Are you thinking about suicide?

If you close your eyes, all you can see is darkness. But if you concentrate very hard, you may be able to picture a hand within the darkness.


That’s my hand, reaching out to you. Can you see it? Can you grab it?

“Find my hand in the darkness, intertwined you will be the day to my night. We can share wings and take flight towards our own inner light.” Truth Devour

Do you want to talk? I’m just an email away (

“Sometimes the only way to catch your breath is to lose it completely.” Tyler Knott Gregson

This post was created in loving memory of Blahpolar, a fellow warrior.


Blah, please tell Prince that we miss him — as much as we miss you. Peace.

To The Warriors

To all of us 🙂

Amazon Warriors Did Indeed Fight and Die Like Men

Archaeology shows that these fierce women also smoked pot, got tattoos, killed—and loved—men.

It’s sort of fair to say that Amazons, both as reality and as a dream of equality, have always been with us. It’s just that sometimes that fiery Amazon spirit is hidden from view or even suppressed. Right now they’re blazing back into popular culture.

Thinking of you, Blahpolar


Blahpolar had an immense effect on my life. I doubt she even realised how much. She walked beside me on my own journey even as she carried the weight of her own demons. She said two words that redefined my life – you matter. Two simple words that changed my life. And now, I am at a loss for words. Because she mattered to me, and to you and to us. Words escape me. All I have are tears…



The Supreme Court on Tuesday shunned a religious challenge to Washington state regulations requiring all licensed pharmacists to dispense emergency contraceptives when presented with a valid prescription…

Under comments:

Nick Deal · Raleigh, North Carolina
Conservatives are funny. Selling contraception is participating in abortion. Selling cakes to gay couples is participating in same-sex marriage. But selling the gun used in a mass shooting isn’t participating in the shooting? Hypocrites.

Guns are expected to surpass car crashes for the number of American deaths caused in 2015. In 2013, there were 33,636 Americans killed by guns versus 33,782 fatal crashes…

While the Second Amendment protects citizens’ rights to bear arms, federal law requires firearm owners to be 21 and submit a background check when buying from a licensed dealer. None of that is required, however, when purchasing guns from private sellers, the Daily Beast noted. This makes a firearm easier to purchase than many things in the country including cigarettes, birth control and a number of foods. Indeed, some foods require proof of age, are highly regulated by the American government, are only found in small quantities or require a significant amount of time and effort to acquire…

This 2014 segment from Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel featured a 13-year-old boy trying to buy various age-restricted products including porn, alcohol, lottery tickets and cigarettes. The attempts to buy beer, cigarettes, porn and lottery tickets were all rebuffed immediately, with most of the vendors clearly amused that a child even tried to purchase the items. By contrast, the 13-year-old was able to purchase a .22 caliber rifle at a gun show and walk off, no problem…

Boscoe told ABC News last year that he came up with distinctive cause of death metric as a way to call attention to public health issues that might not receive the attention they warrant. The new Stateline map provides an example of how that can play out. While the epidemic of fatal opioid overdoses is a serious crisis that has generated bipartisan legislation in Congress, this distinctive cause of death analysis shows that it is an outlier in 33 percent fewer states than gun fatalities…


“haunted by the screams”

At least 1,500 children in 30 states alleged that they were abused at private treatment facilities in 2005 alone, according to a 2008 Government Accountability Office report. At least 28 states had one or more deaths in residential treatment facilities that year. Island View dealt with a death in 2004, when a boy hanged himself with a belt just a month into his stay. Other allegations in the report included “sexual assault, physical and medical neglect … [and] bodily assault that sometimes resulted in civil rights violations, hospitalization, or death.” Teenage victims of abuse often stay silent out of fear, mistrust of authority, or simple ignorance. The number of them abused or neglected at treatment facilities each year, the GAO found, is likely much higher than 1,500…

Regulators are little help: The troubled-teen industry is almost entirely unregulated. The GAO data from 2005 are the most recent available because the federal government doesn’t track allegations of abuse at treatment centers, let alone investigate them or close down problem facilities…

Congress has repeatedly refused to intervene. In 2011, a federal bill that would have banned physically abusing or starving children at such facilities died in committee…

But like most states, Utah has no rules outright prohibiting isolation, humiliation or physical restraint. So facilities like Island View still can — and do — isolate, humiliate and physically restrain children. In many states, they can withhold food and water as punishment.

