt from the text or phone call you made, or the money you spent.

More things you don’t want to feel, so you then drink again to get that dopamine. It surges, but not as high, it is never as much as the first time. Then, when it crashes, it crashes more. So eventually you have to drink in order to feel normal. When you do not drink, you do not enjoy life. You need it to even play with your kids, it’s the only way you can feel normal. 

 There are 2 parts of your brain involved. These two parts are the Pre fontal cortex and mid brain. Pre frontal cortex is the part of your brain that does all the planning and organizing your day and everyday life. Most addicts are bored with everyday life, it’s pointless. So they drink and they can feel ok and be ok with normally boring things.

However, the mid brain supercedes the pre frontal cortex always. That is the part of the brain for survival. That would be like if a tiger came into your bedroom and ran at you, you would say “screw the plans were getting the fuck out of here!”

The midbrain is about survival, fight or flight. Eventually you have in addiction where it crosses that barrier, now you think you need to drink in order to survive. Your brain believes you need this substance or you will die. That is an addict, a cutter, a overeater, or one of many.

It started as a way to mask the pain or run away, however now it has become essential to survive. Remember this when thinking about an addict. Their brain thinks that they need the substance to live. It is like being starving and not being able to have food. That is why you see the behaviors such as the willing to throw everything away and aside for the substance. What they are going through can best be described as torture. That gets better, but yelling at them to get over it is really not the best approach when someone is being tortured. 

 I also hear people say that no one ever gets better and that people with mental illness and addiction are non-compliant so what is the point. This again is that stigma that I see, because this is simply not true. When someone is first diagnosed with Asthma or Diabetes, the rate that they “relapse” is actually higher in the first year. On average, they have more trips back to the ER that first year. People with cholesterol problems, heart disease, diabetes, and asthma, are actually statistically more non-compliant with treatment than addicts and people with mental health issues. 

 The 10% that recover is not an accurate number either. This is brand new, all the new science and treatment approaches. We are still trying to convince people to stop locking up mentally ill and addicted people and treat them like human beings. This 10% recovery rate comes from when we were not treating people as humans and did not have all this new information.

Also we don’t consider someone who has a heart condition a “relapse” and we do not shame them for slipping up and having that cheeseburger. The problem is the way we react to people who are going through torture. 

 Now I want to go back to this drunken lady. What you will NOT read in her chart is that when she was 7 years old, she was babysitting her 5 year old brother. He was run over by a truck and killed. At age 7, the age in which you are gaining self-esteem from the external world. You listen to what the teachers, the parents, and all the older people say. You trust them completely. Whatever is said, you take it as truth and store it in your files. The brain cannot tell what is true and what is not.

So she is a killer, irresponsible, and a bad person. That is in her head. She believes this to be true. What else happened to her was that her mother died of pancreatic cancer, which is very likely from alcoholism. She was 16 when her mother died. Her father was a reported alcoholic.  The reports were he was “not nice.” Now, in my time in this field, this is a phrase that I hear often and usually underneath it is the worst kind of abuse. When the patient says something like “he was mean,” or “not nice,” and won’t talk about it, that usually means they are too scared to even talk about it. It’s scary to me when I hear that. 

 So what you don’t see in the profile is the abusive father, the alcoholic parents, and the death she was “responsible” for. Can you imagine what that life entailed? We are usually too busy looking at the behavior and not behind the mask. 

 Then everyone saw the great doctor, but they didn’t see her get beaten and miscarry over and over.  Back in the day you didn’t talk about this stuff, she buried it, found alcohol and crossed the barrier. Then people calling her a monster and a scumbag and looking down on her for “choosing” alcohol over her kids, when inside she hated herself.

Anyone that attempted to get closer to her, she chased them away,  like the oldest daughter who kept coming back.

Because she believed herself to be a monster and a terrible human being, all the time she was going through an internal torture and hiding behind this mask. This girl was suffering from a trauma at age 7 that she never understood. However when it gets put in your head you are wicked, you trust that. Can you imagine a 10 year old girl going to dance class and getting all excited to go to school. Then imagine this girl at 10, traumatized beyond belief, never dealing with the confusion and pain, and then believing it was her.  All the shame and guilt she carried.

