Orchids in a Hot House or Writing Through Trauma

To all those who have tried and failed or perhaps succeeded, I offer words to you about my journey. Remember as you write, some people will like your words, others will not. Write if you must but know, it’s not easy my friend.

About twelve months ago, I joined an online writing group – Off Campus Writers Workshop. They have been an invaluable resource. I decided recently to send a submission, which they accepted.

If you are a weekend writer or someone just thinking about putting pen to ink, please check this group out.



“They just take them to the door and let them out,” Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot told the Dallas Morning News.

All the Money in the World can’t fix the mental health problem in Texas.

July 10, 2022

Dallas County’s average wait time for a state psychiatric hospital bed is longer than any other urban county in Texas, with some waiting more than 800 days for hospital admittance, according to state data.

Dallas Morning News July 10, 2022

“They may or may not have gotten case management or medication they need.” he continued.

The mentally ill are People. Have we forgotten? Are they forgotten?

THE COUNTY BLAMES THE STATE FOR THE DELAY IN GETTING MENTALLY DISTRESSED DEFENDANTS INTO STATE HOSPITAL BEDS FOR TREATMENT. Such defendants are required to receive treatment, usually in state care, before they can be declared mentally competent by a judge to then stand trial.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

All the Money in the World can’t fix the mental health problem in Texas.


My Guardian

Enter a version of John Wayne, aka, “The Duke” that I never knew existed.

I have always had a love for animals. Through my local humane society, I met a dog breed that I didn’t know existed. Duke, the brazillian mastiff, was my knight in shining armor.

When I was first introduced to him, I thought he was one of the ugliest creatures I’d ever seen. As the months and weeks passed, he became more handsome.

I was newly divorced and lived in the country. My ex wanted to keep our three dogs, and I had no energy to argue. I was lonely and frightened, especially in the evenings. I had never lived in the country before, so while the beauty and solace comforted me during the day, when the dark shadows of evening began to fall, my anxiety and fears rose.

Enter a version of John Wayne, aka, “The Duke” that I never knew existed.

Over time, we both began to heal. I was healing from a disastrous relationship that included a pet hoarder and a sociopath. Duke was healing from parasites. We had more in common than I realized. No one wanted the magnificent animal.

I had checked out and wanted to hide under nearby rocks and trees. Duke just needed a soft place to land, which ended up being my couch.

Growing up with a Parent with Schizophrenia

There are several resources for a person who grew up in a household where schizophrenia was present. This website is a good resource, but I will share others.


We went around the table after our tummies were full. It is Thanksgiving, and I’m at my sister’s table with her family. She and her husband, two grown daughters and three teenage grandsons are present. The tradition is to give thanks for something that starts with the first letter of the alphabet

The middle grandboy must start with the letter, “A”.

His brother does a mock cough and says that one is easy. Both of their girlfriends’ names start with the letter “A”. We make it around the table two times when I decide to throw in the word, “failure.” To my surprise, I’m not interrupted.

“I know this is strange, but I’m thankful for failure,” I said, hoping they would understand my explanation. Even the teenagers did not interrupt me.

I’m thankful for failures because they help guide me to what is truly important. Failed marriage, failed job, failed football game, a failed relationship… Our lists can go on and on.

I have been fascinated with paradoxes this year. “It is better to give than to receive.” “If you lose your life, you’ll find it.”

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. – Luke 9:24

Luke 9:24

I think I know what it finally means. We have all failed at something this year and all the ones before it. We have lost. We have loved, and we have grieved…..and amid all of it, we find life.

My precious breath is forever changing. I am getting older. I grieve for the lack of certain friend’s presence, but I have found joy in the memories.

I am grateful. I am thankful, and I am blessed.

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com



Berceuse from Jocelyn is part of an opera in four acts that was composed by Benjamin Godard (1849-1895). It was first performed on February 25, 1888 in Brussels, Belgium.

It begins with two musical notes slowly played on the piano.

I took my small, thin, young fingers and thoughtfully hit those two piano keys. I fell in love with the beauty and simplicity of the piece.

Four half notes in one measure. Then several eighth notes in the second. Nothing difficult. Nothing showy. The other piano students picked the fast, attention-grabbing pieces for the recital.

I sat at the piano in front of the hundred-plus people seated in the auditorium. They varied in age from two years to ninety-two. The crowd was silent except for the star pupil seated in the first row.

I heard him ask the guy next to him.

  “Which song is that?” Was he possibly grabbed by the two beginning notes as I was? Was there someone else that appreciated the beauty and the simplicity of Berceuse?

