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    NVC The Power of Self-Empathy to Deter Schizophrenia and OCD

    Monday, April 13, 2009, 3:35 AM [General]


    Brothers and Sisters,    


    I have lived the illness of schizophrenia for forty-six years. I have had to live with countless visual and auditory hallucinations that have plagued my existence on this Earth. My body and mind has had to experience many physical and mental breakdowns caused by the effects of my illness.

    I have attempted suicide as many times as I have fingers and toes. I have abused my body using sharp objects, electrodes and lit cigarettes to numb the emotional turmoil that I live with daily. My body is scarred and abused from emotional outbursts that have strangled my feelings and blackened my moods.

    I have lived in searing fear, anger, and shame from my behaviors that are seemingly uncontrollable and overwhelming to the point of exhaustion and blinding frustration.

    In my childhood, my parents misunderstood my behaviors as something as simple as a childhood faze that I would grow out of given time and the passing of puberty. I was given countless psychological evaluations in my elementary and Highschool years. My parents dealt with these studies as they dealt with my drinking, absolute denial.

    I live in moments of absolute clarity with extreme calamity all bunched up in a single event. A typical episode is a successive flash of images that are accompanied by violent emotions.

     I am watching a movie and see a person being arrested by the police. To anyone else this situation could be considered to be a scary event that is quickly absorbed by the audience as nothing more as a fictional story.

    In my mind, I will see myself being wrongly accused of a crime, beaten by the police with their sticks, pistol whipped, handcuffed, beaten even more, thrown in a cell and tortured by the jail guards, then left in a bloody heap on the floor dying alone.

    All of this is accompanied by the emotions of fits of anger, rage, shame, guilt, remorse, sadness. Then to finish everything off, I will have another flash of successive visions of me sitting ontop of a building with an automatic machine gun killing every cop in my sights, with the emotions of, joy, elation, contentment, and serenity for the revenge I have just taken. All of this will happen in seconds sometimes lasting days and even weeks with nothing but rageful thoughts of revenge against a hallucination of jumbled images and feelings.

    I have found that I am able to manage my behaviors using a Nonviolent Communication strategies taught by Marshall Rosenberg. Now when I have an outburst of emotion, I stop myself and apply self-empathy. I have trained myself to look at the emotion I am experiencing, break that emotion down to a basic feeling then discover my needs.

    I am an extremely sensitive individual; I feel empathy for others deeply and am able to read peoples emotions being three steps ahead of their next thought. I have a tendency to blurt out emotions I am feeling in others, surprising them into angry upsets that can easily cut them deeply.

    This behavior has gotten me into allot of trouble when I want to build friendships and be closer to people. People become afraid of me, some saying I get a thrill out of saying disruptive things to people causing them pain and discomfort.

    These behaviors cannot be stopped, I have tried; I have intense feelings of uneasiness until I say whatever is on my mind. My doctor said that this is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and there is not much I can do about it.

    With self-empathy, I discovered my basic need to help others. Before I toss a disruptive word or statement at an unsuspecting person when I am speaking to them, I meet this need in a healthy way by writing down the statement that comes to me and read that statement at the right moment rather than at the wrong one.

    Self-empathy has worked for me in my marriage: My wife woke me up in the morning with a telephone call; she announced to me that she would be unable to attend a party I had planned months ago. She gave me some logical argument on why she was not coming; I promptly refused to listen to her explanation.

    Immediately I went into a schizophrenic rage. All I could feel was anger and abandonment; I was so immersed in my anger that I had a series of hallucinations of her divorcing me and leaving and with an intense emotion of abandonment and sadness and then a rageful and violent anger that made me punch the wall.

    Before I was out of bed and dressed, I was steaming with resentment. The first thing I did was to go to an AA meeting and speak my anger, the meeting was on acceptance, and I could not accept the situation because I realized I did not feel safe as I was living in the hallucination that I was experiencing. Two hours later, I went to another meeting that was on fear, in this meeting I stopped myself long enough to remember my compassionate communication course I had taken a week ago, we practiced using self-empathy.

