(1019 words – 5 minute read)
There is a TV show called “Getting On”. It takes place in a nursing home. I work part-time in an assisted living home, which is one step up from a nursing home. I have worked in nursing homes. Waiting to die is what they are doing. I call it the dead zone.
My mother, when she reached her 80’s, said she was in the departure lounge (waiting for her flight out of here) and that’s how it is in assisted living. I call out the numbers at bingo and give an exercise class. The rest of the time they watch TV, eat and sleep.
It’s a backwater; out of the stream of life and it’s involvement in becoming this or that, in gain and loss. The game is over; all that remains are pastimes to pass time. Maybe an occasional thought arises: “What was that all about?” But as well as the body the mind is tired. All we have are vague reminiscing, stories of farm life, husbands gone, children far away; scraps of fragile memory; faint reminders of who we used to be.
Bernie Sanders is 74 and running for president so we’re not there yet, but it looms on the horizon. There is a chill in the air of my endless summer. Priorities shift. If you’re going to do it, do it soon.
Continue reading Getting On
(681 words – 3 minute read)
I was going to skip this section but Amy said I have to write it, not only because it contains valuable insights but more importantly for my own sake. I needed to get the charge off those incidents.
There is a mechanism here that’s worth describing. Upsetting events disrupt the nervous system. We feel shaky, nauseated, break out in a cold sweat. The nervous system is in turmoil.
Being reminded of a traumatic incident triggers the disruption all over again. The incident, instead of being neutral, has a negative charge on it. It circles around in your head. Writing it down is one way of getting it out of your head and onto the paper.
This exteriorization of our internal processes is the essence of the therapeutic process.
The first thing I learned about running a session was to listen. Sounds simple but to deeply listen, understand and acknowledge without indulging in judgment, “Helpful Feedback”, evaluation, interpretation, comments, or even a slightly raised eyebrow is not as easy as it may seem.
As soon as you do something that interrupts the outward flow of the person’s internal processes you turn their attention back on themselves. “Was that the right thing to do? Did that really happen the way I think it did?” and that easy outward flow is interrupted. Continue reading Life in the Mainstream
(962 words – 5 minute read)
So how did I, Rod, with no university degrees find my way into working in a conservative small-town mental health clinic?
I’d had some slight experience with the university system, a glancing blow you may say, a few years back. Our hospital had about twelve beds and I was working there as a CNA (nurses assistant or “orderly” as my mother would pointedly say). I had a vague intention of becoming a nurse as the idea of earning a steady income had its appeal. It was a bit late in the game, my late 50s, but what the hell, it’s a new game to play.
We had a local university extension; it was a doublewide behind a gas station off the freeway on the outskirts of town. Ah! ”Higher Learning.” Not quite the hallowed halls of Oxford, but it would do just fine for me.
There were about twenty eager faces in the psychology class. It was taught by a retired pharmaceutical employee an ex “Pharma babe.” They were a familiar sight at the hospital, seducing the doctors with their free samples. Good start, my dealer is my teacher.
Our textbook was “Exploring Psychology” by David G. Myers.
Right at the beginning of the textbook David said we weren’t going to study the nature of consciousness or awareness because it couldn’t be understood and wasn’t worth thinking about. There goes 10,000 years of meditation down the drain. We were just going to study behavior, our observable actions. Right there I could feel all the fun being sucked out of this game. Continue reading How I Got Into Behavioral Health