Wednesday, October 29, 2014

BEING CRAZY WAS EASY COMPARED TO DISEASE


The pain of growing old is more than I expected.  In fact, I never expected to reach my present age of sixty-five.  I made my first suicide attempt when I was in the second grade although no one in the family realized it was one.  When I ran in front of Dad’s car, they thought I was doing it to stop him so I could get my school books that I had left in the car.  I had left my school books in the car because I did not think I would ever need them again.  I thought I would be dead before school ever started that day.

This is not about how many attempts I have made over the years or how close I have come to getting it done.  It is not even about how I have managed to stay alive.  This blog entry is about the surprise of finding out how different it is when your body starts betraying you than when your mind has betrayed you all your life.

I have come to terms with my craziness and psychiatric labels even though I think the labels have almost no real meaning in relationship to my mental and emotional suffering, but I have not been able to cope very well with my failing body.  My kidneys, vascular system, liver and other physical malfunctions have been more destructive to my soul than my craziness. (If you are offended by the word crazy, I apologize to you but not for using it.  Using the technical terms of the psychiatric world or terms like “lived experience” from the other side does not rest well with me most times.  I do not fit in either world.)

Being crazy was easy compared to having a diagnosable disease.  I may never learn to live easily with what comes natural with growing older.  When I was manic or even disassociating, I either was unaware of my state or felt in control.  If I was in deep depression, I simply did not care.  You cannot hide from kidney failure or two more aneurysms growing in your body or the arteries in your neck closing.

The surgeon that is going to do a procedure next week called a hydrocelectomy (look it up because I am not going to explain it here) said when asked about the outcome that only one person knew for sure.  The “Man Above.”   I trust the “Man Above” and this surgeon, but prayer is always welcome.


© Ed Cooper, October 29, 2014, Stoney Creek, TN

Saturday, October 25, 2014

THEY LOCK AWAY THEIR OWN KIN: a poem by ed



The water is deep
and I am drowning
because I don't know
how to swim 
in this water of hatred.

They label me
out of a book
no one truly believes
and lock me away
so not to see 
who I really am,
because who I am
is them.
They lock away 
their own kin.

No one can swim
in water this deep
they will simply drown,  
and go down to the bottom
where the others dwell.

Hope can only come
when and if they stop
putting labels on us
and start loving their kin.

© Ed Cooper, October 25, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

IF YOU THINK YOU ARE CRAZY YOU PROBABLY ARE

Stoney Creek, Carter Co., TN (Photo by Patty Cooper)

If you think you are crazy the chances are pretty good that you are because a person is the best judge of their own state of mind regardless of what position psychiatry thinks it holds in the matter.  However, you will be pleased to know that you are not the real danger to society.  The folks society needs to be watching are those people who think they are perfectly normal because the dirty little secret is that there is not any such animal as a perfectly normal human being.

I write this not to condemn what I call the “chronically normal” folks, but rather to free the other people like me who have a psychiatric label from feeling like they are something less or different from the rest of their fellow mankind.  Being functional in a dysfunctional world is nothing for the chronically normal people to be bragging about and making us feel like we are worthless because we do not measure up to their functional standards.

Why do I call it a dysfunctional world?  It is a world where in the richest nation in the world (right now China is about to pass us) children and old people go to bed hungry and veterans and families live on our streets.  It is a world where people are divided by the color of their skin, what they believe about God, their economic status and their age.  It is a world where mad men will behead men and make a video of it and rich nations will kill from afar with drones. 

To function in a world like this one must be an ostrich or as I tell my wife they must have shelves in their minds where they hide things as they go on with their lives.  If you are one of those people who have no shelves or closets in their minds and are forced to face the stark realities of this world, you cannot expect us to function in the same way as people with dissociative mechanisms like shelves and closets in their minds.  If the world was so functional politicos, pundits, corporations and governments at all levels would not have to lie and spin so much.

So my fellow sojourners with a psychiatric label do not despair when you don’t function up to the level that someone else sets.  Jesus did not when He was on earth.

© Ed Cooper, October 21, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

    All rights reserved 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

LIVING A LIFE THAT CHRIST WOULD LIKE: SCS No. 24

MASHOKO CHRISTIAN HOSPITAL (1969), MASHOKO MISSION, ZIMBABWE, AFRICA

Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 24

(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life. Stoney Creek Sermonettes are not meant to replace your participation in a faith community.) 



Scripture Lesson for Today:

James 2:14-26 New International Version (NIV)

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?
15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.
16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?
21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?
26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Sermonette for Today:

The debate between works and faith is as old as Christianity.  I do not want to debate which is more important.  My point today is very simple.  Service is at the very core of the Christian life.  To be a Christian is to be a servant to the people around you.

