What is up everyone, good morning, good morning or afternoon, depending on where you’re watching this from. It is Saturday, March 25th of 2023, the first quarter of the year is almost done, we’ve officially gone into the month of the season of spring which is a time of renewal and rebirth. Whatever happened in the winter time, let’s kind of put it aside and let’s see what we can do moving forward right now and kind of embrace what’s happening around us with nature and see if we can take some of that in and be able to use some of that for ourselves in our lives. Good morning to everyone who’s about to come on here and participate in another family education and support group. My name is Parham, I am the weekly host of this show and we do this each and every single Saturday at 10 A.M Pacific Standard Time. It lasts somewhere between, let’s just call it 45 minutes to be safe, and we do different topics here.
So for example, today we’re talking about psychosocial stressors which is something that’s really important and valuable for people to understand – what they are, the impact that they can have on the mind, body, soul, the spirit of the individual who experiences them and most importantly to give the message of hope that if you’ve experienced some or all, or a combination of them, that it’s not a death sentence. It doesn’t mean that for the rest of your life you are a victim of that experience and actually in my opinion, by walking through those and healing through those experiences and coming to the other side, not only are we able to heal and transform and recover but we are also able to overcome a little bit of adversity and gain a little bit of resiliency and come out the other side stronger, yes stronger than we did prior to experiencing them.
So like I said my name is Parham, I have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, I’m a licensed advanced alcohol and drug counselor, I’m on staff at a local community college but yet to be assigned a class that I could teach but I am hired I do call myself a college professor. I’m also a high school basketball coach – something that I love doing and the best part of it all is I’ve been doing all of this in my own personal recovery. June 13th of 2008 is the day that my life went from one path to another and thankfully for myself and for those around me, I was able to stay on that path until this moment talking to you right now. And my intention is that my personal experience, my professional experience, my knowledge can create the platform to be able to provide some content that’s relevant, applicable to you in your life and your journey, and hopefully help you go from where you are to where you want to be. Another thing too for the locals (we are in Orange County, California for any of the locals watching this), starting April 11th which is a Tuesday, at 6:30 at night – 6:30 to 7:30 or 6:30 to 8 – I will be personally facilitating a weekly support group at Buckeye Recovery Network which is located in Huntington Beach, California. It’s free, there is no sales pitch, there is no gimmick. If you or your loved ones or people are struggling with dealing with the consequences of the addiction of a loved one or the mental health of a loved one and you just need some support you just need to go somewhere and be able to sit and talk and process with other people that are probably going through the same experience, and with myself facilitating the group. You are all welcome, and if you’re not from around here you’re welcome to come.
Let me just say hi to some people here Couto, what is up? Mr Jim, what is up? Bita, thank you for coming back. Mom and Dad, proud supporters from day one. Katalin, love and appreciate you. Well saying what is up from the Bay Area and Ellen what’s up? Yeah, it’s great to be here in California instead of Connecticut. Thank you for all you do – we’ve been on a journey for a long time together.
So today I’m going to talk about something that’s in the field or with people doing assessments known as psychosocial stressors. What are psychosocial stressors, you might wonder – that’s a good question. Well, psychosocial stressors are things that happen to us in the course of life that create an intense level of stress. That stress can contribute to things like the development or the aggravation of mental health issues, potentially addictions and other maladaptive behaviors. There are things that happen to us as a result of that event – we start to experience internal stress and the more stressed out people are, the more they act out in addictive behavior that stress goes into the body, it goes into the mind and it has an impact. There’s someone that talks about trauma, that trauma isn’t really what happens to you my friends – trauma is what happens inside of your body as a result of a traumatic event. today we’re going to talk about all that stuff.
Whoever else is coming? Marina Harbor, MJ, welcome, welcome, you’re always welcome to come back here.
