Archive for January, 2009

Like McDonald’s and Walmart, the business of psychiatry will boom during this time of economic crisis. Suicide rates rise. Incomes vanish. We turn to Zoloft instead of God.

Manic and psychotic episodes will erupt within the minds of those genetically engineered for such meltdowns as times turn to hopelessness. Severe mental illnesses are triggered by a combination of biological and environmental factors.

We are not born with a destiny for madness. However, when left unaddressed and untreated, either by modern medicine or spiritual remedies, minds lost in the sea of worry shut down. Many, when first exposed to the fire of spiritual emergence simply kill themselves. Like a tortoise withdrawing inside its shell, our psyches, with fight or flight instincts, turn to a phase similar to the dream when all hope is gone.

The seed of madness is planted within all. Some kernels fall by the wayside and are trampled by drug addition or alcoholism. Others on the path to enlightenment fail to sprout roots in the soils of raging imagination and become lost in fear, often diagnosed as major depression. Yet for a chosen few, the flame of enlightenment is ignited during times of madness, and we find ourselves there– crazy, nuts, and out of control– yet somehow gain something from the experience. The break, although incredibly painful, turns to delight for those fortunate enough to walk through the fire and come out as gold.

I look at the crash of capitalism as a sign of hope and am glad that the world economy has fallen to ruin. I know that if life is ever to advance to the state of pure bliss that I once experienced, that we will all have to experience the fires of madness before waking to realize that the secret path to salvation leads within.

I remember my trip into the realms of the psychotic state vividly now. I am not in the least bit ashamed to tell others that I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2002. I am angered though, because psychiatry changed my diagnosis from schizophrenia to bi polar disorder moments after I was released from psychiatric incarceration–

“You can’t be schizophrenic,” a psychiatrist informed me at Saint Vincent’s two weeks after I was released from Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, NJ. “What you experienced was a manic episode. That’s all. I have no idea why the physician in New Jersey gave you this diagnosis. I cannot read the writing in the chart they faxed to us. I’m going to recommend Lithium.”

I didn’t attempt to explain to my new shrink that I was on the path to sainthood. Never again would I confess to knowing the future before someone with the ability to write my demise, nor would I again speak in tongues before non-believers.

Let them burn in hell.

Trying to warn others of the fact that the end of the world was near was not worth the effort six years ago. I realize that now. The world around me seemed normal again. People were going on about their normal business– walking with purses and briefcases to their jobs, ignorant to realities of imprisonment all around us. They could not see or sense what I knew at the time. Fuck them, I thought. If they don’t care, nor do I. I’ll play this little game of Zionism and pretend that the Holy Spirit is not at work in all of us. At the time, it was a relief to simply be manic and not psychotic.

If I had not lost my job six years ago, I may never have found God. If fate had not dealt me such a shrewd hand in the game of economic poker, I may never have lost my mind. The pressure of life was so great at the time. I was losing everything– a job, my lover, my cat Bette, my grandfather, just like so many others are now.

The seed of madness in me sprouted. I wanted nothing but salvation, like many others will. Many minds will slip into uncontrolled worry and intrusive thoughts. Some will imagine that demons have possessed them.

Six weeks in the ward, coming down from that ultimate high on anti-psychotic medications was like crucifixion. I asked God for death. The medical authorities nearly fulfilled that wish. Nurse Susan Bear witnessed me conducting yoga in the hallways of the ward and all hell broke loose–

“Charles, what are you doing?”

“Seeking God. Something you will ever find, bitch!”

She was angry because many of the patients were watching me– some had even been lured by my stork-like poses and reached to grab one leg while standing on another to pose perfectly erect, almost godly, in the highly secure ward. My energy soothed them despite the medications they were on. A black girl with delusions of being pregnant again with a child she had lost due to miscarriage burst into uncontrollable laughter during my seance like dance.

