Monday, March 29, 2010

What is Stigma: Fact or Fiction?

A stigma is in one sense a sign of disgrace. It is the disapproval of personal characteristics or traits or beliefs that are viewed by others of society of those who may be against cultural norms.
History shows us, even today that social stigma includes mental illness, physical disabilities, many diseases, illegitimacy, the color of a persons’ skin, what social group you may belong to, religion, nationality, and ethnicity, even your political beliefs may be associated with stigma.

In our society criminality carries a strong stigma for it is associated with many other existing negative genres or categories associated with crime, even war. Stigma is founded upon stereotypes and misinformation. There are three kinds of stigma, deformity, poor personal traits (mental abilities, looks, dress) etc. and tribal status, these which are founded in all cultures and time frames. “Social influences” have been found to be more of a cause of mental disorder, yet the same holds true to the negative or stressful experiences people have suffered to as well. Misinterpretation can influence stigma as well as morality.

In the early civilizations some people were treated for mental disorders, whether they were of wealth or poor who is to know, yet the ideas of psychiatric theories developed in Persia, the Arabic and Muslim Empire and also in the Islamic world, this has been since before the eighth century AD. You might sense the idea of how long stigma has been associated with those who are downtrodden and the mentally ill. Besides the many hospitals which exist in the 21st century, there are now consumer/survivor movements’ organizations that are of clients/consumers of mental health services who consider themselves as survivors, to mention not only of their mental disabilities, yet also of stigma.

Social stigma is a problem. Many people believe those with a serious mental illness cannot recover, and are a nuisance to society hence the degradation suffered by those who are slow to grow physically, who suffer from mental retardation or cannot attain acceptance within the norm. MHCD and Outcomes believes otherwise, that people can become a part of society again and function with the norm without disgrace and with self reliance and self esteem.
To note, Employment discrimination and unemployment play a great part in the diagnosis of mental illness. Today there are efforts being taken to eliminate the stigma of mental illness, through the media, though at time this causes serious corruption through portrayals’ which usurp the idea of recovery through stigma.

The general public holds an idea of stereotypical images of those associated with mental illness and associates other ideas which are not of the societal norm a part of those images through stigma—
Will we ever find our peace over the rainbow—to change our experiences?
By Donald Sammons

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Do we need wisdom to recover? We first have to make a decision that we want to better our lives and to recover. Would our lives be worse if we do not recover? The A.A. serenity prayer says “the wisdom to know the difference” Whether our lives are being lived in the right way. I think our lives would be worse if we did not recover. What would my day be filled with if I did not strive to get an education and or work? They the day would be filled with watching T.V. or listening to everybody gossip about each other. Or talk about how bad things are and do nothing about changing the situation. What is wisdom then? Miguel Ruiz in the Voice of Knowledge says about wisdom. “Common sense is wisdom, and wisdom is different from knowledge. You are wise when you no longer act against yourself. You are wise when you live in harmony with yourself, with your own kind, with all creation.” That would make recovery and wisdom hand in hand. When you no longer act against yourself and instead want the best for yourself. Which you think should include better mental health and a better life. Do you think recovery and wisdom go hand in hand?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Help Me, Help Myself

An option is a choice or a right to choose. Choice is a selection, a right to choose, an object chosen. Simply, some of us can pull it together without help yet when we are saddened, if we are not perceiving reality as nature or as society intended, or if we are racing for the ‘stars’ without hope, that’s when we need a helping hand.
I have in the past changed my ideals, options to speak, so many times. I wanted to go to school, join the Army, live in the mountains, or live by the sea. I had many other choices of what to do with my life; yet with each thought, each movement of enacting, with each choice, I failed, and to the corner drug store, the liquor store, the drug house I would walk, with my dreams at my heels and no other options except a rainbow which was seemingly more concrete of a nightmare.
I couldn’t relax to think, and I didn’t know where to start, I was virtually living within circle after circle within my mind. Every circle, as a house has an open door.
I know where I am 35 years later, after many years of treatment and debates within my own mind, and though I sometimes struggle inside with thoughts I have to understand as being mine or some choice of an ideal I did not find entertaining, through some other medium or agency, I kept in mind the choices I felt were realistic, with methods of thought and discerning, to add and subtract those ideals, which may cause relapse, pain or seclusion or flight into some fantasy with props that are unreal, within a time which may never end. Are you facing the truth within yourself?
At MHCD, we have a unit called Evaluation and Research. In this unit, statistics, survey evaluation and research of the consumer’s reactions to society and their roles are ascertained. The surveys are often designed by the statisticians and also the outcomes of the surveys are reviewed by not only the unit members yet also other psychiatrist, therapist and case managers who may want to understand more of the consumers’ ideals in order to help them achieve the boundaries they wish to arise to, considering the cognizance of their being. Do you want to rebuild your foundation?
As you can see, there are many people of all kinds of schooling and offices which exist to give assistance to the down trodden and mentally disabled. We do not live in the past of something we do not understand, yet we grow, within what we envision as a new world, with new ideals, and better choices. This is not an overnight miracle, yet a time when we help those, who cannot help themselves whom have asked, ‘Help me, Help myself’.
Show that you care and the world gives in return to you, though not right away, yet through the hands and minds of those who see you are making those steps toward being a part of reality.

