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.

Roughly What We Covered With The University Students

Psychiatry logo

Psychiatry logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is psychiatry?

Components intersecting at cross-point where stands Psychiatry:

  • The practice of medicine
  • The practice of business
  • The practice of one’s personal life
  • The doctor-patient relationship
  • The pursuit of Quality of Life

Who should go into psychiatry?

  • Consider temperament
  • There are areas of medicine that are more procedural based versus more weighted toward patient-doctor exchange.
  • The medical system is incentivized by codes and governed by layers of administration.
  • But the question begins with Me; what am I incentivized by?  Again, consider temperament.  Temperament encompasses perceived moral values, and where pleasure comes from.

What is brain illness?

  1. Biological
  2. psychological
  3. sociological

We are not in this to cure anything.  We enter psychiatry to improve quality of life – through approach of the biopsychosocial model.

Questions for you:  

  1. What is psychiatry?

  2. Who should go into psychiatry?

  3. What is brain illness?

Self-Care Tip:  Approach brain illness w/o expecting a cure, but rather a process.

Allow yourself to transcend the naming of your symptoms

French political cartoon of French cardinal Je...

Mental illness, diseases of the mind, behavioral disorders or however our community allows it to be named, it is all inadequate.

Mental illness, is a stale description.  It has sat in the open community air, over the many years when our awareness grew too slowly, when stigma and ignorance gave it the old cold frost-bite.  It reminds of me of the, Confessions of Georgia (Anne) Nicolson series, by the most hilarious Louise Rennison, When Georgia Anne says, “Have you gone mental?!,” in one-thousand-and-one ways.  There is just so much sniffing and eye swirling around the term.  I do not mind Georgia Anne using it at all.  It is fresh in her mouth.  It is not, however, winter green in ours.

Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, states that these terms are “impediments to progress.”  He uses the term, brain disease, as a way to diminish barriers to scientific investigation, hopefully leading to earlier detection and treatment.

Others, however, challenge even this term, brain disease, stating that it is premature and narrow.  The illnesses that demonstrate emotional and behavioral pathology involve more than brain and mentum.  They include the magic, the internal/external stressors, the arguments and the weather.  They include the intersecting paradigms that make us who we are, often referred to as the biopsychosocial model.  These, “Others,” argue that it is presumptuous to name pathological symptoms of emotions and behaviors with, “brain disease,” until we know what the brian does in the first place.

Questions:  But what do you think?  Are the terms we use more impediments to progress than they are tools toward?  Do you have any recommendations?  How have these terms affected your life?  Please tell us your story.

Self-care tip:  Allow yourself to transcend the naming of your symptoms.  

Want Life despite the freakishly terrible. It’s really That Good.

Hope

Hope (Photo credit: bitzcelt)

So many of us don’t get much to speak of as a chance at life until we are older.  Raped with penetration by age five and following, traded for favors, fear and more fear, isolated, escaping from one to other places of objectification.  We don’t like closets.  We avoid reminders but since there is no place we don’t remember our traumas, we are, we know, not hidden well enough.

And then one day, Hope gets through the diseased surface of our primitive defense and delivers her message.  The message comes again, as Hope is unchangingly drawn to us.  Hope has been here before, but this time for what ever reason, it might be our age, finally seventeen or twenty-eight or fifty-four, it might be a nosey teacher or a fatal car crash involving one of our victimizers or our home is moved, but this time that Hope comes, we have the fortune of being pierced through.

When there are holes, Light can enter.  When Light enters, Light takes chase to darkness and then, served on a moment-gilded-platter, we have it.

This may not be your story, but is for enough.  Even one, right?  Even one matters.  Things really are that sick in more “homes,” represented by the normally garbed, disguised at school, work, church, stores and behind their computer screens.  We are all invariably fooled.  All of us respond to these disguises with what is available from our biopsychosocial-selves.  We respond by naming them consciously and unconsciously with a name that serves the needs of our biopsychosocial-self.  We could say that the disguises are designed both by them and us.  It is what it is.  We are all fools, this way by different degrees.

But back to those pierced by Hope.  Being a friend to yourself may not occur to us for what seems forever along the line that Time determinably follows in our dimension.  Being a friend to Me finds us now where light enters.  Hope and Light can have their way on our damaged selves.

Hope ports to all new beginnings.  The judgment of what makes living, through such distances, worth it is not for anyone but the individual and God.  However our opinion, served from our biopsychosocial selves is that life is worth living even in the distance before Hope pierces us through.   See Post, Your Pain is Not Special. It Is Normal., to read more on this.

We who have gotten friendly with Me, want Life despite the freakishly terrible.  Either we are masochistic to continue through such horrors, to continue living, or it is true.  What comes with hope, with being a Friend to Yourself, with Love, when experienced cannot be qualified or quantified other than to say, that Love wins.

Questions:  Do you believe Love wins?  If not, why?  What do you say about being a friend to yourself to those who are in the midst of being victimized?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Want Life despite the freakishly terrible.  It’s true.  It’s that worth it.  Be a friend to yourself.

