Monday, August 26, 2013

I WILL ALWAYS A WE BE


I WILL ALWAYS A WE BE
 

 

I don’t have any roots,
Because they never let me stay,
To them I’m simply a stray.


I don’t have a self,
Because to survive,
I created people to thrive.


Too many people,
Using one embodiment,
Left me less than present.


No dream to dream for me,
Because I am not just me,
I will always a we be.


We will never be free,
Of the horrors done,
Nor ever again be one.


We don’t expect you,
To make things right,
But why take our birthright?


We want to remain,
Just like we are,
All in one till our last hour.


© 2013 by Ed Cooper

This poem is dedicated to those who have survived by creating others.  The new diagnostic manual, DSM-5, says "the criteria for DID have been changed to indicate that symptoms of disruption of identity may be reported as well as observed, and that gaps in the recall of events may occur for everyday and not just traumatic events.  Also, experiences of pathological possession in some cultures are included in the description of identity disruption."

I don't know if in 2013 there is a higher or lower percentage of mental health professionals who believe that DID is real than before.  The only people who know the absolute truth are those who created others to survive.  Some have suggested it is a sign of weakness and folks who survived without creating others are the stronger individuals.  The truth is that any survivor is a strong person and only a fool would try to rank the methods of survival.  I created people.  I have survived about 60 years since the childhood sexual abuse began.  I don't consider that either strong or weak.  I simply survived, but with a much altered self.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

THE JOY QUOTIENT: Monitoring By Counting Smiles



This poem is by a favorite young writer of mine.  It was first published on this blog 10/26/05.  I think it speaks to the heart and hope of Project Dream Again. Ed Cooper
Tomorrow
Here I stand,
All alone,
My soul sucked out,
My weakness shown.
The river of pain,
Flow through my veins.
My eyes filled with hatred,
My heart filled with sorrow.
Hope to God,
It'll be better tomorrow.
© by Cassy Edwards 2005

This blog is from 7/10/07. Some of the material is out of date, but the thoughts are still relevant.

Hi Ed:

I read your posts all the time; how are you? Thank you for sharing your insights with all of us.
I have a personal stake and response to this particular post, because for some years now it has been clear that this work I do is not just work, it is ministry. Ironically, of all churches I have ever interacted in, it is my childhood church, the Episcopal Church, some congregations, that has been most open to reaching out, providing space for, and in general being available for people with mental illness. They are so liberal, however, that I left years ago, disappointed with what I perceived as not standing up for the gospel and creating their own theology, separate from the Bible's. Other churches where I have found community and worship and teaching and spiritual nourishment, shy away from directly addressing the problems and the lives of those of us with serious mental illness. My current church actually taught a series out of which one message was dedicated to "emotional problems". They were surprisingly loving, understanding, wise, and smart enough to encourage people to seek professional help if needed. But when I asked about hosting a support group in the church the answer was to send me around to different people, none of whom ever returned a call or an email. I believe it will happen, in its right time. In the meantime, it's undercover--just like in the jail--I meet a person, we develop a relationship, and the spark comes up--and I go with them, spiritually, wherever they want to go. I can provide reading materials if they ask; the chaplain will provide bibles if they ask--I just can't be the one to do the asking. At church, I'll strike up a conversation with someone, and when I bring up that I live with bipolar they respond--and it goes from there. How do we get people to stop being afraid? I have no clue.

Jana Spalding



I received this email from Jana in response to my last blog and asked her permission to start my next blog with it. I first met Jana when she was working at a drop-in center in Broward County, Florida. As you can tell from the email she now works in a jail system.

We both live daily with bipolar disorder, but at first glance one may think we do not have a whole lot more in common. I am an old white man and she is a much younger attractive well educated black woman. However, first glance never tells the real story. We have two things in common for sure. Our experiences with the church and our belief that our work is a ministry.

In 1989 I was ordained as a missionary/minister to the mentally ill by the elders of a church in Georgia. I had been ordained as a Pastor at Newport, Kentucky in 1970 and as an Elder at Red Oak, Georgia in 1985. Remember in a previous blog I told you I had started preaching when I was 12 years old. My missionary/minister/educator father took me to church from the time I was born. In fact my parents dedicated me to the Lord in a service at Union Church, Berea, Kentucky when I was a baby. Why is all this important? To show you how I know the value of the faith communities to those of us with a mental illness. They are in my blood. Just like Jana does, I know how important faith communities are to us.

If we had done as much research into bio-psycho-social-spiritual “best practices” as we have into brain research, the lives of those of us with mental illness would have a far higher joy quotient as two researchers called it in a paper I once read. The joy quotient is determined by counting the number of smiles over a certain period of time. I consider it to be the best monitoring tool I have ever seen.

There is no doubt that those of us with serious mental illnesses are leery of faith communities, but also there is no doubt that faith communities are uniquely equipped and committed to embrace us if only the canyon could be contracted.

You can contact Ed Cooper directly at edcooper@projectdreamagain.com
or by using the comment form "Tell Us" below.

Monday, August 12, 2013

NATURE is a SPIRITUAL and a NATURAL SUPPORT

Nature is both a spiritual and a natural support.  That may seem like an obvious statement, but it is not obvious enough for people who need the support to take advantage of it.  It is also not so clear that people who are in the helping professionals have put being in nature high in their toolbox.  The truth is being in nature may be one of the most healing ventures of a person's life.

I was sitting reading about mountain top removal while waiting on it to be time for my therapy session. Mountain top removal is exactly what it sounds like. They remove the top of a mountain to get to the coal. It is a ruthless method to get at cheap energy so we can go on living our consumer driven lives. It has destroyed many mountains, streams, and valleys in my home state of Kentucky and other Appalachian states.

One day I was sitting on the poach with my wife’s father who is no longer with us and we were watching a train go through the little town of Glen Alpine, North Carolina.   It was loaded with coal.  He remarked, “I don’t see how there could be any coal left in Kentucky because I have been watching them bring it down these tracks all my life.”

Our way of life destroys the beauty of God’s creation and whether we want to acknowledge it or not it destroys a part of our souls. The beauty of nature and its wonders is one of our spiritual supports.

This is my poem about the mountain top removal.

                             THE HAWK DOESN'T RECOGNIZE ME

       They cut deep into my belly to reach the coal,
      That ran their engine of life.
      They heard my deep moans and other moans,
      The moans of dead miners and their families.

     Then they took big machines and chopped off my head.
     I screamed so loud I could be heard all around,
     But no one stopped them because they said it was progress.
     Fewer miners died and fewer miners worked.

     I moaned and I screamed,
     But now the hawks doesn't recognize me.
    I am not a mountain any longer or you a miner,
    Neither of us recognize ourselves or the other.

© 2013 by Ed Cooper




Nature is a spiritual support as I stated. It is also a natural support.  We need to find more time to spend in God's beauty and let Him have more time in us.

I believe everyone needs a natural support system. The main mission of Project Dream Again is to help the church, other faith communities, community organizations, mental health providers, and individuals come to understand how important a natural support system is to the recovery journey. WE CANNOT DO IT ALONE.

You can reach me directly at edcooper@projectdreamagain.com