A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System

Posted: November 30, 2014 in abuse, addiction, inequality, mental health, mental illness, psychiatry, recovery, stigma, Truth
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


“You know in this hotel room they have food every day and I knock on the door. Every day they open tha door to let me see the party, let me see that they throwin’ salami, throwin’ food around telling me there’s no food. Every day. I’m standing outside tryin to sing my way in- “We are weak, please let us in. We’re weak, please let us in.” After about a week that song is gonna change to, “We’re hungry, we need some food.” After two, three weeks it’s like “Give me some of that food! I’m breakin down that door.” After a year it’s like, “I’m pickin’ the lock, comin’ through the door blastin.” It’s like, “I’m hungry

– Tupac Shakur

It is my hope that we have a silent army building. The revolution will not be televised. But I see the replies I get, and it gives me hope.

I saw an article in the New York Times basically saying there would be less shootings if the mentally ill had less privacy and were more easily forced to be hospitalized. This is the New York Times! Who are the sick ones?

I’m going to tell a story. 2 stories, of 2 different people. They are both true stories. Then you can see how this all begins and becomes a problem. I’ll go back and forth between the stories until their paths meet.


Here’s Dusty, I don’t know, age 3 to 5. Happy kid, plenty of love. Just loves everyone and loves the world. He doesn’t see color, sex, religion. He has nokind of discrimination, all he sees is love.


Here’s the second story. This is my cousin Donald. The man he is with is my father. Donald also loves the world, he sees no race, sex, and discriminates against no one. He is a very loving and giving kid.


Dusty gets older. He still loves everyone and everything. However, Dusty grew up in a home that was infested with cockroaches, and had been condemned 2 to 3 times. There was about 7 or 8 kids living there, they had no food. Dusty was the kindest of the group. He got beaten by his brothers, picked on, and thrown around. He was told “You are a loser, give me your money, do my work.” He did not understand, he gave whatever he had to others.

When I met Dusty he was about 8 or 9 years old. He had 4 brothers and sisters, they all smoked pot, drank, and never went to school. Everyone walked around this place with almost no clothes. They had only 2 bedrooms. The house was full of smoke.

Cockroaches were all over. They had no shower, and a bathroom with only a curtain covering it. The old guys would come around drinking, smoking weed, and getting physical. The older kids were getting worse also.

There was something special about Dusty, his heart. He was born with an amazing heart. He loved everyone, and gave all he had. To tell you of this kids strength, words won’t do it justice. As a 9 year old, he was growing up in a house in which every adult was punching, smoking weed, drinking, and stealing. Also, the gangsters knew where the weed was.  THE house, that’s where they were. But Dusty, at age 9, he refused to smoke weed or drink or do any of that. However, being sweet and sensitive, he was an easy target. He did not stop loving though, he still loved them all. He saw through it, through everything, even as a kid. So what happens when you are extra sensitive, caring, and loving? You get pushed down, forced to create a mask, his was the goofy guy. This is the same house where I met Joe. Dusty and Joe were cousins and best friends.


Here is Donald. He is my cousin. He was a great kid. His father was a doctor in a small town, he made lots and lots of money. That doesn’t make Donald bad, and he is not bad. In fact, he’s a wonderful human being. I know this story puts him in privileged category. But, that is not his fault, he is still a caring, kind, and considerate human being. His father, my uncle, was once in jail for stealing cars and grew up to be a doctor. The thing about Donald was, he was born gifted, and extremely smart. He was above the genius level. He may have skipped a grade, I can’t remember. He was and is not a bad person.

However, while Dusty was seeing what he saw, Donald was going on trips, and getting the best life had to offer. He worried for nothing, he could be a kId and thrive.

Thrive he did. He is a talented, smart, and funny guy that had charisma. He didn’t have to worry about gangsters, getting food, getting raped, or having mice and cockroaches sleep on him. He had a huge bedroom, went on vacations, had all he ever wanted. He had great parents.  Now another thing I noticed about Donald was that when I went to spend 2 weeks with him when I was 12, was that in this small town everyone drank,  and did drugs, at age 12. Which is common for a small town. They were 12 and flung this. All of his friends.

