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News for the ‘News’ Category

Brief Update

This is just a fast update to let everyone know that I am alive and well. The last few weeks have just been a bit extra busy and stressful at times. This time last week, my wife and I were getting ready for Hurricane Sandy here in Virginia. Her original course appeared to put us in the middle of  her path; however, we did get very lucky. We did not suffer any damage, not even the loss of power for a few moments.

While we were getting ready, putting aside some water, getting flash lights ready, etc, I did wind up having a bit of increased anxiety. It was not so much that I was worried about us, I knew that my wife, my cat and I would be able to get out safely. I knew that I had the ability to control our evacuation and safety if it came to that; however, most of my family and friends live in New Jersey and in the path of the storm. It was this knowledge and being hours away and helpless to do anything for them that really stressed me out.

Beyond Sandy, work has just been extra busy it seems, but in a way that I actually enjoy. I have also been immersed in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin which has taken up a lot of my time. I have also been having issues with my mobile device from T-Mobile which has limited my availability and time to write.

I intend to have a new blog entry of meaning and value available later this week.

Edited: November 5th, 2012

Next Entry

I hope that this day finds everyone well. I wanted to take a quick moment to let anyone who reads my blog regularly that there will most likely not be any meaningful entries this week. I have been physically sick all week and have been out of work since Tuesday morning. This is on the tail of last week being a very challenging week emotionally; however, despite it being challenging it was navigated successfully.

Take care and see you next week.


Edited: October 4th, 2012

Dismantling the Social Welfare System a Recipe for Increased Mental Health Problems

Note: This post is modified from the original version found on my political blog. I have attempted to make it more ‘neutral’ in tone. If you want to view the original post, please email me at info@rising-phoenix.us for the link. As a rule, I keep my political and mental health blogs separate.

As if there are not enough people suffering from mental health problems here in the United States, in 2004 50% of Americans reported having a mental illness within their lifetime and 25% of Americans reported having a mental illness in the past year, policies advanced by the Republican party the past few years increase the risk of mental health disorders if implemented.

Why? As you may have seen, recent reports large portion of American’s live in a state of poverty. In the US poverty line for 2011 was defined as $22,350 for a family of four. This saving grace for people living in poverty is the strong social welfare system the US has. Programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, unemployment, and section 8 housing, to name just a few, have helped millions of American’s survive in these difficult times. These programs also have allowed the poorest citizens to have access to medical care.

A number of studies, both in the US and other first world nations, have proved that a strong link between poverty and mental health problems exist. Given this fact, it is reckless to dismantle social welfare programs.

Not only would these policies destroy our social welfare system, they would to put tens of thousands of Americans out of work, by eliminating large portions of the federal government. Republican governors are doing the same thing at the state level. Not only does this immediately put people out of work during a difficult time, where reports show that for every one position available four people are applying for the job, it has an effect on other members of the community.

In the Washington, D.C. area many businesses thrive and survive solely because of federal employees and federal contractors. Budget cuts, downsizing and shut downs of the government put these businesses at risk and take food out of the mouths of small business owners.

On top of this first level impact to small business owners, fewer people would have money to spend on non-essential items. This would lead to a decrease in retail sales and more layoffs due to poor sales, companies would also order less goods from distribution centers and manufacturers. This in turn would lead to more layoffs, including those who transport the goods to the stores. By now you can see how severe this problem would become.

As I pointed out at the beginning of this article, there is a strong link between poverty and mental illnesses. Even without detailed studies, this link should be obvious to anyone willing to think. As people lose their jobs, they begin to struggle to make ends meet and provide for their family.

The longer people are out of work, the more the feeling of helplessness and failure increases, and the more severe it becomes.

No one wants to be poor. No one wants to let their family down by not being able to provide for their family.

So as more people would become unemployed the number of people experiencing mental health problems would drastically increase. While the social welfare programs we have in place these days do not eliminate poverty, they do help mitigate the problems – some. Without these programs, even more people would live in poverty and would have no access to health care, including mental health services.

While we now have many people suffering from mental health problems, the effects of the problem and the number of people suffering would increase without these social programs. These programs are meant to help those who are struggling.

We cannot dismantle our social welfare structure or kill jobs. If we do, even more people will begin to suffer from mental health problems and the severity of the problems would increase as the poor would not be able to get treatment for their mental health problems.










