Off-the-Wall Street—A Journal: 8-18-2020—The Stigma upon the biggest marks of all

If you are on the express way to financial ruin, to whom do you turn? If it’s American “Excess” as financial guru Dave Ramsey calls the iconic American Express, what then?

What if that company is there for you when no one else is, including the guru himself? If I’d been fortunate enough to be able to follow his advice when I first studied at his financial university, I would be in worse trouble than I am now.

I still have a credit rating because I haven’t cut up all my cards as he recommends. If I had, and then had no credit rating I could not have escaped the oppressive situation nor could I rent a new place because renting now involves credit checks.

Many, many years ago a psychiatrist wanted me to cut up my AmEx card because of course no bipolar patient could handle one. Except I once had a credit score of over 800 until a financial abuser knocked it down a bit with his twisted take on dominating my life through lording over my inheritance.

So at least American Express has the good sense and good business sense to profit by lending me money and extending credit to me. Dave Ramsey’s system seems to work well for many but for someone with a monkey on her back of a financial abuser who is fine with a disabled brain injured woman he tried to get rediagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic driving cross country alone with no funding, it’s not ideal.

No big deal. The abuser is making the case for oversight of special needs trusts in his continuing dominating ways devoid of trustworthiness.

Would you ever want to give the account number of your credit card to someone who stood back and hoped you’d crash and burn cross-country? Crazy idea, right?

Keep hoping, Bro’…You’re the reason the laws need to change and you are making that case on a daily basis…

Off-the-Wall—a Street Smart Journal: Staring Down Homelessness 7-28-20

When you have been prescribed a treatment by a psychiatrist who is able and willing to take you to court to commit you, you tend more towards compliance. I guess that’s the idea for those whose job it is to care for the mentally ill.

Well, it worked. I did find an incredible equine partner after being ordered to by my former doctor. He said repeatedly, you have to get another horse. There is nothing we can do for you here ( at the largest mental health center in the State) that will help you as much as Jack helped you. Jack had been on my treatment team and I lost him in a tragedy that sent me into a tailspin that caused my commitment to the State Hospital. The psychiatrist who was the director of the center said my case was the worst case of stigma against a mentally ill person he had ever known. Still, he pressed me to do the impossible and try again.

There was no way I wanted a repeat of having another treasured partner undergo what Jack did. I was a sitting duck with him and had no way to escape a terrible fate. I had no truck nor trailer and no way to get him to safety.

So I was guided to his successor and a place for him and was promised by the then veterinarian that he would be able to get him to care if needed.

Things change and the barn manager had issues and I needed to move Mel because he would not eat the hay and I fed him myself twice a day. I could tell that an episode was coming on and I may be forced to go to the hospital and no one would have fed him hay he’d eat.

So thankfully I found a hauler I could hire to move Mel and I did. I did end up in the psych ward and came back to Mel having a bone infection that nearly cost his life.

He had to have surgery for it and I will be forever grateful that the veterinarian’s fiancée picked him up and took him to the clinic. He was far away from the clinic so it took some time. If she had not done it, I am sure Mel would be dead.

Transportation has always been a life and death matter in my mind, but to the lord over my inheritance, the trustee of my special needs trust, it is a mode of control and a way to assert power. So my brother who makes good money denying me needed care and tries to block my recovery and return to work in any way he can, repeatedly, has determined not to have me have vital transportation for what is essentially irreplaceable medicine that is also a living being who himself requires care.

The State does not and should not pay for this prescribed medicine. Mel is legally a service animal in this State. A Special Needs Trust is a legal instrument set up for disabled people to get services and care that are outside what the State can provide.

Now once again, I face the issue of transportation for Mel to get vital veterinary care for an issue that could end his life if not addressed. So my own disorder flared up and I was on edge.

When the hauler talked about cancelling the cross country trip to the best veterinary care, I did indeed speak my mind in no uncertain terms. Maybe I was out of line.

My wallet and cell phone were stolen later and I was homeless and it took some time for me to regroup and face the fact of yet another transportation crisis.

