Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Are we Torturing the Mentally Ill

That is the title of this article about solitary confinement in prisons. I can only give my experience on the matter.  I was in prison in the nineteen eighties and it was a lot different back then it is now.  I was at Buena Vista prison and was on South wing and there is only one more wing to go to that is east wing where a person can wear street clothes and have more privileges.  I was happy in south wing as far as prisons go.  I had a gambling house and we watched the broncos and had burritos whenever the game was on.  So I was set in my ways and really did not want to go to east wing.
They made me go.  Also on south wing I had a partner with my gambling house.   He did not go to east wing just me.  I kept on gambling was having problems on the streets with my ex.  Finally one of the guards busted me for gambling.  I was angry and went to the hearing not understanding what was going on. They sentenced me to three days in the hole or solitary confinement.  I was very angry going to the hole.  I remember being locked in the cell and that is as far as I remember.  The next thing I knew I was in another cell not knowing what was going on and also insane. I know I was paranoid and not understanding what was going on. I could not comprehend what was going on.
I cut myself with a razor it did no damage but it got the guard attention and they put me in a cell with cameras so they could watch me and there is nothing worse than being watched all the time.  A doctor I knew came by and looked in at me.  The next morning they took me to Canon city where they had an infirmary and the psychiatrist asked me questions. He though I was just sleep deprived.  The two times I been in the hole this time I did not remember anything.  It is just a jail in a jail.  Although you do not see your friends also you eat in your cell so you do not get any company at all.  It can play with your mind.
After a while in canon after they started giving me sleeping pills I settled down and was not so paranoid the doctor asked where I would like to go and I said here in canon city.  I was not the same though.  I went back to the hospital one more time before I won my appeal and was freed. It wasn’t fun back then as it is not fun now to do time in the hole.  You have to be very strong to make it in the hole and come out sane.  It does play on your mind only seeing guards and not inmates while you are in the hole.  When I was doing time there were not that many inmates that were mentally ill at the time and in jail.
I hate the state hospital although it is a better solution when you are mentally ill than prison.  They can treat you and others like yourself are in there.  You cannot be in general population when you are mentally ill because your mind plays to many tricks on you and there are people who are going to do life in prison and they will not put up with someone who is mentally ill.  They really need to separate the two.  Here is an article on a new drug for schizophrenia that is successful in reversing schizophrenia.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Life is Hard

Well last week I was off for a few days and I thought I would be able to blog anyway although my computer went down just as I was trying to write something. Isn’t that the way it usually goes?  Here is an article to also read about mental illness I think it is interesting.  Why do I say life is hard when I now use positive thinking? If I say that than what I go through now is not as tough as some of the stuff I went through just to make it.  Whenever I am walking in the cold all I have to remember is the time I was at the state hospital and I had to walk in a blizzard to and A.A. meeting just so I could get released from the state hospital.
It was cold and I was frozen but I did it. I prove I would do anything for my freedom. Life is a lot easier than my past although that does not mean everything is roses. I have bad days where everything goes wrong.  I know that those days will pass and everything will turn out OK.  It’s not very easy believing that it will turn out right when it looks like your world has turned upside down.  Just like when I was at the state hospital you take every day on its own and plug through until it changes and it does sooner or later.  You just have to keep trying until you find the answer.  It is easier said than done.  My computer was acting up as I am trying to write this blog.  I went to another computer and the same thing.
The only way I was able to fix it was to rewrite and that is not right when you have what you want to say and then you cannot write it because you’re having problems with the word program.  Although I found a solution and now I am back to writing this blog and it seems to be going better.  What I am trying to say is that there is always an answer to all problems you just have to keep tinkering to you find the right solution. As I wrote two weeks ago it is called being resilient.  We all have that and can use it.  We all been through a lot and came out better people for it.  I know when I walk in the cold now it is not as bad as when I was at the state hospital.  I just remember that night and I can do anything.
This illness does rob you of who you were before although I think it gives back a better person who has to realize that they have to take a different road than the one they were on.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stigma and Self Stigma

