Guest Post: Guidance in Times of Turmoil by Patrick Bailey #guestpost #addiction #mentalhealth


Matt Collamar - Kindness_Homelessness_Unsplash
Credit: Matt Collamer via Unsplash

It’s been a long and winding road for me in the city where I was raised. The city has pulled me back after each venture away. This road has gone many places and resulted in something of an archeological dig into myself and humanity at large.

Overall, I’ve noticed a consistent thread for those in severe and notable distress in the community. It has continued for decades, having taken on various symptoms over the years.


When the Street People Were Dispatched.


I was in my early teens when the de-institutionalization of psychiatric hospitals first impacted my area of the city. The ‘street people,’ as we called them, appeared suddenly. They had been dispatched by the state mental hospital. Some had not been in the world outside for decades. I can’t imagine what that release into society was like for them. From their outward appearances, it seemed terrifying, upsetting, and disorganized.

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Credit: Provided by Author

The laws had changed. It wasn’t easy to put someone ‘away’ anymore. The world would have to deal with people more directly even if there was something seriously ‘off’ in a person’s thought, emotions, and (or) behavior. Even ‘mental patients’ had rights, and the state mental hospital had to open its doors. More inner-city areas also offered cheaper rent as ‘the dispatched’ arrived in large numbers to find their way in the world. I was an inner-city kid, so I was there to receive these ‘street people’ and many mental patients too.


A Kid Wonders How to Fix The System.


In youthful curiosity, I found the city streets enlivened by these folks. I was curious about them: how they lived, what they did, and why they suffered. I was fascinated by illness, and what caused it; how illness needed to be healed.

I’d seen more than a kid’s share of severe problems by the time the hospital discharged all its wards. Of course, I wanted to heal the suffering; I loved my family. My father’s alcoholism, and then his unnamed PTSD which needed remedying. We all needed a remedy. Undiagnosed depression and mania peppered my mother’s family, taking her off into highs and lows.

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Credit: Ben Hershey via Unsplash

Life wasn’t easy in my house, and it wasn’t easy for the people I saw in the streets. I read the paranoid scrawls on the bus stop bench. I listened to the lady who’d recite the wrongs of the world to everyone and to no one in particular. I worried about the ‘bike man’ who wore a woolen coat as he peddled through the summer heat.

Surely all this madness inside my house and outside of it could be fixed.


Talking Out the Turmoil and Walking Alongside It.


All of these things brought me towards obtaining several degrees and a career. I wanted to know more about how people living on the streets and dealing with mental illness worked and how these conditions could be fixed. I worked in the state hospital that at that time, kept patients for thirty days not thirty years. I specialized in addiction and PTSD. My father was long gone by then, but I found peace with him through my work.

I talked with hundreds of people who lived in turmoil, waking to it every day. I formed relationships with them and walked with them through the most intimate details of their struggles. They came to me for help and guidance; I did my best. Although I had personal turmoil and needed a great deal of help myself, somehow my patients and I did well more times than not.


My Take on the Addiction Epidemic:


My career wandered but no matter where it went, I’ve always come back to working in addiction and trauma. I’ve found these are conditions far more common than most people would ever imagine, and they are almost always constant companions. I believe that if we could heal trauma faster, we’d not have an addiction epidemic.

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Credit: Provided by Author

As many people, I’ve followed news on the addiction epidemic in the U.S. for years now. In particular, numerous persons have a deep concern about opioid use. America and my city have meandered these streets, as heroin addiction has caused a devastation of lives. In my city, we’ve never seen such a crisis, not in all my time in this world.

Heroin addiction is a costly tragedy among those who are addicted, their loved ones, and communities. The economic costs alone are staggering—an estimated 50 billion dollars a year, but the human costs are immeasurable and immense.


“How did we get here? How did my city get here? How does a person end up here?”


