On March 31st 2017 I packed my bags and got rid of things I didn’t need; I said my last goodbyes and gave my last hugs. On April 1st, the next day, I took my bags, hopped on the plane and headed to California. I had no plans for who I was staying with; I had no plans to adopt any 9-5 jobs and I had no plans for earning money. The only thing I knew, was to follow my spirit, and I did just that.
California had been calling me for some time now. At first I thought it was just a fun idea to come out here with my boys, do our music, perform and explore. So for a while I had put the idea off. One year went by and the voices of my spirits become stronger. Everything around me had said California. From T shirts, to books, down to a brand of veggie burgers. I was even having a random conversation about cats, and the lady I spoke with told me that she knew a cat that was oddly called Cali. This was how I knew I could no longer stray from what the great divine was trying to tell me: that there is something out there for me.
Because I chose to make that big decision to leave New Jersey, and go on “blind faith”, I was rewarded with a safety net, staying with two friends, one of whom I’ve known for 14 years now. Staying with like-minded people like myself, I’ve been given the gift of living with other healers with great humor, compassion and purpose. The only job I have been working on, is the original one the Lord has given me: which is to work on my emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health. I have a good chunk of change in my pocket, and I am not worried about anything.
I’ve been told that home is where the heart is; that no matter where you go, you are home; you are free. I agree with this. I also know to follow my spirit when it calls me to move forward on my journey. I was meant to come to Cali to get completely out of my comfort zone. Had I stayed in Jersey I would have spent money frivolously, stayed in my doubtful state of mind, taking everything for granted and would have kept myself trapped in a dark box of self-doubt. Making this move meant, I couldn’t spend too carelessly because I didn’t know the next time I would receive any money and from where. It meant being in an area that I am not at all familiar with, so that I couldn’t leech on anybody that I knew to hang onto in order to hang on to old habits. Being out here, where the sun is always out, using a fresh state for a fresh state of mind is what I needed. There is more to come while I am still here.
I am coming back to New Jersey. When I am finished with my ascension, I will come back stronger, more peaceful, more purposeful, with more light, love and wisdom so that I can come back home, to make some beautiful changes.
By: Bobby L.
The Attempt on my own life.
In 2013 I attempted on taking my own life. At that moment I did not care who will be affected by it. Everything was a complete blur. It was as if everything went completely black. It was a very sad place.
The doctors and nurses were working so hard to save my life. Even though I wanted to die. I felt absolutely helpless and hopeless.
Before I was wheeled into my own room I was treated by a nurse who happened to be a neighbor of mine and who helped my mother in previous years with her knee replacements. I was thinking “Is this a joke”. God saved my life and He is putting people in my life to help me. In my room I was greeted by a friend of mine who I not seen for over 30 years. I said to him “You know me. I have never did anything like this.” He said to me, “You hit rock bottom. So the only direction for you to go is UP”.
This disability I have is a mood disorder called “Bipolar Mixed.” There is a recent as of the date f this letter is called “Bipolar Depression”.
Due to the passing of my sister from cervical cancer, caused me to fall into this Depression state.
Coping Skills are used in ways to manage my symptoms.
These are the following skills I use:
1) Focalization – Shape of my Hand.
2) Listen to Music
3) Go for a Walk
4) Remove myself from the situation
5) Deep Breathing
6) Focus on Body Muscle Groups
I was in a situation where job distribution was taking place. Many people were speaking at the same time. So I made a walk towards my counselor and I did Deep Breathing to calm my emotions. Within minutes my mood changed.
I do hope my letter/journal help you to know my diagnosis alongside of knowing myself.
I suffer from sever debilitating mental illness. So many of my peers struggle with the stigma and everyday ups and downs. Many of us have side effects from medications. This presents more challenges, trials, and often times disappointments. People are often times misdiagnosed, hence the medication of Russian roulette of sorts.
There is so little help from the government to assist folks in getting ahead.
Experiencing financial problems, along families that don’t understand- forces myself and others into a lonely isolative bubble.
Being positive when you wish you hadn’t waken up in the morning is something I’m really trying to master.
Changes in treatment is overdue. A holistic approach makes so much more sense and is far more beneficial than a pill in many cases.
I recall having yoga built into one of my hospitalizations. It may have saved my life. It was the one thing that gave inner peace and changed my perspective on my entire being. Maybe just maybe hypnosis could take the place of shocking the brain into a controlled seizure through ECT. Perhaps this could help irradiate the horror of PTSD.
In a holistic reality, good hypnotherapy could possibly erase addictions like drugs and alcohol, maybe even OCD behaviors.
Planting, harvesting, and nature in general can just halt many symptoms of mental illness. How can we get the government and medical insurance to see things from a holistic point of view?
