Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Apologize "Insincerely!"

There are two sides to every issue. Apologize when a family member thinks that you are in the wrong. You may think that you are being “insincere.” Apologize anyway. Once you are past the heat of the moment, you may determine that you should have been sincere!

Your family members in the past may have “humored” you as a way of dealing with ideas of yours that they thought—perhaps reasonably—weren’t sane. Use this tactic yourself now as a tool to bring harmony to family relationships. Say that you are sorry for what they say that you did. You can be as hypocritical in your own mind as you like; you may even think that you are lying outright. Just do it. The outcome will be greater comfort in your home. A boon indeed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

In the Interests of Family Peace and Harmony, Show an Interest!

Now that you’ve said that you appreciate what your family had been doing for you during all those years of your challenging behaviors, what can you do to improve your relationship in the long term?

Make friends with each of your family members, each one in his or her own right and turn.

Show that you want to know details about their:
·         interests,
·         hobbies,
·         doings,
·         activities, and
·         problems.

What if they, or one of them, withdraws and will not give you any details about their lives? Just blithely go on expressing interest! “Once burned, twice shy,” they may feel. They don’t want to be vulnerable to your crushing their hearts again. Eventually, they may come around. Meanwhile, you can feel satisfied that you are doing all that you can.

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Thank-You Can Overcome Past Abuses

You have a secret source of strength. No matter what you do or have done, your family is always available to forgive you, understanding that your psychiatric disability got control of your character.

Something like G-d Himself, as His ambassadors on Earth.

Many, perhaps most, people with severe psychiatric disabilities—like you, perhaps, and certainly like me—have established a history whereby their families have put up with more from you than you have done from them.

What can you do in your “together” or saner moments to make up for perhaps decades of abusive behaviors? All you need to do is to show appreciation for your family’s love! Gratitude, that is.

Monday, November 19, 2018


Do not let your mental illness describe you. Be all that you can be. In my own language, become the person who G-d intended you to be. Just as any other person does, you have gifts. Just as any other person can, your character can shine.

Don’t compare yourself to others, especially in the area of character development. A quick temper goes along with several psychiatric diagnoses, for example. If you have managed to control yourself so that you are today less volatile than you were a year ago, that is all that you need care about. Just because a person without a mental illness may be today more even-tempered than you—it should make no difference to you. Applaud yourself for your own progress!

Many people with psychiatric disabilities tend to be harsh and judgmental towards themselves. Here is the antidote, the remedy! The character trait(s) that you excel at—such as generosity—can stand you in good stead even given your nosological (diagnosis-driven) weaknesses.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Autonomy the Goal

Autonomy should be the goal of every psychiatric encounter. Too often, the goal instead is some form of restraint or overcoming of a symptom of a diagnosis—quite the opposite. Every human being has the potential for greatness in some skill or art, and it should be the goal of his or her psychiatric clinicians to draw it out.

To me, autonomy means being self-directed. This parses out to:
·         Being a connoisseur of the glory of the world;
·         Being an evaluator of what is presented to you; and
·         Not being a pawn of the last stimulus.

Being a connoisseur of the glory of the world:

Appreciation of the greater world around you is central to being able to be alone. In a world of screens, being able to be alone is to be able to reach one’s spiritual center. You need a rich inner life, and this is developed only through having lived a varied life of many sorts of experiences.

Being an evaluator of what is presented to you:
All stimuli are not created equal. That which enhances self-direction is preferable to that created as a (mass-market) meme on the web.

Not being a pawn of the last stimulus:
Self-direction requires having parsed out and thus knowing your own values and seeking to promote them.
This involves looking to your own goals and objectives.
It also requires not being susceptible to outside influences, beyond the needs and wants of any peson or creature central to your values.
Autonomy segues into living a life that you direct. Not responsive to what outside influences say is to be valued, unless you have examined those values and found them worth integrated into your life. Instead, you need to live according to your own values and encourage others to support you in that endeavor—as you will reciprocate for them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Never, Ever Give Up!

You can find many inspirational stories about never giving up hope. Just search for perseverance among entrepreneurs, inventors (such as Thomas Alva Edison for one,) and artists in any medium. Such a biographical précis of your choice can inspire you to hang in there. A better day will come. No matter what your present circumstances. Only death obviates hope.

I suggest that every therapist put emphasis on collecting songs, or if the patient is interested, poems, on not giving up. My favorite is Edgar A Guest’s “It Couldn’t Be Done.” It’s followed me from bulletin board to board these many decades, tacked up as flag of hope.

Whether or not you have a therapist, you can help yourself immensely by collecting stories of positive thinking. I found something similar to the following in a fortune cookie once:

If you are not satisfied because you didn’t get what you wanted, think of all the things that you did not want that you did not get!

Never giving up is key to recovery, because a return to yourself as you were before your illness became severe—better! actually, due to having matured—can take many years and sometimes a number of decades. Nobody else will constantly be present to nudge you to mental health, so you must manufacture by yourself reminders that will always be there. Motivation has to be within you.

And the only way that I’ve found to persevere through all the normal trials of life, let alone the extra slings and arrows of mental illness, is to have reminders in front of you always. Maybe on your smart phone, maybe written down and posted wherever you go—bathroom mirror, laptop computer, bicycle handlebars….

Monday, October 29, 2018

Don’t Sell Yourself Short if You Have a Psychiatric Disability

Serious psychiatric illness (other than a few developmental disabilities) entails, by definition, a reduction from earlier in the person’s lifetime of the capacity to think, in my observation both as insight into myself and as viewer of others (whom I’ve been thrown in with or see on the streets) who have the problems. The chief difficulty that the person faces in getting better, it seems to me as I look back and as I look around today, is that there isn’t from family and mental health clinicians enough trust that the person can regain autonomy. Yes, there is a recovery movement in full swing; yes, treatment today is deemed to be patient-centered, but the behavior held as potential and prospective for the patient is uninteresting as it is much less than she has previously achieved. Whatever that may have been.

The “human potential movement” of the Sixties had excesses like swimming with dolphins (which latter sounds hard on the hijacked dolphins, but fun for the people), but like many aspects of cultural history had a good point to make. People are more than they present with. Even patients with serious mental illness.

Yes, there is a certain reduction of autonomy inherent in being a psychiatric patient with such a level of disability, but no, that reduction should not be accepted and even colluded in by clinicians.

As someone with ten years of informal and thereafter 34 years of diagnosed status through 2018, I do know that there is “disrespect” given by the world--even by clinicians, as well as the actual provocations given by the patients. (And, yes, I’ve given more than my fair share of trouble, such as reneging on commitments and being hostile to my brother in particular,)

Things are far better today than in the early Eighties, when for example I was turned away from care at a dentist’s office due to having filled in on its medical history form that I had mental illness (the Americans with Disabilities Act and various anti-stigma campaigns have helped). But there is still too much painting today of people who are psychiatric clients as though they are unworthy of dignity.

One aspect of this situation that I believe should garner more attention is that hope for a return to full prior personality  (not for the patients to be obsequious, which seems to be clinicians’ desire for patients at least in hospital and clinic settings still today) should be what is most strongly urged for patients by clinicians, especially for depressed patients--and in my observations, almost all patients have at least episodes of depression. If the clinicians can’t give respect now, they should communicate that respect is around the bend for patients who can hang in there.

Hang On Till Tomorrow--Your Attention Will Probably Have Deflected from the Present Despair

Hang on until tomorrow because it can’t be the same bad as it was today, even if you don’t achieve a decent day. Why? Your life is not ...