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

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Jedi Mind Trick Part 2

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“So I hear you have a gift?” she said sitting down with a bagel, apparently also trying to sneak in an early lunch.

   Oh I do, and would love to show you sometime I thought. But I just laughed and said, “What do you mean?”

   “I heard you did some sort of Jedi mind trick on Mr. Murphy.” I just shook my head. As much as I wanted to claim, yes, in fact I am indeed a Jedi, I couldn’t help but feel a little disenchanted. Those in the psychiatric field often claim that ‘medical people’ have no ability to interact, treat, or even recognize a mental illness….and I was starting to agree.

   “This is not the patient you seek” I said, waiving my hand in front of her face. She laughed. I figured the least I could do was lure her in a little more before revealing my true sarcastic and condescending nature. “My Jedi mind trick was actually just taking an additional ten seconds to introduce myself, and ask the patient if I could see his wound….instead of just barging in and grabbing him” I said. Her eyes got big as she pulled her head back and looked at me with confusion. Oops I thought. That might have been a bit much. “Sorry, occasionally my mouth outruns my brain” I said, in an attempt to bring back that laugh.

   “No….you’re right” she said, looking at her bagel instead of me. “But its hard, you know how it gets….and nobody cares that you have eight other patients to get to….” She said, almost looking ashamed.

   “Oh I know” I interjected, “I’m just saying that when you have a difficult patient, sometimes its all in the approach. Slowing down, taking an extra few seconds can help set the tone for a patient that is scared or confused….I mean….put yourself in their place, before labeling them as crazy….”

   She just looked at me for a moment, and then gave me the biggest smile yet, as if I had just serenaded her with a song. Evidently I was able to reel her back in with the sensitive male nurse routine, while hopefully enlightening her a little bit in the process. I couldn’t help but feel that our conversation had some genuine significance for her on a personal level. One thing was for sure, I had taken our work relationship to a more personal level, and attaining Jen was looking more and more like a reality.

   “I’m glad we have someone from Psych” she said, her eyes now choosing me instead of the bagel. “So how do you like working with Gloria?” she asked. I rolled my eyes, and tossed the remains of my sandwich into the garbage.

   “On that note….I think I feel the ground shaking, you better hide your food while I go find her….” I said with a smirk. She covered her mouth trying to hold in her laughter. I quickly made my way out the door before screwing up quite possibly the most perfect interaction I could have had with her. I looked back through the door as it closed, and caught her doing the same, still giggling.

-Kelsey David Burnham

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My Adventures in Mental Health….

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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 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 the very definition of tragic irony. Sometimes, it seems the patient doesn’t get better because of our best efforts, but despite them.

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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….
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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.

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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.

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The History of Crazy….

Historically, mental illness has always been something surrounded with hysteria of some kind, blame being pointed at everything from bad blood, to supernatural possession. Anything but a legitimate disease. The very word “disease” arising from the words “dis” and “ease”, originally intended to describe someone who was not at ease. Illness it seems has always been something that can only effect the body. The treatment was often more savage than the disease, in fact the phrase “beat the hell” out of someone, was originally coined from a treatment that consisted of beating a mentally ill patient that was believed to be possessed. The idea was to quite literally beat the evil illness out of them. Despite our ancestors best efforts, these so called treatments were generally quite ineffective.

    Some would argue that many of our more modern treatments are not much of an improvement, and they would be right….

    To be continued….http://healthyhell.com