Since my neck was not in a noose (though he had no way of knowing) he didn’t know who to call or what to do.

Some names have been changed or omitted to protect the idiotic.

As some of my readers will be aware I was not in a good place mentally last week. One of the individuals who reached out to me asked around for some assistance for me. I ended up with a number to a local agency who provides a Crisis Response Line. I am feeling somewhat better and it is counterintuitive for me to reach out as assistance has not always been so.

I called the Crisis Line and ended up speaking to Barney. I explained my recent difficulties and was inquiring about what services I could access. I wasn’t crying which seemed to confuse Barney. I asked if he was a counselor and he explained he had some training but was not a counselor. He searched for some numbers and suggested next time I should call the Distress Line. “Oh, so who would I end up speaking with if I called the Distress Line?” ”ME” was his answer. What the hell? I wanted to reach out and shake his head for him. Firstly, when I am unwell I might not have the insight into whether I am in crisis or distress. They are literally and figuratively the same damn area code. Further, what is logical or logistical to his mandate and procedures are irrelevant to someone in crisis or distress. I would never tell Barney what to do but I would recommend suggesting the value in reaching out rather than suggesting what he values.

I told Barney some of my story and he could have easily engaged me. He was given several paragraphs to build a conversation. I was silent a few times which were long and awkward and I could sense Barney’s discomfort. The only input he made into the conversation was to inform me “we are here to listen not make you feel better.” What the hell? They might as well use an answering machine if all they do is listen. Wouldn’t a few well placed questions uncover the extent of my crisis or distress?

This gentleman knew and found out nothing about me including my name. What supports do you presently have? Do you have a family physician? Are you able to access services? Do you live alone? Are you in a safe environment? Have you ever been suicidal? Are you able to care for yourself? Are you on any medications? Are you having any disturbances of thought? Are you experiencing hallucinations?

If we are going to train these individuals to refrain from attempting to alleviate difficulties or offer advice we should definitely train them not to make assumptions about the degree of crisis or distress an individual may or may not be experiencing. The consequences could be tragic. I was safe and possibly he interpreted me as healthy. I can baffle you with brilliance in full blown psychosis. People don’t call these numbers to order ice cream. I realize he was not a professional which is a problem in itself. There are often not answers or solutions but being an ear doesn’t do much good when I need a comforting voice.

Barney was uncomfortable that I was waiting for him to speak as I believe that was his training. I can tell when someone is directing me to end a conversation and I believe that since my neck was not in a noose (though he had no way of knowing) he didn’t know who to call or what to do. What is your phone number? I will pass on your contact information to a colleague who is aware of community supports.

Barney was mainly giving me information about support groups which I have an aversion to. My mental health is private and some of the things I struggle with are best not spit out in a circle of chairs. Some of these groups are simply the blind leading the blind. I don’t need Darlene’s insight; she’s a damn basket case though I’m sure she knows what is good for me.

I almost feel like jumping off a bridge but I’m going to hunt down Barney first to time the fall. I am not personally upset but I am seriously alarmed for my community. If I call 911 for a physical crisis they do not say “were here to listen until the ambulance arrives.” After determining the severity of the situation they offer immediate and useful first aid information where appropriate. Further, highly trained individuals follow up on the call.

I understand budget constraints. I believe in the value of peer support and volunteers make the world go round but Barney might not be the best person for someone in crisis or distress. My first impression of him is that he probably has difficulty in a drive-through. We would be alarmed if any or even initial acute contact regarding physical health was taking place under the direction of volunteers with a crash course in health care. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Elgin County Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Strategy Meeting with Community Stakeholders

Like most people many days are the same for me. We all endure a degree of drudgery and duplicity. I had a slight vacation from the mediocre today. I was the keynote speaker at the Elgin County Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police Mental Health Strategy Meeting with Community Stakeholders. It seems logical that someone with experience in mental illness and the justice system would be invited to address individuals who are involved in these areas but the whole scenario was for me surreal.

