Streams In The Desert: February 28th, 2015

Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually Hebrews 13:15

A city missionary, stumbling through the dirt of a dark entry, heard a voice say, “Who’s there, Honey?” Striking a match, he caught a vision of earthly want and suffering, of saintly trust and peace, “cut in ebony”–calm, appealing eyes set amid the wrinkles of a pinched, black face that lay on a tattered bed. It was a bitter night in February, and she had no fire, no fuel, no light. She had had no supper, no dinner, no breakfast. She seemed to have nothing at all but rheumatism and faith in God. One could not well be more completely exiled from all pleasantness of circumstances, yet the favorite song of this old creature ran:

Nobody knows de trouble I see,
Nobody knows but Jesus;
Nobody knows de trouble I see–
Sing Glory Hallelu!

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,
Sometimes I’m level on the groun’,
Sometimes the glory shines aroun’
Sing Glory Hallelu!

And so it went on: “Nobody knows de work I does, Nobody knows de griefs I has,” the constant refrain being the “Glory Hallelu!” until the last verse rose:

Nobody knows de joys I has,
Nobody knows but Jesus!

“Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” It takes great Bible words to tell the cheer of that old negro auntie.

Remember Luther on his sick-bed. Between his groans he managed to preach on this wise: “These pains and trouble here are like the type which the printers set; as they look now, we have to read them backwards, and they seem to have no sense or meaning in them; but up yonder, when the Lord God prints us off in the life to come, we shall find they make brave reading.” Only we do not need to wait till then.

Remember Paul walking the hurricane deck amid a boiling sea, bidding the frightened crew “Be of good cheer,” Luther, the old negro auntie–all of them human sun-flowers.
–Wm. G. Garnett

Songs From My Youth: February 27th, 2015

Music has been a huge part of my life for almost 50 years. In fact many of the songs from my youth softened my heart in preparation for the day I would hear the gospel. So sit back and enjoy some oldies.  Allan

1.  What’s Going On-  Marvin Gaye

2.  You Wear It Well-  Rod Stewart

3.  What Does It Take?-  Jr. Walker And The All Stars

4.  Kathy’s Song-  Simon And Garfunkle

5.  Father And Son-  Cat Stevens

6.  Catch The Wind-  Donovan

7.  A Summer Song-  Chad And Jeremy

8.  Superstar-  The Carpenters

9.  Vincent-  Don McLean

10.  Dialogue Part 1 and 2-  Chicago

11.  High Flying Bird-  Elton John

12.  Wonder-  Natalie Merchant

13.  Leaving On A Jet Plane-  John Denver

14.  Cats In The Cradle-  Harry Chapin




Milwaukee Buck’s Larry Sanders Bravely Explains Why He Walked Away From The NBA

Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders didn’t owe anybody an explanation for walking away from the NBA and accepting a buyout from the Milwaukee Bucks, but he decided to tell his side of the story. In a video and a piece for The Players’ Tribune, he explained that he’s dealing with anxiety and depression.

He introduces himself like this in the video: “I’m Larry Sanders, I’m a person. I’m a father. I’m an artist. I’m a writer. I’m a painter. I’m a musician. And sometimes I play basketball.”

The 26-year-old knows people wondered why he was away from the Bucks in December, and why he’s out of the league now. He knows people said he didn’t love the game. He knows there are some who will never understand how anyone could turn down millions and leave a “dream job.”

“I actually entered into Rogers Memorial Hospital and it was a program for anxiety and depression, mood disorders,” Sanders said. “It taught me a lot about myself. It taught me a lot about what’s important and where will want to devote my time and energy.”

Sanders served suspensions for violating the league’s anti-drug program both this year and last, and he has previously spoken up to support the use of marijuana for medical purposes. He hasn’t said much more about it publicly until now.

“Cannabis came later on in my life,” Sanders said. “It was, for me, used medically for some of the symptoms that I was having due to a lot of stress and pressure I was under given my work.

“Coming into the league, you get dropped this large amount of money out of nowhere and people automatically change around you,” he continued. “That just happens. You become an ATM to some people. You have to be correct in your statements. You have to state things a certain way. You give up your freedom of speech for real. You really can’t say how you feel.”

Sanders said that he does love basketball. He just can’t let it consume his entire life right now. It’s not worth it.