The nurse with the nameplate ‘Bear’ ordered me to stop. I wouldn’t. She instructed the male nurses and guards to take down. I punched several men and white, while kicking others, just like Trinity in the Matrix. I drew blood from the arm of one who was foolish enough to try and pin me down. Nurse Bear knew better to participate in attempting to restrain me, for I would have forgiven her, but only after twisting off a tit or two. When they tossed me on a bed, my head split the wall, yet, not even a bump formed upon my noggin.

If only there were a desert around for me to have retreated in, I would have gone– like Jesus– I would have run away from all of you– the lost– those still stuck in the rut of control and slavery. So needy. So lost and dependent on mind altering medications. So draining just to be around those who have not tasted death.

There was nowhere to go when my mind was reeling from the bliss of enlightenment. That is why I ended up in Trinitas Hospital. I was like so many others will be now when they wake up to find God, only to realize that in reality, He is merely a delusion that lives within the written word and our hearts. There will be no place for any of us to lay our heads after the housing market drives our dreams to waking nightmares, diagnosed by wealthy pharmaceutical corporations and their slaves, as mere figments of our imaginations.

My advice for one who wakes during this new age of anti-depression is this:-

Never admit to being God to a psychiatric examiner. Just tell the men and women in white that you forgive them for casting you from paradise.

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Medicaid Ponzi Schemes

Most of President Obama’s proposed economic stimulus package has been reserved for Medicaid enhancements. The federal government is promising to absorb a larger portion of the cost of welfare, reducing burdens of public health to the states, freeing local governments of fees associated with soaring healthcare rates.

It appears that the Obama administration has already lost faith in a full recovery and has decided to pull the plug on the concepts of free markets and private insurance. With nearly ten percent of America now unemployed, it is only a matter of time before the working poor find their way onto Medicaid rolls. We received our first shot of morphine yesterday. At least we will feel no pain as our nation crumbles.

Having worked in the health care billing industry for over a decade, I have obtained inside knowledge of how the Medicaid system bleeds our economy dry. If wasteful healthcare spending is not curbed as part of congress’s new stimulus package, America will be swindled by non-profit corporate healthcare giants that make Bernard Madoff seem honest.

At the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS), it was my responsibility to bill private insurances and Medicaid for mental health services. Adolescents who remained in treatment for more than one month at the clinic where I worked (The Youth Counseling League) were most often children with Medicaid coverage. Children insured privately could not afford the ongoing costs associated with decades- long psychotherapy.

Although the Youth Counseling League had a $12 million endowment and received grant funding through generous funders like the Douglas Kroll Family, co-pays for the privately insured were never waived. It was my job to hound the parents of mentally ill children for outstanding balances. I must admit, when I worked there, I wanted to slit my own wrists and I secretly wished that all the children who came to the Jewish Board clinic were Medicaid insured. My job would have been so much easier! Medicaid rarely disputed claims, unlike private insurance companies that rejected almost every claim submitted due to minor errors made on claims.

Children with parents who had private insurance never lasted more than a month or two in treatment at the Youth Counseling League. Either they were miraculously cured of their demons in just one or two sessions, or they could not afford it.

Privately insured children were required to pay a co-pay for their weekly therapy sessions. Most often, co-payments exceeded $30. Most plans had annual deductibles of more than $1,000. Kids received one-on-one counseling once each week and were often referred for group therapy which required payment of the co-pay as well. Some saw the quack– John Udarbe for medication. Those already suffering from depression, eating disorders or schizophrenia were tossed into a hopeless ponzi scheme of healthcare billing, where treatment became too costly for those without state subsidized health care plans.

Most working class families in New York were not able to afford their co-pays. Medicaid children were offered transportation money when they came to each session.

Although the Jewish Board could easily have offered its Medicaid clientele Metro Cards for use on the subway, a decision was made by Assistant Executive Director, Susan Bear, to give the kids cash– thus ensuring that the poor kids who often walked to the clinic, would return day after day to collect a never ending supply of what the kids viewed as their governmental allowance. It was my suspicion that most of the kids used this cash to buy crack.

