Plato's Play-Doh

Play-Doh for the Mind

Month: May, 2014

Redefining the Isla Vista Shootings

I’m a fucking beast. I don’t like easy, I like hard. Not just hard, but excruciating. Painful, agonizing.  Do you know why? Because taking the hard route leaves you with scars that will forever be with you. Tiny memories of the lessons you learned when you were traveling through the deepest and darkest corners of Hell. The easy way out is for the weak. The easy way out is for people like Elliot Rodger.

After Elliot Rodger killed six college students and injured 13 others on the night of May 23, 2014, Alan Shifman, the lawyer for the Rodger family, said that Elliot had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism) at an early age. The family later stated that Elliot had never been diagnosed with Asperger’s, however they always believed that he was on the autism spectrum.

Two mass murderers in the last 1 ½ years have now been associated with some form of autism, and after watching Elliot Rodger’s YouTube video, I would have to agree with the assumption that he was on the spectrum.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Autism has absolutely nothing to do with a maniac going on a rampage. If it did, then let me tell you, I would be one of the most notorious mass murderers to ever walk this earth. But I am not. Why? Because autism does not define who someone is. It is merely a way of life. It gives you access to insights and perspectives unavailable to the vast majority of people. Having autism helps you in some areas of life, and hurts you in others. But with that hurt comes an opportunity to learn, an opportunity that most others don’t have the chance to obtain. Under certain circumstances, autism can be a beautiful gift. When you finally figure out how to live with the disorder, it can greatly enhance your life. It can be magical.

Circumstances. Circumstances are to blame for mass murders. I am not going to try and delve into Elliot Rodger’s past, because I have never met him, and for me to do that would be wrong. That is the (unfortunate) job for the talking heads on TV. I will say though, that hatred for women, along with the steel clasp of affluenza, seemed to play a major role in Elliot Rodger’s actions.

After I watched the video that Elliot posted online, I felt chills running down my spine. I experienced many of the things that he talked about. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 20-years-old, and I felt ignored by women. I was envious every time I saw a guy with a gorgeous girl, and I thought to myself that he doesn’t deserve her. Here I am, a great guy, and I am all alone, while all these sleazy guys are enjoying life with their beautiful women.

I was Elliot, but Elliot wasn’t me.

Throughout his video, Elliot kept complaining that life wasn’t fair. I used to complain about that too, until I realized that it was a fact, not just for me, but for every single person on this planet. Life is just not fair. I have learned to accept this, and by doing so, I feel blessed when things actually do go my way.

To be perfectly blunt, Elliot Rodger had a pathetic outlook on life. He stated multiple times how lonesome he was, and how he “had to rot in loneliness”. Up until recently, I had been suffering from loneliness throughout the majority of my life. As I stated in a previous post:

“Perhaps the most infuriating element of being lonely is that people don’t understand how truly devastating and detrimental it is. The pain that stems from it is excruciating. My soul, the very essence of who I am, frenetically writhes as it is cast aflame by the smoldering remains of what my life could have been, what my life should have been, and is stoked by what my life is.

I collapse on the floor and soak the carpet with my tears multiple times a week. I become so enraged that I have to keep myself from literally tearing down my house with my bare hands. LITERALLY. I oftentimes think about putting a bullet in my brain, and wonder at what sweet rest there must be in the grave. I pray every motherfucking day that I’ll meet someone who understands my pain, for I have never met a soul who can relate to me. I suppose this is what keeps my heart beating, because although my life has been absolute shit, I somehow believe that one day I will encounter somebody who can comprehend my fucked-up life. Somehow, someway, I believe.”

Elliot had a choice. He chose to rot in his loneliness. I have come to find that being alone for most of my life did me wonders. I didn’t choose to rot away, although it would have been quite easy to do so, but rather I chose to find out what I was made of. I became strong, and I was at my best in my darkest moments of solitude. I realized that being alone gave me the chance to think and to learn, so I pondered about relationships, life, death, everything under the sun, while I crammed my brain full of knowledge, for knowledge is the one thing that can be given to you, but never taken away. Instead of rotting in my loneliness, I blossomed.

In one of his videos, Elliot also stated that “All I’ve ever wanted was a girlfriend”. I know that feeling all too well. For the past ten years, having a girlfriend was all I could think about. I finally entered into a relationship with a woman for the first time when I was 22-years-old, but that relationship only lasted two months, and the woman ripped my heart out and crushed it with her bare hands.

