Thursday, December 20, 2018

If You're Looking for an Alternative to Holiday Suicide...

An Alternatives to Suicide mutual-support space
It might seem strange to start off a holiday missive with a song that came out for Tiananmen Square.
Lyrics:  DANCING IN FRONT OF THE GUNS Words and music by Libby Roderick c Libby Roderick Music 1991 BMI. All rights reserved From Thinking Like a Mountain  We’re facing the guns again, we have faced them before Humanity’s longing after so many deaths For something more human than war But part of me whispers “Take your body and run away.| Leave the vision to somebody else,” then I hear myself say,  I’d rather be dancing at the edge of my grave. I’d rather be holding you close as we march forward loving and brave. I’d rather be singing in the face of my fear. I’d rather be dancing in front of the guns as long as I’m here. Life is so dangerous that there’s little to fear Life is so possible, every breath a frontier They’ve brought out the guns once again ‘cuz they haven’t a clue That we could be dancing, the whole human race, each one must choose And I’d rather be dancing at the edge of my grave…  To the drum of my heartbeat pounding up through my feet With millions of lovers urging me on as we take to the streets As we face the terror, if I leave here before my time One thing’s for certain, I’ll go dancing and I’ll go alive! And I’d rather be dancing at the edge of my grave…   from the album "How Could Anyone"
Libby Roderick
Dancing in Front of the Guns

But then maybe this message isn't for you.

Primarily, this hark and herald is a shout out to the beautiful souls still with us at Deadly Serious, for precious ones we have lost, and the dear ones still out there who may some day be our friends.

So here goes:

If you, like me, are sick of being pressured and bullied by a predatory, oppressive, socially-complicit mainstream...

If you are wicked tired of the tank tracks rolling over your basic human needs and rights, crushing any and all unapproved access to the voice, validation, safety and security of person and personhood that every one of us needs and deserves...

Let's do something radically different this holiday season. 

Bruised and broke, fallible, fainting, one and all, before we exit, let's give Christmas - and every last day - a meaning worthy of the martyr's death.

The real message of Jesus wasn't that society as usual is good or good enough. It wasn't that if you climb over your neighbors and get to the top of the heap, and end up President or Emperor or King, that the suffering of life will end and you'll actually have arrived. Not even close.

The actual message, by the one and only original Messenger of Christianity was this:

Human society as we know it is irrelevant in the eyes of Good. And Salvation - whether in this world or the next - comes from actually living that way.

So I say we start dancing.

Dancing in front of the guns.
Dancing down the guns.
Dancing away the guns.

Dancing away our awareness that there even are guns.

Dancing until we're having so much fun dancing that no one even notices the guns.

Dancing until the people who control the guns actually get it that they would rather be dancing too.

Dancing until the guns become so heavy in the arms of those compelled to carry the guns that their hearts ache more than their arms and they long to set guns down and hold hearts up.

Dancing until lightness and the spirit of our dancing stars - earthly and eternal - makes for a human race that can no longer hold up guns even if it wanted to.

One last thing. In the interest of full disclosure...

I'm a really bad dancer.
I can't follow the steps.
The beat I hear in my ears is never in time with what others are clapping to.

But I still want to dance.
I love the music and my feet want to move.
I love the idea of having fun together like this.

I, like others, want to play too.
Maybe you do too.
Maybe we could both try.
Even if we step on some toes out on the floor in front of the tanks while we're both trying to learn how to dance together.

Maybe we could cut each other a break. Use the tanks to break down some walls, instead of each other.

That was part of the original Message from the original Messenger too.

But even more than that, I really just want to dance.

There's music in this soul that's dying to get out.

It's Deadly Serious about that.

It will kill me if I don't listen.

So even if you don't hear what I hear.
Even if nobody ever does.
Even if I walk out on the floor or a limb like this and no one else joins in.

It's time for me to dance.

