Archive for the ‘mental health’ Category

Written by a retired police officer who wishes to remain anonymous.

“Every addiction stems from an attempt to cover up, mask, or alleviate emotional pain. Therefore, the drug war is a systematic policy of locking up people who are in pain, have been abused, abandoned and neglected. They are not being offered treatment, but rather furthering their pain and suffering.”

– Irwin Ozborne



I wanted to be a police officer. I applied, and became one. The city I chose to work for was well-known for its violence. Despite attending a “tough” and “demanding” academy, I was woefully unprepared.


I was excited to work this job. They said, “stay on the south side it will be busy.” A constant array of shootings, stabbings, domestic violence, vehicle pursuits, and assaults of all kinds confirmed this to be true. I was in the front row, seeing it all. I was indeed busy.


As a young officer and a young man, I was taught that drugs are an evil, and we must declare war on them. In the course of my employment I would learn differently. From day one I started my study of human nature, and conducted thousands of informal surveys. Tragedy and trauma were my baptism in this new and strange culture. At the focal point was the issue of drugs, prescribed and not prescribed.


I sought different assignments and got them. I investigated crimes against children; I also conducted domestic violence investigations, missing persons, and a slew of whatever else they threw at you. I was also privileged, in my career, to work among the addicted, the homeless and the mentally ill. I did many things in my career, but I actively sought these groups out. I tended to them, and I arrested them.


My most favored assignment was working and spending time with the mentally ill and addicted. I heard story after story of physical abuse, sexual abuse, trauma of all types, and even abandonment. I talked with prostitutes and listened to their horrid stories. I also spoke with veterans of wars, those of all walks of life, and those who suffered PTSD. Schizophrenia, oppositional defiant disorder, suicidal issues, and personality disorders were prevalent.


 I learned that these people used drugs of all types. And, in the final analysis, they were self-medicating. In these people’s life, and as I started to pull my own mask off, drugs were an out. A moment of not having to endure some form of hideous emotional pain, or a review of their reality.


 Drugs were the medicine, but not the cure. And criminalizing this problem is not the answer.

Police models do not typically take into account any serious mental health model. As I advocated for the mentally ill, I was met with stiff resistance, and all kinds of biases. Again, I was slowly peeling the mask away-it hurt. Far too many people were being invalidated and still are. The police are even invalidated by their own-at all levels.



In the end, what really happened? Well, it was an experience about myself. I learned that it can be a tough thing and a good thing to have to look into the mirror, I had to exercise self-care. The first thing I had to do was chase the suicidal thoughts from my head. Then, as I took off my mask, I had to acknowledge my own PTSD, my own traumas, my own disassociations, and of my inept bonding issues.


This world of sickness had brought me to my knees.

In the end I did it. I pulled off the mask. The world, while not perfect, is now a better place for me. Somedays I wonder if it would have been easier to suppress all this stuff. The answer is no. Please pull of the mask. Life without the mask is better. And, it’s just the beginning.

By Brooke Feldman. https://www.facebook.com/feldman.brooke.m

Individuals seeking addiction treatment typically have the least amount of resources and the most complex of needs.

Do you know that feeling you get when you are sitting at your doctor’s office waiting to be seen and it’s 15 minutes past your scheduled appointment time and nobody has even checked in with you?

Do you know that feeling you get when you’re experiencing tremendous dental pain but are told “Sorry, the next available appointment isn’t until two weeks away”?

Do you know that feeling you get when you are on hold with your doctor’s office waiting to get a prescription called into the pharmacy and it feels like somebody must have forgotten you were on hold?

Well, if you take that feeling and multiply it exponentially, you will get a tiny glimpse of what countless individuals and families experience every day when trying to access addiction treatment services in America. Extraordinarily long wait times, an utter lack of engagement while waiting, poor customer service and a complete lack of communication often meet people at the entry point of attempting to receive treatment services. While there are many good addiction treatment providers who understand the importance of a warm and welcoming environment, there are far too many who do not – and then some who even go on to blame the individual seeking care for “not wanting it bad enough” when they don’t “stick out” the horrendous conditions in which they wait.