She also was one who was extra sensitive by nature. Why do we think that she deserves this and chose this? This was when I really saw the mask formed. 

 
We like to say people get better, and when things get lost, that people go and find them. That there is this “Lost and Found,” and eventually someone comes in and finds them, and helps them find their true selves. That’s not the case, most addicts and mentally ill suffer until we die. We die thinking we are monsters. We are lost, but rarely found. So my continual challenge and message is to go find someone, and bring them back to life. Help them kill their false selves. 

 This story is one that is a too familiar story you will find in mental health and addiction. We see the behavior, but not what’s behind it, and then we treat the patient like a monster. The sad part is that what is in our head creates how we treat the person, then that creates their reaction to us.

If you treat a patient or a person by their “chart,” and chart can be a literal chart or it can be our snapshot of someone. If we continue to use this as our guide, then I’m afraid no one will ever get better until we can look beyond the mask. 

 I remember at this woman’s funeral her kids, all adults by now, came in from out of town. I did nothing but watch. They had not been around for years, and I listened as they talked about how she was going to burn in hell, I could just sense the anger in the room as they talked. I was astounded because they never even knew her. They all had gone to foster homes and done well. It must have been hard what they went through, but all that anger. It has to be hard holding onto that.

 
 The oldest daughter, well she was the only one always around while the drunk lady drunk herself to death. This woman continued to care for her mother as she grew old and near death.

No one understood why she kept coming back. What was wrong with her?, was this daughter of hers weak and pathetic?

Also, the second oldest son, he always gave back love and contributed financially to her. This was not understood as well, but they kept doing it. Isn’t this weak and pathertic?

 No. This daughter of hers, as I watched, was the strongest person I had ever seen. Not the kind of strength you see with muscles and the way you think of power. It was different, it was with this love that could not, and would not, be broken. She didn’t listen to what people said. 

I watched this woman and the love she had for this “monster” and it was life altering every day. Every day people expected her to stop coming around to help, but she didn’t.  Not once. She saw what others couldn’t see.  If you’ve ever seen true power, I’m certain that this is what it looks like. It is an inner strength that cannot be defeated by any army and I was amazed as I watched this woman. 

Did she ever get the “I love you and I’m sorry,” from the mother? No she did not. That’s the disease, the shame.  No storybook ending here. She died, they never said goodbye. However I know this, for this old drunk lady, what she got was she finally believed she was worth it.

This woman, the oldest daughter changed the storyline and this old drunk felt loved the last few years of her life. The daughter didn’t see it,  but I did, I saw it in the drunk ladies eyes. For the first time in her life, she knew someone loved her, and that made her think that maybe she was ok. What an enormous gift the daughter gave her and as I watched it unfold, it changed me forever. 

 I saw this in this drunk ladies eyes as I spent more time watching this relationship.  I think the oldest daughter was right. 

The reason that I say that after time I came to the conclusion that this oldest daughter was right, is because the drunk lady was my grandmother.

When I was 9, I wanted a football, I had to have it, I was impulsive and I NEEDED IT. My grandmother was this drunk that everyone hated and was awful and this “monster.”

 My grandma saw I needed it. So she went sober that day for the first time in 50 years because she gave me her only 7 dollars for that football. It lasted 4 years, the football, not the sobriety.

That was my grandma, the oldest daughter was my mother. I’d like to say she stayed sober, but she didn’t. She died when I was 11 from what most alcoholics die from. I believe it is a disease of the broken hearted.

However, my mother made her feel ok, and loved, and it got passed on to me.

I will not ever let it go grandma, I am going to keep passing it on. Not until every cage is empty. 

 Grandma I love you. You are still with me in everything I do.

Mom you’re my hero. 

 

The end. 

phoenix-resurrection

“Sometimes you have to kind of die inside in order to rise from your own ashes and believe in yourself.”