To join us:

What's valued here?  ~Your distress ~Your wisdom ~Authenticity ~Honoring our journeys ~Challenging social norms ~Genuine curiosity ~No assumptions ~Respecting differences ~Meaningful community ~Hope ~No authorities ~No "crisis intervention"  Where?  ~free online video/ text or by phone  When?  ~Wednesdays 8:30-10 pm ET (USA) ~Saturdays noon-1 PM ET (USA)  How?  ~from a computer:  ~from a US phone: +1 669 900 6833,,119362879# or +1 646 558 8656,,119362879#  ~from international phones: (Meeting ID 119362879)  For more information visit
An Alternatives to Suicide mutual-support space

DEADLY SERIOUS: An Alternatives to Suicide mutual-support space

What's valued here?  

~Your distress ~Your wisdom ~Authenticity ~Honoring our journeys ~Challenging social norms ~Genuine curiosity ~No assumptions ~Respecting differences ~Meaningful community ~Hope ~No authorities ~No "crisis intervention"  

~free online video/ text or by phone  

~Wednesdays 8:30-10 pm ET (USA) 
~Saturdays noon-1 PM ET (USA)  


~from a computer:  

~from a US phone: 

+1 646 558 8656,,119362879#  or +1 669 900 6833,,119362879# 

 ~from international phones: (Meeting ID 119362879)  

For more information visit: 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

IPS Learning & Practice groups

Following is a draft format that some of us are trying out for leaderless International Peer Support groups that can be held on line or in the community.


Welcome to the IPS Learning and Practice Group.  We’re glad you’re here.

Brief Overview of IPS (ask someone to read)

Intentional peer support (IPS) is a way of thinking about and being in purposeful relationships. In IPS, we use our relationships to look at things from new angles. We develop a better awareness of personal and relational patterns. We support and challenge each other as we try new things. IPS is different from traditional service relationships because it doesn’t start with the assumption of “a problem.” Instead, we learn to listen for how each of us has made sense of our experiences. Together, we create new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing.  At the end of the day, it is really about building stronger, healthier communities.

 Check In 

How are people doing this week? If you’re new here, what drew you to this group?  What are you looking for?

Topic of the week 

(Topics are pulled from the key learning points in in Intentional Peer Support: An Alternative Approach)
Read a topic from the topic list (attached below, maybe just go in order through the list)

Ask questions about the topic that help the group to develop what it means.  The idea is to figure out how I want to practice the concept when I'm relating to others.  Also, to let others in the group know how I want them to practice this concept when they are relating to me. 

Sample questions:

·       “What does [the topic] mean to you…?
·       “How is it different from…”
·       “How does it make you feel when someone approaches you this way (or doesn’t)?
·       “How would you like us to practice this skill here with you if you are sharing?”

Practice Time

This is a time where we can practice what we’ve been discussing with each other.  Does anyone have an example from real life they want to share?  Then the rest of us can practice 2 ways.  

  • First, by playing around and doing the opposite of what this skill means to us.  
  • Then by doing a redo and really trying to practice the skill to the best of our ability. 

Sample script for practice session

Ask: "Is anyone willing to go first?  Ok go ahead and share your situation.  Be prepared though.  Because first everyone else, give the worst responses they can think of."

[Group practices examples of getting the concept totally wrong, often using examples of how others have messed up with us]

After 5 minutes, ask the sharer: What did you notice.  How did that feel?

Next the redo.  

Ask the shared:  Can you continue your sharing from here.  Except this time, everyone try to really practice the skill we are working on. 

After 5-10 minutes, ask the sharer: What did you notice.  Did that feel the same or different?  How so?

Give as many people turns as time allows.


About 10 minutes before the end of the group, announce:  We’ve got about 10 minutes left.  

Then reflect together as a group, about how the group felt to people.  

Sample questions: 

Is there anything on anyone’s mind that feels unfinished or important that you want us to get to before the group ends?

How did the group go for you?  

Anything you want to should remember for next time – either that worked really well for you, or that you might want to change?

Summing up:

Next time we’ll talk about (next topic on list)
Thanks for being here!  Have a great week.