The last time Sanders was with the Bucks, it was early January. He wasn’t playing, and he said he wasn’t sure when he’d be back. Shortly after that, he was away from the team again and suspended.

“I wish I could’ve said goodbye formally to the Bucks at the arena, at the Bradley Center,” he said. “I wanted them to know that it was never about them. It was never about the fans or how they treated me because that was awesome. These decisions are for my family.”

He acknowledged that he never planned on playing in the NBA. Sanders changed schools in 10th grade wanting to be an animator or computer designer, per Sports Illustrated, and he scored on the wrong basket in his first junior varsity game. Everything about Sanders’ path, from playing for Virginia Commonwealth University to being drafted to signing a four-year, $44 million contract, has been unexpected.

When Sanders had to sit out for much of the 2013-2014 season because of injuries and the initial suspension, he spent his time on writing, painting, reading, music. He has a novel in the works. He was a skateboarder before he was a basketball player, and he has lots of custom-designed boards. Basketball is an important thing to him, but it’s not the only thing.

“People really like labels,” he said. “You get to identify something with something else that you may think it makes sense to you. You may rationalize it. Just don’t neglect the and. Don’t neglect the and. That’s what I would say. Hey, you can say I’m selfish. And I’m loving. And I’m caring. And I’m fearful sometimes. And I’m also brave. We all are more than just one thing.”

To make the decision he made, and then to talk about it like this? Yes, Sanders certainly is brave.



Woman With Mental Illness Stashed In Jail: ‘Cruel’ Ordeal Never Should Have Happened

Taken from  the  Oregonian  which can be found  HERE.

A woman suffering from a severe mental illness sat locked in isolation in a Yamhill County jail for 10 days awaiting a state psychiatric bed. She was suicidal, hearing voices and unable to get proper medication to treat her psychosis.

She was never charged with a crime. Three judges tried to get her out, but she languished in the jail’s medical unit: a casualty of an unprecedented breakdown in Oregon’s civil commitment system.

Her experience is an extreme example of the glaring deficiencies in how the state treats people suffering from the most severe mental illnesses, often boarding them in inappropriate locations before they get long-term help.

The 38-year-old woman – homeless and penniless – shouldn’t have had to spend a day in jail. She should have gone immediately to one of the state’s 15 acute care hospitals or to the Oregon State Hospital, the state’s mental hospital in Salem.

But county and state officials said none of them had room for her particular problems. Jurisdictional lines and bureaucratic hurdles also contributed to the delay.

The situation clearly violated the state’s legal obligation, mental health advocates said.

State law states that people who are under the care of the Oregon Health Authority after a civil commitment “may not be confined” in a jail, prison or any other place where others are charged with crimes – unless they pose an “immediate and serious danger” to hospital staff.

The law also says the state “shall” take people approved for civil commitment into its custody, keep them safe and get them proper care before they’re taken to a hospital or treatment center.

“It’s just not right,” said Yamhill County Circuit Judge Ronald W. Stone, who runs the county’s mental health court and intervened in the woman’s case. “It’s cruel in my opinion. I know money’s short, but these are very, very sick people who get committed. They’ve done nothing wrong.”

Rebeka Gipson-King, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Health Authority, called it “highly unusual” that someone committed in civil court would go to jail. “This is the first time that I’ve ever heard of that happening,” she said.

The state relies on the community mental health program to find someone a psychiatric bed, she said. But if a hospital has no room, neither the state nor the county can order it to admit a patient, she said.

The woman’s court-appointed lawyer visited her client in jail each day.

“She would cry because she told me she can’t sleep. She said, ‘I wish I were dead,’ ” recalled her attorney Janmarie Dielschneider. “I’d tell her ‘I’m working hard to find a solution,’ but I was feeling optionless.”


On Jan. 14, the woman, originally from New Hampshire, was brought to Providence-Newberg Medical Center after suffering a mental health crisis. She had been living with an elderly couple in Yamhill County who she met through church, but it was clear she couldn’t stay with them any longer, her lawyer said.

The Newberg hospital, though, doesn’t have psychiatric beds, so the woman was transferred to Juniper Ridge Acute Care in John Day in central Oregon.

The Yamhill County Health and Human Services Department placed a hold on the woman, which triggered a Jan. 26 civil commitment hearing. The night before, two Yamhill County sheriff’s deputies made the nearly six-hour drive to John Day to bring the woman to court in McMinnville the next day.