One time we went to his friends house, the kid was sleeping and the kid woke up, and lifted his pillow and there was jack daniels. They all smoked and drank, except  Donald. His parents taught him this.

Dusty did it on strength of character. Donald friends said “man your dad is always getting thanked in the paper.” That was true, small town legend.

Donald’s pressure was to follow his father, and that is a different kind of pressure. One that is often not considered a problem, the gifted child.

However, that is just as hard as raising a troubled child. People don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. What they both had in common was they were gifted.


Dusty then ended up going away for a while after missing so much school. His brothers would go just enough to not get sent away. Dusty was the extra sensitive one, he didn’t care. Me and Dusty and Joe had a bond, we all loved each other and saw behind each other’s masks.  One time, on the phone, Dusty had called his mom and said, “tell mike I lo, well never mind,” he wanted to tell me he loved me, but he was afraid. I stopped hanging out there.

That’s another story, this isn’t about me. Dusty eventually surrendered and started using drugs. Then, they had a guy from Arizona living at the drug house, his name was Carl. He had packages of drugs delivered to the house all the time. The police got involved, and a sting was set up. So the package is delivered, they all have Dusty answer because he is kind and wants to help. So he always does, and he did on this case as well.

Well, he signed, and he gets arrested, and now he has a felony. They knew it was not him, he gets interrogated, and interrogated. Does he give Carl up?, nope, never. This was when Dusty was 19. That’s his booking photo.  He went to jail, then he just got off probation recently.

This is someone you may see in jail, or at the shelter, or with the dirty clothes. That’s what you see, but this is what you’re missing when you make that judgement. These are the kids that come into our neighborhood, come to school, to church. We say get them out, those dirty kids with no manners. We don’t want to look at them, it’s like clutter in our clean house. We don’t want to deal with it, we want to pretend it’s not there. Then we may have to do something. So we ignore them and label them and call them losers or dirtbags. That’s much easier, isn’t it?

But that is how we all are part of the problem and we ask are co responsible for the inequality. You see these kids, these people, and no action is am action. Silence is consent.


Here’s Donald at age 19. He had a child. Now that’s a disaster if he’s in Dusty’s situation. However, Donald had great supports in place. His mom and dad helped the teenagers adjust, made sure everything was taken care of.

Donald was able to go to school and while Dusty was in jail, Donald was excelling. He finished college in 3 years and went on to medical school and finished. He’s a doctor. Now again, he’s not bad, not a superstar yet, I don’t think.

He is now starting to isolate,  he is on a different level than others and he gets told that alot. So he believes it, so does his wife. So now the good doctor moves and starts dominating the medical profession.

They told me his iq is 156.  I’m sure they told him too. He then joined the army like his father and got lots of medals and accolades.

Which is not bad. This is simply to show how we start to label and separate.


Here is Dusty taking care of his dying mother. He gets out of jail, meets a girl, and they have kids. He didn’t know how to have a relationship, he is on his own with no college, no skills, no understanding of life. Just love.


Then you have Donald with his 500 thousand dollar house that got egged.

How do I know this? Well his wife posted on Facebook that someone egged their 500 thousand dollar house but she wasn’t worried because they had security cameras all over the house. You know, to keep the “bad criminals out.”

Like clutter, she didn’t want to see that.

I also saw her post once that she was very upset with the mayor in the town they live in because he allowed a Wal-Mart to be built by their house. Her quote was “who else has to look out their 500 thousand dollar house and see a Wal-Mart, someone needs to stop this guy, do not vote for him.”

See as the separation is almost complete. What did dusty do to be placed below donald?

Nothing. But we see them each walking down the street and we treat them differently. That’s how we all contribute.


Dusty getting older, he split with his kids mom. He suffers from depression, severe depression. He feels rejected all the time, he smokes weed to forget, to not be himself.

