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Paul James is on a Hunger Strike

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http://www.confrontingthestigmaofdrugaddiction.com/my-story

Paul James resurfaces on #BellLetsTalk day with his story of mental health issues, drugs, and his subsequently being unable to land a coaching job anywhere due to the stigma from disclosing his mental health and drug issues.  

According to his website, he is living in poverty and is now on a hunger strike:

"Today, January 25, 2017 coinciding with Bell Canada’s Lets Talk About Mental Health, I communicate to the Canadian Prime Minister, the Canadian government, Canadian society and the global community as a whole that I am refraining from eating and drinking fluids with the exception of water, as one final effort, to confront the appalling injustice I have experienced over the past eight years fighting the discrimination and prejudice of my exposed poor mental health including a substance addiction to crack cocaine. Win or lose this particular battle, if the cause moves the ball an inch in making the path easier for others facing similar circumstances then the sacrifice will have been worth it."

Surely there is something we can do.

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That Paul James has drug and mental issues is true and sad but like most of what he writes I doubt this is a very accurate account of what caused him to lose his jobs and not be hired as a coach. Tam Nsaliwa once wrote an account (no longer on his website) about what it was like to play for him as part of the U20 and it was a pretty horrible experience for him and all the players. During his journalism career and then in his online book James viciously attacked many of the other members of the Canadian soccer community and there was always a constant theme of everyone else being evil and James being persecuted by them. This text reads quite similar. While it is possible James is not getting the treatment he needs for whatever reason I suspect those institutions that fired him or don't want to hire him are doing it for behavioral and attitude problems not discrimination against drug use and the mentally ill. Now those behavioral and attitude problems may well be due to his drug use and mental health problems but at the same time you can't hire someone acting like that. I would be curious whether James is seeking treatment for his problems because it seems like he is someone in need of full time care.

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He did a very good job with the 1992 London Lasers from what I saw and it didn't surprise me he went on after that to carve out a reasonably long and successful coaching career after that. Sorry to hear that he didn't find a new direction in life after what happened on the crack thing. Making a living out of pro soccer after your playing days are up isn't easy for ex-players and he maybe needs to realize that he did really well to achieve what he did as a coach as most former players don't and eventually almost all former pro level players do have to find a new direction outside the sport even when there is no addiction angle involved.

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3 hours ago, Grizzly said:

I would be curious whether James is seeking treatment for his problems because it seems like he is someone in need of full time care.

That's a really good question.  When his story re-surfaced on here a short time ago I was very sympathetic to his plight but now things like "hunger strike" seem like serious triggers for an intervention.

 

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The unfortunate thing is I thought he had a real talent for television.  I remember watching Sportsworld on The Score everyday and I always thought he was articulate and well reasoned in his analysis.  That show was excellent. Even the podcasts on Red Nation were great.      

 

The one other thing I remember from the Sportsworld days was the bizarre time I saw him buying crack (although I didn't realize it at the time).  I was in line at the Indian Motorcycle Club in the summer of 2005 and  he showed up by himself not dressed to party.  He walked right past the line to the bouncer who bizarrely waved him right in.  It seemed weird but I was thinking I'd find him in there to talk some footy.  Once I was in I saw him sitting alone at a table near the back fidgeting and looking around as if he was waiting for somebody.  Then a guy steps out of the back room and motions for Paul to come with him.  I was all so bizarre that it stuck with me.  Then he came out as a crack addict and it all made perfect sense.

 

I think coming out was a pretty bad idea.  The book was an even worse idea.  I'm sure someobody might have been willing to give him another chance if this wasn't in the open.  Having opinions is one thing but publicizing a crack addiction makes you radioactive to any employer.

I do wish him the best of luck and hope he can catch a break.

 

 

   

Edited by CanadianSoccerFan

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Still parsing my thoughts through this, but I keep coming back to a feeling that this diminishes the idea of Bell Lets Talk day.  Yes, it's tragic but using a very tenuous link to tie your cause to mental health awareness in order to capitalize on a very worthwhile national movement doesn't sit well with me.  Never been a big fan of his though.

Still, tragic.

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Had a rather lengthy commentary on this issue typed, and then it disappeared  somehow.  Grr.

Basically, I think we need to find a balance between recognizing the seriousness of mental health issues without over medicalizing (via clinical diagnosis) every aspect of human behaviour.  We now know that many kids who are simply highly active or easily distracted are being diagnosed as ADD or ADHD, and subsequently medicated.  That isn't to say that medication doesn't legitimately help a portion of them, but we live in a society where a prescription pad is often seen as the fastest and easiest way to fix a problem.  There is also a tendency to look at the spectrum of human behaviour, and medicalize an increasing portion of that spectrum.  It is hard to say where mild cases of clinical depression end, and someone just moping and feeling sorry for themselves begins.  And maybe it isn't an important distinction, but throw in the fact that phamaceutical companies have a vested financial interest in this syndrome-creep into behaviours previously seen as normal and we need to be cautious about the over-application of clinical diagnoses. 

To be (very) clear - this isn't an attempt to minimize the significance of mental health issues or addictions, or to downplay the challenges of those dealing with these issues.  But I think there are broader societal trends that should make us proceed cautiously when it comes to expanding the degree to which people feel they are facing some sort of medical/clinical/diagnosable condition.  

 

 

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A little while back, I realized that I never got around to reading his self-published e-book.  But it no longer seemed to be avaialble for purchase anywhere, and it still doesn't.  Anyone aware of how I could get a copy?  

