“All the lonely people”…..Breaking the Isolation

Ali quote

To Be Alone
By Yehoshua

The truth is, to be alone, is sometimes necessary
But not always, so it would seem, or why would people marry?

A family is a good thing, and friends are always nice,
And having someone else around give life that added spice

And if, sometimes, it seems to you,
That life’s a little bland,
Or that too much is going on, or you can’t keep up with demand

Either way, it’s good to have someone else
With which to have stuff to do
And either way, it’s nice to have
A solid friend or two

island

Isolation Nation
By Dennis

I attend a social group lets say, however I feel no connection to the other members, I do not seem to share any common interests with the other members at hand.

When I think of my dear brother, he has helped me a lot. However, there seems to be a quid pro quo. When its gift giving time for the parents, some how he manages to suddenly forget to pay his portion. When I press him on the matter, he delays, hoping I will drop it. And essentially this is what I end up doing.

Looking at prayer, there are times when I am in, oh, the deepest of depressions, and I simply just lose my faith. However, small things manage to renew my faith – just the other day I found a precious picture I had once lost, for what I thought was lost for good.

I know I have a good side which is kind to others. It is also a compassionate one in helping people. I always remeber to give a child, who is short a shekel or two and wants to buy something at the makolet, money, I would give him the money. I am, also, a good listener. I feel that this side of me has disappeared lately. Ill get it back some day soon, I think.

sad8alt4

Ghosts, Vampires and Zombies
By Bessie

Why should anyone want to read or write about isolation? It is a dreadful, pathetic state of non-existence relegated to ghosts, vampires and zombies. It is horrible just thinking about what to write when everyone wants to avoid it at all costs.

But what if it is thrust upon you because of some irremediable stain on your soul? What if nobody wants anything to do with you except for the most perfunctory social ritual?

If you are seemingly exculded from intimacy with the good, lofty souls of your times or even from your family and you have no friends in any meaningful sense of the word….You ask yourself why?! Why?! What’s wrong with me? In a world full of people, why can’t I connect?

What am I lacking? Aha, there’s the catch. Probably you’re not lacking anything. You have too much – too much thoughts, emotions, desires, expectations. You can’t just accept things at face value, but you search for hidden meanings, hidden clues to the possibilities lying within relationships.

And so you retreat to your flat, your sanctuary your refuge. Safe at last, no one found you out. And you make yourself a cup of tea and turn on the T.V. or perhaps open a book. At first you feel good – safe, comfortable, relaxed, but soon the hours creep on and the questions begin. Why am I such a nudnick? Why can’t I talk to anyone? Why am I so desperate to hide? From what am I hiding? From questions, from answers, from opinions, from judgments.

And so the cycle continues. I leave the house to be among people and I return to get away from people. Everything is people but I can’t accept the empty rituals, the empty conversations, the prying eyes, the blank expressions. So I end retreating to my cave and lick my wounds. And hope that I can face another day without falling apart.

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Risky Business
By Elisabeth

The word isolation is bleak and presents no exit strategy. With the same blind statistical beast inherent in mental illness, isolation can affect anyone and everyone in its path. But put aside mental illness for a moment and lets try to face the fact that loneliness, self doubt and an inability to connect are common place for many people at one point in their lives. Because I assume that most of us are familiar with the despair and pain which comes part and parcel of being isolated allow me to move away from a lengthy description of such.

From the perspective of a health care provider and an ever inspiring creative social thinker I am always looking for ways to break isolation. Many attempts to create and facilitate social settings which are supportive and inclusive exist in the span of mental health services. These come in the form of social groups, support groups, fitness groups, organized trips or events which typically run on a weekly basis. The plus side of these groups is that they welcome everyone, provide a regular setting with staff facilitation. The aim of these groups are to integrate people who are largely on their own with the hope that the members will succeed to form meaningful connections within the groups and then carry these connections through outside of the group.

