Updated: Aug 26
DISCLAIMER: This essay solely expresses the author’s views, experiences, and opinions, which may not represent the views, experiences, or opinions of EVOLVERE Mental Health.
This essay contains graphic descriptions of traumatic events and suicide attempts, mature subject matter, and mature language.
This essay discusses self-harm and suicide for the purpose of sharing the author’s experiences and opinions in an effort to help individuals who can relate to the author, not to sensationalize or encourage acts of self-harm or suicide attempts. If you or someone you know is considering, or have attempted, acts of self-harm or suicide, please reach out to a trained professional as quickly as possible by calling a suicide hotline or 911/your local emergency number.
Please consult a mental healthcare provider before creating or changing your treatment/therapeutic plan.
Reader discretion is advised.
Well… if you have made it this far… it is probably because of two reasons. First, it is probably like watching a train wreck that you cannot turn away from. Second, my story just might be that interesting. Either way, this last essay will outline what I have learned about Ontario’s dysfunctional mental health system at the hands of the associate minister of Mental Health and Addictions (MHA) and the Minister of Health; what improvements I think could be deployed within the MHA system to help make it more effective; and what I have learned about understanding the self so that the self can be understood, including which modalities have worked for me.
Ontario’s Dysfunctional MHA System (including the Ministry Attorney General- MAG)
My most recent discovery as of last week (it is noteworthy to mention that I have spent four years fighting the system to retain my rights, respect, dignity and freedoms) is that our political system uses two different emails for official Minister business and their Constituency Offices… how confusing is that? Overall, what I have discovered, is that even though there are government documents published online that state that there are safeguards, processes and agencies in place to protect the public and public interest… the truth of the matter is that there is nothing there to truly help… governments, politicians, governing bodies, and agencies in my case will use any means necessary to protect their professions. The MAG aims to protect the public, however, it has civil and criminal responsibilities that are limited when it comes to filing a case. Since I closely followed the complaints processes with every governing body, agency, and institution… which takes time… I know that the laws neither reflect nor use considerations for following the industry processes. This is a major flaw within the alignment of MAG and MHA community, yet since these issues are primarily MHA systemic problems, the MAG has no empathy for my situation and circumstances. Besides… since I am considered a criminal now (at least for the next two years until my conditional discharge runs its course) under the MAG system… even when I try to file a criminal case against my abusers, I am met with discrimination and prejudice within a system that is designed to be neutral, trustworthy and fair... evidently, this is not the case.
Suggested Improvements for the Mental Health and Addictions (MHA) System
1. MHA Triage – There must be a mechanism that can be put in place to ensure that vulnerable and marginalized individuals with mental illnesses can find the correct therapist to fit their needs, or in my case, my charming personalities (DID reference). How the hell would I have known that I was that mentally sick from childhood trauma that I buried for close to thirty years? Another factor is the type of personality (reference to conscious self) that you have. For example, throughout my entire life, I have been a 0 - 100mph type of person… rip the band-aid or peel the scab off in one go. Marie, for example, was all about titration. However, I believe that we were making progress, but then again… she held the measuring stick and was, at the time, the “only” expert treating me in the early days. From speaking to many other people who deal with mental illnesses and brain injuries … the stories are all too familiar… the vulnerable and marginalized populations with mental illnesses (on their dime) have to go through several practitioners before they find their fit… another burden placed on an already burdened individual. There should be a mechanism in place to ensure a proper fit within the first three years of treatment (as mental illnesses will reveal themselves over time… in my case over two years and counting….), where an independent (triage or caseworker) would monitor the progress, and solicit and receive feedback from both the practitioner and patient on differing criteria in order to determine a solid healing and recovery solution.
2. MAG/MHA Alignment – Through the complaints processes with numerous organizations, I have encountered too many inconsistent policies, procedures, and legislation that contradict one another or make it difficult to understand which item has priority in the sequence of deployment. Governing bodies’ “Best Practices” guidelines are based on legislation, however, are lost in interpretation. The public can use the information published on a governing body’s website without knowledge of the legislation, only to be denied in Tribunals/Courts. As of this writing, I am yet again faced with such rhetoric in my upcoming proceeding. Needless to state – the MAG and MHA need to align themselves, as mental illnesses after the Covid-19 ordeal will be on the rise and taxing perhaps both systems, at which point someone or something may incur fatal damage. Then again, why not expect this result? As voters, we get what we deserve I suppose… no one nor politician will ever put a mechanism in place that will hold government agencies, including politicians along with public administration, accountable, nor will they take ownership of the miscues. Regarding your defense of stating that there is a possibility for this as you can vote acting politicians out… surely, as a civilized species, we can do better!
