Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

largejoewoods

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

By Cortland Pfeffer

I survived a suicide attempt. I also spent years receiving treatment in rehab centers and psychiatric hospitals. However my friend, Joe, did not survive. He spent many years on the streets and in jails before taking his life on February 25, 2010. This is what suicide looks like. This is him after hanging himself.

There is no difference between us, besides our resources and the subsequent treatment we were provided. He grew up in a rough environment including his home, neighborhood, school, friends, and life experiences. I grew up in a family that had money, offered support, and always knowing I had a security blanket if things went astray.

That is how our stories began and unfortunately how one of our stories end. But did it have to end this way?

There is enormous stigma associated with the word “suicide.” People cringe when you even mention the word and immediately change the subject. If we are afraid to talk about it, how on earth do we think we are going to prevent it? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, taking more than 40,000 per year. At this rate, in one decade, we lose 400,000 people to suicide – equivalent to the entire population of Oakland, California.

When someone is suicidal, the typical reaction is “don’t talk like that!” or “that’s not even funny.” Or it turns to simplifying the situation such as, “other people have it worse than you,” or “just snap out of it, things will get better.” Nobody wants to “deal with it” and most people will adamantly refuse to even discuss it. You may even be considered selfish for having those thoughts and leaving close ones behind.

But when suicide does occur, the response is quite the opposite. Suddenly, everyone is there and feels terrible. They did not see the signs, never saw it coming, and can only talk about the amazing qualities of the deceased. It even goes as far as to hear people saying, “why didn’t they just reach out?”

If anyone has ever lost someone to suicide, they know the tremendous amount of pain associated. There may not be a worse feeling in the world. There are so many unanswered questions, “what ifs”, and “Should haves”. In the end, nobody commits suicide because they want to die, they commit suicide because they want the pain to go away.

I was suicidal, Joe committed suicide.

Part of the reason Joe is dead is because of the stigma associated with suicide along with the professionals he worked with that neglected and labeled him. He did not get treated as he deserved.

Joe didn’t have money, my family did. He went to jail and stayed long-term, I went to jail and got bailed out. He stayed in jail, while I was offered treatment instead. His crimes were all non-violent drug possession charges, mine were DUI, assault, and disorderly.

The difference? I had money and resources. Based on the information in the paragraph above, is there any other reason for the difference in penalties?

Joe and I were also born with the same temperament, which is more in tune with others emotions and greater sensitivity. This is neither good nor bad, just the way we were born. This is not to say that being emotional is guaranteed to create issues.

To be on this far end of the spectrum, along with consistently being denied needed support, along with the unhealthy environment is a formula for addiction. They refer to this as the biopsychosocial model. The biology is the genetics, the psychological refers to the emotional neglect and trauma, and the sociological refers to growing up in a broken home, overpopulated schools with minimal resources, poverty, and lack of positive role models.

But to also be denied the needed support on a consistent basis.

Some people are born more sensitive than others, which means they are going to get hurt more easily. Being an extremely sensitive male is vastly unacceptable in this society. It results in repeated invalidation such as “you are overreacting,” “you shouldn’t be feeling that way,” “men don’t cry,” “tough it out,” or “what’s wrong with you?” It also leads to being greatly misunderstood and isolation. The only way to gain acceptance is to create a mask, or a false self, to find a sense of belonging or purpose. People accept you when you wear your mask, which makes it more difficult to remove. But deep inside, we know it is not our true self.

For example, the mask teaches us that men are supposed to act out in anger when they are hurt. When we respond in anger, it is accepted. When we misbehave, we are accepted.

The mask brings us great power to finally feel alive. The more acceptance and connection the mask gains for us, the  more we try to fill these roles. In fact, we start to believe that we are the mask we wear.

Then something bizarre happens. People turn on us for that exact same mask that they once praised. Suddenly you took things too far, you get labeled and judged for the same behaviors that were once glamorized.