Let’s just get into them and talk about these. It’s a heavier talk but it’s really valuable and I do want you to know – take this in consideration that as I’m talking about these and yourself have been impacted from them or maybe the person that you’re watching this for – a loved one of you – has been impacted by them, I want to preempt, right before I deliver the message, I want to relieve you of any type of guilt, any type of negative feelings you might have about how you handled the situation while you were going through it because check this out – man, hindsight is 20/20. We can always look back and say, “”Man, I dropped the ball there. I wish I could have done it differently. I should have done it differently,” but what does that do? Nothing. It puts you in a disempowered state and in that disempowered state you are unable to act logically, act free of emotion, enact with empowerment to the point that you’re trying to change these patterns.
The first one is problems with your primary support group. And who is your primary support group? For many people it’s usually the nucleus: the mom and dad, or it could be grandparents, or certain aunts and uncles, or siblings – it’s whoever was the primary support around you when you were growing up. What are some of these problems with the primary support group? Well, there are a few of them here that I named off – and I want you to hear it. By the way, when we do assessments for someone coming in for mental health treatment or for addiction treatment all of these psychosocial stressors that I’m talking about – they all get addressed they all get evaluated one by one, because the more somebody’s experienced these the higher the probability that the same person is going to have some challenges with their mental health. That person is going to have some challenges with their behaviors, that they’re doing the overt and covert ones. The first ones are all related to your primary support group. When you’re listening to me right now you want to go back in your own journey of life to those who raised you and again, it could be mom, dad, it could just be mom, it could just be dad, it could be grandparents, it could be immediate family, it could be siblings, whatever it was – I need you to go back there and see if any of these life events occurred in your life and if they did how they impacted you.
Number one is the death of a family member – I mean, we all know this. It’s one of the most tragic things to go through. It’s very traumatic, especially when it’s unexpected, especially when it’s as a result of illnesses that we were not ready for, especially when it came too soon in the journey of life. The death of a family member, health problems in the family, and what I mean by this is like, let’s say you’re a child growing up in a family and your older sibling or your younger sibling is going through some health challenges – well, at that moment what happens? Mom, dad, whoever it is, they have to put all of their focus on that situation because that situation is stressful and when that focus goes there, where is the focus? Not on the individual that’s not sick, that’s not going through the family crisis, that’s not going through the challenges of what’s going to happen next and a lot of people in that moment feel certain ways. Or if you are a child and your mom or dad is sick they’re experiencing some physical sickness – the doctors have told them that they have certain conditions – that kind of stuff puts fear in the child, in the mind and in the body of a child, because they think, “What if something happens to my family member? What if they’re not around to take care of me? Who’s going to take care of me?”
The next one here is disruption of family by separation or divorce or estrangement. We see this often in the field of mental health and addictions. Again, we all know the statistics – if this is something that happened to you in your life there’s nothing inherently wrong with it – there’s nothing bad with it – but despite the reasons why that happened the child is left feeling a certain way. I’ll tell you guys this: based on research and data of children that are around the ages of 9 to 14 years old, and why is that age important? Because that’s the age that the child starts to individualize a little bit – the child starts to think that they are a person separate from their family. Have you ever noticed when kids start listening to their own music or they start dressing or dressing up in a different way or they start kind of acting differently? It’s not because they’re just children being children – the brain’s developing in a certain way and one of the components of that is when someone’s in that age demographic – 9 to 14 – they believe that they are actually the center of the universe. What I mean by that is they think that everything that happens around them is a direct result of them, and they think that everybody is always paying attention to them at all times. Have you ever seen an adolescent that’s 14 years old with a zit on their face? They say, “Mom, Dad, I can’t go to school today,” and they’re like, “Why?” “I got this zit on my face. Everyone’s going to be looking at me.” That same philosophy, if you can understand that, goes into these children of divorces and separations and estrangements. If you sit down and do a survey of these children and ask them, “Hey, what’s going on?” what they all say? Or at least they think that “What’s happening with Mom and Dad is my fault. I am not lovable. I did something wrong that’s causing this now.” We all know as adults that’s not even related to the whole picture but the child doesn’t understand that.