Donald S.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health and Recovery

I am writing again about health. I’ve been slacking off on my exercising and have gained four pounds. That is in about two months since I last was weighed. I just have not felt like exercising since I’ve been fighting with my landlords. After I was weighed again this week, I just had to start exercising again. I did tonight and the manager saw me and did not say anything. I am going to continue even if they do say something. I just have to get the discipline back. It did feel good to ride the bike again tonight. I have to lose what I gained and hopefully more. I also started buying more vegetables to go with every meal I cook. I am also taking fish oil capsules, but not everyday just in moderation. I had read that it stops other vitamins, so take it every once in awhile for the best benefit. I am also just buying fruit that is in season like bananas, oranges, and apples. Also I buy blueberries once in awhile, because they are expansive but good. Mostly though have to exercise at least three times a week. It does help.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


When I was a child, I would wander into the gardens of my grandfathers’ small farm. In the spring he would begin to prune and plant, and turn soil, cut grasses and fix machinery. I wondered through the gardens as they began to grow, amazed by the sprouting of small seedlings, wondering how strong they were, reaching up through the soil and water, twisting and bending into the light becoming giants. The fruit on the trees remained a mystery to me for a very long time; there were no seeds, only leaves and branches. Then when evening began to set in as the plants grew, they would seemingly disappear into the darkness, and quiet would settle throughout.
As I grew older, I began to realize what human birth was, what growing and learning meant; and though we are not vegetables, fruits or grasses, we began to reach into the world as part of our maturity. Stabilizing my mental health after a draught was unbearable, yet I remembered the gardens.
If we want to grow beyond the illness’s we have harbored then we must heal; which means letting go of the fears we have and becoming involved with the mental health therapist and case managers, whether we have addictions, depression, or any of the other myriad of illness’ one might have. This is turning the soil and feeding it, so that planting can begin.
Some of us have to be taught to listen, this is planting, and when we become strong listeners we are then ready for growth. Our experiences we begin to relinquish are the storms of rain and sunlight we were nurtured with and we learn to leave this past behind for someone else to learn from. Our beliefs and experiences can be changed and as they change we become stronger in a positive way as we begin to see ourselves and what we really want to experience aside from the pain of our sufferings. We change our ideals and our beginning as our needs grow; we grow stronger and begin to show the fruits of our new beliefs.
As we mature, we seek motivation and become self sufficient and responsible, we cultivate ourselves from one step to the next; we have grown anew.
By Donald Sammons

Some excerpts are from:
Healing Stage One: Personal Growth
Written by Jerry Lopper

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How do you define Recovery?

Doing research I came across articles talking about when a person is recovered. The articles mention that you are recovered when you have no symptoms, you do not take medication, and you receive no mental health services. Then you are fully recovered. They do say that you may be in recovery if you do only one of the three. I do two I take medication and I see my psychiatrist or get mental health services. I have had no symptoms for years. I do not fit the criteria for being recovered. Yet I feel I am recovered, because I am doing better than I was before. I believe if you had mental distress and do none of the three above. Will you ever mention that you had mental distress? Could that be one reason there is so much stigma, because no one say’s I once had mental distress and now I am recovered? Would anyone believe them if they are doing good?