1.      Helping versus Learning & Growing
2.      Needs of Individuals versus Needs of Relationships
3.      Fear & Discomfort versus Hope & Possibility
4.      Connection vs. Disconnection
5.      Worldview: How we come to know what we know
6.      Mutuality / Mutually Responsible Relationships
7.      Moving Toward (what we want) vs. Moving Away From (what we don’t want)
8.      Sitting with Discomfort
9.      Holding Multiple Truth
10.  Embracing Uncertainty
11.  Listening from a Position of Not Knowing
12.  Listening for the Untold Story
13.  Providing Validation (Rather than Jumping Straight to Problem-Solving)
14.  Reflecting Feelings (That must make you feel really…)
15.  Asking Powerful Questions (What do you want? Do your beliefs support it? How do you want to feel? If you believed and felt that way, what might change?  How could you get there?)
16.  Deep presence - authenticity, commitment, honesty, willingness to be affected and changed
17.  Listening with an Ear for Role (good patient/ bad patient; good mother/ bad mother, etc.)
18.  Direct Honest Respectful Conversation (See-feel-need)
19.  Negotiating Reality
20.  Sitting comfortably with silence
21.  Conversations about diagnosis (human vs diagnostic language)
22.  Staying peer (what am I feeling right now,whose need am I trying to meet,what' s making me uncomfortable, am I owning my part, am I listening for the larger story?)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Intentional Peer Support Weekly Co-Learning Group

Free Online Weekly: 
Saturdays 5-6:30 pm Eastern

An online learning and practice group for Intentional Peer Support

** Beginners Welcome **

~Join by computer:

~Join by phone: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656
Enter Meeting ID: 119 362 879

~International callers:

*New Topic Every Week

*Learn and Practice

*Offer and Receive

*Peer Support in Action

About Intentional Peer Support:

IPS is a way of thinking about and being in purposeful relationships. In IPS, we use our relationships to look at things from new angles. We develop a better awareness of personal and relational patterns. We support and challenge each other as we try new things. IPS is different from traditional service relationships because it doesn’t ,start with the assumption of “a problem.” Instead, we learn to listen for how each of us has made sense of our experiences. Together, we create new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing. At the end of the day, it is really about building stronger, healthier communities.
(More information, trainings, workbook and resources available at

What to expect

Each week we focus on a different topic from the IPS Workbook: Intentional Peer Support: An Alternative Approach by Shery Mead.  (No purchase is necessary - the relevant text is made available at each meeting.) We use the reading to focus our attention and spark discussion about important concepts in peer support.  We learn together from the reading and the experiences we share.  We explore how we might apply what we are learning to the real issues in our lives and also to support each other to navigate our challenges meaningfully and well.  Our aim is to  build a supportive, mutually responsible peer community capable of negotiating different needs, values and views of reality with dignity, rights and personhood fully in tact for all concerned.

Group "Discomfort" Agreement

IPS encourages the use of 'Discomfort' Agreements, moreso that 'Comfort' Agreements.  This is because learning new things is often uncomfortable.  New learning usually requires sincere effort and a willingness to stretch beyond the known into the unknown.  The IPS Discomfort Agreement acknowledges this challenge, as well as the temptation to quit when the going gets rough.  the Discomfort Agreement thus supports us to stay with the process by helping us to think, intentionally, ahead of time, about the kind of environment we want to create in order to support and facilitate new learning.

Here's our working Discomfort Agreement for the Saturday Group on Zoom:

  1. One person talk at a time. 
  2. Offer respect and dignity. 
  3. Listen to understand and relate rather than to help or convert others. 
  4. Participate to the level of your comfort (self-care). 
  5. Keep the focus on learning and practicing Intentional Peer Support. 
  6. Maintain a non-judgmental atmosphere. 
  7. Don’t make assumptions or put words in people's mouths. Instead: ask, reality check, validate. 
  8. There is no right or wrong here in the sense that sincere discussion and questions are welcomed. However, apparent power imbalances, unfairness or nonconsensual treatment of others can and should be respectfully questioned. 
  9. When controversy arises, explore differing viewpoints with curiosity about the personal experiences that led others to see things the way they currently do. 
  10. Work to transcend disagreement by learning about the realities of others and finding points of connection. 
  11. Being respectful of modalities that others find useful and refrain from promoting or denigrating specific approaches. 
  12. Stay away from debates about pharmaceuticals, healthcare or politics. 
  13. At a minimum: agree to disagree 
  14. “Stretch”: Step up if you tend to stay in the background, step back if you tend to take up a lot of space. 
  15. “Ouch”: If it hurts say so. 
  16. Be conscious of how you use power or privilege, as well as open to hearing from others about how they may experience you using it. 
  17. Use power to support and grow relationships rather than to gain personal advantage or prestige. 
  18. Don’t scapegoat or marginalize anyone. 
  19. Promote equality, fairness and understanding. 
  20. Reach out to include others who may have less power or privilege than you have. 
  21. Some here may prefer to type in the chat box instead of speak out loud. You can access the chat box from the control panel at the top or bottom of your screen. If you don’t want your comments read out loud, please let us know. Otherwise, we try to read them in real time so they can be part of the conversation. Everyone is encouraged to pay attention to typed comments and read them. 
  22. A major purpose of this group is to encourage conversation, create space for diverse viewpoints, and make sure everyone has a chance to speak.  If you have something to say and someone else is speaking, please raise your hand. Other members are encouraged to notice to when someone has their hand raised and call attention to that in a sensitive way if the speaker doesn’t seem to notice.  Group members are encouraged to bring bells or musical instruments and use them for this purpose if the someone has gone on for several minutes.  
  23. We recognize that there are times if life where any one of us might feel the need to speak at length about matters that concern us.  If that appears to be the case, anyone may request or suggest a breakout room where two or more members can have a private conversation.  Alternatively, anyone may request or suggest that a particular issue be discussed further after the formal group meeting.  
  24. Moderation of the group is shared by group members.  At the end of each group we ask for a volunteer to moderate for the upcoming session. If that person is able to make it, we ask for volunteer to moderate when the next session starts.  Those new to moderation are encouraged to try their hand at moderating once they become familiar with the group process.  All group members are encouraged to use the peer support skills we are learning to support the moderator or to respectfully share needs or concerns that seem important to them. 

But wait!  There's more!

A Discomfort Agreement is not just something we make together as a group.  It is also an agreement we make with ourselves.  Intentional Peer Support is about embarking on a journey deep into the realm of human relationships.  This journey entails a commitment to learning and growth - not just for others, but also for ourselves.  From the very outset, therefore, each of us is encouraged to ask ourselves:
  1. What my 'defaults' when the going gets rough in my relationships with others?
  2. What do I tend to do when I feel scared, uncertain or overwhelmed?
  3. How does this usually work out for me?
  4. What usually happens in the relationship?
  5. What would I like to do differently in the future..?
If I carefully consider these questions, I may well come away with a specific, personal learning and practice objective for myself for the group.

But wait! There's even more!

Another thing the Discomfort Agreement does is to give us an opportunity to explore and deepen the relational potential of our peer support practice.  A foundational tenet of IPS is that peer relationships have the potential to make outcomes possible that few of us could accomplish alone.  Accordingly, the Discomfort Agreement invites us to consider how others might support us to achieve the learning and practice objectives we set for ourselves.  For example, can they help us to:
  1. Stay with the learning/ practice process, remaining both true to our experience and respectful of others, when we feel uncomfortable. 
  2. Keep our commitment to ourselves to try to do something different if/ when we fall back into old patterns.
  3. Step up when find something hard or feel like running away.  
  4. Step back when we want to dominate or think we have all the answers.

If I carefully consider these issues, I may well come away with some specific requests I make can to other group members that will help them - and me - to notice when I'm stuck in old patterns and navigate them differently.

Hope to see you there!   πŸ˜‰πŸ˜

Friday, August 10, 2018

Talking Openly About Suicide: FREE ONLINE Sat. 8/11/18

Flyer reads: INTENTIONAL PEER SUPPORT PRACTICE SERIES SATURDAYS WEEKLY 5-6:30 pm Eastern FREE  ONLINE Beginners Welcome      This weeks topic: TALKING OPENLY ABOUT SUICIDE (Aug.11, 2018)  Join by computer: Join by phone:  +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656 Enter Meeting ID: 119 362 879 International callers:   About IPS:  Intentional peer support (IPS) is a way of thinking about and being in purposeful relationships. In IPS, we use our relationships to look at things from new angles. We develop a better awareness of personal and relational patterns. We support and challenge each other as we try new things. IPS is different from traditional service relationships because it doesn’t ,start with the assumption of “a problem.” Instead, we learn to listen for how each of us has made sense of our experiences. Together, we create new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing. At the end of the day, it is really about building stronger, healthier communities.  More info (& study guide) at:  Left Graphic: Cover of IPS Workbook [picture of a woman wearing a hoodie with images of a tree, a house and a hand.  She is holding a smaller version of herself in her arms.  Written in cursive on the image is ‘What is forgotten is who we are.  Right Graphic:  IPS Promo Poster [picture of a man in a wheelchair, a woman sitting on the grass listening to him, and another leaning against a tree.  Above them on the branches of the tree reads: “From helping to learning together, individual to relationship, fear to hope and possibility” In the horizon below that “Connection/ Worldview / Mutuality/ Moving Towards”]
IPS Practice Series