The next one with primary support group is any type of physical abuse, any type of neglect, sexual abuse – that one goes deep – the roots of that one are deep because it starts to impact the self-worth of a human. Now I understand oftentimes, let’s just say there’s physical abuse involved and let’s just say the mother or the father is abusing their child. I’m not a betting person but I can bet with high confidence that at some point that parent either experienced abuse themselves or saw abuse in their household. Am I condoning that or giving that the pass? Heck, no. But I do know that without any type of intervention, without any type of work on self, cycles tend to repeat themselves. There’s a lot of parents that have been known for abusing their child that when they’re doing it they break down and cry because they said, “This is what my mom or dad did to me and I promise I’ll never do it to my child, and why am I doing it to my child?” It’s because cycles repeat themselves unless the person says, “I will break this cycle.”
If there’s any type of parental overprotection – parents wanting to shield their children at all costs with control and codependency and not allowing them to individualize – that has an impact on people. I always say if that’s what you do (and I know a lot of you parents do), especially when there’s mental illness involved and there’s addiction involved, you want to go into parent mode and protect them and make sure that they’re safe from life. But here’s the thing: overprotection cripples people. Over protection takes away the individual’s dignity to be able to solve their own problems in life. I always joke around saying my Mom and Dad, man they did a really good job with a lot of different things. They had a challenging time because when they were raising me they were also going through a revolution in their country. They were going through war in their country – I don’t care who you are, man, trying to raise your kid when you’re going through all that – it’s a challenging time – they did a really good job. And when we came into the United States they understood the importance of financial responsibility, making sure that everything goes well, for example with creditors, you can be able to build this thing called a credit score. what they did – they just handled it all – they’re probably watching this laughing right now. If I ran up a bill they would go and fix it because they wanted to make sure that my credit score wasn’t affected. If I spent some money somewhere and it was going to put me in some type of jeopardy they would go fix it real quick. Or if I needed something they would give it to me real quick – they did it out of pure love and protection – to help set me up for the future. But what did that do? When I was 18-19-20 years old, 22 years old, 23 years old, it prevented me from ever learning how to do it. Now I know that sounds like, “Well hey, you should have learned it on your own.” We don’t learn anything unless we have to do it. I mean, if I could sit back and relax right now and have my parents pay for all my stuff I’d do it. But at some point they got to say, “Hey, we can’t do this anymore,” and when all of a sudden that option gets taken away, what’s left? I gotta figure it out on my own. And yes, I struggled with that stuff my first four or five years of sobriety – I mean, I didn’t even know what to do with the debt I was accumulating but eventually I figured it out when the rescuer wasn’t there anymore.
The next one is inadequate discipline. Inadequate discipline as a result of guilt and shame. I’ve seen this oftentimes when there’s a family discord and it turns into divorce and then the kid starts acting out, one or both of the family members have so much guilt because they think that because of that separation it impacts this person so much and you know what they do? They don’t even discipline them – they go from being the parent to being the friend. They go from being the parent that’s supposed to let them know like, “Hey, these actions have consequences,” to saying, “Oh, it’s okay,” even though they know it’s not okay. Their guilt doesn’t allow them to do it. And also discord with siblings. Sibling dynamics is a very interesting thing – sometimes there’s abuse involved – psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, all that kind of stuff – but just the little things, for example when you are the only child of the family, you have a certain relationship with mom and dad. And when the second sibling comes it’s the first time that child also becomes an older sibling and now there’s a newer younger sibling that has a relationship with mom and dad. And guess what, when the third child comes the younger child becomes this thing called the middle child and it changes their dynamic within the system. Am I saying these things inherently on their own are traumatic and bad? No, this is a part of life. But I want you to know this – that each individual in the family gets affected differently based on these life events. You can have two siblings and someone passes away in the family – one of them handles it okay and the other one completely rattles. Why is that the case? That’s the individuality of human beings. Parents sometimes say (which I want to correct this, by the way right now while you guys are paying attention), “I don’t know what happened. We raised our kids the same way. We’re the same people.” I want you to hear this: No you are not. No human being, including myself, is the same person 5-10-15 years in a row because we experience other things in life that change us. Even though the biological name of the mom and dad and the last name in the family system was all the same I would say that those parents are different parents when they’re raising different children.