Monday, March 8, 2010


Have you ever heard the word patches lately? Patches are pieces of material used to mend or repair a hole or open seam. There are quilt patches to create designs, there are patches that iron-on denim and various other types of cloth to repair holes and rips in the fabrics, there are even different construction material for building that are used for patches and there are transdermal delivery systems used to apply drugs to the human body; they are patches.
The children in grade school used to call me patches; only because I wore hand-me-down clothes with holes and tears in them. My life was lived in this manner, second handedly. I thought I would cover-up, overlay my emotions and fears, even the shame I felt of being a second-hand kind of guy in my teenage years by first drinking-that’s not transdermal. I tried smoking-that’s not quilting. I tried eventually to overdose my fears; my ability to construct was finally placed in a professional’s hand, not a preachers, my mind saw that they could only give me prayers and dissertations’ for my sins, and they wanted me to take off the sunglasses in order to see the light.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I was so covered over that the psychiatrist had to peel off the patches which covered so many parts of my mind of which I had sewn over with patches which re-designed the emotions and covered the fears by causing me to question only what I could answer, and helping me to accept choices which would help me to overcome the ignorance I lived within.
Trust develops with time; it’s not only a patch, its part of the wonder of miracles. Yet we still have to understand as people with a “mental illness” that we have to relearn or learn to deal with society and the social situations which arise—without drugs, alcohol, and questionable behaviors, not to mention recklessness. There will be a day with no more patches, yet someone else might carry on the name and that’s when you or I might be the one to help them through those rough times with our learned understanding of how we may achieve freedom through redesign.
By Donald Sammons

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Psychiatric Survivor's?

I’ve been researching recovery and I keep hearing the phrase Psychiatric Survivor. What I have gathered from the research is that when you have mental distress, most people come through better than before they had mental distress. It brought the question to my mind: Can anybody go through mental distress and become better than before? I remembered a book I read about a man that was in a concentration camp and the techniques he used to survive. His name is Viktor E. FrankL and his book is called Man’s Search for Meaning, An Introduction to Logotherapy. He became a psychiatrist and I am going to use this quote from his book “After all, ‘saying yes to life in spite of everything,’ to use the phrase in which the title of a German book of mine is couched, presupposes that life is potentially meaningful under any condition, even those which are most miserable. And this in turn presupposes the human capacity to creatively turn life’s negative aspects into something positive or constructive. In other words, what matters most is to make the best of any given situation.” He made it through, so we come back to the question can anybody do it? To me, mental distress is hell and a place I never want to go back to. As I wrote in previous blogs, I have become better before my life was hopeless in and out of jail. Now I’m working and building a better life for me, and hopefully to show my grandchildren the right road to go down. Is mental distress worse than a concentration camp? Does it make you give up on life or fight to become a better person?

Monday, March 1, 2010


The world is filled with many wonders. Human kind is a wonder of the world. Yet we are a strange kind of wonder, which loves, hates, seeks joy and wanders throughout the galaxy after untold eons. Yet we have a weakness then again, of the heart and of the mind, the need for peace, or as many would say tranquility through solitude. There are extremes to this avenue of truth, and some people become lost to the distances unreached, never returning with sanity. Some people only want to be alone, left to the desire of their own choosing, never wanting love, nor achieving any role of greatness, the sadness without; only a question, only a word; why?
There are over achievers, work-a-holics, those who hide in drug use and alcoholism, people who cannot lift themselves over the hegemony of society, the dominance of one over another; being a reality of life for man. There are criminals and there are priest; and there are those that wonder unceasingly will the ribbon in the sky snap. Psychiatrist, psychologist, and many other scientist often join hands to find an answer to alleviate the woes and aches and pains of our perceptions, of our over indulgences, to help secure our needs so that we continue to live to enjoy what we should believe in. Where a doctor may have a word, or a number, or even some form of medication, we must also believe in hope, to make reality much more the pleasance beyond what ails us in our society, within ourselves.
I look in this direction because of what I see, because of the people I live amongst; most of all because of what affects me in my daily life. We as human beings live day to day, and most of us find that we argue within ourselves, not because we are not strong, but because we have not the peace of mind to find the answer which plagues us, handing those arguments to others and embellishing fear to keep from truthfully being real, from solving the real problem.
I take the time to close the door to the woes of many people, who have not taken the time to respect what the world is all about; again I find I have turned in a circle of my own hypocrisy, then again, only a worry of self, because I have not taken the time to understand and use what I have learned to solve that problem. When I begin to realize that I can make a step to better myself, then I know I can share that thought, so that another can better themselves as well; yet I am not a doctor, I am not a business man, I am in recovery and many don’t know that I am, seeking peace through faith as they may be.
Written by
Donald Sammons