I wanted to find a way to turn this sour lemon into a lemonade, I wrote to the hauler. Today, I found it. The Salvation Army in the horse capital of the world has a fundraiser for kids in crisis who are facing homelessness. It’s called LemonAid and Mel and I donated to Hank the Horse’s fundraiser.

I am determined not to be a drain on resources but a working, contributing tax paying home owner in the new State. And I am saving $1,500. By booking Mel on the best ride there—in a box stall with the Brook Ledge equine transporters who moved American Pharaoh throughout the country. I call that not just lemonade but the finest lemon bars or lemon meringue pie possible to this recovering sugar junkie somehow made kosher for me. The taste of victory is the sweetness I truly seek as we move to a place where Brook Ledge has a headquarters and where Thoroughbreds are highly valued for their contributions to the health, welfare and economy of Kentucky.

I can now rest easy that he will have transportation from professionals and I can get out of their way and let them do their job and not interfere at all. What a relief!

Now to get myself there, as well…The Salvation Army helped me by printing out directions to drive to Kentucky since AAA can’t get them to me in time. And they were kind enough to pray for me, with me. Although it is still a daunting task to drive myself there with this fickle brain, I have more faith now. I have printed directions from the wonderful practical people at the Salvation Army. They are the best!

My reason for leaving: recovery

I gave notice and have vacated with it cleaned and cleared and am waiting for my deposit back…So this is how I became homeless once again…

I contacted the Housing Authority and hopefully the management will be held accountable…or not…at any rate, I have hopes of finding a place in the future…but the trustee seems unwilling to use the money from my inheritance to help in any immediate way…

I expect to get the deposit back before I see any funding/backing from the one who is “family” and lord over my inheritance…I have trust issues galore but today will talk with a LegalShield attorney for a referral to take the trustee to court in Washington State where he resides…I have been unable to have a restraining order against him completed because he resides in another State…

I did try to have a welfare check done on him in the past when he was late in paying but that is tough, too…two counselors have said he may try to kill himself if he is backed into a corner, so I have that weighing upon me as well, but I told his trust attorney to call a welfare check if he sees that anyone does anything to defend me or my case so as to cause the trustee distress…so far, he is not held to account, although Adult Protective Services is now involved in my case again…

I am grateful to have given notice and vacated and have shown I will put my recovery first, which is what it takes to be one of the one one hundredth of one percent of formally obese persons who have become normal in weight and stayed that way, according to statistics quoted by neuroscientist Susan Peirce Thompson, PhD…I do not follow her protocol but have learned much from her example and work…

Today I am what Dr. Thompson says is the goal of her program: to be “happy, thin and free”…I am happy to be in recovery albeit in a different way than she…Thanks be to the holy rosary–my lifeline in recovery in this shipwreck of a life of mine!

Hole in the ceiling where the water leaked from originally…truly my lifestyle issue, as I have an off-the-wall personality that causes holy mayhem in my life and world…mea culpa…

Off-the-Wall-Street: a Journal on To Be or Not to Be Homeless Again–the Stigma Blog and Paying the Price

When I’ve been homeless in the past, I did not have dependents, so it was relatively easy. I could always figure something out and find myself a way to have a roof over my head. So now, I see how tough it is for the women who are domestic abuse victims to make that leap into the abyss without support and finances when they have children.

Is it better to stay and be abused and risk being killed so you can be sure your kids eat? Or is it better to just leave and figure out the money somehow. Not so easy a choice, is it?

Every decent mother wants her children to have a good life, hopefully even better than hers. So I can really understand even better now what it was like for those mothers at the battered women’s shelter where I lived in order to escape my then-husband who hit me. What really made me decide to leave for good was when a policeman showed me a mugshot of when my husband spent over 30 days in jail for beating his mother. So then I knew it was not just me, that it was not just that I was a failure as a wife. He had issues with women–really big-time issues and I was out of there forever.

