Archive for December, 2012

The Most Precious Gift to Your Child at the Holidays: QUALITY TIME

Time a four-letter word. Looks so simple. Sounds so simple. Yet, how many Excuses do you make to spend quality time with your child?

I did not spend a lot of physical time with my father growing up. By the time I was eighteen he died during my midterms in my first semester of college. There was no opportunity to say, “goodbye”.

The last time I spoke with him I was at school begging the Administration to use their phone to call New York. I was in California and had no money to use the payphone to call the hospital long distance. “My father is dying in New York”. I pleaded crying, “Let me use the phone”.

That would be my last conversation with him standing in front of a group of strangers while I listened to my father crying begging “God” to release him from his pain. It was as if lightening struck me. My father had always been an Atheist; unusual at the time for a Black man but conformity was not his nature.

As a young girl my father, Stacy Seppinni made sure that every visit with me was focused on me. I quite often sat on his lap until he would request for me to show him my latest dance moves. I played with his glasses, watch and hands. He allowed me to be close to him. He made sure that my time with him was spent without the interruption of my three older brothers. Our time was quality time.

While in prison (from the time I was two until just before my seventh birthday) he wrote me letters, called, wrote me a poem for each one of my Birthdays and sent gifts other prisoners made just for me– a portrait of me, hand carved jewelry boxes with my name and leather goods were just a few of the items.

We spent our time fishing on Sunday’s when I was 7-8 years old. He’d make me Cream of Wheat (my favorite at the time) or Oatmeal at 4 AM in morning. This was the time he used to sit and read the paper and talk to me about the happenings at my school. On weekends when he was home we went to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. We’d stop in front of his favorite paintings discussing the artist. He enjoyed taking me to the park. He’d sit and read the paper while watching me play. I especially enjoyed when he took me to Central Park to see Patty the Monkey.

He loved to read so I was lucky to be around all of his books, which I kept for years because they were a part of him. Most of all he held my hand wherever we went and took great pride in having a little girl. I loved the way he smelled so any chance of cuddling next to him when lied down (when sober) was heaven as he put his arm around me as he watched T.V. Often he would fall asleep during the program gently I would open his eyes and announce “Poppy your a sleep!”. “No, Baby” he would say, “I’m just resting my eyes”.

When my mother moved my brothers and I to California my father decided to stay in New York. I spent years not living with my father but, to me he was there everyday. It was because we spoke almost every day on the phone. Throughout my life he took every collect call from me especially when I cried because I missed him or simply needed to tell someone how I really felt about my world–other kids, the move to California, my interests and so forth.

My father was a terrible man domestic violence, murder, gambling, drug addiction, extreme violent episodes with my brothers and so on…

Now as an adult I realize he gave me one of the greatest gifts a child can receive he created quality time with me. He was fully engaged in creating a parent – child intimacy and trust between us. He took the time to share the best part of him. He did this throughout his years of absence through his endless conversations with me ending all with “I love you with all my heart”. Our quality of time became part of the foundation of how I love and chose to be loved.

If we can all learn in times of tragedy as in the loss of twenty children in Sandy Hook school it is not only to remember to hug your child but, to spend quality time, listen well and express your love. Guilt and regret are harder to live with than the process of grief and loss. Guilt and regret lead to a lifetime of self-hatred, feelings of failure and a refusal to forgive oneself.

It’s been many years since my father passed and yet, I think of him daily. I still speak to him daily in my mind. He visits me in my dreams when I accomplish something I’m truly passionate about letting me know he is still with me and therefore I am never alone. My father continues to live on in my heart.

As I tell him all the time “Dad, Pop please behave yourself in hell, stop womanizing, put down the bottle, and be nice to others. You need to behave so that you can meet me in heaven when it’s my time to go”.

Posted by Dr. Leslie Seppinni on December 16, 2012|Category: Books, Crisis, Excuse Free Living, Family & Parenting, Family & Relationships, Grief & Loss, Holidays, Life Coaching, Mental Health, Parenting, Self Improvement No Comments »


People kill People and guns are an easily accessible and horrible method. Those who threaten and bully politicians into not effecting meaningful gun control have the blood of the 20 innocent children on their hands.

However, the bigger issue is the state of our National Mental Care. We as individuals, families, communities, states, and as nation must come together to prevent these terrible tragedies. People kill people because the most fundamental part of human anatomy is their brain. And there is no Second Amendment creating a roadblock to change.

People kill People because they have chemical imbalances in the brain. People kill People because they FEEL no one is listening. Feelings come from the brain. The processing of one’s feelings, intellectual capacity and coping strategies all lie within each individual’s unique brain. People kill people because they have endured horrible abuse affecting their ability to see themselves and others clearly. Finally, people kill people because their brain is missing the ability to feel empathy and pain.