Intentional Peer Support Practice Series  

Weekly on Saturdays 5-6:30 EDT 

Join by computer:
Join by phone: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656 (Meeting ID: 119 362 879)
International callers:

Study Guide for Talking Openly About Suicide

(Saturday 8/11/2018 from 5-6:30 EDT)

Note on the study guide: 
The following study guide has been personalized and adapted with permission from Intentional Peer Support: An Alternative Approach by Shery Mead.  To purchase the full manual (book, kindle, audiobook), see  To learn more about Intentional Peer Support and available trainings, see

The kind of peer support we are learning about in this series assumes that all of us - helpers, helpees, family, friends, community members, professionals as well as those of us with identified social concerns like suicide - have things to share and things to learn.  It assumes that risk is a part of living and that we all take risks as well as create them -- both for ourselves and for others.  It assumes we all have power -- as well as a mixed record when it comes to the choice of taking power for ourselves, giving it up to someone else, or negotiating and sharing it with others.

Consequently, one of the most important things we can learn to do with each other is put our cards on the table and talk honestly about our needs and concerns.  A huge challenge for me in doing this is  when I think your needs, views or reality conflicts with mine.  This creates (in my mind) a zero sum game where one of us is going to win and get our needs met and the other is going to lose and go wanting.  (Stressssssfulllllllll!!!!)

So what to do....?

Enter See-Feel-Need.


See-feel-need is a variation on nonviolent communication that's been adapted to the mental health context.  The reason for the adaptation is that, in mental health situations, it's fairly common that we're both not in the same reality.  Often, I'm seeing, hearing, believing, feeling or sensing something that you don't.

For example, with regard to suicide I might experience impending doom, see myself as totally worthless, believe that others have decided to intentionally target and torture me, know that my life is over and that nothing I do will ever make a difference.  You might see me as a bright, capable 30 something who hit a streak of bad luck and is taking the ordinary hard knocks of life a bit too personally.  If your experience around this is anything like mine, we can argue about our different viewpoints forever,  get nowhere and end up with both of us in more pain than we started despite our best efforts and deep longing for connection.

See-feel-need is a way for me to voice my own reality without defining yours or taking away your power.  The process is fairly straightforward:

Say what I see 

This is simply owning up to the thoughts going on in my head about a situation.  It includes my beliefs about what is happening between us.  It also includes anything concrete that I've observed (read, seen, heard, felt, touched, smelled, tasted, etc.) that I'm focusing on to support my thinking.

My beliefs and observations may ring true for you too, or they may not.  The point is that they are real for me, and they impact how I'm experiencing our relationship.  So I own them as my thoughts.

Then I take the risk of saying something like this:
I'm having a really hard time with they way I'm experiencing the energy between you and me.  The story I'm telling myself is that you think I'm going to kill myself so you're watching me like a hawk.


Say what I feel

Here is where I own up to the effect that my way of seeing is having on me.
I'm finding myself shutting down and hiding from you.  I'm also spending all kinds of time in my head telling you off and arguing with you about why I think you should act differently.  This isn't how I want to be.  It's bothering me a lot.


Say what I need

Here is where I say what I'd like to be different.
 I'd like to get out of my head.  I'd like to see you as an ally and on my side.  I'd like to be able to believe that you trust and respect me.  Or at least I'd like to figure out how we can relate in a way that feels more equal.   
Does any of this make any sense to you? Do you have some time to talk about it?  Would you be willing to tell me how you see things? Do you see it the same as I do or differently...?



