In my twenty-six-year history in community mental health, it took me a little while to go from being part of the problem to being part of a solution. Accepting the norm does not prepare one for innovative work with psychosis! Working against the shadow of institutionalization, accepting the status quo is not treatment.
As I was attaining my master’s degree at Temple University, I tended to be willing to do what I was told by my supervisors. I believed schizophrenia was a medical condition and the best that could be hoped for was to have the afflicted take their medication. I hid the fact that I took medication myself and created a professional façade that was largely about my own survival. With graduation, I went from working in a small day program to being a case manager. I started to be far more aware of the warehousing effect. I started having more power and responsibility to take action to challenge the norm and provide talking and relationship support in addition to the service provided. At least I can say I was curious.
Six years in I moved and took a job in an urban section 8 housing authority project where I witnessed firsthand warehouse environments that can be oppressive, dangerous and real. Conspiracy theories started to make a lot more sense. I started investigating and getting closer to understanding how so much oppression could be so covered up. When I found myself facing a direct personal threat, I fled toward the border and ended up hospitalized in Montana State Hospital.
A Good Learning Environment
Twenty years ago, I landed a job at Highland Hospital Outpatient Psychiatry, a voluntary day treatment program that provides individual and group therapy to participants who form a healing community. Breaking back into mental health had been a challenge as I endured homelessness after hospitalization, low wage work outside of the field, and several moves.
Initially I was cautious. It took me six years and plenty of side gigs to get my license. There was stigma associated with being a client and many program participants still lived in warehouse conditions. However, the program was a good learning environment. People naturally improved and healed within the community. I learned to defy the power imbalance and optimize this.
Sharing the Stories of “Psychosis” or Special Message Crisis
In 2008 when I got my license, I started writing my memoir and developing my specialty. I started practicing several modalities including DBT and WRAP. I took one on one encounters very seriously. I developed a curriculum that I used in collaboration with participants in professional groups. Not only did I practice sharing my own experiences in institutions, but the task also became about reconstructing a new definition of “psychosis” with solvable components and eclectic strategies for promoting health. I developed workbooks, drafted original documents, and celebrated each round with a party.
Special Messages Groups In Alameda County
In 2014-2015 I authored a local Innovations Grant during which I utilized this curriculum. The grant trained four peer specialists under the direction of a project manager with lived experience to outreach into homeless encampments and local agencies to establish peer-led group therapy. The final findings of the Special Message Project Grant Project can be found here.
In 2015, I published Fighting for Freedom in America: Memoir of a “Schizophrenia” and Mainstream Cultural Delusions, chronicles my mid-career plight taking on a section 8 management company, police, and black-market forces that intermingled to run things. I wrote the memoir to open the eyes of those who believe that psychosis is irreversible and show you the world full of extraordinary experiences and covert realities from an ex-patient’s perspective.
My memoir received five-star reviews from authorities such as Readers Views, Readers Favorite, Midwest Book Reviews, and Book Viral Spotlight. It ranked 8 out of over a thousand in the 2015 Book Viral Contest. In 2016 it received an Honorable Mention Award in Reader’s Favorite Annual Contest. It received four awards in 2016 Human Relations Indie Award. In 2018 it was a Finalist in the Top Shelf Indie Book Award.
I am in this work because I think we need to challenge the medicalized cultural delusions about poor prognosis of people who experience anomalous experiences associated with psychosis! On this site you will find many stories in my writings that seek to provide shamanic support to help you understand the wisdom being revitalized by the hearing voices movement.
I tend to trust my own lived experience and encourage other diagnosed people to do the same. Text books, statistics, and labels are often full of misinformation that can impede progress. In blogs to other professionals, perspective partners, and family members I am largely reflective and using only facts and references that are already stored in my head.
A Training For Providers
Following the grant and publication of my memoir, I became a speaker at a host of local venues. I drafted an extensive unpublished write-up. For three years, I provided trainings at CASRA Conferences. I believe this training can prepare participants to learn how to go down the rabbit hole and learn to work with individuals through their psychosis. I developed a six-hour CEU credit class that I gave to Solano County in 2000. I started blogging and built a professional website. I started a private practice. Since this time, I have expanded my training and am prepared to offer 12-16 CEU Credits.
Using Writing for Personal and Professional Growth
I write creatively on this website. My award winning memoir is written under my pen name, Clyde Dee, and helps convey my creative voice. I also share personal insights in my blogs, essays and poetry. At times I am vulnerable, meticulous and irreverent in my approach.
I believe knowing myself is key to being able to be their for other people. I tend to admire the person centered approach and vie to be an authentic person rather a blank slate or a blind vision of success. And so, in select categories I share my own revelations for those who are curious to see them.
At the current time, I am a board member of the Bay Area Hearing Voices Network. On the weekends I publish blogs and vie to add to my publications list. Additionally, I speak at local venues and annually at CASRA (California Association of Social Rehabilitation Agencies) Conferences where I provide segments of my training.
When I am not engaged in meaningful work or using writing to be thoughtful about the care I provide, I further heal by getting out into nature with my beloved wife, Barbara, and dog, Jayla. This is done daily at the local dog park, weekly at regional parks, and a couple of times a year in our national parks.