He talks about suicide all the time. He misses Joe more than anyone.  His heart is broken. Dusty and Joe spent all their time together. They even moved 2 blocks down from me for 2 years. I would drive by and wave. Really? Yes. I was no better than Donald. Even worse, because I drive by, and we still talked from time to time, but I was trying to get my life together. I could have said hi.


The doctor and his family. Now this is not an attack in Donald at all. It is about how we create separation. He worked hard, he’s caring, and  he is a good man. He just started to believe he was different and better. He got told lies.

Lies we all believe, like, you need this huge house, cars, medals, and everyone to see how awesome you are.

So he fell in the trap. Here we are, the “look at us” photo. 

You know how the native americans defined mental illness? They said anyone who lives in excess of what they need is mentally ill.


The doctors wife at the ritz.


Dusty and his kid at the laundromat.


The doctor and his boat.


Dusty at the playground. Having fun.


The doctors daughter with one of her trophies, she had special tennis lessons, beauty pageants, and she going to Oxford college on scholarship.

Same thing as Donald, smart talented kid. No fault of her own, the cycle continues. She is being brainwashed like he was.

He had a mask on as well. Still does.


Dusty being a dad and loving. He never knew life would be so hard when all he wanted to do was love.


The doctor is now continuing to serve and get accolades. To bad it’s all a lie.


Now this part is not real, but an example of what would likely happen from what I’ve seen in my years being in both worlds……

Now what happens if Dusty walks into Dr. Donalds office? How in the world can the doctor understand what Dusty is saying. Dusty says “Life isn’t worth living, I need to smoke weed.” 

The doctors response is usually, “He just doesn’t care, he doesn’t want to work, he wants disability.” The thought process I’ve seen a million times.  All the time, it’s the rule, not the exception.

So, let’s say Dusty had attempted suicide 2 times, and keeps coming back. He has to in order to get benefits and to get housing for himself.

The doctor is frustrated, in his mind he’s trying hard. That’s what life is, you just don’t behave like that in his opinion. In his world, you get up, work hard, and get it done. He can’t understand why Dusty complains that no medications work, yet continues to use drugs, and goes to the hospital.

He thinks Dusty has children,  and he’s not taking care of them, he’s a “Predator” or a “Manipulator” or “Gamey.”

This is when I hear things like, why do they get free healthcare and we don’t. Almost a resentment at the patients. This is something that I see daily. The caring staff keep their mouths shut in fear.

So now Dusty has to be forced to take meds. He doesn’t get it, we have to help him. So we will put him on meds, and we aren’t going to listen to his side effects stories. We are going to force injections if he doesn’t comply with orders.

He can’t take care of himself.  We have to in the doctors opinions.

Oh and, let’s charge insurance about 1500 dollars a day to do this. If the drugs give him diabetes, that’s too bad because he needs to be safe.

Good job young doctor, you’re saving the world.

Now Dusty has not been without weed for years, so asking him to stop is asking him to feel all these feelings that he has never felt before. Forcing him to take his mask off without support.  The feelings he had been told to block his whole life, the feelings that have made him an outsider and not accepted.

Then give him a med that makes him feel no better for at least 6 weeks.  Then it might not be the right medication, so we may have to start all over.

He will have side effects like drooling, sedation, diarrhea, and tremors. That occurs right away. Plus feeling all these emotions. Then when he sleeps too much we say that he is lazy,  or non compliant with his treatment.

So we force him out of bed, and we make him go to groups with someone explaining all these “skills” he needs to use. Then he can’t participate due to the meds, the side effects, being off drugs his brain had coffee to rely on, and now having to freak with all these suppressed emotions.

So he is said to be non interested. So we need to give him more medications.

Of course we do.

Now he’s angry. No one listens, he’s sensitive, but he has had enough. He explodes from this and other patient’s likely taking advantage of him,  and staff telling him when he can shower, piss,  and treat him like a criminal.

Because, we say, look at his record, he is a felon. No one asks why or what happened, and they won’t believe him anyways, he’s a “manipulator.”

