Wednesday, May 22, 2019, 10:31PM


I happened across this article I wrote in November of 2016, detailing my struggles – ethical, emotional, moral, psychological, etc. – in the aftermath of Paula Burton’s attack on me at MHRAC (Mental Health Response Advisory Committee).

When I first published this article it was password protected. Why? Because I didn’t want to undo all the good work I had accomplished for the Albuquerque Police Department. I was protecting APD, I wasn’t making Paula Burton accountable for her . . . literally, she committed a crime. I suffered in a silence of my own making.

What I find so unsettling is my fears and pains in the immediate aftermath of the attack EXACTLY match the details of the Stand Up To Stigma MHRAC podcast Sarah, Ryan, Becky, Megan, Dean, and I recorded in December of 2018.

This is TWO YEARS of me allowing PTSD to adversely affect every moment of every day.

I protected APD and those on MHRAC who had never earned this gift. And I paid a severe and life-threatening consequence for my choice.

What I’ve learned in these two years is beyond standard wisdom. And this will be an exploration here at Thoughtcrimes for many moons to come. There will also be holding myself accountable by sharing stories I’ve kept hidden, stories about specific MHRAC members – Danny Whatley, Rick Miera, David Ley, Robert Salazar, Nancy Koeninberg, Matt Tinney, Nils Rosenbaum, Mike Robinson, Barri Roberts, Betty Whiton, Paula Burton, and a smattering of others – along with the corresponding documentation.

That’s roughly a dozen individual Thoughtcrimes articles to compose. Yikes!

It’s shameful how I allowed myself to struggle and suffer in ravaging, perpetual PTSD crisis for two years. Disgustingly shameful.

The following article is why I write narratives of thoughts and feelings as life happens. It’s good revisting past articles to learn how I got to the me of today. And, I am pleased I have the strength of will and pride in self to share my recovery journey openly for others.

Sharing my unconfortable truths for others to understand what it is like to be a peer is at the core of who I am and is the foundation of Stand Up To Stigma peer presentations.

I’ve had a number of friends and family worry I might be sued for what I share so openly. As the civil rights attorney counseling me on my many projects shared, truth and fact are my defense… not that I have any need to defend myself. Quite the opposite.

So why haven’t I filed a tort myself? I’ve been assured there is a very strong cause. However, that’s not who I am or what I advocate. The Court of Community Understanding is the proper venue.

Something fun my attorney shared with me is it’s telling and noteworthy no tort is filed. His legal opinion is any action will reinforce what is termed “bullying.” The New Mexico statutes on bullying are heartwarming because they address emotional and psychological bullying as equal to physical bullying. This is an article unto itself.

Over two years ago I wrote the following article. Two years in PTSD limbo. And it was my choice being stuck in this personally dangerous holding pattern.

Do I enjoy writing these articles? What do you think? Not at all. Peer reempowerment demands that I do.

The following article is unedited and exactly as written on November 14, 2016, and published (password protected) on November 15, 2016.

Monday, November 14. 7:13 PM

This is the score. I’m very close to losing any effective management of mental health symptoms, bipolar and PTSD. Not through lack of motivation or fortitude. It’s just how this is playing out.

I’m stuck in this unwise “protection” mode of MHRAC, out of what allegiance I don’t know. Yes, I was at the table long before any other peers, long before there was even a word for “MHRAC”, (Robert included, although there’s no need for him to know more than “Steve and I were the first peers there the first day”), and yes, I feel a great amount of pride being the peer at the table to get IOOV in with Troy all those moons ago.

Developing training and trust with APD has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I feel such pride and honor that the peer collaboration with APD has been so successful.

So perhaps that’s the core of this allegiance.

And yet, in view of APD personnel, Rasma, other peers… Paula Burton attacked me, and there has been no reprimand or action taken. Osteogenesis imperfecta. I haven’t attended MHRAC since that night, and it isn’t complicated. It isn’t “Well, it happened after MHRAC adjourned, so it’s not MHRAC’s purview.” It’s simple. Paula attacked me after MHRAC. Immediately after MHRAC in the same building in the same room. This would not have happened had I not attended MHRAC.