Lets be honest, this does not always transpire like we hope it would. Why? Likely because not all participants necessarily connect to the other members, the activities, and the format of the social agenda. The thing is, is that these scenarios are far from perfect indeed. Like anything in life one must find an ‘in’, a thread that connects them to the situation and allows them to feel human, to feel part of the group for just those few hours in which the frame work allows it. To speak from personal experience, moving to a new country, then to another new city, then having the challenge of learning a foreign language and other complex cultural factors which presented themselves made life tough. What ended up happening was that I did join preexisting social groups for Anglos, for people in my age bracket, for ex-pats etc. I went through similar notions of fear of rejection, lack of confidence, struggling to connect to the group and penetrate the members who were previously acquainted. Sometimes I opted out, decidedly gave up, returned again, created my own online social group, recruiting members, taking risks, being disappointed when no one showed up to my event. End result, I made two good friends out of many, and sadly one has already left Jerusalem just when we got into the flow of things.

My point is that we all have to take risks, put ourselves out there with the chance that our expectations might not be reciprocated, then picking ourselves up off the ground for round 2, 3 and 4. At the end of the day we all share a common goal; wanting a connection, wanting to feel a part of something and ultimately not wanting to be alone. So please leave room for possibility that YOU may just able to free someone else of their seemingly unbreakable spell of isolation by being open and vulnerable and true to your very human desire.

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Posted in Mental Health | 11 Comments

Wisdom from travellers on the Road Less Travelled – reflections on the search for identity and meaning in life

be a unicorn

Once Upon a Time…

By Bessie

Once upon a time there was a very strange family. The father was a helicopter, the mother was a dolphin and the baby was a horse. But what was even stranger was that the baby horse could also become a dolphin or a helicopter when he wanted.

This troubled the parents a lot. They said he has to choose one thing to be and to be that forever. So they told their baby you have to decide what you want to be and the baby just cried.

“But I love being a helicopter sometimes. Its so fun to fly fast in the air and surprise everyone with my ability” the baby said. “Then be a helicopter” his father said. “But I also love being a dolphin, I feel so friendly and lovable and people love to visit me” said the baby. “Then be a dolphin” his mother said. “But a horse is so magical. It can run like the wind and it has such a brave heart” said the baby. “Well then be a horse” both of his parents said. “But I like to change all the time. It makes life so interesting” said baby. Then his parents said; “but its too confusing for your friends. They never know what you are going to be”. The End.

When I was in school, I had a difficult time making, or should I say, keeping friends. I would get criticized for being wishy-washy, ambiguous, and indecisive. I was so busy trying to be what I thought was helpful that I didnt really become something myself. I guess I had too many wonderful role-models to inspire me. I wanted to be like everyone else. I was like the donkey between 2 piles of hay because he couldn’t decide which one he wanted most.

Life is like that. You have to make a choice and commit, or do you? Ill leave this question for open discussions. Perhaps this is the jumping off point for a philosophical debate.

Bob-Marley

“What is Important in life to me”?

By Dennis

The smile of a baby.

The enjoyment of reading to a four year old niece.

The feeling of accomplishment by doing something that was difficult.

The feeling of using my knowledge and creativity to develop a solution to a problem.

The encouragement of a friend visiting me while I was hospitalized.

A telephone call from a friend.

Going beyond your expected responsibilities to give more and the converse of someone doing the same for you!

Falling on the ice, having an Israeli pick me up and then drive me to my intended destination.

road not taken

What I Would Have Been . . .

By Yehoshua

What I Would Have Been . . .
By Yehoshua

I would have worked as a fireman
But I was afraid of getting burned
I would have worked as a teacher
but to teach, you must have learned
I would have worked in business
If I could hold a job
I would have done
like everyone
but I’d rather stay in bed

I would have been a soldier
But I don’t like to fight
I would have been a scholar
But I can’t read or write
I would have been a doctor
But I hate the sight of blood
I would have been a hiker
but I hate the sight of mud

Oh – OH what I could have been
If I didn’t have to stay in bed
Oh – Well, that’s what I should have been
if not for my poor messed up head
Eventually I’ll get up after some hours
and get around to sniffing the flowers
But in the meantime . . .