I want to end this post by oiling your mind with some lucidity. Autism, Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder and any other mental condition that you might now be afraid of due to the actions of those who are affected with such disorders, PLAY NO PART when it comes to rampages and/or shootings. These appalling actions boil down to one’s outlook on life, and the circumstances surrounding that outlook. Lack of family support, refusing to ask for help, and other similar variables are the largest reasons behind mass violence. It is inexcusable to have the aforementioned conditions be the sole scapegoat behind such atrocities. Just as every dog doesn’t attack their owner, every person with mental struggles isn’t “crazy”, “insane” or “psychotic”.

 

REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS

WEIHAN WANGWEIHAN WANG, 20-YEARS-OLD

CHENG YUAN HONGCHENG YUAN HONG, 20-YEARS-OLD

GEORGE CHENGEORGE CHEN, 19-YEARS-OLD

KATHERINE BREANN COOPERKATHERINE BREANN COOPER, 22-YEARS-OLD

CHRISTOPHER ROSS MICHAELS-MARTINEZCHRISTOPHER ROSS MICHAELS-MARTINEZ, 20-YEARS-OLD

VERONIKA ELIZABETH WEISSVERONIKA ELIZABETH WEISS, 19-YEARS-OLD

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Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted

I saw a movie the other night. The movie was titled “Girl, Interrupted”, and it brought back memories. Awful memories. Memories of what my life was like when my very essence was ripped from the fibers of my body. Memories of when the fundamental nature of who I was shattered within me, piercing my viscera with the shards of who I once was. It brought back the unbearable feelings of being emotionally and psychologically mutilated, of being mentally raped and of being spiritually murdered.

Girl, Interrupted” takes place in 1967, when an 18-year-old girl is placed in a mental hospital after downing a bottle of aspirin with vodka. The movie follows her 18 month-long stay at the hospital, capturing her struggles, aggravations, friendships and escapades, all the while giving insight into what a mental institution was like back in the 1960s. A few examples: One woman kept roast chicken carcasses under her bed, while another patient had previously thrown acid on her face, thus assuming a friendly persona to distract people from her appearance. The nurses regularly forced the patients to take their medicine without letting them know what medication had been prescribed for them, and punishments included solitary confinement and being strapped down to a bed, while free-time consisted of mundane checkers and lousy TV. The doctors were aloof and condescending, and reveled in the power and authority they asserted over their patients.

NEWSFLASH: Not one damn thing has changed in these institutions in the past 40+ years.

I have been admitted to a mental hospital two times in my short life. The first time was in 2003 when my OCD had taken over every aspect of my being. I would have to look at every single object I set my eyes on 128 times before I could look at anything else. I was petrified to leave my house, for there were far too many objects that would be subjugated to the tyranny of my compulsions. I constantly checked locks around the house, and washed my hands so often they would drip with blood. I wasn’t living, I wasn’t even surviving. I was merely existing.

My second trip to the psych ward occurred in 2012. I was festering in an extreme depression, all the while contemplating suicide and battling anorexia. I hadn’t showered or changed clothes in two months, had lost a massive amount of weight while also losing my hair, and was too ashamed to even look outside, let alone take a step out the front door.

Girl, Interrupted” was a somber movie in and of itself, however the realization of how little our mental institutions have progressed in the past half-century subdued my hope for any steps forward in the near future. This apprehension of insight encapsulated my soul, leaving my anticipations and expectations of our society’s competency to wither away in a tangled web of indignity and apathy.

There was a particular scene in the movie that really struck me, that lit my hippocampus ablaze with the blistering memories of reality. I was no longer watching a movie, I was reliving one of the most detested moments of my life.

One of the patients, Lisa, had escaped from the hospital and ended up staying with a former patient named Daisy who had been recently released. Lisa had noticed that Daisy seemed very distant and exuded a somber affect. This, along with fresh cuts on Daisy’s wrists, led Lisa to believe that Daisy was not even close to being in recovery. Sensing Lisa’s vitriol toward her, Daisy tells her “You’re just jealous, Lisa, because I got better. Because I was released. Because I have a chance, and a life.” Lisa responds “They didn’t release you because you’re better. They just gave up.”

On March 7, 2003, I was released from Seattle’s Children’s Hospital after a five week stay. I was admitted because I was suffering from severe social and separation anxiety, as well as extreme OCD and depression. I was a confused and scared 12-year-old boy, whose world was caving in on him. My parents sought answers to my problems with all their heart, yet never seemed to find any.

