You are mentally ill! Everyone has a ” disorder “, find out what you have…

Everyone can meet criteria for a mental health disorder and diagnoses. That is the way the system is set up. Do you prefer to find out what you ” have ” or would you prefer to move on from this post, and ignore the idea of you having a ” disorder “? I am doing a free evaluation today for anybody. Let me grab my DSM and we can get on with it. For those not familiar, the DSM is the book that mental health professionals use to figure out what you ” have ” when it comes to mental health disorders and making a formal diagnoses on you.  It is not extremely complex, but more like a collection of symptoms people have and a grouping, or as I like to call it- labeling.

The diagnoses are grouped according to what categories fit together in the form of what they call an AXIS. Axis 1, Axis II, Axis III, Axis IV and so on. Each axis represents a specific underlying reason for the diagnoses in that group. For example, Lets say Axis IV is  ” psycho-social stressors”. If you go to a mental health clinician for an evaluation, they will do a total assessment first on you covering anything from your medical history, to you and the abuse you suffered as a child. After the initial assessment, the narrowing down begins as to what group (Axis) or groups you fit into, according to the information you gave the clinician as compared with the DSM criteria to fall into a certain category. Once this is determined, it is time to get down to a specific diagnoses or maybe several.

So you have told me that you feel depressed but not all the time, just sometimes, and it really does not interfere with your daily routine. That along with a few  minor details is enough for you to score a label! Maybe medicine for depression even. You have dysthymia. From this day forward, you have a mental health history and a label. It’s that simple. So what do you have? OCD? PTSD? ANXIETY? The list is long, and the criteria is not very difficult to meet for anyone who has suffered a period in their life of depression, or watched Dr Phil and think they have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder like the guest. All you need is the correct key words and you are in the club of people with mental health disorders. That brief example and this post is not meant to discount mental health disorders, as they are real and can inflict serious problems with the life of the one suffering. My point is we all can squeeze our way into some diagnoses, especially if you are aware of the criteria. Let me give a quick example, that is a bit shocking but true that I personally was involved in.

Years ago I was involved in the start- up operation of an alternative school for expelled youth, I hired about 45 staff members, and trained them all on many different topics, one being the importance of finding a balance with labels that kids come in with. Just because they have been diagnosed with ” intermittent explosive disorder ” does not mean they cannot learn their way out of that label. To accomplish this objective, I decided to take the criteria straight from the DSM for  ” Major Depressive Disorder “, copy it and make it into a worksheet similar to multiple choice. I took the disorder label off so it would appear just as a question and answer handout, and nobody put their name on it, so we did not violate any laws of privacy. I got my people in one of our training rooms one morning, and announced that today we will start with a survey to fill out and proceeded to hand out 45 surveys, and asked them to take their time, fill it out and return to me. They turned them in and I gave them some materials on another subject to read while I went over the information. Now these are teachers, therapists, nurses, and highly educated, along with some other staff that did not have a degree but were proficient in what they did. A mixed pot! After review, and running some numbers I was NOT surprised to see that nearly 65% met full criteria for Major Depressive Disorder! Another 25% met criteria for one of the depressive or anxiety disorders, leaving about 10% not meeting criteria for any depressive disorder. I shared that with the group and jaws dropped. We discussed it all afternoon, and how perspective is everything when dealing with the kids they were about to try to teach. It was one of the most effective trainings I have ever done and one that should only be done in certain circumstances and with someone trained in the DSM and understanding that we cannot diagnose ourselves or others unless qualified. I had worked with a Psychiatrist for years doing assessments so I happened to be prepared for the boundaries needed in the training, and the lines that cannot be crossed. I educated, but did not diagnose anyone.