James is not saying that faith is not important.  He is saying that faith compels a person to do things for others in the name of the Lord.  Faith makes a person become less selfish and more caring.  More like the Good Shepherd. 

We are not saved by our works.  It was by the grace of God that He sent His Son to earth to save us from ourselves.  So the order goes something like this.  Grace. Hearing/Faith. Repentance/Baptism. Works/Christian Living.

GRACE :John 1:17 (NIV)
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

HEARING/FAITH: Romans 10:17 (NIV)
17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

REPENTANCE/BAPTISM: Acts 2:38 (NIV)
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So with the gift of the Holy Spirit we are suppose to live a life that brings honor to the person whose name we wear.  If we call ourselves Christians, then we must live our lives as Christ did and He did good works the entire time He was on this earth and still does.

Prayer for Today:

Our Heavenly Father, May we learn to live lives that honor You as You honored us by sending Your Son to live among us. It is in Your Son’s name we pray this prayer. Amen.



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





Wednesday, October 15, 2014

THEY WALKED FOR MILES


They walked for miles
to hear His words
now written in a book
in almost every home,
but the tragedy is
the book is seldom opened
unless to read a passage
to prove some group sinful.

The Speaker so many
came to hear is crying.
His tears filling heaven's floor.
It is a second flood 
caused by sin
the sin of hate of others.

If we could only walk
the miles others walk
beside them as they struggle
maybe we would learn
we are condemning folks
just like us who need
to heed the One 
so many walked miles
to hear His words.

© Ed Cooper, 10/15/2014, Stoney Creek
   All rights reserved 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

PREACHING THE GOSPEL of the KINGDOM of GOD: SCS No. 23


Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 23

(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life. Stoney Creek Sermonettes are not meant to replace your participation in a faith community.) 



Scripture Lesson for Today:

Mark 1:14-15 King James Version (KJV)

14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.


Sermonette for Today:


It seems very simple, but it is complex.  God had a plan from the time we were put on this earth to rescue us from ourselves. He knew that because He had given us the freedom to decide if we wanted a relationship with Him that He would have to have a dramatic plan to try to rescue those of us who were willing to repent and believe the Good News.

In our Scripture Lesson we find Jesus starting His ministry by preaching in Galilee. He was preaching the Good News (Gospel) of the kingdom of God.  He is saying the kingdom is near.  What did he mean?  The time that all humanity would bend their knee to God was drawing nearer because the first step to the end of this experiment with His creation had started.  His Son had arrived on earth.

Galatians 4:4 (KJV)
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

We don’t know when the end will be, but we know what we must do because Jesus told us when He first started preaching.  “Repent ye and believe the gospel.”  That is the message we should be hearing more than we do from every pulpit and that is what we should be sharing with every person we know.


Prayer for Today:

Our Heavenly Father, May we learn to see each other as persons and equals and start to include all Your children in Your kingdom so as to honor You as You honored us by sending Your Son to live among us. It is in His name we pray this prayer. Amen.



© Ed Cooper, October 12, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved




Thursday, October 09, 2014

THE DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER DEBATE



Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is one of the most controversial labels that a psychiatrist can give a person.  The debate about DID has been going on for years.  The discussions have been complicated by DID’s association with childhood sexual abuse and the recovered memory debate.

One of the debates high points in history surrounded Freud when he did an about face and decided his hysterical patients’ reports of sexual trauma often by their fathers was only wishful thinking on their part. Still today in some circles his turn around can cause a very heated exchange.

What you, the person reading this, or any given psychiatrist, philosopher, neuropsychologist, neurobiologist or any other person stating their learned opinion says on the subject of whether or not DID is a real phenomenon does not matter other than the fact that it does grave damage to folks who have experienced childhood sexual trauma. 

Let me be very clear.  I do not care what anyone thinks or what they have to say about how I did cope and how I now cope with the fact I was sexual assaulted repeatedly before I was of school age and it did not stop for years.  I have the right to deal with it internally anyway that works for me and so does every other victim.  There is no one way.  You cannot have a one size fits all diagnosis or treatment plan or way of talking about what is happening inside.

The debate about a name and a treatment plan in a book like DSM-5 only proves how little is known by the powers that control the system that is suppose to help.  I know a lot of work has been done on trauma informed care, but I also know where none of that knowledge and expertise has not reached.  It has not reached the vast majority of the public mental health system or the VA system.

We already don’t trust you and when lots of you say the way we explain what goes on inside of us is baloney I guess you know why we trust you even less.  We trust the people inside us more than the people outside.  Put that in DSM-5.

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

    All rights reserved

Sunday, October 05, 2014

MENTAL ILLNESS AWARENESS WEEK: SCS No. 22


Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 22

(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life. Stoney Creek Sermonettes are not meant to replace your participation in a faith community.) 