I’m triggered. Badly. That no one from MHRAC replies to my emails or phone calls for help, that “persona non grata” is the option chosen by my colleagues at MHRAC, this is EXACTLY how it felt with my ex-wife. That I stopped trusting APD because I was abused and ignored, that isn’t an unreasonable emotional response. APD failed me.

I fought hard to get myself to understand that APD is there to help peers, and I’ve been at the forefront encouraging peers to participate in training and MHRAC, to show that APD is our community partner. I’m tired, I’m exhausted, and now I feel betrayed and I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of. And it’s starting to slip into that space where because of how I was treated during my marriage, before I was diagnosed, I don’t want to call upon APD to help me in need. I’ve been in need, and I’ve been ignored. It’s getting more difficult to make sense of how I truly feel and how PTSD is affecting me.

It should have never gotten to this place. I made the choice “not to disrupt MHRAC” when I should have called for Paula’s resignation IMMEDIATELY. But I’m a team player. I didn’t want to rock the boat and “sacrifice all the hard work we’ve accomplished.”

There is more than the appearance that Paula is being backed by MHRAC. By APD. And Paula screamed at me and physically attacked me. I’ve never dealt with PTSD like this, and it didn’t have to get this bad. It didn’t have to get to this place where my own inaction has me where I don’t want to be around APD for fear that I’ll be taken to jail and not Paula.

Just like with my ex-wife. I called APD, and I got taken to jail.

I hate this feeling. The lines are blurring, and my responsibility is I needed to take a stand at the very next MHRAC meeting and called for Paula’s removal. Now, it is too late. I’m suffering, I’m being ignored, and I’ve done this from my own inaction. Wise play, I tell myself.

My mother and I had six months to talk with each other before she passed away at the end of June, 2011. She said this to me:

“Steve, you have a very good heart. And people will take advantage of your very good heart. Please be careful.”

Mom, I wasn’t careful. And I’m sorry I let you down.

So this is where things stand. I wanted to get this all stream-of-consciousness down in this protected blog entry because I believe tomorrow my fortitude will finally fail, and I’m prepared to take myself to Kaseman.

Do I blame Matt? John? Nils? Danny? Rick? Robert? MHRAC? To an extent I do, although perhaps saying I’m disappointed and surprised at how they’ve handled this.

I do blame myself. I didn’t stand up for myself immediately, and I allowed my good heart to be taken advantage of.

No, I’m not suicidal, no, I don’t feel like harming myself or others. I do feel unsafe, and I believe talking with Deb tomorrow at Sage will help me gain perspective on where to go from here.

I’m a wreck. I’m confused. And I need to make sense of all of this before any lines that are blurring become permanent mistrusts and misjudgements. Removing myself from email, phone, text, etc. has been a good choice on my part. A smart, wise choice. It’s becoming more apparent to me that removing myself from outpatient to inpatient treatment is the next wise choice I can make.

It’s simple:

1.) I was abused by my ex-wife.
2.) APD never held her accountable, even when I called for help.
3.) I stopped trusting APD.
4.) I worked very hard to put my personal history with APD to good use.
5.) I take pride in making the strong collaboration between peers and APD a reality.
6.) I take pride in training APD, using my personal life experiences to better prepare them in the field.
7.) I was attacked by Paula Burton at MHRAC.
8.) APD personnel saw this happen.
9.) PTSD symptoms are now taking control, despite my best efforts.
10.) I didn’t stand up for myself immediately.
11.) My trust in APD is waning.
12.) And this is my doing because of the choice I made to protect MHRAC over my own wellness.

There is disappointment to go around. Mostly, I’m disappointed in myself. I gave Paula and MHRAC my oxygen mask first. I’m very disappointed in myself.

Live and learn. Peace out, baby baby.