Even solitary confinement — which President Barack Obama has banned for juveniles in federal prison — is permitted at many private treatment centers…

When parents signed over guardianship of their children to Island View, they also signed over the power to decide which medicines their children would take — voluntarily or involuntarily. Some kids took all the medicine that staff therapists prescribed. Others refused and were forced to comply…

Antipsychotics can cause rapid weight gain, increase the risk of diabetes and metabolic problems, and haven’t been proven effective in treating teen depression and emotional issues. But on its website, CRC Health — Aspen and Island View’s parent company — lists antipsychotics such as Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel as one option for combating teen depression. And all of the former Island View students who spoke to HuffPost said they were forced to take antipsychotics, some for problems including bipolar disorder, which is now thought to be dramatically overdiagnosed in children.

It’s legal and common for doctors to prescribe drugs at higher doses and for different conditions than those approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But they should be especially careful when prescribing antipsychotics to children, experts say…

Before Graeber landed at Island View, a therapist at another Aspen facility, Second Nature, put her on Seroquel to deal with anxiety and sleepless nights, she said. At Island View, she said, nurses increased her dosage to 800 milligrams a day — the maximum dosage that AstraZeneca recommends. She wasn’t alone…

Graeber said she hated walking by the rooms and seeing her friends trapped in there. “I’m still really haunted by the screams,” she said. “Sometimes I have nightmares just from the screaming.”

From the 2013 movie “Kids for Cash”:

“Two million children are arrested every year in the US. 95% for non-violent crimes. Each year the US spends $10,500 per child on education and $88,000 on each child incarcerated. 66% of children who have been incarcerated never return to school. The US incarcerates nearly 5 times more children than any other nation in the world.

Thinking of Nhi Nguyen and Cam Thi To

Nhi Nguyen, 11, had just started at her first school in the United States. She didn’t speak English, but could understand everything, and she hated missing days when her mom and stepdad were arguing, according to a family friend.

Last weekend, her new life was cut short.

She was found shot to death, along with her 39-year-old mother, Cam Thi To, in their Northwest Albuquerque apartment Sunday.

Police believe To’s new husband, 45-year-old Trinh Tran Van, shot and killed them before killing himself.

Friends of the family and police say he had a history of abusing her.

To met Van while she was still living in Vietnam and he lived in the U.S. She wanted a better life for herself and her daughter, according to family friend Thu Doan.

To knew Doan’s mother from their village in Vietnam and, when she moved to Albuquerque, she began working in the woman’s nail salon in Grants. She worked seven days a week, commuting from Albuquerque, and sent a regular stream of money back to her family in Vietnam…

The Peace-Be-With-You Superpower

Even though I have an award-free blog, sometimes a friend will challenge me anyway. And on the few times that I’ve answered a challenge, I’m notorious for not following the rules. Some things never change. 🙂

Lisa wants to know:  Which or what super power would you want and why?

I don’t think humans were meant to have any kind of superpower. I have a feeling that if any of us were given a superpower, we’d somehow, I dunno, accidentally destroy the planet. (Not that we need superpowers to do that.)

But just because I’m a realist, that doesn’t mean I can’t play.

My first thought was that I’d like to be able to heal. Then I thought that I would specifically like to have the ability to see inside a person’s brain, find the areas that aren’t working, and fix them. Thinking further, I could easily imagine how this superpower could backfire, possibly creating more problems within the brain. After all, could any superpower be stronger than the human brain?

And now I’m back to my belief that humans shouldn’t have superpowers. If you think about it, we already have superpowers. Why do we need more? Oops, I forgot we were playing a game…

When I was young, I had to pretend to be Catholic at church every Sunday. At one point during the mass, the priest would direct us to turn to the person on each side of us, shake their hand and say, “Peace be with you.” The person would reply, “And also with you.” It would’ve been nice if people really meant it, instead of just saying it by rote.