I’d like to be a pilot
but I don’t know how to fly
I’d like to be a Mossad agent
but I don’t know how to spy
I wonder where my life would have gone
And where it would have lead . . .

If not for my gosh-dang it rotten stinking messed up head!

keep calm

Posted in Mental Health | 3 Comments

“A ‘Sane’ Person’s Guide Through Insanity” How to reach out and help when you can’t find the ‘right’ way

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Touching the Heart

By Bessie

The neglect is a source of much pain, but there are also occasions when we are touched by compassion.

I remember one night when I was filled with dispair, having been assigned to live in the local ‘county home’ which was a chaotic dumping ground for the generally incompitent populations. I had run away in the middle of the night. I was walking through the woods when a car drove up. I told the driver I was a run away he told me he would drive me home and gave me a dime to call my parents. He probably saved my life and that phone call turned my life around.

And another touching moment was when the Mental Health clinic gave me a job cleaning offices. I worked there for 2 years post my last hospitalization and then went back to Technical College in Iowa. As much as cleaning was not my dream job, so to say it, gave me a place to be and a position to fill in which I was able to earn money and be included in society. That was invaluable.

Lastly, when I was around 35 years old and trying to get back into the community in any way I could, the Jewish Community Center took compassion on me and offered me to teach ‘Sunday School’. I was both touched and shocked by this act of humanity.

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Looking in, and back

By Elisabeth

Looking back on my journey as a family member involved in a loved ones recovery process, I learned to arm myself with education, research and personal support outlets. Having stable family support during ones recovery can be an integral part of their future success. The question is how to be a supportive player, how to address both the needs you have as well as the needs of your loved one and ultimately how to maintain a lasting sense of compassion and respect. My initial experience was marked by flundering between two extremely strong emotions, that of guilt and that of resentment. When I break it down, the guilt was an ultimately unhelpful tool which was used to augment my sadness. “I could have done more, I should have seen it coming, Its my fault, I should have been more considerate “. This mantra was trying to serve as some sort of process that attempted to make sense of an incomprehensible situation and, for me, desperately trying to gain some element of control, to feel that there must have been some rationale. Now for the resentment piece. What I was truly resenting was the illness in and of itself, the misfortune. But the way in which my resentment manifested was anger, blaming others, frustration, bitterness and pain…. which led me straight back to the guilt, guilty for being mean, cold and self-centered, and thus the cycle perpetuated itself.

So how does one break out of the cycle and what can be practically done to help oneself in order to help your loved one. If you are the type of person that has to find a way to make sense of a situation I suggest reading, researching and equipping yourself with the knowledge to fight this thing together. Research, most importantly, allows you to comprehend what is happening from a scientific approach, therefore allowing you to normalize this experience and, in one way or another, come to terms with the fact that your loved one is a victim of a statistic, just if they were to have cancer or diabetes. Moreover research imparts a feeling of hope because there are a plethora of new studies, medications, therapies and techniques that are gaining attention and recognition for their effectiveness. If you are able to genuinely convey a feeling of hope that the situation will improve, they will pick up on this positive sentiment. Your loved one will feel that they have a partner in this often times, lonely journey. Via research you will also be exposed to others success stories and the varied and creative ways which helped them get well and stay well.

Sources I have found helpful are things such as biographies, autobiographies guides to therapy/treatment of individual’s accounts through their journey such as; An Unquiet Mind – Kay Redfield Jamison, The Gift of Therapy – Irving Yalom, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness – Elyn Saks. There are also monthly magazines pertaining to the topic of Mental Health, one created by a Canadian who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia in his mid 20’s. He started the magazine SZ (Schizophrenia Digest) not without many challenges but the process of putting together a source of support and hope for people like himself and others gave him the strength to recover. Here are just a few compelling videos found on TED Talks:

http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_breel_confessions_of_a_depressed_comic.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/thomas_insel_toward_a_new_understanding_of_mental_illness.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/elyn_saks_seeing_mental_illness.html

Lastly I would strongly recommend getting involved in a support group for families or friends supporting a loved one. These groups provide respite, normalization, hope and friendship. They also provide practical coping tools for yourself which can and need to be employed in order to best support your loved one.