3. Transparency – Now, in the province that I live in (Ontario, Canada), we have the following mental health service provider hierarchal categories (which I put into priority based on the individuals who I spoke to, both with and without mental illnesses): 1. General Practitioner MD, 2. Social Worker/Therapist (on par), 3. Psychologist, 4. MD specializing in psychotherapy and finally 5. Psychiatrist. Now, the MHA community will argue this point… hell most will argue this point… but there is no clear hierarchy published anywhere… this just adds to the confusion of the dysfunctional Ontario mental health portfolio. The complaints process is so murky at times that you will not be able to see the end of your nose… if all of these government agencies had full transparency, could you imagine how things could be improved for the greater good of humanity? Regardless, systemic mental health reform is needed in the province of Ontario. The politicians state mental health as a priority, however, from this user of the dysfunctional system, mental illness recovery is not prioritized.
4. Rating System – Not all brain injuries or symptoms are equal. Part of the problem with what happened to me by Marie (ex- therapist), is that the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and the Canadian Mental Health Association misunderstood my illnesses of CPTSD, DID and BPD. Perhaps the mental health community would consider developing a rating system for these illnesses… equivalent to burns (1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree). I believe that this should be a serious consideration for future programs towards treatment, and healing and recovery plans.
What I Have Learned About The Self So That The Self Has a Chance to be Understood
Admittedly, this is the most difficult element of these essays, not because of the symptoms of my illnesses, but because of the reflective aspect. It is likely that my learning will continue to evolve, due to the constant state of dynamic external and internal inputs that influence how I view the world through my crooked and broken lens. Considerations have to be acknowledged for all of the negative things that happened to me, not only within my family of origin, but also for what has happened to me within the dysfunctional MHA and MAG systems. Nevertheless, I have to begin somewhere. So, I will begin with the most obvious of self-conclusions. Throughout my entire life, I have been a 0 - 100mph personality (in this version of my conscious self) with no regulation in between. I have lived a hard life of excess to the extreme. This is important to understand, and I struggle with this. However, when I reflect on what happened between 2014 until early 2019, I recognize that I abused my body and mind in attempts to numb the pain that I was experiencing on all four pillars (emotional, mental, physical and spiritual). Now, I do not blame any of my caretakers throughout this time, however (I anticipate the medical, mental health and legal professionals will read this) all members of these professions completely missed the obvious… what did they expect to happen when they gave access (blindly) to someone with this personality type experiencing a complete mental breakdown… I abused prescribed pharmaceuticals, narcotics, and alcohol… I should have died ten times over for what I was consuming each day (it should be noted that I am off all of the prescribed pharmaceuticals – the poisons that polluted my body and mind… I have so much clarity now--- speak to your MD to ensure that you get off of the meds if you so wish). I count myself lucky though, as throughout that entire time I only suffered one overdose where I was hospitalized. This is the only time that I will publicly thank Marie post-therapeutic relationship, because if she did not answer her telephone that night, I know that I would not be here… shit… I am crying now… if Marie did not call 911, I would have missed the birth of my granddaughter. So here goes… Marie, if by chance you read this… thank you!
I have learned which modalities have worked for me (I will not discuss what has not worked, as there are too many to list). First off, DBT (Dialectal Behavior Therapy) is something worth exploring with your mental healthcare provider … I have gained respect for this modality, because it was developed by a person with lived experience… which in my opinion is most valuable. Secondly, PE (Prolonged Exposure Therapy) continues to be effective for me, as the entire premise behind this modality is to expose yourself to your trauma until a point where you are desensitized. Who would have thought that I could speak openly about the day my mother pulled a knife on me and stated that she was going to gut me like a pig without any emotional discharge whatsoever? Now, I will put on record that this modality is not for everyone, and if you are thinking about exploring this, then please do your homework, find a good practitioner, and prepare yourself for the pain that you may experience as the consequences could be dire. The last modality that I would like to address is Equine Assisted Learning (EAL). I know that I have mentioned to some… how humanity for the most part has rejected me within my own community… since Marie’s unethical and unprofessional actions, I have lost my tribe… my fellow group members who understood me and could relate to me. However, I have gained… shit crying again… unconditional acceptance into the herd… they know who they are… fuck it… I will acknowledge them here: Theo… you are big, lovable, and at times just a goof… Big Al… you are a protector and I know that you would have my back… Logan… well hell… you are a young buck with so much curiosity… Tammy… the oldest of the bunch with so much wisdom, and lastly… Candy… you were aloof during our first year working together… yet when I needed to feel as though I belonged somewhere in this world… it was you who, while I was sobbing in the paddock, approached me… buried your head into my chest not once but twice until you placed your head on my shoulder… shit, I am crying again… you accepted me unconditionally… I felt your compassion towards me… it was at that point that I felt I belonged. I might have lost my tribe, but I gained the gifts of a herd. All of the aforementioned modalities have had, and will continue to have, a positive effect on my healing adventure.
