Struggling with issues of desperation

May 29, 2015 by

I heard someone in a support group introduce themselves by giving their name and saying I struggle with issues of depression.

My name is Larry Drain and I struggle with issues of desperation.

I try not to talk like that because I think it makes me sound whiny and self absorbed. I hope I am neither but nevertheless problems with desperation are real. A friend asked me why expecting some kind of wise insightful comment and I think I disappointed her. “Life sucks. In important basic ways it sucks. It doesn’t mean everything sucks or that the things that suck will always suck but much right now is pain and misery.”

This blog is getting really old. In about 5 posts it will be 4000 posts long. It has changed a lot in the last years as I have changed. Some posts seem to have some lasting value. Some are still read every day even being written years ago. Some have seemed quickly dated. More than one just seems wrong and I am astounded that they were written by me.

There are many readers now and many have become friends, some good friends. I don’t think I am anywhere close to saying things as smart as they can be said. My goal has been to try to say what I thought was important to say and to try and be as honest as I can…. even when it makes others angry.

I have talked a lot about recovery and about hope. I have shared stories about people I have been lucky to meet. I have shared videos and articles I thought important. In recent months I have talked more about advocacy and public action than anything. More and more it has been about justice and addressing the so many ways that so many people have just been denied a fair and equitable chance at life.

Healthcare reform has taken more time and energy most recently because it is more directly related to my daily desperation than anything else. If you have read this blog at all you have heard mine and Linda’s story more than once.

After 34 years of marriage we have been separated for almost a year and a half now. It was the only way to keep the insurance she absolutely needs in order to live. And the honest truth is that I no longer am sure if we will ever live together again. Right now it is close to midnight and Linda is 25 miles away. It feels like a million.

There have been extraordinary consequences for us. Expenses have basically doubled and most of my money goes into gas for the car to continue to see her. Poverty is real and overwhelming. Food is frequently an issue. Rarely do we go anywhere to do anything. Just no money.

Linda’s health has suffered greatly. Seizures have increased and she has hurt herself multiple times. I just haven’t been there. Her blood pressure has become a problem. Neurological issues interfere with daily living in multiple ways. She has destroyed her glasses in a seizure and we have no way to replace them. We have had multiple issues with Tenn Care denying meds and literally putting her life in danger. We live in a constant state of war.
A doctor finally filled out a form saying Linda needed a caregiver. It is dangerous for her to live alone. It is illegal we are told for me to be that caregiver.

All this is my way of saying this blog has become hard for me. I struggle to write. You need perspective and sometimes it is hard to find the space that makes perspective possible.

Things have a way of going full circle and I am sure this will too. The patience of so many has helped me to find the little patience I have.

I know more than ever that life is not about what you have as it is about what has happened. I would like to think I cope well and sometimes I do. Sometimes all I do is survive. Linda and I are both resilient people and we have learned to treasure better days. There are plenty that aren’t but maybe accepting what you cant control makes you more apt to change what you can.

This is probably the 10th version of this post and it will have to do. I look forward to more posts and I look forward to 4000. Thanks to so many for so much.

Inside/out…. By Linda Drain

May 26, 2015 by

Have you ever wondered what it is like to have seizures?

Inside out

No one sees it coming, 
Its warning is silent and unseen

It’s not a noise or vision
It’s a change of perception in me.

I realize I’m present among others
Yet my mind plays tricks on me. 
My eyes get glassy and begin to twitch
While to the worst mode I switch
This can drag on for 
Staring and frozen in time
Inside I’m screaming to get out of this terrifying body of mine.

If I’m lucky it won’t last 
And I’ll return in no time at all
But every time I go there 
I believe I’ll have my next fall. 
When things turn bad from this point on
prayer no longer works
And all my hope is gone. 
My head bows  and I curl  to fetal position
As muscles will stiffen and Tremors take over 
While electrical charges fire

This goes on for minutes 
And I get closer to death. 
My brain has been fried once again
When I wake I am weary and
ready for sleep

I’m dazed and confused and can hardly think   
The monster has visited again robbing me life
Leading to agitation and headaches along with personal strife.

But my stubborn spirit says get up and keep at it
Because life goes on and I must make up for lost time
The next day is better as recovery begins
I hope I stay in touch with sanity.. 
But Christ has been with me throughout this ordeal
Through seizures He holds me and gives me  zeal.