The woman’s far-flung placement in John Day revealed another shortcoming in mental health care – the lack of local treatment centers.

“You’ve got to ask: What is someone from Yamhill County doing in John Day?” said Chris Bouneff, executive director of theNational Alliance on Mental Illness of Oregon.

During the court hearing, Judge Ladd Wiles found evidence that the woman met the threshold for a civil commitment based on an investigator’s report. She was exhibiting symptoms of schizophrenia with suicidal thoughts, her lawyer said. Wiles ordered the woman committed to the Oregon Health Authority for up to 180 days.

By that afternoon, a jail deputy informed Wiles the woman was stuck in jail. She didn’t have access to her specialized medication because the jail required a prescription she hadn’t had a chance to get, her lawyer said.

“I couldn’t believe it,” the judge said. “That’s one of the last spots she should be.”

Court officials declined to release the woman’s name, citing confidentiality rules.

On Jan. 27, the state’s civil commitment coordinator, Keith Breswick, wrote in an email to Yamhill County officials that the jail couldn’t continue to hold the woman without a detention warrant. He suggested she be released into the community and ordered to report to county mental health officials daily, along with other conditions.

Yet Breswick acknowledged that the woman likely wouldn’t follow the conditions and “display risks for harming others.” He said law enforcement and the county’s crisis intervention team should be put on notice in case they came into contact with her. He also asked county officials to update him on their efforts to find a psychiatric bed for her.

That infuriated Yamhill County’s Presiding Judge John L. Collins, among others. He sent a long email back that night, saying Breswick had misread the law and that releasing the woman without finding a bed for her “not only is contrary to the law, it is contrary to common sense and our governmental and societal duty to protect and serve persons unfortunately affected by acute mental illness.”

Breswick didn’t return calls for further comment. He referred questions to the Oregon Health Authority’s spokeswoman.

On Jan. 28, Wiles ordered everyone involved back to his courtroom to try to find a solution. Letting the woman out would have defeated the point of having committed her to the state’s care, he said.

Over the next several days, judges, a prosecutor and the woman’s lawyer tried to understand from county and state health officials what barriers existed and how to overcome them so the woman could leave jail. They also made calls to the state hospital, the governor’s office, reached out to NAMI and threatened a lawsuit.

“If they had to rent a motel room and rent a psychiatric nurse, they should have done that,” said Stone, the mental health court judge. “What I couldn’t understand was there was this lack of urgency.”

On Feb. 4, Yamhill County deputies transferred the woman to the Oregon State Hospital.


Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 5.38.41 PM.pngView full sizeCivil commitments in Oregon, between 2004 and 2014. They’re a fraction of the investigations and evaluations conducted each year on people suffering from mental illness.

In the 2013-14 fiscal year, 556 people civilly committed in Oregon. A third of them typically require long-term state hospital care, but the rest can be stabilized at one of the acute care hospitals, Oregon Health Authority officials say.

Silas Halloran-Steiner,Yamhill County’s Health & Human Services director, declined to speak about the woman’s case, but said in general that the county mental health program works to find open beds and succeeds in most cases.

“It all depends on bed availability statewide,” he said. Typically, he said, the biggest challenges are people having to wait days in an emergency room before getting an acute care bed. He agreed that jail is not the place for people struggling with complex psychiatric problems.

In this case, the woman lacked “verifiable clinical information” about her diagnosis and her mental health history, and that held up a referral to the Oregon State Hospital, which has strict admission controls, according to state officials.

She also couldn’t go back to the John Day treatment center. It wouldn’t take her because she’d been accused of slapping a nurse there earlier, according to Judge Stone and Yamhill County jail Capt. Jason Mosiman. Juniper Ridge in John Day also isn’t allowed to refer patients to the state hospital.

When people suffering serious mental illnesses are stranded in an ER or any spot other than where they should be, it’s called “psychiatric boarding,” said Dr. Joseph Bloom, dean emeritus of OHSU’s medical school, who for 10 years chaired its psychiatry department.

Because the state hospital has an average daily waiting list of 37 people, patients take up more time in acute psychiatric beds as they await an opening, clogging the system.

“We don’t have enough beds in this state to meet the need,” Bloom said. “But they should not be able to hold her in jail. It’s just inexcusable.”