I’ve decided that I’d like to have a Peace-Be-With-You superpower. I’d like the ability to create peace wherever I go, whomever I encounter. If another person has any bad or violent thoughts, with just one look from my tired, blue eyes, all those thoughts would disappear. Cease to exist. Poof! I would smile at the look of bafflement on people’s faces, then they would shake their heads, as if coming back to the present, and smile back at me.

My superpower would be transferable with each look, and so peace would then spread throughout the world, from person to person, city to city, country to country.

We would never have another war. And we would all work together to live happily ever after. The End.

And because I don’t follow the rules, I’m picking two superpowers. I would also like to be invisible, like Lisa, because I think it would be loads of fun. 🙂

(Photo taken by my sister — and cropped by me, #croptilyoudrop — at the 2013 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.)

Thinking of you, Victoria Martens

Lisa posted the story of Victoria Martens, a 10-year-old who was brutally murdered in Albuquerque:

In a statement, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) called the manner in which Victoria was killed “atrocious.”

“What happened to this little girl is unspeakable,” she said, according to media reports, “and justice should come down like a hammer on the monster who committed this murder.”

Governor Martinez (a former prosecutor and previous Democrat) has been making noise about bringing back the death penalty (for child killers and cop killers) even before Victoria Martens’ murder. I guess that’s the kind of talk Republicans want to hear.

Do you think if this state had the death penalty, Victoria Martens would still be alive?

If the death penalty really worked as a deterrent, I might be for it. But it doesn’t do anything except quench our thirst for revenge and cost a lot of money — just like making drugs illegal isn’t a deterrent to people using them and how the billions of dollars we’ve spent on the failed drug war has just been wasted.

Like in Victoria’s case, meth was involved here, too:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California couple wanted in connection with a woman’s killing and the kidnapping of her three children in the Los Angeles area were arrested Thursday in Colorado. 

Joshua Aaron Robertson, 27, and Brittany Humphrey, 22, were arrested without incident in Pueblo, about 40 miles south of Colorado Springs, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The couple was wanted in connection with the death of Humphrey’s half-sister, Kimberly Harvill, whose body was found with multiple gunshot wounds along a road in a remote area of Los Angeles County on Aug. 14.

Investigators said the couple kidnapped Harvill’s three young children, who were found safe Wednesday in a motel on the outskirts of Albuquerque. Humphrey is Harvill’s half-sister, and therefore the children’s aunt…

Harvill and her children had most recently lived in Fresno and were transitory, moving from motel to motel, sheriff’s Capt. Steve Katz said Wednesday, adding that they depended on panhandling to survive. Harvill was involved with methamphetamine, as were Humphrey and Robertson, Katz said.

The father of Harvill’s children, Kenneth Chad Watkins, killed himself by lying in front of a train last year, according to the Fresno County Coroner…

Three children, now without either parent. You have to wonder what these three kids will grow up to be.

See, Governor Martinez decapitated the mental health system in this state, falsely accusing a handful of providers of wrongdoings and refusing to pay them (in effect, closing them down). While these providers fought to clear their names, the governor gave contracts to out-of-state providers (paying back political promises) to replace them. I’ve read that a few of these out-of-state providers have already gone bankrupt, but I don’t know how many.

Which leaves patients without continuing mental health care, as well as having to deal with new providers, never an easy thing. What was Kenneth Chad Watkins being treated for before he gave up and committed suicide?

Statistics say that meth is even more popular than heroin in New Mexico (but not as popular as marijuana). I just read another study about the 17 states that have medical cannabis programs and how the amount of painkillers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications have been substantially decreased in these states. But in New Mexico (as well as around the country), drug abuse and overdoses have increased.

I guess all the restrictions on my allergy medicine haven’t stopped the meth epidemic. The opioid war is obviously not stopping the heroin epidemic. Really, the DEA should be fired. Maybe Trump can take care of that.