As I close this post, I will encourage you to get educated before you get labeled. Make sure you need what you are asking for. When my own kids display a certain behavior in their school, if a teacher starts talking about her or his opinion of what may be ” wrong” with them, I am quick to respond with  – DONT LABEL MY KID! You should too, until you have done your homework. If you are an adult, same rule applies. Get educated before you take the step to see a mental health worker who may just decide you are BI-POLAR! It is serious enough to do the homework, and again I am not at all discounting mental health issues. I am suggesting that we as a society may have become too quick to accept or assign labels to ourselves or our kids that may not be needed. I am out.


You are what you say and think you will be! Make your life count!

I was thinking recently about the world. The way people act, the things people say and the way people treat each other in general. Of course it is part of my career and background to identify how people see themselves. I am talking not just about areas I happen to be educated in or any special training. I am talking the basics. If you are a person who believes in God, you read the Bible then you may call it sowing and reaping. You may like to call it mind over matter, or aligning yourself with the universe, whatever the case it matters not for this topic.

I am talking about actually speaking and believing in what you have decided to pursue. For example, in my work and counsel to families over the years, I address behaviors and words, and the link between them. Whatever behavior is causing a problem had to start as a thought, right? So somewhere between the thought and the action was a decision that had to be made. In my case, I often teach parents that pointing out negative behavior all of the time to their children will never produce a change for the better. Then they usually look at me funny and ask what they should be doing. This little tiny nugget that I learned when I was a young college student has proved to change lives in a matter of days. In this scenario, the nugget is that positive reinforcement is the only way a parent will see improvement that is meaningful in their child.

What? Usually I hear something like this ” I never see them doing anything good!” So now we are at the key area that a parent will either accept, learn and change, or they will resist and continue down a failing path and become more stressed and see more problems- some even resulting in health issues by now. So lets take the route to improvement right now, and say we are all parents and we all want to see a change in behavior in our kids. What would need to happen is this;

we would all need to adjust our thinking a bit to line up with what will produce good results. Staying with our scenario, we all would begin to ” catch our kids being good”- I know, it is totally against the flow, which psychology says is about 15 negative comments to every positive comment we give to our child. That is about average in an average home, and usually goes something like this- ” Stop talking back!”- ” Clean your room!”- ” You better watch your mouth” and on it goes until we have racked up a dozen or so negative comments in a matter of hours. So we need to change our thinking to stop with the critical comments, and begin to train ourselves to listen and watch for what you DO want to see, and jump all over it with simple praise, such as ” Thanks for having your room clean, it looks great!” or ” Thanks for using a calm voice when we talked earlier, it really helped me understand what you were trying to say”. I think you get the idea, we want to take the 15:1 ratio and turn it around, by exchanging one type of comment for another to attain desired results. The reality is, the only way humans change behavioral patterns is by positive and consistent reinforcement of the desired behavior. That goes for us adults too by the way. Think of your workplace, or relationships; would it not be wonderful to get 10 or 15 positive comments to every 1, on an average? It really is not difficult, and it produces quick and lasting change for the better. However even parents I have shown this to, maybe 50% actually do it. The other half live in misery and complain, while the answer is in their reach.

So I use that example, although very abbreviated, and not a complete summary as a model for the topic of this post. We have got to understand that we ( to a certain extent) actually decide our own outcomes by how we decide to do 3 things. 

1- How we think.

2- How we behave.

3-How we use words.

Think on things that are in line with your goals, speak in a way that lines up with your goals, and act as if you are already there. Sound too simple? It really is very easily explained. We have to address the root problem, which is how we think. If I am driving around town all day and I keep thinking about robbing a bank, I am going to end up at a dead end road, as it is neither realistic, legal, or productive. I use this as a random example, but insert your worries, your heavy thoughts that want to repeat like a tape over and over…

Now we have to make the decision to think on something more in line with our goals. Whatever that looks like for you, think on it. Dwell on it. Purposely focus on the things that the ingredients you need to achieve your outcome. Wasted thinking, or “stinking thinking” accomplishes nothing good and is likely to cause you even more stress. Next, what we say is CRITICAL to accomplishing what we will see as outcomes. It matters not if you are alone or with friends, if you allow words to come out that contradict the thoughts you have trained yourself to think, you have to start all over. So say things like ” I am excited for what is happening!” or ” Good things are going on” instead of the traditional ” Life sucks and I am tired” or ” I think I will have a heart attack”. You may be surprise at how many people actually fulfill their own verbal commands.