True story…

We had a young man admitted to our place the other day. I’ll call him “kev.” Abused age 1 to 3. A ward off the state at age 3. Picture a 3 year old being abused and taken from home, then a 3 year old in a privileged  home, they’re is no difference, why do we seem to think as adults that there is?  He was in foster homes his whole life, sexually abused, and beaten.Then at age 19 he committed an armed robbery,  and he was shot 3 times. Then he Went to max security prison for 7  years. In prison, he cuts himself enough to need surgery, he has been known to swallow glass,  and toothbrushes requiring surgery.

The assessment by “the team.” Is that he is “smooth, and manipulative.” He swallowed these things to get to go to hospital, a trip out of jail.

This is dangerous to call him manipulative. If I think you are manipulative then everything you do I take as a con. If we instead think of him as this kid who has a desparate need for acceptance and love,  you will treat him differently. Then he will react differently. Then he gets better treatment.  Our staff are young, impressionable, and eager to learn about psychiatry since it is romanticized on the media at times.

However if you work in government, they need to save the taxpayers money, they don’t want us spending “their” money.  We have to hire inexperienced staff, because they are cheaper. We train them by what they see. The cycle continues.

So why would someone like Dusty shoot his doctor? It’s not so black and white if you look deep enough.

What’s the difference between…


This 19 year old young dad.

And this…


This young dad? (This is Joe and Anthony from last post)

The answer is nothing. Until we divide them. When we divide, we create class, uppers and lowers. When really we are all connected.

It won’t end. It can’t. Until people start fighting back. The battle is not going to be easy, we won’t see the end. We won’t see the victory. That will come after we’re gone.

But there is going to be a fight, we know that there is going to be a fight  because we are going to start it. We will lose some, as we lost Joe. We won’t stop. Love always wins. Always.

If I’ve made you mad, then I’ve done my job. Happy people don’t create change. You have to be angry, you must have discontent to create change. So be angry. Then do something about it.

If 1 person reading this gets 1 thing and does something, that’s perfect. The ripple effect will be huge.

Love you Dusty.

The end.

If you want to see this in video.
Here it is..10 minutes I think.

The Problem With the Mental Health System


    • Noel says:

      You made me angry .. Good job!! I work with people with mental illness and many times I feel sorry for them . I wish I could give them a cure. They are often misunderstood . Thank you for this story.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. B Harmony says:

    Powerful. Brilliant. Keep the crusade alive, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your way of writing your story, frustration at first then hope, nice.


  3. Dounia says:

    I’ve read all your articles and honestly it fills my heart with pain. Of all the things you’ve went through. I want to hug you and keep telling you how strong you are! Every bad thing that happened was not in your power. Your friend died and it’s tragic, but you can honor him by choosing this path and helping others in their recovery. You are doing this and it was not your fault at all. I think I’d feel the same if my best friend did that. Actually she wants to go for euthanasia and really I’m devastated. I wish you lived in Belgium so you could meet her and talk to her.

    I love everything you write because it’s the hard truth. People who’s never been hospitalized or are mentally ill will not understand this, but thank you for exsisting and telling these stories. It really helps me coping and continue in giving as much love as possible for my future clients.

    Thank you endlessly


  4. Geo Sans says:

    billions of stars
    reality is not singular
    we all live different realities
    our starting points
    connecting constellations


  5. waclements says:

    Brilliant. Very, very awesome writing.


  6. i witnessed a lot of this type of treatment of patients while i was in training at inpatient psychiatry wards. which is exactly the reason my approach is more patient-centered. if my patient thinks weed is the only thing that helps him/her sleep, then i tell them i can’t guarantee any med will work any better, but i’ll at least try. i feel the relationship is far more therapeutic than any med. Meds may help, but they can only go so far without trust and mutual goals in a doctor-patient relationship. and you’re right…the whole system needs a makeover, but i’m hopeful because i know there are good people, advocates and clinicians motivated to create change, such as yourself. thanks for posting.