The drug war isn’t the only reason that kids are being killed:

According to the Washington Post, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said McMorris killed the infant after discovering he wasn’t her biological father. A paternity test had confirmed that fact about three days before the baby was killed…

When doctors lie

“My doctor said I cannot be cured so there is no point in treating me for pain,” wrote one patient.

Cancer can’t be cured. Schizophrenia and asthma are also incurable. Then there’s AIDS.

The treatments for these medical conditions can also cause pain, including chronic pain. Why suffer through expensive, painful treatments when there is no cure? What kind of doctor would say there’s no point in treating cancer or AIDS? (Doctors suck.)

Yes, cancer and AIDS can be fatal. (Actually, being human is a fatal condition.) But chronic pain can take a long time to kill you, so the medical industry thinks the danger isn’t imminent. And I think chronic pain isn’t really considered a medical condition, like cancer.

When patients die from suicide or an overdose, it’s the patient’s fault. When a cancer patient dies, it’s the disease’s fault (or the fault of the medical industry). Because drug war.

But Lussier said her doctor was concerned that opioids would actually increase her sensitivity to pain, and informed her three months ago that she would get only three more monthly prescriptions for the drug.

If you suffer from chronic pain, your body is already sensitive to pain. Duh. Can opioids increase that sensitivity?

I suppose it’s possible, although it doesn’t seem very logical. It makes more sense to say that not treating chronic pain would increase a person’s sensitivity to pain. That’s why pain progresses from acute to chronic — you can’t suffer from chronic pain unless you’ve suffered from acute pain first.

Think of a dial for volume, zero to ten. Similar to the pain scale, each number represents a different level of pain. When you stub your toe or burn your finger, you’ve felt pain at the level of a 1 or 2. Let’s say a root canal or a broken bone would be a 4. Having a baby is like a 6, while cancer is around a 6+.

The purpose of this dial is not to rate a person’s pain — it’s to mark the different levels of pain you’ve been exposed to and have experienced. If you’ve never broken a bone, then your brain doesn’t know of or understand that level of pain. But once your brain has experienced pain at the level of a 6 or 7, there’s a greater chance that you will experience that level of pain in the future. It’s easier for your brain to reach that level after you’ve already reached it once.

While I’m focusing on physical pain for my pain dial, the same applies to mental pain and anguish. Unless you’ve experienced grief or suffered from Major Depressive Disorder, your brain can’t understand that level of pain. But once you do experience different levels of mental pain, it’s not hard for your brain to feel it again.

So, maybe the risk of developing chronic pain includes experiencing high levels of acute pain. Like if you were a gymnast or a football player. It’s no wonder women are more prone to chronic pain because so many of us have experienced the pain of labor. Like the risk of suffering from drug addiction climbs after someone experiences physical or mental trauma.

Where would the experience of chronic pain fall on this pain dial? It’s one thing to experience level 6 pain during labor, but that pain goes away.

Let’s say you have a toothache that registers around a 5 on the pain dial. After treatment, most if not all of that pain goes away. (Who could function with a constant toothache?) My TMJ causes a level 5 toothache in every one of my teeth. Does that mean my pain level is a 5? No, because TMJ is not the only thing that causes me pain. And because my pain is constant.

Constant/chronic pain should have a place on the pain dial, just like a broken bone or root canal. Because no matter what level of physical (or mental) pain you’re suffering from, when that pain is constant and incurable, the volume on your pain dial increases.

Intractable pain is not a symptom of my TMJ — not like addiction can be a symptom of trauma. No, intractable pain is a condition all on its own. Maybe I could even call it a cancer of the soul.

Doctors lie all the time. Of course they do. I know it’s hard to stand up for yourself when you feel like shit, and when you need and depend on your doctor. Just be prepared for when your doctor repeats information that’s biased and untrue. Don’t let him or her get away with it.

What’s next for pain patients?

Sometimes I cry for no reason. Well, there’s usually a reason, I just don’t know what it is. Can’t pin it down. I didn’t know why I’ve been so weepy lately — I have a tendency to blame it on hormones. But I think I’ve pinned down my recent weepiness to all the stories I’ve read lately from pain patients. They’re frightened. They’re angry. Some are suicidal. And there’s nothing I can do.