The Jewish Board received $230 per session from Medicaid for each psychotherapy session held. Private insurances like Aetna paid just $60 per session.

I’m sure that the Jewish Board is not the only non-profit, charitable health organization boasting from the news of increased Medicaid rates. There is big money to be made in public welfare. The Obama administration and state Medicaid programs must establish guidelines for what is necessary medical treatment during these hard economic times.

Let us hope that agencies like the Jewish Board do their part in stimulating the economy. The president of the Jewish Board, Paul Levine makes $270,000 annually. Corporate Compliance Officer, Kathleen McGlade earns just under that. Certified social workers who work at the Youth Counseling League earn just over $40,000.

At least Bernard Madoff wasn’t crazy. He was just a thief of the system, like so many others.

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Snow turned into rain at precisely 8:22 a.m. in Brooklyn. Like my swinging moods, the rise of twilight switched from joyous flakes to damp downfalls in a matter of seconds. It seemed over my first cup of coffee, while watching blue birds dance from fence to limb in the falling snow, that today’s storm would signal a change to my barren circumstance. Now there is rain. Despite the slush, I will ignore the pale outlook of today, impending economic doom, and spend these daylight hours grateful for what few moments of brightness flash my way.

The ancient grapevine from a neighbor’s backyard still reaches through the chain-link fence into this lot. It is odd that grapes still form on that vine in summer. Too little to eat, yet as purple as my heart, they return every year.

Snow gathered on the twisting vine like hopeless thoughts clinging to a battered mind. The brown, peeling bark of the grapevine can be seen from a far distance. The leafless branch contrasts the landscape like my soul to this frozen tundra of uncertainty.

It is only on mornings like today that one notices the unpruned vine that was planted generations ago, when cultivating such fruits in the city seemed practical. It curves again from my yard, growing like a bad weed up a fallen telephone pole, and reaches back to the neighbor’s land, over the top of the fence, like the prodical crop returning to the father.

The black curtain over the bedroom window is drawn despite depression’s draft. A stone and metal wind chime moves in the rain, yet, like writers of winter’s song, the chime remains unstruck in stillness.

Not even cat prints mark this new fallen snow.

The rain, like a restless sleeper, wrinkles the fresh white sheet.

The bird feeder is empty again. The blue birds sit but do not sing outside my window. They are waiting perhaps for me to refill a black feeder with black sunflower seeds again.

The squirrels are so greedy. So much of the feeder seed is under the snow now. Little brown birds wait for me too.

I’ll be there as soon as the rain ends, little birds. I’ll be there.

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Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 20)

Finding a penny tail side up, isn’t about luck, Capricorns understand. It’s just not worth picking up while tempting the value of fate.

Time to run for higher ground. Capricorns are trailblazers for the new age.

Follow your instincts.

Although very few Capricorns were invested with Bernard Madoff or the stock market, due to a nature of understanding that grasses of higher-ground are rarely feasted upon, it is best in 2009 to convert all assets to gold and stand where things are always safe– on high ground.

Aquarius (Jan. 21 – Feb. 19)

Follow the man who carries a bottle of filtered water when you see him this year.

It’s time to conserve Aquarius and switch from Evian to a Brita filter that fits on the kitchen sink.

Lots of plankton in 2009 for those who swam in warmer currents of greed during this passing migration period.

The currents sometimes flow backwards.

Head upstream if not well vested, return to your roots and spawn.

Pices (Feb. 20 – March 20)

Mercury, planet of minds crosses the dreams of Pices this year. Creative sparks ignite darkened minds. Listen intently to those with wisdom and understand that knowledge comes from within. Guides appear only once in our lives, we must choose to take a stranger in on the first knock.

Aires (March 21 – April 20)

The universe is changing. The Earth’s solar plexis eclipses the sun from the darkness of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way on December 21, 2012, one day before the dawn of the age of Aires.