Did you notice that I left you and your reality out of what I said to you?

  • I stuck with my own reality and my own needs.   
  • I said only what I was seeing, feeling and needing.  
  • I owned my beliefs as my own and didn't assume that you believe the same things I do.
  • I didn't assume that my observations, feelings or needs hold true for you too. 
  • I didn't assert that my observations, feelings, beliefs or needs mean that you are doing something wrong or that there is anything you have to change.  
  • I simply shared with you:
    • what I was observing and experiencing as a result of us being together;
    • the conclusions I was drawing as a result of what I was experiencing; and
    • how this was leading me to want to respond to you as a human being.
  • Then I asked you about you:
    • if what I was saying made sense to you; 
    • what you were experiencing;
    • how what you were experiencing was similar or different from what I was experiencing.
These are the kinds of conversations that allow both people to take risks and grow. These are the kinds of conversations that can lead to fundamentally different ways of thinking about help.

Practice Exercise

Practice having a see-feel-need conversation.  Two people can role play a conversation or everyone can take turns jumping in with new lines.  Notice the responses that make you feel more or less safe. Discuss this as a group at the end.     

Building the airplane while you're flying it

Ideally, we would know each other and have some time under our belt before either of us ends up in crisis.  That allows us to iron out at least some of these practices in advance.  That's usually a good thing because it can be a heck of a lot easier to practice your first see-feel-need conversation over the groceries instead of in dire matters of life and death.  But sometimes that's a luxury that just isn't afforded us.  Or suddenly, we find ourselves in the thick of it anyway.  During these times we’ll need to negotiate on the fly.  A couple of the skills here include:

  • Talking honestly: What does it feel like for each of us? Are we scared, frustrated, confused, angry, etc? 
  • Self-reflection:  Where is my reaction coming from?  Life and death danger? Break with routine protocol? Difference of opinion?  Unfamiliar territory?  Added workload? Not my preferred was of operating?  Past experiences?  Gut feeling...? 
  • Relational WRAP:  Helpful hint.  Create a relational ‘crisis’ plan ahead of time.  This is essentially something along the lines of a Wellness Recovery Action Plan that two or more of us can create together for our relationship.  Once we have one, we can refer back to it in difficult times and just follow what we agreed to until we are out of hot water and have some space to think things through.

Debriefing After the Fact

After we’ve come through a difficult situation and we’re on the other side, practicing open honest communication is still important. We both probably have some feelings about what happened.  We maybe even created a little mistrust and now need to re-establish what’s going to work for both of us.

    Some suggestions for doing this when either of us has been struggling with wanting to die include:
    • Talk about how it felt for both of us and what’s happened with our feelings since.
    • Figure out what’s going to help both of us regain trust.
    • Examine our own reactivity to these kinds of situations, and then mutually negotiate a new response.
    • Each of us own our own hot buttons (triggers, sore spots, pet peeves) and plan for how we’ll deal with them differently next time.
    • Explore (re-explore) what risk and safety mean to each of us and how we will share responsibility for addressing these needs in ways that work for all concerned.
    • Revisit / create a relational WRAP…

    Summing up

    1. Have you noticed some ways that this kind of peer support different from other kinds of ‘help’ you might be familiar with?
    2. What differences do you see?   


    Sat. 6/30/18:  Suicide and 'Safety'

    • Is 'safety' about legalities or relationships?  
    • Do risk assessments and safety contracts make us less likely to attempt suicide - or can they actually backfire and increase the risk...?
    • What can we do instead...?

    Sat. 7/7/18:  Supporting others who want to die

    • How do our own needs affect how we support others?
    • What assumptions might we make about supporting others based on our own needs or experience?
    • What are the gifts and limitations of such assumptions?

    Sat. 7/14/18:  Practicing relational safety

    • What makes a relationship feel safe (trusting/ trustworthy) to me?
    • What kinds of things seem to come up that can get in the way of for me (stuck points, patterns, bad luck streak, etc.)?
    • How have I tried to cope or manage that?
    • What (if anything) would I like to hold myself accountable try differently for next time?
    • What (if anything) have I been able to do to make a relationship better rather than worse when things started taking a turn for the worse...?

