Sunday, October 27, 2013


                             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, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


It may not come as a surprise to you to know that simply fixing the potholes on a road does not help you get to your intended destination if in fact you are on the wrong road.  By the same token, it does not help to keep trying to fix or reform a mental health system which is based on a false paradigm. The underlying framework containing the basic assumptions, the ways of thinking and the methodologies that are commonly accepted by most members of the mental health services community is more than just a little flawed.  It should be apparent to all that they are grossly off course and on the wrong road.
It seems strange to me that we think we can fix this mental health system without starting over with a new paradigm that more accurately portrays the human conditions that have been labeled in DSM-5. We cannot continue under the same assumptions and expect a different outcome than we are presently getting.  Going down the same road and expecting to end up at a different place is not logically no matter how many good hearted people are in the car.

We can’t fix this flawed system of services by simply putting “peer services” attached to it.  Whatever definition one gives to the word “peer” and whatever services they may deliver does nothing to address the core problem of a system of care based on a bio-medical model.  You can’t put enough “peers” into such a system to make it a natural recovery paragon.

Natural recovery is a process that takes place in the community with the person choosing the direction and the amount and type of help wanted.  There is no place for force or coercion in this model.  Natural recovery is not driven by a system, peers, professionals, or family.  Natural recovery is driven by the person at their pace and on their path within their chosen paradigm.

Natural recovery is not just a dream, but it does allow people to Dream Again.

Friday, October 18, 2013


No one will know
     if the scar don't tell
          and it can't
               because it don't show.

A soul scar
     is hidden below
          somewhere no fool goes.
               Only Scarred Know Where!

We know because
     the scar on our souls
          was left there by
               earth bound devil people.

These normal looking folk
     will never see God's good morn
          because they scar
               the barely born.

Oh, people who claim the Faith
     fight this evil with might
          for these soulless ones one night
               may seek pleasure with your young.

A scar don't tell
     Because it don't show,
          but if you know
               don't just whisper shout it out.

© by ed cooper, October 18, 2013, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    Dedicated to My Wonderful Wife, Patty Cooper  

Monday, October 14, 2013


When I have a manic episode I don't know if I am dealing with a biological phenomenon. Since I am told my bipolar disorder is a brain disease, should I put it in the bio category.  However, even if I do is it not true to say that there are other influences that play a part in the manic episode?

When I am depressed it is bio, or is it mainly psychological?  This is sometimes referred to as situational depression. How can I tell the difference? Certainly not by how I feel. Does it matter?

A social situation that those of us with a mental illness and our families are very familiar with is stigma. Another one that most of my fellow sojourners deal with is poverty. You put stigma with poverty and you have created a social crisis for us to deal with.  What part does this play in what is labeled bi-polar disorder?

Spirituality may be more important than understanding the causes. To understand spirituality does not require one to believe in a soul or God or a life after this one. Let me clearly state I do believe that we have souls which live for eternity and that God created us and all we see around us. However, spirituality does not mean a church or a certain dogma. It means we all have an inner life and much of how well we do on our individual recovery journeys depends on how we learn to deal with our inner life.

For example during a manic episode my actions are more determined by what is deep inside me than from any psychological insights or social morals. My mind is racing and I am acting faster than facts can keep up with. You might say I have to hope my guts will keep the ship on course. From deep within is my only hope. I believe that deep within me is the Creator’s Spirit helping me keep this manic force on some sort of course. You may have a different belief about how you get the help you need when the world seems to over take you, but whatever the view most folks still say they feel it deep inside themselves. In their souls.

We will never get to the place that we can truly be useful to others on their recovery journey until we see them in their complex state as all humans are. We live in a complex yet fragile universe among people who are both complex and fragile. Brave and weak. How would one ever know how majestic an elephant was if they could only see the tail?

Friday, October 11, 2013


They say children are resilient,
      but don’t come too close
          or you will see I am a hollow tree.

From far away I look like all the other trees,
      but my insides are eaten away.
           The hole will never be hallow or whole.

The cavity was created by sexual abuse
      when I was too young to stop it
           and too scared and scarred to tell.

The damaged tree became a we
      with branches on our trunk
           looking like small trees.