Our public behavioral health service systems are intended to serve the most vulnerable citizens of this country. The individuals and families seeking addiction treatment who are uninsured, under-insured or receiving Medicaid (i.e. welfare; medical assistance) insurance are typically those with the least amount of resources and the most complex of needs. While one would imagine that the treatment providers serving our most vulnerable citizens would deliver services in a manner that actively engages people into treatment, sadly this is often not the case. If you ask any individual or family who has attempted to access addiction treatment services in a public behavioral health system anywhere in this country, you are nearly guaranteed to hear some of the following experiences.

“I waited for three hours on a hard plastic chair before anybody came out to talk to me.”

“I was experiencing terrible withdrawal symptoms but was unable to receive any medical treatment until after I was admitted which was 11 hours after I first arrived.”

“Nobody even communicated with me or told me how long I’d (or my loved one) would have to wait.”

“I waited all day without being seen and then was told to come back the next day because the intake staff were done for the day”

You know that feeling you get when you still haven’t been seen by your doctor and it’s 15 minutes past your appointment time? Well, yeah, multiply that exponentially and you’ll get a glimpse of what many individuals and their families experience when attempting to access addiction treatment services. At a time of crisis and often a personal and family low point, we are expecting people to weather the type of service delivery that in no other healthcare or customer service venue would even the best of us be able to tolerate. Is it that we think people who struggle with addiction challenges don’t deserve better? Is it that we think people who struggle with addiction challenges aren’t important enough to be treated with human decency and respect? Is it that we don’t care how many people are literally dying trying to get into treatment?

There are many strategies behavioral health system leaders and addiction treatment providers can employ to better engage people into treatment. Below are just some examples and available in the literature for all are plenty of others:

1) Provide peer support services in waiting rooms, allowing individuals and family members with lived experience of navigating the system and sustaining recovery to provide encouragement, information and hope

2) Provide the type of waiting room furniture that you would be comfortable with yourself or a loved one spending hours and hours sitting on

3) Splurge on being able to provide water, coffee and something to eat for people who often haven’t eaten in days let alone the hours and hours they have been waiting

4) Ensure that regular communication is taking place and that staff are providing routine updates to individuals and families about wait times, next steps and what to expect in the process

5) Be prepared to serve people experiencing acute withdrawal symptoms and develop procedures that allow for the availability of medical care within a reasonable amount of time

6) Align federal, state and local funding and regulatory policies with a behavioral health system that can meet the demands of those it is there to serve

7) Do unto others as you would want done unto yourself

Listen to Brooke’s story on podcast here:

Itunes; Brooke Feldman story iTunes podcast

Spreaker: Brooke Feldman story podcast on spreaker

YouTube: Brooke Feldman story you tube podcast

BIO:

Brooke M. Feldman, MSW Candidate, University of Pennsylvania
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Brooke openly identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ communities and a person in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder. What this means for Brooke is that she has has been able to stop the intergenerational transmission of addiction that claimed her mother’s life at a young age and has transformed her own life into one of wellness and service. After spending her adolescent years in and out of many behavioral health institutions and the juvenile justice system, Brooke began her recovery at age 24. Since that time, much of Brooke’s energy and efforts have gone into advocacy and action work geared toward making wellness and long-term recovery accessible to all. Having spent the past decade working in various direct care, community outreach, administrative/policy, program coordination and training roles under some of the field’s highest regarded leaders, Brooke has combined her lived experience with a wide spectrum of professional experiences to serve as a support to those in or seeking recovery. Brooke firmly believes that wellness and recovery is not about luck or good fortune but more so about individuals and families having access to what it is they need, when they need it and for however long they need it. Additionally, Brooke believes that the gifts and wisdom uncovered in the addiction recovery journey can and ought to be applied universally to the human experience and shared with the larger world.

Taking the Mask Off” is the new book by Cortland Pfeffer and Irwin Ozborne. Cortland Pfeffer spent years as a patient in psychiatric hospitals, treatment centers, and jails before becoming a registered nurse and working in the same facilities. Based on his experience, this story is told from both sides of the desk. It offers a unique and valuable perspective into mental health and addiction, revealing the problems with the psychiatric industry while also providing the solution – one that brings together science, spirituality, philosophy, and personal experience
“Taking the Mask Off: Destroying the Stigmatic Barriers of Mental Health and Addiction Using a Spiritual Solution” is on Amazon, Barnes and Noble , and Balboa Press.

jonahjakcryanlarge

“If you touch the phenomenal realm deeply, you touch the ultimate realm. The ultimate is Nirvana, it is God, and it is available to us 24 hours a day.”  -Thich Naht Hahn

By Cortland Pfeffer

When Irwin Ozborne and I met in early recovery, we discovered we both loved baseball and began coaching as a sober activity that allowed us to try to give back to the community.