Since we lost our fight with the CDC, many pain patients are wondering what else they can do to stop this torture train. Some are still trying to continue the fight with the CDC, but I think most have realized that we lost. Game over.

But what next? How do we continue fighting? I haven’t seen any good ideas, but then I’m pretty jaded. Write to our representatives? I’m done trying to find someone from the government interested in helping pain patients. Doctors won’t help us. I can’t think of any groups that are not on the side of the opioid war. I can’t think of anyone with enough balls to fight on our side.

The fact is that any group needs money and power to make a difference in this war, and most pain patients are disabled and poor. Are there any rich and famous people who suffer from intractable pain? There has to be. Until money and power join our fight, we might as well be chasing pavements.

Urban Dictionary:  Chasing Pavements – A fruitless activity. Trying to achieve something that is destined to failure, usually as a result of blind hope.

So, let’s say I was Mrs. Warren Buffet. (If you’re gonna dream, you might as well dream big.) I have an almost infinite amount of money and power at my disposal. How would I use these resources to fight the opioid war?

In my reduced circumstances, it’s hard to imagine being shamefully rich. But this is a dream, right?

First, I’d hire a bunch of public relations people. We’d come up with an advertising campaign to advocate for pain patients. We’d hire famous people who suffer from intractable pain, including artists and athletes. Then we’d run a campaign that no one can escape, even if they don’t have an internet connection.

I’d hire a famous director to film a documentary about chronic and intractable pain. I’d pay comedians to use jokes about chronic pain in their sets. Maybe hire Adele and Beyonce to create a song and video advocating for pain patients. Plan music and food festivals with booths educating people about treating and managing pain. And educating people about their rights as a patient, with booths providing free legal services.

I would buy a couple of law firms and have them work pro bono for pain patients. I would buy another law firm to handle all the legislative work, including bribing politicians. I would buy a research lab that only works on the treatment of pain, probably in another country. I would hire yet another law firm to protect any inventions created by the research lab. I might even buy some media outlets, like the Huffington Post.

Do I have any money left? If so, I would build a Honeysuckle Haven in every city, where all pain patients would be welcomed, treated with respect, and never abandoned.

As you can see, I don’t have any answers. I can’t help anyone — I can barely help myself. I don’t know any famous or important people. I don’t have any money or connections.

It’s at times like these that I really feel useless. Just a package of meat taking up space.

Thinking of you, Short family


SINKING SPRING, Pa. (AP) — A couple featured in news stories about their difficulties getting medication for a daughter who had a heart transplant were found shot to death in their home along with their three children in an apparent murder-suicide, authorities said…


Police went to the home to check on the welfare of the family after receiving a call from a relative concerned that the woman had not shown up for a lunch date. Mark Short Sr., 40; Megan Short, 33; and their children — 8-year-old Lianna, 5-year-old Mark Jr., and 2-year-old Willow — were found dead in the living room, Adams said. A dog also was found dead…

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Patient contracts and a lawyer’s advice to doctors on managing pain patients

As the nation begins responding to the epidemic of overdoses and deaths caused by opioids, some people with chronic pain who have relied on these powerful painkillers for years are finding them harder to get. A survey conducted by the Boston Globe and Inspire, a health care social network of 200 online support groups with 800,000 members, found that nearly two-thirds of respondents reported that getting prescribed opioid medication had become more difficult in the past year…

Under comments:

JULY 15, 2016 AT 9:45 PM
Have you read the recent pain contracts required by the DEA of all LTO patients? They are horribly written, riddled with contradictions and typos, and they strip the patient of all rights. It’s assumed you’re a criminal just for claiming to be in chronic pain.

1. I have been informed about the potential for addiction to controlled substances. If this happens, I will follow my doctor’s guidance and participate in an addiction treatment program if prescribed.