Prior to the recital, Mrs. Francesca encouraged me to play the piece faster. We worked on the piece for weeks.

When it was time for the recital, I played the song as I felt it – slowly. All of my squelching emotions were wrapped in that music. My hand position was thoughtful. My posture. The volume at the beginning and at the end. It had all been practiced over and over.

The better pianists began the recital. The fast-paced “Spinning Song” was at the beginning. The student did not miss a note. This was the time their parents could sit in the audience and glow at their child’s talents and hard work, not to mention their own sacrifice of money which was hard to come by for most of the lower middle-class families who lived in El Paso.

I was listed in the program, not at the end or the beginning but in the middle. I saved that recital program for decades – a piece of paper with my name next to Berceuse from Jocelyn.

I shared my naked soul with the audience that evening. When I was finished, I quietly sat next to my parents. It was only one of a handful of times the three of us sat in public together.

The crowd was hushed as the next musician prepared for his song.

The quiet was broken by my father’s voice, “Why didn’t you pick a better piece?! Why that one?!”

Berceuse from Jocelyn held all of my emotions, the fears, the failures, the trips to Big Springs to pick up my mother from the mental hospital multiple times. It held all of my anxiety and stress of growing up with trauma.

The silence was broken.

The feelings were shared without one…… single….. word……. being uttered.

Slow down a bit today and listen to the beautiful music. https://youtu.be/LvKDPUL4qLw

Mental health crisis teams aren’t just for cities anymore

Copied from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20221003/Mental-health-crisis-teams-arene28099t-just-for-cities-anymore.aspx