Premises of being a “Friend to Yourself”

English: Object of perception in psychology

This is the skeleton of what we reviewed over three days of 1-2 hour workshop sessions (which ended last week.)  We named these the unchanging premises of being a friend to yourself.

 Everything starts and ends with Me.

Freedom to choose is here.

 I can see Me using various paradigms such as the Jungian Typology and the biopsychosocial model.

These are tools, not boxes.

 Me is never alone.

 Essence.

Essence is the part of Me that is timeless and unchanging.

 Truth.

There is our perception of reality – from the wind to the whim.  Then there is Truth that like the other premises to self-care are not dependent on my beliefs, emotions or behaviors.

Questions:  What do you think of these premises?  Would you change anything?

Self-Care Tip – Know and name your premises to befriending yourself.

When To See A Psychiatrist

Singer Brandy Norwood in September 16, 2010.

Even car accidents happen for “good reasons!”

Wanda didn’t want to hear the reasons.

Anything could sound like a good reason for bad performance.  It is what it is.  Just own it!

And Wanda was out.  And just as quickly as she concluded, I flashed back to the quivering resident who messed up on internal medicine rounds.  I stood there with my spine like a steel rod.  My white coat felt heavier with my fair-weather reference books bulging in my pockets.

Keep your chin up and look at her!  I told myself.

This wasn’t the first time for me, so I had the “luxury” of practicing a previous well-described lesson from my attending on how to respond to feedback.  Those days seemed like a series of stings, burns and frost-bite, but I am grateful for that at least – the knowledge of how I’m supposed to “take it.”

Wanda came back into my mind’s focus as memories of internship faded.  Wanda wasn’t even mad at me.  She was telling me this story as an example of her difficulty coping with anger.  Here she was asking for help while justifying her position.  Don’t we all, though?

I saw the irony in her criticism of those who gave reasons for their foibles as compared to her own explanation for anger and medical care.  Yet again, aren’t we all inconsistent like this?  Wanda is not alone.  She even had good insight too.  Explaining away our mistakes is shabby, lacks class and is insincere.

Some time ago in a post, Please Don’t Say “But”, we talked about this, which later we termed “presence.”  But why see a psychiatrist about these things?  Because insight is only worth so much.  If the mechanics to respond to the insight aren’t well, then you’ll be able to withdraw from your self just that.  In Wanda’s case, it was spitting anger, hot to the touch and not much safe.  It had quite an effect on her interpersonal relationships and quality of life.

But Wanda was suffering in more than her apparent psychological and sociological selves.  She was also suffering in her biological self.  (See biopsychosocial model.)  Wanda, was ill.

When we find that we can’t do what we want, don’t respond the way we intend, have negative emotions and behaviors we didn’t invite, see the associated deterioration in our connections and quality of life – when we are suffering, we need to look for help.  It’s hard to be productive and survive without support.  Any bit of nature will tell you that.  Ask a peach tree if you don’t believe me.

Question:  Does it make sense to you that emotions and behaviors might be all we have to show us that we are medically ill?  If not, please tell us why.

Self-Care Tip:  When insight isn’t enough, consider a medical consult.  Be a friend to yourself.

Remember, You Are Free, Even When You Accept Help.

Schep

In becoming a friend to yourself, we all use tools; a hoe, a shovel, a bottle of medications, friends and lots of floss.  Not all in the same moment or we might get hurt.  None of the tools we use are meant to been seen, when looked at, alone as a weapon to box us up.  They are each in turn just a tool to be used to improve our ability to be friendly with ourselves.  Don’t get paranoid.

This is important to remember, the more effective the tool becomes.  We build suspicions when things work that well, like ladders in case we need them.  But if we find ourselves miming walls that no one else can see, it really is just about Me.  The walls, the box, the perception of being defined too easily are coming from Me.

If you’ve ever heard about the biopsychosocial model, you may have experienced this sensation.  Each paradigm introduced looks more and more like brick and mortar, and you find yourself acting out the runaway-bride gig.  You are not that special, nor Me.  We are a construction of unique complexity, each of us individual and undefinable.  However, none of us are so special that we can’t use the tools.  None of us are so special that we can be captured; an exotic bird never before seen.  We are in fact too commonplace in our inability to be boxed, shut up and drawn in.    Let that twist your thoughts.

In the biopsychosocial model we use the paradigms as given to us through biology, psychology and sociology to improve our insight and what ever we hope to accomplish thereafter.  It’s a collection of tools.

When a patient comes to see me, looking for help, sometimes they apperceive the tools.  They become distorted towering constructs.  The biopsychosocial model looks like mechanisms designed to take away freedom rather than improve access to freedom.  It is a lot of unknown to be dosed with and it is a natural response.  But the biopsychosocial model is rather a collection of highly effective, (even suspiciously effective,) ways to improve brain disease.

Self-Care Tip:  Remember, you are free, even when you accept help.

Questions:  When have you perceived that you were being boxed in by the “help” coming your way?  How did you reclaim your sense freedom?  How did you manage to still get help?  Please tell us your story.