RIP, Charleena Lyles. Mental Health Treatment Is A Joke.

For a long time, I’ve always thought that psychiatry is a joke, a clownish affair, a profession for buffoons who couldn’t guess their way out of a paper bag. I’ve even blogged about it in the past few months, especially in relation to me. Psychiatry and psychology has failed me; pills don’t help. All they do is infuriate me and perhaps even make me crazier. I’ve also stated that, if I had a serious psychotic break in public, the only way society would know how to deal with it is put me down like a dog.

And then that’s exactly what happened this past week.

I live in the same apartment complex as Charleena Lyles, Charleena was 30 years old with four kids and the fifth on the way. Like me, Charleena was black, homeless, and suffering from mental health. In essence, she was the female version of me. She called the police Sunday morning about a burglary in her house. Words were exchanged, bullets flew, and Charleena died in the presence of three of her kids. The police had the audacity to say the kids were unharmed. Of course they were harmed. They’re psychologically fucked for life, that’s how they were harmed.

Once again, the most vulnerable of this society has been failed. Societies like NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will come along, speak to the press, and say, “This tragedy could’ve been prevent.” Yeah, no shit. Can NAMI prevent it? Or any organizations that claims to assist the mentally ill? Nope. As far as I’m concerned, all they’re doing is picking up a paycheck because, guess what, their advocacy don’t mean squat in the real world. There will be another Charleena tomorrow, only this time she’ll be called Robin.

Thinking About Moving to Forks, WA

Seattle is all well and good, but frankly, now that I’m older, I want a slower pace of life, something a little more relaxing and laid back. Being on fixed income (SSDI), I’m relegated to living in buildings in neighborhoods I’m not so fond of; specifically, I’m referring to downtown Seattle. Outside of downtown, the suburbs are quite expensive. I could probably afford a studio there, but really, since I have no ties to this city, I’ve been thinking about pursuing the third act of my life in simpler surroundings.

After several days of research, I’ve decided that Forks just might be the ticket. I’ve already applied to the Peninsula Housing Authority for a one-bedroom in one of the four buildings they own there. Hopefully, because I’m disabled and homeless, that should push me near the top of their waiting list. I’m quite sure I won’t miss the noise and congestion of a big city. Since I’m no longer a musician, I don’t have to try and maintain a close relationships to the music scene, the night clubs, the concert venues, or anything related to live performance. I won’t miss the movie theaters and art museums, either. I’d say that, over the years, I’ve had my fill of all those things. Just give me a good computer and the internet and I’m all set.

Forks is a tourist town; a lot of their revenue used to come from the mills, now it comes from people chasing the “Twilight” feel. I’m not into the “Twilight” books or movies, so that element is lost on me. What I do like is that Forks, just a small town of nearly 4,000 people, contains everything I need – a food bank, restaurants, a public library, auto repair and parts shops, rivers and forests galore, internet, 24 hr convenience stores, a clothing consignment store, medical clinics as well as mental health and substance abuse counseling, NA meetings, and a college that, maybe, I might be able to tutor people in ESL, writing or GED testing. Most of all, the one-traffic-light town is small; reminds me of Woodstock, NY, a place I’d originally like to retire in but is too expensive for me. Forks is a “3 hour drive plus ferry ride” distance from here. Since I just replaced all four tires on my car and had other under-the-hood work done on my little gas-guzzling hoopdie, I’d like to drive up there to check out the place, maybe this Saturday. We’ll see.

Autistic & Forever the Outsider

When I was growing up in Trinidad & Tobago, I moved around so much that I never made friends. The moving around didn’t matter, though, because even moments of residency I was still seen as an outsider. My vision was poor so playing sports was out of the question. And being mixed race didn’t help in neighborhoods where being black was the norm. I was once beat up by a kid for no reason, but in retrospect, it may have been my simple oddness, and aloofness, that may have set him off.

I didn’t receive glasses till I was 10, and when I did get them, they were so thick that kids said they were made from Coke bottles. I tried my best to avoid everyone by going for long walks on Mayaro beach, and that usually worked. It was just me and the wide Atlantic Ocean – pure tranquility. I could’ve done without that burning sting from a Portuguese man o’ war that had been washed up on the beach; still, it was preferable to being among my own human compatriots.

Fast forward to today, nearly 50 years later. Things haven’t changed that much. I still prefer to commune with nature than humankind. Yesterday, i went for two strolls through Magnuson Park. The first was through the sports fields and the second, around 5PM, was through the wetlands. Now that summer is upon us, the wildlife is beginning to flesh out around here. For the first time, and up close, I saw a hummingbird. It could’ve been a black-chinned hummingbird but I’m not sure. It’s back was an iridescent dark green but it’s chest was also dark, not like the white I’ve seen in pictures. I also saw a great blue heron. That was pretty cool. Close up they sure resemble dinosaurs. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re one of the least changed descendants of the extinct wonders.

I think I know what my future is. I’ll be that eccentric old man (like billy barr, the snow guardian of the Rockies or Nikola Tesla, the electrical genius) who shuns society and speaks only to the animals. I won’t mind that, actually. Humans can be deceptive, corrupt, dishonest, abominable, frightful and just plain uncomfortable to be around. That’s too bad but it is what it is. Just give me wildlife anytime – just keep the big cats at bay, though. They make me nervous.