We have coached baseball together for many years. One year of the many, sticks out. It is the year we met Jonah.

The team was from a small and well off community. We usually coached the poor communities to try and give back. The cities that had no money, and no resources. This year we were recruited by an old friend to coach this wealthy community, the challenge was that they were small and moving up to play all the big schools. No community this small had ever done this successfully, so the challenge was intriguing.

We reluctantly accepted this challenge, thinking that these rich community kids have everything.

We thought, “this won’t be fun, these guys have it all figured out.”

Boy were we wrong. We found out they were much sicker, they only masked it better. As it turns out, money can buy you a nice fancy mask that is hard to uncover.

We walked into the first practice, the kids were still just kids. No different. They did not see money. This is always true of kids, they have not been domesticated yet.

We were told of one particular kid on the team, Jonah, who was the best player by everyone’s account.

We get to the first practice and do the normal speech regarding who we are and what the season will be like.

When we were talking, Jonah seemed to space out. Was he not paying attention? Did he think he knew everything? He is the star player we were told, so we wondered what this was about.

Then we start practicing and he is awful. He is dropping balls. We were thinking, is this the same kid everyone told us was so amazing?

Yes it was.

So we start playing games, and we have him in the lineup because everyone else knows him better, and assures us he will be amazing. He drops balls, strikes out, makes mistakes constantly, and costs us a few games.

One game in particular, he is in tears running off the field in embarrassment, no one is able to console him and he runs off into the old rink at the field and will not move from it for about 6 hours after the game.

At this point we needed to find out what is happening as this appears to be more than just a baseball issue. We talk to him, and he tells us that his parents are divorcing, he is scared and confused. He has to take sides. It is a chaotic environment in his house.

It would be best described as putting a rat in a maze and starting the maze on fire. How would you expect that rat to behave?

We decide to talk to his parents about what is going on as this kid is struggling. They confirm what he has said, they are divorcing and it has been a bit chaotic. His parents are both emotional people, and you can tell this has become an issue as they fight in front of us and try to get us coaches to take sides.

Jonah’s Dad was a great baseball player in his day and knows a lot about it. You can hear him screaming at us during the games about coaching decisions. His Dad is also screaming at the umpires. You can hear his Grandpa screaming at us as well. They watch our practices and attack us verbally, even as we practice.

They love their baseball. They are great people, as we have gotten to know them well over the years now, and still talk to them today. They were good people in a rough situation that year.

His mother was kicked out of a few of our games for screaming as well. She went out of her way to attack Jonah’s Dad in front of us and the other parents. If they did it in public, you can imagine what would happen at home.

During the meeting with the family, they told us important information. Jonah not only was struggling in baseball, but he had been struggling in school this year. So they had taken him to the doctor before baseball season and he was diagnosed with ADHD and placed on Ritalin.

As the season continues, Jonah struggles and is spaced out. It is heartbreaking to watch. He is losing friends, and he is losing his purpose.

He is the rat in the maze with fire.

We of course being the way we are, show up 3 hours ahead of game time and prepare for games. After a while, we noticed something, Jonah would notice how early we were, and he would start showing up early every single game. He was there an hour before practices and 3 hours before games.

He loved the game so much, but also, his parents didn’t want to deal with him and he did not want to be in the maze on fire as well. The medication wasn’t enough to slow him down, so they had dropped him off as early as they could.

I remember one pre-game Jonah crying to us, he said, “coach, this team is my family now, and it is the most important thing in the world to me.”

He didn’t care that we had benched him. At this point we could not have him play much, as the team was getting close to qualifying for the state tournament, something that no team from this city had ever done. Jonah still showed up, played when he could, and cheered on his teammates. He became the teams emotional leader, He cracked jokes, he was happy when he was at the field. He was energetic and it was contagious.

