Archive for the ‘mental health’ Category

One Green Healing Day!

Today, I’m practicing accepting the moment.  My other options don’t look good.  I have a lot on my mind, some of which I simply don’t know what to do about.  I’m taking a break from trying to come up with solutions, at least for a little while.

I’ll take another break in a few minutes, with my pretty, insect-hunting four-legged companion, Ruthie Mae.  She needs me, and I need her. She let me know today how much she loves me, and how she misses us spending more outside time together. 

She walked over to me, as I was rubbing Tiny’s belly, which he loves of course, and put her paw in my hand in the sweet way she has always done,ever since the first time she introduced herself to me.  Ruthie does have good manners, even though, she doesn’t use them a lot of the time.  She looked me in the eyes, as if to say, hey thanks for loving us, and then she gave me a soft little kiss on my hand!  I promise you she is one of the sweetest dogs in the whole wide world!

I’ve regressed.  I meant to talk about butterflies.

I’d like to share a photo of the beautiful butterfly that I was friends with today. 

Beautiful Butterfly

A Green Healing Moment!

I make a lot of garden friends in Horticulture Therapy.  First it was the lizard, then the ladybug, and recently my son spotted a lizard by the bog that had an orange throat, and of course, butterflies!  I love the butterflies, but I’ve noticed that I do love all my garden friends.

I must go check my books of butterflies, my favorite of which is, BUTTERFLY GARDENING, FOR THE SOUTH, by GEYATA AJILVSGI, if I can find it.  I have nature guide books, but let’s find out what Geyata has to say about this amazing and beautiful creature.  

ZEBRA SWALLOWTAIL (Eurytides marcellus) 

Family: Papilionidae

Size: 2 3/8- 3 1/2 inches

Range: All 

 Flight Time: March-October 

Broods: 3, possibly more  

Overwinters: Pupa

Though the Zebra Swallowtail has bright striking colors, when it goes to rest in the shade, it gets a little darker and blends in with the environment. 

I know one thing this butterfly likes, and that’s drinking from Asclepias Tuberosa, commonly known as Milkweed, which is a nectar producing flower, but is also the plant that Monarchs lay their eggs on.  Milkweed is the only plant Monarchs use to lay their eggs on.  Something in the plant makes the Monarch poisonous to prey.

I once dreamed I was a Milkweed plant.  I was happy and lived in a great large field with many others like me.  But, that’s a story I’ve told in this blog.  Ruthie Mae says I don’t have time to give you the link.

That’s it for today.  The sun has gone down, and my girl needs a walk.

Thank you for visiting Dogkisses’s Blog! 

Green Healing ~ Heart and Soul

Image of pretty lilac woodland Phlox blooming

Woodland Phlox

I saw my son’s heart while we were working together in the gardens yesterday.  It was beautiful!  Some people have a green thumb, which I believe my son has, but he also has a green heart.

I saw it when he watered the beds where we planted tiny carrot and lettuce seeds last week.  And of course in the bed of Bok Choy.

in horticulture we thrive

BoK Choy coming along

I saw it when he pulled a few weeds from our special bed where the little lizard used to live.  (I guess my cute little friend went on to some greens without gardeners).

one spot so powerful!

Our Special Therapy Garden

I saw his spirit shining when I later looked at the photos I took during class, which included the potted Cacti he made during the first class.  That pot continues to show me his spirit.  It grows on it’s own.  It’s easy for him to have this potted plant, which isn’t the case for all of us.  Some of us have a hard time keeping them alive, much less seeing them thrive without effort.

in horticulture, we thrive

Easy does it...

The horticulture therapist and I had a chance to chat a bit after the earlier week’s class.  My son didn’t feel like going that day and I had gone alone.  “He has so much heart and soul,”  she remarked.

