Monday, March 31, 2014

APPALACHIA & ZIMBABWE: IF YOU CARE



Link :   Health Debate in Kentucky Is NOT Healthy



Link:    NATIONAL COUNTY HEALTH RANKINGS & STATS



Link:    Zimbabwe in Pain




MY DREAM WORLD!


Tears
Are the only
Response
I know
Because being heard
Is a reality
Only in
MY DREAM WORLD!


© Ed Cooper, March 31, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved

Contact Author Directly















Saturday, March 29, 2014

PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANS MAKE FOLKS MAD


My father loved the title of Tony Campolo’s 1984 book It’s Friday But Sunday’s Comin’.  He had a copy of the book, but I am not sure if he ever read all of it or just liked the title. What I am certain of is that my father would never have agreed with what is now Tony Campolo’s identifying work. Lester Cooper (1919- 1989) if he were alive today, would not become a card carrying member the Red Letter Christian movement of which Tony Campolo is one of the founders.  What is it about progressive Christians that make folks mad?

First, we don’t like to hear the truth spoken so plainly about ourselves.  If it is spoken about others we get up and applaud, but if it is about us we tend to fume inside and get furious at the messenger.  When Jesus was here on earth, he spoke the truth and made the leaders of Jerusalem so mad that they nailed Him to a cross. Folks have a strong reaction to someone saying, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10: 21 ESV)

My father would not have been at odds with this part.  He stayed in Kentucky as an educator making much less than he could have if he had moved to another state.  In 1959, he gave that up to start traveling from church to church raising money to go to Africa as a missionary.  He sold our home in Kentucky and in the fall of 1960 part of our family sailed out of New York City for Cape Town, South Africa on our way to Mashoko Mission in Zimbabwe.  He had done what Jesus said do as far as he was concerned.  At first glance, you would not think daddy or any other bible believing Christian would have a problem with the Red Letter Christian movement.  After all, isn't it just based on the words of Jesus?

"When asked about party affiliation, the Red-Letter Christian is prone to answer, 'Please name the issue.' " But Campolo also says RLCs are upset about "gay-bashing, anti-feminism, anti-environmentalism, pro-war, pro-gun, and Religious Right politics." These items sound a lot like talking points from a James Carville memo.”  (Stan Guthie in the October issue of Christianity Today)

The problem is not the words of Jesus, but rather the way they get interpreted and used to choose sides in the political arena.  I am not sure the purpose of Jesus’ ministry was a political one.  In fact, I think He got in trouble with His followers for not being political.

The truth is for the most part the church and the RLC movement are neither one very close to the example set by Jesus, but He said, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7: 14 ESV)  That means we should not expect to find many examples around us of folks on the path to life eternal.  That is one of the red letter hard truths no one likes to hear.  Folks would rather believe in universal salvation.

I don’t have answers.  I have questions.  Like, will we ever stop complaining about each other and start trying to help all of us reach our dreams?  I really don’t care what your stand on the Red Letter Christian movement is or whether you are a conservative or a liberal.  It is none of my business what you believe about God, politics or sex.  I consider it my business how we treat each other and how we treat our home the earth.

Does that make me a liberal or a conservative?  Does that mean anything about my politics or religion?  The only relationship is to the degree my belief system has been informed by my experiences within both political and religious circles.  I don’t think they have had as great an impact on my belief in human rights as the mental health system has and the coal industry has had on my thoughts around environmental issues.

In Wolfe County, KY churches abound and government programs are a plenty, but the percentage of the population potentially exposed to water exceeding a violation limit was 100% during the past year and the number of children in poverty was 50%.  http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/
It does not seem to matter if the government or the church is in a place the people can still be suffering beyond what most people can even imagine. My mother was born in the county and my father in the adjoining county.

It is Friday and Sunday is coming and somebody better wake up because the narrow gate is closing and the path is getting harder to walk.


© Ed Cooper, March 28, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved




Thursday, March 27, 2014

YOUR REALITY IS NOT MINE: A Poem



Your reality is not mine.
I will never succumb
to the seduction of madness
the world you live in
uses to enslave the masses.

I cannot be educated
or trained
or fixed
or abused
enough to buy into
the reality of your torture
of the least among you.

No use of psychiatric labels
or mental health laws
that violates human rights
can turn my soul
dark enough to join
a band of barbarians
as they use their power
to push more people
into poverty and despair.

I guess I will remain
an outsider
and keep my label
given to me
by psychiatry
because I also have
a label given to me
by the One who hung
on the cross.