Linda Drain

Late Night with Heroes Pamela Weston & Meryl Rice with host Yvonne Smith 05/24 by Lauren Tenney | Current Events Podcasts

May 26, 2015 by

The question not asked… Really the only important question

May 24, 2015 by


From the archives… Still looking for an

Originally posted on Hopeworks Community:

I read again the article about the end of legislative session news conference and I realized the single most important question of all was never asked. It was probably the only question that really mattered and I would have payed money to have someone ask it publicly to Ron Ramsey or Beth Harwell.

Insure Tennessee would have given about 280,000 people health insurance. It would have saved lives, prevented avoidable suffering and improved the quality of life for countless people, saved families and made many communities better places to live. THAT DIDN’T MATTER AND I UNDERSTAND THAT.

This legislature gave 280,000 people the freedom to carry guns virtually every where they go but did not give the same people freedom to get treatment for illness or access life saving or life enhancing medication. THAT DIDN’T MATTER. I UNDERSTAND THAT.

The program would not have cost Tennessee a penny. Between the…

View original 314 more words

Rep. Murphy…. You are a distraction not the solution

May 24, 2015 by

Prisoners With Mental Illness | Human Rights Watch 
【from Next Browser】

Dem senator eyes changes to ‘draconian’ provision in mental health bill | TheHill 

On Asylums

Representative Murphy if I am not mistaken it has been 3 years since Newtown. Your crusade hasn’t yet got past your front yard. For all your noise, all your sermons, all your self congratulatory pronouncements nothing has changed and there now appears doubt it will. At least not with what you have suggested.

The three articles listed above say three very important things….

1. Horrible nasty things are regularly, consistently and chronically happening to people with “mental illness” in the jails and prisons of this country. It is not as you say simply a mass failure of treatment. It is a failure of policing. There is a culture of violence amongst too many of our police that prescribes and defends the use of extreme, even deadly force against innocent people who are the wrong color, or who look or act differently than other people. I have never heard you even acknowledge it. When you lay it all at the feet of untreated mental illness it comes across as you saying people through their behavior “brought it on themselves”. Whether you mean it or not or even understand you are doing it you are left as an apologist for atrocity.

2. There is no reason to believe that what didn’t work before is going to work now. We are not going into a second age of asylums. That ship has financially, socially, pragmatically and morally sailed. The age is over and all the psychiatric chatter in the world is not going to change it. No one drinks the kool-aid anymore other than those that stir the pitcher.

3. And finally your bill as it stands is not going to make it. It has too many poison pills and you have to convince too many people who are not true believers. Aot is a problem for many people. As far as I know you have never explained why something that is already a law on most states need be a federal law nor why states that don’t have it should be coerced into having it. And you have most assuredly not explained how a program that in it’s greatest current reality in New York that serves 1/3 of 1% of the people served by the system is the centerpiece of any type of wide ranging reform.

Representative Murphy I am not as worried as I once was of the dangers I saw you as presenting. Perhaps you will win. You are certainly determined and perhaps every session will see a Murphy Bill until you just wear people down. And perhaps I am wrong and this year will see victory for you. Perhaps…

But your biggest danger is as a distraction. You hold mental health reform hostage and while asylums and AOL are debated other discussions will be silent. And as long as you worship at the shrine of “untreated mental illness” the overwhelming tragedy of a police culture that sanctions violence against “different” people will go unchallenged.

And that is wrong. So very very wrong.

Dr. Torrey and the rest of the story

May 20, 2015 by

Is There a Right to Be Mentally Ill? | National Review Online
【from Next Browser】

When responding to Dr. Torrey it is wise to start with the facts since he so frequently leaves them out.  His post is about Alberta Lessard and the legal decision that he says gives the “mentally ill” the right to be “mentally ill.”  What actually happened?

Ms. Lessard had become obsessed with getting a job back she had lost at a local university.  She was calling the university hundreds of times a day.  They called the police to get her to stop.  When they got to her house she was delusional and thought they were “goons from Nixon’s administration coming to get her.”  She tried to escape and went out a second story window.  They caught her hanging onto the window sill and took her in.  This occurred on October 29,1971.  She was taken to a county psychiatric hospital.  At that time in Wisconsin someone could be institutionalized with no hearing, with no rights on the testimony of three people.