Now to address what the last thirty-two weeks and counting have taught me…. to recap. Every night I experience the complete atomization of the self on all four pillars (emotional, mental, physical and spiritual) … I am pulverized into oblivion… rinse and repeat… until the episodes are through with me… nature has to take its course. I was terrified when these began… then I was terrorized by the experiences. I have cried… mourned… screamed in agony… I have lost most of my motor control at times… all of my senses have been twisted inside and out to the point where I cannot rely on them. My reality has been lunacy and lunacy has been my reality… as Dr. Bill has stated… my experiences have put me into no man’s land… which really puts all of my supporters and I on a level playing field. As to what I go through… you will not find it in books (well… not yet anyways… depends on how well this series of essays are received I suppose) … there are no pharmaceuticals for this (I anticipate none will ever exist) … there is no one who can help… there are no fixes either… anyone who states otherwise is full of shit.
The best thing that has happened to me was an unorthodox prescription by Dr. Bill, and to be honest, this one action has had a tremendous impact on me. I believe that if I did not receive this direction from Dr. Bill, my demons would have broken me by now and I would have broken my word to all of my supporters in stating that I will fight for every sunrise. Dr. Bill prescribed a story that has given me purpose. He prescribed the following book “Lame Deer: Memoirs of a Sioux Medicine Man” by Martin Copeland. From this book, I received the following messages that resonated with me: 1. every medicine man has to experience all the good, bad, and ugly that the world offers in order to become great… 2. The significance of the Sundance ceremony… from this, I recognize that my nightly episodes are my rite of passage to become a modern-day healer, using unorthodox modalities to challenge those with degrees in arrogance and ignorance… overpaid cheap wall art. My purpose is to challenge the current dysfunctional global Mental Health communities. I do not state this with my own arrogance or ignorance, I state this with the utmost humility… as this is a continued lesson that I am learning. I have realized just how fragile our human existence truly is… oddly enough… it is our own societal arrogance and ignorance, which transcends borders, cultures, and nations, that will be our demise as a species. I have learned that currency, precious metals, and material possessions are of no value, but, are a necessary evil to survive in this dysfunctional world… albeit societal preference in all categorical elements of living has pre-programmed us to believe this.
It has been instilled in us, at a very young age, that we have choices and control… well that is bullshit. I will explain this over the next few sentences. Before I begin, we must consider the relationship between choice and control, as you see, one cannot exist without the other. To have control we must believe that we have a choice to impact the outcome, and the reverse is true… to have choice (black and white thinking in my opinion) we must believe that we have control. Through my reflections every night for the last thirty-two weeks, I have pondered this. I have concluded that choice and control are our species constructs, not to understand nature’s course for us… rather they are a derivative of arrogance and ignorance… but to resist the natural fluidity within nature. With that said, I have observed that, as a species, we have the right to make decisions based on experience, internal and external stimulus, and instincts that influence our next step.
This is a great transition to the most important reflection of all that I have been blessed with. What I have learned, is that movement is the key to living, healing, and recovery. The Indigenous people knew this from the beginning. The Great Sioux Nation observed (from my interpretations from my readings of Lame Deer, Sitting Bull, Black Elk and Fools Crow) that the Europeans (White men) lived in boxes or squares which is a shape of unnatural origins. The boxes with their hard edges and corners discouraged the natural fluidity of movement… perhaps a byproduct of the control and choices constructs. The Sioux always spoke of the endless circle which promoted consistency and constant movement. Now, in a three-dimensional space, the circle becomes the sphere… yet another natural vehicle promoting movement in all directions. Some of you, or perhaps all of you, may think what you want about this, however, you cannot take away their healing elements to my adventure with CPTSD, DID and BPD.
