5 Healing Techniques for the Wandering Mind: Non-Traditional Meditations that Work — Motivation, Inspiration and Life

Many people naturally have trouble concentrating, but some may especially have a difficult time… Do you ever find that you cannot concentrate? Possibly during your meditation practice you really struggle with staying mindful, or focused. Maybe you even avoid meditating all together, simply because it is a lot of work or discouraging when you constantly have […]

via 5 Healing Techniques for the Wandering Mind: Non-Traditional Meditations that Work — Motivation, Inspiration and Life




Not So Healthy Minds, With Not So Healthy Bodies….

51--q-Z6+uL._SL110_A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness

-“So, we were talking about how great you are with psychiatric patients.” Gloria said in almost a motherly tone. A surprised, sarcastic mother who was just caught off guard by a good report card and didn’t quite believe it yet.

   “Since there seems to be more and more of them making their way onto the med unit, and we wanted to see if we could find out why.” She added, elevating the sarcasm to an almost accusatory pitch, as if I had brought them all with me from the psych unit or something.

   I didn’t even attempt to wipe the look of revulsion off of my face as she walked me into a small, semi-abandoned office at the end of the hall. It smelled of failed careers and budget cuts, the only place that wasn’t covered in dust was a 90’s era computer mouse accompanied by the outline of an ass imprint on the chair. This was probably the hiding place for a nightshift staff looking at porn, or maybe for another job, like I should have been doing.

   “So you’ve noticed an increase in psychiatric patients requiring medical care?” I said in a corrective tone.

   “Well yes…. we just wanted to put some real numbers on it, and see if we can get to the root of the problem.” She replied, laying it on thick, trying to pretend she wasn’t just trying to assign some extra homework to the new kid.

   “So what exactly would she like me to do?” I replied, passive aggressively reminding her that my duty delegation fell under Sylvia’s title, not hers.

   “We were hoping you could dig through the old patient charts and help us put together some kind of report for the budget committee. Something that would reflect our real staffing needs verses that of the regular psychiatric unit.” She explained.

   “Are you looking for more staff? Sitters for one to ones, things like that?” I asked, trying to hide my skepticism.

   “Well why should our staff ratio’s be the same as theirs, when we have our real patients and the nut jobs on top of that to deal with?” She said with the all of the confidence of a deranged southern politician, arguing against desegregation.

   Real patients, wow, really? I thought to myself, holding back a verbal outburst that would have surely required my resignation. “I’ll see what I can do” was all I replied, but I have no doubt my expression and tone conveyed my true loathing.

   “Great, well this room is yours for as long as you need it.” She said with a smile that I was sure would reveal fangs.

   “Super” I said, eyeing the door, hoping one of us would soon be walking through it.

   “I’ll leave you to it” she said, wedging herself out the door.

   So this was brunt of her attack, on the surface I wasn’t impressed. But the underlying message hit its mark. It wasn’t so much me personally that she had a distaste for, (in fact I bet there were very few things she didn’t like the taste of) it was psychological health as a whole, having a legitimate place in her world. The fact that doctors, nurses, and the patients themselves are now much more likely to recognize mental illness, and to pursue its treatment in a traditional setting was something she could never adjust to. It is now being recognized as a real problem, and a valid illness that required authentic management, and not just being brushed aside, or even locked away. For whatever reason, this progressive movement seemed to be her nemesis. Maybe it was progress or evolution in general she feared, maybe she thought that if things continued the way they were she might have to take a closer look at herself and who she had become. I refused to believe she was born an angry hippo.-

(copyright 2015)-Kelsey David Burnham (Slow Code)


41zYsb2nKlL._SL110_50 Signs of Mental Illness: A Guide to Understanding Mental Health (Yale University Press Health & Wellness)

The Irony Cure….

The truly ironic part of all of this is that psychiatry has by a large margin the most successful “cure rate” of any medical field. Unlike an oncology unit, or ICU, mental health patients are much more likely to report relief from debilitating symptoms, and go home after a hospital stay. In reality, what that means for a hospital, believe it or not, is less money. Under our current system, hospitals don’t make a profit if you are home and well. The biggest, most profitable disease currently known to man, is cancer. Cancer keeps hospitals in business. So when a budget committee meets to decide where to invest in its facilities, where do you think the money goes? We have all seen, or at least heard of the grand opening of a new hospital wing or public health clinic with all the new bells and whistles. What we don’t see are these kinds of improvements, or even upkeep at a mental health facility. These places remain hidden, in the closet, every hospitals dirty little secret.

    This environment is where we attempt to heal the mentally ill in this country. I always thought it was a little, well, “crazy”. Sometimes, it seems the patient doesn’t get better because of our best efforts, but despite them.

On a related note….check out….
Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide, and Crime

Modern Mental Health….

My adventures in behavioral health began in very humble surroundings. My first real job in the field consisted of degrading duties and even more degrading compensation. The bowels of healthcare so to speak, these kinds of positions were usually disguised by lofty job titles such as “Residential Mental Health Technician” or “Day Habilitation Specialist”. The fact that the educational requirements for such a position consist of a high school diploma (or equivalent) probably should have been a dead giveaway that this was not necessarily the gateway to a lavish career in medicine. If that was not enough, perhaps the fact that several of my coworkers were either recent parolees, or so disheveled in appearance that if they lost their nametag they may not be allowed to leave, for fear that we may accidently release a newly admitted psych patient.