On November 1 the police officers who had detained her went back before the court and the judge signed an order holding her for 10 more days.  Ms. Lessard did not participate nor was she aware of this hearing.

On November 4 the psychiatrist from the hospital came before the judge and recommended permanent commitment.  Ms. Lessard he said had paranoid schizophrenia.  Ms. Lessard was not aware of this hearing either.  The judge signed an order for 10 more days. 

On November 10  Ms Lessard finally got a lawyer. None was ever offered.  She got the lawyer based on her own initiative.  If she had not acted she would have never been represented.

On November 15 she was told at 2:30 in the afternoon there would be a commitment hearing at 8:30 the next morning.  Her lawyer got it postponed for one week and on November 24 the hearing was held and she was committed for 30 days.  The judge’s rationale was that she was “mentally ill.”  That was all….”mentally ill.”  The order was extended each month after that for 30 days until she left.

At that time in Wisconsin being committed had a lot of reality consequences.  For Ms. Lessard it meant that legally she could not vote, she could not enter into legal contracts or sue people, she could not hold a license to teach, she could not drive a car and she could not get married.

Her suit basically said she should have the same rights accorded to a criminal.  Remember a psychiatrist who had known her for 3-4 days was recommending permanent commitment based on a simple diagnosis.  If she hadn’t been pushy she would never have been given access to a lawyer and if she hadn’t been pushy how many other people would still be faced with permanent commitment based on a psychiatric diagnosis?  How many lives did she save?

Her lawyers had a lot of arguments but two really stood out.

If you were going to commit someone for their own good you needed to prove it was for their own good.  They pointed out clearly there was no proof that the state hospitals of the day did anyone any good. (Has it changed?)  Their argument basically was that the burden of proof should be on the state.

One of Dr. Torrey’s favorite points is that people are being denied access to treatment (I will resist the impulse to talk about Rep Murphy’s fight against health care reform and the denial of access that means for people needing help.)  He makes it sound like they are being denied choice.  What he is really saying is that we make it way too hard to involuntarily treat people against their will.  If you read his post he clearly seems to wish that Ms. Lessard had not stood up for her rights nearly so well.

The second argument was very simple.  Statistics showed that the death rate in psychiatric hospitals was 10 times that in the general population.  She didn’t deserve to be placed in a place for her own good that might result in her early death.  Ms. Lessard died when she was 94.  You gotta wonder if she would have come close to that in the hospital.

I apologize for the longest introduction in history but what exactly does Dr. Torrey say?

He starts off by saying she costed too much money.  He figures she cost the state of Wisconsin close to $2 million dollars and little was gotten in return.  We could have he believed used the money wiser.  Suppose the suggestion of the original psychiatrist had been followed… permanent commitment.  If you figure the hospital is $500 a day (I think it is twice that) what would it have cost to institutionalize Ms Lessard for 50 years?  At $500 a day (and like I said I think it would be at least twice that) it comes to $9,125,000 to save the 2 million Dr. Torrey thinks we wasted on Ms. Lessard.  Dr. Torrey closes the paragraph by asking “…who was really crazy here?”  I don’t know but I know who can’t add or multiply.

But the point is more important than math.  Dr. Torrey is saying that letting troublesome people live in the community isn’t worth it.  Just cut your losses and put them where they can get “real help.”  This is the kind of thinking we have come from.  God help us all of this is where we are going.  Ms. Lessard did not live a happy life.  She was frequently a nuisance to other people.  Much did not work out.  But if we begin locking up all the nuisances and all the people someone thinks is a failure where do we stop?  Where do we draw the lines and who draws the lines?

Ms. Lessard did not want to take medication.  She says she tried it a couple of times and it made her sick.  Could she not say no?  Could she not say I would rather not be sick.  Would it have made her less of a nuisance?  I don’t know but neither does Dr. Torrey.

The woman who wrote her obituary describes Ms. Lessard as a brave woman.  She struggled every day.  That seems so true.  But only a brave person fights so hard to make her own decisions for herself.  If Alberta Lessard is Dr. Torrey’s poster child for involuntary treatment then I think he has it all wrong.  I would wish her courage on more people.