Lastly, I have come to the self-realization that for my entire life, I was told that I needed to be like a rock… solid, rigid, and strong… in order to survive in this chaotic, unpredictable, vile… yet beautiful human condition that we call life. Well… you see, this was inaccurate from all aspects. Now, I am a fan of Bruce Lee and his philosophical belief that being like water… shapeless, colorless, and fluid… is of the utmost importance for the world that we live in. You see, as a rock, you are strong, yet stationary…. there is no room for growth only decay over time… and to be shaped by water ironically. As water… we are in constant movement, as when water becomes motionless, life cannot be supported, hence life would end. It is with this fluidity where we can find solace… the opportunity for change within an instance… perhaps there is a reason why the human body contains water, perhaps why the majority of our planet is covered by it… water can change its form. From a vapor, to a solid, and back to a fluid once again… through my observations, I have noted that the direction of movement is of inconsequential insignificance as long as we move within our four pillars (emotional, mental, physical and spiritual). We are alive to follow our natural paths along the endless circle. Think about it… how many endless circles… from trees, rocks, and water itself… can you recognize throughout your day or perhaps within your thoughts.
As I stated earlier, this was the most difficult element in this series to write about, as there is so much territory to cover in my teachings of understanding the true essence of the self so that the self has a chance to be understood. Except for my societal norm to live in a box within boxes… which we all exist in… I have pledged to myself to transform my philosophical beliefs from being a rock to the strongest element, water. I understand now, to a certain degree, the importance of my astrological sign of Aquarian. I now know my true strength… it, like the circle, is endless. I know now that I will conquer my demons… I do understand now that there is no “fixing” me… I will learn how to better manage my symptoms as I concede to having a life-long sentence with no parole… I am okay with it… because I will continue to struggle… I will continue to heal… I will be like water, my calling sign of Aquarius… my strength… is that I am shapeless, colorless, of no form, yet fluid… always moving… where I am going… does it really matter…. I am on the pathway of healing… I am a survivor… I am the Water Warrior.
This is my healing adventure in a nutshell. For me, my only wish for all of you… my readers, my supporters, and even my naysayers… is that when you take your own inventory… I wish for all of you to appreciate what you have… by this, I do not mean your worldly material processions, as this is much deeper than that. Perhaps, the next time you see anyone with a disability… you too will be like water… understand them so that they have a chance to be understood… be a positive influence in someone else’s struggle… do something meaningful… however, I caution you to avoid terms like “hope” and “faith,” as this is like telling them to believe in the tooth fairy and unicorns… be more than a cute adage… be their water vessel. Remember that hope is not a strategy… dedication, perseverance, and hard work is.
I would like to leave with a poem that I can take no credit for, as it came from one of my DID personalities from within… only shared (without my knowledge) with my immediate circle of care… I would like to introduce to the global community for the first time “The Poet” and his work entitled…
We live between flesh and bone
We are one and the same
Yet there are some of different origin
He lives between concrete walls
As night falls
He leaves the TV on ... and the radio
We are young… we are ancient
We feel what he feels
Some the source of his pain
We, as he, will not break
The darkness of shadows
The concrete walls... protect?
He is not alone
When he suffers
We all experience the same fate
We are brothers
Living between concrete walls
When he bleeds
We feel the same
Bodies of flesh and bone
Built to protect
However colorless and cold
It's crowded in here
A lifetime in a box
Acknowledgements of past deeds
We know payment is now due
He... pays the heaviest price!
Tragic is his existence
Pain and suffering
Isolationism fails him
A vessel of life
Encouraged we are
Still.... no longer
Shapeless... fluid once again
He lives between concrete walls
Of inconsequential insignificance
Growing over time
Knowledge and insights gained
Constantly bending.... but not breaking
Insights of optimistic nihilism
Exploitation of realized atomization
Yet gifts of insights
Boxes we all exist in
Hard edges and corners
No fluidity in movement
Stocks of courageousness
Out of the ashes
He will rise up again
Not a man of societal preference
A beautiful being of healing and of wisdom
Oh how he tries!
Constantly bending... but not breaking
Oh there is a changing tide!
An adventure of inspiration
Pain and suffering
Dynamic and volatile
Within our arms
Two wings of the same spirit
He leaves the TV on...and the radio
Spread your great wings
Soaring the skies
Essence of the four winds... the spirit flies
The truth of being.... the warrior… the survivor.
When the endless circle... realized.