Scripture Lesson for Today:

Psalm 34:17-19 English Standard Version (ESV)

17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.

18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.



Sermonette for Today:

Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct. 5-11, 2014

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of NAMI's efforts to raise mental illness awareness. Since then, mental health advocates across the country have joined with others in their communities to sponsor activities, large or small, for public education about mental illness.

MIAW coincides with the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding (Oct. 7) and National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 9.)

Faith communities can play a major role in helping people with psychiatric labels and their families find hope, recovery and community while dealing with one of the most stigmatizing suffering a person and family can face.  I use the word suffering because every person labeled does not have a psychiatric illness or disorder, but once they get the label they become a member of the stigmatized group.  Being welcomed into a community such as a church goes a long way in lifting the weight of that stigma off the back of a labeled person.
Our scripture lesson says “the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”  God’s people need to hear the cry of folks like me who have a psychiatric label.  They need to hear the cry of my wife and family who support me.  The truth is my suffering may be harder on my wife than on me.  For example, when I am manic and on one of my adventures I am high on life and everything is grand, but my wife sitting at home wondering where I am at is not having such a wonderful time.

God’s people should be listening for the cry of hurting people. Jesus makes His wishes known in the following passage.

Matthew 25:31-40 (ESV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Prayer for Today:

Our Heavenly Father, May we learn to see each other as persons and equals and start to include all Your children in Your kingdom so as to honor You as You honored us by sending Your Son to live among us. It is in His name we pray this prayer. Amen.



© Ed Cooper, October 5, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved



Thursday, October 02, 2014

THE DEBATE ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS RAGES ON


The debate about mental illness rages on. 

“In an unprecedented move for a professional body, the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP), which represents more than 10,000 practitioners and is part of the distinguished British Psychological Society, will tomorrow publish a statement calling for the abandonment of psychiatric diagnosis and the development of alternatives which do not use the language of "illness" or "disorder".
The statement claims: "Psychiatric diagnosis is often presented as an objective statement of fact, but is, in essence, a clinical judgment based on observation and interpretation of behaviour and self-report, and thus subject to variation and bias."
The language may be arcane, but the implication is clear. According to the DCP, "diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorders and so on" are of "limited reliability and questionable validity".” ( quoted from theguardian website)

The truth seems to be that no one knows what those of us with psychiatric labels are truly suffering from.  While it is true that DSM-5 has gone overboard with labeling behaviors as mental illnesses that probably should not be, it cannot be said with any certainty that there are no biological based mental illnesses that are influenced by psycho-social-spiritual factors and that having diagnostic labels are of no value.

In many cases it seems to boil down to how one receives their funds as to how they see the suffering of those of us with psychiatric labels.  I am not sure where one would find an opinion or research not tainted by the holy grail of money.  Note that it is the Division of Clinical Psychology which is part of the British Psychological Society calling for the end of the use of the psychiatric bible of labels.  On the other hand this is what the Washington Post had to say about Dr. Tom Burns’ book. “At the outset of “Our Necessary Shadow,” he marks his territory: Psychiatry is a “legitimate medical specialty” and a genuine and increasingly important “power for good.” Burns, a professor of social psychiatry at Oxford, brings to this manifesto a carefully measured combination of personal and professional experience. He has been a psychiatrist for over 40 years, working in both research and clinical care and thus was both participant and observer as deinstitutionalization and new pharmaceuticals took hold, and as diagnostic manuals with a troubling tendency to pathologize most of human behavior rolled off the presses.”

It is never a simple matter because the brain is not simple.  The following quote states it better than I can. “One is obliged to admit that perception and what depends upon it is inexplicable on mechanical principles, that is, by figures and motions. In imagining that there is a machine whose construction would enable it to think, to sense, and to have perception, one could conceive it enlarged while retaining the same proportions, so that one could enter into it, just like into a windmill. Supposing this, one should, when visiting within it, find only parts pushing one another, and never anything by which to explain a perception.”
— Leibniz
If you try to figure out why you have done something, it is hard for you to do.  I can’t explain most of the things I have done in my life.  That is why I am certain my psychiatrist cannot explain my behavior.  To put all the pieces together and then put a label on them would require total honesty from me and all the facts even unknown to me.  It would also require the psychiatric industry to be honest and without any influence other than truth.  It would require my psychiatrist to know all that is known in the field and to apply it properly.  It would require ruling out any physically illness that might be causing my behavior or psycho-social-spiritual stressors unrelated to the illness my psychiatrists was trying to determine if I had.  Are you getting the picture?  It is impossible. There is no way at present to come up with a diagnosis with any certainty.

That is where we are today.

© Ed Cooper, October 2, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved