Brave enough to live a Jeremiah 29:13 life.

flower child of the 60’s, young woman of songs and prints, communes and ecology, of poems and bell-bottoms

love beads, headbands, puzzle rings,

peace and harmony, love children if it feels good, do it

we were encouraged ‘go find yourself”

far from the post-war pendulum swing of the 50’s

conform or be banished

but where does one look for oneself as a young woman set free to be unlike anything before

looking for the soul in the bookstore

looking for the lover in the nightclub

looking for life in a living in the 70’s, the ME generation

monetarily making it while the consuming soul wastes the spirit

groping blindly for a place to settle in the 80’s

only to fall feet first into a black hole in the ground attached to HELL in the sewers of cities

‘go find yourself” so very far away from the starting points

lost and languishing until…

we were found by Light’s Originator,

found in the darkest places, blind, broken, belittled

but called by name and we heard a Voice Call our name

encouraged to Come and be brave

come close by following the voice until the dark was gone

close enough to hear and learn more

encouraged to take hold and not let go

to hold on and let go all else

to be:

Brave enough to live a Jeremiah 29:13 life..

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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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Issues of Parity

With all the great support of organizations such as; the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI), mutual aid peer support groups like AA, NA, grass roots organizations such as the Homeless Action Network of Detroit (HAND), Families Against Narcotics, Veterans Affairs, Alanon, NarAnon, depression support groups, and the hundreds of others, isn’t it time we unite into one collective voice?

What would we say? Who would we talk to? What exactly do we want?

We would state clearly, itemize precisely areas to be favorably impacted by proactive, prevention-oriented Mental/Behavioral Health Care (M/BHC) Reform.

We can start with opening evidence based discussions with the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA:  http://www.nida.gov). Our first order of business should be to claim that M/BHC services are equal to, if not more important than, health care. The mind, emotions, the body, interrelationships and the human Spirit work together to create whole human health.

Furthermore, healthy humans contribute to healthy communities; and, healthy communities form a healthy society. Diversity, balance, safety, cooperation, mutual aid functions to form solidarity and strength all contribute to high productivity, innovation, creativity.

image

This is what it takes to build and maintain a healthy, culturally diverse, thriving nation or group of nations:

Consumers of M/BHC services are first class citizens.

Substance addicted patients are NOT substandard people.

In fact, many sufferers of chemical dependencies are victims of corporate pharmaceutical fraud, corruption in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), immoral and atrocious medical professionals.

When properly investigated, those who practice exploitation of the mentally ill or disabled may find themselves embroiled in class action suits against them.

M/BHC Professionals and para-professionals are entitled to equal pay and compensation.  Professional status and financial compensation as returns on the steep educational and licensing investments in both time and money, must also undergo great reform. Intellect and talent must be attracted to the behavioral and mental health care fields to address the outrageous growth ands needs of services in our communities.

It is no longer acceptable to relegate the exponentially increasing needs of mental/behavioral healthcare consumers to the prison system.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA:  http://www.samhsa.gov) is the government agency responsible for delivering support services to US communities. This government body needs to enter into dialog with the next generation of academics, professionals, hands-on caregivers and leaders in the M/BHC industry. While the population’s need for effect care, the industry is under staffed and under funded to meet the need of consumers for whom they are responsible today! How on earth do they expect to prepare for future public mental health needs?  Clearly, a grass-roots call for REFORM is on my agenda.

Yes, like all other forms health care, this mental/behavioral health, too, is an industry. It is foolish, naive, ignorant, prejudiced or arrogant to assume social workers, school counselors, psychotherapists, substance abuse counselors, nurses aides, special education providers, mental health aides, practitioners, direct care workers, group home house managers, center based vocational trainers, residential directors, community based rehabilitation centers, dual-diagnosis behavioral health hospitals, etc. don’t all notice the huge discrepancy in their own pay scales compared to those of equivalent jobs in other fields of health care.

Interestingly, the system’s internal economics has reinforced its own substandard compensation for decades. There is a running self-deception within the caregiving fields. It is nothing more than a thinly veiled stream of excuses to buy into the neglect of their own needs. Hidden in the ranks of many M/BHC workers are severe symptoms of codependency:

“We are not IN IT for the money.”
“We care more for the clients’ needs.”
“We do this because we are good (nice, pious, better than, more responsible, unselfish, liberal, rich, damaged and can’t do better) people.”

I do not hold that mental health care workers have to be greedy, criminally exploiting the disabled. In fact, fear of being falsely-accused of heinous behavior has probably launched this culture self-deprecating, false-piety crap in the first place.