© Ed Cooper, March 27, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wishful Thinking


Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945, called wishful thinking America’s “besetting sin.” After her husband's death in 1945, she continued to be an internationally prominent author, speaker, politician, and activist for the New Deal coalition. She worked to enhance the status of working women, although she opposed the Equal Rights Amendment because she believed it would adversely affect women. She was also one of the founders of Freedom House.

The Mission Statement of Freedom House has these words in it, "Freedom House is an independent organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world. Freedom is possible only in democratic political systems in which the governments are accountable to their own people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, belief and respect for the rights of minorities and women are guaranteed."

"Freedom ultimately depends on the actions of committed and courageous men and women. We support nonviolent civic initiatives in societies where freedom is denied or under threat and we stand in opposition to ideas and forces that challenge the right of all people to be free. Freedom House functions as a catalyst for freedom, democracy, and the rule of law through its analysis, advocacy, and action."

So was she herself engaging in wishful thinking? Did God when He created us engage in wishful thinking? Is wishful thinking bad or just another name for hope?
Wishful thinking has a dream like or unrealistic quality to it. Hope can be based on wishful thinking or it can be based on a solid foundation. I am speaking about being born again to a living hope.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (English Standard Version)
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

We do not have to depend on ourselves for our hope or on wishful thinking. For those of us with a disability and our families that is more than mere words. It is comfort to a hurting and shattered soul. It brings peace, which means we can begin to dream again. Not just of the bye and bye, but of tomorrow. A peace that means the rising sun no longer is something to dread, but rather something that just might if we are lucky bring some small joy.

©Ed Cooper, 2009
   All rights reserved

Contact Author Directly

Friday, March 21, 2014

WHO ARE THE CRAZY ONES HERE?

They change the paperwork
and the people at the top,
but I am still alone
without any help at all.
They hold press conferences
telling everyone how good
things will be now
for those of us
with a psychiatric label,
but ask us
and we will tell you
things are getting worse.
Less money for services
cannot mean anything
but poorer services
no matter if they
change the paperwork
and people at the top.
They may fool the public
with their evil ploy,
but even with a psychiatric label
we know you cannot
do more with less.
What a joke they are
and they label us.
Who are the crazy ones here?

© Ed Cooper, March 21, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved




This poem is dedicated to the states of North Carolina and Florida and all other states who are trying to use the same ruse of less money but better services by reorganizing and redoing the paperwork.  Another identifying con is allowing persons with lived experience token participation in the decision making process and claiming a full participatory process.  They also have failed to implement recovery or person-centered services even though they claim to have done both. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

OUR PRIVATE HELL



For many years before his death in 2011, Reynolds Price had lived as a paraplegic after receiving radiation treatment for a spinal tumor, about which he wrote in A Whole New Life.

Few writers have made as dramatic an entrance on the American literary stage as Mr. Price, who published his first novel, A Long and Happy Life,  in 1962 to near-universal acclaim for its pungent Southern dialogue, highly wrought prose style and vivid evocation of rural Southern life.

When Reynolds Price first received the letter offering him a teaching job at Duke, it warned that the position was a three-year appointment with no chance of being extended. “That seemed a little discouraging, but I thought, ‘Well, three years is three years,” Price said. During those three years, he wrote his first novel and was asked to stay on.

In his book Roxanna Slade is the following paragraph from the viewpoint of his main character Roxanna, “Whatever you believed, whoever you were in the 1940’s where I lived, medical science had no cure for you-just the eventually exasperated faces of however many doctors you saw. Your church had very little more to offer except to say ‘Most everybody will be bad off as you before they die.’ They also had a postscript ‘Don’t kill yourself. You’ll go straight to Hell’-and all that when you were sitting by the absolute instant in a private Hell you’d gladly have swapped for Satan’s worst grill.”

For anybody who has ever gone through a deep depression those words written by Reynolds have a powerful ring of truth to them. Being a person with a diagnosis of a bipolar disorder I have experienced some extreme lows when getting out of bed or off the couch was more than I could do. Back in the 60’s when my illness began to manifest itself my family was blamed for raising such an uncontrollable child. Later as I grew older the blame shifted to me and I was blamed for being a lazy and undisciplined person.

One never fully recovers from the blame and shame directed at them for an illness they did not ask for nor can they help having. I still fight to this very day to see myself as fully human and a true person in my own right.

