Indolence: the immortal sin….

Ffolkes,

“There are no speed limits on the road to excellence.”

~~- David W. Johnson ~~

Pluto-icy plains

The Icy Plains of Pluto

Image by NASA/New Horizons Spacecraft


Good morning…. Well, in truth, it’s not morning. It’s also not good, in a relative sense only, in that I’m at about 50/50 on the SE/OK scale…. SE is Side Effects (in caps to indicate strength; it’s miserable) vs. well, OK, which means just what it says. At this particular moment, mid-evening last night (provided this gets posted in the morning, of course), I’m trying to use this process to tire myself enough to ignore the dyskinesia enough to fall asleep. Hopefully the medication I got last night will work in a while, and I’ll be able to sleep…. Bliss!

Now I’ve gotten rid of those who get bored easily, I can tell you today’s Pearl is special to me. It speaks to three of my most passionate beliefs/opinions, with material presented mostly by others; my comments will briefly address my own thoughts on what they have to say… You’ll see, don’t worry. It isn’t complicated, structurally, but, some of it may be rather pointed and, well curmudgeonly, due to the intense nature of the subject(s) under discussion/examination…. For some, it will be new ideas; for some of our Gentle Readers, it will be preaching to the choir. S’okay, it’s all relevant….

It’s also about to be put off another day, as I feel, quite frankly, like crap, due to the ongoing physical battle in which I’m engaged. Oh well… Such is life. Whenever it is, today, or tomorrow, here it is….

Shall we Pearl?….

“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something.” — Wilson Mizner

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strolling-uk-ep-7-male-feminists

Image from tvspeaks.com via Google Images


I would like to ask each and every one of my followers who read this post to share this video with their own group of blogging friends. This young man gives the most powerful, cogent, logical. and straight-forward summary of the issue of the abuse of women in our society I have ever heard, or seen, or read. This video NEEDS to go viral, so that everyone alive today has to think about what this young man says… As I remarked to the person who sent it to me, if it does go viral, it can be a game changer….

Watch it. Think about it. And, share it….

gigoid has spoken.


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strolling | ep 7 | male feminists

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Dont keep calm

    Today’s ranting section will begin with an excellent video, one of many put out by the crew of this HBO show. It speaks about our society’s response to mental illness, exploring some of the statistics, and how society’s response, especially by the police, is completely at odds with the avowed message given by those in authority. It’s very good, and very complete.

As a retired mental healthcare professional, and an advocate of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution, I can fully agree with John’s assessment of the issue; I have followed that assessment with my own thoughts on gun control, in a mini-rant…. Enjoy! And, think about it too… Can’t hurt….

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Last Week w/John Oliver
Mental Illness

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This is a bit old, in a relative way, though it’s all still true. However, things have deteriorated from the point at which this was written, as made obvious in the video above…. Just extrapolate up to today for the full, chilling effect of the implications for all of us….

From 3/29/2012:

“By calling attention to ‘a well regulated militia’, the ‘security’ of the nation, and the right of each citizen ‘to keep and bear arms’, our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy. Although it is extremely unlikely that the fears of governmental tyranny which gave rise to the Second Amendment will ever be a major danger to our nation, the Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country.  For that reason, I believe the Second Amendment will always be important.” — April, 1960 (Then) Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963)

President Kennedy was a pretty smart guy; not exactly the most ethical bulb in the box, but he had his head screwed on his shoulders fairly solidly, and had the unusual political stance of actually wanting the American people to have a chance at what they deserve, and are promised by our form of government, i.e., a shot at “the pursuit of happiness”….. However, in this statement, he makes an unwarranted and dangerous assumption, to wit: “it is extremely unlikely that the fears of governmental tyranny which gave rise to the Second Amendment will ever be a major danger to our nation.”  Jack was an optimist…. and as is often the case, the pessimists were closer to right on this one…..

Our rights are in imminent and clear danger of being abrogated, permanently. This is an indisputable fact. This kind of fact is provided with partial proof of its truth by the reaction of those responsible for this subtle attack on our legacy of freedom, who, when confronted with knowledge of their intent, immediately accuse the confronting entity of “spreading communist propaganda”, or “attacking the principles of freedom” or my favorite complete lie, “you’re threatening our national security.” It’s would be somewhat amusing, if it weren’t so dangerously disgusting…. I mean, do they really expect the American people to sit around and do NOTHING?  I kind of hope they do believe that…. it will be then a bigger surprise to them, when the American people stand up, point their gun at the head of these idiots, and take their rights back….. call me treasonous if you will; I call it patriotism, of the first water…..

“Caesar had his Brutus; Charles the First, his Cromwell; and George the Third [“Treason!” cried the Speaker]–may profit by their example.
If this be treason, make the most of it.” — Patrick Henry (1736-1799) — Speech in the Virginia Convention, 1765

“You can lead a yak to water but you can’t teach an old dog to make a silk purse out of a pig in a poke.” — Opus

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Comedy_Tragedy

Accentuated Lessons

Bold statements of calculated intent
Become common rule of the malcontent.
Avarice assumes such attractive wear
Beguiling deception, illusory and fair.

Grasping and pulling with ghostly hands
Legally proper in all the signatory lands.
Seeking and finding each vulnerable soul
Anguish as payment for exacting the toll.

Wraiths of commerce’s invisible dead guards
Still haunt the dreams left in sad empty yards.
While absentee nobles sit in stiffly elegant splendor
Served by sad-faced detainees in abject surrender.

Escape from reality is illusory at best
Often we falter and fail its daily test.
Only when focused on inner strength
Does peace stay with us for any length.

Peace lies within, always…..

~~ gigoid ~~


Written 1/26/2013.

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pearls_3

    This is a good one…. You should pay attention, and think hard about these, and what they mean together….  Yep. You should do that….

“Failure to understand reality is not reality’s fault.” — Bill Henneman

“One does what one is; one becomes what one does.” — Robert Musil, c. 1930

“The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.” — Sophocles

“We are more sensible of what is done against custom than against Nature.” — Plutarch — Of Eating of Flesh, Tract 1

“Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.” — Elbert Hubbard

“It is a good thing to be rich and strong, but it is a better thing to be loved.” — Euripides

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom, in the pursuit of truth as in the endeavour after a worthy manner of life.” — Bertrand Russell, “An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish”

“In reality the soul is not mortal, but if the soul believes in mortality it is just like being mortal.” — Hazrat Inayat Khan (Sufi writer)

“You can’t change the music of your soul.” — Kathrine Hepburn

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This one was a tough row to hoe; must have to do with everything else going on. (DUH!!!….) But, it’s done, and, if I can do it, it’ll be posted. I won’t make any promises beyond that, other than to back, eventually…. See y’all, later, ffolkes, given a fair wind and a rising tide….

Y’all take care out there,
and May the Metaphorse be with you;
Blessed Be, dearest Carole, Mark,Theresa, & Richy
and everyone else, too…

When I works, I works hard.
When I sits, I sits loose.
When I thinks, I falls asleep.

Which is Why….

Sometimes I sits and thinks,
   and sometimes,
I just sits.

gigoid, the dubious

The *only* duly authorized Computer Curmudgeon.

PLEASE STOP READING THIS MESSAGE NOW.

“SCRAM!!!!!!!!!!”- Oscar the Grouch

Dozer


À bientôt, mon cherí….


		
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Bowing to history in gratuitous shoes…..

Ffolkes,

If such were not overtly mundane, I’d let myself go insane today; the weather’s perfect for it….. But, as with any activity whose successful application depends on timing, this one requires the highest degree of precision possible, in order to have even a small hope of making the grade. No doubt, the responsible parties involved won’t assume any blame, should things go badly, even though any such event would be entirely their doing, but, I knew from the get-go that would be the case….

In fact, that is precisely why I allowed them to be present at all; now that the time for action draws nigh, I can admit, at least to y’all, that this whole thing has been a sting operation…. We’re running a clandestine operation to find and gather together the largest collection of bad metaphors ever created in one space, in order to use them as the kindling for a massive concept burning this evening….

No, I haven’t a fucking clue as to what any of the above means, or even if it SHOULD have any meaning…. My brain is so foggy and, well, empty this morning, I just started typing, to see what would come out…. The above paragraphs are the result, and yes, I’m pretty ashamed…. It’s as bad as anything I’ve ever written, I think, and is only saved from immediate deletion because I can use it as an example, of how NOT to go about drawing people into one’s story, or post, with a compelling beginning…. I mean, I’d feel lucky to know that ANYONE got through those paragraphs without retching, or otherwise showing the natural reaction to such dross and drivel…. Hell, even as an example, it’s boring….

I’m still not sure what this will mean for today’s Pearl, but, THAT is nothing unusual, I would guess…. I often haven’t much of a clue as to where I’ll end up…. Hell, I mostly haven’t a clue as to where I’ve started…. All I know right now is that I’m still sleepy, and typing is making me cranky…. I should probably go have some pizza for breakfast, to get back into creative mode….

If the pizza didn’t have jalapeños all over it, I’d do that…. For me, it’s a bit early for hot peppers, no matter how savory they may be after a night’s marination, swapping flavors with the pizza cheese…. In addition, having had a LOT of experience with pizza for breakfast, I can guarantee that consumption of both pepperoni and jalapeños before 6 AM is considered too dangerous for someone of my age…. Someone (not me….) could die before everything returned to normal…. As you are well aware, we HATE dead bodies around here before 8 AM; once the kids are off to school, disposal is much more convenient….