2 stories of 2 ride along trips that I took with paramedics that I have done. I have observed and followed the treatment of the patients.

2 ambulances driving down the highway at lightning speeds with the lights on. Cars are getting out of the way as fast as they can. Both are emergency situations.

In the first ambulance there is a man named “Jake.” “Jake” is a 54 year old man who has just suffered his 3rd heart attack. We arrive to the house, the family is in tears. The wife is sobbing uncontrollably. The children all have their heads down and they are in pain. He is not breathing. We are able to get him to breathe again at the home and the family is relieved. We rush him into the ambulance and drive to the nearest hospital. The family grabs their phones and gives all the necessary information. They will meet us at the hospital and are grateful. They all get into their cars and get on their phones to call family members who will all meet them at the hospital to offer their support.

In the 2nd ambulance there is a woman named “Karly.” She is a 46 year old female who has just been found in her parent’s basement. She has overdosed on heroin for the 3rd time. The family is disgusted. The parents are shaking their heads in embarrassment. The siblings have a look of anger on their faces. Her children are scared and are looking at the adults and their reactions. She is not breathing. We get her to breathe again and rush her into the ambulance. We inform the family of where we will be. They tell us to have the doctors call them when it is over. They do not want to expose the children to this. They are going to enjoy their day. We offered to allow anyone to come in the ambulance with us. They all declined to go. They did not give their phone numbers. They said “she can get a hold of us if she wants when she is better.”

You can see the difference already. This is how our society treats the chronic relapse of both of these diseases. That’s right, they are both relapses. Both are chronic diseases that people often are non-compliant with treatment. Both cost money and pain to family members. Both require a change in lifestyle and behavior. Yet one is looked at as a victim, “poor Jake, he just had another heart attack.” The other is looked at as someone who is a bad person, “Karly did it again, she just doesn’t care about anyone but herself.” I will continue these stories in a little bit.

However, a closer look at the statistics reveals much information that the general public is never made aware of. The relapse rate of someone with heart disease or hypertension is 50-70%. Meaning they are told what diet they need to follow, what medicines to take, and what lifestyle modifications they need to make. They have a hard time adjusting and they are not compliant with the recommendations. They “relapse.” They have another stroke or another heart attack. For asthma the rate is also 50-70%. These chronic diseases and relapses cause pain to family members, and recovery takes time and there may be relapses. All of these diseases create worry and fear of losing the loved one to the family. The cost is astronomical. In fact 13.8 diabetics are non-compliant and this costs about 122 billion dollars per year. That number could be cut in half. In fact of all the prescriptions written by doctors every year, only about half of them are ever filled. These are all conditions that could be made better and cost decreased by compliance. However, we look at these patients as just that, as patients, and as victims.

Now how about addiction and mental health? That relapse rate is actually smaller. It is 40-60%. It also costs less per year when the patient relapses. The same as the other diseases, they have a hard time following recommendations, changing lifestyle, and taking any medications. What is different is that trauma usually is a precursor to these conditions. It has been said child maltreatment is to addictions and mental health what smoking is to other chronic medical conditions. It may not cause it, but if a person is predisposed to the disease, it will bring it out. So we have someone who likely was the victim of a childhood trauma, has a disease and is actually more compliant and cost less money when they relapse. However, society shames people with these diseases. They roll their eyes when these patients relapse. Which actually causes more shame and more trauma. It prevents people from seeking help. That is the power of stigma.

We have to change the narrative about relapse. It is not always a bad thing, sometimes it is a turning point. If we point fingers and roll our eyes and make judgments when people relapse, they will not be open about it. They will have shame. Shame creates secrets, secrets create isolation, and isolation creates depression. Depression can create more use. I myself have relapsed about 4 times. One of the first times I relapsed, I went back to the treatment center. I was ashamed, embarrassed and scared. I could not believe this had happened. I had lost all the support of everyone. You know what happened when I went in to treatment? The front desk woman, she said “Hi, how have you been.” She treated me like I was not a bad person. She treated me the way heart attack victims get treated when they have a second heart attack. She treated me like a human being and with compassion. No one rolled their eyes. The whole treatment team treated me like this. I believe to this day if she had rolled her eyes or I felt judged by her, I would not be sober today. We need to change this attitude we have about relapse.

