Join us at, Seams of Gold!

The University Surgery Center, Department of ECT, and myself will be joining our community at Seams of Gold, where we will share life changing stories of ​resilience, restoration and hope.

Thursday, May 1, 2014  

​6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, Doors open @ 6:00 pm

“Event is Free”

PLEASE COME!  🙂

 

A Father’s Lament  contopolos

On May 29, 2010, we lost our 26 year old son, Nick, after a 14 year struggle to find long term, affordable, quality recovery and care from mental illness and addiction. During Nick’s brief life, both he and those of us who loved him were left with a fatal absence of hope while we struggled, as do many others, to navigate our society’s haphazard, fragmented “system of care”.

Months after Nick had died, I recalled a former broadcast on CNN with a woman who had suffered enormous loss after Hurricane Katrina. The interviewer was asking this lady how, in the face of such loss, she was able to continue on and now help others. She said, “at some point, I stopped asking “why me” and began asking “what now”. That statement, in conjunction with an honest admission from my pastor that “during Nick’s life, he had absolutely no idea how to understand nor how to help us”, was what led to the “what now” of Seams of Gold community service events.

Seams of Gold is named after the ancient pottery art of “Kintsugi”. In this ancient art form of Kintsugi we find the inspiration in how we respond to the fragile beauty that surrounds us.”

Seams of Gold is a FREE multi faith, multi denominational community service event. All are invited.

We are asking that all who have been affected by mental illness and addiction as well as those who love and serve them, to come and be inspired, informed, educated and equipped. Join us, as through the prism of our tears, we pilgrimage together towards a “better day” of empathy, compassion and care for those who suffer.

Recovery is Powerful, it is Possible and it is Beautiful! 

                                                                                                                                  –  Jim Contopulos

 

The beauty of the Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve in southern California provides the backdrop for a father’s lament. Seams of Gold founder Jim Contopulos invites the viewer to join him on a journey as he reflects upon losing his beautiful son to addiction and mental illness.

“Birthed from Pain… Inspired by Art”

                                                                   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGZ1ESOlvbM

Violence and Originality for friendship

Guest Post!

…keep reading…

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Learning new ideas and concepts releases Dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter/messenger.  I find this theory consistent with my personal experience as I am studying for the boards.  The new concepts, when I grasp them and link them to things I already know, do seem to bring a tiny packet of fell goodness.  So, as I study, i really try to capitalize on this mechanism of feel-goodness.  Maybe I can get addicted to learning.  That would be a great addiction.  I think in some ways, I already am.

Using Dopamine in enhancing our everyday life and getting addicted on life:  Creative expressions can cause release of Dopamine – proven by both science and by our everyday observations of living our life.

Gustave Flaubert, of Madame Bovary, famously said:

Be regular and orderly in your life that you may be violent and original in your work.

To me, this fits.  I find I don’t need to lead a wild and dangerous life.  I don’t need external thrills.  I get my Dopamine from being able to be violent and original in my thoughts and ideas – Quite the thrill.  The regularity and order I try to effect gives me the time and space to be just that – violent and original.

The most cutting truths live in works where the artist is violent and original.    Flaubert, of Madame Bovary, said, “be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work. “. He is fiercely unapologetic in the way he worked.  I like that.  Be violent and original in one’s work, all the while freeing one’s mind to achieve that end by being regular, mundane, and orderly in one’s life.  The creative juices that thusly pulsates in the artist’s veins more than makes up for the seemingly boring and orderly exterior.

Questions:  What role has learning played in your “feel good” self?  What helps you be violent and original in a way that is friendly to Me?  How do you channel your ferocity in the most friendly way?  How has the boredom otherwise affected your quality of life?  Please comment and tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:   Be violent and original in a way that is friendly to Me

 

Dr. Chin Tang is in his last year of psychiatry residency training, on his way to Fellowship in psychopharmacology through University of California, Irvine.  He is happily married with much adored children.

Dr. Tang says he likes being my friend because in so doing, he is more “emancipated to be as weird and eccentric” as he is, by nature, meant to be.  Dr. Tang really knows how to make a girl feel great.  Thank you, Dr. Tang! 🙂  Keep on.

How Do We Age Well?

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Ella Rose

In preparing for retirement, for aging, we put money away like Smaug The Dragon who knows his coin.  We imagine we will gain freedom, retain vitality, interest, and motivation, perhaps enjoy the affection of those we served through life.  But do we prepare for what is really coming?