People often say that about my son.  I often forget to remember what is right, when sometimes it feels like a lot is wrong.  It’s easy, I guess, to focus on what I can help change or make better, than it is to spend time being grateful and enjoying all that is okay and good.

working in the beautiful Mother of the therapy gardens

Heart and Soul in the Garden

My son is a quiet person now.  He doesn’t engage in conversation the way he did growing up, which was enthusiastically with almost everyone he met.   This change has been very difficult for me to accept.

Psychiatry suggests that his frequent silence is a symptom and I must admit that ever since he was diagnosed with a mental illness, I believed this was true.  I’ve believed many things that today I am seriously questioning.

I believe my son has a lot to say.  I believe he has been silenced for a long time.  I believe in the right environment he could and would thrive.

Times are changing in the mental healthcare arena.   There is a new language used to talk about madness.  We are finally starting to acknowledge that matters of the heart matter.  The spirit and soul of a person matters.

I’m glad to be alive and a part of the conversation.  Honestly, I didn’t think I would be.

I dream of access to healing and rehabilitation centers, and organizations created to help people who live to a different beat have meaningful work and be able to make valuable contributions in community.

I don’t know if my dreams and hopes will be realized in my life, but a new conversation has begun!

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog.  Feel free to leave a comment and I hope you also have some ‘Green Healing’ days.

smiling at you

One Beet a Day

A beet a day to keep the doctor away

PHOTO CREDIT:  MiriamWilcox via Flickr

A Taoist Alchemist has been working with my son and I for about four months.  He replied to an email I wrote while my son was in the hospital last year.  I wrote more than several emails during that time, but most of them carried the same message, which was that my family needed help.

I couldn’t believe it when he wrote me back.  He offered to help us and he has, in more ways than I could ever have imagined.  He quickly became crucial to the plan for recovery I was working on, which did get my son discharged.

The Alchemist is also a semi-retired Master Clinical Nurse.  He worked with the most severe cardiac patients in the hospital for about thirty years.  You’d never know by looking at him that he’s been around long enough for that history.  He has a youthful spirit and is in excellent health. 

He practices several modalities of holistic healthcare, including homeopathy, Chinese medicine and Oi-Gong.  The man has spent years studying these healing arts, along with nutrition and holistic healthcare.  Today he enjoys assisting people in prevention and recovery from just about any disease, including a stressful life.

The first time we met was to talk about my son.  Of course, this led to discussing my son’s childhood, background and me.  I was in his office for my own treatments shortly afterward. 

My toes had hurt for a while.  I kept waking up in the night feeling like somebody was pulling my toenails with pliers.  It was extremely painful! 

I briefly mentioned this pain, but I wasn’t there for the toe pain.  I was there to figure out how to help my son.  I was there because the energy I felt around this man evoked in me hope that my son could get better, possibly even well, which is not what psychiatry has told us for nearly a decade.

The Alchemist gave me a homeopathic remedy the first day I went for a treatment.  I told him that I hadn’t responded well to homeopathy in the past, but he said give it a try anyway.

The next day, the toe pain was gone.  It never returned like it was.  I’ve felt it on a much milder level, but only a couple of times.  They had been hurting nearly constantly and at one point, I recall being afraid of having to use a wheel chair if the pain continued.  The doctors said it was likely Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus.

I was surprised when the pain vanished after one treatment from the Alchemist.  I really didn’t know what to think.  Perhaps the homeopathic remedy worked.  Perhaps the energy the Alchemist carries is that of a true healer. 

I believe in healers.  I believe some people have access to energy that can heal sickness and disease.  Healing may not always look the same as the pain in my toes disappearing overnight.  Healing is a process and it takes time, along with a little determination, which brings me to the subject of BEETS!

“I want you to eat one beet a day,” the Alchemist said.  I cringed.  I’ve never eaten a whole beet in my life and that’s counting the obligatory servings I’ve had from the predictable holiday side dish.  I wasn’t sure I could do it.

“Can you make that face again?” the Alchemist asked me, laughing. 

“I don’t like the texture,” I told him.  “They are mushy,” and my face crinkled up again. 

