A Little Hope From My Friends

Not all days are our best days. But asking for help is not a weakness. It is perhaps the strongest part of maintaining a positive outlook on life.

People with criminal conviction records eventually will slip into a coma-like mental pattern where opportunities feel hopeless or disconnected from the operational world around them. Many people have spent countless days in jail, prisons, or perhaps at home with a jail-like experience with inabilities to either leave or not having the finances or knowing where the next meal, roof, or opportunity will be before them? I, too, have been in that dark place. There will always be unhelpful opportunists to exclaim “well, you put yourself in that place.” But trying to find the light with so much darkness around can be a steep path to navigate. But the one thing that kept me going was a determination to discover answers. Rather than sulking in sorrow or misery, I had to ask for help first mentally and then spiritually. For some of you, the spirituality method may be a sore subject. I completely get that because I felt abandoned by my own God. However, for the sake of keeping a compass bearing, let’s focus on the mentality part.

1.2 million individuals living with mental illness sit in jail and prison each year

Mental health is nothing to put off thinking that one can “get brave” and handle it. Asking for help for any mental health issue is a challenge because we are embedded by parents, spouses, leaders, friends, and sometimes self-help materials to not let people see the vulnerability within us. We are reminded to keep our tears secreted and masked only to show the strongest side of us. Without hesitation, I say that well-being is the worst piece of advice anyone could ever give! Naturally, our survival instinct triggers us mentally to panic and survive at nearly any cost. But that is the vulnerability we should pack away for a moment and allow others to assist in a healthy direction. That direction begins with contacting local, state, county, social services, churches, LGBT centers, NAACP groups, food banks, creditors, banks, online friends, former contacts, allies and sometimes non-traditional support methods. If it has a phone number, call it! Asking for help is the hardest part because not only do we feel shame on one level we experience shame on another level for asking for help.

Ignoring your pain, masking your weaknesses, and suppressing your emotions won’t make you any better. Remind yourself that asking for help means you’re strong enough to admit you don’t have all the answers. … It means you’re trying to deal with uncomfortable emotions, like humility, fear, and embarrassment, head-on.

People that know me will immediately say that I present resources and contact information to get things started. Yes; Others must do the work, but I can show the doorway by being a support resouce for others – as other have the ability to do so. I have rarely had feedback saying, “they couldn’t help at all?” Instead, I have witnessed successes because providing the door allows others to maintain control without feeling as much shame. But then once the austerity conditions set in the shame switches to frustration, anger, and blame assessments. This is common. But a good plan is to be aware that these feelings are normal. But they are feeling and not a factual part of your life directly. Anger happens to lots of people. So, don’t feel so all alone and isolated. Instead, bring a manta in your life to keep you going. Mine is, “don’t bring me a problem; bring me a solution.” That way, I don’t complain to others or fall into a gap of seeming to blame others. I work out my problem to find various solutions and then attempt to implement them. If I need help, I discuss the solution to determine if that part plan is realistic?

But this piece of advice may be adequate or inadequate depending on where your mental health is with you today. Try to be hopeful. Hope has allowed me to cling on perhaps the worst days of my life. But at least I can be optimistic about something in my life or the optomism in the life of others. Without question, being hopeful and positive require lots of energy. But I would argue that it takes more energy being angry at the world than it does to be happy and optimistic. Therefore, I encourage all to be positive in your day-to-day routine and try to be positive for others.

Attitude is a decision.

Lastly, for those that have an issue with spirituality. If you have a problem with God or a fixed ultra-being, then I highly recommend finding a temporary fix to your religious situation. For example, if you enjoy eating, then perhaps the refrigerator could be your temporary God? That way, the light comes on and goes off each time you open and pay respects to the refrigerator-god! (feel free to play dramatic spritual awaking background music at this moment) Sometimes there may be food, other times not. But if you require a spiritual awakening moment, place your head in the freezer portion for a few minutes – to cool down from being so overwhelmed. But develop something that gives you a spiritual goal until you are comfortable enough to maintain a relationship with whatever religion you choose. Spirituality provides not just comfort, but it provides guidelines and an ethical code to follow, which can help mental health issues. It is somewhat symbiotic but helpful to find balance in life. (and dont worry about the graven images commandment. You have a long way to go at this point!)

Perhaps the original messiah of refrigerators

If you have never experienced jail, prison, house arrest, or confinement. Congratulations! Now take that virtuous life you live being helpful to others returning others towards a good life similar to yours. Help one another and hope for the best!

One more thing. Learn to laugh again and share that laughter!

Ten Million Registrants?

Recently the Attorney General for the State of Michigan, Dana Nessel presented an argument to the federal court that the sex offender registry is so burdensome and fail to distinguish between dangerous offenders and those who are not a threat to the community. However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled, that Michigan’s registry is punishment and cannot be applied retroactively.

Before we pop the Champaign corks and begin to celebrate that those affected by the registry and its advocates observe various rulings only to have them become ignored or administratively adjusted. It is somewhat similar to when we hear that a person is “free to go”. But there seems to be paperwork or other administrative details before the individual is actually free. We do live in a nation where statue mandates “fast and speedy trail” but there is no clear rule or policy to mandate the efficiency and workflow of civil procedures.

While I am exited about the Michigan case and its merit lets not forget that a federal court made a previous ruling that hasnt propelled the required traction for immedete enforcement. If the Attorney General wants to gain trust to those affected by the sex registry then the next step of good faith is to stop enforcing a requirement that Michigan registrants to pay an annual sex offender fee. While this sounds like an extreme format towards legislative battles between executive and legislative branches of government, the validation lies with how sincere Dana Nessel intends to pursue how to fix the registry or abolish it, should that be a future project? Perhaps Dana should reach out to current registrants and families affected by the registry for a comprehensive evalution of options?

Let’s face facts that a sex registry is an entertainment tool in the eyes of the general public than an educational tool. To date, there are at least a million registrants. But the bigger picture is undisclosed of those connected to the sex registry. There are parents, grandparents, siblings spouses, and children connected to the daily lives of registered sex offenders. This implies that the sex registry could potentially affect not just one million registrants, but over five to ten million citizens. If registrants are not allowed to be a part of a child’s developmental and parental programs, then that facilitates others such as grandparents, siblings, or friends to remedy that a child has equal access to programs. But if one parent is excluded because of public policy or law then the registry itself is an accomplice portion that devides families, communities, and facilitates potential homelessness issues for Americans. Perhaps this is why Attorney Generals are quickly discovering the sex registry has outgrown its usefulness and should be dissolved.

I am confident that the sex registry will eventually come to an end. The only people clinging on to the notion of registry requirements are those that seek enterprising methods to create a fear-based business model usually siding with law enforcement programs instead of social community programming. These models are facilitated without any facts, any data, any proof, or any rational support that lists work. Instead, there is a culture laced hobgoblin atmosphere that communities are laced with sexual predators creating unnecessary anxieties. Groups of law enforcement unions additionally lay claim to the high effective rate of registry requirements are directly power grabbing. If the registry is so successful as a deterrent, then why has the registry more than tripled in the decade? The answer is somewhat simplified that children are the newest growing members to the registry. With lifetime commitments naturally, the registry will continue to manifest and absorb more people discarding that the registry is, in fact, has deterrent features.

Again, it is essential to remain optimistic that leaders like Dana Nessel do bring value to the sex offender registry argument. However, as the states leading law enforcement agent, she has much more to prove by actions instead of appearing in a courtroom. Registrants and families are watching to witness the outcomes.

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