He says her lawyers were intent on making “it as difficult as possible to involuntarily hospitalized a person.”  Funny I just thought they wanted her to be treated as fairly as possible and that meant at least having the same rights as a criminal.  Remember again a psychiatrist wanted to commit her forever based on a diagnosis he gave after knowing her for 4 days.  Forever.  Should it be made a little bit difficult to do such things.    I think so.

This has already been a long post.  Much that Dr. Torrey says is worthy of comment but I only want to touch on one more of his remarks.  He says: “Because of her psychotic behavior she was briefly hospitalized more than 20 times, but, because of the new focus on immediate danger in commitment standards, she could never be held long enough to be properly treated….”   

I have a lot of questions about this sentence.  “Hospitalized more than 20 times…..never held long enough to be properly treated.”  What does that mean?  It is kind of a weird way of thinking a lot of psychiatrists fall prey to.  “20 times….”  She had a lot of involvement with the system.  20 times also tells me that it was never much of a help.  20 times makes me wonder what if any kind of community supports was she involved in after leaving.  20 times involuntarily makes me wonder why anyone is surprised she doesn’t voluntarily buy into anything from the system she sees as attacking her.  Coercion does matter and doesn’t build investment.  20 times tells me that insurance companies probably got very tired of being asked to pay for the inpatient treatment of nuisance behavior.  But the real important phrase is at the end of the sentence.  It is the hallmark of psychiatric thinking.  “20 times.  That just proves we didn’t hold her long enough to make a difference….”  Kind of failure proves that we could be successful if we just tried longer and harder thinking.

Alberta Lessard died at 94.  Many people are better off for her fight.  Her life was hard.  Dr. Torrey thinks her life could have been cured.  He thinks a lot of lives can be cured (whether the person wants to or not) but it is an easy faith.  Every hard life for him is confirmation of “if they had just listened to me….”  In the end, at least for me, her courage stands out.  You know with all the problems she had and all the fights she fought and all the disappointments she had I suspect she was always glad that she stood up and said,  “I am a person too and this is wrong.”

Dear Senator Ramsey: the first letter

May 18, 2015 by

On May 19… The end of a year

May 18, 2015 by

On May 19, 2014 I wrote my first letter to Governor Bill Haslam asking him to expand health care in Tennessee. Tomorrow is the end of the year.    His decision not to earlier expand had led to my wife and I separating after 33    years of marriage in order to keep her health insurance that she needed to have any quality of life.   Without access to medication there would be no way to stop the seizures that had marked her life and she could easily die. We have now been separated for about 510 days. I don’t know when or if we will ever live together again.

For me I have no insurance.  I make $5000 too little to qualify.   I have been told that if Linda and  I divorce I may qualify.   March 21 was our 34th wedding anniversary.  

Someone once told  me he was against health care expansion because he was for individual freedom (he had insurance).  I told him he could have my freedom and I would take his chains gladly.   No answer yet.   Still waiting.

Life for us has become about surviving the law. I know I have become a much angrier person and although I try really hard to maintain balance and perspective I think I am not always an easy person to be around. Linda has been hurt in seizures multiple times in the last weeks. All the injuries have been when I have not been there. It is Monday as I write. I will not see her till probably Thursday. Some things are just what they are. It is the hardest thing I have learned in the last year. Small victories and good days matter.

As we have met more people in the last year we have tasted the tremendous suffering and agony this brings to so many people. I have met good and kind people who have tried to do the right thing their entire life trying to understand how their health and welfare is illegal in the state they call home. They stand convicted and have no idea of the crime.

One of the best surprises of the year was when Governor Haslam proposed Insure Tennessee. I was close to giving up faith that he had it in him to stand up and do the right thing. I can’t begin to put into words the hope and sense of redemption I felt when I heard the news. Then on top of that the state became alive in support. Virtually every newspaper, every civic organization, every business organization, every health organization, many faith based organizations, and many leaders and public figures came out publicly in favor. Polls showed great public support. From all I heard legislators were flooded with emails and phone calls saying support Insure Tennessee. It was a Tennessee past what many had thought would ever be possible.