My then-psychiatrist ordered me to move to the largest city in the State and so to transfer to the battered women’s shelter there. They have more services there and he thought I needed them. I did not come to Montana to live in a big city, but when psychiatrists who can and do commit you to psych wards tell you to do something, you obey. Or I did. I was also obsessed by him which was my addiction to idolatry of men.

So once they told me at the shelter that my time was up and I had to find a place to live right away, I went for the only place I could really afford. My disability money was severely cut because I’d been married and my credit rating was the pits because I had lived with a woman who required that I take a phone out in my name for her. I lived with her after the first time he hit me and I ran out the door.

She did not pay the bill-ever-and so I could not get a phone at all until I paid it off. The place I found to move was a basement apartment in the South Side of Billings and it turned out I lived next door to a meth dealer. Oh joy!

His customers would come and go at all hours and he pounded his keyboards until 3 a.m. sometimes. I’d have a splitting headache from the shock treatments I’d begged to be given because I had this delusion that it would heal me. Wrong!

They fried my brain and I lost executive functioning to a great degree and have never been able to order and organize like I was able to do easily all my life. Another patient had ECTs (shock treatments) and he had gold-star parents that were always doing the best of whatever could be done for him, so I thought, if so-and-so has them, I want them too.

Well he was not so affected by them as was I. He ended up graduating from Notre Dame University after that, so it must have at least not harmed him the way it had me.

In spite of it, I can still read and write decently.. And I still can report, as I worked as a freelance health reporter after it, as well. Ask me to file and go through papers and it’s a real stretch at best, though.

So now it’s crunch time and I live under a manager who must be a Zen-wannabe whose only acceptable home decorating style is minimalist to the point of stark nothingness. I do not know.

I failed the inspection because of clutter, she said. That was after professional declutterers spent the day putting things in order and said they thought it would pass. I do not fault them. I do have to go through boxes of stuff and sort, and I did not want to just toss them as my mother had me do once, including old checks which an enterprising rummager found in the trash and went on a spree. Spending $10,000 at Office Max, this identity thief had a field day throughout town and it took months for me to clean it up.

Mom also had me toss files, as well. I tossed my entire file on Afghanistan because surely I would never report again. I had typed numerous letters to the editors of major newspapers imploring them to cover and fund the freedom fighters to defeat the Soviet Union. This was when I was in journalism school at Stanford. I had a letter from an editor of the Wall Street Journal giving me advice about the tone I used. I wish I still had it. To Mom and to the manager of where I live, that would be just clutter I guess, but to me it was my life’s work.

I am a writer and I have many, many boxes filled with journals I have filled of writing, which is a recovery tool for me. It doesn’t matter if Mom or the manager thinks it’s clutter. To them it is, so fine. That’s their judgment. They are allowed to have it.

My brother threatened to have all my papers tossed out because they were garbage at the condominium the trust owned for me. Well, some of that “garbage” was my resume and the clips of my articles I had written when a reporter. That was before online archives. I cannot replace them and they are buried in storage somewhere, but it’s worth it to pay for storage for years just so I can one day have them again.

My condominium was a home office and I had lots of files. Garbage to some or clutter or whatever but to me, it is work. It just is.

I do have old bills that need to be tossed and are now in boxes but then the trustee had this thing about not paying my bills unless he had every single receipt. Then when he’d get them, he’d still pick and choose which to pay. So now, I am very adverse to tossing old bills and receipts in case I can get them paid some day.

My own credit cards have quite a lot of charges that he won’t pay, so I do a little bit at a time each month. It’s a miracle I still have any credit rating at all because he has systematically tried to destroy it, so as to have me in his grips. His attorney let it slip to an attorney I took out a cash advance to have representation. I am still paying on that with no end in sight, because of course he refuses to pay for an attorney for me.

Even when I went up against the Archdiocese of San Francisco with my report of sexual abuse, he still refused to pay for an attorney to represent me. Thanks be to God that I found pro bono representation or I would have surely been further abused by the slick attorneys for the Church.

So, that is one of those things. I get people who sit in judgment of me and how I am disabled. Fine. It all began with the priest abusing me. I’ve been disabled since then.

