Wednesday, February 27, 2013

more notes

The past couple of workdays have had me spending time with two adolescent girls who have had some hard knocks during their life so far. Both of them said they have been made fun of in school, one for being poor and having to wear the same dirty clothes over and over. The other one, who is really quite beautiful, was teased because of her small stature and mixed heritage. They both struggle with relationships with their mothers, one of whom is physically abusive and the other being neglectful. Girls really need the acceptance and appreciation that only their own mother can give. An angry boy may come to us, and pretty soon we learn that he does not even know who his father is or else his father has rejected him. Life is hard at best, but we humans do better when those most important early relationships are present, ongoing, and hopefully healthy, and as a result our sense of self worth is able to develop.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

As to the previous post

"Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ for you."

I Thessalonians 5: 13-18

Saturday, February 23, 2013

happiness may be a choice

As I have mentioned, most people in a hospital such as mine are very depressed. Maybe my ears just perk up more when I hear the word, but depression is a widely publicized problem that is now treated commercially from a menu of multiple pharmaceuticals. It has been studied and categorized and is recognized as a potentially fatal but curable disease.

There's a good documentary ("happy") on Netflix about the opposite of depression, which is of course happiness. As it turns out, happiness has had its own scientific research. Now that we have the official results and not just opinion, I would like to point out the obvious. I might add that I took notes on the movie so I can perhaps turn it into a group topic in the future.

So, according to scientific studies, who is happy? Here are the answers:

People who don't seek their own happiness but who care about things that are greater than themselves.
People who recover from adversity, who keep close connections with the family and friends, who lift each others burdens, and perform acts of kindness.
People who have gratitude and cultivate compassion.
People who connect with the natural environment.
People who accept what has happened in their lives, as acceptance is a part of healing.
People who focus on intrinsic goals (personal growth, relationships, desire to help others) rather than extrinsic goals (money, image, status). Once our basic needs are met, money doesn't provide more happiness.

One of the happy men who was interviewed said this. "My life is a loan from God. I want to give it back with interest."

Interacting with nature and with other generations, getting physical exercise, counting our blessings, caring about and helping others, and having some variety in our lives can be ways of getting to happy. As we get there, our brain changes for the better. Happy people are more productive and live longer.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

relationships can hurt

Over the past close to thirty years, I have had the privilege of delving into the lives of strangers and asking personal questions that, aside from the current situation they find themselves in, no one else would dare to ask. I still find it both fascinating and an honor. Primarily due to insurance companies running things, treatment in the twenty-first century requires that we gather information and start the help as quickly as possible. So early in the conversation when I am helping to identify stressors (last straws, precipitators) I often cut to the chase and give a clue that relationships seem to be the biggest stressors/problems to us humans. I don’t think I have ever had a patient say that there was not a difficult and painful relationship issue that preceded their extreme depression (or whatever). There is nothing more important to people than relationships, and of course the ones we love and put our hope in the most bring the greatest joys and the greatest sadness. Also however, would be the next level, peer groups, social friends, and even superficial acquaintances. We are all important to each other. Change or remove a relationship, and we can feel stranded, lonely, and sad, sometimes profoundly.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

notes from work

Psychiatry is never dull, and usually my days are busy, like today. I did a few interviews, and in a nutshell, without divulging confidentiality, here is a rundown. One was a woman who had a delusion that included facebook and just about everyone in the world, including the governor, many entertainers, everyone in her old neighborhood, the FBI, and they were all involved in an evil ring of conspiracy. It can be interesting talking with people as they describe their delusional thoughts, because the listener thinks…yeah that could happen…yeah that is possible, too, then whoa…they have stepped over the line into the realm of the not possible. Another was a very nice young adult with the bad disease of alcoholism. Another was a young adult immersed in the pathology of an overbearing parent to the point of total helplessness. It reinforced my belief that one of the most loving thing we can do for our children is allow them to struggle through some hard times when they are growing up so they can develop some coping skills and self confidence. After all…life isn't that easy.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Snow today!

The forecast for today was snow though early on it didn't seem cold or gray enough. Then it came suddenly, and the sky became white as big flakes started falling and swirling. Now, an hour later, only a few teasing snowflakes dot the air. At least I got this pic through a back window to remember today's short-lived wintry weather.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love is...

Two prairie dogs kissing. Straight from yahoo news yesterday.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

at another hospital

The hubby had outpatient surgery today, a laparoscopic hernia repair. He did great, and we were in and out in less than six hours. I was impressed with the efficiency with which St. Francis was run and the competence of everyone who attended to him. A nice touch was a brief devotional that was piped in about nine a.m. I took along a dusty-on-the-shelf book, Being the Body by Charles Colson, to read during my down time and found it very well written and more interesting than Rachael Ray and whatever else was on the NBC channel on the TV in the waiting room. It was so good that I will finish it! At post op time, the nurse caring for the hubby said I looked familiar. As it turned out, I was her psych clinical nursing instructor several years ago. It was a treat to catch up with her. All in all, it was a successful morning.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Good lists to be on

The guys on the local talk radio station tonight were talking about what occupation would match the profile of a psychotic killer. Top on the list would be a ___. Well it really doesn't matter, because at the bottom of the list would be a nurse. This is a good list to be at the bottom of, but we are at the top of one list, the most trusted profession.  Nurses are innately caring people. We are also trained to and expected to help, and we are held to high standards of accountability. We aren't perfect, but in this world today, I am glad that we are valued.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Traffic was terrible this afternoon!

My usual drive home from work was stretched from twenty-five minutes into an hour and a half today. Why there was so much traffic, I never knew, but it was bumper to bumper all the way down Church Street every other road I was on. There was only so much to do in my car as I inched along, so why not take a few pictures out or through the window. I saw a guy in another car doing the same. You may see the long lines in both directions of the road pics.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

That's Entertainment

In my efforts to keep the house clean, I have turned to watching television. Better make that streaming Netflix, my new favorite thing. Last night I enjoyed an educational hour of Food Matters, which just happened to deal with one of my favorite topics. I have discovered the witty, fast paced Sports Night, a sitcom from the late nineties, and some fabulous British mysteries. Then there was the adorable French flick Romantics Anonymous and the French documentary about the chapel Matisse designed. Some heartwarming independent films engage me when I have time, and of course I have been glad for the many reruns of the always clever, never boring, well written Psych. By the way, its seventh season starts this month. I realize that not everyone will have the same tastes that I do, but there is something for everyone, even a nerd like me.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

An Arty Thing

On yesterday’s cold morning, I joined with a group of kindred spirits at a cute coffee shop downtown with the intended purpose of discussing or actually doing art, the painting and drawing kind of art that calls me to perform. The location was perfect, and if not for the well dressed, well scrubbed people and the gluten free items on the menu boards, it could have passed for a place from the sixties. A pony-tailed middle aged guitarist was sitting on a folding chair, strumming and singing well some well-loved folk tunes of the era. People were lined up for earthenware mugs of steaming hot coffee or tea and sweets to go with them and enjoying the convivial atmosphere. A little boy being watched over closely by his daddy was quite curious about the musician, a couple of individuals were sitting in overstuffed chairs with their laptops, the mother and daughter entrepreneurs were graciously serving everyone, and the nine of us were sitting right outside the door in an overflow area laughing and talking and having a grand time. The few hours passed quickly. I was sorry to see it end, but in another two weeks we will have our third get together. Never mind my limited talents, I like being part of this group.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


A Chinese proverb: When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.

I got a small bunch of ranunculus today, and to extend the worth of my penny, took a photograph. American saying: Why don't you take a picture? It'll last longer.