6. I will adhere to the following rules:
> I will use only one pharmacy to fill my controlled substance pain medications.
> I will accept generic substitutes when available.
> I will not accept prescriptions for controlled substances (pain killers or sedatives) from other doctors without prior approval from MSPMI.
> I will not use illegal drugs and must limit my alcohol use. My doctor will periodically ask for a urine sample to check for illegal drugs, alcohol,and other pain killers.
> If a specific medication does not work for me I will return the unused portion to MSPMI.

10. I agree to submit to a urine and/or blood screen to document appropriate blood levels of prescription analgesics and to detect the use of non prescribed medications at any time.

Legal Tips for Physicians to Manage Pain Patients
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

I have represented a number of physicians who have been accused of “overprescribing.” Some of these were criminal investigations by local law enforcement authorities, such as a county sheriff’s office. Some were investigations by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Some were investigations by the state licensing agency (in this case, the Florida Department of Health).

In almost every one of these cases, either the DEA, the Department of Health or the local law enforcement authority used undercover agents posing as patients to make appointments with the physician, agents usually wore a wire device, and gave the physician false information.

In several cases the investigation began when the patient died of a drug overdose (in several of these cases it was unclear whether it was a suicide by the patient or an accidental overdose). In each of these cases, there was an angry, upset family member who blamed the physicians for the patient’s death…

Here are some ideas on how physicians might protect themselves from drug-seeking patients. These are tips I give to physicians I advise on this issue…

(Note: The following tips are not applicable to physicians who treat cancer or hospice patients.) …

6. Patients who are clearly addicted to opiates should be referred a physician specializing in addiction medicine for rehabilitation. Do not accept this patient back until the patient does this.

8. If you are not a certified specialist in pain medicine, refer pain management patients out to one who is.

9. If you get any information that the patient has been “doctor shopping” or obtaining similar medications from more than one physician, immediately terminate the relationship and notify local law enforcement personnel. In many states, “doctor shopping” by patients is now a crime, and the physician is required to report the patient to law enforcement.

11. Require that prior medical records, especially diagnostic reports such as MRI and x-ray reports be received by your office directly from the other physicians or the radiology facility. Forgery of radiology reports and the sale of false reports is notorious among drug seekers.

13. If prescribing opiates for more than a short, chronic episode, require a pain management contract be signed by the patient in which the patient acknowledges your guidelines and requirements.

14. Require a urinalysis test before every visit. Wait and review the report prior to prescribing. An absence of the medications the patient is supposed to be taking is just as informative as the presence of medications you have not prescribed.

17. If the patient demonstrates drug seeking behavior (asking for certain medications by brand name and dosage, becoming angry and upset if the physician doesn’t prescribe what the patient wants, etc.), terminate the patient immediately.

20. Require current x-rays, MRI’s and diagnostic tests. Do not treat based on old x-rays and diagnostic test reports.

21. If you are not board certified in the subspecialty of pain medicine, and you are not part of a large, institutional of pain management clinics, then you should only have a few pain management patients in your practice. The majority of your patients should not be pain management patients.

23. You should consider reducing the amounts of narcotics at each patient visit. Gradually weaning the patient off of addictive medication should be a primary goal of the physician.

24. Be very wary of any patient presenting with no signs or symptoms of pain or who has inconsistent signs and symptoms of pain. These are patients who may be selling the medications or who may be undercover agents seek to entrap you.

Thinking of you, Sgt. Brandon Michael Ketchum

DAVENPORT, Iowa – Sgt. Brandon Michael Ketchum, age 33, of Davenport, Iowa lost his battle with PTSD on Friday, July 8, 2016…

Here’s what Brandon experienced. Unedited and in his own words…

Brandon’s last post to OIF/OEF Veterans – Military Empire’s Facebook Page.

“Have any of you had a similar situation to my VA shitsh0w today? I went in to see my psych doc for an emergency appt due to some serious mental health issues I’ve been having. I requested that I get admitted to 9W 9psych ward) and get things straightened out. I truly felt my safety and health were in jeopardy, as I discussed with the doc. Not only did I get a NO, but three reasons of no based on me not being ‘fucked up enough.’ I wish I were making this up, but I’m sure I’m not alone. At this point, I say, ‘why even try anymore’ They gave up on me, so why shouldn’t I give up on myself? Right now, that is the only viable option given my circumstances and frame of mind. Insight and/or advice welcome. Tell it as it is, I’m thick skinned.”