As time passes, I’ve watched subsequent addiction and a mental health epidemic arise for the entire city where I live. It has a direct trail back to prescription painkillers and their medical use. Pain management clinics sprung up in and around my city as the painkiller epidemic occurred. Many of those were ‘pill mills’, caused people an addiction to painkillers.

Changing laws closed these clinics, and also resulted in the placement of monitoring systems. The prescribers of powerful pain-management drugs were closely watched. The consequences of this system? These prescriptions were harder to come by, despite countless people addicted to them. Pain pills available on the illegal market were terribly expensive and people suffered.


The Solution? Heroin.


Needles_Hush Naindo
Credit: Hush Naidoo via Unsplash

Heroin became, and still is, the affordable solution to painkiller scarcity.  For every dollar spent to obtain illegal painkillers, heroin packs the same punch at one-tenth the cost. Drug cartels met a need in the population when the prescription painkiller epidemic gained the attention of legislators and the medical boards. Their marketing strategies cut a path straight towards my area of expertise, and into my home city.

There’s more to a ‘painkilling’ addiction than chronic and debilitating physical pain needing to be managed. There is also psychological pain which people are seeking respite from. So, the drug and mental health epidemic is a pervasive one in people’s lives and the lives of their loved ones.

It’s traumatic to watch someone suffer from drug addiction. It’s more traumatic when medical ‘permission’ is taken out of the equation. The pure force of addiction became tangible when those addicted had no choice but to trade prescription painkillers for heroin. Heroin was the only reasonable alternative to prescriptions — if it can be seen as reasonable.


Heroin Addiction.


Moreover, Heroin addiction is a powerful and destructive force that most people can’t fathom unless they’ve experienced it in their daily life. I see it in the streets every day. The street people have changed. They seem to be dying faster, and I say prayers for them as I drive past them on the roads.

If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin or other drug addiction reach out. People can recover, but the right kind of help is crucial. Heroin is more powerful than anyones strongest willpower. Also, people can’t help others experiencing addiction when they can’t help themselves. Nonetheless, friends and family can aid those who can’t help the addicted people they love.

Don’t wait to act; the support of friends and family is crucial to stop the use of heroin and other lethal street drugs.


©Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.

Music Challenge/Photo Challenge: Poem – Wrapped Refrain (1) – “ A Fallen Star’s Quest” #amwriting #poetry #musicchallenge #photochallenge


Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting Music Challenge #32 on the song “Moon River”sung by Audrey Hepburn. Also, thanks to NEKNEERAJ of MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting Photo Challenge.


Credit: ezornier @deviantart


Falling blaze of light, night faerie,

With feathered puff wings she tarries.

Downy angel of stardust sent,

After the Moon Rivers descent.

Wider than a mile it bubbles,

Cutting past her legs stumbling.

She lifts feathers to fly, but her wings are weights, ball and chains set;

Sunshine hair in her eyes she smiles, but her feet lurch dirt wet.

*****

As the moon’s orb casts brilliant beams,

Directs a path she deftly gleans.

Her body trembles winter cold,

Winds chilling skin; for she’s been told —

When to earth she fell, she chose weak;

To no more be a star so sweet.

Her wings disassemble, feathers as snowflakes fall, flutter;

Mud sucks her feet; she’s a once gleaming bird wingless, sputtering.

*****

Dimmed star, broken-hearted lover;

She seeks a soul; he loved her ‘bove.

She treads his way, an innocent,

Not knowing human sorrow’s pins;

Her wisdom lost, but she peers and waits.

Branches rustle, spirit engaged;

Perfection fumbles in girlish form, black-hole discovering —

A quest; she’s swept down Moon River, crazy truth uncovered.

*****

Stardust child with heart unchanging,

Rides a rainbow’s trail on the chase.

She’ll find him; he’ll gentle whisper,

Asking why she became a wisp.

She’s down Moon River full of angst,

Though, with her wings she scaled its banks.