My experience at Children’s Hospital was the worst of my life. Most of the staff was friendly and caring, but the doctors were evil in the way that fire is hot. It was not intended, it just was. I was lied to day after day by these physicians, and they imposed sanctions and punishments upon me that were completely unjust, amoral, unethical and undeserved. I was deathly afraid of bugs back then, so they would lock me in a room and order me to touch dead flies, bees and wasps that they had collected (how they collected them I do not know). It was their form of exposure therapy. However, I was a child, and they were forcing me to participate in this “therapy”. “If you pick up the bugs and smell them, we will release you”, they told me. And so I did what they said, and the emotional wound I was dealt still, eleven years later, has yet to heal.

The doctors ended up releasing me from their “care” without having solved or tamed a single problem of mine. They discharged me and left it up to my family to decide how to re-immerse myself back into society. There were no scheduled follow-up visits, no outside resources given to us and no support system. As Lisa would put it, they didn’t release me because I was better. They just gave up.

As mentioned above, I was also admitted to the psych ward in October of 2012, this time in Reno, Nevada. I was in the worst depression of my life, and the mental anguish was unbearable. During this period in time I was literally a shell of my former self. My family had not seen me smile for months, I walked with no purpose and I slept hoping to never wake up. I would break down in tears every single day for 67 straight days, and at night the only thing that would bring me comfort was thinking about the never-ending peace that comes with sleeping in a bed of dirt.

In the middle of my depression. Little life existed behind these eyes.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. If I did not have the extremely loving and supporting family that I have, my life would have ended on October 1, 2012, at the age of 21. I would no longer be on this earth. I would be gone forever, my body rotting in the dirt that I had so often dreamt of. I would have never entered the life of all the great people I have met in the last 1 ½ years, and memories of me would be confined to just my mother, father and sister.

The hospital I was admitted to in 2012 was not at all the right place for me to be if I was ever going to hope to get better. I was the only patient there who was struggling with depression. Many of the patients were admitted by the order of a court because they were addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, while the others either had schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder. To give you an example of how chaotic the hospital was, there was one woman who would routinely take off all her clothes and run around naked. She thought that she could climb walls whenever she didn’t have her clothes on, and attempted to do so at every chance she got. There was also an elderly man who would pull down his pants and start going to the bathroom anywhere that he felt the urge to do so. I am not at all trying to stigmatize or put down those with other disorders or hardships in their lives, I am just letting you know how the atmosphere of the hospital was not at all beneficiary to the recovery of a quiet guy with autism who was suffering from severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

My whole stay at this hospital was a complete nightmare. The doctor who was in charge of my recovery ended up earning my hatred after he blatantly lied to me, while one of the nurses insulted and attacked me for being too depressed to come out of my room. I ended up being discharged just three days after I was admitted.

Ironically, although no single person contributed to my well-being while I was there, in addition to the whole experience being traumatic to say the least, I am very thankful for the occurrence. I was so grateful to be reunited with my mother and father, and it dawned on me that first night back home that I am the lucky one. Albeit I still craved the tranquility of eternal sleep, I realized that I was already equipped with more than enough tools to break out of my slump. I was in a peaceful household, with two unbelievably generous, selfless and loving parents who would do anything, absolutely anything, to see me get better. The universe put me in this diabolical maze with the expectation of seeing me find my way out a better man. I knew right then and there that I was going to defeat my demons with all the love and support my family offered, and that I wasn’t going to be lowered into the ground anytime soon.

Not one month later I was leaving the house by myself, interacting with strangers, and best of all, I learned to smile again.

Back to life.

Now to revisit the film “Girl, Interrupted”. This movie came across as a theatrical spectacle of what life was like for patients in a 1960s mental hospital. However, for those of us who have had first-hand experience with mental institutions, the seemingly histrionic performances were not far from the truth. I have come across nurses who were distant and cold, and who only see the patient as an encumbrance that comes with their paycheck. I have encountered doctors who were massively manipulative and gorged themselves on the insecurity of their patients. I have been locked in solitary confinement and have seen many patients tackled in the hallways of the hospital and subsequently strapped down to a bed. I have been kept awake at night by the horrifying screams of patients in their rooms, and I myself have clawed at windows in a futile attempt to escape the horrific conditions of my environment.

Girl, Interrupted” was a movie. However, for me, it was more than that. It was a subtle insight into how broken our mental health system is. As mentioned above, the movie takes place in 1967, and 47 years later there unfortunately has been little to no progress made in how we treat certain individuals with mental illnesses. The fact that I was admitted to the psych ward during the two lowest times of my life, and was released both times without having recovered, devoid of the smallest bit of relief, speaks volumes.

