What would brain illness look like

Look Mommy! Look at my note!

 

crinkledShe pulled out a crumpled treasure.

See?!

It was a white paper. Blank. I paused with the, “I’m very interested,” and, “I’m a good Mom to whom you want to divulge your innermost thoughts and secrets to,” expressions on my face. I am you know. All that. Sniff.

Another mystery maker, handy, said,

Where’s your pen?!

She was getting agitated. I did not get it. I was less of a P.I. than she had hoped. She had a non-P.I. mom. Just great.

A third wheel rolled in and stuttered out,

You need the pen, Mommy! You need it! You need the light!

I noted the multiple exclamation points hovering about and knew the sand in the glass was almost out. Communication needed to be received or my three secret agents were going to increase their level of effort. Be warned.

I am an emotions-Jedi after-all. I sense these things. The Force is strong in me, still, young Padawans.

Then, there it was. Under the blue penlight, shown the hidden messages.

No. I do not remember them. Just the sense of them. And…

And, I thought it was a super illustration of how brain illness is there but not generally seen.

I am sure this was disconcerting to my investigative kids, who had dreamed I would do what they wanted with my life and thoughts. I wish they would just let me be me! (Flipping hair.)

Brain illness does not get as much air time as cancer. It is not as obvious as a withered hand. Nor a rash. Nor a big outcropping of plantar warts seeded across the soles of our feet – brain illness is not.

Brain illness does not engender connection easily because not everyone has the Force in them. Not everyone is a Jedi like you and I. It does not have the advantage to connection as a name tag illness. Brain illness does not wear itself on our visage like an invitation to others to embrace us in shared experience.

Where is the Light?

Right. In us. We are the light. We are what brings awareness to this secretive suffering. We are secret agent Jedis. Yes. Exclamation point. Exclamation point. Exclamation point.

Questions: What would brain illness look like if it was visible?

How has brain illness become more of a shared experience? How can it?

Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip: Share your experience.

Canine Support Team and me – Personal Story of Dr. Yanoschik

Canine Support Team and me – my story

by James D. Yanoschik, DDS

US Navy 101118-F-5586B-144 Marine Sgt. Brian J...

What is the best thing being involved with the puppies does for me?

1.  Love.

Puppies are examples of unconditional love.  No matter what kind of day I am having, when I walk through the door, that tail is wagging and they are jumping up and down – just so happy to see me.  My problems melt away when I take the dog in my arms and they start to lick me.  Have you ever heard the laughing of a young child being caressed by the licks of a puppy?  You just smiled to yourself didn’t you?  That is who I become again too.

2.  Community.  

I enjoy is that I get to be around people that want to help other people.  

My wife and I have found some wonderful friends through the CST puppy raising programs. We have outings called “Yappy hours”  and visit various training locations throughout Southern California. 

3.  Me.

When I get into these situation where I volunteer, I wonder who really gets more out of these situations?  The person being helped or me?  I find that I feel better when I help my fellow-man sometimes in small ways and others in big ways.  But in a self-care way, I help others to help myself.

4.  Saving Dogs and People.

This organization has partnered with breeders and animal shelters to recognize the temperament in puppies that would make a good service dog.  When these puppies reach 14 to 18 months they are put into the Prison Pup program at the Women’s Prison in Chino, CA for their advanced training to become full fledged service dogs.  To date, any prisoner that has been involved in the Prison Pup program that got out of prison, has not re-offended.

My wife and I are now raising our second puppy in the program.

It hard to give up the puppy.  But what makes the transition easier is that we have met, in person, folks that have benefited from the service dogs.  For example, I met a young veteran who said that he has called the suicide hotline several times and made plans for his “transition” into the next life.  Fortunately, however, he got matched up with a service dog that helped him want to live again.  Another example is a mother who said that she saw a distinct change in her child since they got a service dog from CST.  These people are now able to have relationships and live.

Please get involved. Become a puppy raiser to a service dog. 

James D. Yanoschik, DDS

Dentist and Puppy Raiser

A little about Canine Support Teams (www.CanineSupportTeams.org).

Their goal is to provide service dogs for disabilities other than blindness.  This organization has partnered with breeders and animal shelters to recognize the temperament in puppies that would make a good service dog.  When these puppies reach 14 to 18 months they are put into the Prison Pup program at the Women’s Prison in Chino, CA for their advanced training to become full fledged service dogs.  To date, any prisoner that has been involved in the Prison Pup program that got out of prison, has not re-offended.

The program is lacking is puppy raisers.  Our job as a puppy raiser is to train the puppy with basic command skills, and to socialize them to various situations and environments that they may come into contact with in the course of a normal day.

A Young Man’s Wrenching Journey

Children!