    • I love your philosophy. It is perfect. This is what they are trying to push in mental health, It is getting major resistance. But it is happening. Glad to hear someone out there that is helping the cause


  7. notabowlofcherries says:

    I love reading your posts. Thought provoking. Keep it up:)


  8. […] A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System. A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System November 30, 2014 125 Comments […]


  9. Gina says:

    “… there would be less shootings if the mentally ill had less privacy and were more easily forced to be hospitalized.”

    This is something that infuriates me every time I see something like this.

    My older brother was diagnoses with Asperger’s syndrome by the age of 4, and schizophrenia by the age of 14. He’s never laid a hand on anybody, and he wouldn’t even harm a fly.

    People fail to see that it’s not the mental illness that is the sole cause of these violent outbursts, but the nature of the management of said conditions that can determine whether or not an individual will have violent tendencies. My older brother, once he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was given anti-psychotic medication. He regularly sees a therapist and attends a day program to help him socialize. And throughout his entire life, he was never neglected nor ostracized for his condition.

    As far as I’ve read, mass murderers and serial killers have some kind of psychological pathology, or a history of abuse, or something that leads to an abnormal development. That it the first domino to fall, but if they aren’t given proper mental health care, the rest of the cascade will soon follow.

    No, the solution is NOT locking up mental health patients and treating them like animals. The solution is reforming the mental health system so people like my brother, the Sandy Hook shooter, and Ted Bundy can get the proper, high-quality care that they NEED.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. tamimarino says:

    Scares me, I’m nothing and I could use the hospital but most of them aren’t good. Instead I cope . I am the ugly duckling in the family and I am judged by my illness and my class in life not being able to function like most.
    Your article is so true , thank you


  11. swamiyesudas says:

    Reblogged this on lovehappinessandpeace and commented:
    Brother T has written, Powerfully, of how Many People are Victims of


    Most of Us look ‘Down’ upon them, Worse, We simply Ignore them.

    Lots of VALUES are Involved in this: As presented here, one, people who

    do not ‘Bother’ about How their children are growing up, and two, people

    for whom Money is Enough.



    In North India, generally, (catholic) Priests (and Nuns) Constantly

    Visit Families, All Families. This is particularly True in what is known

    as the ‘Adivasi belts,’ Jharkhand, Madhya Pradseh, Chhattisgarh, etc.

    A (Spiritual) Leader visiting them, on a Normal and Regular basis,

    irrespective of money in the bank or position, gives the People a Sense

    of Self Worth. And Values are Instilled, without many words getting


    A politician does not even Think of Values. Only Religious Leaders can

    Teach that.

    What has happened is that catholics, especially in India, opening N-u-

    m-e-r-o-u-s schools, where Values could and should have been taught,

    fell prey to giving the Children Watered down, Bookish morals, and that

    too Just for Exams.

    We have become what my Father used to call ‘Educated’ Fools!


  12. mrstamkey says:

    I absolutely love this. Thank you for this.


  13. I am impressed; you sure are doing a very important job my with your writing! And I just want to tell you, that you are not alone with your opinions. I totally agree, whenever we humans try to put people in boxes, we get it all wrong! We must remember always to see every one as single persons. And, we must be humble in all respects, interacting with one another! I want to thank you very much for following my blog, and I send you my very best wishes!


  14. kimberube says:

    Great work. So much to think about. So much clarity and consideration and tenderness. WELL DONE. I appreciated your insight and the stories were riveting. Sending you ALL – love and light. ❤


  15. Christelle says:

    Keep posting, it will make a difference. I listen to people who suffer from mental health every day and, listening to their stories, it never surprises me that they eventually develop depression, anxiety, phobias or worse. I don’t know what the answer is although I know that people who suffered from a very early age will tend to reproduce the same patterns and struggle to break the cycle…


  16. […] A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System. […]


  17. […] A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System. […]


  18. tiostib says:

    You have fanned the fires of my emotions re-awakened my awareness of the causes of separateness, and jolted my heart into action. Yes, angry people provoke change, not happy ones.


  19. danalea83 says:

    wow that was a great story.


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