Eventually, things started to cool down at home and he was with his Dad for the end of the summer. As things stabilized at home. Jonah started to perform better. We started to have him play more as his confidence gained. He never became the player we had heard of, but he was not dropping the balls and his focus was better.

We had made it to the big tournament to qualify for state. Everyone was there from the city. They were trying to be the first group from this town to ever make it. It was loud and a lot of great teams were there trying to qualify. It was unusually cold and rainy. The energy was amazing.

We had to win the last game to make it. We had run out of arms to pitch. The kids were tired, the parents were tense. We could have all the pitchers pitch about 2 innings each and try to win that way.

We had a meeting with the assistant coaches. We said “how about we let Jonah pitch?”

The response was “so we are trying to lose now?” ‘

Or “It will ruin all the kids’ lives. You are going to embarrass him more than he already has embarrassed himself and his family.” or…

“He is a trouble maker and he will embarrass the city. He was only good when it was not against these good teams, look at how he behaves. You cannot be rewarding his behavior.”

It was a resounding NO from everyone.

We decided we were going to do it anyways. We pulled Jonah aside, who had not pitched all year long and it never was even a thought.

We said, “Jonah, how do you feel about pitching the final game?”

His eyes got wide open, his smile was the biggest I have ever seen still to this day. His eyebrows popped up. It was the most happy I think I have ever seen a human being.

“Really coach? I will shut them down. This is awesome.” He gave us both huge hugs.

We did not care at this point what happened and if we got run out of there by a mob of angry parents. It did not matter to us anymore. We were set on this now. We went to tell everyone the news.

It was worse than you can imagine. The parents were up in arms, they were yelling, and cursing.  They were verbally aggressive and right in front of Jonah. It was sad, pathetic, and the moment we decided not to ever coach these guys again. The parents were too sick. They were like a mob ready to kill us. They were talking about how bad this kid is right in front of him and their kids. So THEY could WIN a baseball game.

The kids look bewildered and were all watching their parents. This is who is going to guide them the rest of their lives. Parents who were so obsessed with winning at all costs that they had turned into animals.

However, in the background you could see the look on Jonah’s Dad’s face and it was the same as his son. He was proud. They had a rough summer, his Dad had become the outcast of the parents group. He sat by himself now as they called his Dad “crazy,” and “Schizophrenic.” He was isolated.

His Dad still yelled at us from afar, but he was usually right. We enjoyed it because we knew where his heart was at. We learned to appreciate the yelling, he had great baseball knowledge. So we knew if he wasn’t yelling, we really were doing well.

The big game begins as the parents and community had turned on us in a second because we had ruined their dream in their eyes.

But something else happened, the other kids loved how much Jonah had cheered them on during the season. He was their once best player and was struggling. He still showed up every day. He still cracked jokes. He still hugged them when they made a bad play. They saw true leadership in him, and so did I.

The other kids couldn’t quite comprehend what was going on in Jonah’s life, but they saw the yelling, and they saw the chaos. They also saw Jonah crying and scared. They all were as excited as he was to watch him pitch finally, as he had been begging us all year. They were more pumped up than anything to play. They were all screaming and jumping up and down.

Some of the parents came to the bench and said to their “be quiet, you are embarrassing the community.”

But they could not come in the bench.

So Irwin said to the kids on our team, “You get told to be quiet everywhere you go, school, home, church, and you just want to yell. So go ahead, yell, and play like animals. No one is going to tell you to stop today.” He had given them the ok to be kids.

The team we were playing was one of the better teams in the state. We knew we were going to lose. But we also knew we were not coaching this community again after this, and we saw what this whole thing was really about, so we didn’t care either. It was a bench full of kids and us, with our masks all off at once.

If there truly is a heaven, or nirvana, that’s what it is like, no masks, no negative feelings, no man made problems, pure unstoppable love and energy at its full force.

We all have moments that we see this piece of nirvana, or heaven on earth, this was one of those moments.

Jonah took the mound. The first batter crushed the ball as we all expected, no one cared except the parents. The ball was flying long in the air, our center fielder ran and ran, and there was no way he was going to get to it. But he sure was trying. The energy and love had infected him. We looked at each other and laughed, “This will be fun. I hope we don’t lose by 20.” But it was the happiest the kids had been all season.