On Jun 18, 2013, Anon wrote:

Hello Dr. Sana L. Johnson-Quijada,

Thank you for coming to talk to share some of your experiences and views associated psychiatry. I am sorry I have not emailed you sooner.  This was my first year taking three sciences and when it came time to study for finals, I pretty much ignored everything except school.

Thank you for giving the class and myself some exposure to psychiatry. Your talk was very intriguing, especially how you see a person, in particular how their brain health affects their personality. When you started to talk about homelessness it brought back painful and confusing memories from my childhood.

My parents divorced when I was seven and the majority of my time was spent with my mother because my now deceased father had a difficult time keeping a roof over his head and doing the activities of daily living. When I was a little older I even loaned my dad some money when his car was impounded. I could not understand why my dad was in the situation he was in and why I was seemingly more capable than him. I loved him very much and wanted to help him in any way I could.  But in the end, I could not make any of his decisions for him.

My older brother is living in a shelter and he reminds me of my dad in so many ways. When we lived together, before my parents divorced, my brother was just about as hard to get along with as my dad, and my dad was physically abusive to him. I was so confused and could not understand why we could not love each other or ourselves. My dad’s incessant fear of doctors and my brother’s fervent choice to self medicate only complicated the situation we were in.

My heart goes out to my family and people like them and I have a strong desire to help people. Your short talk resonated with me and I was intrigued by psychiatry because I thought it might be a way for me to help. How do I learn more?

Sincerely,

Anon

On Jun 18, 2013, at 5:16 PM, Sana Quijada wrote:

Hey. So good to hear from you. I remember you well. Sniff. Big hug. You are not alone, dear man. 

How to learn more?  Hmm. I would start by attending some local NAMI meetings. Follow up with me in a bit after you do and we can keep the lines open and ideas flowing. It is an honor to connect with you. 

I celebrate your focus and completion of finals. 

I would love to post your email letter on FriendtoYourself.com … 

Your story is seriously powerful.  As my six-year-old says, boom! Smile. 

Till next time,

Sana Johnson-Quijada MD
www.FriendtoYourself.com

On Jun 24, 2013, at 5:00 PM, Anon wrote:

Yes you may post my email I feel honored. It took a lot of courage to write and I am glad you were receptive.

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...

Questions:  How would you recommend a young person find out more about psychiatry, before pursuing years of study?  How did you investigate your profession before committing?  

How do you talk about your family of origin history?  How do you find the courage to share these things, to find community in what hurts?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Find the courage to connect with others and your story.

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Talking about God in Medicine

train hopping
Why don’t you talk about God more?

This question is familiar to me.

People think that with as much as I see and am seen by, as a psychiatrist, I do not feel awkward.  Not so.  I can face all manner of dragon, beast, friend or foe, but put me with a Christian who wants to know why I do not talk about God as much as they think I should in my medical practice, and I become a wet-eyed girl again, hopping from foot to foot.

This would never have been a question someone would dare have asked Kreplin or Bleuler.  But then I am not Kreplin or Bleuler.  I get asked.  Kreplin and Bleuler would not be caught discussing psychiatry casually nor personally.  I do.  In the history of psychiatry, what has developed the culture of our practice, we have biases toward the practicing of medicine without bias.  I am biased otherwise.

Conversely, the culture of Christianity in our generation is that we do almost the opposite – nothing is not about Christianity.  Everyone is a creation of God so that makes it everyone’s business.

You can see how there is a tension between countries and I am a train hopping hobo.  You know the risk in train hopping, do you not?

Why don’t you talk about God more?  (Hop! Hop!)

I tried to explain this to my Dad.

“Dad, so many people, who have been hurt, perceive that the trauma related to God.  The Christian language, is for them, a wolf in sheep’s clothing and can be activating.  So many people are confused about God and I’m not to confuse them more.”  This is consistent with the culture of psychiatry and standard of practice.

It is uncomfortable on even a more personal level though.  Being Christian means that God and I are united, married, intimate and there is not much more personal than that.

We have discussed before the difficulty in describing behaviors without tagging them with a moral quality.  This is important in part because our emotions and behaviors come from our hard wiring, our temperament, not from a stick shift or consistently from choice.  We intuitively think that what comes naturally from our personality is a thing of rightness or wrongness.

We have explored that emotions and behaviors come from the brain, a human organ, and not Jerusalem, or the city of Oz.  Emotions and behaviors come from a human organ, tissue matter, and are symptoms of the health condition of that organ.   Emotions and behaviors sometimes come without invitation.   When our brain is not healthy, what we feel and do that is not friendly to Me or others are symptoms of that illness.