    I knew I was angry and I relaxed and meditated for a moment, and the feeling of fear rose through the anger, I realized that fear was creating my basic need. I then spoke to my inner child's deepest need based on my fear and discovered the need that I was looking for. I found that this party of mine was a big deal to me, and I felt fear that if no one came to my party that I would be alone, I needed my wife to be there because I needed to be cared for incase the party was a disaster, I was expecting my wife to take that role.

    Upon realizing my basic need was to be nurtured, the anger left, the rage subsided, and empathy for my wife's needs came into my consciousness. I called her immediately and apologized for my behavior, and then I told her what I needed. She suggested someone else might show up and fulfill that need of mine in a healthy and loving way.

    I reported my findings to my counselor the following Thursday night. He praised me for using a successful strategy that when I used it caused me to have control of my symptoms of schizophrenia. The cause of the outbreak was an abandonment issue, before I would have stayed in blame mode for weeks with extreme violent behavior and flashes of hostile intentions built up in the form of hallucinations. With the use of self-empathy, I now have an effective deterrent against these behaviors.

    Recently, I discovered that through self-empathy that the abuse I experienced as a child from my Father and Stepmother was that my basic need was to be loved. Looking back at my actions when I was a teenager, I found that because my Father expected me to change my behavior, he was going to use love as a weapon to get me to change.

    I realized because of this basic need of wanting to be loved was so powerful I sought out unhealthy ways to meet this need regardless of my Fathers desires to change me, one of these ways in which I tried to meet my need of being loved was abusing my sister. I thought if I could only change my behavior, my Father would love, and honor me as his son and he would give me the love that I always craved.

    I felt my Fathers heart and in empathy for him, I understood that he needed love too. I now know that I cannot expect him to fulfill his need by me changing my behaviors. That would be the same as asking a gay person to be straight, which would be very unlikely.

    The guilt I carried with me since childhood has left me thanks to self-empathy before I believed that I was a great disappointment too my Father, this strategy of self-empathy has changed my view of myself and my guilt I dragged with me through my life.

    I am now meeting that need of being loved by accepting the love of my wife and children.

    I remember what Marshall Rosenberg said about Adolf Hitler, he met basic needs that served life. Everyone has needs that serve life. It was not Hitler's fault that he used the Jews as a way to meet his needs. It was the 300 years of German history that was taught to the German people that said Jews were evil.

    In my case, my Father was taught to be a Father by his Father, and his Father before him going back 300 years of dysfunctional behavior from generation to generation. Each Father had a basic need to be fulfilled that served life. I am as guilty as my Father was. My job is now to break this chain of behavior teaching compassionate communication to my children and grandchildren. I must be the one that ends this behavior; I am the only one that can do it.

    Thanks to Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication, I can break the chain. I break the bad links and repair them with healthy ones. I am connected in a deeper more positive way with my family and have a powerful tool to harness the effects of my schizophrenia and OCD. I want to pass a message onto everyone that has emotional issues. Please try the strategy of self-empathy taught by Marshall Rosenberg. It has saved my life and my family of any further hardship that they have experienced through the effects of my mental illness.

    With the proper medication, therapy, and support groups including practice groups using compassionate communication techniques and language my mental health has never been better.

    Go to the link:

    For further Information



    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    My Cardboard Hilton

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 12:52 AM [General]

                The cold wind rattled the walls as I curled up in my makeshift blanket of plastic and newspaper; the Sunday Chicago Tribune pages strewn over my ruddy torn blue jeans. The plastic lay over the newsprint to keep the water out and my unwashed clothes dry. Monday morning came late for me because of the rain and sleet that fell the night before had covered the roof and sides of my self imposed cell of cardboard from a Maytag refrigerator carton I found in a nearby dumpster.

                I arose stiff and always hungry, that constant pang of hunger that stayed with me day in and day out. I grabbed a milk carton unzipped my pants and let a long stream of urine filling the container to the brim. I couldn’t take the chance getting caught urinating on a wall, the cops were always hassling me and I didn’t need anymore stuff to happen. The last time the pigs busted my rear up and stole everything I owned; I wasn’t getting robbed by those pigs again.