America is expected to have the greatest healthcare in the world, yet when it comes to caring for our brains, the most important part of our body, we fail miserably. Those of us who are lucky enough to have “insurance” are denied access to the top doctors and mental facilities and are left subject to the mercy of such insurance companies. I myself was a victim of this. Back in 2012 my doctor and therapist recommended that I be admitted to Rogers Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin. They specialized in eating disorders, OCD and depression, the exact triple threat that I was facing. After doing hundreds of hours of research, my family and I agreed with the recommendation that was given to us.

Rogers Memorial was very expedient in their admittance process. The head doctor at the hospital learned about my condition and desperately wanted to help me. Once I was approved for admission by the hospital, they wanted me to fly out the very next day. My insurance company told me that they were approving the treatment, and I was absolutely ecstatic! I was so relieved that help was on its way, and I started packing immediately.

Later that night I received a call from my insurance company that crushed not only my hopes, as well as my soul, but the quintessence of who I was as a person. I was told that because I was 21-years-old, the insurance company could not approve my treatment at Rogers Memorial. However, if I was just one year younger, my treatment would have been a sure thing. They did not explain to me why such an illogical and ludicrous statute existed, nor did they even offer a simple apology. I remember that after I hung up the phone, I told my parents what I had just learned. I subsequently dropped to my knees on the kitchen floor with tears streaming down my cheeks and, looking them both in the eyes, said “I’m just going to kill myself.”

We eventually had to resort to my admittance to a low-budget hospital in Nevada, the only healthcare facility that my insurance would approve of, and where my aforementioned experiences took place.

I suppose I intended to write this post to let others know how fractured out healthcare system is. I may have prattled on a bit too much, but I want you all to know this: At this very moment there is another person in the United States who is on their knees contemplating ending their life. Why is our country not putting everything we have into helping these individuals? Our congress argues about the most mundane and idiotic things and it seems like they just don’t have the balls to tackle the real issues that face our population. Who knows, our government may act on this issue tomorrow. But guess what? That person who was on their knees? They just blew their brains out.

The Unfortunate Situation of the Blind Nudist

Sharon and Laura

(MyFoxAtlanta)

I have two words for you: Nudist. Colony. My apologies. Nudist. Resort. I’m sorry. Naturist. Resort. Well, whatever the hell the PC term is for not wearing any clothes in public (nauseating?), there are apparently many reasons behind one’s choice to join such a, ahem, club. Among them: To be pure and in-sync with nature, to say good-bye to tan lines, to strike up conversations with strangers (e.g. Wow, are those real?), to give the finger to the tyrannical, oppressive nature of clothing and to feast on a never-ending buffet of eye candy. I would assume that it would be safe to say, however, that this last reason had nothing to do with one woman’s choice to reside in a clothes-free zone.

In 2011, Sharon Fowler, a woman who had been battling Vasculitis, lost her vision due to the illness. In May of that same year, Sharon was notified of some good news. Being legally blind, she was qualified to receive a seeing-eye dog. As you can imagine, this made Sharon quite happy, as evidenced in her Facebook post:

FB Post

(Facebook)

In 2012 Sharon and her husband, Craig, along with her service dog (now named Laura), moved into the clothing-optional Paradise Lakes Resort and Condominiums in Lutz, Florida. A short while after they moved in, however, Sharon received a letter from Paradise Lakes Condominium Association, Inc. In the letter, they notified Sharon that she must get rid of her dog because it exceeded the 25 pound weight limit. She was also told that Laura was out of control and that if she did not remove the dog from the premises she would be fined $50 dollars a day. This, after Laura had already been approved to move into the condo with her dog by the very same association. As the Tampa Bay Times remarked, “Before Fowler moved into the community, she was required to fill out an application and pass a background check. She disclosed her need for Laura and the dog’s weight. Her application was approved.”

As it turns out, Sharon is the kind of woman who doesn’t take shit from anyone, especially a bunch of cocky nudists (pun intended). As she told local Fox affiliate WVTV, “I am legally blind. Laura is a trained, certified guide dog. You cannot bully us. We will not leave. This is our home. I won’t be embarrassed. I won’t be intimidated. We will go all the way with this, and we’ve done nothing wrong.”

I had the privilege of talking to Sharon and her husband Craig, who are both very nice individuals. They desperately want to resolve this situation, so they have filed a lawsuit against Paradise Lakes Condominium Association, Inc. (It is important to note that the lawsuit is not against Paradise Lakes Resort, but rather a separate, independent association that is responsible for overseeing the section of the condominium complex that Sharon lives in.)

Court Document

(WTSP)

Although many local media outlets are said to have contacted Paradise Lakes for a comment, they have apparently heard nothing back. Even Yahoo stated in an article that “The various media outlets down in Florida covering this story have reached out to Paradise Lakes for comment, but so far the property and its management has kept quiet on the manner.”