    Sat. 7/21/18:  Suicide and Power

    1. What is the relationship between suicide and power?
    2. How, if at all, does power (having it, not having it, losing it, feeling used, abused, put down or ignored by others who have it) affect my feelings about living or my will to live?  
    3. How is power different depending on whether I am a 'helper' or a 'helpee'?
    4. Is power different when I 'feel suicidal' compared to when I don't?
    5. What implications might that have for our relationship if one of us starts talking about wanting to die...?

      Sat. 7/28/18:  Suicide and Responsible Relationships

      1. Think about mainstream mental health relationships (therapy, psychiatry, case management, formal or informal caregivers): 
        • Who defines 'risk'/ 'safety'? 
        • Who or what is considered 'risky'/ 'safe'? 
        • Who decides what risks are acceptable?  Required?  For whom?  
      2. What happens in a relationship when you feel like someone is always assessing your safety?
      3. What assumptions do you make about who holds the power or control?

      Sunday, July 29, 2018

      What It's Like to Be a Mother Watching Your Son Destroyed by Psychiatry

      Editor's note:  Thanks everyone. Those concerned are now conscious, aware and free to speak for themselves. They've asked for some privacy, which has included modifying this post in significant ways.  There may be more changes in the future as concerns are further clarified and expressed.  This is how advocacy should work.  In the mean time, this is what unfolded near the end of July 2018: 

      This is an all hands on deck call for advocacy. The trauma is unfolding as we speak. I received the following texts over the past 24 hours from the mother of the young man pictured on the left. This is reprinted with permission. The circumstances are dire. They are desperate for any advocacy expertise or assistance you might offer.

      UPDATE: Important strategy change:  Please do not call the hospital.  The healthcare providers are now responding and being helpful.  The mother has requested that advocates contact her directly with suggestions to minimize the possibility of retribution or wagon circling responses by healthcare providers. Those offering ideas or support can friend Martha at or call her at 813-468-9022.

      Dino and Martha's Story

      Friday 4:50 pm

      Sorry. I think I hung up on you yesterday. I was driving and trying to figure out where I was going. Trying to find where they had taken my son. It’s not good. They ran out of his Clozapine and he is gone. I don’t know where he is. A person cannot just abruptly stop Clozapine. He was Baker Acted yesterday. He was violent, like a trapped animal, and scared. He can’t even talk. Has lost his memory. I’m exhausted. Just got home from hospital and need rest.

      Why so much suffering? The residential treatment facility was supposed to be monitoring and dispensing his Clozapine. They messed up but now he is suffering. He’s been on medical observation but now being transferred to psych. I’m sorry. I’ve had no time to callback. Another trauma for him. It’s draining for me. I’m sorry. God help him. He’s suffering.

      Saturday 1:25 pm

      I’ve been lied to by the facility that was supposed to be managing, monitoring and dispensing his meds. Three people told my husband and I the same story and blamed my son for them running out of medication. When I found holes in their story, I asked questions. So, yesterday, a different story was told to me.

      But my son is suffering severe severe rebound psychosis and more. Extreme paranoia! Now he’s almost in a catatonic state I was told. Last night he was trying to choke himself by producing saliva and choking himself with it. He was spitting on people and was violent. This morning he was staring up at the ceiling with his jaw open.

      Thursday night at ER they gave him an injection of Geodon and Ativan. Friday, while on medical observation because his blood work is all messed up. He started punching the window so they gave him haldol injection. Now he is in psych ward. And they have destroyed him again.

      Saturday 6:15 pm

      Just saw him for a few minutes
      It is a complete NIGHTMARE!
      He’s dying
      They MADE us leave
      They called to have an ICU nurse evaluate him and MADE us leave
      He cannot swallow. He’s struggling to breath. He’s aspirating his saliva and liquids that they were trying to give him.
      He’s trying so hard to breathe
      I hear all the liquids rattling around in his throat
      He cannot swallow and is choking. He cannot breathe
      His eye started bleeding. The same eye started turning black and blue around his eye
      Wish I had had my phone and could have taken a picture!
      This is pure EVIL

      Maybe the liquid was rattling in his lungs! Rattling. Every time he tried to breathe. Struggling for air.