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Shiva

By Denis

I was thinking about what would and has helped me in my recovery from depression. I started comparing the situation to when I was sitting shiva for my father in 1997. I felt that there were a few people who sincerely put my best interests at heart. Most, at best, were clueless as to how to  assist the mourners. Most people came to visit us due to a sense of obligation. During the remainder of the mourning period there were some people whom I felt sincerely comforted me. My boss encouraged me to go to Synagogue whenever I felt it necessary. My therapist helped me address my emotions related to the family situation.

In regard to assistance for mental health patients, I have positive and negative “commandments”. Be a good listener. Do not impose what you believe is best for the person, acknowledge that, as an outsider, you dont have a clue, but let me tell you about it. Be an honest person. When I was in hospital I appreciated the support that people provided by just coming to visit and sit with me.

Looking at the ‘mourning’ period, I think that the rules in Jewish Law provide helpful guidelines for conducting oneself, but best to act in the way you feel most comfortable. For those of us with mental health problems, there is not one answer which suits for all people. Each person’s path to recovery is different.

you can do it (1)

A Poem by Yehoshua

Forget not the man that carries on his back
and his heart, the weight of lowliness and tear
Without waver – with honor
without weeping – with joy
just a pat on his shoulder
and perhaps, “good going”
to give strength
to him, to go further and further

The broken soul that stands and bleeds
the joy and sorrow, the ugliness and the beauty
between drowning and swimming, and between death
and living – between impurity and purity
between living and mourning

Two paths you shewed me
Hashem, my G-d
and to choose between them, I ask but
a pat on my shoulder

על תשקח את האיש שסוחב על הגב
ובלב, את הכובד של שפלות ודמעה
בלי הסס – עם כבוד
בלי בכי – עם שמחה
רק ליטוף על קטפיו
“ואולי, “כל הכבוד
כדי לתת יותר חוזק
לו, להמשיך עוד ועוד

הנפש השבור שעומד ומדמדם
השמחה והעצוב, המחוארות והחן
בין טביעה להשחייה, ובין מוות
לחיות – בין טומאה לטהרה
בין חיות לאבילות

שני דרכים לי הצגתה
הי א-להי
ולבחור מבקשני
רק לטיפה על קטפי

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Famous people have mental health problems too……

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A limerick by Yehoshua

Beethoven was a German musician,
Whose mind, when in manic condition,
Could write without flaws
To joyous applause
Many works of its own volition.

Another was named Churchill, Winston,
Who was a famous politician
He knew that a war
Would be coming, for sure
Despite his bipolar condition

Abe Lincoln had major depression
Perhaps brought on by the Secession
Not just this, but more,
A great civil war,
Settled the slavery question

Newton discovered gravitation
To scientist’s world wide elation
But in his big crania
He had a big mania
Which drove the calculus of creation

Van Gogh might have known how to paint
Though his brain had a terrible taint
Of madness of mind
Which showed in the kind
Of his paintings, which normal they ain’t

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William Styron

By Dennis

I selected William Styron as my hero of people diagnosed with depression. William Styron wrote “The Confessions of Nat Turner” in 1967. In 1968 the book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for literature. He also wrote “Sophies Choice” which was published in 1979. In 1980 the book received the National Book Award. In 1985 Styron suffered his most serious bout of depression. He wrote “The madness of depression is the antithesis of violence. It is a storm indeed, but a storm of muck. Soon evident are the slowed-down responses, near paralysis, psychic energy throttled back close to zero. Ultimately, the body is affected and feels sapped, drained”. When he recovered he eloquently wrote “I felt myself no longer a husk, but a body with some of the body’s sweet juices stirring again”. His book “Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness” was published in 1990. This book has inspired me greatly. I was able to meet Styron at a book signing in the late 1990’s and I told him that his book was very helpful to me and my own recovery. He clearly appreciated the compliment. It was a very moving experience for me.