Having lost all sense of proportion and/or culpability, I give up, officially…. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but, this isn’t it….. You may end up with a great deal of recycled material today, which, given what I’ve seen so far, is probably a good thing…. It may well be the only thing that saves my ass, and yours, should you choose to come along for the ride….

Shall we Pearl?…..

“There are no educators. As a thinker, one should speak only of self-education. The education of youth by others is an experiment, conducted on one as yet unknown and unknowable, or a leveling on principle, to make the new character, whatever it may be, conform to the habits and customs that prevail: in both cases, therefore, something unworthy of the thinker – the work of parents and teachers, whom an audaciously honest person has called ‘nos enemis naturels.'” — Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900), The Wanderer and His Shadow
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I was right in at least one respect; you’ll see quite a bit of archived material today, even if this section is all you get to read….. Here is a discussion of the ins and outs of mental health, or the lack thereof, from someone who has a pretty good grasp of BOTH sides of that issue, to wit: yours truly, with over 15 years having worked as a psychiatric therapist, and over three decades of experiencing personal insanity of varying degrees, at various times throughout the latter half of my life…. Been there, done that, so let’s move on shall we?…. Hope you enjoy this small interlude, and short journey into the precepts of madness, gigoid style….

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How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but it takes a really long time and the light bulb has to want to change.” — Smart Bee

Boy, if it wasn’t for the power of metaphor, I would be lost!….. This statement, though presented in a manner that makes it obviously a joke, is actually quite serious in its relevance to sanity, psychiatry, and how the mind works, in general. I worked for many years in the field of mental health care, as a therapist, and I can tell you quite honestly, that this is absolutely true, in many cases of what the rest of society terms insanity…. which is a word, and a concept, that most of society avoids at all costs, with a complete lack of understanding of what it is, for the most part…. You see, every person who lives in this society on Earth today is just a little insane, with some of them reaching higher levels through their own efforts to excel at what they do…. Society itself is insane, you see, and one needs to be the same in order to effectively cope….

It may surprise some ffolkes to know that they are insane; I know it surprised me when I first became aware of this fact. We all go through our lives with a certain image of ourselves, and very rarely does that image in our minds look insane. But, let me assure you, there really isn’t any visible way to be able to tell if a person is insane, as it is completely invisible, under most circumstances, as long as the person isn’t speaking, or acting in some way that provides a clue as to their inner state of mind. Even for those of us trained in recognizing its presence, through the use of observation of other defining characteristics, there is no guaranteed method for spotting someone with a mental condition, unless they give it to you up front, by acting out in some overt fashion.

Sure, there are tells, as a gambler would say…. When one eye is happily spinning in the opposite direction as the other, it’s a pretty good sign of some inner turmoil…. Pacing and mumbling to oneself, back and forth in a small area, while ignoring everything around them, can be another dead giveaway of someone who is experiencing a few extra perceptions in comparison to the rest of us. Sometimes, really bad grooming can be a sign that the person’s mind isn’t focused on how they affect others…. Staring at a wall, holding what appears to be a conversation with oneself, is generally considered to be a clear indication that not all is well in that person’s world….

But, without some overt signs such as these, you just can’t spot mental illness; it is extra hard to see it in one’s own image, since we tend to clean that up before we look at it, or try to share it. And, since EVERYONE ELSE is also insane, at least a little, it can be hard to spot, for the same reason one cow in a herd is hard to pick out. You may have heard the old saw about “one in four people are insane, so if you have three sane friends, it’s you”….. What would be more accurate to say is, “all of you are insane, but three of you are coping with it in an effective manner, and one isn’t…. “

It’s helpful to know that the overt signs one may see are indicative of the severity of the condition, i.e., the more acting out one observes, the more severe the break in the mental state. But, that isn’t always accurate, as normally sane folks, acting in the grip of strong emotion, can show the same kind of acting out, with the difference of not having it occur all the time, but only when provoked. Thus, it can be seen, it can be very difficult to judge whether a person is permanently insane, or merely temporarily out of control….

This is where I bring it all together, by referring back to the original pearl…. Coping with life can drive anyone crazy, and does, every day…. Some  cope with it better than others, and those are the people who are considered to be sane, as they can deal with reality without resorting to outlandish ways of dealing with their fears. Those who cannot find ways of coping with their fears, which arise from what reality gives us to deal with, end up acting in ways that are strange and uncomfortable for the rest of us, and are often dangerous, in a physical sense, for them, and for those around them….

In all my experience, with every kind of mental illness I saw in almost 30 years working in mental hospitals, the primary characteristic of those who got better, was that they made up their own minds to do so…. That’s it…. Simple as it may seem, deciding to give up the methods they used in the past, and make a change, was always based on a personal decision on their part, and is THE key ingredient in the regime of ideas, medicines, therapies, and treatments used to combat their illness. In other words, it took a long time, and they first had to want to change…. Without that, nothing worked…. It is a well known aphorism among mental health therapists that, “they get better IN SPITE of what we do, not because of it….”

So, if you’re getting worried about your own coping skills, just keep in mind that to remain sane, it means you have to want to do so…. But, that’s all it takes, if your are sincere, for you will do whatever else is needed, once your will power has been engaged…. That’s what people do….

“Great minds think alike, apparently so do we.” — D. Bennett

“Falsely luxurious, will not man awake?” — James Thomson (1700-1748) — The Seasons, Summer, Line 67
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As is often the case, I have no idea why this particular poem is the one that ended up here today…. I found it while searching through old Pearls for material for today, and it INSISTED on being included…. I’m a sucker for poetry, as you know, no matter whose it may be, and more so with my own…. so, here it is, such as it is…..

Time, and again….

Life, and/or love, will seldom fit
into any box we keep for them to sit.
Loose and limber, without any reason,
always somewhat out of season.

Surprise, surprise, they seem to say,
can’t help it, it’s just our way.
If only you would learn, instead of know,
maybe you’d find yourself with one to show.

Deal, just the way it is, now and here,
follow the path, on the other side of fear.
Finding the future isn’t all blood, sweat, and pain,
far, far more than mere joy we stand to gain.

The sages all say not to try, just do,
sounds as simple as putting on a shoe.
I’d say we could really go places,
if we could learn, to tie up the laces….

~~ gigoid ~~

_____________________________

Well, it’s two and a half hours since I arose to begin this missive, and my brain continues to function at a level somewhere near the floor, so to speak…. Neither sugar, nor caffeine, nor jalapeños have had any significant effect on my stupor to date, and it’s getting late…. I’m going to go old-school (as if I would go somewhere else….), with the only search parameter being one of simple, basic direction, which will hopefully bring me to where I need to be….. Hmm… I guess that’s a lot to expect from a few little quotes, but, hey, I can be as unreasonable as the next guy….. These are all intended to find ME, or at least, point out where I’ve been hiding….

“I guess a cynic smells different.” — Smart Bee

“The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.” — Nietzsche

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” — Buddha

“I admire the serene assurance of those who have religious faith. It is wonderful to observe the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.” — Mark Twain

“As to values, I was taught — and still believe — that a sense of honor is necessary to personal self-respect; that duty, recognizing an individual’s subordination to community welfare, is as important as rights; that loyalty, which is based on the trustworthiness of honorable men, is still a virtue; and that work and self-discipline are as essential to individual happiness as they are to a viable society. Indeed, I still believe in patriotism — not if it is limited to parades and flag-waving, but because worthy national goals and aspirations can be realized only through love of country and a desire to be a responsible citizen.” — Lewis F. Powell (Former Supreme Court Justice)

“For the skeptic there remains only one consolation: if there should be such a thing as superhuman law it is  administered with subhuman inefficiency.” — Eric Ambler

“There are too many books I haven’t read, too many places I haven’t seen, too many memories I haven’t kept long enough.” — Irwin Shaw
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It seems like I’m forever using this closing statement to apologize in advance for any damage I may have inadvertently caused in my thrashing about; I suppose it’s as good a place as any, and I’m too honest, and compassionate, to ignore the potential damage that my material is capable of causing….. Me father would be proud, if a trifle confused….. and, I can just hear my mother saying, “Oh, Ned!” in that exasperated tone of voice she employed so well to dish out portions of the guilt, which was her weapon and tool of choice for manipulating her offspring….

That may sound a bit critical, but, it really isn’t…. I loved my mother, deeply…. I just learned very early to recognize the ways she had to get her kids to do her bidding; those methods weren’t always what I’d call completely reasonable, but, they were what she knew, what she had been taught to know, and she was no more capable of changing those ways than she could change her gender…. I never held it against her, I just learned to deal with it without letting it affect me greatly, and without hurting her unnecessarily…. I hope….

How did I get off on THAT tangent?…. Oh, right, the closing damage assessment…. Let’s see what happened up there, shall we?….. Well, I don’t think it will cause any loss of blood, unless someone overreacts enough to bash themselves somehow… which would be THEIR problem, now, wouldn’t it? Yep, it would…. Anyone who has been here before knows enough to watch their heads, and first time visitors are covered by the “ignorance of the law” codicil, excluding them from bringing any liability suits for their own reactions…. Well, that’s what the lawyers told me, anyway…. I suppose only time will tell, as it always does….

Okay, I’m giving up trying to make any sense out of all this…. I’m outta here… See ya….

Y’all take care out there,
and May the Metaphorse be with you;
Blessed Be, dearest  Carole, Mark, and Theresa…
and everyone else, too…

When I works, I works hard.
When I sits, I sits loose.
When I thinks, I falls asleep.

Which is Why….


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

dozer3

Sparky was filing his teeth when he exploded….