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17 hours ago, sstackho said:

A little while back, I realized that I never got around to reading his self-published e-book.  But it no longer seemed to be avaialble for purchase anywhere, and it still doesn't.  Anyone aware of how I could get a copy?  

I'd be very curious to get a link to this as well, if it's still available.

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Tough stuff to watch, indeed.I t is very difficult to have anyone you love, live with and or work with deal with mental health and addiction issues. Incredibly taxing on the body and soul. This is a cry for help from PJ to say the least. Very articulate guy who pissed off a lot of people along the way. But that was his depression speaking more than the his real self. It is tough to know what to do. Empathy is good place to start. Can't imagine what he and is family are going through. Hope to see him come through this some how. Not just for the soccer community but for his voice advocating for mental health awareness and compassion.

Don't judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes....

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2 hours ago, J. Neeskens said:

Tough stuff to watch, indeed.I t is very difficult to have anyone you love, live with and or work with deal with mental health and addiction issues. Incredibly taxing on the body and soul. This is a cry for help from PJ to say the least. Very articulate guy who pissed off a lot of people along the way. But that was his depression speaking more than the his real self. It is tough to know what to do. Empathy is good place to start. Can't imagine what he and is family are going through. Hope to see him come through this some how. Not just for the soccer community but for his voice advocating for mental health awareness and compassion.

Don't judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes....

Very articulate first post. Unfortunately I don't think empathy will save this man's life. He keeps drawing lines in the sand and eventually he has become the last man on his side of the line.

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I have watched some of his other videos and my impression is of someone who is narcissistic (the Prime Minister and Richard Branson are going to champion him, the end of discrimination against drug addicts will end today and it will end starting with Paul James), paranoid, delusional and highly manipulative. Now some or all of this may be due to mental illness and drug abuse but that does not mean we have to believe his narrative.

When he first went on tv he gave some really good analysis of games, in fact, some of the best analysis I have seen not only in Canada but anywhere. He really understands the game and can analyze it very effectively when he sticks to that subject. I remember writing some posts praising his analysis when he first went on tv. I can also imagine that in times of lucidity when not effected by mental problems or drug use he may have been a very good coach. However, his tv analysis and articles veered more and more into strange personal attacks on various people that had in his mind slighted him over the years. He had a running feud with the Voyageurs for a while as well and I remember at the beginning everyone was kind of puzzled by it because there had only been some mild criticisms of some of his views that should not have bothered any journalist. If I recall correctly he usually would not refer to us by name but instead like to say stuff like, "an online group of so-called Canadian soccer fans." His allegations against various people got progressively more extreme and seemed more and more vindictive. Then he wrote his book which was supposed to be about his addiction but much of it ended up just being a series of claims trashing various people in Canadian soccer. Whatever sympathy he gained by writing a book about his addiction problems quickly evaporated when you read page after page of him trashing people. He wonders why the Canadian soccer community doesn't help him without ever thinking it is because he trashed everyone in it in his book and media presentations.

It is sad to see someone who played at a high level, who seems highly intelligent and who understands the game so well have so many problems with mental health and drugs. I hope he seeks and gets treatment. However, the point of his hunger strike is not "I need treatment and am not getting it" but I have a vendetta against York University and want them to pay for it. Even his claims to prevent discrimination against drug addicts come off more as his desire to stop his perceived discrimination against himself. I think anyone who read Tam Nsaliwa's account of what it was like to play under him and go to Argentina with him as part of the U20 national team would not doubt that York University had legitimate reasons to terminate his employment as a coach.

If Paul James wants to get treatment for his mental health and drug abuse issues than that is something I think everyone here should support. What I don't think anyone should support is this personal vendetta against those he perceives as having wronged him.

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3 hours ago, Grizzly said:

I think anyone who read Tam Nsaliwa's account of what it was like to play under him and go to Argentina with him as part of the U20 national team would not doubt that York University had legitimate reasons to terminate his employment as a coach.

One small point, after reading a few news reports from the time around his lawsuit and book release about his situation with York U, he actually resigned and was not fired. Part of the case he made in court was that he resigned under duress, I think. 

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/former-olympian-who-resigned-over-crack-use-fails-in-bid-to-prove-he-was-discriminated-against-due-to-addiction

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On 1/29/2017 at 0:20 AM, nolando said:

Very articulate first post. Unfortunately I don't think empathy will save this man's life. He keeps drawing lines in the sand and eventually he has become the last man on his side of the line.

I think that it's very likely the sad truth that everyone on this site over say, the age of 30, has seen this all before but a lot closer to home.  

And it will only get better for James when it's time for it to get better.  Or, God forbid, it won't.

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35 minutes ago, Jahinho Guerro said:

3:04 did he say he ate a sandwhich? This is sad.

Yeah he mentions the sandwich earlier at 1:30 in the video, stating his stomach is in pain "I am not sure if it is the sandwich I ate as a result of Victor contacting me." Why would Victor calling him make him eat a sandwich? Also he talks about it being good news that Victor called him and then goes on to insult him. This just gets more and more bizarre.

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Jeezus, this is sad. I should have stuck to my original thought to ignore his videos...

"I enjoyed that sandwich" ... "the major issue is the injustice of my circumstance with York University" ... WTF?! This guy has not one iota of my support.

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Guys, please consider signing this petition in support of Paul James:

http://chn.ge/2BjytRS

At the end of the day, he helped get us to a World Cup.  This is the least we can do. 

If there is any willingness or sentiment to do more, such as sending a letter to Paul directly from "The Voyageurs" indicating our support as a group, please feel free to post.  I understand PJ's health is taking a turn for the worse.  I'd just like to see the Vs on the right side of what might be a Canadian soccer tragedy.

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