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Winston Churchill
By Bessie

Churchill was born into a family with a history of mental illness. Only a man who knew what it was to discern a gleam of hope in a hopeless situation could have given emotional reality to the words of defiance which rallied and roused around the allies during the menacing summer of 1940. Perhaps because of his depression he may have understood that simply conciliating Hitler would not stop the Nazi’s from advancing across Europe. Churchill’s depressive realism helped him to change the course of world history.

It is interesting to read that the Churchill family ‘motto’ is ‘faithful but unfortunate’. Churchill’s wisdom and courage has inspired me to persevere, no matter how difficult and hopeless my situation is. Also his courage has taught me to try to see the benefits of difficult situations and his sense of humour with concern has helped me try to cope with all the horrible things going on in the world.

I don’t know if I have the right to speak about a person as great and profound as Winston Churchill, but when I read his quotes they did mean a lot to me. So even if he is everything I am not, brave, famous, poised, wise, I feel we share something in common – mental illness and the suffering it causes. But he faced his destiny even though it was a time of incredible turmoil and inspired the world with his words. I cannot pay due homage to a man I so admire, but in today’s world where we rely so heavily on pills and gadgets for our inspiration I, for one, cling to this humanity.

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Marilyn Monroe
By Elisabeth

Marilyn Monroe continues to be one of Americans most cherished icons to date and a household name all around the world. She was noted for her tenacity, beauty, charm and talent as well as her lifelong suffering with substances, depression and what some now conclude to be as Boarderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Although this diagnosis has been medically acknowledged by mental health professionals for some time now, and in the DSM for the past 50 years, it seems to be gaining greater recognition in society in the last decade. It is a complicated diagnosis because people with BPD can often be, generally, high functioning, able to hold down a job as well as relationships (family, friends, intimate and otherwise) and the ability to draw others in and connect socially/emotionally. Conversely, people who are diagnosed with BPD have extreme difficulty at regulating their emotions, struggle with intense feelings of abandonment and loneliness, at high risk of self harm/suicide, impulsive/aggressive/demanding behaviour and extreme sensitivity, mood swings and emotional dependence on others.

Bringing it back to the lady of the hour, Marilyn Monroe was said to have BPD but her behaviour he was largely associated with Depression which seems to have been the tip of the iceberg in her diagnosis. Although there is no way to scientifically determine and ultimately prove such a diagnosis (as it is just a cluster of symptoms) there do exist some theories which help to explain a lot of the resulting behaviours of people with BPD.
Looking at Monroe’s upbringing, she lived in a fairly tumultuous family situation which lacked basic familial structure and support. Her mother was reported to be negligent, absent and had a series of unstable relationships and left two of her children in the care of neighbours with little explanation to them or Monroe. Monroe herself was in and out of foster care which resulted in developing anxiety, feelings of despair, and tendencies to withdraw socially. Her father was never officially know to her, although Monroe had theories as to who it might have been, she never met him and the question lingered on throughout her life with reported feelings of self blame and abandonment. Additionally, Monroe was sexually abused by a family friends husband and as well by a male cousin. She often used techniques of escapism to help deal with the abuse and was noted as being an impressive storyteller, slipping into fantasy world in order to cope with the abuse. Tragically Monroe died at the young age of 36 years old due to, what some believe, as an overdose on barbiturates. This story is all too common amongst many people who develop BPD, and other mental health illnesses.

All this being said, the purpose of bringing attention to celebrities who have endured, or continue to battle mental health illness, addictions etc is that it helps to shed light on their struggles and brings awareness to the general population because, lets face it, the average person disproportionately cares about famous people’s lives, for the good the bad and the ugly!

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What’s Up Doc?

Seeing the Psychiatrist
By Bessie

When he smiles at me, I feel elated. When he frowns, I’m terrified. I feel like he has the power of life or death over me and I find it hard to tell him who I really am because he doesn’t really want to know, he just wants to find out what symptoms I have so he can medicate me.

When Freud started the practice of psychiatry it was known as ‘talk therapy’. But now there is no talking. Not for me, anyways, because I am a chronic case. Perhaps the patients that have had an acute episode once in their life get to talk and receive feedback. This is the crucial element that is missing today.

