Open Heart ~ Open Eyes

Willingness to feel compassion, empathy for other human beings is indeed necessary for me to engage in illuminated living. Choosing to allow vulnerability and the chance of feeling someone else’s discomfort is awkward at best, often painful and socially uncomfortable. The greatest talent of actor/advocate Robin Williams, the lesson I have learned is that humor, valor, boldness and selflessness go a long way to soothe the pains of social discomfort, a great yet under-recognized malady of the first world.  Whether self-medicating to the point of overdose, asphyxiation, anorexia, machine gun, psychic pain is a killer.

Our mental health professionals and service providers can, could and should do so much more to help people heal from the human condition. Everyone, whether we are attuned to it or not, experiences to some degree trauma.  Losses, isolations, rejections, major relocations, national disasters, post-war injuries, divorces, crime victimizations, foreclosures, economic challenges actually buffet our population daily, sometimes chronically. Mental and physical illnesses easily erupt as we have become so conditioned to stuff the feelings surrounding these experiences. We develop aberrant behaviors, destructive habits, somatic expressions of distress in such a way that symptoms seem to pop up when we weren’t looking!

If left unattended, our very brain structure and function can change drastically.  Anyone is vulnerable.  Everyone is at risk. Causes of mental illness and its somatic sister are manifold: From childhood abuse, to domestic violence, maladies of the unseen are hidden in plain sight.  

There is growing, however, a major movement to address these issues. There are genuine people and effective treatments to alleviate or remove the sting and effects of early childhood traumas, intimate partner violence, eating disorders, characterological disorders, effects of trauma for crime victims, our military and enforcement personnel. There is also methods of healing outside our narrow western school of medicine to be explored; although this is the topic of another post. So, why don’t suffering people ask and receive the help, treatment and aftercare they desperately need?

THERE is no excuse for individuals and families having to suffer so in this day and age. As a first world power, a culture of advancement known throughout the world, we should be setting a far better example than we currently do. Instead of making leaps and bounds in areas of raising awareness, tolerance, support, research, funding, access…to a great extent, the US mental health care system IS corrupt, avaricious, political, prone to exploitation, blame-shifting and profiteering. THIS surely should not be.

Attitudes and behaviours of the general public toward the mentally ill affects every area of the mental health care field. Capitalizing, profiteering on social ignorance and pervasive ancient prejudices, patients, victims, and, even perpetrators in many instances, are marginalized, ratcheted down to second-class citizens. In some cases, people with mental disorders are highly vulnerable targets for the criminal. This, too, must be investigated, arrested and prosecuted.

Mainstream America has for generations been socialized to fear individuals with mental health issue. That this continues is barbaric, ignorant and inappropriate for the 21st century. Technology has advanced in so many areas of civilization, we must start to inquire WHY the mental health care field has been left so far behind, abandoned in comparison to wallow in the mire of the dark ages! Clearly, reasons for this are complex, but NOT unknowable. We ask the right questions to get to the bottom of the REAL ‘why’:

  • Is it too profitable for some to KEEP the huge portion of the population locked into thinking mentally ill people are inferior or defective?
  • A danger to society?
  • Not credible?
  • Evil?

Or, are they in truth more valuable in their ‘sick’ condition, deep in symptoms in order to retain them as repeat consumers of mental health services, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, illicit substances, and nicotine?

In middle class communities, a common area of discrimination, criminalization, marginalization and derision (informed, sadly, more often by fear of depreciating property values, as well as chosen ignorance) is against those suffering from addiction. Good, upstanding families suffer from the effects of a loved one’s abuse and addiction to substances of all kinds.  There IS a direct relationship between mental health disorders and substance abuse, and, whether it is politically correct or not, research is pointing to early use extrapolates to later abuse, addiction AND the development of major mental illnesses. 

“Heroin dependent individuals have high rates of co-occuring disorders (COD), which makes them more prone to die from suicide than the general population (Kane-Willis, 2011).”

From 2004 to 2011 Mexican export of heroin alone into the US increased 700%.  How could THAT have happened?  Isn’t addiction now identified as an acute stage of Substance Use Disorder in the DSM-5?  Is it not time to dry up the demand for criminal influx of narcotics

It is time to pull our ostrich heads out of the sand and face reality.  Mental health care systems are in need of the same overhaul, if not with more urgency and effort, as has been poured into cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and every other disease.  The days of ignoring invisible disabilities is long over.