Halloran-Steiner said, however, adding more acute psych beds alone isn’t the answer. He said it would help if communities had better alternatives such as peer-supported respite care, housing and employment.

A U.S. Justice Department report last year found Oregon lags in providing community treatment to people with serious mental illness.

“This is not what you’d expect from a civil system – that you would incarcerate somebody,” said Bouneff, of NAMI Oregon. “This one particular incident highlights the horrors we still endure … This is one of the prices we’re paying for a system that has traditionally not been well-structured and not well-funded. My fear is we’re going to run into more situations like this.”

–Maxine Bernstein

Mental Wellness Warriors: Fighting For Those Who Need It Most

Taken from  CNN  which can be found   HERE.

Too often the nation only hears about mental illness when tragedy strikes. But there are warriors for mental wellness in many fields, fighting for better treatment and working to defy stigma. CNN highlights nine fighters, from the famous to the everyman, who are making a difference.

1. Demi Lovato

Actress and singer Demi Lovato stepped into the mental health advocacy role in 2014 by openly discussing her struggles with bipolar disorder.

“I want to show the world that there is life — surprising, wonderful and unexpected life — after diagnosis,” she says.

In September, Lovato headlined the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ “Call to Action” day, telling the audience she will fight for comprehensive mental health reform. She also launched what she calls the Mental Health Listening and Engagement Tour to meet others struggling with mental health issues.

“Those of us here today,” she told NAMI supporters, “know that mental illness has no prejudice. It affects people of every race, age, gender, religion and economic status. … We need to send the simple message to our nation’s leaders: Mental health matters and must be taken seriously.”

The 22-year-old singer of smash hits “Let It Go” and “Give Your Heart a Break” struggled with depression and feelings of helplessness. “I’d medicate myself with drugs and alcohol in an effort to feel normal — not better, just normal.”

“I had very low periods that were so emotionally draining that I couldn’t find the strength to crawl out of bed.”

Her diagnosis of bipolar disorder was a “relief in so many ways.” It helped make sense of the desperation she had felt for years.

“Even with access to so much,” she told the NAMI crowd, “my journey has not been an easy one.”

The former Disney Channel star’s recovery was aided by a comprehensive approach: seeing a therapist, getting proper medication, sticking to a treatment plan, being honest with herself and taking better care of her body.

“Doing better with bipolar disorder takes work, and it doesn’t always happen at once.”

Mental health advocates say trying to reach America’s youth is one of the toughest things in overcoming stigma, and that Lovato’s star power helps bridge that divide. She says she’s proud of her recovery and that she got the “help that I need.”

“You can have that, too.”

2. Fred Frese

Fred Frese stands as the epitome of successful recovery from mental illness. At 25, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a Marine Corps officer, and over the next decade he cycled in and out of military, state, county, Veterans and private hospitals.

Fred Frese was once declared insane. He eventually headed up psychology at Ohio's largest state hospital.

In the summer of 1968, he was picked up by police because “I was trying to convert people to love, peace and justice.” A magistrate in Ohio found him insane and committed him to the state psychiatric hospital. “Twelve years after I was declared to be insane,” Frese says, “I was promoted to be the director of psychology at Ohio’s largest state hospital.”

Frese travels the nation promoting mental health treatment, giving speeches and serving as a positive example for those with severe mental illness. He says not enough people in recovery speak publicly because the stigma of mental illness is so strong.

Frese is a bundle of energy, a man who speaks in rapid-fire fashion almost like an auctioneer. He approaches mental illness as both patient and practitioner: his schizophrenia kept in check by medication and proper care. He says the nation’s mental health care system is in need of drastic reform. He points to the rise in homelessness, suicide and the difficulty in getting treatment.

“This is a national disgrace. We have abandoned, ignored and marginalized persons with these disorders, and something has to be done,” he says.

Frese approaches the topic with authority, and with humor. He describes himself as a stand-up schizophrenic. “Particularly proud of being an escaped lunatic,” he tells audiences to laughs.

Even as he struggled with his own mental health, Frese earned master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology from Ohio University. He eventually became the director of psychology at Western Reserve Psychiatric Hospital in in Ohio. He held that position for 15 years, until his retirement in 1995.

He currently is an associate professor of psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University and a clinical assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University. He also has served for 12 years on the board of directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the largest nonprofit advocacy group for the mentally ill.