With tears of joy on petal skin, she’s found her dream-maker;

Her heart sparks; he bends to carry a star home, she’s quaking.

*****

Their two drifters mingling swiftly,

Rising to wander the world’s mists.

Places of wonder that light her eyes,

Thunder breaks, in terror she cries.

They’re a duo with each other —

For but a lifetime’s sacred vows.

In years, the nebula rekindles shines with her soul twin;

Falling blazes, light ethereal, on infant wings both spin.

*****


©Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.

Flash Fiction for the Aspiring Writer/ Saturday Mix: Poem – Italian Sonnet – “A Journey’s Friend” #amwriting #poetry #SaturdayMix #MLMM


Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting this past edition of FfftAW. Also, thanks to Sarah of MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting Saturday Mix Opposing Forces. This past prompts opposing pairs were: unite and divide, and hope and hopeless.


Credit: Priceless Joy


If we explore and don’t lose hope, street ways —

Will open, words will not divide; doors clear.

For we can’t avoid pain that stings and sears,

On cobbled streets as we meander astray.

But the trail home unites into new pathways,

It’ll heal your woes as fresh wounds too teach.

Some roads aren’t level, they’re beaten; don’t retreat.

Alleys lead to tattered souls, forgotten strays.

Each path comes with reasons, some dire purpose.

There’s an illusion that hearts untended —

Don’t require hands to forget hopelessness.

Let strangers both wander and reverse,

Tell the tales of your lives, share stories deep;

A friend is no loss, journeys require them.


©Mandibelle16.(2018) All Rights Reserved.

Sunday Writing Prompt: Poem – Rictameter – “A Story of Change” #amwriting #poetry #MLMM


Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting the SWP, a collage prompt.


Credit: MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie


Twisted,

Fractured due to —

Difficulties life wrought.

Damage cracked; leather skin, lips torn,

He aches for sleep, to wash, and renew himself.

To slay his hideous demons,

They haunt him, every step.

No rest, he’s too —

Twisted.

*****

Life once,

Satisfied; free —

For him to chose his trails,

To beam in personal glories.

Life’s pinnacle, his wild dreams, finally,

Found fruition; until he fell,

Soul keening in ash.

No desire for —

Life once.

*****

Vivid,

Morado hues;

As yesterday’s wrongs haunt;

No escaping his palled fears.

Thinks he can’t measure up as he once did.

Bitter life’s high-points cost him dear.

Voice silenced, will fading;

Ashamed; his pain,

Vivid.

****

Balance,

Distorted as —

He slurps canned food, silver —

Cutlery from his Nan, most sold to live.

Survival his concern, laughter gone;

He’s wilted, rose petals of dust, a ghost;

No will, no path, hope to —

Restore life’s old,

Balance.

*****

To God,

Man weathered prays,

Forgetting God hears, listens —

To fervent Hail Mary’s, begging for —

A chance, an opportunity.

To find life beyond dusty roads, his bike;

Seeking grand possibilities.

To have life flourish once,

More, reaching to —

To God.

*****

Sweet rain,

Soaks him fast.

A shower well needed,

He’s determined for renewal.

Trims off his wild beard, foam heals;

Now, his plans are clear; he blossoms.

Back home she’s thrilled; he’s here —

Returned; her own —

Sweet rain.

*****


©Mandibelle16.(2018) All Rights Reserved.

#NaPoWriMo Day 22/Tale Weavers: Poem – Blitz – “The Thirteenth Hour (Dim of Chase)” #poetry #amwriting #TaleWeavers #MLMM


For NaPoWriMo Day 22 the Prompt is: ” to take one of the following statements of something impossible, and then write a poem in which the impossible thing happens: ‘The clock can’t strike thirteen.‘”

I’m combining with Michael from MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver Prompt #166 on the theme of “exploring the sensations of being lost, not knowing where you are and realizing you are wandering aimlessly. How and/or who do you ask for help?”


Credit: Mara Eastern. Used with Permission for MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie.


