Tuesday, December 31, 2013

MEDITATIVE or CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER: Good or Bad?

"Prayer that is based on relationship and not transaction may be the most freedom-enhancing way of connecting to a God whose vantage point we can never achieve and can hardly imagine. ...... "We need not bang a drum or bring animal sacrifices to get God's full attention; we already have it."
(Quotes from Philip Yancey's book on prayer)

Meditative or contemplative prayer may be one of the most divisive issues in Christian thought today.  Some say it is a great way to draw closer to God while others claim it is a tool of the devil and is drawn from the occult. There isn't any need to discuss the issue with folks who hold a strong opinion on the subject. No matter which side they take they know they are right.

There is a certain group of people who are almost universally discouraged from engaging in anything close to meditative prayer.  I am speaking of those of us who have been given a psychiatric label.  We are discouraged from getting too deep into anything spiritual because it might cause us to become delusional or less compliant with our medical treatment.

Yes, I know that people talk about us having a spiritual side, but few programs trying to help the people considered seriously mentally ill have a spiritual component to them.  In fact, I personally don't know of any although I am sure there are some.

I would like to see the funding sources such as Medicaid and the states take seriously the fact that we have a spiritual dimension.  The truth is that many of the phenomena labeled in DSM-5 may be a spiritual crisis and not a mental health issue at all.

Let me ask you this simple question.  If you were the victim of childhood sexual abuse, do you think it would be of more help to see a therapist or to go to a place where other abuse victims were seeking the solace for their souls in God's creation and by drawing closer to the Creator?

This coming year I hope folks will give some thought to how they can help those of us labeled with a mental illness draw closer to the embrace of the One who only wants to show us grace.   

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

NEW YEAR WISH! by Judd Howard Story

This season can mean many things to many people. To me it is a time of joy and sorrow.  The joy is that I get to spend time with my family.  The sorrow is that I miss the people who have passed on that I no longer get to spend the holidays with.

I have the memories of how exciting Christmas was as a child.  Waking up and being excited about what Santa had brought me.  Playing with my new toys all day and eating the wonderful holiday food.

I think about how lucky I am because I have my family and there are people who don’t have any family to celebrate with this time of year.  Some people with a mental health label who have families are alone because their families do not want to be around them or they don’t want to be around their families.  The issues surrounding mental health can divide families even at this important time of year.

I would hope that people would become more open towards each other including those with a mental health label. That is my NEW YEAR WISH!

Guest Blogger
© Judd Howard Story, December 25, 2013, Stoney Creek, Tennessee


Judd Howard Story

Monday, December 23, 2013

DREAMING AGAIN IS HAVING A VISION

If you go to Thesaurus.com and look up the verb synonyms for dream, you will find the following words:  conceive, crave, invent, think, visualize and the phrase conjure up scenario.  If you look it up as a noun you will find goal, desire, hope, vision, image, and yes a couple of very familiar terms delusion and nightmare.  My point is that most of the nouns and verbs that are considered synonyms with dream are positive.  When I came up with the name Project Dream Again, I meant it to be full of hope and vision.

Over the years as an organization and as an individual the involvement with the mental health system has almost killed my ability to dream of a better future.  At the breakfast table the other morning I told my wife that it may just be the aging process, but that I was ready to surrender to the powers that be.  You fight for years and each step forward you make they knock you back two just a couple years later.  She has said to me for years that the county, state or federal government can out wait you.  I think they have.

When a US Representative can propose a law to cut every consumer initiative in the country and get praised for it by anyone with an IQ over 1, then we are in deep trouble.

When the C/S/X movement is so divided it is hard to tell where it is then we have lost the battle before we begin.  We can't even get consumers (or whatever the latest name is) to unite on the simple principle that a person can't be locked up unless they have committed a crime and no forced treatment for any reason including on the pretense of preventing suicide.

Is there a reason for hope?  If you know of some strong reason there is a comment section or you can go to my website and email me.

www.projectdreamagain.com

I will use the strongest reasons in a future blog entry and certainly give credit to whomever pointed them out.    

Thursday, December 19, 2013

DO YOU FEEL LIKE A MISTAKE?

Ed 1967
Only by learning to dream again can one find solace for a shattered soul so deeply wounded that they feel like a mistake.

You may want to go back to the second blog entry and read it. It was published on 2/15/05 as "I Am A Mistake".

After reading the above blog entry, you may come to the conclusion that I am the last person in the world you should be reading.  I said I was a mistake. What I did not say is that I don't have to stay that way.  There are answers to healing the wounds of trauma.

I can't say that drugs do much good.  Legal or otherwise.  Counseling has limitations that make it so unlikely to be helpful I will not even say I consider it of real value.  Mental health professionals hold too much legal power over you to ever have a relationship with enough depth to it to really be helpful.  (These are my opinions and I am not saying they are scientific fact or the ultimate truth.)

What can help?  A good partner and a spiritual life that works for you.  Also, it is important to become a person who reaches out their hand to others.  My wife is my best "drug" and if I had not had a deep grounding in theology and philosophy I would be dead by now.  To that I owe my father even if I also owe him no thanks for his constant disapproval.