      White foam coming out of his mouth and filling his mouth.

      They moved him to medical. I know nothing else. I think ICU

      Saturday 6:51 pm

      On a bi-pap machine. Heavily sedated. Critical care doctor is still assessing him.

      Saturday 10:14 pm

      Can you talk?

      A nurse friend of mine just said that she’s sure he was having a seizure

      And they were going to just leave him in isolation in the psych ward! The nurse was talking to us, saying he’s in isolation and we can’t see him. Then she said, “do you hear him screaming?” I said”no I only hear someone groaning “. She said that was him. I begged to see him. They finally put him in a private room for us to see him. I insisted on medical care. I could tell he was having a medical crisis and I’m not the professional!! The nurse even admitted that she wasn’t sure what was wrong with my son!

      I guess they thought he was just having psychiatric issues. Can’t they tell if he’s having medical issues? I don’t get it. Why leave him in isolation like that? This is so scary that no one seems to care. I’m not a professional and I could tell he was having a medical crisis!

      I heard him groaning in isolation and begged to see him. They did nothing for him until I expressed my concerns.

      When I saw him he was trying to speak, moving his mouth, but only sounds like groaning came out and not words. His eyes were all the way up looking at ceiling.
      And white foam pouring out of his mouth

      His entire body beet red. Veins popping out of his neck. He grabbed my hand and tried so hard to tell me something but he couldn’t speak.

      I’m so upset!

      We’re on our way to the hospital because they refuse to give us information.
      They said we can’t come. But I’m his proxy. They need to tell me everything. They didn’t even know he was having a seizure?

      He is at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL.

      Begging for help

      Yesterday, Martha posted this plea in MAD in America:

      Please help—the residential treatment facility abruptly stopped my son’s Clozapine 500mg daily medication because they forgot to get his bloodwork for the pharmacy. They forced him to stop abruptly and did not receive them for many days. They manage his medication and he has been very stable on Clozapine. He went into full blown rebound psychosis with forced hospitalization. Thursday night in ER they gave him an injection of Geodon and Ativan. Friday he was on medical observation since his blood numbers were all messed up. But he punched a window trying to get out so they gave him an injection of haldol and Ativan. Later they moved him to the psychiatric floor. A nurse called me today to make me his proxy. She said his eyes were rolled back in his head and his mouth was wide open. She said - maybe Catatonia or allergic reaction so they gave him an injection of Benadryl. When we arrived for visitation a nurse came to us and said our son was in isolation and we couldn’t see him. She said, “do you hear someone screaming?” I said, “no, but I hear someone groaning “. She said that was our son. I begged to see him for just a minute. They put him in a private room for us to briefly see him. The nurse even admitted that she wasn’t sure what was wrong with him. When we saw him his eyes were rolled back in his head. White foam was coming out of his mouth. He was choking on this liquid foam. He grabbed my hand and tried to say something. He moved his mouth but only groans came out. He was stiff and beet red. Veins popping out of his neck. Profusely sweating. I said, “he needs medical attention.” So they called an ICU nurse to come assess him. They made us leave. He is now in ICU with a bi-pap machine breathing for him and he is heavily sedated. They will tell me nothing else. This is so wrong that he was forced to cold turkey his Clozapine and now is suffering horribly. And the psychiatric ward was just going to keep him in isolation and let him die if I had never insisted I see him? So wrong. My son needs representation. Advocating. Help. Anyone. The front desk at the hospital said we cannot come now but I’m coming because no one will give me information over the phone. This is injustice. Please. How can I get justice for my son. He’s suffering horribly. Help please. If you can.

      The 'Good Ole Days'

      June 10th 8:08 pm

      I was visiting my son because he is court ordered to a residential treatment facility and court ordered drugged.  Just now driving home with my husband.  My heart hurts every time I leave him.  I will try to get it together myself to call tomorrow.  I am drained.  Will probably go to sleep after we get home.  Have about an hour’s drive.  Just now left the residential treatment facility. 

      Dino's Song

      May 30th 10:27 pm

      My son’s song.  Stormy Paradise.  He says a stormy paradise is what he sees in the refrain.  It may not make a lot of sense to you, but this was s big step for him.   He's been through a lot.

      "My first song"