We are infested with hornets,
      and parts of us are dead or dying.
           If you get too close you will see the scarring.

As a Resilient Children Tree,
      we did the most impossible of all,
          we took a scarred tree and learned to simply be.


© by ed cooper, October 11, 2013, Stoney Creek, Tennessee


Sunday, October 06, 2013


Matthew 5:39

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

This is one of the most difficult sayings of Jesus.  Every Bible scholar seems to have a different interpretation of it.   I can’t say I know the correct one, but I do know how it changed some people’s way of life. 

One well known example I will point out is Mahatma Gandhi. He broke with organized Christianity over how he was treated by the church in South Africa, but still left his legal practice in Johannesburg to start the Indian Red Cross during the Boer War before going on to India to lead the Independence Movement there.  The above words of Jesus are credited as the seeds of his nonviolent theories.

Jesus probably did not have a political movement in mind when He spoke the words.  Jesus was really not talking about nonviolence here. He was talking about not letting an evil person pull you into their world of insults and filth.  He was not talking about someone punching you, but a slap to the face as an insult.  Jesus is saying don’t fight with evil people or you are becoming just like them.

If we could learn to follow these words, the result would be a more peaceful community in which to live.  A more peaceful country.  A more peaceful world.  An evil person can’t insult or fight if you refuse to participate.

Maybe the most important benefit a person will receive by following the directions given in this verse is an inner peace.  I was in a discussion with a person the other day about how many books have been written and classes and seminars on how to become happy.  My response was to ask, “Wonder what they mean by that word?”

For some of us who have spent most of our lives trying to figure out how to make it through the day and to come up with a reason to stay until the morn, happiness is an elusive goal we seldom think about.  I guess it is all where you are at on the spectrum from darkness to light.  However, it dawned on me when I read this verse that I might find some solace for my soul if I just stopped playing in the sandbox when someone wanted to throw things at me.  If I stopped throwing them back, sooner or later they would have nothing left in the sandbox to throw at me.

Oh yes, I am still in the sandbox.  The old saying that children are resilient is just a lie to make grownups feel better when kids are abused.  Kids may learn to cope, but look around you at the adults and tell me honestly if you believe children are resilient?  Look the word up.  Resilient means returning to the original form.  What a joke!  I am still in the sandbox, but I am going to stop throwing back what is thrown at me.  Solace for my soul is coming to the sandbox.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


Can we build a movement of persons of lived experiences of mental and emotional distress?  I am not sure we can.  We can't even agree on what to call ourselves, but more important we can't agree on what is happening to us.  It is really not so strange that we can't agree on what is happening to us since we all are having different experiences. Everyone with the same label certainly does not experience it the same way.
The DSM-5 (Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders) have neat boxes for human experiences to fit into and then a label for those experiences and behaviors.  However, we know that the lived experience has little true relationship to those neat little boxes.
If you watched 60 Minutes on CBS last Sunday night (September 29, 2013), you might have come away thinking that a psychiatrist can look at a brain scan and make a diagnosis and that if they could only be allowed to treat the people they wanted to there would be no gun violence in this country.  Of course both are dead wrong, but it made for good fictional television even though 60 Minutes is suppose to be a news show.
So people who care deeply about the issue of gun violence, the people who care deeply about the civil and human rights of people label with a psychiatric disorder, and the folks like myself who care about both were done a gross injustice by CBS, E. Fuller Torrey and the entire piece broadcast that night.
The question is what can we do about it?  It will not be done in any grand movement in my humble opinion.  A heart and a mind at a time must be changed.  As long as we as a country do not believe in the human and civil rights of those of us with a psychiatric label nothing will change.  If we as persons with those labels cannot find some common ground to come together on then we will never gain any ground.
I suggest thinking about two points to see if we can get agreement.
1) The state (any government body) does not own our minds or our bodies and therefore unless we commit a crime we can't be locked up.  Suicide would not be a crime since they don't own our bodies.  No forced treatment since they don't own our bodies. 
2)  Crimes should not simply be blamed on some DSM-5 label when there is so much disagreement about their efficacy.  
Anyone having other suggestions or wanting to make comments please email me.