So at least I am alive, as many priest abuse victims killed themselves or are seriously sick addicts. At least I am still trying for a complete recovery, and I have to fight every step of the way for it.

I don’t regret it. Not one bit. People may think I have a cakewalk having a special needs trust and disability money. Well, they are a blessing but also the trustee uses his lording over the money as a way to try to destroy my recovery now. It wasn’t always that way. It began once I started trying to get an accounting. I’ve not yet gotten one that is third party verified, but I won’t quit hoping to have the law enforced for him. It may never happen.

I could be homeless again because now I have a dependent–an equine partner who is a service animal and a senior like myself and I would be homeless in order to be sure he is cared for.

So that is that.

I would rather have my recovery intact and be homeless than have to become someone who is cowed into letting my rights be violated. That inspection was not legal because they did not give 24 hours notice for it. The inspection of the rest of the building was days before and we got notice. I did not get notice I did not pass until after I asserted my rights to have the hole in the ceiling and the mold taken care of and had called Fair Housing. It was after that that I was notified that I had failed the inspection and given 10 days to remedy it. So, I had already given notice. I intend to be true to my word this time and be out of here by the 13th of July.

Having women come into my space and use their judgments to threaten eviction based upon spurious definition of clutter is crazy-making for me. My mother who sexually abused me did the same stuff and did make me homeless the first time. These women are not my mother and this time I can and will get out of here and leave and be free to be the reporter than I still am.

They can decide to kick me out, but they won’t get to because I am already leaving and I intend to leave it completely immaculately and get all my deposit back. I am going to spend whatever it takes to get it up to my mother’s standards. I can still clean once the stuff is gone. And I will do it. It is my recovery work because I am not going to have to perpetually bow and scrape to tyrannical women in order to appease them when they have violated my rights. I paid good money here in rent.

I refuse to live in mold with a hole in the ceiling which may have had mold inside. I have three brain disorders already. I do not need to have my brain burdened by mold because they refused to deal with the issue. So I asserted my rights. I called the authorities and then and only then did they remedy the situation. So now it’s fine. They plugged the hole it the ceiling so there is no mold that can escape. I am 100% fine with that now. And I thanked the manager.

But I lost faith completely in the management and I will leave and go elsewhere, anywhere else because it is a threat to my recovery to continue to live here. I am still a mandated reporter of injustice and I will remain so. I am willing to pay the price for standing up for my rights.

Whether this is of literary merit, matters not to me now. What it is is a report of what I have to do to get recovery not just from addictions but from people who want to penalize me for daring to assert my rights. So, I will live with the consequences of what I did and I will leave, I know not where to yet, but I will be gone when I said I would and the place and space will finally be free of the clutter of my existence and the management will be happy and so will I. Win-win.


Off-the-Wall-Street: the stigma of speaking truth to power (6-18-20)

When I felt called to write a blog on stigma, I ran it by the Opinions Page Editor of a major newspaper in my area who knew me from my days as a mental health advocate and also knew I had written for a local, competing weekly as a health reporter. She won national acclaim as a reporter for her coverage of mental health issues.

She thought it was not a good idea because of the stigma of having a severe mental illness in small towns in Montana. So she advised against it.

I did take her advice into consideration, but I forged ahead anyway because I felt called by a Power greater than myself to do so. She thought I could be ostracized in the small town where I now live and be an outcast.

I already am an outcast, as one who could find no barns where I could board my horse who is legally a service animal in the city I used to live. That is because I was a person who the former director of the mental health center said was the recipient of the worst stigma against a psychiatric patient he has ever seen.

He was my psychiatrist, as well. He had seen a whole lot in his many years at the largest city in the State of Montana.

It was he who ordered me to get a new horse after my former equine partner perished in a horrendous barn fire and I was blamed for it. That ended me up in the State Psychiatric Hospital, as I was committed in part based upon false testimony from a man with quite a rap sheet. I cannot speak to why he said I was hiding in his barn, all I knew is that I was not hiding. I was there to try to find my horse. He has a history of methamphetamine use and production (as he later told me) which can make even sane people become psychotic. So maybe he was hallucinating. I cannot say. Maybe he was just lying, because he can do that, as well. He is by his own admission an alcohol abuser, but it matters not. They were determined to commit me, although I was not a danger to myself or others. And they did.