“Oh, they’re not like that raw.”

“Raw?”

“Definitely,” he said.  “One raw beet a day for both of you.” 

“I want you to prepare this for your mother,” he then told my son.  “Do you think you can do that?” he asked him politely.

“Sure,” my son said enthusiastically.  He likes cooking.  He’s also pretty good at it.  Since he’s been living with me, we’ve split the chores.  His includes cooking and washing dishes.  (Yes!)

A beet a day goes a long way!We’ve had some great meals lately.  I have more energy.  I still have chronic fatigue and pain, but some days, I feel good.  Some days, I have energy.  I do believe a beet a day is a good thing!

My son is doing as well as I’ve seen him in ten years.  He still has challenges too, but we both have a little more energy and many more reasons for hope.

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!  Feel free to leave a comment.

Resources: Taoist Healing and Chi Nei Tsang by Dennis Lewis


One mom, one son, one day

Sea Otter Mother with Pup Beside Morro Bay CA ...

Image by mikebaird via Flickr

“Write out your boundaries while your son is here,” the hospital nurse suggested to me over the phone.  “Write it out –what you are and are not willing to do.”

I remembered the conversation I had with this nurse less than two months ago when he suggested that I hand over some of the care giving responsibilities I’ve taken on.

He didn’t say to whom I should hand any of them over to and so far nobody has volunteered nor do I know of anyone who can relieve me, so there.

I have boundaries.  I told him my son doesn’t care about his life and with genuine sincerity he said he completely agreed.

How is a mother supposed to handle this… knowledge?  Just this one part of a longstanding stressful and heart breaking situation is as hard as anything I’ve ever felt.  To think that it is the truth deeply disturbs me.  To think that my son doesn’t care about his life puts me into a hypnotic state of grief.

Everything I’ve ever learned or believed or know is not applicable to the way I feel.

Boundaries mean nothing.  Lists mean nothing.  Text book ideas and ideals mean nothing.

The only thing that matters to me now is my son and his life.

Statistics, treatment models, my son’s history, “the highest level of mental health care available,” which my son has in an ACT team and as the nurse added during our conversation today, “people are waiting three to six months to get services from an ACT team,” –none of this is applicable to the way I feel right now.

I’m unhappy with what many people are seeking and waiting for.

Part of the problem is that my being dissatisfied with the services the ACT team is in reality providing for my son rocks a boat that is barely staying afloat.

“The ACT teams are overloaded with too many people and not enough resources,” the nurse said right after he told me about how many people wants and needs this service.  I’m well aware of the state of affairs within the mental health system.  They are not good at all.  “They don’t have the resources to see all of their clients, (a.k.a. consumers).  Some of the people just don’t get seen.”

My son is one of those clients.

“Your son is difficult,” he said.  I’ve heard this several times.

His teachers said he was difficult throughout his school years because he talked too much.  The creative and interested teachers loved him.  The ones who found ways to make school work for him, which was hands-on-learning, discovered that my son was not only bright, but also quite capable of being a, “good student.”

“The ACT team is difficult!” I said with strong conviction.

I like the nurse.  He has taken very good care of my son many times now.   I respect him and now, I think I need to be taken as seriously as anyone else involved in my son’s health care.

“I need you to hear me,” I told him.  “You guys have to listen to me this time.  Hear what I am telling you.  The ACT team is not providing these services to my son.  They have many good and very valid reasons, but I cannot accept them as an excuse not to see him.”

He said he would definitely pass on my concerns to the doctors and I know he will.  I know they will call me just like they always do.  They really are good doctors, but something happens in route from our conversations about resources and ideas as to what might help my son live independently in a community –to the day my son is discharged.

Somehow what is said doesn’t make it to a written document and he comes out of the hospital with the same treatment plan that he went in with.

The nurse has told me before how much he likes my son.  “I find him fascinating when he can communicate,” he told me not long ago.  Today he said my son is cognitively slower than he has seen him before.  I realize that, which is why he’s in the hospital again.  I’m very worried about my son.