Noncompliance is actually much higher where there is poverty. Those making less than 15,000 per year have a much higher noncompliance rate. So it appears we have an inequality issue, not a non-compliance issue. There are more liquor stores per square foot the poorer the neighborhood. So again we create the issue and then we label the victims of this disease.

Now I will finish the stories of the 2 patients.

I watched as we would come back in the following days to the same hospital. What I saw was “Jake” the heart attack victim has not followed his doctor’s orders. He continues to overeat, he does not exercise. He then has had his 3rd heart attack in 7 years. Yet, he is surrounded by his family. The doctors and nurses rush to the ambulance, they grab him and are concerned. You can see it on their faces. This is a life and death situation. They are able to stabilize “Jake.” They are happy for him. They feel they have done their job. They give the education needed. The heart unit is surrounded with posters of resources to help maintain a recovery. The social workers give the family information about all kinds of foundations that contribute to helping heart attack victims and their families. There are all kinds of activities and help available and it is posted all over the unit. The nurses and doctors come in and make sure “Jake” is comfortable, and doing well. The whole family is around and happy. They all are giving hugs and are ecstatic, there are cards and balloons and gifts all over his room. You can feel the love and support and it is a wonderful thing.

When I would go to the floor where “Karly” was at when we came back, what I saw was nothing. She was in a dark room, and she was very sick. There was no family around. No cards, no gifts. When I stopped at the nurse’s station you could hear them talking about how she is “sucking up all the taxpayers’ money.” How she is a bad person and “how could she do this to her kids.” “She should just be in jail.” The social worker wants to commit her, to force her to go to a treatment center and force medications on her that she says does not work. The staff do not want to listen to her and work with her for her recovery, they want to be in charge and dictate her recovery. No one really listens to her. They consider her a “frequent flyer” and a “manipulator.” No phone calls. You can see she is in pain, and she believes she is a bad person and wants to be dead. She was abused as a child as her chart read, she was now being shamed and crucified even more. There are no posters up, no activities or support program brochures on this unit. It is in the dark corner of the hospital that they pretend is not even there.

And people wonder why the airline pilot that crashed his plane or others do not seek help? The problem is us. This is a system problem, we need to stop blaming the victim or it will never end.

As I started to visit with these patients and follow them and get to know them, I saw this huge difference. They are both struggling, one has support, and one did not.

What happened was they both recovered. When you recover from a heart disease, you have a better quality of life. You can breathe better and have more time on earth to spend with your loved ones.

One posted on Facebook the other day, “3 years since last heart attack, down 100 pounds.” 1500 likes, 100 comments all supportive.

The other one also posted, “3 years since I died, I am now sober 3 years. For all that I have hurt I am sorry for my transgressions. I love all of you.” 15 likes. 4 comments. You see the response is totally different even about recovery, so the stigma continues.

This is why Major league baseball and the California angels should be ashamed of the way they are treating Josh Hamilton who just admitted he relapsed. Yet Adrian Peterson can hit a 4 year old with a tree branch until he bleeds and he still gets to pick which team pays him millions of dollars.

When you recover from addiction or mental health, your soul is healed. You are awakened. You see the world like no one else can. The path to recovery is harder, but the reward is so much greater. That is why I call it a gift. If you have been there you know why. If you have not, you will see when you get there. Addiction and mental health are spiritual diseases. It is people that know the falsehoods of this life and are truth seekers who usually are afflicted with these diseases. I have read and heard people say that “alcoholics and addicts “Spiritually thirsty people.” So what happens then when you recover from this, is that you kill your false self and your true self is born. Much like a death and a resurrection. That’s why no matter what your religion or belief or whoever or whatever your higher power may be, as an addict you have to love the idea of Easter and resurrection. It is our day, it is our time. We have lived it. You know before the resurrection comes the death. Before the death comes the darkest part, the beatings, the shame, the guilt, and the self-hate. Others beat you down, Kick you while you are down. You will have friends turn on you and pretend like they never knew you. You will see people judge you. People will join the crowd even though they know the real you. You will also see people who still care, who are pure. You are a truth seeker, and you get shown the truth. It is what you wanted all along. That’s why this is a gift. The path is painful, but beautiful.