Edited: May 30th, 2012

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon Tattoo

Mental Health Awareness TattooA few weeks ago, I went and got myself a new tattoo. I had wanted to get a new one for the last few years, but I either did not have the money, the time or could not settle on what I wanted. As each of my tattoo’s has a very special and important meaning to me, trying to decide what to get is sometimes a very difficult and lengthy process.

Then the other day it came to me. I knew I had to get something for mental health. Mental health awareness and ending stigma is very important to me. Mental health problems have touched my life directly and indirectly for many years and as you can imagine caused me much difficulty at times.

I have seen the havoc it has caused so many people. I have seen the lack of understanding, about mental illness, from others around me. It is a frustrating thing to see so many people who do not understand mental illnesses and how they affect people’s lives. The people I am talking about are good and intelligent people, they just do not understand.

The information that is out there is not always the best information and the good information is hard to find.

A perfect example of the kind of bad and harmful information that is out there is the eBook by Joe Navarro, ‘How to Spot a Borderline Personality.’ This book by this so-called ‘expert’ is offensive and does nothing but promote stigma. At one point in the book he goes so far as to suggest that when possible people should avoid people with borderline personalities. When I first read that I almost went through the roof.

The entertainment industry do not help either. They often portray people who have mental illnesses as ‘bad people’, often times as criminals or as mean, hurtful people. A lot of people unfortunately see this and think that we are all like that.


Most of us are law-abiding, good, kind people. We just have challenges that others don’t. We have feelings, at times just more intense than other people.

I realize it is hard to understand this for a person who has never been around someone with a mental health issue or who does not have one themselves. Even the people closest to us, our families, lovers and best friends do not always understand.

Another common misunderstanding is that a lot of people do not understand that not everyone with mental health problems needs to be institutionalized or even shows visible signs. Just like with any other health problem, our problems cover a range of severity from mild to moderate to extreme. We can be ‘highly functional’, which I am most of the time, to almost ‘non-functional’ and any where in between.

I have had a number of people over the years not believe me when I told them about being diagnosed with mental illnesses, but they only really see the ‘public’ me. The part the gets up in the morning, puts on his game face and goes out to face the world, even if I spent the night hurting myself, screaming, crying and feeling like the world would be better off without me. They do not see or feel the turmoil, rage and pain that consumes me during those times. They just the public me.

Why don’t they see it?

They don’t want to see it. The world does not want to hear about our problems. It wants to go on believing that everything is rosy and that we are just being dramatic. It is easier for people to believe that we are being dramatic then to admit that there are problems.

I have had friends that when we were walking and talking, I would sometimes talk about my problems and my diagnoses and they would ask me not to talk about it. I told them I did not care who heard me because I wasn’t ashamed of my challenges. They however, did not want other people to hear what I was saying because of how THEY might be perceived.

So, when we go out, we try our best to hide our pain and our hurt and try to blend in and ‘fit in’ with everyone else.

Edited: April 1st, 2012

Book Reviews

As time goes on, I will be providing some book reviews on books related to a variety of mental health and mental illness topics. The books will cover a variety of types, from personal accounts to books made for the average person to books and papers for mental health professionals.

Along with reviews of the book as a whole I will provide an analysis and critique on key areas, usually at the chapter level, of the book. If you are interested in reading and discussing books with me, or you have a book you read and want to provide a review on, please let me know.

Edited: March 3rd, 2012


I was just going through my twitter feed and saw a tweet from @oxymoronic82 about a new concept they came up with called the Twitter Buddy Scheme  (#twitterbuddyscheme).

This is not an official service, but rather it is a group of people who share common challenges as they recover and heal from mental illness. The people are not trained therapists or psychatrists, they are friends on the same journey, the journey to wellness and taking back their lives.

Full details are at http://twitterbuddyscheme.tumblr.com/. I will take part in it myself.

Edited: January 9th, 2012

From twitter

Jason M Punko (@punkoj) has shared a Tweet with you:  “natasha_tracy: New Bipolar Burble | Psych Meds Kill Creativity and Artistic Thought: http://bit.ly/mKIgYG #mentalhealth #amwriting #unsuicide” –http://twitter.com/natasha_tracy/status/74253805478346753

Edited: May 27th, 2011


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