Ffolkes,
Once again, fear strikes deep into my soul, faced as I am with a blank sheet of paper and an empty mind. That’s figuratively speaking, of course, as we’ve progressed beyond the paper stage, so it’s actually a blank white screen I’m looking at…. The mind remains empty, alas, and the fear grows….. Well, literal or figurative, we’ve got some issues to deal with, so, I’d likely do well to follow my usual policy in such cases, and go take a break now…. I’ll be right back….

In the usual state of affairs around here in the morning, such a break would solve any difficulties I am encountering in getting started, but today seems to be resisting normality a bit more than is standard. Of course, ‘normality’ is rather scarce here anyway….. The paper/screen is now a bit less blank, thanks to my gift for producing something from nothing, but still with no indications of anywhere brilliant to head off to…. I’m going to have to figure something out here pretty quick, as we’re now two paragraphs in, and still not a single clean idea, or literary device, to be seen…. The brain cops are going to want me to move along soon, so let’s try this….

Howdy, ffolkes! How are y’all this fine morning? It’s 0458 here in Northern California, and I’m once again up, eyes wide open, and rarin’ to get going on today’s Pearl, having already had coffee and a session of worship at the porcelain throne! Why I am up at this hour remains a mystery, but, since I’ve been arising at 0400-0500 now for the last six days or so, I suppose I have to accept that arising at this insane hour is becoming a new routine, that my brain has decided upon without any input from my conscious mind. I’ve tentatively come to terms with it, as I don’t seem to be able to sleep past those hours, no matter when I crash….

But, that’s okay! I’m fine! I’m happy! I’m absolutely fucking crazy!…… Well, maybe not quite that far yet, but, if this keeps up, it won’t be long before that latter statement becomes reality….. Come to think of it, though, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing….. If nothing else, it might give me a whole new set of ideas for intro sections, coming at the issue from a totally new, and unpredictable direction every day! Hmm…. well, for now, I’ll keep total insanity in reserve, as a backup procedure, such as I had to use yesterday, when it was necessary to break down and use Emergency Procedure #4….. I think I’ll call this one the Bell Jar Procedure, in honor of Sylvia Plath….

And, see, it works….. or, rather, it worked today…. Without having to actually go totally batshit crazy, and without actually having to write anything particularly coherent, or sensible, I’ve completed a five-paragraph-intro….. without you ever noticing what I was doing! Amazing, eh? And so creative! And, if I keep on with the exclamations, and the back-patting, I’m going to hurt myself, so, maybe we’d best get on with the rest of today’s effort….. Shall we Pearl?…..

“I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.” — Steven Wright
__________________________________

“How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but it takes a really long time and the light bulb has to want to change.” — Smart Bee

Boy, if it wasn’t for the power of metaphor, I would be lost!….. This statement, though presented in a manner that makes it obviously a joke, is actually quite serious in its relevance to sanity, psychiatry, and how the mind works, in general. I worked for many years in the field of mental health care, as a therapist, and I can tell you quite honestly, that this is absolutely true, in many cases of what the rest of society terms insanity….. a word, and a concept, that most of society avoids at all costs, and completely misunderstands, for the most part…. You see, every person who lives in this society on Earth today is just a little insane, with some of them reaching higher levels through their own efforts to excel…… 🙂   Society itself is insane, you see, and one needs to be the same in order to effectively cope….

It may surprise some ffolkes to know that they are insane; I know it surprised me when I first became aware of this fact. We all go through our lives with a certain image of ourselves, and very rarely does that image in our minds look insane. But, let me assure you, there really isn’t any visible way to be able to tell if a person is insane, as it is completely invisible, under most circumstances, as long as the person isn’t speaking, or acting in some way that provides a clue as to their inner state of mind. Even for those of us trained in recognizing its presence, through the use of observation of other defining characteristics, there is no guaranteed method for spotting someone with a mental condition, unless they give it to you up front by acting out in some overt fashion.

Sure, there are tells, as a gambler would say…. When one eye is happily spinning in the opposite direction as the other, it’s a pretty good sign of some inner turmoil…. Pacing and mumbling to oneself, back and forth in a small area, while ignoring all around them, can be another dead giveaway of someone who is experiencing a few extra perceptions in comparison to the rest of us. Sometimes, really bad grooming can be a sign that the person’s mind isn’t focused on how they affect others, and staring at a wall, holding what appears to be a conversation with oneself, can be another indication that not all is well in that person’s world….

But, without some overt signs such as these, you just can’t spot mental illness, and it is extra hard to see it in one’s own image, since we tend to clean that up before we look at it, or try to share it. And, since EVERYONE ELSE is also insane, at least a little, it can be hard to spot, for the same reason one cow in a herd is hard to pick out. You may have heard the old saw about “one in four people are insane, so if you have three sane friends, it’s you”….. What would be more accurate to say is, “all of you are insane, but three of you are coping well with it in an effective manner, and one isn’t…. ”

It’s helpful to know that the overt signs one may see are indicative of the severity of the condition, i.e., the more acting out one observes, the more severe the break in the mental state. But, that isn’t always accurate, as normally sane folks, acting in the grip of strong emotion, can show the same kind of acting out, with the difference of not having it occur all the time, but only when provoked. Thus, it can be seen, it can be very difficult to judge whether a person is insane, or merely temporarily out of control…..

This is where I bring it all together, by referring back to the original pearl…. Coping with life can drive anyone crazy, and does, every day….. Some  cope with it better than others, and those are the people who are considered to be sane, as they can deal with reality without resorting to outlandish ways of dealing with their fears. Those who cannot find ways of coping with their fears, which arise from what reality gives us to deal with, end up acting in ways that are strange and uncomfortable for the rest of us, and are often dangerous, in a physical sense, for them, and for those around them…..

In all my experience, with every kind of mental illness I saw in almost 30 years working in mental hospitals, the primary characteristic of those who got better, was that they made up their own minds to do so…. That’s it…. Simple as it may seem, deciding to give up the methods they used, and make a change, was always based on a personal decision on their part, and was THE key ingredient in the regime of ideas, medicines, therapies, and treatments used to combat their illness. In other words, it took a long time, and they first had to want to change….. Without that, nothing worked…. It is a well known aphorism among mental health therapists that, “they get better IN SPITE of what we do, not because of it….”

So, if you’re getting worried about your own coping skills, just keep in mind that to remain sane, it means you have to want to do so…. But, that’s all it takes, if your are sincere, for you will do whatever else is needed, once your will power has been engaged…. That’s what people do….

“Great minds think alike, apparently so do we.” — D. Bennett

“Falsely luxurious, will not man awake?” — James Thomson (1700-1748) — The Seasons, Summer, Line 67
__________________________________

In keeping with the tradition established for today, and in honor of yesterday’s romantic events, here is a brilliant poem by someone very familiar with the idea of insanity, as it was her lifelong companion….. Maybe that’s why I feel so connected to her?…..

Mad Girl’s Love Song

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

~~ Sylvia Plath

Brilliant! Absolutely, insanely brilliant!   🙂
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“The media are now the tool of tyrants and despots. Tyrants and despots encourage fear, because fearful people will accept extreme political solutions, will demand extreme political solutions.” — Jon Carroll, S. F. Chronicle, January 8, 1997

Jon Carroll, on the political scale, would be considered to be just a bit left of the center, maybe a foot or two, as he tends to side with liberal ideas more than conservative. Over the years, I’ve found his take on life and society to be, most of all, even-handed, and reasonable. He avoids the trap of becoming overly critical of conservative ideas, while at the same time showing absolute fearlessness in addressing difficult questions and issues. As a media member, for him to make this statement was most likely painful, in that he had to admit his own culpability to do so. He does that, quite well, without becoming overly pedantic or shrill about it…. while still nailing the controversial point he is shooting at….

The recent hullabaloo over gun control is a perfect example of the process he describes, in action. Whenever a madman grabs a gun and starts shooting people randomly, or even targeting one group or another, the media immediately descends in hordes on the location of the shooting, giving out endless bulletins with the latest news on the events, interviewing police, victims, bystanders, and pundits to provide “balanced coverage” of events the public “has the right to know”…. regardless of how degrading, or painful, or ignorant, or insane, or stupid it may sound, or how much pain it may cause the victims. No stone is left unturned to examine and evaluate every emotional nuance for the viewing public, without any regard for morality, or justice, and definitely without any regard for compassion, or empathy….

After the event has ended, the media then turns to the “discussion” of the meaning of the events, which means it gives the Beloved Ruling Class a free source of advertisement for its agenda, which, allow me to reassure you, has nothing to do with what may be good for YOU. All the talk you hear from politicians after these shootings is aimed at increasing the fear of the public, to make them believe they are powerless in the face of a madman with a gun, and only if the people will allow ONLY the police and government to have guns, why, everything will be fine, and there would never be any more shootings at public schools…

I’m sorry, but, I’m afraid I can’t buy that…. There are over seven billion people on this planet, and there is nothing at all that is going to prevent some of them from going crazy, getting a gun, (or knife, or poison, or grenade, or dynamite, or…….) and using it on other folks. Believing such nonsense is, I’m sorry, just stupid….. It won’t stop, and there is nothing that will stop it, unless we figure out a way to change human nature…. a quest that, so far, has been completely unsuccessful, and isn’t likely to ever be otherwise….. People have violence in their nature, and thinking that the government, or any other entity, can change that is, well, not too bright….

