Wednesday, April 30, 2014

CAN YOU CREATE A TREE?


Can you create a tree?

Your need to control me
Means I will never be free.

If I were free to be me,
I could soar into the sky
And fly beyond the stigma
Of being labeled
Like a can of alphabet soup
On a grocery store shelf.

But a self is hard to find
When a label
Is how you are defined.
Without a self
You cannot
Soar into the sky
To be yourself and free.

How did those
Who cannot create a tree
Or even a worm
Ever get the notion or power
To label other people
With terms that for many
Become a life sentence without parole,
And for others a death sentence
By their own hands
Or early because people with labels
Don’t live as long
As free citizens of this nation do?

If you cannot create a tree
Then leave us free
Because we will find our way
On a path we decide
By the light provided by the Divine
Who can create a tree,
And we will rest by the creek
Where the rushing water
Looks like dancing diamonds
When the sun shines on it.

If you cannot create a tree
Then you did not make the sun
That turns the creek
Into a place of peace
So leave us ALL
Free like me.


© Ed Cooper, 4/30/2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved


Saturday, April 26, 2014

THE EYES OF AN OWL and the HOWL of the WIND


The eyes of an owl
and the howl of the wind
during a stormy night
can turn my mind
from cheery to cold.

I am not as bold
as I grow old,
but nor do I care
if the end is near.
Ready to die am I.

My life has been
worth little  
my family tells
as they exchange gifts
to honor their god.

It may be true
I don’t do well
here on earth.
Tomorrow I will be well
instead of in hell.

Don’t cry for me when I die
just try to think
of the Friend with His gift
waiting beyond any storm
for the me of little worth.

My mind
will no longer be cold
or the night stormy
and finally my family can tell
a good story about me.

© Ed Cooper, 4/26/14, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

THE DECEPTION of REPRESENTATION



There have been discussions going on all over this country (U.S.) by persons with lived experience about how best to respond to what is commonly referred to as Murphy’s bill.  The proper name is “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” put forward by Representative Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican who’s Congress’s only psychologist.

Some of our nation’s most well known advocates from the movement of persons with lived experience are those in the forefront of these discussions, but all are not in agreement on how to proceed.   I dare say that most people with a psychiatric label in this country are not aware of this bill and the efforts taking place to get it through and the counter efforts to stop it.

I am not sure I understand what the biggest issues are.  I know the bill is supposed to refocus the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) and to overhaul The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS).

Herein is the problem with a republic.  First let me give you a definition for the type of government in this country.  We are a republic which is “A form of government in which power is explicitly vested in the people, who in turn exercise their power through elected representatives. Today, the terms republic and democracy are virtually interchangeable, but historically the two differed. Democracy implied direct rule by the people, all of whom were equal, whereas republic implied a system of government in which the will of the people was mediated by representatives, who might be wiser and better educated than the average person. In the early American republic, for example, the requirement that voters own property and the establishment of institutions such as the Electoral College were intended to cushion the government from the direct expression of the popular will.” The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved April 24, 2014, from Dictionary.com website

What is the problem?  Republic and democracy are not synonyms.  Rep. Tim Murphy did not go through his district in Pennsylvania and ask the opinion of the majority of persons with a psychiatric label what they thought should be in the law and then write the law based on a participatory process where the main input came from the people most impacted by the law.  He did not use anything that remotely looks like participatory democracy to come up with a law.  The only thing he did right was to give it a wonderful sounding name.
The deception of representation runs so deep in our country that most of us still say we have a democracy.  If democracy means the more money you have the greater voice you have, then keep telling yourself you live in a democracy.  I know I don’t.  I have been locked away against my will without having committed a crime which should never happen to a person living in a democracy.  This bill probably will not make it, but they already have enough laws on the books.  People with a psychiatric label already have lost many of their human rights in the United States.  Rep. Murphy just wants to take more.  He can try because we don’t live in a democracy.   We are being deceived by representative government controlled by how much money a person can contribute to a campaign.  Too harsh?  Then try being locked up for a few months in the nearest state hospital and then give your opinion.

© Ed Cooper, 4/24/14, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TO HONOR EARTH DAY 2014 WHICH IS TODAY

THE HAWK DOESN'T RECOGNIZE ME

by Ed Cooper




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
    All rights reserved 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

IF YOU HAD SEEN THE EMPTY TOMB?


If you had seen
The empty tomb
That Sunday morn
Would you have told
The Story that saves
Our sinner soul,
Or out of fear
Of being labeled delusional
Would you have
Hidden the truth
That can make us all free
From the darkness of death?