So now when we describe God, a very personal, intimate union in us, we oft affect our humanness.  If I describe my perception of God to another, there are huge personal implications.  Maybe that person does not want an intimate relationship with “Someone” who has my personality traits, my temperament, and as generated by the condition of my brain health.  Maybe that person might feel violated rather than be in a patient-doctor relationship.  Maybe that person might afterward, as I have felt when others described God to me, think they need to take a good hot shower or at least wash their mouth out.  Icky.  You think?

One of the reasons I love the writing of King David is that he just tells his story.  Not much more convincing than someone’s story.

The Lord is my Shepherd.  I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.  He leadeth me beside still waters.  Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for Thou art with me….

sheep

Nice.

When a patient is in treatment with me, there are unique moments that come and go when my story comes out, but it is not standard.

Why don’t you talk about God more?

So there you have it.  That is why, for now.  I hope to grow and assume this will not be my opinion nor practice forever.

And between me and thee, at Friend to Yourself, we are also still figuring this out.  Together.

Questions:  Do you wish your physicians talked about God more? or less?  Why?  How has it affected your treatment?  How do you wish it would change?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  When people talk about God, or hurt you and you believe Christianity or religion is involved, remember they are human, not God.

(Even me!  lol!)

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FYI – Coursera

From Sheila Hillis with NAMI:

I’ve found a learning resource that I thought some of you might be interested in.  Have you heard of Coursera?  It’s an online learning resource with many many courses offered by colleges and universities–all for FREE.

Charmaine Williams, will be teaching from the University of Toronto, and the course will cover mental health and mental illness from the perspective of promoting mental health.  There will be an emphasis on the social factors, how our experience of mental illness is influenced by them, and many aspects–services, practices, and policies–will be explored.

To enroll in Coursera, you do need internet availability and a browser that will support the video lectures.  Additional readings are optional, and a certificate can be earned by completing the class, doing the homework assignments, and taking quizzes.  BUT, I think, you can also just listen to the lectures and read the online readings and still enjoy the learning without feeling the pressure of “going back to school.”

Check out Coursera at www.coursera.org.

Thanks–Sheila Hillis

Mt. San Jacinto NAMI

Celebrating Nancy

By Nancy, 

sharing some of what she has done in friendship.

“Celebrating being a friend to myself by becoming the ACTIVE artist that I have always wanted to be. Actually have an image that has been juried into a calendar which is being sold National Colored Pencil Society of America convention at the in Brea this summer…and I will be attending the convention, thanks to my husband’s generosity. So excited!! Never thought, when I was in my darkest of places twenty years ago, that I’d be willing to attend a convention alone!! Learning to be a friend to myself has given me this gift and I couldn’t be celebrating more or be more grateful to you and my friendtoyourself friends!!! Bless you all!!

This is the picture I did in colored pencil – the one going into a calendar to be sold at the CPSA Convention in LA this summer.”

nancy

 

Nicely done Nancy.  We celebrate you.

Feeling Trapped is Doom

Freedom

Freedom (Photo credit: Intrepidteacher)

Did someone put a knife in my neck?

Goodbye sex.  Goodbye flirting.  Goodbye self-esteem.  It was a down-right turnoff for life, let alone sex.  He could not think of one thing worth living for, but killing yourself turned out to be a lot harder than self-loathing.

Sheez, pain was distracting.  Unable to work out in his club with anything that jiggled him waste-line and up, Monty knew he should look for a pool but he could not focus on even that long enough to Google it.  He felt guilty and then angry that he felt guilty about something he was trapped by.

Monty told me about how his life was now closed off from everything he found pleasure in.  He described his circumstance like a walled in monk with a small envelope-sized window through which he received water and bread.  The difference between him and the monk was that he did not choose to be cloistered.  He was a victim of his injury and nothing could help.

Feeling trapped is doom.  I listened to Monty describe his life without freedom to choose. His life was not there for him to participate in.  He was excluded.  Monty was doomed, per Monty.  So what was the point, indeed?  What was the doom-script doing for him?  Was he getting anything besides yuck from it?

Monty, the way you describe yourself does not have any place for you.  Either you really are trapped, or there is a door, or a false wall, or a sun-roof that you do not know about.  Or maybe you have a brick-braking tool available?

People from every point on the spectrum of brain illnesses defend their position of entrapment with more volition than a the red-tailed hawks flying above the groves around my house.  Even family members of persons with brain illnesses have defended the perception that their loved one does not have freedom to choose, as if suggestions of freedoms were the essence of social injustice, ignorance and stigma.

But it is not the pursuit of freedom that traps us. It is our fear.

Feeling trapped serves a purpose however.  It protects us from something that feels shameful.  It protects us from that which invokes fear.  Wanting not to feel shame or fear is not so wrong though, is it?  Wanting not to go toward what might be unbearable seems reasonable to me.  If it were truly unbearable.  If it were friendly to Me.  If it was not the road out of that hell-existence, out of that bricked in crypt, toward a place of greater safety.  If then, it would not be so bad.