The worst surprise of the year was when the governor has handed it to the legislature and then backed away. What he tried so hard to put together he just left hanging in the air and the most important bill in years was left to the moral leadership of Ron Ramsey and Beth Harwell.

There were some heroes. People like Doug Overby, Richard Briggs, Becky Massey and many more showed that it was possible for politicians to do the right thing even when it was risky and gave them little or no political gain.

But this was the legislature that made Todd Gardenhire more famous than he has ever deserved. This was the legislature that showed that even if Tennessee had changed that nothing had changed there and that calculations of political gain trumped all moral considerations. This was the legislature that showed that the worst thing was not someone dying needlessly, or unnecessary suffering or even a hospital closing. The worst thing was someone threatening to tell the Tea Party on you. If is so very sad. 280,000 people have been told they need to wait on a Republican president that has a Republican Congress that will cooperate with him that will give Tennessee the money they asked with no strings attached. Lord have mercy on us all. It is not enough to have a program that costs the state nothing. We want no expectations also. And 280,000 wait. Some will die that don’t have to. Many will suffer. The shame…..the overwhelming shame of it all.

Ron Ramsey says it is over with and we need to move past Insure Tennessee. He is such a foolish man. He wants badly to be governor from what I hear. He acts like he already is. Does he really believe he can ride Todd Gardenhire’s coat-tales into the governor’s mansion? Does he really believe the man who deserted 280,000 of his fellow citizens will be the next governor? Does he really believe all the news organizations, all the civic organizations, all the business organizations, all the health organizations that supported this don’t matter? Does he believe the thousands who emailed and called don’t vote? Does he really believe the poll results were made up? And does he really believe that anyone believes a word he says when he proclaims how powerless he is to affect the passage of Insure Tennessee in the senate. Senator Ramsey it ain’t over with and the only one trying to move past is you.

Tomorrow starts another year. I hope a better year. I need a better year. On a personal level we have no answers. Keep us in your prayers and thoughts. Keep Tennessee in your prayers and thoughts.

I was standing in line in Walmart a few months ago and heard the people in front of me arguing about health care expansion. One told the other, “I don’t believe anyone really dies. I don’t know anyone do you?” I interrupted their conversation. “I do….”

I pray the day comes when I dont….

On the selling of Tennessee: Ron Ramsey and 280,000 other Tennesseans

May 16, 2015 by

TN health care: Good for the goose, not the gander?
【from Next Browser】

The full General Assembly should vote on Insure Tennessee: Vanderbilt Poll | Research News @ Vanderbilt | Vanderbilt University
【from Next Brow

Sam Venable: the /columnists/sam-venable-hypocrisys-golden-insurance-premiums_24867683
【from Next Browser】

Ramsey trashes VU poll on Insure Tennessee | Nashville Post

Some people believe Ron Ramsey is the real governor of Tennessee. He is not the only one who thinks so. I wonder though how many people still believe he will ever be the elected governor of Tennessee. Less and less I think.

He has made his bet on Insure Tennessee. He started off saying that it wasn’t realistic to even talk about health care expansion in Tennessee this year. He basically dismissed it as Obama nonsense and said he didn’t think the legislature should or would consider it this year. From all I read this was his message to the governor.

The governor came up with Insure Tennessee and the senator said all the appropriate things. He said that the governor had done great things and he would do what he could.

Turns out with friends like him the governor didn’t need any enemies. His support never translated into any actual leadership. The majority leader wouldn’t even sponsor the the bill in the Senate. He stacked the committees with no votes and Insure died in the special session. He loudly protested his innocence assuring everyone he had done what he could and just had no influence on any of his members. He seemed astounded that no one believed him on either count.

In recent weeks he has dropped his facade. He has “discovered” the problems with Insure Tennessee and while he continues to pat the governor on the head for his efforts he makes it clear he thinks it is a bad idea.

In fact he has bet his political future on it. He dismisses the recent Vanderbilt poll as unreliable and not worth worrying about. He neglects to mention the support of virtually every newspaper in the state, virtually every business and civic organization, every medical organization, many churches and faith based organizations and a public support which has flooded the emails, the telephones and the hallways of the legislature with a simple message: Insure Tennessee now. He neglects to mention the fact that under his leadership the most important bill in years never even got a vote on the floor. 280,000 people can now
carry a gun anywhere they go in Tennessee. They just can’t go to the doctor.

