Category Archives: Mental Health

Won’t Dance

I went to a prime dancing event this weekend. The band played for 4 hours and delivered a vast array of polkas, waltzes, big Band-era tunes. Also, the folks attending wouldn’t care a wit if you couldn’t do the chicken dance.

Moonflowers was terribly disappointed by her male companion’s refusal to dance. He has always been up for dancing before. I believe he downed 6 large pints of fine Munich beer. But no, he won’t dance. Hates. Polka.

When I related how I was disappointed with my first husband’s behavior in the same vein. He told me that it was “passive-aggressive” behavior. Funny that he missed my point.

read this later

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Advocacy for Those with Mental Illness

Last night the director of the Barbara Schneider Foundation appeared on Fox News to talk about the impact of a shooting in the Twin Cities 10 years ago. Mark Anderson heads this advocacy and crisis training organization.
Why did Barbara Schneider’s tragic death start a change for the better? Police officers entered her apartment, she was in a state of mania and threatened them with a knife, leading them to over-react and shoot her.
Visit the Barbara Schneider Foundation Website

KMSP Fox 9 interview of Mark Anderson on the 10th anniversary (6-13-2010) of Barbara Schneider’s tragic death.

Redemption

Here is a journey to the dark side and back. The struggle that alcoholics face to maintain sobriety and regain the trust of the world is a tough one.

Joseph Balzer, American Airlines pilot, and author of “Flying Drunk: The True Story of a Northwest Airline Flight, Three Drunk Pilots and One Man’s Fight for Redemption” speaks of his arrest, incarceration, alcoholism and recovery. In 1990, the flight crew of three, flying a Northwest Airlines 727 from Fargo to MSP was caught flying while under the influence of alcohol. Many factors contributed to this error: personalities of the crew, incorrect flight charts and fear of intimidation, as well as intoxication.

Listen to the podcast: Joseph Balzer Interview on World of Aviation
Visit Joseph Balzer’s Website Flying Drunk

Waiting? give yourself a gift everyday

Moonflowers found herself trapped in the suspended animation that passes for a waiting room. Analyzing the interior design and experiencing its effect is part of the torture of waiting rooms. The prevalence of brown walnut finish and orange upholstery is annoying at least, and was never envisioned in florescent lighting. Muzak and receptionist conversations (probably pre-taped, as well) emitting from behind high counters accompany her perusal of large type magazines.

Q: Why is she here?
A. She has reached the point in life where the generations before and after squeeze her into a strange lifestyle sandwich. She is the meat in the middle, slowly going bad on the shelf.

Moonflower’s Mom is going on her third laser surgery for glaucoma, the asymmetry of mom’s pupils in those ice blue irises is disturbing. It’s not the exciting variety of glaucoma, there you think, “Wow, Mom is finally going to get high. And on that good government pot, too.” No, it’s just a pressure cooker in there and her right eye has been drilled like a bowling ball, the same number of holes, same configuration , and depth, too, relatively speaking.

On the other side of the generation gap, her young son has reached puberty, complete with mood swings and miniature Krakatoas erupting on his ever expanding forehead. She has been spending a lot of time in the waiting room of his dermatologist, too.

In the future, waiting rooms should be overhauled. Headphones and ultimately, eyephones should be provided by everyone. The scheduling system should change, so you only have to go once a year, for a day. You would call via a picture phone for quick fixes; tell the doc where it hurts or show him your rash. A large central room that connects to your dermatologist, dentist, shrink and gynecologist would be the innovation of the century. Wonder drugs should be dispensed via a vending machine, with refills available 24 hours-a-day, ad infinitum.

Reality check! Sharing limited space with a cross-section of the general populace, the covert unfairness of the order of proceeding into the next waiting room can put a crimp in Moonflower’s day. But these ordinary slices of timespace are perfect opportunities for self-improvement schemes.

You know these are tricks, but are you brave enough to give yourself a gift everyday?
Hip Swings on Hold: You are trying to get that appointment in the first place and find yourself tethered to a phone. Stand with your feet apart, knees slightly bent. Keeping your abdominal muscles firm, shift hips first to one side, then to the other without swaying forward or backward, This slims and firms hips and waist. By improving hip flexibility, Hip Swings can also improve your walk, golf swing, skiing skill, bowling game and lovemaking.

Kegel Exercise: This exercise consists of rhythmically contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor, as if to stop urinating. Hold this position tightly for a moment, then relax. Many gynecologists and sex therapists recommend at least 100 repetitions a day. It has been an important part of Taoist health practices for 6000 years. The Kegel Exercise (G. kegel,, bowling pin) maintains and restores elasticity and tome of the vagina muscles and is reputed to contribute significantly to a woman’s pleasure and skill in lovemaking.