The best example I have for you guys is a family that I worked with. In the early 2000s up until 2008 they were in a high socioeconomic status. Their eldest child went through all these different schoolings and this and that, and they were living the American dream. When the financial crisis happened in 2008 they went from this big mega home into a small home. One kid got pulled out of private school, the other kid never went into private school, whatever it was. And they said, “We don’t know what happened – we’re the same people.” True, but guess what, despite being the same people you’ve experienced different challenges in your life. When you go through a financial crisis don’t tell me you weren’t stressed. When you look at all your assets and they’re like one-fourth of the size don’t tell me you’re not impacted differently. When you get laid off on a job you’re not the same parent that’s thriving in a career. Each child has their own perception of mom and dad and they’re not the same. Sometimes I’ve even worked with people that say, “My mom and dad were the greatest ever,” and I talked to the sibling they say, “My mom and dad were never there.” Same mom and dad, different perceptions of the relationship.
The next one that’s all related to a primary support group, many of you, including your loved ones, have been impacted as a result of: problems related to social environment. Now, this could be a loss of an identity adjustment to life cycle such as retirement. We’re not even talking about childhood here that some people go through – they create an identity of who they are for many many many years and when they stop doing that all of a sudden they’re like, “Who am I?” because they identified with what they were doing, not who they were. This happens to athletes all the time – 35 year old male or female athletes that were professionals from 22 years old to 35 – stop playing sports. They have no idea who they are. They go through some serious bouts of depression to overcome the void that’s existing in their life, like, “What’s my purpose in this world?”
The next one is any time with friend circles. For some people their friends are their extended family and it’s a social circle and it’s where they get their connections, where they get their belonging, and when those things change it impacts people. The best place you could see this is – I said I coach high school basketball – I watch these kids from 14-15-16-17-18 years old. They create these bonds that their friends are their world and all of a sudden in senior year all of these kids go to different places and there are the ones that are left behind. A lot of my friends went off to college, I stayed at the local community college and you’re just like, “Where is my world?” It’s a significant loss – it’s a toll on the individuals.
Difficulty with assimilating into a different culture: now, for any of the immigrants watching this or second generation immigrants watching this, when your parents are from a different country, born in a different country and now they’re living in the United States, I mean just imagine how challenging that is because you’ve been raised a certain way, to believe certain things and see the world a certain way, and you come here and all of those beliefs are not rooted in what’s happening around you. And what do they do in those moments? This is very famous for immigrants – they try to hold on to the old and somehow infuse it into the new and it never works. The kids in that situation are feeling lost and torn. I always joke around with my mom or dad – if they ever pick us up, pick me or my brother up when we were living in the States before we went back to Iran and they were playing Persian music, oh my God, we would get embarrassed. I’m like, “Put up the windows. Turn down the music. I don’t want anyone to hear this stuff.” It’s silly but those things have an impact. And by the way, for those of you because America is one of those countries that because it’s like a melting pot and many different people from many parts of the world all live here, for the most part pretty damn peacefully, what happens is going from state to state has the same impact like if you were born in the South and raised in the South and now you’re in California, I mean you could pretty much say you’re in a different country and vice versa, if you’re in California and you go to the South and you go there and it’s like Whoa. Sometimes kids go from state to state when they’re growing up and whole new social groups and all of a sudden they look different than their peers, they dress differently than their peers and that’s tough. By the way Jim just pointed out something here that’s really important: the drug culture is a culture – the music people listen to, the things people do, even the time of day you’re awake and operating is different, the lingo, the hustle, the get by, it’s just completely different. And sometimes people cannot let go of that. They have a hard time going from the drug culture which is “get high, get by,” survive at all costs. Trying to be an upstanding citizen, trying to be a worker amongst workers, trying to be someone that’s contributing to society – it’s a hard thing to do. It’s like going from a war zone into a peaceful place. And guess what, sometimes people can’t handle the peace. There’s been many clients, my friends, that have told people like me and Jim, “Hey, when I get sober I don’t know what to do in my body. I don’t know what to do around regular people,” because they’re integrated in that drug culture. Does that mean it’s a death sentence and you’re in it forever? No, it just takes some time to thaw. I like to use the word thaw because imagine