Thursday, September 26, 2013

The future of healing

I normally don't like to post video or audio links, but I thought I'd make an exception this time to show the best way I know how families can support recovery and become fierce advocates for our relatives. See the link below. While you're at it, check out more of Dr. Breggin's interviews. He's not just that guy who warns about the dangers of psychiatric drugs. 

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 09/11/13

about_profiles_jennThis is the future of healing.  My guest Jennifer Maurer is Managing Director of Mother Bear: Families for Mental Health–the good family support network that is helping families heal together with respect and empathy for all. Learn about You may want to participate or to support this incredibly forward-looking nonprofit network of caring human beings.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Taxidermy as an alternative therapy

One of my favorite humor blogs  is NAMI Dearest, the laboratory creation of a certifiably mad genius. Somehow I missed this latest post.

Preserve Those Cherished Memories…and Your Loved One, Forever!

Who better understands your frustration with non-compliant mentally ill family members than we do here at NamiDearest?

As leaders in mental illness advocacy and policy, we devote the weight of our enormous moral authority and hand-wringing sob stories to the advancement of best practices in mental health care. Some of these best practices include fewer patient privacy rights, lower civil commitment standards, forced psychiatric drugging and ECT, as well as the progressive Assisted Outpatient Suicide program, otherwise known as The Permanent Solution.
But how do we handle the grief of losing our loved ones once the treatments have cured their genetically transmitted, psychiatric brain diseases?

Yes, there is always Zoloft. But in addition to chemically numbing the symptoms of Grief Disorder, many NamiDearests are finding Taxidermy Therapy to be an effective adjunct to their personal recovery regimen.

Read the rest here

Monday, September 23, 2013

All over the map, but not really

Chris (and therefore, I) has had an emotional few months. Let's see. It started with his breaking up with "Jenny," back in July. His decision, not hers. A decision which had all the appearances of being taken for the right reason but a decision he immediately regretted. For someone who has spent a lifetime avoiding decision-making, I was thrilled that at least he had made one. I was not so thrilled that he immediately began to second guess himself. But, no matter, after an intense week of taking his own pulse and talking to people who would listen, he righted his sails. I'm pleased that he is finally getting around to taking a stand, on something! I loaded him up with lots of books on boundary issues, and I pointed out that he tends to have rather fluid boundaries and anybody can invade his space. "You've got to know your limits," I counsel him, "and respect them." He can also invade other people’s boundaries by being too caring. He can’t assume that other people want his help or sympathy.

The decision to no longer see Jenny lasted no more than a month and now they seemed to be locked in an on-again/off again thing. Not my business, except that Chris wants to talk to me about it, so, reluctantly, I've been dragged in, despite my protests that his relationships are his business. I've had a few rough sleeps that have actually had me praying for morning to come.   If I step back from the drama of it all, using "conscious refocusing," I can truthfully say that Chris may be going through a rough patch, but he is learning to take risks, to make decisions, and to live the consequences of his decisions. He is maturing.

Having a girlfriend has prompted him to realistically assess his marital prospects. His future earning ability is not promising, at this time. Here's where we get around to discussing the need to go back to school to prepare for entry into the job market. "If you would like a future with Jenny or anyone else, Chris,"  isn't it time you got real about your education?" I think he may be finally getting the point. 

Necessity, the mother of invention.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting to know you

Knowing a little bit about his personal number 3 has helped my son, Chris, get a clearer understanding of who he is and what he was put on earth to do. Learning that he is a  number 3 has helped me better appreciate Chris’s strengths and the areas where he may struggle a bit. The ancient Chinese astrology, Nine Star Ki, digs a little deeper, using three numbers associated with the atmospheric conditions present on the day, month, and year of one’s birth. It is based on the observed cycles of nature ( life force “ki”), which are nine year cycles comprising smaller cycles of nine months and even smaller cycles of nine days.

Numbers and astrology can be especially important to people who have experienced a prolonged mental health crisis. I believe cycles of nine resonate at the vibrational "gut" level, complementing compassionately spoken and intuitive words. Recently I had the pleasure of enrolling in the online Recovering Our Families course. One of the first reading assignments was authored by psychologist and activist Pat Deegan, and included the following quote: 

"The goal of recovery is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we are called to be."

Determining the awesomeness of who we are and who we are meant to be is never an easy task, and one that is particularly hard for people who have been diminished – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – by a lengthy mental health problem. 

It’s not just the person experiencing the crisis who has been diminished – families empathy for, and expectations of, the person have also taken a grave hit. Many of us are more used to seeing violent and angry outbursts from our relative, silly or naive behavior, dependency, apathy, lack of self-confidence. We adopt a vocabulary of despair.

The course encourages the participants to try to consider ourselves or our relative in a different light, to see strengths instead of focusing on deficits.

We call our newfound attitude “conscious refocusing.” The course got us all started by giving us practical examples what it looks like to focus on strengths when the habitual response might be the opposite.

Example: "He is alone and isolated"  becomes "He is an individual who has a rich inner life and follows his own path."

But, here’s the thing. Knowing the numbers will bolster any flagging conviction you may hold that you or your relative is beyond hope. It will bring you further down the road of practicing recovery and helping you or your relative become that  awesome, never to be repeated, human being.

Chris’s numbers are an instantly recognizable portrait of himself, and believe me, he is unique and awesome. He is a quiet presence, a deep thinker, who has a great need to serve humanity. He is a skilled manager, and a hard worker, something I had almost lost sight of about him. The early stages in particular of his crisis made me forget that he was once well-organized. He is extremely capable today, assuming charge of household chores while taking on more managerial volunteer jobs.

My middle son Alex’s numbers are a recognizable portrait, too, of an awesome, never to be repeated, individual. Had Alex been the one who underwent a mental health crisis, I’ve always thought that he would be a less gentle presence than Chris. We would have had many violent altercations, until we learned how to work together. His numbers do not lie. Amongst his other attributes, Alex’s numbers reveal that he doesn’t like being told what to do. Duh!  I’ve known that since he was a toddler. Properly channeled, being aggressive and not taking crap from anyone, is a positive thing, an entrepreneurial skill, but there is also a less positive side. The numbers also reveal where Alex goes when under stress, another recognizable self-portrait. Where we go under stress is never a good place, and not the side we wish to present to the world, but it’s instructive to how to handle our baser instincts, and the numbers help us out there, too. 

Numerology and astrology, for Chris and me, is much more than a frivolous pastime; it has proved to be a useful strategy that helps us both to maintain a positive outlook.