He dove all out and as he stood up he had the ball in his glove! We didn’t see it, but we heard the screaming and turned around. We could not believe it! Both our mouths opened at once. The whole team went crazy!

Jonah pumped his fist against his glove, smiled, and pointed at us.

The next hitter hit a line drive towards the 3rd basemen who dove, and grabbed the ball. Then an amazing thing happened. Jonah, with his new confidence, struck out the next hitter. The team was so happy for Jonah. After that first inning they all were running and jumping towards us. They got to the bench and all were hugging him and screaming. We looked at each other and didn’t say a word. We knew we were going to win. We didn’t have to speak it.

When you experience heaven, or nirvana with someone else, you do not have to speak, you just feel it. We both knew what we were experiencing, a thing like this bonds you for life with someone.

The kids on our team were all diving all over the place like they never had before. The other team was crushing the ball off of him all day. But it did not matter. If we played this team 100 times, they would have beaten us. But not today. Not on this Sunday. This was Jonah’s day.

The parents rolled their eyes, and acted disgusted. They were hoping we lost. Saying “He can’t keep this up.”

But it wasn’t just him, it was all of us. We all were in on this. That is where they were wrong.

It was the best team effort of the year. They all knew how important this was to Jonah and they showed it. He did not pitch well. But well enough. The team made play after play. Then as the game went on. Jonah gained confidence and started becoming the old Jonah, the one not in the maze, the one with his mask off. By the end, he was the player we had been told about.

I think he had been forced to wear a mask earlier than the other kids. So they saw it, then they saw it come off on this Sunday.

But this other team was great and it was a big city that had always gone to state. This was a major upset for us to even be there. They had their best pitcher on the mound. It was 0-0 after the top of the last inning.

We went in to the bottom of the last inning tied 0-0. There was 2 outs. Jonah stepped up to the plate.

He had maybe 2 hits all year. The first 2 pitches came from a kid who is now in the minor leagues, the ball zipped right by Jonah, 0 balls 2 strikes. No one could come close to hitting it off of this kid all game. He was the best pitcher we had ever seen.

On the next pitch, another fastball, and Jonah hits the ball. It is high in the air, and it is far. It keeps going, the kids all get up off the bench. They all start looking, and screaming. The parents are looking. Jonah’s Dad is over the fence where he always sits trying to make the ball come over with his hand gestures. It fly’s and fly’s, and then it goes over the fence!!

The kids are jumping up and down screaming. The parents are doing the same. Everyone is in complete shock that was not inside the bench of nirvana.

We are going to the state tournament!

Jonah has led us there. On this day, out of the maze on fire, Jonah has done something no one thought he could.

I watch him round first base and slap Irwin’s hand, I look at his face, at the crowd, at the rain, at the clouds, at his Dad, at his Grandpa, and I am in tears coaching 3rd base waiting for Jonah to get to me. I am crying as I write this, remembering the look on his face as he came to me.

He comes to me and slaps my hand, he holds it tight, and I am in tears, I say “I love you Jonah, you did it, and we did it!!”

The atmosphere was amazing. Everyone was running, screaming and hugging in the cold, windy rain. We all forgot it was raining outside. That’s what Nirvana does, everything else goes away.

The energy finally died down.

We went up to his dad. We talked for an hour.

Then as we are ending the conversation, he said “thank you for giving him the chance, it has been a rough year. He needed someone to believe in him.”

We said, “those meds really started to kick in after a while I guess. Those ADHD meds you had him on.”

His Dad, you know, the “crazy” one, said, “What? I had him for the end of the summer, I took him off that stuff about a month ago. I don’t care what anyone says, he is not sick, he is just a boy going through a rough time.

A few years ago Jonah was named an all state athlete in 2 sports, in our state. He is going to college on a full scholarship.

He never took ADHD meds again.

Our kids take their emotional cues from us, maybe it should be the other way around.

Thank you for Nirvana Jonah.