I’ve been asked, how do we age well?  And guess who asked.  An aged man.  I tugged on my chin a little to hide my discomfiture.  After all, I would like to sit at his table and listen in on his story of doing what he had inevitably done, grown old.  I’d like to hear what he is pleased with.  And what he regrets.  I’d like to hold up the memories, like picture slides to the light, and see if I recognize anything.  Maybe something I might relate to.  Something I might more deliberately emulate.  I might feel more secure, knowing what he has done before me.  Maybe I’d think I am safe.

Remember that song,

A foolish man built his house upon the sand, A foolish man built his house upon the sand, A foolish man built his house upon the sand and the rains came a tumbling down.  The rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up and the house upon the sand went splat!

(The hand motions make the song.)

But why ask me about aging?  Do I look so old already?  What the!?  Fine then.  I’d like to say, grow old continent and stock full of Botox.  Nah.  That wasn’t it.  (Mind wandering already you see.)

Or maybe, we who are aging wonder quietly if this person, or that might have a trick of doing it better.  This person wants to hold up my picture slides to the light and gather security to them.  That person wants to do more than hoard coin, and another doubts the vitality and wonders if she’d know what to do with it if it were waiting there for her after all in the end any way.  “How do we age well?”

Start with Me.

Me, where there is freedom to choose, the chance of change, the place where cause begins.  (The 3 C’s done our way at Friend to Yourself :).)

As a psychiatrist, it’s easy for me to think first of the biology of aging of course – brain health over time and to recall that the brain is connected to rest of the body.  I could tell this aged man that he’ll be wanting to get oxygen to his brain at night and use his cpap regularly.  I could speak of motility and exercise, of caloric intake and sleep hygiene.  We might spend some time on medical care for psychiatric illnesses common in again, depression, dementia, anxiety, and so forth.  We might speak of the inevitable process of losing friends and family, aging past a child or losing pets.  But as many so often remind me, psychiatrist’s only have the truth that their perceptions allow.  😉

A dear Obstetrics and Gynecology specialist told me the other day that she has become more convinced than ever that the processes of coming into the world and that of leaving the world are the same.  Having delivered countless souls into life, she has been marked, as if the luminescence of so many branded her.  She carries the knowledge of their entry and of those who have already died.

I remember my niece who died at 9 years and 28 days.  Not so old.  Not so aged.  Some how we think of death when we think of aging, not when we think of nine-year-olds.  However my niece did age well.

I suppose aging is like any system, as strong as its weakest member.  The wonder is that if we believe in aging, we believe our lives run on a line, on Time, which is after all, a human construct, a philosophy and based on Magic. Aging well as implied by my OB-gyn colleague, is looking at it from both ends, looking at what is in between, and looking at what is outside of birth and death.  Aging well includes exploring the essence of Me, what bit of Magic came before Time and before zero and numbers and philosophy turned into math.

How do we age well? Does aging imply disease? Aging is linear. They’re different but definitely paired… Help me on this?

keep on.

Bearable Disappointment

Guest Post!

Read on 🙂

We’re aware as smart single women that we can’t expect perfection.

But life still manages to throw us curve balls.

Maybe once you’re into your mid-thirties,

it shouldn’t be called dating,

it should be called waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Why is it always something?

Unless you’re in a problem free relationship with TiVo.

– Sex and the City

 

Despite the fact that the mention of TiVo dates this quote (remember TiVo?!), it still rings true. And you don’t need to be in your mid-thirties for it to apply. Any woman, or person for that matter, who has dated for a length of time knows the meaning of this quote in his or her bones.

You meet someone. It is electric. You connect over so many things. His father passed when he was small too. She loves Quentin Tarantino movies as much as you do. You both want to travel the world with nothing but a backpack. You share a love of fine wine and cooking extravagant dinners.

Before you know it you are sailing off in a sea of hormones and dreams of a future with this new, amazing person. You spend time at work day-dreaming of all the romantical things the two of you will share and your heart skips a beat when you see a new text/call/email.

You are twitterpated. Crushing, hard.

The intensity of these new-love emotions makes you feel as if this person is your destiny. This is deep and something you have never felt before. He is “the one”. You are ready to introduce her to mom.

Suddenly all of your hopes and dreams come crashing down, shattering into a million smithereens.

It could be any number of different things. “Deal breakers” are different for everyone. Prince charming could have said:

  • “Well, I am a musician, but it’s more of a hobby right now. I work at Big 5 to pay the bills”
  • “I live with my mom”
  • “I don’t actually have a college degree. I said I did because I’m only 20 credits away”
  • “I’m impotent”
  • “I have a daughter”
  • “I don’t want to see you anymore”

Sigh.