But, fear is strong in most of society, and those folks have no clue, in general, that they are so easily manipulated. They tend to allow anyone who promises them to stop the fear to tell them what to do, just so they don’t have to think about it, or face it themselves. Governments have known this for centuries; look up Hermann Goering, the Nazi general under Hitler, some time, and see what he had to say about the people, and how their leaders could, and did, make them do whatever they wished, just by fanning their fears….. It’s a practice by no means uncommon among governments throughout history, up to and including the present day version….

Yep, ffolkes, that is indeed what it means…. most people are cowards, plain and simple…. When it comes to their own fears, they won’t do much of anything in the way of conquering those fears themselves…. They would much rather let the politicians promise them to keep the streets safe, if only they will give up the right to defend themselves, or allow a preacher to tell them to submit to earthly authority in order to receive eternal life (Or, in other words, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today…..” — Wimpy, Popeye’s friend, and metaphorical common man….). The media, whether out of ignorance, or out of deliberate dispassion, will continue to give them a public platform from which to perform their manipulations, and never blink an eye in guilt….

Me? I’ll pass on the hamburger, thanks, and go make sure my powder is dry…..

“I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast.” — Ronald W. Reagan
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Okay, that will do…. It is barely after 0700, and I’ve proofed once, and buffed a few scuffs so they shine a little…. It will have to do, as I’m not going back and doing it again…. not unless I suffer a power surge that deletes it all, an unlikely event in the face of the precautions I have in place to deal with that possibility….. 🙂  

Nevertheless, precautionary techniques notwithstanding, it’s done…. So be it…. It’s probably a good thing, as I’m getting tired of pretending to be sane, and need to go let it out somewhere…. Oh, wait, that’s what THIS is supposed to do…. Oops…. Well, we’ll just have to hope for the best, I suppose…..  Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

dozer3

What’s a few platitudes among enemies?….

Ffolkes,
It’s  been said, with good reason, that true freedom is the release from pain, and I am ready to go on record as willing to testify to that in a heart beat. Not all gone, of course, some degree of it is bound to be my constant, boon companion for the rest of my days, and I can live with that, albeit reluctantly. But, for the greatest part, my recent overload seems to have eased off enough to make life worth living again. SIGH, now if I can score a bowl of oatmeal, and my check hits the bank today, I’ll be a happy camper…..

Yay, me….. and enough about me. The last few days of pain and angst have been too self-oriented for me, too involved in personal drama for my spartan tastes in that department. Yet the pain grabs hold, and occupies the major part of one’s attention, until it fills the world, so it seems. Finding any objectivity becomes a struggle, and the perceptive world shrinks to include only the pain, and the struggle to get past it. When the fever breaks, so to speak, and the struggle lessens, the sense of relief is so great, it is actually greater than the pain, and the world almost seems to be in balance for the time being…..

“Pain is just nature’s way of telling you you’re alive.” — Smart Bee

So, I’ll take advantage, and use the time to try to write something more than just an intro, or an old-school pearl, with mostly quotes and a few comments. Who knows, maybe there’s a poem in there, waiting to come out…. We’ll see I guess…. I think I should get to it before my body decides I’ve had enough of a break, and gives me more BS to deal with….. Shall we Pearl?…..
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“Perhaps one of the only positive pieces of advice that I was ever given was that supplied by an old courtier who observed: “Only two rules really count: never miss an opportunity to relieve yourself; never miss a chance to rest your feet.” — Duke of Windsor

I would say the Duke was going for the cheap laugh here, and missed, slightly, but the old courtier knew something of life, for sure. Both rules are quite important to a life lived well, as they both offer techniques to keep one prepared for whatever life may present…. as well as offering advantages in life over those who do not use them….

First, think about NOT taking care of business when you can, and later having to deal with say, a bus ride over a road under construction; the pain would be excruciating, although the dancing one would be forced to exhibit would be, I’m sure, quite entertaining to others on the bus. Or, perhaps you find yourself meeting the Queen, who wants to discuss your latest book, for the next hour, while you stand there and dance in place, growing redder in the face by the moment… It’s a good rule…. Always take the time to be prepared, is what it can be boiled down to, and it isn’t just for Boy Scouts….

The second line is similar in its proactive nature, and in being prepared for action. Jim Brown was considered one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, setting records for almost every category of statistics for his position during his relatively short career (He played nine years, getting out without ever suffering a major injury…. an unusual accomplishment for NFL retirees…..). He claimed that one of the secrets for the consistent bruising power in his running style, and his apparent tirelessness at the end of games, had to do with his habit on the field, of resting completely between plays…. When he carried the ball, and was tackled, he did not spring up and run back to the huddle… He would lay on the ground for a couple of breaths, then slowly roll over onto his hands and knees, taking another breath or two in that position.  Only then would he push up onto his feet, whereupon he would WALK slowly back to the huddle, always getting there in plenty of time, but with his breath already under control, and his muscles relaxed, ready to run again.

Using ideas such as these to give oneself the advantage in a game is the same as in life. Foresight and preparation are as important as skill and dedication, and the intelligent use of available resources for maximum benefit is far more effective than merely reacting to perceived need. These are skills that, it seems, are more apparent to older ffolkes, as it is the kind of thing one learns over time, rather than as one illuminating lesson, sent down in a flash of thunder by the gods. Old folks know how to save energy, as we only have so much, and it wouldn’t do to run out right in the middle of a tango, now would it? No, it wouldn’t….  in fact, that would be quite embarrassing, and none of us old farts would ever be caught flubbing a tango….

“Whose undertakings are all devoid of desires and purpose, and whose actions have been burnt by fire-of-knowledge, him the wise call a sage.” — Gita, Chapter 4, Verse 19.
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I sat here, and opened up a couple veins, but, nothing has flowed out but random globules of greasy, grimy, gopher guts…. sorry, just a bit of adolescence left over…. No poem is forthcoming from my head, though, so we’ll have to go classic, or perhaps, exotic…. we’ll see what comes up when I get to Google…. Ah, perfect….

A Dog Has Died

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he’d keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea’s movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean’s spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.

So now he’s gone and I buried him,
and that’s all there is to it.

— Pablo Neruda

Translated, from the Spanish, by Alfred Yankauer
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“I’m having an emotional outburst!!” — Zippy the Pinhead

“It’s the last one, I promise!” — gigoid

Repercussions, Part IV

Reality Considered As A Slippery Slope

“Yes! Living in today’s complex world of the future IS much like having a hive of bees live  in your head. But…..there they are!” – Firesign Theater.

Sometimes, in my more lucid moments of reflection, I wonder if everyone else ever feels like that. If they did, then maybe it wouldn’t bother me so much when I do, because a burden shared is a burden eased…. To this, I can personally attest…..

In the immediate aftermath of the events described in detail yesterday in Part III, I continued to work at NSH, on the adult units, and for some strange reason, not a single psychiatrist or psychologist, nor any other therapist or administrative staff, suggested that perhaps the staff members who were involved might wish to talk about those events. It didn’t occur to me that maybe I should take some time off; I thought keeping busy was best, and when staff take time off, the ones who remain have to cover the time one would be off, thus making the job even harder. So I came to work, but I had changed, both my attitude, and my approach to the job.

Holding group therapy, and other normal, mundane functions of the job became low priority in my sphere of perceptions, while being alert to the possibility of small situations that could conceivably worsen became my focus. In retrospect, I firmly believe that my adrenal gland was regularly and periodically giving me doses of our natural defense system’s ‘pick-me-up’ in response to how I perceived the events around me. My hearing became extremely acute; I distinctly remember hearing a small noise one evening while standing in an office doorway, one night a few months after the incident with Al, and when I had tracked it to its’ source, I found that I had to go around three concrete walls, and through two metal doors to find what turned out to be two young men arguing, but not in particularly loud voices. No one else had heard anything.

Instead of a mental health therapist, I became a ‘brain cop’, ever alert to the slightest quirk in even the most delusional of individuals, often being able to intuit what they would do before they acted, magically appearing just as they would start to move. Even these agitated individuals can be fairly easily redirected, or at least distracted from their initial violent impulses, with the correct timing. And if the timing wasn’t quite right, well, I became even faster at assuming physical control, with the intent of entirely removing violence as one of their behavioral options, no matter what the situation.

As became obvious later, I was becoming somewhat grandiose myself, trying to assume the sole responsibility for the safety of ‘everyone’ in my space. I had forgotten, or refused to remember, a very old saying in the field of mental health, which cautions, “You will know that a nervous breakdown is imminent when you begin to believe that what you are doing is very important.” In my narrowed field of perceptions, what I was doing assumed a HUGE importance.

After a year of this, I wish I could say that I’d had enough, and asked for help. Perhaps my feet would have found the path I needed to follow sooner. But, I didn’t; another friend at work finally worked up the nerve to point out to me some of the things I was doing, and how they weren’t in my best interests, or in the best interests of the folks I was there to help. She was very compassionate and supportive, and despite what I wanted to believe, I’m not deliberately stupid, and had to admit the veracity of what she was telling me. I was broken inside, and no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t going to be able to fix what was broken by myself…..good thing for me, I didn’t have to do that all alone. In that, I was a fortunate one….

I asked to see the on-duty physician the night my friend spoke to me, and after some discussion, often somewhat heated on my part, I decided to leave work, due to a temporary disability caused by repeated exposure to extreme stress. In the next days, I began seeing a psychiatrist, at the suggestion of a lawyer I had been advised to see, who would ensure that my claim for disability  got me the help I needed. For the next two years, I saw the good Doctor K, and my time with him became a weekly hour of calm in the midst of the intermittent storms in my mind. My last year of work had been marked by sleeping problems, periods of anxiety & depression, and the advent of the beginning symptoms of a physical disorder that wouldn’t fully manifest for another five years, but caused a constant feeling of lethargy and general malaise.