New Year’s Resolution: Going Out on a Limb

keep-calm-and-buy-my-books-2Well, a new year is upon us and, like previous years, started off with a bang. At least for me, anyway. After getting drunk on New Year’s Eve, busting out two windows at a bank, and getting three days in jail for it, I now vow to turn my life around. (Yeah, I know – famous last words). Seriously, though, drinking has to come to an end. It’s a waste of money and often gets me in trouble, not to mention it’s bad for my health and goes against the teachings of Jainism. That said, I promise to give up booze and eradicate anger, hatred, jealousy and ego from my system. What am I going to do now to stay asleep if I give up the likker? I don’t have a clue since one of my bipolar systems is sleepless nights. I’ve been taking the pill Latuda for bipolar and Gabapentin for sleep but neither seems to work. All they make me do is gnash my teeth continually till the muscles in my jaw hurts. I’m gnashing my teeth right now as we speak and it’s driving me nuts.

Another reason for my drinking is the cold weather. No, that’s not a cop-out perfected my the Kremlin; it’s real. The freezing cold weather, in tandem with the bipolar, forced my sleep to end after just one to two hours. I don’t go all the way and swill vodka like they do in Vladivostok just to keep warm, but the beer is better than nothing. It forces more hours of well-deserved sleep on me, and the way I look these days, I could definitely use some beauty sleep.

For the past week or so, I’ve been focused on two things while abandoning a third. The two disciplines which are currently the mirepoix for my sanity are, one, setting up a recording studio in this computer and, two, marketing my mystery novel “Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven.” Man, if I’d known that the marketing of one title was going to be this expensive and time consuming, I probably wouldn’t have deigned to write anything to begin with. Nevertheless, what’s done is done. Since I can’t afford to pay hundreds for a, hopefully positive, review in some online magazine, or afford a proper book tour, I’ll have to take the snail approach with this one. Annoying, but inevitable.

Finders Keepers

lostandfoundI must say, this has been a pretty fruitful year for me. I’ve found $30, a pair of Outdoor Research gloves, a Seahawks wool cap, two umbrellas, USB cables, a pair of sneakers, Ray Ban sunglasses, pens, coins, a long sleeve shirt, a pair of black pants, a grey sweater, more sunglasses, a pair of woolly black gloves, three pairs of ear buds, computer speakers, a still-unopened package of Schlage door locks, restaurant food in doggie bags, several car air fresheners, a Skechers backpack, a Seahawks football, several tennis balls, a Batman sun screen for a car’s window and a new spare tire. I’me sure I’m missing a few things, but all in all, I can’t complain.

The Death of Mental Care for Our Most Vulnerable Citizens – the Homeless.

shameNo one has to tell me I’m pretty cynical. I already know that. It’s how my extreme black and white thinking works and it’s something I can’t turn off, no matter how hard I’ve tried. That said, I often “weaken” to play the naive fool. Every so often, I try to give society the benefit of the doubt and seek out care for my homelessness and mental issues. In the end, all I did was illustrate just how incompetent, frustrating, useless, parasitical, insulting, ass-backwards, corrupt, inconsequential and self-serving “carers” were. It’s just a money game. The solution for the homeless mentally ill? Shoot them in the face or lock them away in jail. To wit:

  1. I contact psychologists for help and diagnosis. They say things like, “Sorry, I’m not taking any more clients” or “Sorry, you don’t have the right insurance” or “Sorry, cash only.”
  2. I contact housing alliances. They say things like, “Sorry, you need to be referred from Western State Hospital” or “Sorry, you need to have an active addiction” or “Sorry, your income is way too low for our low cost housing” or “Sorry, the intake coordinator is out. Just leave your name and number and he’ll get back to you as soon as he can” or “Sorry, no vacancies” or “Sorry, you have to put your name on the waiting list which, by the way, is 9 years long” or “Sorry, you have to be 62 years old” or “Sorry, you have to be a veteran” or “Sorry, you have to be a client at Such and Such Clinic, but when you contact Such and Such Clinic, they say sorry, we’re not taking any more clients till the fall.”
  3. I contact hospitals for tests for my mental condition so I can help from the state’s Developmental Disability Association, but they say, “Sorry, your insurance won’t pay for the exam” or “Sorry, our waiting period is about a year due to staff cuts or whatever” or “Sorry, we have no more beds” or “Sorry, you need a referral from one of our allied psychiatrists, and naturally, you then find out their allied psychiatrists aren’t taking on any new clients for a year or don’t take your insurance anyway.”

And they wonder why people give up and just go live on the street or commit crimes just to get in out of the cold. It’s sad, really, especially in a city as prosperous as Seattle. My goodness. The world-renowned Seattle Seahawks live here. The richest corporations (Boeing, Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft) in the world and their CEO’s live here. We have football and basketball stadiums, concert halls, skyscrapers, the world famous University of Washington, the fastest growing tech sector in the nation and some of the most expensive real estate in the land. And we have the extreme poor and mentally ill living under bridges and in cars. Shame. On. Seattle.