His latest goal is to convince mental health professionals to “self-disclose” about their struggles with mental problems.

“This is an excellent way to fight stigma,” he says. “That’s a major part of my new mission.”

3. Ted Stanley

Ted Stanley, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist, gave the largest donation in psychiatric research history in 2014. The $650 million donation to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard is aimed at enhancing scientific research on psychiatric disorders with the hopes of leading to a breakthrough in new treatments.

Ted Stanley has dedicated his personal wealth to find a cure for mental illness.

Stanley has been on a quest the last 2½ decades to get to the root cause of mental health disorders. He saw the need for effective treatment after his son, Jonathon, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 19.

His son responded to medication, but he met countless families whose children’s conditions never improved with medication.

“Human genomics has begun to reveal the causes of these disorders. We still have a long way to go, but for the first time we can point to specific genes and biological processes. It’s now time to step on the gas pedal,” Stanley said in announcing his gift. “I am donating my personal wealth to this goal.”

He said his dedication to this cause — and solution — is because he witnessed so many other patients and families have disappointing outcomes. “There was no treatment in sight to end it the way ours had ended with medication solving the problem,” Stanley said.

Coinciding with the donation was the release of a groundbreaking study on schizophrenia by Broad Institute scientists and hundreds of others. The study identified 108 genes linked with schizophrenia and could result in breakthrough treatment in the years ahead.

“We are finally beginning to gain the deep knowledge about these disorders that we have sought for decades,” says Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

4. Sarah Spitz

Sarah Spitz struggled with suicidal thoughts, first in high school and then again in college. The urges only intensified as the stress of college built up.

College senior Sarah Spitz has made it her mission to help students struggling with suicidal thoughts.

A senior at Emory University majoring in psychology, Spitz has turned her fear into action. She encourages students to seek help and uses her own experience as a way to relate to students struggling with the demands of college.

Spitz is the president of Emory’s chapter of Active Minds, a nonprofit group that links students across the nation and inspires them to speak up about mental health issues. She has seen the group grow from a handful of people to a couple dozen.

“When I first got involved with Active Minds, I felt like a bit of a hypocrite, because I used to be suicidal. I’ve made multiple suicide attempts,” she says. “Then, I was coming at it from the other perspective: trying to prevent suicide by connecting students. It felt kind of strange at first.”

It’s a role she now embraces because she sees the need for the help and for students to have a peer who can relate. She left Emory her freshman year in 2009 because her mental health was spiraling. She couldn’t eat or sleep.

When she returned to school two years later, she felt lost as she went from “being a mental patient to a real person in college.”

Active Minds provided her an outlet to “openly talk about where I’d been.”

“I will speak up about my own mental health struggles, and I help to encourage others to do the same,” she says.

Spitz believes students coming back from medical leave for psychiatric reasons need more help during that transition. She is determined to work with the university in helping future students during that phase.

5. Michael Woody

Michael Woody was a police sergeant in Akron, Ohio, when a woman with a long history of mental illness tried to kill him. That incident changed the course of his life work — to make sure police were properly trained to deal with the mentally ill.

Michael Woody saw the need for mental health treatment as a police officer. He now trains law enforcement on how best to respond to calls involving the mentally ill.

The woman eventually jumped off a bridge after a grand jury recommended she go to prison for up to 25 years for felonious assault. Woody was the officer who found her body.

“That always stuck with me.”

Woody rose through the ranks and eventually became the director of training for officers. He studied how often police went out on calls involving people with mental health problems: at least one in 10 calls, meaning a rookie officer will likely encounter someone experiencing a mental breakdown on their first day.

Woody now heads CIT International, which works with local, state and federal agencies to train officers on how best to “de-escalate a situation when people are in crisis.” CIT stands for Crisis Intervention Team training.

“Law enforcement needs to recognize that at times, it is the wise officer who can conceal their combat-ready status,” says Woody. “Your normal police officer does not have a realistic view of mental illness. That’s because they only get called when there’s a crisis.”

CIT International has trained more than 3,000 law enforcement departments on how best to respond to mental health calls. Police undergo a 40-hour course in which they meet people with mental illness and their families, tour mental health facilities, and train for an array of scenarios.

CIT is meant to teach officers to respond with empathy while maintaining their own safety. “We’re trying to get officers to understand that this is an illness,” Woody says.