I showed up a little early today as I believe dreams should not be ignored. When I arrived I was invited to sit with 6 Ontario Provincial Police officers at a table. Part of me wanted to run and part of me wanted to text all my friends and post pictures on twitter. The officers were in full uniform and most of them had the white shirts of command. I was cognizant of the fact that they could handcuff me before I said Mississippi. I considered losing my shirt and tie to fit in as my undershirt was white as well. I was a little self conscious about displaying “Fruit of the Loom” next to the more glamorous crest of the OPP. Besides it wasn’t pressed and was barely clean so I clung to the dignity of my cheap suit.

I was explaining to the officers that my cat disliked my car because it was part of the process of going to the veterinarian. Police officers are exposed to a degree of animosity because they are the vehicles that deliver us to jails and hospitals which can be painful experiences. It is unfair but it is also a human association and reaction.

I’m always a little nervous when I do a presentation but sitting next to six pistols added to my anxiety. I was hoping someone from the audience would scream out “don’t shoot the messenger.” I shared with the room my childhood dream of being a Conservation Officer. My adolescence and young adulthood was spent working for the Ministry of Natural Resources. I volunteered most of my weekends assisting Conservation Officers with their patrols. I left the school of natural resources following my father’s death and the depression that seeped from his grave into my mind and heart.

One of the Ontario Provincial Police officers approached me following my speech and relayed that roughly the year before me he too was a student at the same school in the same Fisheries and Wildlife program with the same dream. We may have passed each other in the hallways on our identical journeys. I’m not sure which of us was more taken aback by the situation. We were nearly step by step in unison but I ended up in jails and hospitals as a prisoner and he as a police officer delivered people quite like me to the same places. We had each applied to police forces but he found a paycheck and I found pain.

I have always respected the police on some level but this evening it is something deeper. I doubt the officer with a similar journey resents me and I surely do not resent him. I am pleased that he has fulfilled his calling and I believe in some small way I am doing the same. He seemed like someone I might like to go fishing with. Possibly he would out fish me as luck seems to have paved his path more than mine but when you eat a shore lunch it matters not who caught the fish. Just enjoy the meal. Today I did just that. I am unlikely to ever forget my egg salad sandwich and carrot cake. Flavour is found in the company.

I was dressed up today as were the officers but I hope my words and story illustrated the fact that we are all flesh and bone with degree’s of dignity dancing among the molecules. Had that officer’s and my dreams and desires duplicated we would likely never have met or spoken. I don’t know what he thinks of me but if I had to endure what I have to facilitate meeting him and his colleagues I don’t have much of a problem with that. We seldom thank the police but to the Elgin Ontario Provincial Police I say just that for just this. Take care and be careful out there.

Welcome to Canada my friend and thanks for diluting these conservative creeps.

I have been feeling a little low lately but I have received news that if nothing else has cured my cursed cold. It seems Sun News Network has gone off the air. I guess there was some truth to my mother saying “if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.” She was probably trying to get me to shut up but she might find peace knowing at least a few conservative morons can be muted.

Ezra Levant apparently “doesn’t know what he’ll do next”, like he ever did. I have some suggestions but my blogs of late have been peppered with profanity so I too shall say nothing at all. According to Ezra Levant he still has “a lot of things to say.” So does a three year old high on Kool-Aid but we don’t let them host their own news program. Ezra Levant seems to have borrowed some of the Prime Ministers skills for mathematics. Ezra Levant thinks “people had a passionate response to the Sun News Network, pro or con, that they didn’t feel for all news channels.” Only a conservative political pundit could project that 8 thousand viewers out of a potential 5.1 million is a passionate response. This goof must have had a honeymoon with every girl that rejected him in high school. With an ability to spin like that no doubt Ezra Levant will replace Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman in another 18 months. For some “reason” or lack thereof the Prime Minister goes through spokespeople like a three legged man goes through underwear. “DAMN! Laureen can you get me another one out of the drawer?”

While I am nursing on news we might want to discuss our disgusting Justice Minister Putrid Peter MacKay. His cronyism knows no bounds. In Nova Scotia it seems one can purchase the position of a judge. I’m not suggesting that Putrid Peter MacKay is being paid directly but then again I am. It seems if you practice law for ten years and make enough of a donation to the Progressive Conservative Association in Nova Scotia, which resembles a tit for Putrid Peter, you too can earn $300 000 per year. It must be like some pension plan you pay into and to me it resembles a construction contract in Quebec.