Yawning to the Rescue: With your mouth closed, sniff lightly through your nose several times. Then, with you mouth open, sniff again several more times. Very soon after this you will feel the urge to yawn. Cooperate with it and relax into it. Hold your head high (but not tilted back) and let your mouth open wide. Let the yawn complete itself naturally. This is an excellent way for the body to replenish its store of oxygen. It is also a valuable tension and stress release. The ability to yawn efficiently and at will is a useful tool for waiting moments.

Changing Someone: Visualize the person vividly in your mind. Think of something good about the person. Try to evoke within yourself as much love for that person as you can. Breathe deeply into your solar plexus, and imagine it is opening, expanding like a camera shutter. Practice getting in touch with this center when you see a tiny baby or someone you love. Try to feel the contrast between this expanding feeling and the sensation of closing when you meet someone nasty, who means you harm. Whereas criticism can cause others to cling to and defend their undesirable qualities and behavior, loving acceptance gives them the freedom and confidence to change. As you practice the above techniques, your positive feelings and thoughts will seep into your encounters with the person that you are thinking of improving.

Playing Well: An exceptional kegeler visualizes each bowl from start to finish while waiting. Mentally she pushes out, swings down with the first step, back on the second and third step, swooping into the release position and setting her hand in exactly the same perfect spot. All this action is balanced because she moves while continually watching those marks. The ball rolls through that curved path into that sweet spot and dispatches the pins to the void. A secret from ancient Egypt immortalized in “Take the Skinheads Bowling”.

Consider how isometrics, facial exercises behind menus, bad habit modification and self confidence building will change your appearance, posture and self-image; how it will give you peace of mind. Mastery over your life is the key to survival in this mad world.

Park Bowl- a series of commands.

A virgin gives herself to an admirer after a courtship of 1 year. He leaves her immediately afterward, feeling conquered and mortified.

She thinks “From this time forward, I feel as one that has died. I have lost my days and my travail of abstinence, and my tears and prayers and vigils are brought to nothing: I have angered my God, and have destroyed myself. Sorrow upon me, with every spring of tears!

Where shall I flee to hide? Where can I find a pit wherein to throw myself? I dare not look at heaven, I that am dead to God and man. Better to go away to some other country where there is no one who could know me, for I am nought but a dead woman now, and there is no hope left to me any more.

Even bowlers have their trials with tedium or perturbation of heart. Like a fever mounting at a regular time, it brings a high tide of inflammation to the sick soul. When this besieges the unhappy mind, it begets aversion from the alley, boredom with one’s ball, and scorn and contempt for the league members, as careless and unspiritually-minded persons.

Also, towards any bowling that may be done, we become listless and inert. It will not suffer us to stay in our shoes. We lament that in all this while, bowling in the same alley, we have not improved our average, we sigh and complain that bereft of sympathetic fellowship we have no spiritual fruit; and bewail ourselves as empty of all moonlight bowling profit, abiding vacant and useless in this place; and we have enriched no man with our example. We cannot even procure one’s snacks without enormous toil. Finally we conclude that there is no health for us so long as we stay in this alley, and go elsewhere as quickly as possible.

And so the wise suggest the bowlers would never, especially the younger, to be idle, measuring the state of their heart and their progress in patience and humility by their steadiness at bowling; and not only might they accept nothing from anyone towards their line charge, but out of their own toil they should support such bowlers as came from foreign parts, and send huge stores of Cheese Combos and videos of tournaments to those that pined in the squalor of the prisons.

Tips for Bowlers:
Escapism and Solitude will not solve anything. You are forced to live.

Pink rooms are psychologically sedative. A combination of recreation facility and endangered species habitat may bring you to your gentleness.

Mind games are passé. Positive thinking helps you control your personal aggression.

White lies combined with acceptance of common vises exhibits a respect for others.

Stop drinking and smoke dope.

If you are in love with the sound of your own voice,
shut up and try thinking for a change.

Tips for Burnt-Toast Social Workers

Social workers, police officers, psychiatrists, nurses, teachers, counselors and other caregivers are victims. Authoritative institutions tend to become entrenched power-structures and are notoriously impervious to change and criticism from below. This puts them in the middle between a whining, uncaring public and a ceiling that resembles a bed of nails. Burnout is an everyday threat.