Hours after writing this post, Brandon shot and killed himself…

Here is Brandon Ketchum‘s bio that I received from him in preparation for his going to Peru to participate in the veteran plant medicine healing. Rest in peace brother.

“My name is Brandon Ketchum and am a 33 y/o veteran. I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and joined the military when I was 21 y/o. I served in the Marine Corps from 2004-2008 as a combat engineer, serving two tours in Iraq, locating and clearing road side bombs. I survived 5 “hard hits” or explosions on the vehicles we used to mitigate explosive obstacles. Unfortunately, not all of my brothers were as lucky as I was…

Since exiting the military I have faced many struggles with my mental health and also substance abuse. I was addicted to a high dose of narcotic pain meds, began abusing them and eventually started using heroin. In February 2015 I overdosed and nearly died but was saved by paramedics and coincidentally a police officer who I had once served in the military with.

I have been involved with the substance use disorder program at the VA since 2014 and will graduate the final portion of the outpatient program this Thursday, the 24th of March, 2016. Now that I have more control of myself and my life I have begun the daunting task of starting to piece my life back together after the traumas of three hard fought combat tours had taken a costly toll on nearly every aspect of my life.

The physical and mental symptoms of severe PTSD, depression, anxiety, and the inability to adapt back to the real world has been a tremendous obstacle for me, particularly going through nearly 25-30 different types of meds yet finding no solid gains or improvements. I am a firm believer in medical marijuana but unfortunately it is not yet legalized where I live…

Although I find a great deal of therapeutic value in woodworking, every day I am haunted by my past; I struggle to find meaning in the wars I waged against people I felt we didn’t protect or help…

Asking for help has only clouded my life with such a stigma that I have carried the ‘crazy’ or ‘broken’ labels, forcing me to have to fight for custody of my little girl that I love more than the world. I’m nearing some possible successes in some aspects of my life, directly as a result of my unwillingness to be discarded and dismissed by the country I swore to give my life for. But at the end of the day, I feel that I am also at war with myself and my ‘demons.’”

The Wizard of Oz and suicide

Dorothy’s Auntie Em, played by actress Clara Blandick, was perfectly cast as the tough, hardworking, farmer’s wife. As she aged, she developed arthritis, causing her to be in a lot of pain. In addition to the arthritis, she was also going blind. In 1962, Blandick overdosed on pills. She was found with a bag on her head and a suicide note that read, “I am now about to make the great adventure. I cannot endure this agonizing pain any longer. It is all over my body. Neither can I face the impending blindness. I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.” She was 81.

Just seven years after Blandick went on her “great adventure,” the lovely Judy Garland overdosed on barbiturates. The coroner ruled the death accidental. Garland, whose birth name was Frances Ethel Gumm, was only 47 years old at the time of her death.

If you suspect someone might be considering suicide, or you have struggled with those thoughts yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Shootings of people with mental health disorders inspire less outrage

In the midst of impassioned national debate about race and policing, prompted by a spate of shootings of unarmed black men, shootings of people with mental health disorders have inspired less outrage. No national law enforcement database tracks police shootings of mentally ill people. Recent efforts by journalists to count them, notably at The Guardian and The Washington Post, found that mental health was a likely factor in at least one-quarter of all fatal police shootings in the U.S. last year…

In Massachusetts, where the suicide rate has long been lower than in most other states, the total number of suicides per year grew an alarming 47 percent from 2003 to 2012, from 424 to 624…

Cell phone video footage emerged this week showing police officers shooting a teenager to death at a gas station in Fresno, California.

The Fresno Police Department said the officers believed 19-year-old Dylan Noble possessed a firearm at the time of the shooting on June 25, but it emerged later that he was unarmed…

“When he gets within about 12 feet of the officers, he makes the statement ‘I hate my effing life,’” Dyer told local news station KFSN…