The Status of the Past

The Status of The Past

A friend once told me that the painting of the Last Supper took decades to finish.

My friend said that the model used for Judas was the same model used by da Vinci for the face of Christ when the painting began.

The idea that the condition of the soul emerges as the body ages horrified and fascinated me.

I was 16, and spent hours comparing the pained compassion in the face of Christ to the cynical corruption in the face of Judas.

At the same time, the Picture of Dorian Grey caught my attention.

I read and re-read the novel until I was sure that I understood Dorian’s sin.

Dorian had innocently made a choice that lead to spiritual destruction and the hell of a lifetime of compulsive self alienation.

I concluded that innocence and guilt are twins, and that there is no such thing as perfect beauty.

These are my thoughts as I brush out my hair and check my face for the status of the past.

(c) Rob Goldstein  2015-2017 All Rights Reserved

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Being Alive is Not the Same as Having a Life

A bedraggled and filthy young man is confused and
responding to hallucinations on Market Street.

He loudly threatens those around him until he
collapses in an intersection.

The police arrive.

An officer asks him to sit on the curb.

The young man is so distracted by his hallucinations
the officer has to help him find the curb.

The officer asks him if he is going to hurt himself or
anyone else and the young man distractedly says no.

The police drive off and the young man rolls back
into the intersection.

He suffers the lie that mental illness is a choice that
doesn’t affect judgment, and those who have it
deserve to suffer.

Where have I seen this kind of willful ignorance before?

Oh, that’s right! Gays…

50 years ago, the people of the United States universally
believed homosexuality was a mental illness and homosexuals
deserved shame and incarceration.

When asked why someone would “choose” to be homosexual
in such a punitive culture the response of many prominent
psychiatrists at the time was “masochism.”

Their reasoning was that only a masochist would “choose” to be homosexual in a world that hates them.

Therefore, the homosexual derived masochistic pleasure from the reactions of others to the choice of his “disgusting” sickness.

Jump forward fifty years and now we have a society that mindlessly tortures people with Schizophrenia and other chronic mental illnesses.

Being alive is not the same as having a life.

To have a life one must have a brain that can reason
and the ability to use it to survive.

Assertion: Life is unfair

Rebuttal: That’s why we make civilization

 

Meme found o0n Twitter regarding mental illness
1 in 4 people suffer from a mental illness

 

(c) Rob Goldstein 2014-2017

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I do not Agree to the proposition that I am Worthless

This was one of my first posts, written in September 2014
to Sonoma County Supervisor, Shirlee Zane.

Supervisor Zane held a hearing that month to examine
the inadequacies of Kaiser’s Mental Health Services

I submitted this letter to her as my testimony.

I am reposing it as a response to the GOP’s renewed
assault
on the Affordable Care Act

 

To: Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Supervisor District 3
Sonoma, CA

Dear Supervisor Zane,

Thank you for considering  my story for your listening session to hear public comment about parity and mental healthcare.

And, thank you for your advocacy for people with serious life threatening mental illnesses.

For many of us the Behavioral Health System simply does not work.

To some of us it looks as if it does not want to.

In 2009, I was diagnosed with a severe dissociative disorder.

I see a psychotherapist twice a week and I realize that this is an achievement and yet I want to state that this should be the norm.

The idea that I should be grateful for receiving the only treatment
known to work for this illness is absurd and places me in a beggarly role.

My problem is that my illness now requires a more intensive structure as I begin to face the emotional reality of the abuse that caused it and the damage that I did to my life in my ignorance.

Treatment is painful and frightening.

My illness seems to affect that part of the brain that governs autonomic reactions.

The trauma response is instinctive and bypasses reason.

My “behaviors” are symptoms of “trigger” responses to memories
so painful my brain repeatedly banishes them from consciousness.

This means that parts of my psyche are subconsciously locked in moments of fear, pain, and dread.

They are locked in moments of abuse

I felt desperate when I met with my psychiatrist today.

I am overwhelmed by emotional pain and often feel trapped
and hopeless.