Lesson learned, in truth because I did then have a lived experience. I was fully cleared of the allegations, and no charges were ever filed. None whatsoever, but the damage was done.

So when the psychiatrist later demanded I get another horse, that was not an easy prescription to fill. He said, “I want you to get another horse. There is nothing we can do for you here that can help you as much as Jack (my equine savior who died and was a treatment team member on my treatment team at the mental health center) helped you.” So, when a psychiatrist who has you committed and so fulfilled one of my worst nightmares–being committed to a State psych ward–gives you an order repeatedly, you do it. After all, he too was in the Army as was my father, who was also a doctor and whose voice could make the family dog cower in the corner with fear. I learned to obey.

Now I needed to find another place for my new equine partner to recover from two fractured legs and bone infection surgery and I could find none. So I ended up in a small town elsewhere and moved myself and him.

The trustee of my special needs trust refused to pay for a place for me, so I applied on my own to subsidized housing for seniors and the disabled. I qualified but it was not my first choice, but evidently a Power greater than myself had a plan, as well, in this move.

I would experience stigma here but not because of my psychiatric afflictions. I was told by a former neighbor that another neighbor had spread rumors about me that I was in a cult. So that was a new one for me, but what the hay, no experience is lost upon a writer, as my first journalism teacher taught me.

Now I know what it’s like to speak truth to power, and to be tried by fire of another sort. Just as my parents kicked me out of the house and made me homeless the first time when I raised my voice to her, so I know that to challenge authority I must be willing to pay the price or I ought not to open my mouth or write another word.

So when I broke my wrist, falling on the ice on the handicapped area of the slick sidewalk outside the senior housing where I now live, I wanted to use the experience to get back to work, not to sue, as other residents said they would if they were me.

I took a class on fall prevention at a nearby clinic and the Occupational Therapist who taught it was excellent and very informative. She said she would speak to the manager of the place where I lived and tell them of a product that could be applied to that place on the sidewalk to prevent another fracture by another resident. So she gave the manager that information as well as the owner of the building. They declined to follow her recommendation. I do not know why.

I had assumed it was expensive, but I did not know. So I asked her to send me a copy of the information myself so I could write about it, maybe for a senior newspaper in order for others to benefit. I stated to the manager the first time I met her, that it was my goal to go back to work. And so it was and remains.

I did not see myself as being a reporter again because the industry is in freefall and even top reporters are being fired left and right. The thing is, I still remain with that skill set.

It is just who I am to speak truth to power when I feel called to do so. I do not do it lightly because I know there is often a very high price to pay.

Now I am facing another eviction due to clutter, although a professional declutterer spent the day here and thought it should pass inspection. I guess that the standards here are higher ones.

Or maybe it is that I said I might write an article about the sidewalk treatment. Who knows? I have not done so. But I found the photocopied pages the Occupational Therapist sent me. The cost for the treatments she recommended? It was a range of $29.00 to $115.00, but labor was not included because the non-slip paint had to be applied. So I guess $29.00 may be too steep a price to pay to prevent a broken hip or worse.

Who knows the reason why the professional’s advice was not heeded? Maybe it was not necessary, but a neighbor who is 86 years old almost fell at the same spot after my fall. She was one who said she would have sued.

So I guess maybe the $29.00 is too high a price to pay to prevent a fracture–or not. Maybe it is just a management decision based upon other priorities. Are they wise or not? I know not.

All I know is that I have already been at work here. I am a mandated reporter of sorts, still. I am compelled by my conscience to speak truth to power. And I am willing to pay the price, whether or not I am eighty-sixed. I may get the chance to experience the eviction process because no experience is lost upon a writer and the standards here are high.

Game on. Keep tuned for an update. I have a feeling court may be in my future….

(time spent on this blog: a little over one hour, so not very fast still)