someone being completely frozen and you put them in a new environment, and the environment’s just not that warm and comforting. As long as the temperature is right, eventually the ice starts to melt a little bit, and the person’s able to show up. Good observation there, Jim! Of course with social environments you have to talk about discrimination too – it’s something that I believe that it could happen to anyone, whether you are White, Black, Asian American, Middle Eastern, believe it or not, discrimination always goes on. But discrimination in general, and by the way gender discrimination in general, is something that could impact people, and there are ways to get empowered and work through that. But guess where that starts? That starts from the home, a long time before discrimination happened, to have the individual believe that they are worth something, that they’re valuable, that those things don’t mean anything as long as they’re solid in who they are as an individual. But guess what? When you’re dealing with problems with a primary support group, people are passing away, people are separating and divorcing, there’s abuse in the house, that individual is like a raw nerve for discrimination. When that person gets discriminated against they don’t have the psychological and emotional muscles to be able to say, “What I got is discrimination” – it impacts them negatively.
Then we got educational problems. And by the way, I’m talking a lot because I’m trying to do a psycho education – I’m trying to teach – but if you have any questions that’s related to what I’m saying feel free to write them. Like I put up Jim’s comment, I’m able to put them up on the board and I’ll answer you in real time, if that’s what you’re looking to do. The next one is education – educational problems. This could be learning disabilities, if you’re growing up and you have learning disabilities in school, what do they do with you? Well, the majority of teachers unfortunately don’t have the ability or the resources to be able to give that person the love, the care, the individualized treatment they need. Now, they might pull the person out and put them in something called the individual learning plan but sometimes the way that’s rolled out actually does more harm than good. And here’s what I mean by that and I’m an educator. Because if you pull a kid from where all of his or her peers and friends are in group out of a class and say, “You’re going to this little special class over here” – I understand the theory behind it is like we’re trying to help this person but to that kid it’s like, “I’m not as good as them. I’m stupid. I’m not normal,” all that kind of stuff. Learning disabilities take a toll on people. I’ve worked with some people that have overcome stuttering in their life and when they were younger what they shared with me about their experience is something that’s just sad and unfair to be honest with you, but that’s what they experience in life. They didn’t let it define them but it took a toll on them, leading to things like depression and anxiety and all that kind of stuff. Moving from school to school causes significant social anxiety and some parents – they had to do what they had to do – if you got a job or jobs frequently that required you to uproot your family and to move if you’re like our family had to deal with revolutions and going back and forth and all that kind of stuff from countries, if you were a military family, how about that? Military kids are taught that their parent is doing an honorable thing, is a part of something greater than themselves, but call it what it is – when the kid’s going to 15 different schools in 18 years it potentially could take a toll on somebody because it brings up social anxiety. It’s nothing worse than being the kid that is two or three weeks into school, the teacher brings you, holds your hand and brings you to the front of the classroom and says, “Hey everyone, this is so-and-so and they just moved here from wherever,” and the kid – their voice is shaking – introducing themselves to everybody. And if that happens once that’s cool but if it happens continuously over the course of someone’s life that has an impact on someone because they also start to think and believe that they can’t make friends, if they make friends they’re not going to be able to keep them, because they’re about to move again and they feel out of place, they feel like they don’t belong. When I’m saying these things with this much conviction it’s not my opinion, my friends. As a clinician, we sit down and we do these things called biocycle social assessments. Jim probably did like 10 of them in the past two weeks – these are things that come up. I’ve heard this thousands of times and parents say, “Well, everybody moves, everybody moves, it’s okay, my other kid didn’t get impacted, how come this guy’s impacted by it?” I don’t know. You’ve heard me say this analogy before in life – if you have two identical plates, like imagine two white plates from Ikea, the exact same plate from the exact same batch – if I hold them up at let’s say six feet in the air and I drop them down on the ground, what happens to those plates? They shatter. And when you look at those plates that just shattered they’re gonna have completely different break patterns. Now you can sit there and tell yourself, “Well, I don’t know why that one broke that way and that one broke that way – I dropped them from the same distance.” Because you don’t know how it impacts them. Humans are the same way – two people can go through the same life experience and have completely different break patterns. One might not even break – why is that the case? I don’t know.