I have been blessed by being allowed to talk to a psychologist in group therapy, but the nature of psychology is not the same. And today’s psychiatry is no longer the same as the historical function. It is merely a question of medication.

I know psychiatrists are under a lot of pressure and often feel rushed and stressed by having to decide which of the many medications on the market are right for a particular patient, but sometimes I want to cry out ‘please talk to me! My future is in your hands! Perhaps you could say something that worked to alleviate my anxiety as much as a pill would’.

If strange behaviour was attempted to be understood instead of discounted completely, it might be a better form of therapy. Too often when a patient pours out his soul, instead of receiving verbal feedback, he just gets an injection. Psychiatry demands verbal feedback, this is the latest ‘miracle cure’.

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It aint my fault
By Yehoshua

I feel I’ve done
What I’ve forgotten
Some thing bad, for sure, again
But that’s OK
Though I feel rotten
It ain’t my fault
I’m just insane

My pills, although they taste atrocious
My mind, though it is full of fluff
Is not fixed yet, is in psychosis
Though heart be made of sterner stuff

And ‘though I see straight through the liars
of mine own mind, mine own deception
I still feel the pains and briars
That I’ve forgotten aren’t my conception
O’ take me not, o’ G-d of mine,
O’ one who made me, to whom I yearn
For I am full of strong desire
To live for life’s still moving turn

No fate yet holds me, I am not dead
For all of evil’s vain attempts
From death’s deceiver, I take my fate
And treat it with mine own contempt

I’ll take my life in mine own hands
And live it to the full degree
And not yet death shall take my soul
And not yet death shall conquer me

And not yet life shall flee my lips
And not yet sight mine reason lose
And still this diseased brain of mine
Won’t conquer me, if I but choose

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The relationship between the patient and psychiatrist

By Dennis

The relationship between the patient and psychiatrist is a complex one. Usually, when one seeks psychiatric help, one is not in the best frame of mind to make a rational decision. Therefore, one may not choose the right psychiatrist for oneself.

In my experience, I have sought professional help at a time when I was in a bad emotional state. I have been hospitalized twice since I have been in Israel. I felt as though I was in a prison. Due to financial reasons, I think that the main purpose of the psychiatrist was to get the patients to a level where they could be discharged. I felt that I was not treated as an individual, but as part of an assembly line.

Once I was discharged from hospital I was referred to a doctor in the public sector – Ministry of Health (Misrad HaBruit). I think that the quality of treatment in all areas of medicine is poor. Generally, the psychiatrist has ten minutes to work with the patient.

Eventually, on the recommendation of my psychologist, I now see a private psychiatrist. I have been fortunate to receive the financial support which allows me to use a private physician. However, I realize that not everyone is so fortunate.

“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.” – Charles Dickens

Great Expectations….which may need some adjusting

By Elisabeth

When feeling vulnerable, desperate and in need of help we all have a tendency to look to one person, one profession, one pill, one comforting sentence, one solution to grant us the serenity to believe that our suffering can be alleviated. While this may be a common expectation of, let’s say, ones psychiatrist I think we sometimes forget that their capacity is limited and that they, unfortunately, cannot be our “end all be all”.

An important distinction that needs to be made is the difference between psychiatrists and psychologists. This is a common mistake made by individuals, patients and even professionals. The term/title is often used interchangeably which is critical error, in my humble opinion. Because of our collective hopes as clients, as concerned family members, and as society in general our expectations become deeply misguided as per what these professionals should be doing for us.

Just to set the record straight – a psychiatrist has a degree in medicine and has specific training in assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness. Psychologists receive graduate training in psychology and pursue a PHD in psychology, (or in some countries philosophy) clinical psychology or counseling. Moreover the title ‘psychologist’ can often be applied to counselors, therapists, mental health care professionals, and EVEN applied to….Social Workers (with proper certification). Both professions are licensed, but the final, major distinction is that psychiatrists have the almighty power of prescribing DRUGS!