The clock can’t strike thirteen

Thirteens the witching hour dim

Dim as the black soundless night

Dim as every street’s the same

Same as the last and same as the next

Same figures leering in an unfathomable maze

Maze where I don’t know where here is

Maze where each turn is the wrong way

Way down cobblestone paths

Way down roads with naught but silence

Silence without comfort

Silence that hastens quivering

Quivering and deciding to go back

Quivering as I wander in circles

Circles towards the same stuccoed shops

Circles to windows with signs reading, “Closed”

Closed as midnight has long passed chimed

Closed no matter my banging on houses

Houses red-bricked, idyllic in day

House white-fenced unhearing of strangers

Strangers as I, but I am no harm

Strangers as they who follow and whisper

Whisper that I’m lost and cannot escape

Whisper of this hours unholiness

Unholiness as the demons mock my steps

Unholiness as the graveyard headstones crack

Crack as stones splits with moaning

Crack as hands reach, bloodied and fragile

Fragile as my skin sweating and chilled

Fragile as heels broken — left in bare-feet

Bare-feet blackened from putrid streets

Bare-feet cut by pebbles with each step

Step here, step there, no where leads home

Step into the inescapable hour trapped

Trapped as the chants drew me far

Trapped as I bewitched scampered

Scampered away from the party’s delights

Scampered into the sudden mist further

Further into the labyrinth, a sweet dream in daylight

Further into the hour my grandmother warned

Warned of those of dark intent who wander

Warned of the hour so few remember

Remember the creatures who frighten

Remember the creatures who chase

Chase in the thirteenth hour’s delusions

Chase me, knowing I knew better

Better despite my heart’s rapid fluttering

Delusions fade, a light burns — the wicked-hour passes


©Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.

#NaPoWriMo Day 14/Sunday Photo Fiction: Poem – Italian – Sonnet – “Dream Wisps” #amwriting #poetry


For NaPoWriMo Day 14 the Prompt is: “to write entries for an imaginary dream dictionary. Pick one (or more) of the following words, and write about what it means to dream of these things: Teacup, Hammer, Seagull, Ballet slipper, Shark, Wobbly table, Dentist, and Rowboat. I’m combining with SPF hosted by Alistair Forbes.

—–

Credit: Alistair Forbes

—-

Teacup held in hand, she murmurs vespers,

Ballet slippers lifted, a child’s fond hopes —

A tutu twirled, spun, clouds that gleam and float.

She dreams of diving seagulls, their whispers,

Voices, sharp tongues drill; sharks with winged-flippers,

Sailors, those unafraid steering rowboats.

Hammerheads drift, they alter in remote,

Albatross’ signs of woe, slight wisps;

Reality and memories weave lost thoughts.

Wants, needs, and everything time forgotten,

Awaking to find the Albatross cawing.

As ethereal moments wake, warble —

Albatross unblinking, sailor he shoots;

He quakes and trembles within blackened boots.

—-

©️Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.

100 Word Wednesday: Poem – Italian Sonnet – “Saved by A Song” #100WordWednesdays #poetry #amwriting


Thanks to Bikurgurl for hosting #100WordWednesday.


Credit: Matthew Henry via Unsplash


On the path you get lost ’cause you can’t find —

Your way; no doors through the puddles find sway.

To open, reveal the road; thus, engraved —

With the direction, you’re hunting; rain blinds,

No better journeys exist than chill times —

Where your wet, but exhausted you find ways.

Though angry winds, with freezing sleet berate,

Wandering lost, you’ll burn in your mind —

Slippery trails, bricks steeped in sludge, than trills —

Of harsh winds chiming against grim sign posts;

Metallic melodies haunt, notes crescendo, thrill —

Calling to you, as you pray soulfully;

That your mind won’t panic, but think calmly.

Enlightened, finding Home through the rain’s song.


©Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.