                My head ached; my eyes felt like cockroaches were gnawing at my eyeballs all night. The voice in my head was screaming in my brain, “Don’t let them cops get you!” “If you gott’a go don’t let them see ya!” “If they do you gott’a fight’em, killem if you have to.”  I knew the voice would go away if I just ate something; I kept a coffee can filled with odd stuff I found in back of the McDonalds, French fry’s from Mac’s kept forever so I collected them and put them in my coffee can for safe keeping. The bugs couldn’t get too them and I could eat them when I needed to.

                The fry’s tasted hard and bitter, each strand of potato gleamed with the shine of chemical preservatives that kept the food edible for weeks. I pulled a packet of salt out of the can and gingerly sprinkled each fry with a dose of sodium. My mouth would water with every bite I took, the smell of grease and three day old coffee grounds that I pulled the bag of fry’s from still lingered on each morsel.

                I had a bottle of wine handy to wash down each fry; the consistency of each fry was like eating plastic rubber. The taste lingered on my tongue an hour after I consumed them. The wine helped a little bit, of course a Coke would have been better, but finding a full cup of Coke in the garbage bin was almost impossible.

                Finished with my breakfast, I look out the flap of my hotel room to check the weather conditions, cold, and wet, looks like another day in paradise.

                The voice in my head is whispering now, I can barely hear the nagging and complaining of my alter ego. It’s mumbling about the last shopping cart I had when two young men with baseball bats decided to play a game of bash the cart with me as the goalie.  I hurt for a week after that little game, and that’s when the cops, those nice police officers decided to help me by throwing my stuff in the back of a garbage truck and toss me on my ass for protesting.  Chicago cops are worse people alive they all deserve the same treatment a gun up their rear!

                I carried my stuff in shopping bags now; nobody wants to look in a dirty bag. I can hide my money down in the folds of a bag where no jerk head would ever look.

                I buried my stuff in the sand over by the beach, carrying it around is a hassle; I put a brick on the spot where I dug the hole.  Last time I did this someone moved the brick and it took me three hours to find the spot where I hid everything.

                Monday’s are garbage day in Lakeview; I can find all kind of good stuff that people throw out.  Problem is no antique stores are open on Mondays; they don’t open till Wednesday’s so I got to find a place to stash my stuff that I can sell till then. 

                The used book shop is open everyday, Bob run’s the place, and he knows I can get him descent porn that I pick out of the cans. Once I found a first edition of Playboy and sold to Bob for $50. That was a good day for me. I used the fifty to stay two nights at the Arms Motel where I could sleep in a real bed with clean sheets and take a long hot bath while I watched TV.

                I’m an expert picker, that’s one thing about that voice in my head, it leads me to garbage cans that have good shit in them, and the voice works every time. I’m drawn to a can just like a magnet, I pick through the crap and at the bottom I find gold.

                Once I had to take a gold collar off a dead cat that was thrown in the garbage just like a piece of old meat. The collar was 14 carets gold; I got 75 dollars for it at the pawn shop. The cat couldn’t take it with it, so I took it.

                Today I’ll start on Waveland and head west down the alley. I just walk, when the voice says stop and look I do.  About two hours later I find a dead pile. Dead piles are rare finds, there’s stuff the family threw out after mom or dad kicked off, and they didn’t know what to do with three centuries worth of crap except just toss it.

                My voice is going crazy, “You better look faster, some one is bound to come and take it away from you.”  Look in that box first!  I find a jewelry box full of costume jewelry. Then I find a Mexican Silver bracelet and two gold rings with diamond chips on them.

                The next box reveals dented silver bowls each with hallmarks on the bottom of them; four of those. Also in the same box is a mantel clock with a missing pendulum and a broken glass door; the winding key is right next to it.  I find some new overalls which I try on over my pants. They fit all right. I find a couple of wool button up shirts which I snatch up.

                The voice is going crazy now, “Hurry up before some one comes, and use that old suit case to pack everything in.” I had strewn everything into a mess all over the alley. All the boxes were emptied every bag was inside out.

                This was a great haul! I new I could get a week in a motel with all the stuff I found in that dead pile. I was overjoyed; I triumphantly trudged home carrying my loot from my conquest.

                I went into Dales Pawn shop and sold the jewelry and the bowls, I got a hundred dollars for everything. He didn’t want the clock but he took an old radio I found in the pile for another ten bucks.