The church I grew up in and that my parents were missionaries in was little help in this struggle for self. The sexual abuse I endured as a child further eroded any concept of self I may have had. While the meds I take may to some degree help control the bipolar disorder I have, the struggle for self cannot be found in a bottle of pills.

This struggle is a spiritual journey which is why it is so important that we be seen as bio-psycho-social-spiritual beings and not simply as a diagnosis. It is why it is so important that the faith communities reach out to those of us who have been burned to our very soul by the fire of rejection, dismissal and ignorance about us.

The first thing everyone needs to remember is that every disabled person is first and foremost a person.  Treating us any different than that only increases our private hell. You can help lift the burdens if you are willing to walk along beside us. Not trying to lead. Not trying to push. Simply being there.  Simply saying by your presence that you think we are precious. With time we will begin to see ourselves as precious too and our private hell will slowly melt away as snow does when spring dawns.

© Ed Cooper, March 19, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved

    (Rewritten from a 2/11/2008 blog)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

IGNORE YOUR DREAMS


Have you ever had
A dream that would
Not stop coming?
A voice keeps saying
In my sleep
Your company
Is scarring My creation
And your workers
Are worse off because of your
Darkened soul of greed.

I awake in sweat soaked sheets,
Afraid of the Voice of my dreams,
But I do not change
Because my company is my life.
The Person in my dreams
Does not understand
The great democratic capitalistic country
We are privileged to live in.
You can become a rich man
In this country
If you will only
Ignore Your Dreams.


© Ed Cooper, March 15, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I CANNOT STOP BEING MENTALLY ILL

I can’t stop being mentally ill.  I don’t mean that I don’t have any hope of reaching some degree of recovery as defined by me.  I mean, that if I stop identifying myself as mentally ill, then who would I be?

I was given a label when I was fifteen years old.  The Army kept me locked away in a mental ward eight months before they gave me my honorable discharge.  I had either lost or been denied more different jobs before 1988 than most people ever hold.  Most of my family, the military, society, employers, mental health professionals and me have all agreed I am a person with a mental illness for more than fifty years.

In 1988 I combined my label with my childhood as a missionary’s kid (mk) and started Christian Friends of the Mentally Ill in Asheville, NC.  The photo below shows a page out of a book put together by a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA which attempted to list all the church or Para-church organizations working with persons with a psychiatric label in 1989.



I am an ordained minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ, but I have a psychiatric label.

I am a writer with over a hundred articles published, two books published and a successful blog, but I have a psychiatric label.

I was one of the leading experts in the country on retreading tires and wrote for two different journals on the subject, but I have a psychiatric label.

I have been told I am a good speaker/preacher/teacher and have spoken at national conferences, but I have a psychiatric label.

I have taken psych medications until now I have kidney disease with the official cause being lithium, but I have a psychiatric label.

I now struggle with my label.  What does my bipolar diagnosis mean?  What does my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder mean?  What does my Dissociate Identity Disorder mean?  

The last we can just forget.  Most people don’t even believe it is real.  Stress after trauma sure, but get over it.  Bipolar?  There is no scientific proof for it. Just ask most of the advocates in the lived experience movement and they will explain to you that it is just a made up label by psychiatry.  That means I don’t have to worry about that one anymore.

What have I been doing all these years?  Trying to survive with no place I fit in.  I am not a card carrying member of the lived experience folks who say there is no scientific proof for anything psychiatry is doing and there never will be.  I agree they are on thin ice now with much that they do and call science.  I agree that any use of force to treat a person against their will is a human rights crime. I disagree the state has the right to say I cannot end my life because they don’t own me.  On many points I disagree with the mental health system to the point I wish it was de-funded, but that does not mean that in the future science will learn something factual about the relationship between our biological brains and our minds.

Bio-psycho-social-spiritual which I started using in 1988 has a real meaning to me.  I can’t prove all the relationships, but I am not going to make flat statements ruling out relationships when I know our knowledge base has changed greatly over the years.  People making definitive statements today whether they are mental health professionals or advocates or other interested parties may eventual be proven wrong.  To pronounce a certainty today may mean you have to renounce yourself tomorrow.


I can stop being mentally ill when the “people” inside me stop living.  I can stop being mentally ill when the bed covers are all in place each morning and the night terrors (nightmares) have stopped.  I can stop being mentally ill when I no longer cycle from hell to heaven.  I can call it by another name if it makes some advocates feel better, but I will remain feeling the same.  I can’t stop being me to fit in anywhere.  One size does not fit all.  I don’t fit anywhere.  There are too many of me. We can’t be anything but labeled. 