When I leave my house, I have panic attacks in which I
freeze  in traffic.

Yesterday I was nearly hit by a car.

I am constantly in a state of anxiety and the toll on my physical health and my relationships is terrible.

There were very real and commonsense reasons that psychiatry
once offered patients extended hospital stays.

Families are not trained therapists.

If anything, the families of patients need education and support.

I have discussed the idea of intensive case management with
my primary therapist.

I asked my prescribing psychiatrist, whom I see once every three months, for either a consulting psychotherapist experienced in  dissociative disorders or an intensive case manager who can train the staff and co-ordinate  my treatment when I need a critical intervention.

My psychiatrist told me that there are “financial constraints” and advised me to make the request as a grievance.

Why do I have to do battle to receive the recommended treatment for someone with a verified dissociative disorder?

There are no “real” financial constraints; certainly not in a nation will give the wealthy Dick Cheney a free heart transplant.

The recommended treatment as outlined by the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation is this:

  1. Intensive psychotherapy.
  2. Access to a hospital or residential setting to ease the stress on my family and hasten the course of treatment.

  3. Intensive and specialized trauma-focused work on symptom management and skill building.

  4. And a treatment team that co-ordinates care.

I am only asking for those components that are essential for the
successful treatment of a life threatening illness.

When Mental Health became Behavioral Health, the focus shifted from Psychiatry to Substance Abuse.

This is why almost all Behavioral Systems look for any sign of substance use in a psychiatric patient’s history.

Substance use is automatically tagged on as a secondary diagnosis even if one only uses marijuana and only uses it occasionally

Strict Substance Abuse disorders respond well to behavioral interventions and supportive group therapy.

That’s why A.A. has an estimated membership of 1,867,212 people.

Patients with psychiatric disorders can use behavioral tools to help them tolerate distress but behavioral tools alone will not resolve the illness.

A physiologically traumatized brain cannot “fake it ’till it makes it’.

From ABC News 2012:

“About 11.4 million adult Americans suffered from severe mental illness in the past year and 8.7 million adults contemplated serious thoughts of suicide.”

This country has everything it needs to give us access to quality healthcare.

What stands in our way are misery merchants and their lust
for power and money.

These misery merchants arrogantly expect the American people
to accept  the premise that we deserve death by exclusion.

I won’t accept it.

I do not agree  to the proposition that I am worthless.

Save the ACA meme found online
Save the ACA – Calls and Faxes work best.

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The Bus Trip – In El Paso

The Bus Trip - In El Paso
The Bus Trip – In El Paso

 

12/17In El Paso

The dizzy queen that worked the front desk of the Hostel kept forgetting why I was there.

After a two-day bus ride with coked up drag queens and screaming toddlers, I was in no shape to do another man’s thinking.

“Right! You want a bed?”

“Right.”

“For how many nights?”

“As many as it takes.”

RING! RING!

“Thank you for calling Epiphany Youth Hostel. Three nights? Fine. (click) Right! You want a bed?”

“Right.”

So it went until I gave him my credit card and stumbled into the dormitory.

 12/18

I Woke up 12 hours later and took a walk despite the gathering rain clouds.

Downtown El Paso shimmered with Christmas.

Rock music from Mejia’s and Christmas Carols in Spanish from Kress.

I went crazy in the little shops.

Knockoff Nikes, $11.00. Sweat Pants, $5.00, Winter socks, a dollar a pair.

As I walked back to the hostel with bags full of treasure, I ran into the clerk.

“Shopping, I see.”

Perhaps I was overly enthusiastic: “El Paso is wonderful city!”

“Oh, yes! Isn’t it glamorous!” he boomed, as if speaking to someone behind me.

I pressed on: “I can’t believe I found Nikes for $11.00!”

“Oh my, yes!” he boomed again, “People come here for the shoes!”

I narrowed my eyes, “You’ve lived here too long, haven’t you?”

He shoved past me. “I’ll tell you all about it at the hostel.”

“Oh, by the way, I can’t find a Catholic Church.”

“Good.” he replied as the rain broke.

RG

 

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