Officers typically “don’t get to see the person on a good day and usually we don’t get to see their parents or their loved ones on a good day.”

“In a CIT course, they get to see them on a good day and they hear a heart-wrenching story of a person with mental illness.”

And, in turn, a tense situation is calmed without violence. Getting police to understand takes time, Woody says, but it works.

6. Mia St. John

Mia St. John rose to become a world-champion boxer, but her big fight was outside the ring.

Mia St. John says she is motivated to change the mental health system. Her grown son committed suicide last fall in a hospital.

She struggled with suicidal tendencies, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks and alcoholism. While she managed to overcome those challenges, the boxer and former Playboy model became an activist for people living with mental illness. She spoke at congressional hearings, worked with Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-California, on improving mental health awareness in schools, and advocated for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Not only could she relate to the difficulties of living with mental health issues, she also could relate to parents raising a seriously mentally ill child: Her son, Julian, struggled for the last seven years with schizophrenia. At 24, Julian St. John committed suicide inside a psychiatric hospital in November.

“The treatment of our mentally ill in this country is horrific, and I will die trying to expose this messed up system of ours,” St. John says.

Despite her fame and wealth, her son was homeless the last several years, living in park bathrooms in Los Angeles. She would visit him, trying to persuade him to get treatment. He was a brilliant artist whose works fetched $1,500 apiece when he was stable. But that was the trick, trying to keep him healthy.

“When my son was on his meds, there was no stopping him,” she says. “He was so talented. He would only wander off to the parks when he was off his meds.”

She won conservatorship in March 2014, allowing her to be more active in his health care decisions. Yet despite her best efforts, he cycled in and out of psychiatric facilities.

St. John knows treatment works. She’s living proof. Now, she hopes to expose what she calls the inhumane treatment of the mentally ill for a potential documentary. That, she says, is the best way to honor her late son — and the hundreds of thousands of other homeless Americans who remain untreated.

“We have to get word out, so that change can get made.”

7. Leon Evans

Leon Evans believes in the concept of “therapeutic justice,” the idea that the mentally ill should get treatment rather than sent straight to the nation’s jails and prisons after committing offenses.

Leon Evans helped form a center in San Antonio to keep the mentally ill out of jails and prisons. The center saved the city an estimated $15 million in 2014.

“It’s not the courts that get them better, it’s the treatment,” he says.

Evans has been instrumental in bringing together law enforcement authorities, mental health officials, judges, and policymakers in Bexar County in San Antonio, Texas, to work together in dealing with the mentally ill.

“It doesn’t make sense to have these people in prison because they don’t make good prisoners,” he says. “Mentally ill inmates agitate other prisoners and that makes it dangerous for everybody.”

Evans helped develop what is called the Restoration Center, an integrated mental health service center that opened in 2003. When San Antonio police pick up a mentally ill person, their first stop now is the Restoration Center. Instead of being dumped off at a crowded jail, the mentally ill get proper care at the facility.

As a result, an estimated 25,000 people a year are diverted to the center: people who used to go to jail, the emergency rooms or straight back out on the streets, says Evans. The center saved the city an estimated $15 million in 2014. In addition, the homeless population was down 70% and the county jail system has 600 empty beds.

Kansas City and Des Moines opened similar centers last year modeled after the San Antonio facility. Evans, the executive director of the Center for Health Care Services, is in high demand around the country.

“We’re happy to share information with folks,” he says, “because I think we’re doing some good.”

8. Pete Earley

Best-selling author Pete Earley has become a one-man watchdog of the mental health community and the politics surrounding efforts to reform the nation’s mental health system.

Author Pete Earley remains a force in the mental health world, keeping track of reform efforts in Washington.

Folks in the mental health community — from those raising children with severe mental illness to policymakers — keep close track of what Earley writes on his blog.

The former Washington Post journalist gets scoops about the latest reform efforts long before mainstream journalists.

His book, “Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness,” is considered the bible among mothers and fathers trying to raise a child with severe mental illness. A 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist, “Crazy” details Earley’s efforts to get care for his son and America’s criminalization of the mentally ill.

“Suddenly the two of us were thrown headlong into the maze of contradictions, disparities and Catch-22s that make up America’s mental health system,” Earley writes.

Since going public with his family’s story, Earley has traveled the country and the world discussing the need for better care.