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.

item03gl1

“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.

dickens

 

” .. Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent forever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”-    Charles Dickens

Every interaction we have matters. We may not see it, but it does

Here is a story of how one patient saw 2 different doctors. With the exact same problem. The reaction was completely different, and so was the result. You do not have to be a doctor or social worker or health care worker to have this impact. It is just this example. Every day we encounter people that as simple as it may seem, just a hello or a smile can make the difference. Sometimes, just knowing someone notices you are not doing well is a big deal.

Patient walks into Dr. D’s office. Patient is a 29 year old. He has depression, has a history of suicide, drug use, and addiction. He is in good physical health. He has not asked for help for a long time. He was in the psychiatric hospital as a teenager multiple times.

Dr. D comes into the office right at 8 am as the day starts. He gets his coffee, and asks for his first patient. He walks into the room and looks at the patient. He says “what can I do for you today?”

The patient says, “I am very sad, I have low energy, and I do not feel normal.” The patient is shaking and is embarrassed to be at this point in his life.

The patient says, “I have struggled with drinking and drugs and do not feel good about myself. I am scared to talk to anyone about anything, but especially this. I am at an end, I have to get help or I am going to die.”

Dr. D says, “Ok, well let’s draw some blood. Have you ever been checked for diabetes, low blood sugar, or thyroid problems?”

Patient says, in a trembling voice. “No. I don’t seem to have any of the other problems that would go with diabetes though. I work in the health care field.”

Dr. D says, “Well I am going to run some blood tests. I also see you once had a positive PPD test, so we will give you some INH.”

A ppd test is when you are tested for exposure to tuberculosis. If you are positive it usually means it is in your system but not active.

So Dr. D has the patients’ blood drawn and has given him the INH. The blood tests come back normal. No problems.

The clinic nurses call the patient and state everything is ok. Dr. D said to follow up if you have any concerns. They as a clinic have so many patients, they forgot why the patient came in the first place. They get a list of lab results, so when they see them come through, they never think of the patient. They see the results and make the call that they are ok. This is not their fault. They are completely overwhelmed with a huge volume of lab reports of patient’s to call.

This patient was anxious and depressed and afraid to ask for help to begin with. Now with this call and this response,  the patient is basically pushed aside, IF the patient wants help, he will have to make the call again and go through the embarrassment and shame of asking for help again.

Now, the patient does not go for the INH. He is now feeling hopeless. He never even went for medical problems, then when the results came in, the clinic never even thought that it was to rule out anything. The patient got lost in the pile of papers. Basically became a number, not a person. This is normal these days. They want the Doctors to see as much patients as possible, as fast as possible. So give them a pill and get them out of here. It is our medical system, and it has become a business.

In this case, the patient now goes on another binge, and gets more depressed. If anyone has been through this they know any binge can result in death to self or someone else. Thinking again about suicide month later, the patient calls up the clinic. The patient has lost hope in Dr. D. However the patient is afraid to ask for another provider. Because he will be considered “difficult.”

The patient, using all the courage that they have, gets another appointment. This  is months later. So at this next appointment, Dr. D walks in, and he does not recognize the patient.  He treats him as if he is a new patient. He asks again if he has any medical problems.

This time. Dr. D says “Let me draw blood for some things” once again. Checks his heart. He does not know the patients name, or occupation, or any of what had happened before.

The patient is a number, he now feels worse and is upset that he even came back. He gets his blood drawn.

The patient gets a phone call back. He is to come see Dr D again, he must come in to go over the results. They cannot tell him over the phone the results. However, there is also some hope. He feels that maybe they found a reason he has felt like this his whole life.

The patient is scared, he knows if you have to come in to go over results it is not good. Saturday morning Dr. D walks in as he is the on call MD this weekend. His eyes are bloodshot and red, Dr. D did not sleep last night you can tell. He does not recognize the patient, his name, or anything. He feels he is just seeing all emergency patients as they are the Saturday clinic this month and he is on call. Dr. D has no idea he is talking to his own patient.

He then asks the patient, why he is here.

Then Dr. D still not knowing the patients name says “oh yeah, well, looks like you have chronic fatigue syndrome and there is really nothing we can do. Maybe go to groups, or exercise.”

Just what the patient wants to hear right? You are chronically tired and out of luck. You are not depressed or any of that. Sorry, go to groups.