Putrid Peter will argue that no such unscrupulous appointments are taking place. Being a lawyer he will enter into evidence the best man from his wedding, the best man’s wife and Putrid Peter’s father’s campaign manager. All are now judges. I’m not sure what you call appointing your cronies but it’s a lot like institutional incest. I am officially frightened to travel to Nova Scotia now. I don’t know any MacKay’s and I’m a leftist lunatic. They will probably put me in front of a firing squad for going 80 in a 60 zone. If I’m lucky my fine will be filtered directly into Progressive Conservative coffers.

While we’re on the topic of stupid things conservatives do and say we need to turn to the “Turkey ala King” himself. Stephen Harper is a national nuisance and upon opening his mouth again he has revealed he is the nincompoop of nuance. He is force feeding the country that anyone with a tan or tint is a conspiring jihadist. He wants to be able to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong and root out anyone who doesn’t agree with his cocktail of confusion. It’s not enough to intimidate and audit birdwatchers so now he wants to be able to bust down their doors. Why you ask? Because he thinks he can best display his brand by being the party best suited to defend the nation. It is nothing short of baffling brilliance and strategic stupidity to find Sir Franklin’s centuries past sunken ship in the arctic when in fact we need bullets for barbarians. If this is what the prime minister considers a war measure we are all sunk.

Who wants to go fight anywhere so when you get home he can turn his back on you anyway?

I think we have a problem with ISIS but I don’t think we solve it by becoming anti-Muslim maniacs ourselves. The courts have ruled that signing a citizenship form can be done with a veil or Niqab. I’m not sure why anyone needs to wear a veil but why can’t people eat pork? Because it is part of their belief system which is theirs to cherish and ours to respect and vise versa.

The Prime Minister opposes the court ruling and in defense claims, “This is a society that is transparent, open and where people are equal.” When I hear that man use words like open, transparent and equal I am nauseated by the hypocrisy and I see in front of me the big bad wolf wearing granny’s pajamas. Stephen Harper is about as open as a fossilized clam and as transparent as any of his redacted media releases which usually need subpoenas and official access to information requests. This man’s idea of equality is a special paint job for his airplane while children on federal reservations go without food, medicine and clean water. We didn’t make Diane Finley show her face when she sat in parliament.

I don’t care what your religion is, what you eat, what you believe, what you wear or if you take the citizen oath covered in molasses. Welcome to Canada my friend and thanks for diluting these conservative creeps.

My New Motto: “Sorry About That”

Firstly, you should know my oven is electric, my razor is electric and I’m too environmentally friendly to drown myself in the shower. I can only tie granny knots, my gun shoots BB’s, I live on a second floor and I’m too lazy to walk to the Thames River.

I don’t think I am overly depressed but then again half of the tornado trees from Grand Bend are in my backyard and I wouldn’t call myself manic. I would say that bipolar is similar to transition eyeglasses. I remember being out on bail from jail and driving with my mother who had new sunglasses. She was quite excited by certain trees and shrubs in spring bloom and shared her excitement with me. “Whatever” I thought. After we got home she figured out her new glasses had a violet hue to them thus distorting her reality of beauty. Bi-polar is similar except it is not so easy to remove your lenses. When I am up things are overly optimistic and bright and when I am down they are overly dark and distorted.

I was frustrated by the world we live in and was fairly certain my main contribution was ending up at the Greenway Sewage Treatment Facility. I only expected a little peace but I had no intention of seeking anything eternal. I’m not sure I’m even owed it. I should have qualified some of my statements but I am in the habit of saying what is on my mind. I’m still convinced few read my blog but for those that do, thanks.

When Justin Beiber’s used shoes sell for anything and it makes the news we all need to re-evaluate. No? I’m not convinced he has journeyed anywhere much less anywhere meaningful. If anything he needs a boot up the ass. He must be a bad boy though with all those tattoos. We all know toughness is in the tint and beauty is in biceps.

A few things have culminated in my mood or as I see it outlook. I have a virus and now that the fever has broken my ears are plugged and considering my nose is plugged it seems relatively easy to breath underwater. My chest is depositing phlegm on my tongue so I don’t feel too pretty or poetic.