Whether coming from the self-victimizing or self-aggrandizing point of view ~ unabashed pity disguised as pseudo-advocacy is NOT what M/BHC recipients need nor desire.  People who work at careers that pay them fairly, provide healthy incentives by honoring stellar service, clients that are safe, treated with unconditional positive regard, sense improvement in their lives are likely to tell others that they have a great job and will encourage the like-minded to find a career that suits them in the field.  Normal, huh?

Fair and humane, hopeful, respectful, unbiased and understanding people offering treatment with accessible, down-to-earth, thorough and common-sense care ~ these are the kind of care providers most clients need and respond well to.  An industry with this type of culture supports staff, resulting in clients actually growing to feel better, manage their illnesses and get on with their lives.

SAMHSA has so much more to do to fulfill their purpose.

Communities require well-defined strategies, well-suited qualified professionals meet the dire need and to facilitate the directives to addresses them.  Who in their right mind would want to enter a field that does not compensate such valuable personnel in a manner commensurate with the very education/credentialing required to get hired?  Additional irony – because of the vulnerability of the populations such professionals and workers will be serving, their education and credentialing actually either equals or EXCEEDS the standards of other fields of health care!

Legal exposure, regulation, socia scrutiny and media hype is much deeper for a administrators in M/BHC facilities.  Consequences of failure and systemic weakness are much greater, and ultimately the populations they serve suffer in direct result of those failures.

For example, closure of state facilities for the severely disabled has poured otherwise qualified patients into the streets.while the original intent may have been to mainstream such individuals, funding for academic and vocational training of able, bonded personnel had been scantily provided to build a labor force qualified, safe and effective to meet the needs of those turned out patients.

Homelessness, gangs, juvenile crime has grown exponentially in communities throughout the country. Individuals quickly become drugged/self-medicated targets for criminal activity. VA, middle-age and adolescent suicide rates are staggering, and while an outcry is sounding, response is halting, incomplete, and, most troublesome, is still taboo a subject to discuss.

Funding is available; but knowing how to access it is hazy.  Reform must make it a priority to raise awareness and impact social consciousness to make it appropriate, acceptable and commonplace to obtain care.  North America has a ridiculously long way to go in mainstreaming the mental/emotional health agreements as taking one’s vitals.

Infusing resources calls knowing what to do and how to do it. Reform calls reclaiming and redefining each area of M/BH for continued and innovative research, education and development.

Jobs in medical and rehabilitation sectors of the field must be broken down into clearly focused disciplines and ranked for utilization at every level of intervention and influence.

Ancillary fields, such as; academia, public education, fine arts & leisure, families & children intervention and supports, legal and judicial reform with regard to treatment of these populations.* A special look at the increase of chemical dependency leading to death among the middle-aging and geriatric, adolescent and veteran suicide rates:  Beginning with legislation, consumer safety, insurance, agricultural practices and nutrition, public health assessments, recording, reporting and dissemination of information in these specific areas is imperative.

Standardizing protocols for prevention, intervention and education at the local-state-federal levels to respond timely and appropriately to changes in public mental/behavioural health by neighborhood or community. What is meant by this is initiating proactive risk assessments to identify increased alcohol or substance use disorders in correlation to drug trafficking activity BEFORE a community is in crisis.

Fair practices in guardianship,  probate, vocational and housing, transportation require reevaluation with respect to serving and protecting vulnerable populations.

We are to be improving, expanding and refining c

Civil rights language when communicating public information, social awareness concepts and efforts at inclusion needs to improve in clarity, expand to more audiences, be more refined, call citizens to action.  Greater emphasis needs to be placed on understanding the challenges M/BH clients endure. Stronger consequences need to be in place and enforced to prevent bullying and exploitation of those with invisible disabilities in all walks of life and at all age levels.

Standards within schools must be raised, and districts must be equipped with faculty inservices, protocols, prevention curriculum, community based programs in schools and after school.  Wealth and education is not a dividing line for which communities have such programming.

High income and urbane, highly cultured communities suffer the same distress from mental health disorders as underprivileged communities.  This is clearly NOT a class problem; it is a public health problem.

Availability of and standards for systems that support all families  & youth, the aging, need an entire restructuring.  Keen awareness and response with effective psychological therapeutic services must be equally available at every point of entry into health care as CPR or administering AED aid.

Similarly, every stage of after care, whether it be with a peer support specialist, recovery coach, natural supports, each m/bh patient is entitled to hope for the development of innovative, alternative or wrap around care modalities accessible to him or her.  Technological modifications in products, treatments, practices, are equally if not more important than the our equivalent in other fields of medicine.