Finally, make the necessary practical decisions that must occur for you to see your dream. In other words, stop doing things that are counter-productive to what you want, and purposefully do the things that you have identified as mandatory for success. Put yourself around people who already possess what you want. Stay away from those who are going the opposite direction. Believe in yourself, and do NOT believe everything you think. Only believe the thoughts that line up with your goal. Most other interference comes from the media, the radio, and our natural wanting to loathe in self pity. Cut it out. Shut the television off. Refuse to give in to what others say about your situation. Most times, when people see that you are not out to impress or conform to their ways, they get fearful and try to pull you back down into misery with them, as we know misery LOVES company. Its lonely going the positive route, not many choose it. Get used to it. If you are worried about what others will think about you, then you have a self confidence issue, and address it. Refuse to “need” anyone, but allow yourself to enjoy the company of those who are supportive of you and your goals. Refuse to think negative, as it only leads to talking negatively, which will bring you right to acting negatively. You are trying to leave there, remember? LOL!

Finally, I laid this foundation for everyone, so that I can take a real life example of someone who is living in success at a very young age, because he chose to go against the grain. Persevering,  is falling down 19 times, and getting up again on the 20th. Ben Franklin once said ” the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get!”. Think on that statement for a minute, it is powerful. So let me move on to sharing with you Julian and his adventure, maybe it will allow you to think differently. Your goal does not have to line up with his, but your mindset does…. here is his story..

Why people will write and listen about problems- but not talk about them!


Even as I write this post I think of my youthful years, and how very important it was to be approved by others in what I said, did, even how I dressed. Amazing the effort I put in, but looking back, I did not get much in return. I may be the only one who did that….hahahaha! I suspect we all at some time have done this. As a matter of fact, I think we still do it as adults.

Of course there are codes of dress and hygiene and speech that sort of go without saying, literally. I am referring to the other stuff. The fact that adults panic before going into a big meeting, or giving a big presentation. Those of us who get nervous when trying to express how we feel about something, fearful we might offend someone. Why?

More than not,  believe it has to do with insecurity and the absence of confidence in ourselves. It causes people panic attacks, difficulty speaking, awkward body language, and a myriad of other problems. I think we would all agree that we each have areas that make us a bit more anxious than usual. That in and of itself is just part of who we are, however when it becomes burdensome, it needs to be addressed. I know some may be thinking they have a “disorder” and they cannot help it. In some cases, it could be a real medical issue, but in many it is an issue that can be traced back to someone or something. Rather than try to explain why we do what we do, I will give 2 examples of how this can happen.

1- The “ham bone” story;

A young woman and her mother are preparing the Easter ham and as the mother cuts the bone off of the ham, the daughter asks ” why do you cut the bone off?” A little taken back, the mother responds calmly with ” well honey, that is just how we do it”. As they continue on, the mother quietly picks up the phone and calls her mother, and asks her why they cut the bone off of the ham, as the young daughter listens eagerly. Mother hangs up the phone a minute later when the daughter asks what the response was. Mother says ” Oh darling, she says we have always done it this way” so they start on the green beans. Finally the young daughter says “Mom, lets call great granny and ask her!”…reluctantly mom agrees and calls her great-grandmother and asks the same question. She hangs up the phone, waits for the question from her daughter which is already coming, and says this; ” Your great great grandmother said she does not know what we are doing it for, she just did it because back 50 years ago they did not have a pan big enough to hold the bone!”