9. Creigh Deeds

Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds survived being stabbed multiple times by his 24-year-old son in November 2013. His son, Gus, suffered from bipolar disorder and had been turned away by a mental health center because a psychiatric bed could not be found.

Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds survived an attack by his son and has since dedicated his life to mental health reform.

Shortly after returning home, Gus stabbed his father with a knife and then shot himself.

Creigh Deeds has turned the tragedy into action. A state lawmaker for more than two decades, he was “always ashamed by Virginia’s abysmal ranking” when it came to mental health care. Yet he admits it was never his priority.

Seeing his son decline — even turned away when he sought treatment — was the lawmaker’s wake-up call.

“I promise you I would give anything to not be in this position today,” Deeds said at this year’s annual National Alliance on Mental Illness conference.

NAMI honored Deeds with the Richard T. Greer Advocacy Award for his efforts to reform Virginia’s mental health laws. “Who knows whether the cure for cancer or the next big idea to save the Earth or to unlock the secrets of the universe is locked in the mind of someone who now struggles with a disease of the brain?” he said. “How many of those bright minds are locked away in our criminal justice system?”

Deeds signifies a valiant father seeking to make a difference. He says he owes it to his son’s legacy and for the millions of others who need proper treatment in America. The Washington Post ran a stellar profile of Deeds and his recovery in November.

“My son was unbelievable,” he told NAMI. “He remains, in every respect, a hero. Gus was exactly what I wanted to be. He was smart, handsome, strong, inquisitive, confident. …

“He could do anything he wanted to do, and do it well. His life was just not long enough.”

His reform efforts, he says, have just begun. “I’m not finished.”

9 Panic Attack Myths We Need To Stop Believing

Imagine that you’re walking down the street, when out of the corner of your eye you spot a semi-truck barreling toward you at an astronomical speed. Your instincts kick in and your stress level goes into overdrive. You have to move as fast as you can to get out of the way. For the next few moments, you feel like your life is hanging in the balance.

Now imagine dealing with that feeling when you’re casually shopping at the grocery store.

These intense episodes are an all-too-familiar reality for those who struggle with panic attacks and panic disorder — a mental health issue that many people still don’t understand, says Ricks Warren, Ph.D., a psychologist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan. Below Warren highlights nine common misconceptions people believe about panic — even the ones that suffer from it.

Panic attacks are just an overreaction to stress.

Panic attacks are more than just being “too worried” or “high strung.” They’re debilitating episodes that can last anywhere from a few moments to 10 minutes, Warren says. The body’s fight-or-flight response is triggered. As a result, sufferers can feel like they’re in danger and they work to avoid the source of the problem at all costs.

“They often feel shame about the fact that they have panic attacks and they feel the need to do all this avoidance,” he tells The Huffington Post. “It’s a major, major problem.”

You can pass out from a panic attack.
Fainting is caused by a dip in blood pressure and during these episodes your BP actually rises, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. While it may feel like you’re going to lose all control, it doesn’t necessarily happen, Warren says.

However, there are other very real physical symptoms of panic attacks. Due to the increase in blood pressure it can also feel like you’re having a heart attack (even though you’re not). You may experience chest pain, dizziness or difficulty breathing.

Panic attacks and anxiety are the same thing.

While both are equally difficult to deal with, Warren stresses distinguishing just the episodes (i.e. one or two panic attacks) from disorders. Anxiety is more of an umbrella term, which can encompass panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and more.

“Anxiety is more worrying about something bad that could happen in the future, whether it’s in the next five minutes or later in the week,” he explained. “When [panic] starts affecting their life, when they start worrying about the next panic attack, when they start avoiding situations to prevent them, that’s what we would call panic disorder.”

You’re stuck with the disorder for the rest of your life.
“It’s a common misconception that [being diagnosed with panic disorder] means that you’ll be on medication for the rest of your life,” Warren said. There’s a huge stigma when it comes to mental health, which can make sufferers prolong getting help. However, the sooner you do so, the sooner you can control your panic.

Research shows that medications are effective, but so is Cognitive Behavioral Therapywithout medications or a combination of both, Warren added. “There’s also a myth that there isn’t any hope or any effective treatment, which isn’t true,” he said. Your doctor can help you determine which method works best for you.