He has never talked about the lack of health insurance as a moral issue or the unnecessary suffering and even death that is part of their lives. Neither him nor any member of his Senate has shown or talked about any plan or option to Insure Tennessee. His belief is that if the only way people can be helped is by something someone may call “Obammish” it is better they receive no help at all regardless of how vital or needed that help is.

He is now telling people that we need to wait….. wait for a Republican president, wait for a change in federal law that allows that President the power to give Tennessee federal money with no strings attached to develop their own health care program. No mention of how far fetched and almost delusional that is. No mention of the people who can’t wait, no mention of what Insure Tennessee offers, and no mention of what happens if none of the things he is waiting for don’t happen. Basically don’t do anything that might be taken as Democratic success as long as there is a chance that if we wait long enough there is a chance we can do something that might be claimed a Republican success. To hell with the 280,000. Political gain is more important.

His bet is that nothing has changed and that Tea Party math is the only thing that counts in Tennessee. His bet is that the last year was a mirage and Insure Tennessee really a triviality. His bet is that the public opinion the Vanderbilt poll talks about is unimportant. His bet is that Insure Tennessee is really dead and Bill Haslam doesn’t have the stones to buck him and bring it up again. His bet is that he will become the next really elected official governor of Tennessee. And his biggest bet is that the people of this state will not hold him accountable for the shame he has brought to this state and the harm he has done to so many.

He is by profession an auctioneer and is counting that no one will look closely at what he is selling.

On a sane system…..

May 14, 2015 by

Based on an earlier post….

If the  mental health system was sane….

There would be a range of services available reflecting the human needs of those it serves.

Those services would be available to those that need them.

Those services would be based on what works, not what makes money, reflects any particular philosphy or interest, and not because it is what we are used to doing.

Asking for help would not label someone, brand them, be a cause of shame, a source of discrimination.  Asking for help should not be a problem.

It would realize that lack of a place to live, lack of food, lack of adequate clothing, lack of a job are frequently barriers and problems for the people they serve and address them in a direct and effective manner.

It would know that inadequate health and inadequate health care are common problems for the people they serve and be part of an effort to serve the entire person in an integrated fashion.

The goal would be to empower, educate, and support people towards gaining control over their lives so as to maximize their chances of leading happy, meaningful and successful lives.

This would not be empty words, but a passionate conviction that fuels and structures everything done in the system.

It would not mistake the people it serves for the labels it places upon them.

It would know that the most important thing about help is that it is what you do with people and not what you do to them. It would see itself as partnering with the people it serves.

It would know that people can say no and that not be a symptom of illness or distress.

It would view peoples values, hopes, thoughts, and aspirations as a source of strength and not a symptom of illness.

It would take substance abuse ultimately seriously. Drinking and drugging are the two primary ways people with mental health issues try to treat themselves.

It would make sure that one of the core experiences that someone seeking help has is contact and interactions with others who have dealt with similiar issues. It would treat seriously the idea that you can learn from the experience of others and them from you.

It would not tell people who have hard times or more problems they have failed or are failures.

It would take the issue of trauma seriously. Knowing how people have been hurt and not being part of hurting them further should be cornerstones of the system.

It would treat the issue of what happens in jails and prisons to people with mental health issues as a moral outrage and the impulse to do something about it as a moral necessity.

It would be honest about the risks and benefits of psychotropic medication. Help people to make real and informed choices.

It would treat families as important and not as irrelevant or a threat to what it is doing.

It would treat justice as a driving force and value in everything it does.

It would be honest with the people it serves about what it doesnt know if it wants them to have trust in what it does know.

It would attack the issue of suicide with passion. No one should ever feel like death is the best solution to life.

It would tell people that no problems make you less human,

It would view hope as realistic and know that when they dont they do more harm than good.

5,070,000 to 7: Basic math for the General Assembly

May 13, 2015 by

The full General Assembly should vote on Insure Tennessee: Vanderbilt Poll | Research News @ Vanderbilt | Vanderbilt University
【from Next Browser】

There are several important numbers to remember. One is 7. That is the number of people it took to deny Insure Tennessee a vote on the floor of the Tennessee General Assembly. The other number is 5,070,000. That is the number of Tennesseans that believe Insure Tennessee should have received a vote on the floor of the Tennessee General Assembly. If you do a little bit further math you find out that each no vote in the Senate committee effectively disenfranchised 724,285 Tennesseans.