The patient puts his head down, that’s it. You can see him, the thoughts are something like, “I guess I never was depressed, I’m just tired,” that is what he is feeling.

Any of us can tell these things in watching people if we just watch and are truly present with them. If we take time for one another it is easy.

Then Dr. D says well I can give you Provigil to keep you awake during the day and trazodone to help you sleep. SO let’s do that and check back in a few months. We are now giving a patient with severe anxiety a pill that they used to give to pilots to keep them awake during long flights.

The patient gets the pill to stay awake. His depression and anxiety have still not been addressed. He has learned that this is what happens when you ask for help. The patient now feels hopeless, sad, anxious, and like a fool for asking for help. There is nothing they can do for him.

First they tell him he has tuberculosis, then its chronic fatigue. They spend 15 minutes with him each time because management wants doctors to see 4 patient per hour so they can bill for that. Then they make more money. Dr. D is considered more productive if he sees more patients in a day because he makes the clinic money then.

The patient then with this depression history, drug abuse history, has made his last ditch efforts to get help. It took everything he had to even ask for help. He was pushed aside, they didn’t know his name. He got lost as a number. Then he was told different things by the same doctor each time he went in.

Why would someone go seek help after this? Dr. D never even asked him about his depression or anxiety or his history. He was a number, and he pushed it off like it was not depression. Just give him a pill and get him out. I don’t blame Dr. D, this is our system. I have seen Doctors get scolded for taking too much time with their patients.

This patient would then go into severe depression and his drinking and self-destructive behaviors would intensify over the next few years. He had many near death experiences, he got a DUI and spent more time in jail. He got to a point in which he almost died and his family had given up on him completely. He was basically going to fade away to the world. You could tell, he had given up on himself and everyone else had given up on him.

About 3 years later after Dr. D. This patient called the clinic. They said “So you see Dr. D, would you like to see him again.”

The patient has an opening and says, “No anyone is fine.” Simple stroke of luck.

The patient is set up with Dr Broeker. This is his real name he still practices for Allina. It is at the end of May. The patient has made up an excuse to go in he says he is having urinary problems.

He is in the clinic office in the room waiting. Dr. Broeker knocks on the door, he says, “hey XXX, I just want you to know I am running a little bit late but I will be in as soon as I can.”

The patient is shocked, Dr Broeker knew his name and just knocked on the door to tell him that he was running late.

Then during their meeting, the patient is comfortable, and feels at ease. Dr Broeker comes in and says his name, what his experience is and does not have a clipboard. IS not looking at the computer. He asks “what are you here] for?”

Dr Broeker then says “what else can I do for you?”

The patient starts to cry and says “I am anxious, nervous and afraid to ask anyone for anything. I hate myself, I cannot stop drinking and I want to get help for feeling depressed.”

Dr Broeker spent the next hour talking with this patient. It was amazing. He talked to the patient about life. Dr Broeker talked about his time as an MD and how he wants to get this right. He explains the depression scale, the anxiety scale and fills it out with the patient.

It was like this patient had been waiting years for someone to say, “It’s ok to be sad, let’s talk about it.” Finally after, years and years of internal torture. Dr. Broeker had released this man from his own internal prison. It was amazing. Words will never do it justice what Dr Broeker was doing for this patient.

It was supposed to be a 15 minute appointment. Dr Broeker knows the patient has been seen by Dr D because he read the chart, he says “why were you tested for all of this?”

The patient says,” I don’t know that’s what he thought.”

Dr. Broeker says “well, ok, let’s start you on celexa and come back in 2 weeks to make sure you are not having any side effects.” Dr. Broeker did not judge the other physician and was respectful and kind about what the other MD had done. When someone is truly great like this, they do not need to question anyone else. He is pure, there is no competition for people like Dr. Broker, he practices out of love, and he is a doctor for the right reasons.

The patient was so much at ease with Dr. Broeker that he was able to tell him everything and open up about the drinking, drug use and all other issues that he was facing.

Dr Broeker wanted him back in 2 weeks just to check on side effects. The patient felt he had a new lease on life.

Then in 2 weeks Dr Broeker pops in and knows the patients name. He talks to him for a while like they are old buddies and shakes his hand and is friendly with him.