The women who saw
Our risen Lord that morn
Was not afraid to speak
Of what they had seen
Even to the men
Who did not believe them.
Their fearlessness should
Be an example to all of us,
And make our voices ring
With the story
As if we had seen
The empty tomb.



© Ed Cooper, 4/20/2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved


Friday, April 18, 2014

IN THE ARMS OF THE SHEPHERD: a poem by ed

hope will never come
            while you are still in your bed
                                 with a dead soul
hope springs from doing
            even when your body
                        is too heavy
                                    for your legs
                                                to carry

to defeat the bed
            is like overcoming death
                        because hope only comes
                                    if one decides
                                                to live
is better
                                                                        than to die

hope cannot be a gift
            given by others
                        you must find it
                                    within the depression
                                                            darkness
                                                                        and debris
                  of your own black hole

no self-pity allowed on this ship
            The Shepherd has already
paid your way 
        to the streets
            paved with gold
                        where hope and peace abound

so get up
            get going
                        let hope
                                    carry you into
                                                your dreams of tomorrow

because one day
               your pay
                        will be
                                eternal rest
                                                in the arms of The Shepherd.  


© ed cooper, 4/18/14, stoney creek, tennessee 
    all rights reserved



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MENTAL HEALTH or MENTAL ILLNESS SYSTEM

U. S. Senator Durbin seems to think we are not ready for the long term mental health ramifications of multiple wars coming one on top of another giving troops no break to reset. 

“The Army’s mental health caseload has doubled since 2007, and Sen. Dick Durbin says the United States is not ‘up to that challenge’ that ‘may be with us for some time.’ ‘What we are learning,’ Durbin, D-Ill., said in an interview, ‘is that the cost of war goes way beyond the end of conflict.’”

His statement may seem obvious, but if it is it is also clear that this obvious observation did not matter to the people that sent our military into these wars.  I am not making a judgment about the validity or morality of the wars, but I am clearly saying that our leaders in both political parties did not take seriously their duty to prepare for the aftermath of their vote to go into these wars.  I will also say that they still are not.

We talk about the mental health system within the military and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The problem here folks is that we do not have a mental health system in either one.  Both the military and the VA have a mental illness system based on the latest labeling manual DSM-5.  There is a vast difference between health and illness.

The World Health Organization defines it like this: “Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”  It sounds fairly good, but look closely because it leaves out the person defining their well-being, productivity and their desired place in the community. I don’t consider their definition very person-centered.

The truth is we are much better at defining the faults we think we see in others than articulating what mental health would look like and how to reach it.  We are even less likely to rid ourselves of our need to fix others and to try to make everyone conform to a norm.  In an atmosphere made up of fixers and those who demand conformity, I doubt we will ever come up with a good way to facilitate “mental health” in persons we have sent off to do our fighting for us.  For that matter I don’t think we will ever come up with a “mental health system” for anyone in this country.  We will continue only to have mental illness systems.

To find mental health you will have to do it despite the system and the label it gives you by finding in yourself and your own support system the strength to build healthy habits and learn again to look with wonder in the mirror and at the beauty of creation surrounding us.

© Ed Cooper, 4/15/14, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

    All rights reserved 
   

Friday, April 11, 2014

LET SELF SOAR: poem by ed



Red Tail Hawk


You cannot see over the hill
Til you can look deep within
And learn to love the one
You see buried in the debris.

Our minds create doors
To escape this conflict filled world,
But our souls are the home
Of our dreams of what’s to come.

It may be dark with some debris
Left from past disasters of the mind,
But new light for a soul can be found
Even in the sound of a mountain stream.

Do not let the debris be the end
Of your look within
Because somewhere inside yourself
Is the only you that really counts.

Find the self that you are
And let that self soar
On your hopes and dreams.
Do not let self die on the debris.


© Ed Cooper, 4/11/14, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

    All rights reserved


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

SELF-PROMOTION or PROMOTION of SELF

Self-promotion is far more common than is promoting the development of our self or helping others to grow their self. We see examples of self-promotion all around us each day. People seldom do a good deed that they don't make sure everyone knows about. People want their names in the paper or on the evening news telling about their accomplishments. We all want to be recognized by our peers and by the society we live in.



Carl Rogers (January 8, 1902 – February 4, 1987) had his own unique approach to psychology and human development which was called the person-centered approach. His theories touched therapy with client-centered therapy and education with student-centered learning. He received many awards, but to me his most lasting achievement was his concept of self.