I am saying you can look inward at your soul and learn to know you are good because you are.  The fact you are a human being gives you rights among which is to tell your own story your way.

For a starting point I can say Ed is good because Ed is. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

RENEW OUR SPIRIT


One of my first posts on this blog.  It is still my purpose for writing the blog and my hope for it.  It is also my hope that each person who reads my words will find some truth in them that they can use to make their own sojourn here more comfortable and fulfilling. 


Sunday, February 13, 2005


Learning To Dream Again #1

This posting has a very simple message. Anyone can learn to dream again. Without dreams our souls begin to die and tomorrow seems like a dark hole to be avoided rather than a bright light to walk towards. I am not speaking of the dreams we have at night. I am speaking of the dreams we hold in our hearts.

The truth is most adults seem to lose the ability to dream. All of us have had things happen in our lives to dull our dreams. We die inside a little with each painful experience in life if we do not find a way to renew our spirit when life slaps us across the face.

The point of these writings is not to give you the way to learn to dream again, but rather to walk a journey together. My promise to you is to always try to be honest, but understand that my reality may not be yours. I hope we both learn from this sojourn.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

reNEWal

 
  
 
RENEWAL TO DREAM AGAIN

I am not a couch
     to simply be recovered,
or an old tire
     to just be retreaded.

I have earned the right
     and endured the pain.
I deserve more than drugs
     and a pat on the head.

I want to feel alive.
     Awaken to my dreams.
I want a renewal.
     I want a new me.

A me I decided who was.
     A me who I can love and
who loves the me I created.
     A new me to dream again.

by Ed Cooper, December 17, 2013, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

ORDINARY DAYS by Patrica Cooper

Waking up and thinking
Oh no, another ordinary day
Then the extraordinary happens
Every pore begins to exude the specific
All air is purer and
All things become exquisite
Waking up and thinking
Oh no, another ordinary day
Then it happens and everything
Everything
Becomes agony
Every breath too heavy a labor
Every movement surely impossible to make
It goes on…Forever
Then dreaming
Oh, just to have an ordinary day





© Patrica Cooper
December 2012


Ungrateful Child by Patty Cooper

Ungrateful child was what she called my sister
Always unwanted
Unloved
Knowing it, but unable to rectify

Ungrateful child a problem
Much reminded
Unwanted by the world she felt
Acted on it

Always too much
Never enough
Unable to be reassured
She believed the lies

Prove being bad
Self-destruction
Became habit
Then life

Ungrateful child
Needed love
Needed nurture
Needed more

She wasn’t an ungrateful child
Perfect baby
Precious toddler
Precocious teen

Beautiful young woman

Alcoholic
Drug addict
Divorced
Unloved

Mother not child was ungrateful

Caused it
Not seeing
Beautiful daughter
Never had a chance

Unfit mother
Needed to have a license
To procure such a treasure
Damn shame


©by Patty Cooper, October 18., 2013, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

TRY TO STAY ANOTHER MOMENT FOR ME!

(IN HONOR OF ALL SURVIVORS)


Try to stay another moment
     because you may find
          during this season
               a reason to be.

I know the pain is tearing
     at your most tender self
          and hope seems a joke
               because of the death yoke.

You may not see the reason
     but there is a why
          to your being
               if the only why is me.

You do for me what no one
     before you has ever done
          so before you go on          
               Try to stay another moment for me!

You may find to your surprise
     That what you did for me in that moment
          Turns into mountains climbed
               For seasons to come. 

Try to stay another moment for me
     and a real reason to be will come for thee.
     
           
© by Ed Cooper, December 4, 2013, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

THE REAL MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

  • "In my early professionals years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?

    I have gradually come to one negative conclusion about the good life. It seems to me that the good life is not any fixed state. It is not, in my estimation, a state of virtue, or contentment, or nirvana, or happiness. It is not a condition in which the individual is adjusted or fulfilled or actualized. To use psychological terms, it is not a state of drive-reduction, or tension-reduction, or homeostasis.

    The good life is a process, not a state of being.

    It is a direction not a destination." --From On Becoming a Person, 1961
Carl Rogers did not have all the answers, but he certainly had a great start to understanding what it takes to heal from the pain of a disrupted life.  I don't care if you use the term mental illness or emotional distress or spiritual crisis, but I do care deeply how people are interacted with when they ask for help.

The mental health system in North Carolina and many other states keep trying to redo the system by rearranging the players without ever changing anything but the words on the papers that describe the system.  It is still system- centered services being delivered by the same groups heavily overloaded with professionals.

If the real goal is to facilitate a person's integration into the community of their choosing and to the degree they decide, why does it take an agency loaded with professionals to get this done?  The real fact is few of them know how to help a person connect to the community.  What they know how to do best is keep a person dependent on their drugs, treatment teams and case management.

People who have had to transition from a hospital to the community and get work with long gaps in their work history and bad social skills may be able to help someone else make the transition.  However, don't make the mistake that just being a peer will make a person good at helping others.

I just wish the funding sources like Medicaid and the states would finally realize that their dollars are not always best spent buying the time of mental health professionals, but rather they should be buying the time of the real professionals.  People who have survived the hospital and the transition.