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Lost UOW chapter: $50 dollar bills for Recovery

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My perception was shifting everyday. At first the shift was gradual, eventually dramatically altered. The community appeared different. People seemed to behave differently and have different motives. All I wanted was to connect with the changing world around me in Liberty. This was increasingly difficult to do when my resources ran dry. For a while, when I had some money, I used the bulk of my financial reserve to pump money back into the city’s most deserving banking this would change the political climate in Liberty back in my favor

. To do so, I got back to my roots from my earlier college days and fundamental way of relating with others when I had first arrived at college. This meant truly talking with people like I had done during the early days of my radio show and learn what is really important. I was at a disadvantage though, due to my worsening speech becoming more stilted, and far more pompous when I spoke at my brothers wedding, it became harder and more difficult to communicate with people effectively. In the end, my goals for interacting were so lofty and grandiose none of this really mattered. I wanted to save Liberty.

I walked around the city flamboyant with rhetoric and making impromptu speeches about the re rising of Liberty. I believed I could make the city great again just by speaking passionately about their future and it’s ripeness for a comeback in a world that had closed its eyes to its hurt and pain. Similar to the way the the world, department, and everyone in my life shut their eyes to my worsening situation on campus.

The city of Liberty is located in the rust belt of the northeast. Trains, factories, work all had left Liberty. Outside the auspices of the college and the money it raised for the city, there was little else to go around for the people from Liberty. They needed help, resources and hope. While I was in no real position to help them I believed, if I could save these people from their own circumstances, the college and it’s graduate school would open its arms to me and allow me to continue on as a student.

So, without hesitating, I walked around the city and spoke to the poorest and most downtrodden people. First, I approached the people who had graciously extended me credit for household goods when I was a young college student. The store was called Cavenuaghs and located on Root street. The owner had suffered a major stroke and I wanted to give back and help him rehabilitate like he had done for me when I needed supplies earlier on in my years. I spoke with the owner’s wife briefly whom was running the store while her husband was sick and I handed her a fifty dollar bill “For rehab” I said, without further explanation . The wife took the money, thanked me, and I went about my business. As this self-run, one man campaign rolled out, the hand outs made less and less sense and were almost ultimately totally random in nature. Handing each of them fifty dollar bills without so much as getting an ID; their name, or address to repay me, I went through thousands of dollars in a matter of weeks. I wanted to help. Sure, this wasn’t a totally selfless act. I wanted the city to pay it forward and return the good faith and let me study at New London. In the end, I went ahead with my self run financial rehabilitation of the homeless and disadvantaged with good intentions and hoped for mutual aid. I would help the city and the city would help me. Together, we would move forward with our lives and our dreams.

By the time my funds were exhausted the environment was inhospitable. This was due to my own illness, and the altered perception of the disease. Overtime, Liberty became such a scary place I stopped leaving my house and walking by myself in the streets. This was extremely ironic and distressing as when I truly needed money as a means to secure my safety and ward of troupe, I didn’t have any as a result of my overly generous and radical idea of circulating free money to the city’s inhabitants.

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

"I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others."

"In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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