Self-care tip:  When feeling trapped, do what does not feel safe and go toward your shame and fear.

Question:  How have you been able to find freedom in places where you feel trapped?  How do you manage to go toward shame when you feel so much fear?  Please tell us your story.

Just Left of Center, We Celebrate You

Base on balls

Dear One, (You know who you are)

Congratulations on this life-milestone.  Congratulations on what you have come through and what toward.  Congratulations on being connected.  Although you walk, you do not walk away from your life journey.

There are other crossings when we all step away from our life and look on at a safer distance, binoculars in hand, because not to would bring the apocalypse, or at least frizzy hair.

peruvian casi-frizz

peruvian casi-frizz (Photo credit: casimira parabolica)

At this time we see that you are more than a spectator, more than a narrator or a newscaster, not a stranger to yourself described in shame-filled words and judgment, as if you were the sum of right or wrong.  You are, at this intersection, more than your performance, behaviors and emotions.  You are.  You are more.

Some other day, you may find your binoculars again.  You may need them, and that is what it is.  Not good or bad.  For our part, we will celebrate you then too.

We are blessed.  All this that you are is a benediction for us; the walking, breathing wonder of what comes from Love.  We, as might anyone connected to Magic, bless you in return.

“Keep evil away.  Keep walking in Love.  Bless.”

Congratulations for your proximity to what is difficult, for working hard to love yourself, for finding your specialness in more than what hurts in you.  You are special.

You are special, like a seed or a grown and aging tree.  You are special, like San Francisco is in summer or Australia at Christmas.  You are special, like the worst of us.  Like the best, you are special for more than your imperfections.

You stand, with us, just left of center.  We celebrate you.

Self-Care Tip:  Live a celebrated life.

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Brain Health is A Tool

Red

Red (Photo credit: tankgirlrs)

Bernice flushed.  A pink perfused her face and neck.  Her eyes looked away.

Why don’t I feel better?

Bernice was one of those fortunate lasses who flushed and blushed no matter what emotion she experienced.  When I first met her and she told me some of her story, she was also a-flame.

I’ll do anything to feel better.

She though she was feeling bad because her husband did not love her.
I knew, however, that this was not why.  She did not understand why she was feeling so bad.  It was a conundrum to her.

She began intensive psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy.  In two weeks, she forgot she did not want to live.  In four weeks, she remembered why she did want to live.  In six weeks, she liked herself again.  She was still blushing, but she was alive and well.

We sat separated by a small desk and laptop.  I was typing notes and watching the pink bloom.  Too sweet.

Why do you think you feel better, Bernice?  What is making the difference?

We all know something about the relationship blood has with the lung and heart.  We know that all the blood in our body flows through those two organs.  They are the hub of our body, the authority of the blood communication.  For better or worse, they are also a filter.  Pollution can clog them, hence heart attacks, cancer.

So with emotions and behaviors, we know there is a grand central station where they come from.  Things that assault the hub such as a a death in the family, similar to a glob of cholesterol toward the heart, stress on us affects brain health.

Red hair distracted me from these thoughts.  Bernice had a lot of it.  Irish I guessed from who knows how many generations back.  I remembered the red-head girl who won the beauty contest my Mom forced me into when I was ten.  Awkward.  I pushed my focus back.

Irish Bernice had experienced what happens when we approach healing at the central station of behavioral and emotional illness.  The brain.  She stumbled, trying to explain her story, although, intuitively, she had insight into, “Why?”

I don’t know!  I’m trying hard to be mindful and I’m treating my husband differently.  (I.e. They are having sex again.)

She paused and her face reddened.

Well, I really like my meds!  I think they help a lot too!  I am feeling calmer and I don’t cry as much.  I’m sleeping through the night…

She peetered off into her averted gaze.  I wondered that the conjunctiva of her eye-balls were still white, inside the almost crimson lid and cheek around them.

We with Bernice ask why the medical paradigm including psychotherapy, nutrition, exercise, community, medications, ECT, is the best way to healing a sickness.  It is not about the healthy exercise in itself.  It is about what all these have in common.  They all act upon and draw forth emotions and behaviors from the brain.  Their vital exchange with our brain, the grand central station, are much better understood when we start with understanding of what brain health offers.

Self-Care Tip:  Use brain health, as the grand central station of Me, to handle the multiplicitous paradigms that make us who we are.

Question:  Is it helpful to use brain health as a tool toward who you consider yourself to be, rather than a definition of who you are?  Does it influence where you spend your energies?  Your blame?  How you approach shame?  Your hope?  Please tell us your story.