#OctPoWriMo – Day 4 – Wrapped Refrein (1) – “How Words and Poetry Hide” #poetry #amwriting   


The Day 4 OctPoWriMo theme is based on the prompt between the clouds and water and where poetry hides

——

Credit: Patrick Fore via Unsplash
——

You’ll not find it in cotton clouds,

Words don’t linger much to astound. 

You’ll not find poetry in socks, 

The drawer where secrets remain lost.

You’ll never find it in your locker, 

Or in any safe, secret box. 

The poetic muse she’s a tricky one and you’ll not —

Discover the secrets of words never caught. 

Sure, search my shoeboxes your —

To discover old love letters torn; 

As if their archaic paper had —

Poetic words; handwritten glad, 

Yet these lost words are so barren, 

You’ll not find poetry here glaring. 

You can wish hard for the words to flow and burn within, 

Spark inspiration, fulfill writing dreams, whims.   

——

As the words can be impossible, 

Leave you feeling epically lost. 

Choosing words is hard, improving —

Their form, their shape, tone soothing. 

Poetry hides, clashes wickedly, 

Now, I’ve no liking for such tricks. 

You can wish for words to form melodious speeches, 

But you’ll not find poetry it’s a falcon screeching. 

Gaze inside marshmallow white puffs, 

Clouds or into caverns dark, rough. 

You can explore the ocean’s depth,  

Or rest upon a beach breathless, 

While poetry’s playing games taunting, 

You’ll not discover the words lost. 

You’ll only find poetry in locals that are mystical —

Where sun, moon, clouds ethereal rise, poetry still sits. 

——

©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved. 

Sunday Photo Fiction: Poetry – Rictameter – “Streets A New” #amwritimg #poetry #flashfiction 


Thanks to Alastair Forbes for hosting SPF.

——-

Credit: J. Hardy Carroll
———

Empty, 

Thoughts with empty —

Dreams; never meant to inflict,

Such pain, no anxiety, hurt —

done unintentionally

Not considering, 

Empty. 

——-

Bare streets, 

Abandonment, 

No one comes here, danger —

Lurks in sun’s zenith and night’s chill.

Lost lonely souls wander, 

Hopeless; shifty —

Bare streets. 

——-

Broken, 

Boulevard with —

Dreams in smithereens; pieces —

Of what could’ve been, deserted. 

Littered streets, none tread 

Improvements left, 

Broken.

——

Why fix? 

Somewhere no one —

Ventures? Bring beauty to  —

Dank tenements abandoned? 

Some people still live here, 

Shuffling through, 

Why Fix? 

——-

Broken, 

I can’t hull stones, 

Nor restore past glories, 

I’m no architect with dreams of —

Organic design where the 

Forgotten dwell, blurry —

Eyed and hopeless, 

Broken. 

——

Hope means, 

Skilled developer, 

Notes potential in ruins, 

Will see masked brilliance beneath the —

Treachery; Boulevard —
Where someone sees, 

Hope is. 

——-

Anew, 

I can’t remould, 

Your splintered heart, pristine, 

I can stitch the pieces together, 

So in time, stitches fade,  

Heart heals almost, 

Anew, 

———

©Mamdibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved. 

Sunday Photo Fiction: Poem – Quadrille – “Condemned” #amwriting #poetry #flashfiction 


Thanks to Alistair Forbes for holding last week’s SPF. 

——–

Credit: Mike Vore

———

Tenement halls, 

Here they —

Breathed; died. 

Rasping voices, 

Calling  ‘Mom.’ 

Struggling, 

One last breath, 

Wheezing, 

Spirits released. 

Polio, Scarlet feaver, 

Consumption, measles, 

Tuberculosis. 

No matter, 

The disease, 

Many breathed, 

Their last. 

Forgotten, lost, 

Sound of silence. 

Condemned to ruins, 
Now the ruins are —

Condemned, 

Tenements called, 

A prison, 

Too late. 

——-

©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.