This leads to addiction. It can be any substance or activity outside of ourselves that allows an escape from the pain. This can take the form of alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, co-dependency, anger, or any compulsive behavior that lets our soul temporarily come through the cracks in our mask.

Each culture and society has their own version of acceptable masks. But they all serve the same purpose, to escape the pain and hide from any difficult emotion. It grants us temporary relief, which is reinforcing, as it seems quite simple to take a pill, smoke a joint, or drink a beer and the pain instantly vanishes. This creates a pattern of depending on our substance/behavior, believing that we are killing the pain, but in essence we are only adding fuel to the fire. The need for the substance/behavior becomes a matter of life-or-death and we start doing things we normally would never imagine all in an effort to use again and ease the pain. These new behaviors get judged and labeled as being a “bad person” which only adds layers to the mask and we begin to hate the monster we have created.

And that is just it, we hate the monster, the false-self, the mask. We don’t hate ourselves, we hate the mask that we have been wearing.

So, the truth is when we say, “I want to kill myself,” we have it reversed. It is not the “self” that needs to die, it is the “I”. The “I” refers to the ego, the false self, the mask. We need to kill our false self and then the healing can begin.

As Eckhart Tolle states, “The secret of life is to die before you die, and find that there is no death.”  He is referring to the death of the ego, the self-righteous suicide.

No health professional ever reached out to Joe, no one even talked to him, nor did they even know how to approach him. Instead they saw a “criminal” who was “angry” and was misjudged and mislabeled. While I went through the same difficulties, I was referred to as the “patient” that had a “disorder” and only needed proper treatment.

They never got to see beyond his mask. Joe was the most sensitive, caring, loving, and loyal person you could ever meet. However, that was not accepted in his culture so he became the angry, arrogant, drug addict – which is more acceptable.  He wore this mask his entire life, hiding his true self which led to more drugs, crimes, and erratic behavior.

No one in the field ever even dared to think, “This is a genuinely caring kid who has never gotten a chance to show himself.” Because once the label is created, everything you do is attached to that label. They read your chart and a decision is made before the first encounter.

While my rap sheet was for more horrendous, I was considered “a poor sensitive kid that needs someone to love him.” Whereas Joe was considered “unreachable.”

The difference in outcomes is related to how the patients are treated. One of my favorite sayings is, “you can get anyone to tell you their secrets if you love them enough.” Yet, in this field we are told to get the deepest secrets of the client, but not get too close. It doesn’t work that way. I won’t show you what is behind my mask until you show me what is behind yours.

He let me see behind this mask and I let him see behind mine.  And that is how true connections and relationships are built. I know the real Joe, something the “professionals” never took time to do.

Although I received better treatment, Joe was the better man. We shared a special bond and he would always reach out to me at times of need. One time he ended up in jail and had no place to go once released. He called me and we let him stay in our home for a while.  On the first night at dinner, he looked to my wife and said, “this is the best food I’ve ever had.” And he meant it, to him it was everything, while I had become so grown so accustom to these things I had taken them for granted.

Joe had a unique following of people. He loved to love. If he had two dollars to his name, he would spend it on others. He gave just to give, never expecting anything in return. This is what attracted people to Joe, he was pure once you got to see behind his mask.

He also had a son, Anthony, who he loved more than anything. You could see and sense the love these two had for one another. Joe would always say, “I love you buddy” and kiss Anthony. I never saw a man kiss his little boy before, it was admirable. I make sure that I do that with my three-year-old son now and I think of Joe every time.

Anthony never saw the labels of “drug addict,” “bipolar,” or “criminal.” That is the beauty and genius of children, they do not see masks or labels. Anthony only saw him as I did, as an angel. A kind, beautiful human with so much severe pain that nobody knew existed.

His friends started showing up at the house, and I started coming home to see my 10-year-old daughter sitting at home with a bunch of strange men I’ve never met.