I had to put my cat down. Any pet owner should relate but this cat was my life preserver. When I first lived in the community he wandered the house with me and attacked my feet when I didn’t want to move them. When I didn’t care he made me care for him. When I couldn’t sleep I could hear him running up and down the stairs so I knew it was okay not to. When I was anxious he purred and I learned how to be content. When I had no one to touch or to be touched by he brushed against me. Godspeed Sam.

I took an old friend to task and possibly shouldn’t have. St. Joseph’s Health Care is was and always will be a great and gracious organization because of those who it employs. I slapped them to turn their heads towards my friends who I view as humiliated to a degree, somewhat in danger and relatively exposed and compromised. Maybe we can find a solution.

So that’s roughly where I was coming from. I have every intention of keeping my promised presentations and I have performed through worse health. I wont succumb to discouragement when I have endured so much more for so much longer.

Who Gives A Fuck?

I have had my heart torn a few times among other things. Opening it and sharing it doesn’t seem to help. I am growing tired of being a well healed scar we parade in front of students, staff and sight seekers. I’m no more healthy than anyone else going to hell in a hand basket. I shower about every four days and brush my teeth as often.

I used to get a kick out of speaking to students but I’m not sure they listen either. If I was saying anything important I would actually have followers on my blog. No? I ended up on a stranger’s blog the other day and they had some kind of Haiku poem with hundreds of visitors, thirty likes and twice as many shares. I couldn’t pull a Haiku from my ass if I swallowed a bushel but if I knew it was that easy I could have saved a hell of a lot of paper and ink.

Wind
Rock
Tree……………..Clap, Clap, Clap, who gives a fuck?

I never set out to accomplish anything so I’m not too disappointed that I haven’t. “Oh, but Brett, just think of all the people you have touched.” Clap, Clap, Clap…who gives a fuck? My brothers and sisters are still suffering in solitary confinement. The homeless are still hovering over street grates and children go to school without a fucking meal. We let the mentally ill and addicted live in shitholes and jails. Worst of all Stephen Harper is still trying to be Prime Minister. The goose bumps I get from a standing ovation have turned to rage so it is time to leave the podium.

I know I have insulted more than a few people with my words which is presently a bright spot. I hope I made you think. Asshole 🙂

To my friends I would ask that you just leave me be. Some of you have been close and I cherish that but I don’t need it presently. My God took me to a quiet spot called solitary confinement. His companionship is easier and enough. I am often alone but I am never empty. I usually have a few conversations going on in my head and if you were hiding in my house you would wonder who I was laughing with. I have been given a cursed gift but I don’t expect you to understand its value or importance.

I don’t have any plans but I will be ignoring most of my electronics. This will make my dog happy and oblige me to make a donation to Goodwill for a book. Win, win. You can ring my doorbell but if we speak it will be through a door. Let’s just pretend it is Christmas and we are each spending private time with family.

I will be posting my book to my blog as soon as I figure out how. I already paid dearly for it so why should you. Possibly you will understand me somewhat more and maybe I will receive the apologies I am owed.

Good luck and God Bless

Love Brett

Ontario Hospitals Need to Give Their Head a Shake

I wonder what goes through the minds of patients who are pushed off hospital property to smoke in the cold with the public driving by.

Am I to believe I am valued as a person when certain aspects of myself are banished? It is quite like making a child stand in a corner to contemplate their unacceptable behaviour. It becomes difficult to see the love and respect for patients when they are relegated to the road and rain coping as they know how and finding pleasure and escape in a cigarette. These individuals have serious and persistent mental illness and we are worried about them smoking? Privileged individuals are instituting their values on marginalized individuals. Some will never quit so I suggest we stop shaming them.

When I was a forensic patient I really didn’t want people knowing I was such. I found it humiliating having to ride in the “big white vans” because most people in St. Thomas knew where the “big white vans” were from. They were part of the community consciousness and on more than one occasion I heard the “big white vans” used as amusing putdowns.