If are brains are the epicenter of our thoughts and actions then why do we continue to IGNORE the need for better MENTAL Health Care. If our brain differentiates from all other species allowing us the power of choice and decision making then why is it not at the very top of our list of priority’s in our Health Care System, Federal, State, City and School budgets.

I live in the State of California and at one time was employed with our state Regional Center Program for the Developmentally Disabled. Every state has some form of a Regional Center program however, like the state of California they have cut all funding for those with Asperger’s that included mental health and behavioral health care. Asperger’s and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are commonly diagnosed together these are two of the conditions that Adam Lanza, the killer of TWENTY is thought to have suffered from.

Asperger’s is a Pervasive Development Disorder attributed to brain function. The result is a life long need for behavioral training and assistance. Patients with Asperger’s often lack empathy for others and misread social cues. Communication and speech is taken literal. So what may seem humorous to the average person is not to the Asperger’s person. Clients with Asperger’s need “wrap around” services a term referring the need for a variety of mental health and behavioral training in the home and/or school, cognitive behavioral therapy, speech therapy, a rule out for medication that assists with compulsive and repetitive behaviors, as well as for depression associated with an inability to connect with others thereby, remaining socially isolated.

Many companies and employers offer limited mental health benefits such as three EAP, Employment Assessment Program Sessions. This is not enough time to effectively diagnose the problem and create coping strategies. Three sessions in effect is just enough time to do a simple mental status exam and to learn the underlying issues regarding the problem the person came in for. The psychotherapist is left spending more time with the bearucracy of the Health Care Company then with the client. The client is then told by the insurance company they will have to put up the money to pay for their treatment with minimal reimbursement. In addition, the cost of psychotropic medications is staggering.

In almost all of the mass killing episodes, experts have come forward and said that if there was effective screening, most of these killers could have been identified and dealt with before the horrific crimes occurred.

It’s a dog chasing its tail. If people could afford to pay for their treatment up front they wouldn’t need to pay into their healthcare plans for mental health. People are barely able to feed their families and with the economic down turn already five years old, they have no where to turn. Many counseling centers offering sliding scale fees use inexperienced Interns with Supervision that has become less about each of their clients but more about managing their case load.

Qualified Mental Health Workers which include psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, psychologists, childcare workers, social workers, billers, human resource workers, crisis intervention teams also known as psychiatric evaluation teams who assist families in their homes, hospitals and state funded centers CANNOT afford to live doing the jobs they have spent their time, money, energy, education, student loans (debt) and passion to achieve. I KNOW first hand. I am still paying my student loan in which the interest is being charged interest with no end in sight.

Insurance companies and the state and federal government do not think Mental Health Care is important. Let’s say you make $70. per client. By the time you are done with medical billing, overhead—rent, parking (because you can’t stay at a meter all day), therapeutic supplies, insurance, continuing education, taxes and the like the psychotherapist is actually earning ten to fifteen dollars an hour. A psychotherapist could earn the same as a cashier at Rite-Aid without the emotional stress of caring for their clients.

Most Mental Health Care workers are working two to three jobs and this is long before the recession. They have a full-time day job because they need health insurance benefits for themselves and their families and a steady paycheck. They then go to a second job of seeing clients evenings and weekends so that they can afford to live. Many can no longer afford to see clients with Mental Health benefits because of the cost to them. Insurance clients are turned away at an astounding rate.

Mental Health facilities such as Board and Cares, Locked Hospitals, and Clinics are filthy. Staff is mistreated, not just by the mentally ill that they serve, which they can understand but, also by the administrations they serve. They are, as I once was, expected to stay ungodly hours to finish crushing amounts of paperwork, take on others job responsibilities that are not their own while also treating the client, assisting the clients family, running support groups, running groups to keep the clients engaged, setting up outside referrals, visiting those referrals to insure the client is okay and helping the referral handle the client so that the client stays properly placed. DOES THIS SOUND SANE TO YOU!

Families with those who have mental illness are beside themselves. Most people have a difficult enough time navigating themselves let alone someone else whose brain they are not equipped to manage. After years of exasperation in trying to cope with someone mentally ill, many families give up, leaving the mentally ill person on their own. Unfortunately, ours is a country that looks down upon conditions of the brain and as a result, more too often, conditions go undiagnosed and untreated

And this is just the tip of the current mental health system which alongside with the pervasive attitude that if you seek help you are mentally ill too, leaves us with a culture that will continue to see the type of horrific crime as happened on Friday, until we wake-up and understand that we may not be able to keep all the guns off the street, but we can keep the high risk mentally ill person off the street an away from guns.

I implore you to write your city council members, write legislators, lobbyists, mayors, governors, legislators, senators and the President. Remember Twenty Children are dead.

Godbless, all of those whose lives were lost, their families, friends and community. May their cries for help not be in vein.

Posted by Dr. Leslie Seppinni on December 16, 2012|Category: Career, Crisis, Economy, Education, Election, Excuse Free Living, Grief & Loss, Healthcare, Mental Health, Politics, Self Help No Comments »