This is a systemic, pandemic, endemic, economic, criminal justice and societal problem. Every one of us feeds into the pathology of the system today. It is time to take a look at each and every one of our OWN areas of participation in this problem, and to make a decision to become a part of solutions.

It is time for a change alright. But this change starts within every individual.  
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Hey! Food & Drug Administration, Are You Listening?

Hey!  Food & Drug Administration, Are You Listening?

We can’t get away from it: one study after another indicates a need for more accountability from the FDA and pharmaceutical companies manufacturing and distribution of addictive prescription medication in America.    Isn’t it odd that one arm of the federal government announces findings of  research on medication overdoses to be a leading cause of fatal injury in the United States, but the responsible arm of government as a watchdog for drugs distributed to the marketplace appears deaf to it?  I certainly haven’t heard any statements from the FDA.  Have you?

Now, how can that possibly be?

“Poisonings, mostly from drug overdoses, are the leading cause of accidental death among working-age adults in the United States, a new report shows.”(from healthfinder.gov – Overdoses, Cellphone-Linked Car Crashes Among Top Causes of Fatal Injury in U.S..)

I haven’t heard a peep from the Surgeon General either:  Certainly not from the former, Regina M. Benjamin whose term ended 2013. Meanwhile, opioid substance deaths spiked the four years under her watch, at least in Michigan.  Don’t be naive, though.  It’s everywhere.

 Opioid-Related Hospitalizations in Michigan, 2000-2011

Nor does it appear the White House deems fatal overdoses important enough a topic for the Surgeon General.  If anything, President Obama is tentative “lest-we-suffer-embarrassment” backpedaling about nominating Vivek Murthy as the new SG, but for a rather peculiar reason.  Mr. Murphy, of all things, is outspoken on gun control!  Why, that kind of talk might get the Republicans all upset and filibuster the Senate again.  Well, POTUS certainly can’t have that. [http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/03/15/obama-surgeon-general-nominee-trouble/6457575/]

Whoever in their right mind, I wonder, would think the Surgeon General’s jurisdiction is more appropriately over gun control than the health of the general population due to the high rate of abuse of OxyContin, Vicodin, or into possible collusion, bribery, corruption pharmaceutical companies’ profit making strategies perhaps with the Food and Drug Administration turning a blind-eye on releasing highly dangerous and addictive pain medications to the public?

Yeah, I know.  That is a heavy allegation.

No, I am not an investigative reporter, but, boy, I sure wish I were.  I hope someone has the guts to look into it.  More and more the politics of government is clearly more important than civil service.  And the comfort of civil servants is more and more important than the safety and and protection of the citizenry to whom the government is accountable.

I and my like-minded colleagues are still asking the Food and Drug Administration what is it as a governing/watchdog body doing to protect healthcare consumers from profit hungry pharmaceutical manufacturing and marketing firms?  How is it that the latter still continue to flood the ethical (and I use that term reluctantly) drug market vis a vis coupon redemption marketing and other ‘incentives’ so that avaricious physicians may be rewarded for rampantly dispensing substances holding DEA Schedule III and DEA Schedule II (that is, pretty extreme) risk for dependency among their patients?

Times must be hard if the only way to make a buck is to make the product highly addictive.  Reminds me of the tobacco companies and cancer in the 80’s.  Hey, thanks for letting me rant.

An Incidental Teaching Opportunity

English: Logo of Pokemon franchise based on DV...

Who says holiness, observance, spirituality, faith and values can only be taught in a church building , synagogue, temple or mosque?  If wellness, the manifestation of wholesomeness and healthy living, were only found in those venues, as a species we would be so more WORSE off ~ even more than we already are!!

As beauty may only be in the eye of the beholder, so wisdom, holiness, agape and graciousness may only be in the heart of the perceptive and receptive.  Perhaps again Tablet Magazine shuffles a soft step around traditional orthodoxy, but the message of core values and pathways to enlightenment may be missed by those to whom it was directed.

Pokémon Has Solutions for the Problems Facing America’s Jewish Community

I live with a Pokemon aficionado, dedicated fan and practitioner.  Admittedly, maybe some of his enthusiasm for the game and the long-running story-line has rubbed off on me.  But hey,  I hope more of my son’s character and example of courageous advocacy rubs off on me too 🙂