With time away from work, and compassionate care from my psychiatrist, and the presence of my family, my anxiety and depression became less pronounced, and eventually I processed my feelings about what had occurred to the point where I was no longer troubled by daytime flashbacks and nightly dreams of the horrible events. I found my way back to my center, but as a changed person. I am much more in touch now with my emotions, and have learned not to block them out as much when they are too strong. It has taught me that it is okay to break down, and even to cry, as long as you remember to believe that you can always get back up…..

Hopefully, The End….

P.S.  I can’t leave it there, being who I am now…. Tomorrow, or, if not by then, in the near future, I’ll finish this story, as far as it has gotten since last explored. I got back up, yes, and am still up, but, there remains not only a lot of pain and anguish in my soul about those events, but echoes of that pain that I still hear today, in spite of my nearly constant struggle to mitigate anything that will bring me this kind of emotional turmoil. Reality does intrude, though, and life still must go on…. Any who, enough of being mysterious and obscure…..  More later….

The picture is an image of a Celtic Knot from the MS Clip Art collection.

P.P.S.  Above the title of this last section, I made a promise…. and it seems now like a good one to fulfill. I’ve read over this again, and felt again all the anguish I felt then… but with a hopeful sign. The aftereffects have not lasted as long, and I’m achieving some emotional stability earlier in the process… That’s a good thing…. But, I’m tired of all this re-hashing of old business, and hereby resolve to put it away for a time…. It’s certainly taken up enough of my life’s portion of time spent on negative events and issues, and it’s time I try to spend some time elsewhere in my reality…. So be it… gigoid has spoken….
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Now that the delusional third party nonsense is over, I think I’ll get on with life. I have high hopes…. for what I’m not sure, but, in the wake of the last few days, I’ll take whatever comes up, gladly. Hmm… as I look outside, I see that Murphy has turned his attention to the outer world, and it is raining significantly, which will complicate my trip to the library…. Ah well, c’est la vie, as they say in Nice, and probably Lyon, too….  Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

Dozer

Kowabunga!

Adequate portions will not be forthcoming….

Ffolkes,
It is unclear to me, even when I most try to understand, just how I’m supposed to cope with the different issues that keep arising. Without getting detailed or graphic, allow me to just say that I have three medical conditions that cause me either physical and/or emotional pain on a daily basis. Sometimes, only one is active, or giving me a problem. Sometimes, there are two of them working at once to drag me down. And some days, like yesterday, and, so far, today, all three of them bless me with their own particular demands for my attention, whether to merely acknowledge what cannot be changed, or to cope with symptoms that become extremely out of control or prominent. When all three are clamoring for my mind’s time, they each have their own little ways of grabbing the attention they want…..

One has to do with pain, of a muscular type, and is the most easily controlled; usually extra medication and time will fix it. Another, unfortunately, doesn’t respond to that kind of treatment, and requires a different approach to avoiding issues, essentially dietary boundaries that must be maintained. The last is the most insidious, and strikes in my mind, the depression and tears and guilt that swamps me at times, and only can be dissipated by spending a long time trying to do something positive, or other kinds of activities that distract me from the dark thoughts that come with the emotions…..

None of them are any fun, to speak of. And days like this, when all three are active, are massive challenges to get through. Today may be especially hard, for environmental reasons that I won’t go into right now…. If you can’t tell, I’m trying really hard to be discrete, and to not turn this into another litany of complaints, that only serves to worry those who care about me, and I don’t want to upset anyone for something that I have to do on a daily basis…. today, and yesterday, have just been a bit more difficult…. lots of back and abdominal pain, interspersed with tears, guilt, and adrenaline rushes, and aftereffects of adrenaline, which, in me, lasts for hours and hours…..

That part is over, so today becomes a challenge for two types of pain, which isn’t so hard to deal with, in one sense…. Once I’ve finished this morning’s Pearl, the only task I have for the day is to make it down to the library to post and check the yahoo email, and I’ve become accustomed enough to the walk that I think I can do it without any extra difficulty, as long as I rest up well first…. No worries, as the library is open until 9 tonight….. Easy money…. Now that I’ve bored y’all to tears with my problems, I think I should turn my head to the process of diving….  It should turn out to be a more positive activity, and work out as well as anything else….. Shall we Pearl?…..

“I just had a mental breakdown. Got any jumper cables?” — Smart Bee
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“The simple rights, the civil liberties from generations of struggle must not be just fine words for patriotic holidays, words we subvert on weekdays, but living, honored rules of conduct amongst us…I’m glad the American Civil Liberties Union gets indignant, and I hope this will always be so.” — Senator Adlai E. Stevenson

“It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.  If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders.  I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too.” — Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

Okay, I give up. It’s been three hours now, almost, and these two pearls, excellent though they are, make up the entire results of those three hours…. That’s right, two. I keep refreshing Smart Bee, but it seems to want to keep offering up stuff I’ve been rejecting for years as not useful…. too short, too silly, too long and boring, or just boring. So far, every time I’ve rebooted SB, it seems to start showing me even older stuff than the time before….. Bah, I’m taking a break….

The remainder of today’s Pearl is hereby canceled. I can’t do it…. I’m in pain, and I can’t concentrate. I hate to waste the above two quotes, as they would make very good material. But, they’ll still be available…. I’ve been down for two hours, taking a break, and don’t feel much better. So, this will have to do. Think about the above quotes, when you have a moment; they’re good stuff. I’m going to get myself to the library, add a poem, post this, and try to get back here, where I can get back to what my body wants from me today, i.e., curled up in bed, trying to ignore it all…. see ya….

“I’d like some JUNK FOOD…  and then I want to be ALONE….” — Zippy the Pinhead
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“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” — Maya Angelou

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

~~ Dylan Thomas
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Here is the second part of the series begun yesterday, about a dark time in life for me…. this is some more background material about my skills and training, and a lead-in to tomorrow’s piece, wherein the hammer comes down…. or came down, right on my head….

Repercussions, Part II

In 1973, at the age of 23, I attended school to study to take the state examination for a license as a Psychiatric Technician (PT). The classes were subsidized by, and took place at, Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) in Central California. Junior college credits were given through the local J.C., Cuesta College in nearby San Luis Obispo. In conjunction with the classes, students were allowed, and encouraged, to work 20 hours per week in the hospital, as a supplement to the clinical hours required to complete the courses. So began my journey in the mental health industry, and unknown to me at the time, down the path to darkness…..

The hospital at Atascadero is a maximum security facility that houses up to 1200 individuals, committed to the bleak, prison-like hospital by the courts, as being either unable to stand trial due to being unable to understand the charges, or because they were unable to cooperate in their defense, due to mental illness. Some of these men (it is an all-male facility; women in the same legal categories were housed elsewhere, at Patton State Hospital, or PSH, in San Bernardino) were also committed by the courts as being Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, or were those who had manifested symptoms of mental illness after being convicted of crimes and sent to prison. A very few of them were not insane, but were master manipulators, career criminals with very good lawyers who had convinced the court to send them to the hospital rather than prison. These individuals caused a great many problems, as they would manipulate their less functional peers into giving up their property, or doing their will, or  incite them to violence, just to watch the results from a safe distance, for amusement.

Working in a maximum security facility as a therapist is possibly one of the most difficult jobs man has ever created; a prison-like environment makes it difficult to create the ambiance necessary to allow the men being treated to feel safe and comfortable enough to deal with their individual problems. The danger of housing so many people with mental illness is an ever-present and overriding concern, as one of the primary characteristics of those with these types of diagnoses is a lack, or even absence, of impulse control. As a result, managing assaultive behavior becomes a necessary adjunct to treatment.

The Department of Mental Health, working with employees from all the state hospitals, developed a policy for dealing with the issue, and training in Management of Assaultive Behavior (MAB) was given to every employee who came into contact with the committed individuals. Since the facility was classed as maximum security, the training was especially important for the Hospital Police, who were responsible for maintaining the security of the physical plant, and for the therapists (psychiatrists and psychologists, nurses, psychiatric technicians, and ancillary staff such as occupational and rehabilitation therapists) who were the primary care-givers for the individuals. These teams were taught specific techniques for recognizing the warning signs of impending violent behavior, re-direction when possible, and for physically controlling individuals who were acting out in a violent manner, without causing or sustaining injury.

Most of these principles and techniques, if not all, were very similar to the Judo and Ju-Jitsu that I had been taught, so my prior training and experience became valuable tools for me in being able to keep safe both the aggressors and victims involved in the violent episodes so frequently found in settings such as ASH. I became one of the people who specialized in MAB, which necessarily meant that whenever a violent incident broke out, I was one of the first to respond, as I was adept at controlling the situation without any of the participants sustaining injury, the primary goal in such instances.

Working in such a high stress environment as a maximum security hospital was both physically and emotionally draining, and after three years at ASH I had had enough, and moved north to work at Napa State Hospital in order to get back to being a therapist rather than a glorified cop. I obtained a position as a PT in a treatment program for adolescents. To me, it was  a wonderful change; the kids in the program, a co-educational environment, were smaller as a rule than the full-grown men I was used to, and there were far fewer individuals who resorted to violence than at ASH. It was also different for being co-ed, as I had previously not worked with any women, or girls, in a therapeutic setting. Because of my experience in MAB, violence on the unit where I worked became a non-viable behavior for the adolescents, and after a few months the number of incidents that took place were greatly reduced.