After a few warnings we told him he couldn’t stay here if these people kept showing up on their own. He told his friends to wait until he was home, but they refused to listen. That’s the downfall of being so pure, people will take advantage of you. It broke my heart, but we had to remove him from our home for safety of our daughter.

A few months later I received an email that gives me chills just thinking about.

“Joe is dead. He hung himself.”

He didn’t call me this time. Perhaps the pain grew too great that he didn’t want someone to talk him out of it one more time. I had kicked him out, I was his support, and the guilt I carry with me is insurmountable at times.

So, when people ask me why I fight so hard for patients, this is one of the main reasons. If we lived in a just world, Joe would have received the treatment I received and he would be with us today. If we lived in a world guided with love, somebody would have built trust with him, got to know him, and offer the services he needed. But in a world guided by fear, we judge, label, and allow 40,000 cases like Joe happen each year.

People do not go away when they die. Only the false self dies along with the body. Our spirit lives on forever. The things Joe passed on to me, I still carry and pass along to my children. He is with all of us that remember him. He is here right now as long as we let him in.

I love you Joe.

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taking-the-mask-off-stigma-barriers-mental-health-addiction-spiritual-solution

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 available on Amazon, and Balboa Press

americandream

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

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

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

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

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

“bad guy.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The siblings were beaten harshly for Jerry’s injury.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jerry is dead. Ashton has killed him.

This is how a police shooting happens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would that change your mind?

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

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

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

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

It is because it is their dream, not ours.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a solution.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She made them pay attention and that bothered people.

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

N0.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boundaries create division. Money creates division.

Love brings us back to humanity.

Fight on.

Til the end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or others like him…

Einstein

Bill Gates

Just to name a couple.

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

(D) Lack of social or emotional reciprocity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is normal and who gets to decide this?

Normal- conforming to a standard.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

(D) Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

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

But aren’t we all?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His new diagnosis was Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Here is the criterion:

Diagnostic criteria for 313.81 Oppositional Defiant Disorder

 

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

(1) Often loses temper:

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

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

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

 

(2) Often argues with adults

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

He argued with me all the time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe he was scared.

(4) Often deliberately annoys people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(6) Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others

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

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

(7) Is often angry and resentful

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

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

(8) Is often spiteful or vindictive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The family wants you to be sick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school.

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

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

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

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

Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college.

Verner Von Braun flunked 9th grade algebra.

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

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

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

Fred Waring was once rejected from high school chorus.

Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade.

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

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

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

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

High moral standards.

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

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

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

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

It is all about perceptions.

Passionate devotion to what interests you.

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

He did this.

But look at the Asperger’s diagnosis criteria.

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

If it is Asperger’s it is called:

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

See it depends on the one doing the labeling.

One says passionate devotions, the other says abnormal preoccupation.

It’s the same behavior.

 

Independent, tend not to be a follower.

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

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

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

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

Asperger’s calls this same behavior:

Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals

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

Here is what ODD says:

Often argues with adults.

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

So he is labeled as “not a listener.”

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

It’s the same behavior labeled differently.

 

High degree of sensitivity to inner and outer stimulus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Depression or boredom if you are not engaged.

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

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

ODD would call this defiance.

Asperger’s would call this preoccupation abnormality.

 

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

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

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

The answer is nothing.

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

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

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

Elaborate inner dialogues, thoughts or imaginings.

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

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

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

But we label it. Call it a disease.

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

It’s all in the person doing the labeling.

Seeing the underpinnings of things.

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

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

But it is certainly not a disease.

Seeing outcomes before they occur.

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

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

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

Little interest in much of what interests others.

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

Remember what Asperger’s says about this behavior:

“Lack of social or emotional reciprocity.”

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

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

A rapid learner in the fields of your gifts.

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

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

What did ODD say about this behavior?

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

What did Asperger’s say about this behavior?

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

 

A maverick.

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

So someone that doesn’t blindly follow is gifted.

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

Many skills or interests.

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

So disorganization is a sign of giftedness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOVE.

End the DSM.

DSM2