Let’s see what Eileen said here: “It also seems to be important to factor in how we come into the world.” Absolutely! Some people are blessed with more natural resilience, some just are not. There is individuality with people. I’m the first to admit it, Eileen, that not everything in life is one plus one equals two. We are unique, the same way I always bring up the thumbprint analogy – we all have different ones but just to play a little devil’s advocate there, when you look in that it’s like I believe that not just coming into the world, the nine months prior to coming into the world, however that mom in that home environment, in that social environment was, and the amount of stress she had or didn’t have, or what she was exposed to or didn’t get exposed to – I do believe that also has a factor in the amount of resiliency someone can have. Because there’s data and studies out there that show that the more stressed out a mom is during pregnancy the more hormones, like the adrenal glands and the cortis… how about this Eileen? You might have heard me say this before – if a mom’s really stressed out during pregnancy there are certain hormones that it takes from the mom, the stress hormones, when a child is born. Sometimes, those children that are born with asthma need medications, the medications that those children need are the same medications or the same hormones that would have existed inside the mom if she wasn’t stressed out and depleted the child is born in a depleted state, and therefore needs external medication to provide adequate support for what the mom wasn’t able to get. I agree with you wholeheartedly but I do believe that before we come into this world, the nine months prior to it, also has an impact on how we engage with this world. Hope that made sense.
Now we go into occupational problems. This kind of happens a lot of times later on in life – threat of a job loss – super scary. It’s something because it rocks your whole world. Losing a job, getting unemployed, stressful work schedules. One thing I try to have program participants avoid when and if possible is working too many hours that are just outside the norm. I mean, they call it graveyard shifts and I know some people that are healthy, recovered and they work, they just accept that that’s their life and that’s what they do and more power to them. But a graveyard is where people go to die – I mean if you can avoid it, especially in early recovery, if you can avoid graveyard shifts please do. But later on in life if you’re a nurse, if you’re a physician, if you’re someone that works with machinery, and that’s the only time that you have to go work and you can provide for your family and you’re able to balance that work life, I mean that’s a different person than the person that’s just healing from serious depression or had some serious substance abuse issues. Job change can be impactful because there’s a whole new office politics and culture you have to adjust to and a discord with your boss or co-workers – these things impact people. People come home and say, “My boss kept putting me down or my co-worker kept doing this behind my back or this and that.” My best suggestion is that if you notice something that’s been happening to your life for a long period of time, I can’t tell you what to do or not to do because that’s your life and you have certain responsibilities. But ask yourself the question, “Why do I put up with it?” And if the answer you get back from that suffices as a reason and justifies for you to stay there, do it. But life is short, my friends. If you go to a place called work and you come home everyday and if you’re just upset, frustrated, pissed off about the experience at some point it’s safe to say, explore that.