That’s funny, because I called Paradise Lakes and spoke to its owner, Jerry Buchanan. He was a nice man and was sympathetic to Sharon’s situation. However, he was quite miffed at all the bad press his resort was receiving, when it is an independent association that has done the wrong doing. He was kind enough to send me a press release detailing the nature of the lawsuit, which so many media outlets seem to find rather confusing. Spell it out for them, Jerry.

In recent days there has been a large amount of misinformation about Paradise Lakes Resort regarding a service dog for a woman who is sight impaired. In an effort to clear up this misunderstanding we would like to make the following statement:

Paradise Lakes Resort is a 56 room “Clothing Optional” Hotel and Resort situated adjacent to 525 privately owned homes, town homes and condominiums. These 525 units are not under the control of the resort in any capacity but are controlled independently by 6 different condominium associations. The lawsuit in question is against one of these condominium associations and the resort is not named in the complaint.

Due to extremely sloppy reporting by a newspaper and local television stations Paradise Lakes Resort has been falsely accused of denying a sight impaired person the right to use her service dog on the premises. If proper due diligence had been performed by the media outlets prior to the publishing and broadcasting these stories they would have discovered that this accusation against the resort is completely false.

To our knowledge the woman and her service dog have never been denied entry to the resort for any reason.

Paradise Lakes Resort does not prevent a person with a service dog access to our facility. In fact Paradise Lakes Resort has several sight impaired guests that visit our facility on a regular basis. We have, on many occasions, and will continue to allow persons with guide animals access to the resort. Not only do we allow persons with disabilities, we also have a very valuable staff member of 15 years who happens to be sight impaired employed in our spa services area.

These accusations are completely without merit and are completely false!

Paradise Lakes Resort would like to thank its thousands of guests and members and assure them that they are always welcome and will continue be treated with respect.

We feel the charges and accusations made in these media stories have been very misleading and damaging to our guests and our reputation as a first class clothing optional resort and expect a full retraction of these charges and an apology by the parties involved.

Jerry Buchanan

Owner – Paradise Lakes Resort

Well, there you have it. Apparently a novice blogger does better research than local and national media outlets.

I wish Sharon the best of luck in her endeavors and hope that she will once again soon be able to live in peace with Laura without having to go through any more discrimination.

As the lawsuit continues to move forward, I was informed by both Sharon and Craig, along with their lawyer Jessica Thorson from the Orlando law firm Morgan & Morgan, that they would not be able to make any more comments on the matter. So, I thought it would be fun to end this post by exploring what actually goes on at Paradise Lakes Resort.

Paradise Lakes has many amenities, including “an upscale restaurant, a rocking nightclub, our Key West Bar at poolside, a fitness center with a gym, a day spa, a boutique featuring the hottest in clubwear, two RV parks, tennis, sand volleyball, water volleyball, hot tubs, a heated conversation pool and huge all-season pool”. I spoke to a few residents of Paradise Lakes who occasionally rent out their condo, and they clarified to me the precise meaning of “clothing-optional”. It basically means that you can be naked anywhere within the resort. ANYWHERE.

(Paradise Lakes Resort)

(Paradise Lakes Resort)

That’s right. That couple who are trying to get into better shape together? They’re in the gym, running on the treadmill. NAKED. That upscale restaurant you wanted to try? Well, just be sure not to drop your fork under the table. Want to try your hand at volleyball? At least you won’t need to worry about getting sand in your shorts.

There is also no need to worry about being spotted naked by anyone other than your fellow nudists, for Paradise Lakes has an eight-foot high “privacy wall” surrounding the whole community. What better way to be one with nature then by being confronted with an enormous concrete wall everywhere you turn?

I was interested in seeing how far Paradise Lakes pushed the envelope, so I asked my informants if public sex acts are allowed on the resort premises. Alas, they are not. As my friends told me, “The resort doesn’t allow public sex acts.  Social nudity and public sex are not the same. What people do in the privacy of their accommodations is up to them…assuming that it is legal.”

However, in the FAQ section of Paradise Lakes’ website, they do have a few tips for when men become “visibly excited”: “On occasions where this occurs, simply don a towel, turn over, or take a quick dip in the pool.”

Before I end this post, I’ll leave you with one final question answered by Paradise Lakes Resort:

 

Q: What’s the one thing a first-time visitor to Paradise Lakes should remember?

A: Above all else, have fun. You’re in for a vacation to remember. We look forward to seeing more of you soon.

 

I’m sure they do look forward to seeing more of you soon. I’m sure they do.