    The facility its self was like something out of a low budget horror movie from the 1960s. That also being the time period when any equipment upgrades or significant maintenance probably took place. The term “low budget” also seemed key on many levels. In the defense of those who run facilities such as this, it’s not their fault, it’s ours. The average United States citizen still cringes at mental illness, most are ashamed, embarrassed or even frightened at the very thought of it affecting someone in their lives. This primitive attitude toward mental illness of course carries over into our political system, and therefore our budgets. Mental health agencies largely depend on state and federal funding. It is by far the lowest priority on the political totem pole, and is funded accordingly. These agencies have to fight for every dime they ever see. Unfortunately money it seems is always the bottom line.



The Psych Unit part II

Aside from the potential dangers and somewhat shameful entertainment value, a certain type of healthcare professional seems to be attracted to this field. Tragically, its rarely due to a genuine fascination with human behavior, or a desire to help your fellow man. As much as it is for the patients, for staff, a psychiatric unit ends up being a place to hide.

    This can occur for many reasons, some as simple as being grossly inept at any other aspect of healthcare. Other reasons tend to stem from the staff themselves being as mentally ill as the patients they care for. Do to the stigma and fear surrounding mental health patients, working on this kind of unit can be the equivalent of living on a desert island.

    Another theory, and my personal favorite, is that “crazy” is contagious. If one works in this environment long enough, they just may lose their own grip on reality. Perhaps the constant bombardment of irrational thoughts and perceptions eventually start to penetrate. Some of the more convincing delusional and antisocial patients may start to make sense after spending 8 to 12 of your waking hours with them on a daily basis. Then you can either take a vacation, make an adjustment in your career trajectory, or get a room right next to your new mentor.

    Perhaps this is how the more interesting psychiatric patients are born. We tend to wonder “what happened” whenever that patient being rolled in 4 point restraints has an interesting back story. The former college professor, lawyer, or school nurse that is now rambling incoherently and has been deemed unfit for society by the powers that be. What happened? Was it an unimaginable series of stressful or even tragic events? Maybe a genetic predisposition toward mental illness, or did a crazy person sneeze near them on a crowded elevator? Either way, psychiatric patients love to break the mold and emerge from all walks of life. What makes me love them is their ability to throw curve balls at any established theory, at any given time.

    For general descriptive purposes, I have lumped all psychiatric patients into two convenient categories, the funny and the disturbing. We’ve all seen the ladder make headlines on CNN, from Jeffrey Dahmer to Ted Bundy. While I have had more than my share of experiences with the disturbing, I prefer to focus on the funny, and sleep better at night. (or during the day, such is the life of an RN)

    The funny, of course, is also a matter of opinion. Personally, I have always preferred the patients I find arguing with a coffee mug named Steve, the ones that are compelled to do a cartwheel any time a phone rings, or even the one apprehended after attempting to direct traffic at an intersection dressed as Napoleon Bonaparte.


The Psych Unit….

A Psychiatric unit, now that is a world of its own. I’ve actually seen someone make a dentist appointment to avoid doing a shift there. It’s been said that there are only two kinds of nurses, those that deal with the neck up, and those that deal with the neck down. They rarely switch sides. I generally would rather volunteer for an elective root canal than work a shift on an ICU, however I seem to be in the vast minority.

    Something happens to a person when they reach the locked entrance of a psych unit. A built-in alert system seems to kick in to remind you that there is a reason this door is locked. Are they keeping me out, them in, or both? Rest assured, it’s both, and your tension level gets an inevitable boost once you pass through that door. Of course, you may first have to speak to someone on the other side either via phone or a fast food style speaker on the wall just to gain access. Once inside, it’s as if you just crashed your ex’s wedding in a bad 80s movie. The music comes to a screeching halt and everyone stops what they are doing to look at who just came in. In reality, the staff tends to welcome a new face on the unit, and generally feels the need to protect them from any potential mishaps.

    The patient’s reaction of course varies wildly. Are you a superhero doctor here to rescue them, or a demon that has come to drag them to hell? Perhaps you appear to be Elvis Presley, or their mother. Either way, there are endless possibilities as to how you will be received, but in general, fear not. Contrary to popular belief, it is unlikely that as a visitor any harm will come to you at the hand of a psychiatric patient.

    The regular staff however, plays a different role and suffers different consequences. They have the privilege of playing a more permanent role in the life of a psychologically disturbed patient. That can be good or bad, depending on how successfully, and carefully that role is played. Are they stuck being the superhero doctor, or the demon (or Elvis). Either way, a skilled professional should be able to manipulate that appearance into something therapeutic. With the hope of eventually shifting that patient’s perception back to a more reasonable place. And for the nonprofessional, this can be a hilarious opportunity to entertain yourself for a 12 hour shift.


Comfortably Numb….

33 million Americans were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug in 2004, up from 21 million in 1997.

The spending on antidepressants rose from $5.1 billion in 1997 to $13.5 billion in 2006; and on antipsychotics from $1.3 billion in 1997 to 11.5 billion in 2006.

The third best selling antidepressant, Lexapro, has been on the market only since 2002. But 15 million Americans have already taken it.

9 % of American teens have been prescribed drugs for depression.

The products are not limited to adults, not even to humans. In 2002, 11 million antidepressant prescriptions were written for American children and adolescents.  Before 1990, outside of the occasional use of Ritalin, the medicating of kids was just about taboo.  Clomicalm is approved by the FDA for separation anxiety for dogs.  To increase appeal, Prozac and Paxil come in mint and orange flavored liquids, and Clomicalm is meat flavored.  On Los Angeles veterinarian estimates that 5 percent of the cats and dogs in his practice are taking psychotropic agents for their behavior.

Zolofts American sales $3.1 Billion in 2005 exceeded those of Tide detergent that same year.

The worldwide sales of one drug for schizophrenia, Zyprexa, $4.7 billion in 2006, were greater than the revenue generated by the Levi Strauss Co.

-Comfortably Numb by Charles Barber