©Ed Cooper, March 12, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 09, 2014

I AM NOT AN ORGANIZER

Starting in the early nineties, I spent a little over a dozen years in the Fort Lauderdale area of south Florida.  Except for a few times all my endeavors were local.  I did serve as Co-Chair of the Religious Outreach Network of NAMI along with Duane Glasscock before NAMI decided to disband it.  Under the leadership of Dr. Gunnar Christiansen, NAMI Faithnet brought spirituality and faith communities back on the national agenda of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Before leaving North Carolina to move to south Florida I participated in the process led by Connie Miller, Director of Community Support Programs for NH/DD/SAS, to make a recommendation for allocations of funds to an advocacy group to establish a statewide consumer group.  The Consumer’s Steering Committee recommended that the Division fund the proposal submitted by the North Carolina Alliance for the Mentally Ill (now NAMI-NC). [from a letter to John Baggett from Connie Miller dated March 2, 1989.]

While in south Florida I did help obtain funds for three drop-in centers among other programs, but I did not do any real organizing.  I also did not do anything to promote my “brand” in the state of Florida or nationally.

Recognizing how poorly I had done getting folks to respond to a despicable description and portrayal of people with a psychiatric label on CBS Channel 11 here in the Tri-Cities, I had to look in the mirror and ask why?  It may not be entirely my fault, but when I looked in the mirror I did not see an organizer.  My wife has roots in organizing, but I have more roots in antagonizing than organizing. So I got down one of her books by Si Kahn.  I started rereading it.  I remember what I had read before.  Quick flash folks, you need more than a book by Si Kahn.

There is no one who cares more deeply than I do how we are portrayed in the news media, but I am not the one who can organize the campaign to do anything about it.  For one thing, I am too damn mad to accomplish anything as rational as organizing anything.  I boil when they portray us as needing to be locked away.

I wish I had back the days and months they held me behind locked doors as if I were an animal to be caged in a science lab for study which they watched and wrote notes on.  I have read some of those notes and been asked questions about other things written in them and I do not have a clue who they are talking about.  So yes, when Channel 11, “News Channel in Your Corner” came out swinging at us, I wanted to swing back.  The truth is someone else will have to organize the swing.

© Ed Cooper, March 9, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

    All Rights Reserved        

Friday, March 07, 2014

Once You Have Found ME: A POEM

i sought the church
     while i fought
          fought the fall.


i raved at the hypocrisy
     the deceit
     the lack of dedication
i thought i saw
     in church going people.


i fell deeper
     into depression.
the hope of
     finding peace
          was gone. 


one night i prayed
     show me your church
          i need your people.


the answer came
     let my Son light the way
          you will find peace and others
once you have found ME.

© by Ed Cooper, March 7, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All Rights Reserved
    (previous version published in Christian-graphic around 1978)

Comment Directly To Author
          


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

URGENT PLEASE RESPOND TO WJHL NEWS SEGMENT!

Please view this segment of a local news broadcast and please respond to the station.  I have posted my letter to the station general manger below.



Ed Cooper, Director
Project Dream Again
P.O. Box 2345
Elizabethton, TN 37644-2345
828-584-3011(cell)

Dan Cates, General Manager
WJHL-TV
338 E. Main Street
Johnson City, TN 37601

March 4, 2014

Dear Mr. Cates:

This communication is in regards to a segment of the 6 pm newscast on 3/3/2014 called “mental health facilities give patients piece of mind” by Anna Zook. As a person with lived experienced (meaning I have been given a psychiatric diagnosis), I could not have been more disappointed and outraged with this segment.  Your anchor introduced the segment by reminding the listeners of the tragedy that took place in the family of Virginia State Senator Deeds and then the piece went on to introduce us to a family member who wished she did not have to live with one of us and a person who seemed to enjoy going to the mental hospital.  None of these are in anyway typical of the majority of family members or of those who have a psychiatric diagnosis.  You all could not have done a poorer job of portraying us and our families.

“Marlene Bailey, the Director of Behavioral Programs at Woodridge says providing a safe haven is their top priority. “Safety is one of our biggest goals. Safety for the patient, safety for the community, and safety for the family".

The above quote is simply demeaning. Ms. Bailey may think that is their top priority, but in fact recovery should be the top priority at Woodridge.  You can find what I wrote about recovery before I saw this segment at http://projectdreamagain.blogspot.com/
You can read a longer piece on the subject here.
It defines what it calls abuses of recovery and then offers some suggestions.
My point here is that maybe if your news team had done any research at all this one sided shameful picture of persons with mental illness labels and their families would not have been presented as people the community and family needed to be protected from.