Providing care is often a difficult process. Emotional outlets for the burnt-out include hostility, fear, impatience and empathy:

Hostility- Feelings of anger and irritation will be frequent. Seeking a scapegoat, helpers may express hostility toward others to boost their self-esteem by putting others down. Remember the Kathy Bates as the nurse in “Misery”?

Fear- Police officers and prison guards have to work knowing that they might be suddenly attacked, injured or killed. Avoidance or denial through psychic numbing does not allow one to come to terms with fear. It’s a huge challenge to be effective and maintain emotional health.

Impatience- Emotional exhaustion is high in those who are impulsive, impatient or intolerant. Time to reflect or gain perspective is minimal. Making decisions without a cool head is a bottomless pit of frustration.

Empathy- Understanding someone’s problem from his or her point of view should enhance one’s ability to serve. But repeated vicarious experience of another person’s emotional turmoil will ultimately lead to a hard heart.

Although personality does play some part in burn out, job-related, interpersonal stress comes from situational sources. The phenomenon is so widespread, the people affected by it are so numerous, and their personalities and backgrounds are so varied, that it does not make sense to identify “Bad People” as the cause for an undesirable outcome. Rather we should be trying to identify and analyze the critical components of “Bad Situations” in which many good people function. Imagine investigating the personality of a piece of toast to discover why it had burned without analyzing the toaster!

People who care for people interpret their bad experience as a reflection of some basic personality malfunction. Negative interpretations propel many people into self-condemnation. Some seek therapy to understand their inadequacy, but more battle the problem with booze or rush it away with drugs. A tendency to overestimate the importance of personal factors is the cause. What they need is a new philosophy, Situationism.

The main thrust of Situationism is rejection of traditional, legalistic, anti-humanist morality. Situationism is concerned with the nature of authentic moral choice, denial of intrinsically wrong acts, and has a positive emphasis on human subjectivity. It is criticized for an excessive reliance on intuitive, quasi-mystical responses to the facts of the situation; confusing the realms of faith and reason. Moonflowers likes this aspect immensely.

Purity of intention is the only criterion for evaluating decisions. Suppose God comes to you in the guise of Dick Weber and commands you to throw a “7-10 split”. Before you can obey, you must come to believe that throwing splits is good. Fear of punishment or promise of reward is not to act morally. That would be phony.

Recently mathematicians have begun to formalize the part that situations play in the formula of cause and effect. Situations are abstract objects in their own right. Just like numbers or people, they are part of the equation.

Information can be divided into to two forms, analog and digital. Perception of information is the first stage, where it becomes directly accessible to the eye, nose, ear or other sensor. The flow of information at this point is analog. “A picture is worth a thousand words”. The second stage is extraction of a item of information from this continuum. It involves the conversion from analog to digital information. This stage is cognition and a huge amount of information is lost. For example, after looking at this picture, I tell you, “In this picture, someone is holding a powder blue bowling bag”.

Often we simply discriminate situations without any act of individuation going on. Individuate means to see situations as a whole, not just as a collection of sights and words. Discrimination is just being aware that two objects, or situations are different, without analyzing how or why. Changing your behavior depending on the situation is not evil or flighty, as long as it is not phony.

Because social workers, police officers, psychiatrists, nurses and teachers work inside the establishment, a philosophy based on authentic moral choice and human subjectivity may seem impossible. You could lose your job. “Within” is exactly where changes need to begin. Understand your situation along with the other factors and carefully conquer it in tiny baby steps.

Here’s a list of suggestions on how to head off hostility, fear, impatience and empathy, the emotional outlets of burnout.
1. Think of work and home as two very different places, a special transition is needed to get from one to the other. Skin divers decompress to avoid the bends, you need a cooling off period to ensure a pleasant time with the ones you care about the most and to make your problems seem less immediate and intense. Bowling is the perfect release.
2. Physical activity will get your dophins swimming. Care for yourself, your health and keep strong. Taking things less personally and reminding yourself that “their pain is their pain” is a good way to keep your distance without being cold. Think of your patients or students as pins.
3. Always take your breaks. Getting away serves as an emotional breather. Even built in pauses in your routine will let you set a pace. Being alone is good, but socializing is necessary too. Counterbalance your work environment with positive experiences with healthy happy people outside of your primary area of work. Join a bowling league.
4. Set goals that have a reasonable chance of being reached to take the frustration factor out of your life. Accentuate the positive, restructuring a situation will make your work more rewarding. Ask for positive feedback. To combat the feeling of being directed totally by an institutional power-structure, do the same thing differently and increase the chance of stumbling on a Eureka!