Sexual harassment in America has seemed to have gotten to record levels, as reporting has been de-stigmatized. Men and women are no longer afraid to come forward on this issue. Our current culture is such that sexual harassment is no longer tolerated. It is commendable that people are standing up to sexual harassment.
We have seen several notable cases in the news. Recently Bill O’Reilly was fired by Fox News for claims of sexual harassment by multiple women. Previous to this, Roger Ailes and other senior-level executives of Fox News were named in sexual harassment lawsuits. Roger Ailes was fired by Fox News amid claims of sexual harassment. These claims of sexual harassment have forced Fox News to change its show lineup. The network has also seen a drop in its ratings. This shows the gravity of sexual harassment claims.
Today’s world demands upright conduct in the workplace and the world at large. There is no room for improper conduct. Men and women in power in the past had taken advantage of others. Times have changed. The present dictates proper conduct.
by Sherone Rogers
There is a very unique neighborhood in the Netherlands. It is called the village of Hogewey in Weesp, but you might have heard it referred to as the “Dementia Village,” for that is what it is. Every resident of Hogeway suffers from advanced dementia and is sympathetically cared for by village workers, who are specifically trained to deal with people with dementia and outnumber residents two to one. Residents don’t necessarily know they are being looked after: caretakers work as shop assistants, hair stylists and groundskeepers, to name a few positions.
There has been a lot of care and thought put into every detail of Hogewey. The grounds and buildings are designed to reflect the general style of most neighborhoods in the Netherlands. Six or seven residents share each house, which is furnished and decorated according to the time period when the residents’ short-term memories stopped functioning properly. Whether it was the 1950s or the 2000s, wallpaper, dishes, and even tablecloths are meant to increase comfort for residents and make it easier for them to adapt.
While this is indeed a manufactured reality, it seems to be just what this population needs. Hogewey co-founder Yvonne Van Amerongen explains that, in hospitalized surroundings, dementia patients often go to look for home. In the village, residents feel at home and don’t wander off as much.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, reporting for CNN, stressed some of the other benefits of Hogewey, where there is an intentional openness, residents are free to roam about, and there is access to shops, the theater, and other amenities that increase residents’ sense of independence. There are special modifications to keep everyone safe, such as a single locked entrance to the village, sensor-operated elevators, and side-by-side bicycles which enable residents to go for a bike ride with a nurse, volunteer or visiting family member.
Money is never exchanged: groceries and other purchases are included in the cost of living in Hogewey. Products do not even have prices.
There are twenty-five clubs focusing on different interests that help to stimulate the mind and slow the brain’s deterioration. Residents are encouraged to exercise, keep active, and maintain social contacts and are found to eat better, get off of medications, and live longer than their counterparts in traditional nursing homes. They also seem to have more joy, which is like at least partly attributed to enjoying life and feeling welcome.
Music is also a big part of residents’ lives. Music connects with the part of the brain that functions the longest, so residents and caretakers make music and sing together. It has been found that people who can no longer speak and would ordinarily be robbed of a means of communicating are still able to sing. Caretakers believe they have learned to somewhat understand what these non-verbal residents are trying to communicate based on the songs they sing. This is important partly because aggressive behavior in those with dementia is often triggered by confusion or frustration. The ability to communicate needs and feelings, as well as the ability to recognize their surroundings and have feelings validated, cut down on these potentially harmful emotions.
Some believe it is unfair to dupe those with dementia by presenting villages like Hogewey as “real” but experts generally agree that complete honesty can be disorienting and upsetting to dementia patients. Van Amerongen says, "We protect our residents from the unsafe world. They do not understand the world outside this because the outside world doesn't understand them."
Hogewey is government-funded, receiving the same funding as traditional nursing homes. The cost per resident is about $8,000 per month, as compared with an average cost of $7,698 for a private room in a traditional nursing home in the United States. With such a comparable cost and so much more to be gained by dementia patients, I wonder why the Hogewey model isn’t being adopted more frequently here in America.
The number of Americans living with dementia is four to five million and in 2016, Alzheimer’s and other dementias cost our nation $236 billion. I believe that putting some of this money into improving the quality of life for those of us affected by dementia would be a sound investment, not only for patients, but for caregivers and healthcare providers, as well. The success of Hogewey has spawned “copycat” villages as close as Canada, and Miami Jewish Health Systems has announced plans to transform some of its existing campus “to give dementia patients more freedom by creating a safe space where they're not confined to their rooms,” according to Aleksandra Sagan of Canada’s CBC News. I think that being safe, happy and not confined to a room are reasonable expectations and what we would all like for ourselves and our loved ones. With that in mind, I would like to see more spaces where those with dementia can be cared for while roaming freely here in the land of the free.
By Dan Pineiro
Back in 2005, when I lived in California I became certified as a peer advocate. I took a paid course on how to advocate for the mentally ill. Once I graduated I received my certificate in peer advocacy. Due to the fact I had a criminal record, I did not find a job as a peer advocate instead I did volunteer work helping my peers.