After a few years at NSH, I decided to take an extended sabbatical from working as a PT, and traveled around California for a few months, until not working became a bore; I was raised to be productive, and needed to get back to work. I applied to and was hired to work in another state hospital in Camarillo, a relatively small town near Ventura in Southern California. At CSH I once again worked with adolescents, as they had a similar program patterned after the one at NSH. My martial arts training, which I had continued all this time, once again proved to be a valuable tool, and I again became the first responder at any outbreaks of violence among the individuals under treatment.

I met my wife at Camarillo; she was another PT in the adolescent program. We worked together, began dating, fell in love, married and started our family. It was a challenging period for me; between work, parenting, maintaining my marriage, home maintenance, and the myriad of little things that are the activities of daily life in this country, I was a very busy, very stressed individual. But I loved it that way, and was happy and content for some years. The economy at that time changed for the worse; we were unable to keep up with our mortgage payments, and lost our house to foreclosure. We decided to move north, to the Sonoma Valley, to raise our children in a country setting, with very well-respected schools, and a much lower crime rate than the southern California area in which we had lived.

I eventually hired on back at NSH, but the adolescent program was no longer open, so I began working with adults, on an all-male unit with individuals with a wide variety of diagnoses. As the level of security at Napa was not maximum, and the degree of training was not up to the higher standards at ASH, the units in the program where I worked were very dangerous, a situation which ultimately led to my downfall. It was about this time when I calculated that in my career as a PT, I had worked in the most stressful environments in the entire world, outside of battlefields, constantly in danger, and my martial arts background had become not just useful, but absolutely critical. I estimated the number of violent incidents in which I had been involved, and found that over the years I had an average of one major incident (translation: a knock-down, drag-out fight) per week since I had started as a PT at ASH. My calculations came to a minimum of 728 incidents. I was appalled, but also somewhat proud of this figure; in all those incidents only one of the individuals had sustained a minor injury, and I had sustained one minor injury myself. Not a bad record all in all…2 failures and 726 successful outcomes.

However, the damage to my psyche that had accumulated through the years had by this time reached an unprecedented and dangerous level, and I was finding it extremely difficult to maintain the now uncertain equilibrium I had achieved. My experiences had left me burdened with an indelible yet hidden wound in my soul, in my very center. The experiences to which I’d been exposed culminated in an incident that brought all of my pent-up stress to the surface, and affected me so deeply that I still feel the effects today……I became, quite literally, one of the “walking wounded”, a condition with which my generation, due to the Vietnam War, had become all too familiar. It was a single incident, that happened one night in 1984, and to this day I have never fully recovered…..

To be continued…..
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Naturally, Murphy felt he should make a contribution to today’s effort; I don’t know how I could have ignored the possibility. Ah well, blame my distractions…. but, regardless of his efforts, or my own, seemingly, it is done. It seems like a lot, considering how I feel, and I have to point out to myself, and y’all, that a lot was created way in the past, and a lot was faked, big time. Like I said, though, it’s done, and nothing will make me give it back…. I’ve tortured myself long enough, I”m done….  Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

Dozer

Kowabunga!

Prudish pianos sit, forlorn in the mist….

Ffolkes,
The beast has fallen from the mizzen mast, and the jib is down. I was awakened by the laughing of clowns, injecting the first cup of coffee intravenously, to save time. It struck me as I stretched prior to beginning that I had not brushed the cactus, but it looked as if I had. Such thoughts being extraneous to our purpose here, they shall be deleted. Such is the fate of unwanted, unloved cogitations, cast adrift at their most vulnerable moment, salient only to themselves. Thus it began, strangely tart, but uncommonly picturesque. The band refused to play Mozart, so Copeland had to do….

If the above is any indication, it might be a good idea to buckle up…. the ride today promises to be a bit unsteady. Should be fun though… I haven’t felt this much strong whimsy in a while…. I can see the priests, pundits, and bankers running off screaming already, deathly afraid of my savage wit…. Sure, that’s the ticket…. Before I slip entirely under the waves of insanity here, let’s get on with the Pearl, shall we?…. It would be best, I think….
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All things considered, insanity may be the only reasonable alternative. — Smart Bee

This explains this morning’s attitude… I must have been percolating this idea in the back of my mind all night, and woke up with it still buzzing around in there… It makes sense, in a perverted sort of fashion. Especially after looking at what I wrote yesterday. Oh, not that it wasn’t good….in fact, it was one of my better efforts in a while, over 2500 words, all fairly potent. No, what I refer to is the subject matter of which I wrote. A lot of it consisted of indictments of mankind or society for crimes against citizens, serving to show just how bad things are when viewed pessimistically, and how insanity in the face of that seems almost necessary, to maintain any scrap of self-control. Insane may be crazy, but it IS a choice to stay true to oneself, rather than to give in to the insanity someone else may thrust upon us.

People often wonder why there are so many disturbed folks out there, which amuses me no end…. How could it be otherwise? The pressures on every person alive in today’s madcap world is intense and unrelenting; what surprises me is how FEW truly insane people there are to be found outside institutions. Most of the really, truly mad ones are in those institutions, where they have discovered they are safe from the depredations that society forces upon everyone outside the fences. They receive three hots and a cot, and all they have to do is keep from making any sense when the doctor is around, or when anybody with a nursing license is watching, and they have no worries. Free food, free TV, medical care, and all on somebody else’s dime. What a deal!

So, don’t look down your nose at those among us who have chosen the path of insanity in order to cope with the world at large. They may be on to something…. they certainly have a lot less to worry about than most of us do. All they have to do is be creative in their delusions, let out the inner demons now and again, dance a jig in the common room each night,  and they can be just as happy as a clam at high tide….

“Once you accept his assumptions even a madman seems reasonable.” — Smart Bee
___________________________________
~ A wonderful poem by Audrey Hepburn ~ Written when asked to share her “beauty tips.” It was read at her funeral years later.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.


I trot this out now and again, just because it is as beautiful as she was…..

___________________________________

Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. — Robert Heinlein

This is a truism in my world. I read it many years ago, and after examining it extensively, have found it to be a perfect reflection of reality as I perceive it. It is a very useful statement for the understanding of all sorts of concepts regarding what happens in the political arena, serving as it does as sort of a program, allowing one to identify the players quickly and accurately, according to the role they assume and display for viewing by the public.

What is unfortunate about its veracity is how it seems to work in the modern world. It seems to me that of the two identified types of people, only the first type, those who wish everyone to be controlled, are the ones in office, or running for office. By nature and inclination, the second type does not involve themselves any more than necessary in the political process; it offends their sensibilities to even have to watch it played out in the public arena.

They do whatever is required to maintain their own independence from excessive control by others; that also is natural to them. This, sadly, leaves a great portion of humanity to its own devices, allowing the beloved ruling class, comprised solely of those who wish to control others, to abuse and oppress them to their heart’s content.

Ah well, Mr. Heinlein would suggest that those folks are only getting what they deserve for refusing to use what little intelligence they have to protect themselves, and, in at least that sense, he is correct. It just makes me sad to see so much pain and anguish among them when it is so unnecessary; I’m a sucker for hard-luck cases.

In the end,  I suppose it doesn’t matter at all in a cosmic sense; we all will do whatever it is we choose to do, and if that choice is to wear blinders, and bend over when asked, well, we would get exactly what we deserve from life…. Not me, though…. I like my butt just the way it is, thank you very much….

Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.”
— Sun Tzu (fl. c. B.C. 500)
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“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” — Francis Bacon

Francis was a pretty smart man. Smart enough to have folks suspect him of writing a lot of Will Shakespeare’s works, apparently during his copious free time between joshing with the queen and the other courtesans, writing his philosophical treatises, and abusing the peasants. Of course, we see a lot of this quotes lying around, gathering dust, and a short examination of them reveals why…. most of them bore the reader to tears before they get to the point of what he wrote.

Yet this short little piece ascribed to him indicates more, as it is startlingly clear and absolutely accurate. It must have been written in his early years, as it also is in direct opposition to a lot of his later writings, which tend to rely on faith and religious principles he should have avoided altogether. As a matter of fact, now that I mention it, his writing over time seemed to become increasingly heavy and obscure, reflecting the confusion in his mind, no doubt, created by the disparity between the above obviously rational line of thought and the religious doctrine with which he became enamored in later years.

His later writing also demonstrates just how true the above line is, as over time, as he came to believe in more certainties, his writing and mind became more filled with doubts. In his youth, when he allowed himself to entertain doubt, he was clearly more certain of what he knew.

A good example of what to avoid, I would say, if one wishes to maintain any rationality in their thinking. It sure did mess up poor Frankie’s work…. I mean, who would WANT to be known as Willies ghost-writer, anyway?…..
___________________________________

The path is the way.
The way is the truth.
It is found, but not held;
walked on, but not followed.
— Tao Teh Ching

When I was 16, my father took me on a trip to visit the UC Berkeley campus, to see if I really wanted to attend there after high school. We drove up from our home near the Central Coast of California to the burgeoning megalopolis on the east side of the SF Bay where Berkeley sits, with my eyes and mind on overdrive, taking in a completely new landscape, one completely foreign to my naive mind, which had spent most of the previous years living in a town of 750 souls. In retrospect, I don’t think that I could have made any other decision, as I was in the throes of intellectual ecstasy, taking in vast amounts of new perceptions and experiences as fast as I could swivel my head.

One of the places we visited on campus was the bookstore at the student union. Having been a book addict since the age of 9 or so, it was like falling into heaven. My dad had a hard time getting me to leave to go look at other stuff, as I was entranced by all the books I’d never seen.