Privacy is a premise of dignity. When I am placed beside the road like a pathetic pylon I eventually become recognizable to repetitive travelers and commuters. This scenario makes community integration difficult and it compromises patient safety. What if a prospective employer, landlord or lover recognizes me from standing beside the road five times a day? It makes what is already difficult more so. Will I find employment or a date if I am publicly exposed as belonging in a forensic hospital? Nobody deserves a scarlet letter let alone for an unhealthy habit. Are we compromising patient confidentiality by placing these individuals beside a public thoroughfare?

At the old forensic hospital a friend and I ordered a pizza on a summer’s evening. We decided to eat it at a picnic table in front of the hospital. We were well back from the highway but a car full of fools drove by yelling obscenities at us. Not all motorists are mature or well meaning. Some motorists barely know the meaning of a STOP sign but we expect they will comprehend and be sensitive to STIGMA? Forensic patients are prone to abuse and discrimination and placing them beside a road is nothing more than facilitation. Having these individuals within distance of garbage being hurled at them is dangerous and unfair. St. Thomas is fairly accepting of Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care but it only takes one.

When I become a fixture standing at the end of the lane leading to a forensic facility I become recognizable. If and when I am allowed to wander other avenues I am still recognizable. We might as well dip these smokers in orange dye to further accommodate their prospective discrimination. These individuals are already compromised and marginalized and I find it shameful that an organization with a mandate to assist them is in fact harming them.

Unfortunately, these well meaning but overbearing boardroom bureaucrats fail to fathom the positives and pleasures of smoking.

I had a friend put a bee in my bonnet. It could be argued that it was always there but I shall defer a degree of credit to him. The issue is hospitals making smoking illegal for psychiatric patients.

My health or lack thereof is still “my” health. When we crowd individuals with serious and persistent mental illness off hospital grounds to smoke the message is, “we want to make you healthy and we refuse to enable non-healthy behaviours.” It appears to be an admirable avenue but it is still a slippery slope. If non-smoking initiatives are embraced it enables preventing patients from any behaviour including ingesting pizza and pop.

Obesity is as problematic as smoking. Will it be next or can we continue to consume chocolate? A serious and widespread side effect of some psychiatric medications is weight gain. If it is prescribed by a psychiatrist there seems to be no dilemma but if I thrive on soda pop it is unacceptable. I knew individuals who were policed for their pop consumption. The one individual I recall most was allowed to drool uncontrollably but liquid running in the other direction was monitored and measured.

If your argument is that second hand soda doesn’t affect others I would have you stand at the side of a highway or avenue and measure the cocktail of car exhaust you breathe in. When I first arrived at the forensic hospital in St. Thomas we had smoking rooms with cushioned chairs and TV’s. I quit for a period and don’t recall any smoke in the hallways. The smoke was contained in a humane way using air exchangers. The smoking rooms were closed while I was there but the asbestos and lead paint didn’t seem problematic.

Unfortunately, these well meaning but overbearing boardroom bureaucrats fail to fathom the positives and pleasures of smoking. We can all relate to the benefits of joining friends for a beer or meal and smoking is no different. Should relative health supersede happiness and free will? Even the executioner has the mercy to offer the beneficiary of bullets a cigarette as a last wish. Smoking is unhealthy and slightly disgusting but for a depressed patient it may offer four minutes of pleasure. It can be a reminder of normalcy and freedom in a situation of caregiver custody.

There are more productive pleasures but who doesn’t choke on other people’s ideas of what they should be doing with their Loonies, lungs or legs? Autonomy must be complete and absolute wherever possible and practical or else patients are essentially prisoners.

I was in Stratford Jail when the province issued a smoking ban in those institutions. I remember a notice in Admitting and Discharge:

“The jail will be smoke free as of November 22nd. We suggest you either quit smoking or stay out of jail.”

Hospitalization is not a choice or a poor decision. To deny a patient a pleasure they are likely addicted to on the street is punitive, cruel and misguided. If you choose not to smoke I admire you but don’t deny me the dignity of my own decisions. Don’t put me in the cold and rain on the side of the highway in the guise of care or because of your self-righteous beliefs and behaviours. Others are not stupid or wrong they simply have other priorities, likes and habits.

To deny an individual dependent on tobacco as a coping pleasure is nothing more than institutional primacy which places patients beneath the institution.