The nurse also reminded me that he thinks my son is a really good guy.  Everyone who knows my son says this about him.  Most people say he’s sweet.  That’s the word I hear most when people talk about him.  People have said that about him since he was a little boy.

He has this kindness, this sort of giving unconditional loving way about him, but when he is sick, well…  I’m lost for words.

My son is lost.  He is truly lost in this world and I guess, so am I.

They say he has schizophrenia and he does have the symptoms, but he’s never fit any mold within the diagnosis, even as precarious as that is.

I’ve always felt in my heart that the doctors should focus on addiction issues, at least once.  I know you can’t force recovery from a substance addiction on any person and when that substance is causing symptoms of schizophrenia… well, I’m lost for words again.

Addiction joined with schizophrenia, or more accurately, the symptoms of schizophrenia, — is very hard to treat.  “The addiction your son has and schizophrenia are each possibly the two worst diseases a person can have,” one medical doctor told me a few years ago when my son was struggling with substance abuse.  “Your son faces both of these,” he added.

I wish the hospital would take the approach that some of my son’s school teachers took and give him a new chance.  I wish they would just one time forget his past failures and look at the successes he’s had and say hey, you know, we think your life is worth a great deal.  We want to help save it.

I wish just one time that they could for a little while stop thinking of how things don’t work, stop thinking inside the box, stop telling me things I learned when I was five years old and give a good college try towards developing a new plan.

I know this would take some time, but it’s a hospital.  A teaching hospital.  A teaching hospital with renowned doctors and bright residents who are still young enough to be idealistic,  so why not teach them how to approach the most challenging patients?  Why not teach them that they might can make a real difference in one family’s life with a little extra time thinking, communicating and reaching out to find resources in the community?

“He’s older now,” the nurse also added.  I’m tired of hearing that too.  It’s clear to me that younger patients get a bit more attention and time, I guess, because the doctors are more hopeful that they can do something.  (Studies suggest that early intervention in schizophrenia leads to a better prognosis).

His age isn’t applicable to how I feel right now.  His life is.

What am I willing, or not willing to do?

It’s possible that I’m willing to die trying to save my son.

Today the nurse said he would worry for me.  That was a blessing.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

All my tears

All my tears may account for years but when I look at these photos, I can see that it was only days ago that I was smiling.   I smiled yesterday when I received a surprise phone call from a friend.

Yesterday brought a resolution to a recent crisis, but the aftermath of having gone through it has triggered an acute episode of severe depression.

Depression is something I’ve suffered with for most of my adult life but most certainly I don’t feel this bad all the time.  I couldn’t take it if I did.

I also have PTSD.   I am sure this is the root of the depression I’m experiencing.  I had terrible nightmares after the resolution.  The crisis was too familiar, which is all I’m able to write at this time.

I’m sharing these photos because the moments in time when they were taken, which was not so long ago, I was okay.  Okay meaning able to smile, eat, enjoy parts of my life and sleep.

I have laughed before and I will laugh again — maybe today but until then, I hope you like the pictures.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

traveling dogs posing for the camera

cute camp dog gives her mate a kiss

we danced around the fire at night in the mountains while camping

campdance

fibromyalgia made sure I was up to greet the morning crows!

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Schizophrenia and community

Picture of an authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margh...

Image via Wikipedia

In Schizophrenia, I believe there is more to recovery than antipsychotic medications.

“Meaning, Mastery and Membership.  Without these people go nuts,” a former anthropology professor told our class one day.  “The three m(s),”  he called them.  I remember this because it made a lot of sense to me.  I really like things that make sense.

I’m not against using medication to treat symptoms of a mental illness, but it doesn’t make sense for this to be the only treatment method used.  I’m also not referring to an immediate mental health crisis.  I’m talking about the ongoing trials and tribulations of living with the symptoms of a mental illness.

