Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A day in the office

This week I was back in my office for a day.  It isn't really my office any more, I rent it from another psychologist who is now in it three or four days a week.  He is young, energetic and idealistic, just like I was at his age.  He is only 63.

The people I am still seeing are people I really want to see.  I feel I can finish up with them in six to nine months and get them through whatever it is they are going through.  For one it is college, for another through a bad divorce, for another away from his mother and on his own.  Stuff like that.

But yet, after being away for a while, it seams to difficult, just for them to get from here to there.  They are so tied down and burdened by their past, their family, their non-supportive relationship, their lack of financial resources, and even their health.

It's like dragging someone who is underwater back up to the surface, but they are weighted down with about nine chains tied to iron balls.  Each chain has to be worked on and broken.  And we are working underwater, where we can hardly breathe.

But still, these are all great people.  Like all of us, they are slightly crazy, but no more than most. And sometimes they can be very funny.

So we keep chipping away.

But it is really a relief to not have to go back and do it for another seven to nine hours again the next day.  I won't mention that to the young man who is in my old office.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

No Guts, No Glory

So I'm back here at my desk after a major transition and a very long summer.  It's a beautiful fall here and I will soon be our admiring the leaves on what could be the last warm day of the year here in New England.  But before that I want to return to commenting on some of the things that thrill or bother me, especially about my profession --"Mental Health Professional," and how and why it's such a struggle.

Last Sunday, 10/12/14, The Boston Globe's Magazine Section was called "Decoding the Brain." They had four articles about recent brain research.  The one that intrigued me most was called " Gut Instincts."  It was a curious yet striking example of what has happened to my thinking, but has not yet spread very quickly through the profession.

Very briefly, the piece describes a case in which someone who had some very disabling obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and was pulling out his hair, was able to free himself from these behaviors by changing his diet and adding strong probiotics.  The article quotes Dr. James Greenblatt, of Walden Behavioral Care, as saying that research is quite clear that the GI tract affects brain health."

The article, which was written by Elizabeth Gehrman, also stated that "All the interest marked a fundamental change in the way scientists and medical professionals view the connection between the brain and the gut."  I believe that we all have to continue to change how we view the entire brain/body relationship.  And I don't mean in the now very prevalent way of people just learning to relax, meditate and stay "mindful." I mean in the other direction. Lots of things in our bodies affect the brain, such as diet, toxins, injuries, fatigue, lack of stimulation, over-stimulation, heat, cold, and so much of the stimulation that is constantly coming in through all of our senses.

All of this is being processed all the time by the brain.  And the brain creates your mind as a part of all this process.

The more we mental health people see this as a constant process of the world, the body, and the brain all interacting, and spend less time and effort trying to fix people's "minds," the more effective mental health care can become.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Need Help?

One day Max feel down in the snow.
  He yelled, "Help me, help me."

Jake ran over and lay in the snow beside him.

Max got up and walked away.