Let your false self-die. Rise from your own ashes and resurrect your true self on this day. On our day. You do not have to be a Christian, but think about the message that is what matters, not whether the story was true or not. We have lived this. If you have been there, use this day to cherish it and remember it and renew your vow of sobriety and rebirth. If you have not, here it is. This day is what it is all about.

Resurrect your true self.

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“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Hopeless. Given up, throwing in the towel. This is pointless and I cannot do this anymore. This is a feeling we all have at times. I remember a time when I was working at a rehabilitation facility. I was sitting in a staff meeting and it all boiled over. I screamed at all the staff, “What is the point of this, what are we even doing for these patients! We just take their money, give them 80 dollars a month, and do not help anyone! This is a complete fraud. We write notes so we get paid, not because we care!” “Someone tell me what we have done for Bill!” No one answered. “See we do not help anyone, this is a complete joke and it is wrong.”

The looks on everyone’s faces said it all. It was a small room packed with many people as we had the projector on as we were required to go through all the patients. Some had agreement on their faces. Others disappointment, but mostly shock. People had their heads down. It looked like shame. No one said a thing and after this went on for 10 minutes I walked out in disgust. I went to my office upstairs and closed the door in complete defeat. It was over. I am done.

After years of working in the field of psychiatry and addiction. I had quit internally. I watched over and over as patients would come in and leave. They would come back. No one seemed to be getting any better. We made money either way. We were told to write notes, because that way we could get paid money for that day. It was all about money and filling beds. We had to fill the beds.

At times, it did not seem like the patients cared at all. They had a place to stay for a few months while they attempted to get into new places. The social workers in the community did not care, because they just wanted a place for their patients to be so they did not have to worry about them. The hospitals did not care, they discharged people to us because they needed placement. Hospitals did not care about how a patient was doing, they only cared if the patient had a place to go.

I watched the other staff. They came in and sat in their offices, basically the walking dead. They sit in the offices and stare at the computer, and in the 5 minutes that the patient wanted to talk, they would blow the patients off. They would come to work, goof-off at times, but basically dead on the inside. It was like zombies walking all over the place in a dark dreary place. They would talk about how this whole system is a fraud, how we are making money, patients do not want to be here, the staff themselves do not want to be there. I would listen to this, and then as it got in my head, I would look and that is what I would see.

I gave up. My whole life was a fraud. It was a scheme and what I had lived for, my passion, was now exposed as a complete fraud. It was painful, and defeating.

We had a patient at this time and his name was “Bill.” Well, “Bill” came to us, he would not even talk. He would not eat because he thought food was poisoned. The man was about 90 pounds. Can you imagine thinking your food was poisoned? How scary that must be. He would go into the bathroom and spit until he had no saliva because he thought we were trying to kill him. He would hold his bladder because he feared going to the bathroom. He had a look of fear in his eyes, he was scared of everyone and everything. Then we had to force him to take medications. In his mind, he was at a place that was trying to kill him, poison his food and kill him. He then is told he has to take medication that makes him sick, tired, and shaky. Then he is told he has to take it and is locked up if he refuses. Imagine that as your reality for a moment. He would not even sleep. It was torture I am sure. It was heartbreaking. He had no family to come visit, he would never come to groups, and he would never participate. No one really cared. We got his money every month, we wrote a note on him every day and got paid. He had a place to stay. His social worker figured he was ok and would work on a new placement for him. But treatment? How was he getting any treatment? Staff did not care, they got through their shift. I did not care anymore, this was the blow that was ending it all for me. It is official, this is a fraud and I cannot help anyone or anything. I give up.

Then the staff meeting I described above in which I let loose on everyone. I blew up and it all came out in an angry speech in front of all staff at the meeting.