Housing problems are another psychosocial stressor. Housing problems could be homelessness – I have a lot of people that come in that are homeless on the streets that do have mental health issues, my friends. I promise you, they’re not just lazy people, they just don’t want to work, maybe they don’t want to work but they also don’t want to be homeless. And the mental illness component of it is serious. The amount of trauma people experience on the streets is something that I would need an entire talk to be able to talk about the amount of discrimination that happens, the amount of abuse that happens. You want to know why a lot of homeless people use methamphetamines? Because they don’t want to fall asleep at night. Do you want to know why? Because if they fall asleep at night they can get assaulted sexually, they can get beat up, they can get robbed, it’s just a lot of bad things happen and they stay in this hypervigilant state and they’re zombies at night because they don’t want to fall asleep. We have inadequate housing which is just not enough housing. It’s like those families that have seven, eight, ten people living in a one or two bedroom apartment that makes it challenging to be able to feel safe in the world – it really does. You don’t have your private space, you don’t have your ability to kind of unwind. And we have unsafe neighborhoods – this is something that comes up a lot in psychosocial stressors when we’re doing them. It’s people that were raised in places that they just were scared to walk home. How powerful that is, to be scared to walk home after school? How sad that is at the same time. Discord with neighbors – that’s another thing – if your whole life you’re just kind of butting head to head the impact that could possibly have on the family system is high up there.
The next one – there’s eight of these by the way – I think we’re on number four – economic problems. This is extreme poverty. People watching this talk probably aren’t experiencing that because you’re on the internet watching me talk on a Saturday. You might be struggling financially but extreme poverty is talking about when you don’t have food on the table, you don’t have the electricity in your house, you definitely don’t have Wi-Fi to watch this thing talk. And unfortunately, the poverty in this country, in a lot of parts of the world, is on the incline because the separation between the top and the bottom is starting to significantly increase. A lot of people that are in early recovery – their families are wiped out, maybe they have enough to be able to put food on their own tables but they can’t feed another person that’s an adult. And now that person that at one point in life was supported by this family is now in extreme poverty on their own. Thankfully, community colleges support those kinds of people – you can go to school for free, at least in California. And you can get health care – it’s Medi-Cal – it doesn’t really help out here in California with certain things but you can see doctors and get medications and all that kind of stuff. And there are food cards available – it’s not enough for a family, that’s for sure, but it’s enough to hopefully help somebody get through another day.
And the next one down here is the problems with access to health care. I always tell the program participants at a place like Buckeye Recovery Network: Please understand how lucky you are that you have health insurance that allows you to access our services, or you have family members that have financial means that help you access our services, or we were able to provide a scholarship to you that allows you to provide our service to access our services. Outside of that people that don’t have adequate health care service access, where they end up is places that have waiting lists of three months, places that you can’t see who you need to see, places that you can’t have a bed to sleep on, places that don’t have the ability to treat your underlying mental illness and your traumas. And guess what, when that’s not available because it’s frustrating to be needing a bed and not being able to get it, they end up in the streets.
The next one that we have here is problems related to interaction with the legal system. Maybe some of your loved ones have experienced that. I know a lot of our program participants at times have, whether that’s things like getting a DUI, whether it’s getting a drug possession, whether it’s like theft, assault, domestic violence, whatever that stuff is. Once you get into the legal system, and by the way it’s not just the individual, maybe your parents growing up got into the legal system – what does that do to the family system? Well, it creates a lot of fear and it creates a lot of frustration because there’s some significant financial component to it. If you could pay off what you can pay off to avoid going to jail that’s going to take a toll. If you can’t pay it off and you have to go to jail, that’s going to take a toll. Here’s the thing – when you come out of these systems, when you come out of jail, when you come out of incarceration, it’s an uphill battle. Now, I know a lot of people that haven’t experienced that stuff can sit there and judge and say, “Hey, well, you should learn the consequences of your actions and now go make it right.” How many human beings that are doing good in life are trying to do good in life, try to go and make it right now and because of their past records in history they’re not given a fair chance. What they did when they’re 18-19-22-24 years old, 25 years old, 30 years old, is impacting them in