                I went to town that day, I bought food at the Jewel to last me a couple of weeks, mostly canned stuff like stew, and corned beef hash. I went to the laundry mat and washed what clothes I had, the rank was awful, the patrons at the mat weren’t to happy to be near me, I hadn’t bathed in two weeks, they thought I should have been dumped in the washer before my clothes.

                I had enough to stay at the motel for three nights, leaving me with twenty bucks to spare. Wednesday I went to Mary’s Antiques and sold her the clock for twenty five dollars. As I walked out with my riches folded up in the pocket of my nice new overalls and wool shirt, those damned cops drove up.

                “Hey Rummy!” Come here!”  I stopped and looked over my shoulder; the voice sprang into action “You talking to me boy!” Kill these fools! You know their going to mess with you.  The police officer grabbed my arm and tripped me onto my face. “Where did you steal all these clothes rummy?”  The cops patted me down and pulled out my money. “So you been holding out on us ain’t you boy?” The cop stuffed the money in his breast pocket.  Then the other cop kicked me in my head. I blacked out and the next thing I knew I’m laying in the back of a patty wagon, my head throbbing with a cut over my left eye.  

                I woke up in a drunk tank, my clothes were ripped and covered in my own blood. It was Thursday night at about six o’clock in the evening when they released me. No charges, no clothes, no money.

                It took me four hours to walk back to the Northside back to the motel where I left my stuff the day before. The Motel manager threw out all my food and my clothes that I found three days before. He said check out was a twelve o’clock noon and you weren’t there to check out.

                I went to the dumpster to see if I could retrieve my belongings only to find that the garbage truck picked up three hour ago. Three hours too late for me. 

                I found the brick on the beach, dug up my stuff, found my cardboard cottage rapped and old newspaper around me and began to cry. The voice in my head rambling on an on, Your nothing but crap, you should of stood up to those cops, you should killem, killem good, kill all those cops!  I felt alone and afraid, waiting for the next day in paradise to arrive while I slept in my cardboard Hilton. 

    0 (0 Ratings)


    Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 12:36 AM [General]



                I have lived with the illness of schizophrenia for 44 years, I am 47 now. I remember the voices as early as three and the terror having to follow the voices instructions to the letter. The voice is always accompanied by feelings of dread and violent compulsiveness to act out in ways that will create a wake of destructive behavior resulting in loneliness, depression, pain, and suffering.

                I have been homeless, unemployed, and destitute. I have had 77 jobs including a small stint in the Army. I have gained more than 300 pounds and have become ill from diabetes, arthritis, back pain, and emphysema from chain smoking three packs a day.  My description of my life may sound terrible and I might be living in misery while regretting that I was born.

                In the year 1992 I met a woman that through all the pain and destruction I have experienced has stayed by my side without a flinch. Through the dark times living without medication and therapy of any sort she supported me and helped me up when I fell into hard times.

                In 2000 we were married, and she became my care taker. I got on her health insurance policy from her job and my life changed 360 degrees.  I became medicated and started psycho-therapy. The voices became whispers and the hallucinations manageable. I got on Social Security and for the first time in my life I felt like I was contributing.

                 I began to see my illness become something that could be worked with instead of fighting off. I have been consistently sober for 25 years. Mainly out of fear of living my life in an extreme state on unmanageability and powerlessness. 

                Going to 12 step meetings everyday keeps me engaged and out of myself; giving me a spiritual tool box to use in times of need.  Before medication, people told me I walked under a dark and stormy cloud all the time; instilling fear upon anyone that I came in contact with. Now with medication I have many friends and have much respect in my community.

                I am a community leader and am considered a responsible member of the board of directors. I carry with me the desire to help others and to practice unconditional love.  Acceptance is the key to my health, when I accept my illness as perfect, exactly the way it is suppose to be; then I experience joy.

                I am a Buddhist, and cultivate Dao in my life. As I understand my illness it is Karma that I must live out from the hurt that I inflicted on others in a previous life.  My suffering isn’t suffering at all. My illness is my amends. As I live my life I can choose to suffer in pain or suffer in joy. I choose joy.  I feel I have been enlightened.

    0 (0 Ratings)


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