Rogers believed that people must be fully honest with themselves. Rogers' conception of the self was a triangle. The three sides of the triangle as he saw it were composed of the Perceived Self (how a person sees self & and how others see them), the Real Self (how person really is) and the Ideal Self (how person would like to be). In Rogers' triangle the ideal serves as the base of the triangle which supports the two other elements of the self. Rogers thought the ideal self is at the core from which all else is built. In other words, a person's dreams of what they want to become is the building block of their recovery journey. How many times have you been told or heard someone told that their dream was simply unrealistic? I believe with all my heart that Rodgers would send that mental health worker to the house to dream about were they wanted to work next.

It is not a matter of whether Rogers was totally right or just partially right. His contribution was to make what the person perceived, was and dreamed about being important. He spent his life making person-centered something that could be defended and practiced. The tragedy is that it is mostly just words on paper in a mental health system with too much power to oppress the people they are serving.

I had the privilege of attending the 38th Facilitator Training Course in Psychological Counseling at the Elizabeth H. Faulk Foundation, Inc.'s Center for Group Counseling in Boca Raton, FL in 1995. It was a course based on the concepts of Carl Rodgers.

This world would change for the better almost over night if we could stop self-promoting and start promoting self in ourselves and others.


© Ed Cooper, 4/9/2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved




Sunday, April 06, 2014

IS SPIRITUAL JUST A SONG TO YOU?



When I started writing about persons with lived experience in 1988, I used the term bio-psycho-social-spiritual to describe a human being.  At that time, I had not seen the word in print anywhere although biopsychosocial was being used by some at the time.  It has become clear to me since that time that spiritual has such an array of meanings that it is almost a useless word.  It can mean anything from authentic folk spirituals to something that is not corporeal. However, if I give spiritual a meaning of incorporeal I really have not improved the matter much because incorporeal can mean having no material existence but existing by reason of its annexation of something material such as an easement or copyright.  So what did I mean when I used the word spiritual?

I did not mean a type of religious song originating among Black slaves in the American south.  I did not mean something simply related to the church or what it considers sacred. I was not referring to spiritualism or the paranormal.  I was speaking of the soul or spirit of a person distinguished from their physical nature that is eternal and can communicate directly with the Creator.

Defining spiritual in the way I do means that many people in the mental health field do not agree with the way I describe a human being.  It is my contention that as long as they deny the fact we have an eternal soul then they can’t possibly come up with a holistic treatment approach.  Until they see the whole, they cannot walk beside the whole on a recovery path.

The day may never come that the mental health system sees us as the Creator sees us, but we can be assured that our Creator will never turn away.  We will always be whole to the One who created us because we were redeemed by the Creator and made whole.

© Ed Cooper, April 6, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

    All rights reserved     

Friday, April 04, 2014

INVOLUNTARY OUTPATIENT, FORCED or COERCIVE TREATMENT

With another shooting at Fort Hood, bills in Congress, and hearings in the United Nations, the subject of involuntary outpatient treatment, forced treatment and human rights are all subjects being discussed in ever widening circles.  I would add coercive treatment to the list because I see little difference between a lot of the methods used in the mental health system and forced treatment.  If a person has few choices and little correct information, then the treatment they receive might as well be involuntary. 

Only a person with a wide array of choices and who is well educated about those choices and their effects and who is in an environment that supports participatory decision making can make a voluntary decision about their treatment.   I have been receiving services since 1964 and I have yet to see such an environment other than on paper.  I have seen great words about such a program or place, but never the reality of such a program or place.

When I was first involved with the new mental health court in Broward County, FL in 1997, I thought it was going to be a court of “justice” for folks with a psychiatric label who found themselves in the system for minor offenses.  As it turns out, mental health courts across this country have a track record of making people with a psychiatric label serve longer sentences under their jurisdiction than the person would have served in jail for their crime all in the name of “what is in the best interest of the person.”

There is no disputing that the state has assumed the role of parent for those of us they give a psychiatric label to and that means we lose many of our human rights anytime they want to assert their parental rights.  To me it is simple to see the utter nonsense and mockery of our constitution to be able to take away a fellow citizen’s human, civil and constitutional rights on the word of another citizen based on a pseudoscience or “in the best interest of the person” argument.  Simply put, in the absence of a crime there should be no intrusion by the state trying to “fix” something no one has yet even been able to define with any scientific clarity. 

The only thing we know for certain is that psychiatry is not a hard science and that the “fix-it syndrome” is a bad disease for the state to have towards its own people.

© Ed Cooper, April 4, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved 

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