“Schooled” by those “Diagnosed” Mentally Ill at a Non-Profit! Who’s helping Who?

I’m Mark Roach.  Inspiring survivors through tough times in stories needing a dash of male vulnerability to discover an enriched life.  If you’ve been listening to my story, you know I’ve been making my own lane through life, art and business since I was a kid.  If this is the first time you’ve tuned in, let me give a quick overview. I grew up in the Ozark Mountains. I was sexually molested at five by high school neighbor. At about the same point I was molested, my life was threatened by an organized crime syndicate run out of Kansas City. My father was an aspiring smart young detective. He became a local hero when he broke up a major Mexican drug cartel.  He caught them dropping drug shipments from airplanes into open fields.  I know, this sounds like the stuff movies are made of.  In real life though, these are things you may end up not talking about.  And that’s how I dealt with these traumas from my early childhood for nearly fifty years – not talking about them.  Didn’t even realize they were important.

I became an over achiever in athletics, business, engineering, in my work the oil business, even in art – film acting.  The rage inside me though created major conflicts.  I struggled.  I grew up with a secret that I didn’t even realize was important.   Trauma was lodged in my body, interrupted the development of my brain and nervous system, directing my thoughts in conflicting directions.  But my over-achievement over-shadowed the pain that was pulling at me, undermining my life, every relationship, every choice I made.

Fortunately, there was a lot of genuine love and discipline in my home. Otherwise, knowing what I now know, I would have become a criminal or been institutionalized. I’m talking about a deep love and an uncommon discipline different than most Americans know.  The early childhood trauma robbed me of a “traditional American identity”.  These hidden traumas caused me to open my own investigation – an investigation into myself.  It became my quest to regain access to what was lost.  It made me curious. I was curious about people, culture, capitalism and religious systems.  I was curious why others trusted systems and institutions that didn’t seem to have protected me or my family. At a deep level, I’ve been reconnecting to my heart’s knowledge, my birthright. While I’ve had what may seem contemporary success in athletics, academics, business and family, I’ve weathered hardships on this spiritual quest.  I’ve learned the hardships are insightful to the trauma and getting on a path that’s true.

So, here’s a good story!  Just over four years ago, a former oil man, a big risk taker who had been been wiped out in life, wanders into an Austin non-profit.  This non-profit serves people who have been diagnosed as mentally ill.  This man likes what the organization is doing for these people.  He decides to help them with fund-raising.  He joins them nearly five days a week for four months.  He films interviews with ten of their members challenged with life and mental illness.  Although he intended to get two-minute testimonials saying how much the non-profit helped these people, he ended up with much more.  In fact, all ten individuals opened up to him with details of their life stories.  Some shared their hopes and dreams.  Some confessed crimes.  Some explained violence they’d witnessed.  They told of rapes. Failures of their own, their families, and institutions.  They revealed touching stories and dark secrets.  Well, those 100 plus hours of video were never aired for privacy concerns.  But I will be sharing more.  A fascinating, unexpected twist though, is that these people through their stories helped this executive sort out his own troubles, as a host of professionals had failed to do in his long past.

I’m Mark Roach.  This is business meets Texas Indy Film.  Have a great week.

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