This patient has had a history of no shows throughout his life, but never with Dr Broeker. Usually if we have a patient with no shows, we label the as non-compliant or as not really wanting to get help. But, could it be that the problem is in the provider and how we treat patients? Or at least say it is 50/50? In a few months the patient was in rehab, and able to look at people. Dr Broeker then eventually recommended therapy to this patient.

This patient was willing to listen because he trusted Dr Broeker. He believed in him. The same recommendation could have come from another Doctor and it would have gotten a different reaction. The difference is in the relationship, not in the knowledge. Dr Broeker took time, he did not care about the 4 patients an hour.

Dr. Broker is special, he is in it for the right reasons. He takes time. That is true productivity.

He saves lives, He saved this patients life.

 

I know this, I watched it. The patient was me.

The Doctor is Dr Michael Broeker.

He saved my life. He is one of the “fab 5” that I refer to that changed my life. That is number 1. The magical Michael Broeker.

 

If it was not for him, I would not be alive today. The patients that tell me I saved their lives and changed them forever, my friends and family and everyone that I have touched, it is all not possible without him.

 

I almost died and did not want to ask for help ever again. He sat down and listened. And talked. He didn’t follow the 15 minute rule. In my moment, lost in the woods, he gave me the light and pointed me in the right direction. All because he took time to get to know me and did not judge me.

 

I am alive today because of him.

 

Thank you Dr Broeker.

 

The End

 

 

saving-drowning-man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of the story is for another day.

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

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

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

Thank you crisis. You helped awaken me.

On this day, I saw what real love was.

Hipp_hipp_hurra!_Konstnärsfest_på_Skagen_-_Peder_Severin_Krøyer-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

2015-01-10_12.42.37

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She made them pay attention and that bothered people.

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

N0.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boundaries create division. Money creates division.

Love brings us back to humanity.

Fight on.

Til the end.

puppet_master_8781

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or others like him…

Einstein

Bill Gates

Just to name a couple.

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

(D) Lack of social or emotional reciprocity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is normal and who gets to decide this?

Normal- conforming to a standard.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

(D) Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

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

But aren’t we all?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His new diagnosis was Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Here is the criterion:

Diagnostic criteria for 313.81 Oppositional Defiant Disorder

 

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

(1) Often loses temper:

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

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

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

 

(2) Often argues with adults

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

He argued with me all the time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe he was scared.

(4) Often deliberately annoys people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(6) Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others

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

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

(7) Is often angry and resentful

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

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

(8) Is often spiteful or vindictive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The family wants you to be sick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school.

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

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

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

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

Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college.

Verner Von Braun flunked 9th grade algebra.

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

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

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

Fred Waring was once rejected from high school chorus.

Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade.

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

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

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

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

High moral standards.

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

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

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

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

It is all about perceptions.

Passionate devotion to what interests you.

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

He did this.

But look at the Asperger’s diagnosis criteria.

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

If it is Asperger’s it is called:

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

See it depends on the one doing the labeling.

One says passionate devotions, the other says abnormal preoccupation.

It’s the same behavior.

 

Independent, tend not to be a follower.

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

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

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

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

Asperger’s calls this same behavior:

Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals

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

Here is what ODD says:

Often argues with adults.

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

So he is labeled as “not a listener.”

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

It’s the same behavior labeled differently.

 

High degree of sensitivity to inner and outer stimulus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Depression or boredom if you are not engaged.

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

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

ODD would call this defiance.

Asperger’s would call this preoccupation abnormality.

 

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

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

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

The answer is nothing.

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

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

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

Elaborate inner dialogues, thoughts or imaginings.

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

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

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

But we label it. Call it a disease.

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

It’s all in the person doing the labeling.

Seeing the underpinnings of things.

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

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

But it is certainly not a disease.

Seeing outcomes before they occur.

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

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

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

Little interest in much of what interests others.

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

Remember what Asperger’s says about this behavior:

“Lack of social or emotional reciprocity.”

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

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

A rapid learner in the fields of your gifts.

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

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

What did ODD say about this behavior?

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

What did Asperger’s say about this behavior?

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

 

A maverick.

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

So someone that doesn’t blindly follow is gifted.

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

Many skills or interests.

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

So disorganization is a sign of giftedness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOVE.

End the DSM.

DSM2