I think this is the defining factor where the role of dependency falls into place. It may serve to explain why we develop this complex set of emotions towards psychiatrists and the hope that they can be our all-in-one mentor, doctor, empathizer, and friend. The dependency issue is not assisted by the fact that (non-privatized) psychiatrists tend to have extremely limited time to spare when it comes to discussing your overall mental health. Moreover, as a mental health worker trying to contact a client’s psychiatrist and actually succeeding at getting the doctor on the phone, the conversation is typically over before it’s even really started.

Possible solutions to this conundrum from a mental health worker perspective would be greater patient inclusion in their treatment plan and a provision of psychosocial education re; diagnosis, medication, prognosis etc. I have had clients who have never received a proper explanation of their diagnosis, and in extreme cases were not informed of their projected diagnosis due to the assumption that it wouldn’t have made a difference to them anyways. The amount of clients who have had multiple diagnoses are a dime a dozen. If they were provided with the tools to better comprehend their diagnosis it would mean a greater understanding of their symptoms and hopefully more accurate medication. I would like to end by saying that I personally feel medication is an integral aspect of one’s recovery, but it is important to acknowledge the fact that medication only goes so far. I strongly vouch for a two-tiered system of medication and complimentary treatments such as therapy, social support, creative outlets, music, art, sports, community, meaningful work opportunities and the integral goal of belonging and understanding. All of these aspects attempt to encompass the human spirit and holistically nurture the soul.

Posted in Mental Health | 8 Comments

Welcome to our World

PRESENTING THE VERY FIRST EDITION OF ‘JERUSALEM SYNDROME’

By Elisabeth

“Jerusalem Syndrome” is a newsletter collaboration of musings, reflections and introspection into the world of mental health from the inside out. Our mission is to use this medium as a creative outlet for self expression and self help with the HOPE of reaching out to those who can relate and to those who have never ventured into the unknown territory. We want to expand the definition of what having a diagnosis of mental illness means, bridge the GAP between “us” and “them” and act as educators by attempting to break the stigma and creating dialogue about the deeply misunderstood topic.

We look to this blog as somewhat of a journey we are taking together by trying to understand what this mental health ‘label’ means and what can be done to foster acceptance, dispel shame and recall the humanity which connects us all. How do we do that? By reaching out to others who feel isolated by their diagnosis, by using this blog as a form of self-help for ourselves and our audience, by giving ourselves a VOICE to feel empowered and, last but not least, by using a sense of humour to show others that we are more than just a diagnosis!

We hope you enjoy our honesty, creativity and wit in an attempt to make this world a more accepting place by helping one psychotherapeutically challenged individual at a time. We encourage you to participate by leaving comments and/or sending us an email to jerusalemsyndrome13@gmail.com.

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COPING WITH STRESS

By Bessie

In small doses, stress is good. It can energize you and motivate you to deal with challenges.  Too much stress can make life a difficult journey, when your stress level exceeds your ability to cope, this threatens your stability.

We all know what its like to be overwhelmed by stress,  so its important to try to stay relaxed.  Making poor food choices can contribute to fatigue and being rushed can also cause stress.

Stress is a major problem for many people.  A stress free life, however, is not a desirable goal, because stress is something that challenges US and makes us grow.  But when stress gets too high, it causes us to be unhealthy and unhappy.

One way to alleviate  stress is to do something calming. Some people like to meditate and others prefer to ‘get moving’. Find your calming activity and do it every day.

Many problems are out of our control. The only option may be to accept them and try to increase our capacity  to tolerate stress.  Exercise, eating well,
and learning methods of relaxation can help with this.

PAINS OF THE HEART

A poem by Yehoshua

In seeming light to make of it
reply in course thusly unsit
the hidden, and unseemly rock
perched on the shoulder, and wound the heart

for I, from this, in course, deserving
leashes from the lash, not learning
from the vomit that emits
when the rock duly unsits

the course that courses through our veins
is not an evil, for these chains
can strengthen with the very pains
and clean the soul as the rains

But How?!! The burden
Is so grievous
And my soul, and mind, mischievous
My heart is wounded, still it bleds
From glassen shards and arrowheads

So on I march, with open wounds
But happily, to martial tunes
For I know that in this dark sea
I am fulfilling my destiny….

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