On a table near the check-out stands, on a clearance table, was a slim book with a beautiful black and white image of a typical Chinese painting of mountains with bamboo shoots in the foreground, and some ideograms running down the side. The English title of the book, at the top, read merely, “Tao Teh Ching”. Visually, it was the most beautiful book I’d ever seen. Little did I know how much that simple tome would change my whole life, and the way I viewed the world.

It goes without saying at this point that I bought the book. On the drive home, I lost myself in Lao Tzu’s 88 verses that comprise the Tao Teh Ching, and have been lost in the beauty and truth they provide ever since. “The Way that can be known is not the true Way.” That is the first line of the book, as per that translation, and my mind was freed from all its previous restraints.

It was as if I had been awakened from a long sleep, and awoke with eyes so clear that only the truth could be seen. My father, I’m sure, thought I’d lost all sanity as I read, gasped, and made little moans of awakening surprise at the things that the book showed me. It is a day I will never forget, and one that, in my mind, set me on the scholar/warrior’s path that I have walked to this day…..
___________________________________

I suppose by this time I should be accustomed to my own lack of organization when it comes to these Pearls. When I awoke this morning, an hour later than I thought I would (thank goodness for an hour of sleep that I wasn’t expecting!….), I was, as usual, unsure of where we might end up. As usual, I needn’t have worried, as it all came out okay, and didn’t take all that long. I’m content. Well, as content as I ever am, anyway. So, y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

Kowabunga!

In the shelter of the 39th Parallel….

Part IV….

Reality Considered As A Slippery Slope

“Yes! Living in today’s complex world of the future IS much like having a hive of bees live  in your head. But…..there they are!” – Firesign Theater. Sometimes, in my more lucid moments of reflection, I wonder if everyone else ever feels like that. If they did, then maybe it wouldn’t bother me so much when I do, because a burden shared is a burden eased.

In the immediate aftermath of the events described in detail in Part III, I continued to work, and for some strange reason, not a single psychiatrist or psychologist, nor any other therapist or administrative staff, suggested that perhaps the staff members who were involved might wish to talk about those events. It didn’t occur to me that maybe I should take some time off; I thought keeping busy was best, and when staff take time off, the ones who remain have to cover the time one would be off, thus making the job even harder. So I came to work, but I had changed, both my attitude, and my approach to the job.

Holding group therapy, and other normal, mundane functions of the job became low priority in my sphere of perceptions, while being alert to the possibility of small situations that could conceivably worsen became my focus. In retrospect, I firmly believe that my adrenal gland was regularly and periodically giving me doses of our natural defense system’s ‘pick-me-up’ in response to how I perceived the events around me. My hearing became extremely acute; I distinctly remember, on more than one occasion, hearing a small noise while standing in an office doorway, and when I had tracked it to its’ source, I found that I had to go around three concrete walls, and through two metal doors to find what turned out to be two young men arguing, but not in particularly loud voices. No one else had heard anything.

Instead of a mental health therapist, I became a ‘brain cop’, ever alert to the slightest quirk in even the most delusional of individuals, often being able to intuit what they would do before they acted, magically appearing just as they would start to move. Even these agitated individuals can be fairly easily redirected, or at least distracted from their initial violent impulses, with the correct timing. And if the timing wasn’t quite right, well, I became even faster at assuming physical control, with the intent of entirely removing violence as one of their behavioral options, no matter what the situation.

As became obvious later, I was becoming somewhat grandiose myself, trying to assume the sole responsibility for the safety of ‘everyone’ in my space. I had forgotten, or refused to remember, a very old saying in the field of mental health, which cautions, “You will know that a nervous breakdown is imminent when you begin to believe that what you are doing is very important.” In my narrowed field of perceptions, what I was doing assumed a HUGE importance.

After a year of this, I wish I could say that I’d had enough, and asked for help. Perhaps my feet would have found the path I needed to follow sooner than I did. But, I didn’t; another friend at work finally worked up the nerve to point out to me some of the things I was doing, and how they weren’t in my best interests, or in the best interests of the folks I was there to help. She was very compassionate and supportive, and despite what I wanted to believe, I’m not deliberately stupid, and had to admit the veracity of what she was telling me. I was broken inside, and no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t going to be able to fix what was broken by myself…..fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.

I asked to see the on-duty physician the night my friend spoke to me, and after some discussion, often somewhat heated on my part, I decided to leave work, due to a temporary disability caused by repeated exposure to extreme stress. In the next days, I began seeing a psychiatrist, at the suggestion of a lawyer I had been advised to see, who would ensure that my claim for disability got me the help I needed.

For the next two years, I saw the good Doctor K, and my time with him became a weekly hour of calm in the midst of the intermittent storms in my mind. My last year of work had been marked by sleeping problems, periods of anxiety & depression, and the advent of the beginning symptoms of a physical disorder that wouldn’t fully manifest for another five years, but caused, in the present, a constant feeling of lethargy and general malaise.

With time away from work, and compassionate care from my psychiatrist, my anxiety and depression became less pronounced, and eventually I processed my feelings about what had occurred to the point where I was no longer troubled by daytime flashbacks and nightly dreams of the horrible events. I found my way back to my center, but as a changed person. I am much more in touch now with my emotions, and have learned not to block them out as much when they are too strong. It has taught me that it is okay to break down, and even to cry, as long as you remember to believe that you can always get back up…..but, it’s a struggle that continues each day, and won’t ever be completely gone…..

Well, there you have it. I don’t know if this is interesting to others or not, nor do I wish to concern myself with that. I wrote this as a form of  therapy, and re-reading it continues that process; I’m still somewhat emotionally fragile, compared to my former self, but life goes on, and we all do the best we can. All you can do is all you can do…..

Tomorrow, this space will once again hold a Daily Pearl of Virtual Wisdom…..y’all take care out there…..


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

A budgie in the hand, and two more on ice….

Ffolkes,

     Part III of Repercussions….

On a day in mid-August of 1984, I was working once again at Napa State Hospital (NSH) as a Psychiatric Technician. Since the adolescent program where I previously worked had closed, I was assigned to a unit designated T8. The T-building is a two-story edifice which encompasses enough space for 10 units housing up to 45 adult individuals each, an industrial kitchen with two separate dining rooms, serving meals in both rooms in rotation, for eight of the units, and several program offices for the Program managers and support staff.

The population was all male, in a program whose purpose was to treat a variety of different diagnoses. The residents of the program, who were diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorders, Personality Disorders, along with a wide variety of other psychiatric conditions, were housed together on eight units with dormitories where they slept at night. On this particular late summer’s day, the men on T8 were relatively quiet, as everyone tried to cope with the stifling heat common to the area at this time of the year. The buildings at NSH were built in the 1950’s, all of concrete, and could be very uncomfortable.

A couple of hours into the shift, we escorted our charges out the door, downstairs to the hallway leading to the dining room for dinner. It is always the most dangerous part of the shift; the residents are hungry, and the walk to the dining room necessarily leaves the staff spread apart in order to keep an eye on everyone. The team I worked with was a good one, and with all of us staying alert, we got to the dining room and supervised the clients, who were conversant with the routine, until all were seated and eating, except a couple of stragglers still in line.

The phone on the wall rang, and one of the kitchen employees picked up to answer. She listened a moment, then turned to quickly address us nursing staff, saying in a strained voice, “T6 needs help, stat!” “Stat” is the medical code word for an emergency situation, requiring staff to respond as fast as possible to lend assistance. Two of us immediately broke into a run, out of the door to the left down the hallway to the stairway door leading up to T6. We hit the open hall door at a full run and bounded up the stairs, slowing as we came to the doorway to scan the situation before entering into the main day hall of the unit.

To the left was the medication room door, bottom half closed, top open to the room. A female staff member in the open upper half pointed across the day hall at a resident there, saying only, “that’s him” In the middle of the room, near the chairs grouped in front of the TV, lay another of the residents, curled into a ball and shivering violently. A female staff member could be seen in the nursing office, still calling for help. No one was in the TV area; most of the clients were on the way to the dining room, as were most of the staff, so my teammate, named Lee, and I were the first responders at the scene. I looked straight ahead from the door as I moved into the room, and saw a sight I will see in dreams for the rest of my days, burned indelibly on my memory in an instant that lasted forever.

I saw the body of a male staff member, obviously unconscious; he lay on his back straight in front of me about 10 feet away. I recognized him as the T-6 shift lead, a friend named Al, who had oriented me to the program when I first came on board. I observed that he was breathing, but his complexion had a very bad looking, chalky grey cast to it. Another 15 feet beyond where he lay paced the apparent perpetrator, who immediately began yelling at me in a threatening voice, shouting, ” Yeah I did that, come and get me!.” He was about 6’1″, approximately 190 lbs., appeared to be in good shape, and very obviously was in an agitated psychotic state, just coming down after an explosion of rage, and still pumped up to fight.

As I approached him, I had to step over the body of my friend, and very carefully moved toward the agitated individual, on full alert and fully adrenalized. Time had slowed to a crawl, and I could hear the harsh breathing from the aggressor as he paced in a tight circle, mumbling to himself between yells in my direction. Lee, the other staff who had come in with me, is an experienced PT, and like me, a veteran of such situations.

     He silently crossed behind me to the left, quickly circling around to the opposite side, so we could approach from both directions. As I stepped up to the aggressor, I casually took his left arm, just as Lee did the same on the other side. Both of us had been trained to use a special hold which allows control of the arm without stressing it by putting it in unnatural positions, allowing you to use your weight to control the arm, quickly tiring the subject. He began to try rip his arms from our grasp, yelling obscenities at us, and flailing about.