Jeff White knows what can happen when 911 dispatchers receive a call about someone who feels despondent or agitated.
He experienced it repeatedly: The 911 operators dispatched police, who often took him to a hospital or jail. “They don’t know how to handle people like me,” said White, who struggles with depression and schizophrenia. “They just don’t. They’re just guessing.”
In most of those instances, he said, what he really needed was someone to help him calm down and find follow-up care.
That’s now an option, thanks to a crisis response team serving his area. Instead of calling 911, he can contact a state-run hotline and request a visit from mental health professionals.
The teams are dispatched by a program that serves 18 mostly rural counties in central and northern Iowa. White, 55, has received assistance from the crisis team several times in recent years, even after heart problems forced him to move into a nursing home. The service costs him nothing. The team’s goal is to stabilize people at home, instead of admitting them to a crowded psychiatric unit or jailing them for behaviors stemming from mental illness.
For years, many cities have sent social workers, medics, trained outreach workers, or mental health professionals to calls that previously were handled by police officers. And the approach gained traction amid concerns about police brutality cases. Proponents say such programs save money and lives.
But crisis response teams have been slower to catch on in rural areas even though mental illness is just as prevalent there. That’s partly because those areas are bigger and have fewer mental health professionals than cities do, said Hannah Wesolowski, chief advocacy officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“It certainly has been a harder hill to climb,” she said.
Melissa Reuland, a University of Chicago Health Lab researcher who studies the intersection of law enforcement and mental health, said that solid statistics are not available but that small police departments and sheriffs’ offices seem increasingly open to finding alternatives to a standard law enforcement response. Those can include training officers to handle crises better or seeking assistance from mental health professionals, she said.
The shortage of mental health services will continue to be a hurdle in rural areas, she said: “If it was easy, people would have fixed it.”
Still, the crisis response approach is making inroads, program by program.
White has lived most of his life in small Iowa cities surrounded by rural areas. He’s glad to see mental health care efforts strengthened beyond urban areas. “We out here get forgotten — and out here is where we need help the most,” he said.
Some crisis teams, like the one that helps White, can respond on their own, while others are paired with police officers or sheriffs’ deputies. For example, a South Dakota program, Virtual Crisis Care, equips law enforcement officers with iPads. The officers can use the tablets to set up video chats between people in crisis and counselors from a telehealth company. That isn’t ideal, Wesolowski said, but it’s better than having police officers or sheriffs’ deputies try to handle such situations on their own.
The counselors help people in mental health crises calm down and then discuss what they need. If it’s safe for them to remain at home, the counselor calls a mental health center, which later contacts the people to see whether they’re interested in treatment.
But sometimes the counselors determine people are a danger to themselves or others. If so, the counselors recommend that officers take them to an emergency room or jail for evaluation.
In the past, sheriffs’ deputies had to make that decision on their own. They tended to be cautious, temporarily removing people from their homes to ensure they were safe, said Zach Angerhofer, a deputy in South Dakota’s Roberts County, which has about 10,000 residents.
Detaining people can be traumatic for them and expensive for authorities.
Deputies often must spend hours filling out paperwork and shuttling people between the ER, jail, and psychiatric hospitals. That can be particularly burdensome during hours when a rural county has few deputies on duty.
The Virtual Crisis Care program helps avoid that situation. Nearly 80% of people who complete its video assessment wind up staying at home, according to a recent state study.
Angerhofer said no one has declined to use the telehealth program when he has offered it. Unless he sees an immediate safety concern, he offers people privacy by leaving them alone in their home or letting them sit by themselves in his squad car while they speak to a counselor. “From what I’ve seen, they are a totally different person after the tablet has been deployed,” he said, noting that participants appear relieved afterward.
The South Dakota Department of Social Services funds the Virtual Crisis Care program, which received startup money and design help from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. (The Helmsley Charitable Trust also contributes to KHN.)
In Iowa, the program that helps White always has six pairs of mental health workers on call, said Monica Van Horn, who helps run the state-funded program through the Eyerly Ball mental health nonprofit. They are dispatched via the statewide crisis line or the new national 988 mental health crisis line.
In most cases, the Eyerly Ball crisis teams respond in their own cars, without police. The low-key approach can benefit clients, especially if they live in small towns where everyone seems to know each other, Van Horn said. “You don’t necessarily want everyone knowing your business — and if a police car shows up in front of your house, everybody and their dog is going to know about it within an hour,” she said.
Van Horn said the program averages between 90 and 100 calls per month. The callers’ problems often include anxiety or depression, and they are sometimes suicidal. Other people call because children or family members need help.
Alex Leffler is a mobile crisis responder in the Eyerly Ball program. She previously worked as a “behavior interventionist” in schools, went back to college, and is close to earning a master’s degree in mental health counseling. She said that as a crisis responder, she has met people in homes, workplaces, and even at a grocery store. “We respond to just about any place,” she said. “You just can make a better connection in person.”
Thomas Dee, a Stanford University economist and education professor, said such programs can garner support from across the political spectrum. “Whether someone is ‘defund the police’ or ‘back the blue,’ they can find something to like in these types of first-responder reforms,” he said.
Critics of police have called for more use of unarmed mental health experts to defuse tense situations before they turn deadly, while law enforcement leaders who support such programs say they can give officers more time to respond to serious crimes. And government officials say the programs can reduce costly hospitalizations and jail stays.
Dee studied the Denver Support Team Assisted Response program, which lets 911 dispatchers send medics and behavioral health experts instead of police to certain calls. He found the program saved money, reduced low-level crime, and did not lead to more serious crimes.
Dr. Margie Balfour is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona and an administrator for Connections Health Solutions, an Arizona agency that provides crisis services. She said now is a good time for rural areas to start or improve such services. The federal government has been offering more money for the efforts, including through pandemic response funding, she said. It also recently launched the 988 crisis line, whose operators can help coordinate such services, she noted.
Balfour said the current national focus on the criminal justice system has brought more attention to how it responds to people with mental health needs. “There’s a lot of things to disagree on still with police reform,” she said. “But one thing that everybody agrees on is that law enforcement doesn’t need to be the default first responder for mental health.”
Arizona has crisis response teams available throughout the state, including in very rural regions, because settlement of a 1980s class-action lawsuit required better options for people with mental illnesses, Balfour said.
Such programs can be done outside cities with creativity and flexibility, she said. Crisis response teams should be considered just as vital as ambulance services, Balfour said, noting that no one expects police to respond in other medical emergencies, such as when someone has a heart attack or stroke.
“People with mental health concerns deserve a health response,” she said. “It’s worth it to try to figure out how to get that to the population.”

This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


Her only objective was to ensure that the insane get treated in a dignified manner, that their living conditions are humane and that they are not ostracized in any way.

One would think that would be a quote for a mental health advocate in today’s time, but it is actually about the life of Dorthea Dix who lived in the 1800s.

Photo by Natalie Dupin on Pexels.com

People with psychological conditions were treated in a cruel and undignified manner back then. Her first stint with such mistreatment was at a local jail where she was supposed to teach the inmates but got exposed to the cruelties that were being inflicted upon those suffering from an array of mental health conditions. She made it her mission to ensure the welfare of those suffering from any type of mental, cognitive or psychological condition.


What is your life’s mission?

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