I used to plant flower gardens to attract butterflies.  Butterflies are smart.  They would come when I arrived on the scene with potted plants that hadn’t even bloomed yet.  They would wait, for days and days, while I dug holes and prepared gardens.  Many times they would drink from the sweat on my shoulders, hanging out with me while I worked.  I felt good about myself when I planted those gardens.

I found personal meaning and a sense of mastery when they came to drink nectar from the flowers they had waited for, that I planted for them, and sometimes to lay their eggs on the glorious Bronze Fennel.

Mastery refers to the experience of being capable of doing something.   We don’t have to literally be masters or experts.  Being good at something of course gives us a sense of mastery, but also believing we can learn something new or get better at something we are interested in can also be empowering this way.

Membership is about having a sense of belonging.  Getting paid for my gardens included me in the work force.  I felt too that I had a place in my community as a business owner with a service that I felt good about.

In my personal experience, with my son and other adult children who have schizophrenia, work is either minimal or absent.

I think it’s true that if you work in a career or at a job doing something you enjoy, it’s more likely you’ll be happy and successful.  This is especially important for people who struggle with a thought disorder.  There is a symptom called disorganized thinking.   It is very much the same as being in a room where nothing has a place, a lot like my son’s apartment.  It’s completely overwhelming.

It only makes sense, at least to me, that he would succeed in an area that allows for free thinking, creativity, and time for him to focus on one thing at a time.

He got fired from a pizza parlor because the manager said he took too much time making the pies.  My son said he couldn’t make them unless he could make them just right and that the people deserved better than what they were getting.  He liked to decorate the edges and make sure the crust was perfect.  This took time he said.  He was passionate about the pizzas.

He had made pizzas before, when he was only seventeen.  His pizzas were famous among the locals and with the manager for being the biggest pies in town.  Once I went there and ordered one with artichokes.  The owner, who liked my son’s enthusiasm, laughed that night saying that there weren’t any artichokes left.  They had all gone on my pizza.  My son was proud, watching me as I ate so heartily.

This symptom of disorganized thinking is the main reason my son is not making pizzas as I write, along with the fact that most managers will not allow him to create his own masterpieces.  If I had the money I’d open him a pizza place.  It would have to be known for the biggest pies in town so he could pay the overhead.

There are residential therapeutic living centers in the northern and western part of the US, along with one in the southeast that has become popular.   Some of them have farms and animals.  Some of them teach certain trades or skills.  Unfortunately they are expensive.

I honestly wish that our local neuroscience teaching hospital included a residential living place for the patients who are able to leave and expected to survive in the community.  A place where meaning, mastery and membership could be cultivated and nurtured.  I wish we expected the patients leaving the hospitals and institutions to thrive and not just survive, even as I am certain that every single day my son survives is a blessed day.

Sometimes surviving each day is the very best you can hope for.  I understand that.  Most of my life is like that.

I know it’s dreamy to imagine a place, such as a residential healing farm, as being part of modern-day America’s approach to treating mental illness, but I think it’s a reasonable and rational imagining.

People who have the money are paying and saying wonderful things about some of the therapeutic residential living centers.  Plus, modern medicine doesn’t have illnesses such as schizophrenia figured out.  Recent studies show that being a friend to a person with a mental illness can change brain chemistry.  Well, I figured that all along.

We are told by psychiatrists that schizophrenia is a chemical imbalance in the brain and that antipsychotics are the only answer.  We are told schizophrenia is a lifetime brain disease.  This may all be true, but it doesn’t mean these are laws written in stone or that they apply to every individual diagnosed.

I think there is more to treatment, healing and rehabilitation than medication alone.

Meaning, Mastery and Membership.  We all need a healthy dose of each.


Thank you for visiting my blog.

I’m a just a mother with a few dreamy dreams.

I am not a doctor, therapist or medical professional of any kind.  I am not attempting to give advice about treatment of a mental illness.

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