It still is out there stigma.  This article talks about being resilient and I believe all people with a mental illness are resilient.  Just look what we came through a mental illness.  I know for a fact that it was the worst thing I had ever been through.  Why are there so many stigmas then?  How can a person go from being sane one day and then wake up and they have a mental illness?  I was in prison when my mental illness reared its ugly head.  That is the last place anyone would want to wake up a paranoid schizophrenic.  It is a shame that a person cannot be viewed for what they do in this world and not be defined as crazy because they have a mental illness.
I for one am highly functioning person with a mental illness.  I do not disclose I have a mental illness because an incident happened at my apartment building.  When my fridge was acting up it was hard enough getting them to replace it.  If they would have knew that I had a mental illness I would have been laughed at and never would have it replaced.  It is hard enough getting things done without a mental illness.  I remember when I first starting looking for apartments I told the landlady at one that I had a mental illness and she stopped talking to me and just talked to my sister who went with me.  I know I am not the only one.  I know for a fact there are a lot of people that are higher functioning that do not disclose that they have a mental illness not that they are ashamed but because the way people react to the news.
When they say diversity is that not all people no matter how they act or if they are different.  Why do ones quirks become different when that person has a mental illness?  Then they are just crazy if they do something different than the average person.  When they just grew up different than you or I in this world so of course they would be different.  Mental illness changes a person and they have to adjust to being different.  They are not only viewed different also they have changed inside or outside.  They may now have negative symptoms they have to deal with.  They now have to take medication every day.  Just to lead a fairly normal life then they have to put up with all the negative press and people.
I look forward to the day when there is no more stigma or self-stigma. Life is hard enough dealing with the fact that you just came through something that a normal person never has to go through.  If you can become a success that would be the best way to answer back I am ok. Life does go on and hopefully a person continues to grow even if they have a mental illness and just deal with life as it is.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Last week I talked about staying positive with all the news.  I am going to talk about having hope all the time.  This came to me this week when talking to my daughter.  Life has a way of going up and down.  One week or day things might be going good.  Then the next week things might starting happening that bring you down and you just want to give up.  That is what my daughter told me.  You just have to try and stay positive all the time and know that time will pass.  It is the same as if you were locked up time will pass and you will get out.  That is so hard to do wait for time to pass until things get better.  I know I have been locked up and the worse was the state hospital.
I always tried to hurry things up.  In the state hospital I said now I am on this ward I want to go to the Circle program and learn about drug use.  I knew that was something I would have to face sooner or later. I thought if I face it now I can get out sooner.  It still took longer than I had wished.  Throughout all my time in the state hospital taking things slow did teach me a lot that you have to do the work to change yourself.  Why can they not have a speed course and just get through it and you are well.  I wished that many a time.  You just have to be patience and wait and things will change.  They always do nothing ever remains the same.  You have to keep hope that is for all things.
Even with all those years of hurry up and wait in jail or anyplace it still did not give me the patience I need.  It did give me hope that things will change for the better you just have to keep struggling along and you will see that things get better.  I know that people say I don’t have the time to wait for things to change.  I always say what else are going to do in that time might as well make it work or learn something in that time.  I once was facing twenty four years and I took the case to trial it all was going right in the trial until they told me just before lunch they were trying to bring in a witness from the past.
Well that had me worried all during lunch we went to a fast food restaurant and a person I knew from that past kept talking to me and I could not remember her and she came to my house almost every day.  Although my mind was not on lunch it was on the trial and did I make a mistake in going to trial?  When I received the food and went out to the car I remembered the girl and did not know how I forgot her.  Well after lunch my lawyers had been still working and they did not allow that witness in the trial although the judge took a law away from me after lunch that would be crucial to me winning this case.
I was found guilty of one case and acquitted of the other.  Although I would win on appeal because of the law the judge took away from me.  Although I would be in prison for two year until my appeal and would become mentally ill in prison.  I had hoped that I would soon get out and I did not and was not the same person who went in although I won my appeal.  That stress in prison or some stress sooner or later would have set off my mental illness.  If they would have taught me what a mental illness was maybe I would not have had to go to the state hospital and maybe I would have never went to college otherwise.  Through it all you have to have hope that sooner or later things will improve for the better.  Come this April which is also my not drinking anniversary also I will be out for twenty years since I last was locked up.  That came with hope and change of my life.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Staying Positive

That is hard to do with all the news being negative and life just getting a person down in the dumps.  I am doing better than I used to be at staying positive.  I can remember why I started reading positive books when I was going to college and had just been released from the state hospital.  Nothing went right before that when I received my driver’s license at sixteen I had just backed my car into my uncle’s car that he had just fixed up a 1966 Chevy super sport he forgave me but that is how my life went negative. It seemed nothing went right.  I was always in trouble and my uncles would always bail me out.  The news now has a lot of people that do things that are not because they have a mental illness.
If they do have a mental illness they make the news right away.  Delusions I can understand although these people without a mental illness I do not understand what makes them that way.  If you do have a mental illness they stick you in jail where you should not be. As this article says. Which I agree with is why I am putting up the link.  I still get down now days after reading all those positive books years ago.  Life has a way of doing that to a person.  Although I also know that I will get through those bad days and they will look sunny again.  You just have to have the hope that the future will be better again.
I don’t say the affirmation’s like I used to although if times get really tough I will.  I have been locked up before and know that sooner or later you get out and life hopefully will be better.  It takes work though you have to work on yourself.  I know that going to groups and working on your self requires a lot although a person is worth it. As I wrote last week and the week before college was no walk in the park.  I wanted it more than anything I knew I did not want to go back to work construction it would mean driving again and when I did work construction I was drinking and that was before I was twenty one.  I remember my girlfriend saying one night when I came home from work you’re already drunk and you just got off work.
We would get off work and have shots in a parking lot that is how bad it was.  I never want to repeat those days.  I only hit a parked car and it is only by the grace of God that did not hit another car and kill someone.  I was not even nineteen when I hit that parked car. It was the beginning of jail for me and it never ended until I went to the state hospital and changed my life around.  Everyone does not get the time or work to put in too lead two different lives.  I did and I still have compassion for my fellow man when I read they have a mental illness or a substance abuse problem.  I was there and that is all takes to remember and stay positive because I went through a lot.
I can always think of how my life could have been different if I would have stayed in school and went to college before I was middle aged.  My uncles that went through a lot to always bail me out their life might have been better also. I will never know.  Through it all I have to stay positive and help and guide my grandchildren so they do have the chance to go to college when they are supposed to a live a good life.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mental Illness and College