Give to those who ask of you, letting your left hand not know what the right reaches for in right pockets.

Taurus (April 21-May 21)

It’s all bull and you know it, Taurus. Charge ahead and do not look back. Feed your children after the orphans are filled.

Gemini (May 22-June 21)

Job loss is in the card of Gemini this year. Consider consulting and demand just 10% retainer fees with all new contractors.

Work on a project that spurs faith in others.

Cancer (June 22 – July 23)

By nature, Cancers are aware that stars are not balls of light, but mere pinholes in the ceiling of an unveiled universe. Behind the black curtain is the promise that every living creature longs for– life.

Be Toto in the Wizard of Oz in 2009– pull back that curtain.

Leo (July 24- Aug. 23)

It is time for boisterous Leos to hush and let others talk. Conversation is a two-way game in 2009, when only the listener wins in a mindless game of useless chatter and gossip.

No news cameras around when the president makes important decisions in 2009? Just the press and photographers.

The gift of the written word returns with the roar of Leo this year.

Virgo (Aug. 24 – September 23)

Play the numbers 207 every day in the lottery, in various combinations– spending just $1 each day. By next year at this time, you will have doubled your investment.

Give 10% of each winning to the first beggar to ask for change.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 23)

When one under a different sign than Capricorn taps your back, be sure to tap them back. This is the year of the contagious curse– pass it on and return the misfortune to the one who attempted to place it on you.

Double-back. Times two. An eye for an eye.

Watch for the charm of the Capricorn goat.

Scorpio (Oct. 24-Nov. 22)

Tame the sting of your tongues, Scorpios. Watch for the horn of the ox. One may never retrieve the error of the spoken word. Wash your hands and rub them to promote good luck as the world runs out of money this year.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23 – Dec. 21)

Get down Sagittarius. If an opportunity arrives to move South this year, take it. Keep money in a fireproof box under the mattress at night and guard it with a gun when the sun is up.

Spend only when the need arises and always pay your American Express Card on time.

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Frozen Asses

Some patches of snow refuse to melt. In dark corners of the ghetto, near shadowed walls of tall apartment complexes, where rays of sunshine rarely light the earth golden, remnants of the Alberta Clipper that crossed Kings County last Friday remain.

It’s like entering air- conditioned Macy’s in August, when I pass these unmelted, snow- infested January fronts.

As temperatures soar above freezing for the first time in weeks, and New Yorkers walk with coats unbuttoned and scarves loosened, it is impossible not to catch a chill from dark patches of January that retain the bitterness of economic meltdown all over.

Sidewalks are clear and stores are empty– makes for a brisk walk.

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Minority Report

Bank of America needs $80 Billion to clear balance sheets of bad mortgages.

Citibank plans to establish two separate banks– one black, one white.

Financial giants are lobbying congress to purchase bad mortgage assets, in hopes that one day, the real estate market will rebound and the government will make money from these ‘investments’.

There are more Americans who work in government than in manufacturing. How can we ever recover?

Surely the second great depression is upon us.

Let us not forget the burdens that financial institutions inflicted upon America’s working poor during the first great depression. Banks that owned the land exploited share croppers, forcing poor farmers to move west to pick fruit for unfair wages. White American children starved. Families lost everything. The banks did nothing, nor would they lend so that poor white farmers could purchase seed nor would they permit the poor to stay on the land that they farmed for the banks.

Forty Acres and a mule…? My ass!

There are millions of Americans who work outside of government– those who make just a little above the minimum wage; yet we have been forced to rent for decades simply because we did not have a job that was considered “secure” by lenders who followed HUD lending guidelines.

We were the new slaves.

In order to get a government job and a mortgage, one had to be of specific social-economic status or know someone like Bernard Madoff!

What is in these massive bank bailouts for those who did not bleed our country dry by taking on debt beyond our means?

There are many who did not suck our treasury dry with unending requests for welfare benefits from generation to generation. There are some who did not have children for tax incentives. There are many who did not take on mortgages just because of the color of our skin.