It’s hard to relate to someone who has panic attacks.
friends talking

Remember that truck scenario from before? Chances are you can recall a time you’ve been in a similar situation where you needed to spring into action. Those are versions of panic attacks, Warren says. It’s just not as easy for some people to write them off.

Warren suggests practicing compassion the next time a loved one goes through the experience. “Listen and let the person tell you about what it is they’re experiencing,” he said. “Empathize. Think of a time in your own life when you’ve been terrified of something. It might have been external, but you still remember how terrifying that is.”

Panic is a gateway to a more serious mental illness.
Many people believe that being diagnosed with panic disorder or having a panic attack means they’re going to develop another serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. “Panic disorder is something that’s kind of in its own right,” he said. If you’re still worried, bring up your concerns with a mental health professional, he added.

Deep breaths will calm a panic attack.

“We hear all the time that if you’re really anxious to take a deep breath — but with people who have panic attacks … you put yourself in a hyperventilation state,” Warren said. By inhaling deeply, you’re releasing extra carbon dioxide. This causes anincrease symptoms like dizziness and and numbness, which can make you feel like you’re suffocating and lead to more rapid, deep breaths. Focus on more shallow inhalations and exhalations instead.

Loved ones can’t help when someone is having a panic attack.
Panic attacks are a personal experience, which means each person who sufferers from one reacts differently than another. Some people may want you to talk them through it, others may want you to distract them, Warren explained. “The point is to try to respond non-judgmentally and get it from their point of view,” he said.

Looking for more ways to help? Check out these supportive phrases (and whatphrases you should avoid).

You should avoid what causes the episodes.

It may be the first instinct to avoid whatever is causing you pain, but Warren advises to do quite the opposite. “Once you start avoiding places because you think you might have a panic attack, you start restricting your life,” he explained.

Engaging in “safety behaviors,” i.e. not going to places that will trigger the attack or even avoiding exciting movies that cause a rush of adrenaline, the sufferer may not learn that there’s nothing to fear in the first place, Warren says. The best way to manage them is to employ the CBT techniques or other methods that have been discussed with a professional.

Streams In The Desert: February 22nd, 2015

If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth  Mark 9:23 

Seldom have we heard a better definition of faith than was given once in one of our meetings, by a dear old colored woman, as she answered the question of a young man how to take the Lord for needed help.

In her characteristic way, pointing her finger toward him, she said with great emphasis: “You’ve just got to believe that He’s done it and it’s done.” The great danger with most of us is that, after we ask Him to do it, we do not believe that it is done, but we keep on helping Him, and getting others to help Him; and waiting to see how He is going to do it.

Faith adds its “Amen” to God’s “Yea,” and then takes its hands off, and leaves God to finish His work. Its language is, “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him; and he worketh.”
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

I simply take Him at His word,
I praise Him that my prayer is heard,
And claim my answer from the Lord;
I take, He undertakes.

An active faith can give thanks for a promise, though it be not as yet performed; knowing that God’s bonds are as good as ready money.
–Matthew Henry

Passive faith accepts the word as true
But never moves.
Active faith begins the work to do,
And thereby proves.
Passive faith says, “I believe it! every word of God is true.
Well I know He hath not spoken what He cannot, will not, do.
He hath bidden me, ‘Go forward!’ but a closed-up way I see,
When the waters are divided, soon in Canaan’s land I’ll be.
Lo! I hear His voice commanding, ‘Rise and walk: take up thy bed’;
And, ‘Stretch forth thy withered member!’ which for so long has been dead.
When I am a little stronger, then, I know I’ll surely stand:
When there comes a thrill of heating, I will use with ease My other hand.
Yes, I know that ‘God is able’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, sometime, will to me come true.”
Active faith says, “I believe it! and the promise now I take,
Knowing well, as I receive it, God, each promise, real will make.
So I step into the waters, finding there an open way;
Onward press, the land possessing; nothing can my progress stay.
Yea, I rise at His commanding, walk straightway, and joyfully:
This, my hand, so sadly shrivelled, as I reach, restored shall be.
What beyond His faithful promise, would I wish or do I need?
Looking not for ‘signs or wonders,’ I’ll no contradiction heed.
Well I know that ‘God is able,’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, at this moment can come true.”
Passive faith but praises in the light, When sun doth shine.

Active faith will praise in darkest night– Which faith is thine?