Everyday Inspiration, Back to Day 2: Lists

I’ve been rethinking the lists assignment for this great writing class I am taking now from WordPress.

I thought more about my relationship to lists and categories in general.

I enjoy categories and lists and lists within categories. Pinterest really satisfies that urge; lately I have been active on Pinterest, partly because it does not involve politics or the idea of being right or wrong. As with an art therapy group, there is no right or wrong to collecting images you like. Going back to Pinterest was very interesting in terms of how I viewed categories which are “Boards” and lists which are “pin/saved images”.

First I wanted to make a list of the lists I have been thinking of writing.

1.) There is still the List of choices for making a list provided for the class:

  • Things I Like
  • Things I’ve Learned
  • Things I Wish
  • Things You’re Good At

2.) List of films I saw in 2016 that had a big affect on me, that I can remember right now without looking it up and also what made these films have meaning for me.

3.)  List of specific 2016 things I am grateful for.

4.) List of regrets.

5.) The list of Pinterest boards I have added and other boards renamed.

6.) The list of lists I want to write that I can’t remember now but may remember later.

7.) The grand list of New Year’s Resolutions that I am not going to make.

8.) The list of things I want to do to my studio to make it match my dream studio as much as possible.

Day 2: Write a List

Ray Bradbury wrote a list of nouns to get inspired. I will try it too.

  1. caviar
  2. heads
  3. sandwiches
  4. The thing on a ceiling fan that turns
  5. lint trap
  6. matches
  7. oven thermometer
  8. cork paper
  9. arteries
  10. surge protector
  11. planets
  12. eyes
  13. fringe
  14. cape
  15. stamp
  16. selfie-stick
  17. fog
  18. indignation
  19. boxing gloves
  20. cable
  21. bridge
  22. castle
  23. cloud
  24. brush pen
  25. dream catcher
  26. mermaid
  27. water

I’m not sure what this list will do for me. I guess while making it, I was judging myself for mostly listing objects I’m seeing in my studio. If I look at it from another person’s point of view, any of these things could be a portal into something else and could spark something creative. I’m too lazy right now to actually try using five of them in a few sentences. It feels forced.

Mental Health Awareness Month Post Number 2!

Ok. I’m interrupting my attempt to get deeper into the issues around money and therapy because I have until the end of May to do my part in raising awareness around mental illnesses and the paths to mental health and stability…

I think this is too great an opportunity to pass up. On my personal Facebook I pledged to post at least once a day a fact or question to do with this subject. Then I decided to do the same on my LinkedIn “share” with connections. I am in too many professional LinkedIn groups to post on all of them! Then I decided to post about it on my public Facebook Artist Page. In fact after I’m done with this post I will announce it on my Artist Page.

I confess as a therapist and human who works closely with people on their very personal paths towards health and real soul fulfillment, feeling myself to be, or at least aspire to be, a sort of modern times Shaman or Doctor of the Psyche, I am really excited about this discovery that May has been Mental Health Awareness Month for over 50 years! How dare they not tell us in grad school or at our jobs and internships! How many therapists know about it??? Check with your therapist and/or psychiatrist to see if s/he knows about it! Spread the word! Thank goodness for the Internet and social media, as they help us raise awareness of such an important topic. There is just too much stigma out there about mental illnesses and so much ignorance. Why do health insurance companies still limit outpatient mental health treatment to 20 or 32 visits a year!?? How dare they set a limit on something so important in such an arbitrary manner! I’ve never had a patient with a mental illness who was invested in his or her therapy, who thought 20 visits or 32 sessions was enough per year. That has to change. What would people with one kidney do if they limited their dialysis visits per year? Unthinkable…

To get back to the point, though I don’t think I’ve strayed that far, in this post I will do what I’m doing daily on Facebook and LinkedIn: I’m going to make a list of ten questions or lesser known facts about various mental health issues. By mental health I include addiction, eating and personality “disorder” issues as well as trauma of various kinds and healthy positive behaviors related to this topic…

1. The relatively new phenomenon of personal blogs about how a person is living day to day with his or her symptoms and feelings about having some type of mental health issue is a wonderful way that people can see up close the courage and strength it takes for people to face their life day in and day out, struggling with staying healthy. It’s also a great testament to how far we’ve come with medications that work for people and with diagnostic criteria that help people come to terms with and manage their daily self care. Of course there is a lot more to improve with medication and treatment, but these very raw personal and honest blogs out there are a great way for people to feel less alone with their particular struggles. For some, the blogosphere is the only community they have and place they feel safe discussing such personal issues and struggles. So I start with a very positive aspect of mental health awareness by saluting all you people out there blogging about your struggles and triumphs. I follow many great blogs of this type and hope to find many more…