As I sat in my office with my heart pounding and my heart racing and emotions all over the place. I hear a knock on the door. I say “come in.”

It was Lonny. Lonny was the business manager of the place. He was the one that collected the money and paid the bills. He was a kind and direct man. I always wondered how he could take money from these people who had nothing. He did it every day, which was his job. He was not a bad man, he was a good man. He had a difficult job. He did not speak often, but when he did, it was important and meaningful.

So my thought as he walks in is “Oh my god he is going to give me a lecture about this, but I do not care I am quitting anyways.”

He said, “Can I sit down.”

I said “sure.”

He said to me, “I was thinking about what you said. What have we done for Bill? What are we even doing? And I think I have an answer for you.”

I said, “Ok.” I was thinking, “I cannot wait to hear this one.”

He said, “Well maybe if we do well, Bill will have a place that he can go back to some time in his life and say, you know the world is a scary place, but there is a place that I was at for 90 days that was not so scary. People were nice to me, they took care of me and listened to me. So maybe the whole world is not so bad. Maybe we can plant seeds in his mind that he will use later.”

I said “How do we get to that, he will not even talk. He is scared and no one cares.”

He responded. “Start by saying hi every day. Smile at him. Regardless of his response. Let’s just start with hello.”

This conversation changed my life. I am rarely speechless, but this was one of those times. My mind went blank. It was all still. All the emotions were gone and my mind was blank. It was like once again in my life when I could not take anymore. I was delivered a message to continue and to go on. I was given a spark of hope and a different way of thinking from a most unlikely source.

Every moment in life can teach us lessons, and every person is a possible teacher. If we are not fully present in each moment, we miss out on the lesson. IF we have preconceived notions about others, we miss the lesson. If we are elsewhere in our mind, we miss the moment. If we miss the moment, we mess with the future. Every moment builds on the next, which is how the future is built. Moment after moment.

I never thought this man had this life changing lesson for me. When I was broke, defeated, and had given up on my life’s passion. The man who pulled me up was Lonny.

I started to listen to this advice. I said hi. Nothing at first. For a couple weeks. Hi how are you doing? Then one day, it happened. “Bill” looked up at me, and said hi. Then he smiled. Then he would say he is “doing fine.”

I watched him start to talk to other people as well. Others would talk to him and be good to him. Now the same staff that were zombies were still being zombies. But my mind was not focused on them anymore. It was focused on the 2 or 3 staff that were trying every day to make a difference in each moment that they had. These were the people that I was not noticing before, because my inner turmoil did not want to see it. Now I saw it.

One staff. Her name was “Rochelle,” would give everything she had to each patient and in each moment. If they wanted to walk, she would go for a walk, they were the most important people to her in that moment. She also heard all the negativity, however it did not disturb her. I was in awe of how she did this. Maybe it did bother her, but it did not seem like it. For each patient, the moment they were with her, they were the most important person in the world. How had I not noticed this before?

“Bill” eventually got better. I mean not completely. He shaved his head, he was smiling and talking to us about his life. He actually was eating. He would still eat as fast as possible and cover it up, but he would eat. He was no longer afraid of the bathroom. It was amazing.

I go back to Lonny’s words often. Planting seeds. Sometimes we just need to do the best we can do and let go of the results. Sometimes we won’t see the results. Sometimes the results we see for other people will not be what we want for the other person, but it is not about us. It is about them. It may be that they got the result that they wanted. We cannot define another person’s success by our expectations and standards. What is their goal, and how can we help them. Do they even want help? We are like the passenger with a road map that points out things. They are the driver, it is their journey. Sometimes all we can do is make someone feel safe, or plant seeds. Or make them feel like the most important person in the world for that moment.

I thought for a long time that I planted seeds in “Bill.” Maybe I did. I let go of the results because I did the best I could.

What I know happened is that “Bill” planted seeds in me. So did Lonny. Thank you Lonny.

I thought I was the gardener, however I was the flower.

Or maybe, I was both. Maybe we all are both at all time.

The end.