According to the Vanderbilt poll 78% of Tennesseans wanted a full vote in the legislature for Insure Tennessee. Even people who weren’t necessarily in favor were in favor of democracy. They thought everyone should be heard. 83% of democrats, 73% of Republicans, 82% of independents, and even 68% of Tea Party voters all agreed. Vote. Vote. Vote.

According to the poll support for passage was strong. 64 % of Tennesseans were in support: 85% democrats, 49% republicans, and 42% of the Tea Party were in favor. There are about 6.5 million people in Tennessee. According to the percentages 4,160,000 are in favor of passing Insure Tennessee. Speaker Harwell said she didn’t have the votes. There are the votes. Many of them are Republican. Many are Tea Party. More than anything they are Tennesseans who think other Tennesseans deserve health insurance and a fair and just chance to find life, enjoy liberty, and be successful in their pursuit of happiness.

The Tennessee General Assembly has a strong disconnect from reality. They have a cavernous disconnect from the people they claim to represent. Share the numbers. Teach the math. And please share this post with everyone you know.

Remember each of the 7 no votes on the Senate committee disenfranchised 724,285 Tennesseans. They disenfranchised you. Government for the people must start with the people.

Speak now. Then speak again. Then speak again. Do not stop or desist. Help your legislator to understand that even if the session is over with he is not on vacation.

280,000 know no vacation from their circumstances.

Insure Tennessee Now!!!

Unhappiness is not a psychiatric Illness

May 13, 2015 by

To a friend

I apologize for taking so long to write you back. This is actually my fourth attempt to write this post.   I have an idea what I want to say.   The struggle as always is in finding the words to say it.

I am so sorry that so much has been so hard. People aren’t supposed to say they are unhappy and I think it takes a bit of courage for you to say so. People tend I think to fear it makes them look like a failure, like they’re not trying hard enough. I agree with you also. Too many people just write it off as a sign of emotional problems or even a symptom of mental illness. They tend to assume the problem is the unhappy person and not the source of unhappiness.

We have forgotten a central truth. Sometimes life sucks. We have endless books and programs to “cure” people from their unhappiness and I suppose there is a place for that. All of us are sometimes our worst enemies and all of us have a degree of experience and skill in solving one problem by creating a bigger one but…….. Sometimes life just sucks. It isn’t as much what we do as what is done to us. We can be incredibly resilient and make good things out of bad, but sometimes things just suck. You prevent what you can prevent, solve what you can’t prevent, cope with what you can’t solve but above all else survive what it seems impossible to cope with. It is called being human. And to write it off as being in some way sick seems to me to miss the point.

Some people look for things to call sick. It makes them more money. It gives them more power and control. It makes them somehow the keeper of special knowledge.

Socially the idea that in some way people create their own misery and even like it serves to excuse and legitimize some of the worst and most unjust things we do. “Poor people are lazy and cause their own poverty and then want us to take care of them…..Some mentally ill people don’t even know they are…They would be happier if they just followed instructions and took the pills we think they need….And black people……well surely you know.”

Unhappiness is not a symptom.

I hope things are better soon for you. Unhappiness may not be a symptom, but it is extraordinarily real and painful. But it lies a lot too. Somethings are just the way they are but that does not mean they are all things or that they will be that way forever. I wish you a better day tomorrow. Remember even a little better is better.

So much of life is a matter of the momentum we find ourselves in. Life is more like the weather than anything. A whole lot of things come together to make things more or less likely.

May tomorrow begin tipping things in a much better direction for you.

Take very good care.


On bullies and politics

May 12, 2015 by


This post was written over 3 years ago. Too much of it still true. I wish none of it was true.

Originally posted on Hopeworks Community:

On one hand this is not the type of post found on this blog.  On the other hand it is exactly what this blog is about.

Bullies are not easily appeased.  They are unusual creatures.  Unlike most of us the more they eat the hungrier they get.