Lee was experienced, but only weighed about 110 lbs. dripping wet, and I could tell he wasn’t going to be able to hold the right arm much longer, and I would then be the unhappy recipient of an attempted blow to the head. I had to think fast, so I dropped my weight while holding his arm, then lifted him upward until his weight went onto his toes, just enough that I was able to control the direction of our movement.

     I quickly directed all three of us right into the chairs a few feet away, knowing that I could direct him hard enough to cause his legs to run into the arm of the heavy chair, causing him to imbalance and fall over to the floor, with me still on top grimly keeping a death-grip on his arm. This unfortunately left Lee underneath him, but as I knew he would, he wriggled free, still holding the right arm, and we were then able to use our combined weight to hold him securely on the floor until more help arrived.

Very soon after we got control of the still wildly struggling individual, more people arrived, helped us to restrain him, then per procedure, move him to a secure room, where he could be restrained with leather straps on a bed until he regained control, as the psychotic rage passed. Once he was secure, Lee and I returned to the day hall where Al still lay, being examined by the on-duty physician, surrounded by silent and worried looking staff. A paramedic team arrived with a gurney stretcher, Al was lifted onto it gently, and rushed to the emergency room at the nearest hospital a few miles away. The doctor was only able to stand there shaking his head sadly, with a grave expression, saying over and over, “it’s bad, it’s bad”. After writing up the incident reports, Lee and I finished our shift on our unit, quietly raging inside but still outwardly under control.

After our shift ended, we went to the hospital to see if Al had been stabilized and/or had regained consciousness; before we left work, we had heard only periodic updates that told us he was still in surgery. When we arrived, we were told he was in a coma, in critical condition, and being monitored for fluid pressure on the brain. His prognosis was serious and guarded, meaning the doctors didn’t know whether he would recover or not, only time would tell.

Four days later, Al died without ever waking up. The doctors explained that he had apparently been struck full in the face, a massive blow to the nose. The doctors related he had received in essence two blows, one to the face and nose, and one to the back of the head when he fell to the floor. In reality, he never stood much chance of a full recovery; even if he had lived, the likelihood of a severe loss of brain function would almost certainly have made him a full-time bed patient, requiring full nursing care to survive. He would never have been able to speak, or walk, or hold his family again.

   Al was survived by his wife and four children. At the funeral a day after his death all of us who had worked with Al stood by his casket at the memorial service as we and his family bid him a tearful farewell. We could but stare in shock, and wonder at the terrible waste of a good man’s life, silent as the sadness filled us.

And I, I was filled with a such a sense of rage and sorrow, such waves of pain and anguish that I could barely speak for the clenching of my jaw. For the first time in my life and career, I had been unable to protect someone I had cared for, and I was filled with an immensely deep sense of regret for having arrived on the scene too late to save my friend…..

     My equilibrium was completely shattered, and I could not find my center, nor even momentary peace, despite recognizing that we had done as much as we could, and held no personal responsibility for his death. That knowledge gave me no comfort, and I entered the realm of the “walking dead”, gripped by madness and and soul-deep pain….

To be continued…..


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

Dozer

Kowabunga!

Remarkably obscene patterns in the sand….

Ffolkes,
Here is the second of four parts…

In 1973, at the age of 23, I attended school to study to take the state examination for a license as a Psychiatric Technician (PT). The classes were subsidized by, and took place at, Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) in Central California. College credits were given through the local J.C., Cuesta College in nearby San Luis Obispo. In conjunction with the classes, students were allowed, and encouraged, to work 20 hours per week in the hospital, as a supplement to the clinical hours required to complete the courses. So began my journey in the mental health industry, and unknown to me at the time, down the path to darkness…..

The hospital at Atascadero is a maximum security facility that houses up to 1200 individuals, who are committed to the bleak, prison-like hospital by the state courts, having been judged as being either unable to stand trial due to being unable to understand the charges, or because they were unable to cooperate in their own defense, due to mental illness. Some of these men (it is an all-male facility; women in the same legal categories were housed in another facility) were also committed by the courts as being Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, or were those who had manifested symptoms of mental illness after being convicted of crimes and sent to prison. A very few of them were not insane, but were master manipulators, career criminals with very good lawyers who had convinced the court to send them to the hospital rather than prison. These individuals caused a great many problems, as they would manipulate their less functional peers into giving up their property, or doing their will, or  incite them to violence, just to watch the results from a safe distance, for amusement.

Working in a maximum security facility as a therapist is possibly one of the most difficult jobs man has ever created. A prison-like environment makes it difficult to create the ambiance necessary to allow the men being treated to feel safe and comfortable enough to deal with their individual problems. The danger of housing so many people with mental illness is an ever-present and overriding concern, as one of the primary characteristics of those with these types of diagnoses is a lack, or even absence, of impulse control. As a result, managing assaultive behavior becomes a necessary adjunct to treatment.

The Department of Mental Health, working with employees from all the state hospitals, developed a policy for dealing with the issue; subsequently, training in Management of Assaultive Behavior (MAB) was given to every employee who came into contact with the committed individuals. Since the facility was classed as maximum security, the training was especially important for the Hospital Police, who were responsible for maintaining the security of the physical plant, and for the therapists (psychiatrists and psychologists, nurses, psychiatric technicians, and ancillary staff such as occupational and rehabilitation therapists) who were the primary care-givers for the individuals. These teams were taught specific techniques for recognizing the warning signs of impending violent behavior, how to re-direct when possible, and methods for physically controlling individuals who were acting out in a violent manner, without causing or sustaining injury.

Most of these principles and techniques, if not all, were very similar to the Judo and Kung Fu that I had been taught, so my prior training and experience became valuable tools for me, helping me to be skillful in keeping safe both the aggressors and victims involved in the violent episodes so frequently found in settings such as ASH. I became one of the people who specialized in MAB, which necessarily meant that whenever a violent incident broke out, I was one of the first to respond, as I was adept at controlling the situation without any of the participants sustaining injury, the primary goal in such instances.

Working in such a high stress environment as a maximum security hospital was both physically and emotionally draining, and after three years at ASH I had had enough. I moved north to work at Napa State Hospital, in order to get back to being a therapist rather than a glorified cop. I obtained a position as a PT in a treatment program for adolescents at NSH in 1976. To me, it was  a wonderful change; the kids in the program, lived ina co-educational environment, and were smaller as a rule than the full-grown men I was used to; in addition, there were far fewer individuals who had already learned to resort to violence, compared to those who were housed at ASH. It was also different for being co-ed, as I had previously not worked with any women, or girls, in a therapeutic setting. Because of my experience in MAB, violence on the unit where I worked became a non-viable behavior for the adolescents, and after a few months the number of incidents that took place on the unit were greatly reduced.

After a few years at NSH, I decided to take an extended sabbatical from working as a PT, and traveled around California for a few months, until not working became a bore; I was raised to be productive, and needed to get back to work. I applied to and was hired to work in another state hospital in Camarillo, a relatively small town near Ventura in Southern California. At CSH I once again worked with adolescents, as they had a similar program, patterned after the one at NSH. My martial arts training, which I had continued all this time, once again proved to be a valuable tool, and I again became the first responder at any outbreaks of violence among the individuals under treatment.

I met my wife at Camarillo; she was another PT in the adolescent program. We worked together, began dating, fell in love, married and started our family. It was a challenging period for me; between work, parenting, maintaining my marriage, home maintenance, and the myriad of little things that are the activities of daily life in this country, I was a very busy, very stressed individual. But I loved it that way, and was happy and content for some years.

     The economy at that time changed for the worse; we were unable to keep up with our mortgage payments, and lost our house to foreclosure. We decided to move north, to the Sonoma Valley, to raise our children in a country setting, with very well-respected schools, and a much lower crime rate than the southern California area in which we had lived.

I eventually hired on back at NSH, but the adolescent program was no longer open, so I began working with adults, on an all-male unit, with a group of individuals with a wide variety of diagnoses. As the level of security at Napa was not maximum, and the degree of MAB training was not up to the higher standards at ASH, the units in the program where I worked were very dangerous, a situation which ultimately led to my downfall.

     It was about this time when I calculated that, in my career as a PT, I had worked in the most stressful environments in the entire world, outside of battlefields, constantly in danger, and my martial arts background had become not just useful, but absolutely critical. I estimated the number of violent incidents in which I had been involved, and found that over the years I had an average of one major incident (translation: a knock-down, drag-out fight, in real-time, with real opponents, who are actively engaged in trying to hurt or maim me, or someone else) per week since I had started as a PT at ASH. My calculations came to a minimum of 728 incidents. I was appalled, but also somewhat proud of this figure; in all those incidents only one of the individuals had sustained a minor injury, and I had sustained one minor injury myself. Not a bad record, all in all…2 partial failures and 726 successful outcomes.

However, the damage to my psyche that had accumulated through the years had by this time reached an unprecedented and dangerous level, and I was finding it extremely difficult to maintain the now uncertain equilibrium I had achieved. My experiences had left me burdened with an indelible, hidden wound in my soul, in my very center. The experiences to which I’d been exposed eventually culminated in one specific incident that brought all of my pent-up stress to the surface, and affected me so deeply that I still feel the effects today……I became, quite literally, one of the “walking wounded”, a condition with which my generation, due to the Vietnam War, had become all too familiar. It was a single incident, that happened one night in 1984, and to this day I have never fully recovered…..

To be continued…..


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

Dozer

Kowabunga!