Parity in social, civil and human rights for consumers of M/BHC is currently far below par.  Legislation to correct this is mandatory. Violations, such as denying services to M/BHC patients is both immoral and reform must be enacted.

Example:
An adolescent in need of inpatient emergency MHC services for opioid addiction must not be denied a hospital bed because “…he’s just a drug addict; what did you expect?”  Yet, a juvenile incarcerated for DUI has access to that same bed.

So, who’s in*? 

Interested in raising your voice for Mental/Behavioral Health Care Reform?

*Contact me, let me know the best way to reach you to take action.
What do you think needs to be done?  What do you think needs to be done FIRST?

Vocabulary Word

Thanks to CBT professor Dr. Sheabra Simpson, I learned a new vocabulary word, but this one has only tangentially to do with the class’ subject of cognitive behavior therapy:

N E T I Q U E T T E

I have nothing original to offer on this, but the following link is spot on!

http://www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html

In my gallivanting over social networks lately, however, I have run across a few rule-breakers and social oafs.  Thinking of them promptly while reading the rules I thought to spread a Truth, if not a little common decency and manners my mother(s) taught me.

More to be shared after midterms are done…

Namaste

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.

Attractive Men

For my dear friend Amy, to whom I sometimes feel like a mom, or at least a big sister: Attractive men can be a very mixed blessing.

The bottom line, however, has so much more to do with MY state of mind, my focus.

Years ago I learned about myself that I had two distinct approaches to life, love and romance.  What was interresting as well as disturbing is that when I am on my own, ‘single’, I am highly independent, creative, active in my community one way or another.  Attractive men in the usual sense of the phrase are enticing, and a huge distraction.

And that, dear Amy, revealed the chinks in my own personal armour.Highly attractive men had an effect on me like a hypnotist’s subject from the audience.

It wouldn’t be long before I fell under a spell and, as if in a trance, become a malleable, adoring puppy, following that guy everywhere, doing what ever he wanted to do.  And for at least 90 days the spell would hold.  Within that timeframe, however, I could have made all types of plans and arrangements with Adorable Guy, forgetting that I had a comlete and highly capable and developed life and purpose before he had arrived on the stage.

By about day 100 or so, someone or something would snap their fingers or count to 5 backwards and I would we released from my trace, only to find that my circumstances, key activities and people in my life would be different from how I’d left it before falling under the spell.

When variations on this theme, usually with more attractive men with other fine qualities as well, the spells would last far longer, more engaging activities would be adopted,  so eventually I thought my own projects should wait and I should just try and settle down.

therein lies the mixed blessing. Attractive Man and I wpuld do great until I realized that my’ single’  personality was meel and I was simply tossing me aside in order to ‘get on with my life’.

Even writing that it seems so innane, but you gals out there in CyberTown know precisely what I’m talking about.

Well, once having heard THAT bell ring, I was really in a quandry. It seemed impossible to reconcile the two distinct aspects of myself in relation to each other, let alone entertain the thought that some man would be able to relate to me once I figured it wll out.

In fact, there were one or two who tried but eventually they ended up exploiting my creative gifts and I experienced some pretty devastating damages.

Tough journey it turned out to be and I realized there must have been some missing links I needed to learn about. That was when the whole spiritual quest began in earnest.

I say in earnest because in retrospect the search began much much earlier than then, but it was more loke a form of entertainment of sorts.  This time it was in earnest because I was sensing my very life depended upon what I woild find.  It was true, and it was so. And it came to be that I had to elevate my ideas of what attractiveness meant. And that too was a an elusive process.

But, I assure you that this quest sought in earnestness was worth every millisecond.  The adventure included for me a diligence, careful detail and skill required of a field worker on an archeological dig.

Male attractiveness is very important.  It is part of our evolutionary responsibility. In the hands of hetero couples is the call to propagating our human species at a level capable of meeting the demands of survival and successful thriving for generations to come.

Bet ya never heard it that way before.  This is where the spiritual anchoring in God actually became the primary  subject.   All things being equal, Adorable Man also had to be Attractive Man, accessible, aware, able, articulate, affable, accountable.  Type A, I guess.

All that, yes. But I surely had to be willing to wait because what I cooked up was a ridiculously tall order. I needed God to wait too. It was then it became clear that the most attractive kind of man there was for me was one I could ultimately respect.

And that is was inspired my post on you FB timeline:

I really respect a man capable of truly humbling himself before the Lord. It is difficult for men, especially highly intelligent men to admit they do not know things and to seek wisdom from God. But, boy, THAT is very attractive. As a wife, I feel safe and honored when my husband does that in all areas of life. Tall order,  but worth it!

Love you Girl!!

El