Here, in New Jersey, advocates are called Peer Support Specialists and can be certified online. I’m not qualified due to my criminal record and poor driving record. Being a peer advocate or peer support specialist is a very rewarding job that a high-functioning person with a mental illness can handle. It is possible to obtain a paid career in this field.
Because I don’t qualify as a peer support specialist, I consider myself a peer volunteer and still work to help mental health consumers find mental health services.
By Sam Duval - Cofer
The topic of this blog post is death. Sorry for the somber subject of discussion. However, I wanted to know more about the phenomenon that links us as human beings more than anything else. More than the air in our lungs, or the beats that rattle our hearts, it’s the silence that overtakes all of that at the end. Today, I discovered I lost a friend. Not too sure how to deal, when you’ve lost someone that’s meant a lot to you that you never realized meant a lot to you until they were irrevocably gone…vanished from existence and all your left with is this transcendental feeling of where did they go and can I go to? Why are you leaving me here? Have these questions ever crossed your mind?
To keep my mind from getting stuck, I wrote these words of remembrance to honor my friend. Hoping it would bring me some solace, some comfort, some understanding.
ODE TO KEITH
What’s in a friend?
A friend is one who makes you smile;
Who makes you laugh?
Who stays in your heart,
And defends on your behalf.
They don’t tickle your fancy
No, not one bit
They give you the Truth
Even when you don’t ask for it
They inspire you to do better
And be better
To continue on with all your might
If you fall, dust yourself off
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
Your special skills
Cannot go unnoticed
You’re a trailblazer, a gem,
a diamond in the rough, the flotus
How will we ever go on
Without your unique, quirky charm?
You came and went so quickly
And broke down all alarms
We shed our tears,
And said our goodbyes
Now all we have left are great memories,
Smiles, laughs, and good time highs.
Goodbye Keith Andrew Granit RIP
By Travis Bright
In the Midwest United States there has been a lot of tornadoes that have torn through and it is moving eastward. There has also been three dozen wildfires in Oklahoma. There were also powerlines pulled down due to the winds. We are also supposed to be getting at least six inches of snow tomorrow.
By Kerri Zeblisky
I read this interesting article on gun violence from Huffington post on February 21. Josh Horwitz, who is the Executive Director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. It was very informative on how we can stop gun violence without blaming people who live with mental illness. He first stated that in the past that anyone with mental illness should be prohibited from ever owning firearms. He then changed his views when the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre happened and admitted that much of what he thought on mental illness turned out to be wrong.
Josh looked into research for his facts on mental illness and found evidence based research for his facts. He found out in his research that many people living with mental illness do not use guns for violence and that mentally ill people are most likely to be victims of violence rather than the perpetrators. He also found out that the gun violence prevention movement focuses less on suicide prevention because nearly 2/3 of all gun related deaths are from suicide. I believe if you want to prevent gun violence it should include all gun violence since the biggest part of it is self-inflicted (as in suicide).
Also the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a rule that prohibits those who live with mental illness that have a representative payee to not be able to own a gun. This is misleading because I have a representative payee. A representative payee is put in place for the reason of poor spending or money management only! It doesn’t speak to the character or habits of the person with a representative payee. It tells us nothing if said person is violent or not. Thankfully congress did vote to repeal this rule. The issue with this bill is that mental illness isn’t a precursor to violence, it just feeds into the myth that all people who live with mental illness are violent.
Thankfully in California they have a policy that prevents dangerous people from owning or possessing firearms without stigmatizing people with mental illness. The policy is Gun Violence Restraining Order or GVRO. The GVRO allows family or law enforcement officials to petition a judge to temporary remove firearms from an individual in crisis. It’s more effective because it focuses on behavioral risk factors then just mental health alone. It gives loved ones the tools and ability to get help for a family member in a crisis.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) found the former SSA law troubling. Not for the reason that they want to end discrimination or stigmatizing those with mental illness, but because in the end they want everyone to be allowed to own firearms no matter who they are. It doesn’t matter who they are even if they have a history of violence or how they got their weapons. The NRA and congress doesn’t care about protecting the rights of people with mental illness because they want to exploit them. Controversially, they will be quick to point out when a gun tragedy occurs to blame it on people with mental illness. At the same time they want every citizen to be able to have access to firearms. The NRA and congress don’t care to look at the hard facts on gun violence. They need to look at individuals with a history of violence or those with substance abuse.
So bringing it back to Horwitz, we need to create effective data-driven laws. This doesn’t mean we use mental illness as a scapegoat. We are quick to point out the immigration ban, but we need to treat mental illness the same way. Religion or national origin isn’t an indicator to violence. Just as people don’t get to choose to be mentally ill or choose where they are born.
The Rape Culture and Objectifying, Can We Change This? Part 2
Blog posts are written by Shore House members and staff.