2. Schizoaffective Disorder: how many of you have heard of it? I first learned about it at an internship at a Continuing Day Treatment program long ago, so I have worked with individuals given this diagnosis. The term was first coined in 1933, but I have a feeling most people haven’t heard of it unless they have it, know someone with it, or work in the mental health field. You can find very particular detailed explanations of it on the Internet. I would describe it as bipolar and mood disorders meets and marries schizophrenia types of symptoms. What a challenge to be dealt this card! You have some sort of mood instability, whether primarily depressive, manic or both, as well as possible psychotic episodes, paranoia, hallucinations and delusions. For a really up close and personal account of it, read the memoir “The Quiet Room” by Lori Shiller. There’s still a lot of controversy about this diagnosis, and it comes up in this very moving book. In my experience, I think this diagnosis can be helpful to people suffering from such a confusion of symptoms because usually Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia thankfully now are seen and recognized and treated as very different because they are completely distinct. In the past people with either of these illnesses were lumped together , but we know a lot better now. However, there are some people who suffer from symptoms described by this “cross sectional” type of disorder. In my experience it really does exist, and the diagnosis is helpful, as people can be treated with both a mood stabilizer or anti depressant and an antipsychotic type of medication that people dealing with schizophrenia take, and they can have potential relief of their mix of symptoms and also begin to experience themselves as functioning at a much higher “level” in their lives which can be greatly improved and a lot less painful and confusing…

3. So, on the topic of mood stabilizers and “anti psychotic” medication, otherwise referred to as “psychotropic” medications: In contrast to what I said above, it can be confusing for people suffering from Bipolar Disorders, Schizoaffective Disorder, or other schizophrenia related disorders on terms of the wide variety of medications currently used to treat such illnesses. On the one hand, modern medicine has put to rest the confusion of what used to be called “manic depression” and “schizophrenia.” We all know now how different these are, but some of the medications treat both types. The difference is in the dosage. Old fashioned medications like Haldol, as well as the newer “anti psychotics”, such as Geodon, Risperidol, Seroquel, Zyprexa and many others, are prescribed for any form of psychotic episode, as well as being maintenance medication for schizophrenia and related “schizo” type disorders. To make matters more confusing, people with Bipolar Disorders, for whom a typical mood stabilizer like Lithium or Depakote, just to name 2 main ones, does not help enough to stabilize moods, can now take such medications as Zyprexa or Seroquel as mood stabilizers, usually on lower doses than for schizophrenia type symptoms. Some people with a kind of Bipolar Disorder take a typical mood stabilizer, as well as one of these other meds, and as well as an anti-depressant and other medications such as those for anxiety, which are in a totally different classification. So we’ve come all this way in distinguishing Bipolar type symptoms from those of schizophrenia related illnesses, and yet the same medications may be used to treat both. A little confusing. However, it is great that these other medications were discovered to have mood stabilizing properties, as some people need to take them instead if or alongside their regular mood stabilizers. Seroquel is also considered to have anti depressant properties, so probably some of the others like it also do.

4. While in my experience with working with people who suffer from very serious mental illness, mood stabilizers and medications like them can really be miracle workers for those suffering from Bipolar type issues in that, once the right medication or combination is found, people who take their medications daily can experience a great relief of symptoms and a sudden experience of real stability, those suffering from “unipolar” depressive illnesses such as dysthymia and major depression, tend to have more struggles with their medications. There are the lucky people who find the right anti- depressant and get relief; unfortunately of those people there is the group who after 6 months to a year find the medication no longer works, and they are plunged into a depressive episode and have to try some other anti-depressant(s) to see if a different one will work. For others, none of the different types of anti depressants out there seem to work. Some women in the latter group find a doctor who decides to try the more innovative treatment of using hormone medications to treat their depression. I read an interesting article about this a few years ago which really amazed me, as many people I know who suffer from mood disorders tend to complain that they can’t take birth control pills because it sets off depression. Others take hormones for birth control alongside their other meds without any trouble. Thankfully now there is a small group of women who take only hormonal medications to relieve their depressive symptoms! What a great medical breakthrough!

Ok. I have not yet reached number five and this post turned out to be much longer than I expected. So, the above is my food for thought on this topic thus far. I pledge to reach number 10 before Mental Health Awareness Month is up!!!

Old Post from Last Week: Being Thankful

So I’ve venture into the dark shadow side of the holidays, and thought I’d interrupt that topic with a more positive uplifting topic:

Make a list of what you are thankful for! Write it down, or make a drawing/collage/painting to go with it. Share or make the list with your significant other, child or children or a good friend, or even with your therapist…

When I worked at a Day Treatment Center for people with chronic mental illness, my favorite day was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when we gathered as a big group for food and then the best part, when clients voluntarily stood up and announced to everyone gathered, clients and therapists, what they were thankful for. It was amazing to see people who normally had trouble saying anything in individual meetings or small groups stand and say what they were thankful for. Most memorable of the little speeches was the following:

(and I might add, I am remembering these statements from when I was an intern there in 1997 and when I worked there many years ago…)

“I am thankful to finally have a home after being homeless…”

“I am thankful for this program that helps me a lot…”

“I am thankful for my family…”

So I will add my own list:

I am thankful for everyone in my family.

I am thankful for having really really wonderful thoughtful and compassionate friends, old and new.

I am thankful for having a roof over my head, heat and electricity!

I am thankful for all the small things that make life worth living.

I am thankful for the opportunity to use my creativity in so many ways.

I am thankful I found art making as a way to express myself.

I am thankful to have started this blog, and I hope to find people who are interested in reading it and contributing to it.

Those are just a few…