At the very least you are disappointed. You might feel devastated. Even worse, you might consider throwing your standards out the window to start a relationship with this individual anyway.

Let’s get real and break it down.

Getting real: You don’t know this person. Really, you don’t. You feel like you do because of the adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin running through you. It is also very likely that you have projected a huge, unrealistic fantasy onto them that has no basis in reality. That whole engagement speech you dreamed he would be reciting on bended knee? Yeah, you made that up in your head. The home-cooked meals and coffee dates with your mother you thought she would be making? Also fiction.

It is so easy to become disappointed and exhausted by dating, and life in general, when we live in the future instead of the present. When we live in the future we set ourselves up for disappointment and hurt feelings.

If you feel wounded by your dating life, only you can change that.

Be present. Make reality your friend.

Being present: Don’t wait for a partner to make your life happen. Enjoy every day. Plan trips. Have fun. Be grateful for everything you do have. You have so much! I keep a gratitude list on my phone that I add to and read when I am feeling sorry for my single self.

Making reality your friend: By realizing that that the initial excitement of dating a new person is not a promise for the future, you will save yourself a lot of heartache. People are often not who you perceive them to be (this is usually not their fault). And while it is frustrating when individuals misrepresent themselves, that is part of the dating game. Have compassion for people who don’t feel comfortable being up-front about who they are, and move on, (without them!).

Putting all your emotional eggs in one basket is your decision. Allow a potential partner to earn that over time. Let them demonstrate through actions who they actually are and that they are trustworthy. As the song goes. “You can’t hurry love, you just have to wait.”

Also realize this disappointment you feel is not personal. It is not a reflection on you. You are worthy of love. Have hope and stay positive. Remain grateful.

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

– Kurt Vonnegut

Question:  How have you and do you endure well when disappointed?

Self-Care Tip:  Remember that this disappointment is not personal.  Keep on.

20140224_182909Jessica Adams:  I am a science teacher in Southern California who thinks about relationships, human health, love and of course science. I am passionate about doing what is right for kids and personal growth.

 

Trying to explain, temporary memory loss in ECT

rain gauge

I’m trying to help explain, “Why temporary memory loss in ECT versus loss of memories prior to ECT?” It is “friendly” to understand our treatment options and dispel stigma, starting with “Me.”  Please let me know if this effort is helpful in any way. 🙂

Community opinion of ECT, largely influenced by the media rather than data, has a very hard time believing that the memory loss is of new memories, (or imprinting memory, ) during the course of the index trial; not memories before ECT, not memories after the index trial is done, not memories when maintenance ECT is going on.  

The best way I can explain this, (and this is my own Dr. Q effort,) is that the memory loss is related to mechanical issues, like a cork in a bottle.  Think of a rain gauge, for example.  After it rains, we see on the gauge that it rained 2.3 inches last night.  We uncork it at the bottom, and all the rain water flows out until the rain gauge is empty.  We let the water out. The rain gauge may fill again when it is recorked.

The electrical stimulus and subsequent seizure to a brain cell is like the process of uncorking the rain gauge.  The natural process of the brain is to “recork” after a stimulus, be the stimulus pressure, magnetic, chemical, or in this case, electrical, and let the cell fill back up each time it happens.  The recorking process happens all the time in our brain, (in vitro,) after natural stimuli act upon a cell, be those natural stimuli pressure, magnetic, chemical, electrical, or another.  

ECT is a medical therapy that uses the basic recovery methods of our own physical design and perhaps, this is one of the reasons it is so effective.

Unless the cell has that inside content, it cannot lay down new memories.  The stimulus and stimulus response does not damage the cell.  They empty it. The response is mechanical.

This idea also works to help understand why the memory loss is most often temporary rather than long-term.  The cells replenish between treatments.  It is a cumulative effect, so the closer the treatments are, the more the degree of memory loss.  As the time between treatments increases, the recovery time is so brief, that the patient doesn’t notice memory loss.  The patient is able to imprint memories without difficulty.  The rain gauge, we could say, has its cork in for longer periods of time.

Question:  Have your choices toward treatment ever changed based on dispelling your own stigma?  Has information and greater understanding of your treatment options ever specifically improved your self-care?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Use information and greater understanding of your treatment options to improve your self-care.  Keep on.