If the economy recovers and the real estate market returns to a beaming utopia upon the hill again, what recovery has taken place for those of us who have worked and paid taxes all our lives, yet can’t get a HUD loan or a good government job because we’re not a minority?

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I had a dream last night. A large pimple developed on my right temple and I spent all night trying to pop it by squeezing the inflamed skin near my good eye. The landscape in my dream changed, new characters developed, but as my travels in the sacred realm progressed, the pimple remained.

I felt ugly in paradise.

I remember what sleep was like six years ago after my psychotic episode. There wasn’t any and never did I dream at night.

I blame my inability to sleep for five years and the grinding of my teeth at night on psycho-tropic medications that were forced upon me soon after I found God. I am so blessed just to dream at night again.

Zyprexa, in particular, was the pill that slowed my dreaming to blurred vision after my fall from grace. My delusions of grandeur remain and hallucinations are like icing on the cake to one who has dreams and lives them too.

I’ve trained my mind to sleep at night. No more racing thoughts that lead one down the rabbit hole of restlessness. I have a secret method for stopping the racing thoughts that keep non-dreamers awake at night– the Lord’s Prayer. I say it once, imagine myself curled inside a large hand and suddenly I’m carried away.

No need to count sheep.

No more dopamine inhibiting under these lids, just good-ole shut-eye. Empty blackness filled the void of my imagination for five years. Dreaming was merely a blessing from a life I once remembered.

Many moons have passed since I popped my last Zyprexa. Dreaming has begun. Now I remember my dreams when awake– appreciation perhaps. Even a dream of a pimple has meaning, for this image– the seeping pore — is new to my re-occurring visions during rest. I’ve been imagining the same scene night after night for many moons now– finally something changed inside the warehouses where I’ve been lurking at night. A pimple– a sore one, ripe for popping came to surface.

Just before the cats stirred at twilight to awaken me from my slumber, moving from warm spots within twisted sheets to a window to watch birds search for food in the snow outside, I managed to pop that pimple.

Yes, it’s true, we do dream in black and white. I remember vividly now, for blood poured from the side of my head after I reached inside my brain to pull out a pea-size hard pimple that had been thumping in my thoughts all night long. My blood was red in my dream. It was at that moment I realized I was dreaming again, so I looked around to confirm that indeed, humans dream in black and white.

“This is the demon?” I asked a woman who like me is banished to the factories at night. We work in our dreams to wake others, setting up signs for those who fast from consciousness before more is lost and all the dreams have dried.

We come to these windowless rooms underground at night to dream. Like bears hibernating to a cave, the collective consciousness of mankind is housed in a warehouse somewhere on a inhabitable planet within the Orion constellation. Other dreamers from other planets dream here too and I must admit that I enjoy spending my nights with them, for they are so much more accepting of homosexuals on other planets and their men are as beautiful as ours, only not so ignorant.

I know where it is I’ll reincarnate this time. An even more challenging life awaits me next time around. I long for more talents there and it is only in the darkest parts of the universe that one finds light.

Athena, a woman whom I have loved in my past for the sake of appearances steps from a small room in the basement of the large complex where all our dreams take place. She appeared dressed in a loosely wrapped black satin apron. She wiped her bloodstained hands before reaching to assist me with affliction, for she was assisting with the slaughtering of antelope. I’ve been to the slaughter house at night many times since starting to dream again– assisting with cutting ribs with a hand saw, for this is dream food for those who live in such states.

Athena the hunter, who never has spoken before in my re-occurring dream, handed me a roll of paper towels and told me to block the flow of blood.

“Just put the entire ream against your head and stop going green. You are really bleeding. That was a big blue one inside you!”

I handed her the hard pimple seed. She placed it a meat grinder and told me that my thoughts make excellent seasoning for bologna.

Just then, the cats stirred from their nests in the bed, awakening me to a reality filled with sunshine. I reached for my temple– no pimple– just a thought.

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