This is the second half of last week’s blog .  I never gave up on college as I knew it was my only chance at succeeding in a good life.  As I did not want to work a construction job any more.  The disability office was going through changes and I started working with a program called student support.  I kept taking computer classes and they were not working out and they told me one lower grade and I would be suspended from college.  I told the professor as I did the work that if he would pass me this semester I would not take any more computer classes.
Student support told me to look for a new major and they told me since I had drug and alcohol experience I should take those classes as a major.  I did and I still was going half time to school so I would not fail. One class I had to take was geography and was not doing too good in it. We went on a field trip to red rocks and the teacher drove me back as I do not drive.  On the way we talked and I ended up telling her I had a disability she told me about the disability office and that she would give me a no credit if I wanted to go to the disability office and take the class again next semester.  I told her no I would talk to the disability office and still try and pull this class with a good grade.  The whole class was not doing so great and the teacher gave us a copy of the final test to review.
I took my home and that whole weekend at work and at home I studied that test and memorized it.  I passed all except where places are in Colorado.  The teacher had said never ask me the directions because I will get you lost.  I passed the class and I think my being locked up for the last ten years is why I never knew where to go in Colorado.  I only knew Canon city and the state hospital in Pueblo.  Also for that test the disability office let me take the test in private and with someone reading me the questions. I read the answers right off from memorizing the test.  In another class I had failed the first test than I talked to a student about helping me with the notes.  She did and I brought up the grade and the girl that helped me was the top scorer in the class from helping me.
I finally was at the last year of my classes and took internships in drug and alcohol counseling. It all went good until my last internship then I was leading a group of teenagers about drug and alcohol.  I was not supposed to be leading groups since I was not certified yet but wanted to learn all I could.  There was a young man in the group that did well in the group but the people who owned the center were going to have this young man kicked out and fail him because his parents did not see anything wrong with marijuana which he had been caught with at school.  That was the people I wanted to help teenagers from making the same mistakes that I did.  I was angry and finished and graduated but that spring I enrolled in a Master’s program at University of Colorado at Denver. It had took me eight years to finish my bachelor’s although I wanted to work at something I felt good about so I went back for my Masters.
I finished that Master’s and learned how to do research.  That is what I wanted to do now. I also was involved in the disability office there and had a note taker.  I finished faster in three years and finally was able to work in research.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

College and Mental Illness

College and mental illness have been in the news lately here is one link I am going to write this blog about when I went to college and some of the struggles I had.  I was released from the state hospital in 1993 around April and was sent to live in a boarding house. You had to be out of the boarding house from nine to three in the afternoon.  So I decided college that fall.  My first day in college I had a relapse because a few months before they had lowered my medication.  And the stress of finally starting what I had wanted to do was just too much.  There were over one thousand five hundred people on campus that day. I am a paranoid schizophrenic person and all those people were just too much for me.  I did my best to walk through them and head to downtown.  I reached downtown and called my mom on the pay phone and told her I could not make at the school.
She said “Call your doctor” I was afraid to because people who went back to the state hospital did not get a chance to come back to the streets for a long time.  I went back to the boarding house because there was no place to go being the way I was.  They let me in even though it was day time.  I gave the program manager most of my money because I was scared I would start drinking and get in trouble and be in worse shape.  A day went by and they called the state hospital and told them to come and get me.  I said fine you people do not have any French dressing anyway.  The state hospital came and picked me up and we drove back to Pueblo.  I thought it was the end of my being on the streets although when I told them they had lowered my medication to low.  They upped my medication and I was only there for a weekend and they let me come back to the boarding house.
When I was at the state hospital they had told me I could go to college half time and still graduate if it was too much for me.  I had a Spanish class and the professor had said that if you miss more than three days a person would fail.  One of the social workers in the hospital had a brother that worked at the college.  I went to him and explained what happened he dropped the Spanish class and put me in an English class that was a beginner course.  Also I was taking computer classes.  Well as the semester finished I did not do so well and they were going to kick me out of college.  This lady who my friend’s brother had introduced me to told me if you had a disability you could stay in college.  I said I have one and I was able to prove it with paperwork. They sent me to the disability office it was small back then.  They told me to ask someone in my computer class if they would tutor me and they would pay them.  I also only took two classes because I was going go to school half time.
It worked I was getting very good grades in computer with the tutor’s help.  He did this for about three semesters than the disability office told me after one of the semesters they did not have the money for tutors anymore.  I continued to go to college without help from the college disability office.  I continued taking English classes but to this day I do not get the hang of it.  One of my professors told me you are always here and you do the work so I have to pass you even though you do not get it.  Another subject I did not get was math and I had been so good at math in grade school.  I started that at CCD also at the beginning to try and learn and I never was good at that either.  Well I will finish this next week how I finally graduate and how long it took me and the changes I went through.