Bill Haslam is getting ready to find that out.  His response to the growing tea- partyization of Tennessee has been to “control” them by making sure he doesnt make them mad.  And while he is congratulating himself for his political acumen he is growing a force each day more bold, each day feeling more invulnerable, each day more insistent that their way is the only way.  He seems to feel like he is in control, but to me it appears more and more obvious not just that they will bite the hand that feeds them, but in time will bite it off at…

View original 330 more words

Be embarrassingly loud and inconveniently visual

May 11, 2015 by

From a post two years ago….

“Tennessee is close to making a unique decision.  They will be one of the few places that implements health care reform without giving people without insurance access to insurance.  It seems like such a strange victory.  They are going to hold to “principle” and show the federal goverernment they cant be pushed around.  In the name of freedom they are going to tell hundreds of thousands of people that they are “free” to get sick, suffer, and die rather than be “forced” to have access to resources which might alleviate their suffering, improve the quality of their lives or even save their lives.  These people will find out they are citizens with an asterisk.”

The quote above is from a post written over two years ago.   In some ways we have come a million miles.   In some ways what was true then is still true.   There are still 280,000 people with an asterisk by their name.

And many of our legislators still pursue the most hollow, most strange,  most bizarre prize possible.  They would deny basic  medical care to those 280,000 to teach the federal government a lesson.   How very extraordinarily strange…

In case you don’t read the paper they are trying to put the fix on.   “Let’s wait until we get a Republican president… Let’s wait until the law is changed… Let’s wait for a block grant… Let’s fix Tenn Care first… Let’s wait…. Some things just take time.   Let’s wait.   People are blowing the problem way out of proportion…Let’s wait…. ”

The deck is being stacked now and if we wait for the next session we will find our hand already dealt.

It should not be easy for anyone to be a Tennessee state legislator when 280,000 of their fellow citizens are without access to health  care.   It should not be easy.  For each of us who care the task is simple.

Be embarrassingly loud and inconveniently visual…..

Be heard and seen.   Be persistent, consistent and involved.

Do democracy…. For the people… By the people.

Insure Tennessee Now…

Senator Ramsey you want a better deal…..better than what?????

May 11, 2015 by

Senator Ramsey you want a better deal than Insure Tennessee from what I understand.  I am not sure what you want it to be better than.

Better than:

No cost to the state of Tennessee

Covering 280,000 uninsured people

Preventing unnecessary suffering

Preventing people from dying for lack of medical care

Improving the overall health of the state of Tennessee dramatically

Bringing Tennessee taxes back to Tennessee

Helping rural and small hospitals dying or on life support

Bringing jobs to the state

Making Tennessee a more just and fair place for thousands and thousands of working poor.

Restoring the faith of thousands of Tennesseans from all works of life who have spoken for Insure Tennessee and found their voices ignored with little comment or interest by legislators more interested in political points that government in Tennessee is by the people and for the people.

YOU WANT BETTER THAN THIS????  Senator come on.  Is not the real problem that you dont want Tennessee to be better because of this???

In your video from what I could tell you listed 3 objections to why you thought Insure Tennessee was a bad idea.

1.  Doctors might not require people to pay their co-pays.  Somehow you thought that might unravel the whole edifice of everything.  I dont really understand how but still.  Even if not a single co-pay was paid I would like to hear you explain how that means 280,000 people should not have access to health care.  To say it sounds grinch like is to be unfair to the grinch. (We probably both understand this is not the real reason you are against Insure Tennessee.  This is simply an after the fact justification.  People can always come up with justification for bad choices.)

2. You had heard different numbers about how many people would be covered by Insure Tennessee.  You play dumb and confused very poorly.  You tried to portray yourself as kind of a helpless victim of people who keep on changing the rules.  You say you have heard 260,000.  Then you say you have heard over double that.  I have heard the 280,000 figure consistently but again can you explain how any of this translates into 280,000 people should not have insurance.  Senator the grinch is turning over in his grave.

3.  Finally the real reason.  Insure Tennessee in your ideas is a defeat for Republicans.  You want a Republican president who in “a perfect world” would give Tennessee a block grant to do its own program.  Senator I am sorry the law keeps getting in the way of your perfect world.  You would rather have 280,000 people suffer and die, families be destroyed, and communities impaired than suffer what you believe is a political defeat.  You are willing to sacrifice 280,000 Tennesseans for political gain.



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