their 30s and 40s. How many of us make mistakes when we’re younger? Maybe we were fortunate enough to not get arrested for them but we’re no different than the 19 year old that did. I always say people are quick to judge individuals that are locked up behind bars but I’ve talked and I’ve spoken to many of them. I’ve even been in jails and talked to human beings inside there – they’re no different than most people. You look at these tough guys and these tough girls and you’re kind of thinking that’s where they belong and then you rewind the tape back 20 years in their life. Many of them were born in these broken homes and broken families and guess what, broken societies and broken communities. Because it’s not just their home that’s broken – it’s every home around them that’s also broken. It’s not just their dad that’s in prison, it’s every dad and uncle and cousin around them that’s in prison. What do you expect happens to that person? Do you really expect that kid to go to school every day, listen to the teacher like this, go home, do their homework like this, turn in their paper, go to sleep at nine o’clock, wake up in the morning, have a bowl of oatmeal and then go to class and say, “Here’s my homework,” and participate? What they do – they come home and it’s loud and it’s chaotic and they don’t know what to do. They go on the streets, there’s a bunch of other kids out there just like them, that look like them, that talk like them, that walk like them, that their dads and uncles and moms and whatever they’re all incarcerated, to which one you think they’re gonna pick? We’re quick to judge these communities and these people and by the way, it’s not just the Hispanics and the Blacks – there’s certain parts of really poor parts of Kentucky you can go to right now that’s just straight – everyone’s White – and they’re going through the same problem because of drugs, addiction, all that kind of stuff that’s ravaging through these communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, whatever you want to call it – it doesn’t discriminate, my friends. But it’s serious that arrest and incarceration impacts communities.
And the last ones that I have here – these are kind of like the others – they’re not the main ones that I talked about. But it could be exposure to disasters if you were growing up, like when things like Katrina happened, or these earthquakes that happen across the world over there, or these things like wars, or intense events happen all of a sudden – you don’t have the same life experience. Those things cause trauma – there are traumatic events that cause trauma inside the body that lead to things like depression, anxiety, substance use.
I guess the whole purpose of this talk today was to be able to help identify what psychosocial stressors are. And again, they are life events that happen that cause a significant amount of stress and distress to the individual. And that stress leads to mental health issues, it leads to potentially addictions, it leads to maladaptive behaviors. My takeaway from this talk is going to be this for you guys. If you have experienced some of those, first of all I want to say that you are a resilient human being, because you’re still here watching me talk. If you experience any of those it shows that you understand that despite what’s happened to you in your life, in your story, that there’s another way forward. Now, sometimes those events are painful, years go by, decades go by, we don’t want to look at them, we don’t want to think about them, we don’t want to process them. I’m telling you, that’s not the recipe to heal. The cure for the pain is in the pain. You got to go back to those events and you got to process those. If there was trauma, look into EMDR therapy. I’ll bring an EMDR therapist to talk about this later. If there was stuff, what is grief and loss, get into support groups, work about it, journal it, talk about it, heal from it. If there was stuff about growing up and feeling discriminated go and give back to communities, and go and help people that are probably getting discriminated right now, be a part of the solution and watch how your personal experience not only starts to make you stronger and helps you heal but it’s gonna positively benefit the lives of others. I’m telling you, at the end of the day that’s all we have. You can pursue and chase whatever you want in life and you can build and build and build but when we die none of that stuff comes with you. Maybe you pass it on to someone that may or may not take care of it, but the only thing that I know for certain is that if you go make a positive impact in this thing we call our world, that when you die somebody else will live a life that is this much better because of the impact you had on them. And that my friends, is the reason why I do all this and that’s the reason why I hope that you start your recovery, healing and transformation journey. All that being said, I’m going to the Buckeye Recovery Network right now – we have our 23rd celebration of sobriety – if you’re ever in town in Orange County and you want to come to it all are welcome. We have about 40-50-60 people there and we cater in some food and people come in various levels of sobriety that have achieved some healing and they come and share about their experience, strength and joy – it’s fascinating, it’s worth watching. All that being said, I’ll be back next week. I love and appreciate all of you, thank you very much for your time and your patience with me and we’ll go from there. Love and appreciate you, see you next week, bye everyone.