Tuesday, June 30, 2009

summer clients

I don't know if I have said this in this space before, but hey, how many new ideas can I have, in the summer I get fewer calls for new clients but the ones I do get are way above average of the intensity and confusion scale.

For a couple of weeks now I have been seeing a very charming, warm, caring woman in her mid-fifties. She is tired and worn out. But now she has to raise two of her grandchildren because their mother, her daughter, has never grown up or settled down and now lives in a neighboring city with a guy who sells drugs.

Then she shows me a letter from her son, who is in jail, and has been for seven years. The letter explains that he is evil, and still angry and when he gets out of jail he knows who he is going to kill first.

Her other son was shot by the previous boyfriend of his girlfriend. After being paralysed for three years he couldn't take living that way so he killed himself.

There is even more, but the point is that this is a perfectly reasonable, kind and caring woman. She says her husband is a nice guy, who tried to be a good father, but by now has just withdrawn.

I really don't know why all of this has happened to her. I think it helps to know that her father killed himself, as did two of his six brothers, but I'm not sure.

Fate, genetics, bad karma, or just tragic?

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I don't know where you are but everyone around here is grumpy. I get the worst of it because most of my clients are grumpy anyway. They are a not too happy a bunch, that's why they come to see me. My job is to cheer them up, and juggling doesn't always work.

But now everyone is damp, cold, moldy and sick of it. We haven't seen the sun much, and when it comes out it quickly goes away, which makes everything worse. I don't know how people survive in Seattle, although I hear it's nice out there now. Maybe it has to do with expectations. I guess if you live in Alaska in the winter, you know what to expect. Maybe all there is to do up there is get drunk and vote for Sarah Palin.

But it is supposed to be summer here now. It's supposed to be hot,and sunny. These are supposed to the the days that reward us for March. Instead it seems like March.

Everyone is angry and looking for someone to blame. It takes its toll on relationships, on businesses, on travel, and on everyone's view of how fair and considerate the world is. If people don't feel they are being treated fairly, they respond by being mean.

It all goes back to Reagan. When he and his advisers were first told about climate change they scoffed and put on sun glasses. Now we have 100 heat in 40 states and New England has had rain on 20 of the last 24 days.

Everyone is grumpy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One Great Weekend

The wedding went Great!

What more can I say. My youngest kid, the tall, bald one, has been with this very attractive, strong-willed yet socially charming, while still being smart and ambitious, young woman for a couple of years now. He finally felt like he was ready, and that the time was right. She took over after that and made the arrangements.

About 100 of us drove up into the mountains. The rain stopped just long enough. Not being very religious they had a J.P. The J.P. made no pretenses at pontificating. She said do you take her, and do you take him. They said yes and then we had a party for the next six hours.

What more can you do?

Now I'm two for two in the "hope they marry great people" department.

Nothing left for me to do but wait around for the next chapter.

(I also want to thank Logo, along with many other of you, for the occasional comment. It's good to know someone's out there in virtual land.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

can't and won't

It is still so difficult to tell the difference between can't and won't.

With most medical problems, such as if you break your leg, catch a virus or rip your cornea, the problem is clear, and except for indirect causes, such as skiing, killing sick people, or smoking, you don't feel like the difficulty was your fault. It's different with mental problems.

People often come to me and they are filled with anxiety. They can't get to work, it makes them terribly jittery. flustered, and confused.

So we work together to find the stresses in their lives, both long term and short term. Then we teach them techniques of how to deal with anxiety, racing thoughts, negative anticipation, catastrophic thoughts and irrational fears. Often, we add some medication to the mix.

I try my best to get them ready to relaunch into the world. I feel that almost all of my clients try too, but sometimes, nothing really changes. They remain too consumed with fears, too trapped by their thoughts, too much just stuck in a bad place.

So, we try again. We do some variations, new explanations, new drugs, new ways of breaking down the obstacles, new ways to try and relax.

But then, sometimes, not much changes.

Then, I, the experienced, all knowing, all caring therapist, can only say:

"HELLO" this is all I have to sell. I don't have any more magic.

I begin to feel like I am dealing with a "won't" instead of a "can't." A some point in psychological treatment, the client has to take the risk of making the change. I try to arrange the changes so that they are not fatal.

But, who knows.

Friday, June 12, 2009

so many have slipped away

Even I, after all these years, still get a bit surprised by how many people there are right here in this land of opportunity of ours that just can't cut it, don't make it, can't do it, drop out, give up and flop.

I don't know if it is more than it was fifty or a hundred years ago. I remember when I was just beginning my training there were still State Hospitals, Institutions, Insane Asylums, which were full of folks who had been dropped off by their families or picked up on the streets. Once you got stuck in one of those it became very difficult to work your way out.

Then better medication came along in the late sixties and early seventies and these people were moved out into "the community." Most of it was done as a reason to save money.

So now there are many people, more that anyone who goes about their daily business

I think there may be more of them now because the world moves faster, expects more peices of paper, electronic transactions, passwords, ID numbers, menu responses, and real-time transactions over virtual networks. Once you fall behind it becomes difficult and costly to catch up. Once you build resentments, take it personally, and become defiant, you get trampled, inundated and pushed aside. Spindled, folded and mutilated they used to say.

It seems that once this mind/brain thing that we have been given starts slipping over the edge it gains momentum for the long slide down, and then stays stuck in the mud at the bottom of the psychic ravine.

Sometimes a parent, sister, or niece will try to bring one of these folks to my office with a note attached that says "fix this person." It's like towing a car to the mechanic after the engine has seized up. Except in these cases you can't go to the junk yard and get a replacement part.

Oh, I forgot, Igor did that.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

mortality lurking

One thing that has happened since I have been limited by losing the use of my eye for a while is that I get more anxious when my clients come in with their tales of illness and loss.

Today one of clients was talking about how she has to fly home to see her father. He had not been feeling well and now, not surprisingly from the information she was getting, has been found to have cancer that is in several locations. He is five years younger than me.

So many of my clients come with problems dealing with their aging parents. I search for reasons to reassure myself that what is happening to them is not happening to me.
Usually I could brush away the fears pretty easily just because I felt good. I was energetic, active and rolling along.

Now, I feel pretty good, but I am limited, can't see things coming up on my right side, and I get skittish and feel a bit vulnerable. I can still take anybody on, but they have to stand a bit to the left and promise not to hit me in the head. Not exactly the battle cry of the warrior.

And my clients have to deal with really terrible things -- cancers, Parkinson's, ALS,which is totally awful or Huntington's disease which may be even worse. Also, the girlfriend of the son of one of my clients was killed by a truck in a parking lot in a random accident. The next hour the cousin of that client died when his truck rolled over somewhere in Texas.

The Reaper seems to be lurking in every corner once you start looking for it. No wonder everyone is anxious.

Can't get like that I guess. It does no good. Live until you die, and until then deny mortality. Pitch as if you are unhittable, dance beneath the diamond sky, howl at the full mood, drink the sweetest nectar.

And eat plenty of blueberries, watch you weight, get enough sleep, moderate exercise, and call you mother -- if she is still alive.