2- When I was an administrator at a school for teenagers who had been expelled from public school, I ran across one 17-year-old who was extremely loud, threatening and violent. When I pulled him into my office and calmly asked him why he acted like that, he quickly named off a few ” anger disorders” he had been diagnosed with. Hmm, I thought…he has been sold a bill of goods that he has no control over his anger. So I did the smart, rational thing and gave him the keys to my truck. I asked him to go wait in the truck until I got there in a minute, and we would talk more as I ran a few errands. Of course he looked at me like I was nuts, but it was a moment of truth and I had to take it. A few minutes later we went to a large department store, a library, and a fast food chain. He followed quietly behind me, careful to adjust his behavior according to the setting we were in. (hint, hint).

When we arrived back at the school, I asked him one question – ” Hey, just curious why you did not knock out the check out guy at the store, or yell at anyone in the library, or even cuss a few times when someone bumped into you at the burger joint?”

He looked up, looked around, silent for a minute, then threw this at me; “Mr P., I cannot do that in those places, I will get in trouble!” About a minute later a smile came across his face, and he said ” so this school is like one of those places, right?” I smiled and said “Exactly”.

He was an honor student who rose to the top of the promotion program faster than any other student. He was able to realize that labels are not always correct. He controlled his anger, it was just his choice where he did it!

I learned very much about labeling and the harmful effects it can have on the average kid who has been repeatedly told they have this or that problem. They begin to believe it and act it out. By the way, this is a certain group, not everyone. I am aware that medical issues do actually interfere with behavior sometimes! Hope you learned as much as I did about why we do what we do!


Guest Post on Alana’s site! Check her incredible credentials and writings out!


Does anyone believe that keeping guns from the good guys will help crime?

Does anyone believe that keeping guns from the good guys will help crime?

Children receiving gun training in a school dated 1956. Here is an actual photograph of how gun control was handled back in the day in Indiana, This year, 1956 the kids were trained in proper usage of guns and how to safely carry. The number of school shootings that year in Indiana? 0. I think hours could be spent on this topic, but let us make it simple.

Human nature desires what it cannot have. However most times, when you reverse that way of thinking by making it available, people find that the interest slowly dies down, unless there are some that truly want to learn about the topic. In the case of guns, I think educating children and helping them respect the gun, is a far better choice than hiding guns and acting like our kids cannot get one off the streets. Would you rather tell the children you are raising to stay away from guns and pray that they really do? Or would you find some comfort knowing that a professional is training them to treat any weapon as deadly and teaching them to respect guns?
I have been in that situation, having 5 children. The issue was not always guns, in my case it was one with guns, and then some motocross, and a little bullriding that my kids took interest in at very young ages. I embraced what they enjoyed, made sure they had the most protective gear possible, and have watched one become a champion marksmen through the sheriff’s department, and the teenager after 6 years, still riding bulls. I never “opted” them out of anything, but rather I exposed them to everything and let their own hearts be drawn to what it was they were interested in. Of course I was the one to select what things I exposed them to, so I actually had control. It is called freedom within limits. Everyone gets to feel like they are in charge!
I write this to encourage you NOT to try and shield your babies from the things of the world, but be with them when they encounter certain areas of life, and you be the one to explain it to them. They will get access to all that is out there, period. The choices they make later may have to do with how grounded they already are in what they are into.

Just something to think about!


Do you believe what you think?

Do you believe what you think?

Did you know that a new study based on clinical studies has proven that 90% of what we think was adopted from someone else’s opinion? With that in mind, they also say we should always live by the 25/50/100 rule. Believe 25% of what you hear, 50% of what you read, and 100% of what you see. How can we know what if what we are hearing is true, and who defines truth in mental health? Take the terms good and bad for example. I have worked with kids who thought they were being good if they did not hit a teacher that day. That’s what they were taught. So, where do we set the bar for what is good and what is bad? Its a subjective concept when working with troubled children. If you have a crisis and do not know where to turn, contact me and I will work with you personally. You deserve real solutions if you have real problems!