Quote from this webpage
People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime (Appleby, et al., 2001). Researchers at North Carolina State University and Duke University found that people with severe mental illnesses—schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis—are 2 ½ times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the general population (Hiday, et al., 1999).
People with mental illnesses can and do recover. People with mental illnesses can recover or manage their conditions and go on to lead happy, healthy, productive lives. They contribute to society and make the world a better place. People can often benefit from medication, rehabilitation, talk therapy, self help or a combination of these. One of the most important factors in recovery is the understanding and acceptance of family and friends.
“Most people who suffer from a mental disorder are not violent — there is no need to fear them. Embrace them for who they are — normal human beings experiencing a difficult time, who need your open mind, caring attitude, and helpful support (Grohol, 1998).”

For more information on how to address discrimination and social exclusion, contact the SAMHSA Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity, and Social Inclusion Associated with Mental Health (ADS Center), a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services at http://promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov, e-mail promoteacceptance@samhsa.hhs.gov, or call 800-540-0320

The point here is we should fear you more than you should fear us.  May is National Mental Health Month. I am asking you to consider doing an extended segment in which people like myself can present the other side.

I have been an advocate since 1988 and a recipient of mental health services since 1964.  I am a 100% service connected disabled veteran of which there are many in your viewing area that I am sure did not appreciate the segment.

A number of different viewpoints would at least give your viewers a chance to decide for themselves.  I hope someone at your station takes the time to look at the information I have provided and at least think about doing another segment with more length and more than one viewpoint.


Sincerely,


Ed Cooper

Monday, March 03, 2014

YOU CANNOT DEFINE MY RECOVERY

I have read many definitions of recovery.  The truth I wish people understood is that another person no matter how well trained in mental health cannot define my recovery.  There are no set of benchmarks or goals that I should have to attain in order for me to say I have recovered.  Recovery should be so personal that only the person decides the direction. When the destination has been reached, if it ever is reached, should be proclaimed by the person not by the mental health system because the time limit for the person’s funding has run out.  The amount and kind of help the person gets should be solely up to the person because any force or coercion only impedes the progress to regaining full personhood.

You may think you know of many situations were intervening is a good idea, but unless a person has committed a crime the state and other people should wait until the person asks for their help.  By crime I mean an act that is considered a crime by anyone’s standards.  I don’t mean made-up crimes just to be able to lock people away that others think are crazy.  We should by now be way past that stage in our development as a society.  We should have learned better ways of dealing with those of us that society has labeled as mentally ill.  It says more about our society that we still think abusing hurting people is morally right than it says about the people we call sick.  In fact, it takes a sick society to do such a thing.

From the time I came in contact with the mental health system in 1964 until the present, the system’s dominant response to me has been coercive.  I have been locked away against my wishes on a number of occasions and when I go to my psychiatrist I cannot answer her questions honestly because of the threat of being locked away again.  I personally don’t believe the mentally health system in this country will ever be person-centered or oriented towards personal recovery.  It will remain driven by funding considerations, public perceptions of persons with psychiatric labels, and a bias towards bio-medical psychiatry.

© Ed Cooper, March 3, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All Rights Reserved

This article is worth a careful reading. It defines what it calls abuses of recovery and then offers some suggestions.




Saturday, March 01, 2014

THIS BUSINESS OF FORGIVENESS


This business of forgiveness
is a lucrative lunacy
because living
without forgiving
has produced an industry
of books
therapists
drugs
all with a cure
or cover up.

Why not just try
pretending?
Just pretend
you have forgiven
and maybe
if you do it
long enough
it will become
a reality.
Don’t worry
about  a knowing God
because people say
everyone is forgiven
in the end.

But wait,
what if God
is really going
to have a Judgment Day?
Do you want
this business of forgiveness
to be pretend?
God might just say
“I was joking when I said my Son would atone for all your sins.”
Are you sure
you want
to take the risk?

So what about
this business of forgiveness?
Your help
will not come
from books
therapists or gurus
drugs whether legal or illegal.
You can only learn about forgiveness
from the Master of forgiveness
at the foot of the cross.
This business of forgiveness
is a business
money cannot buy
only a heart already bought
can learn to turn
from being wrought
to love and forgiveness.
Peace can come,
but only because
the price has been paid.

© Ed Cooper, February 28, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All Rights Reserved

    Published by Dream Again Press