Schizophrenia Awareness Day

Schiz01Hello everyone.

First off, “thank you” to the person whose response on finding Neurolations was: “It’s very green, isn’t it?” That put a grin on my face.

A bit of an early post this month. 9th May is Schizophrenia Awareness Day.

Definitition

To have a “schizo” (split) “phrenia” (the mind). N.B: A split personality it is NOT!

Historically, the mind also includes the heart – as the home of the emotions. And as we all know, it is the emotions (and sometimes the lack of them) that drive thought. No, I’m not saying schizophrenics don’t have a heart! I’m saying, their ways of thinking are disjointed because of how their emotional systems function.

Let’s Shred Some Myths
  • It is a collection of various symptoms; not a single condition.
  • Symptoms described as “postive” & “negative” are neither good nor bad; it’s “positive” & “negative” in the sense of plus and minus. A psychological delusion is an example of an additional symptom because it is not an every day experience. A negative example might be that the syndrome has taken away a passion a person once had for say, architecture.
  • Schizophrenic symptoms are normal human experiences. It’s just that sufferers experience of them are extreme and intense. For example, and this is just a general example of being human, every one of us has an average body temperature (37 ºc). But we also experience a hot sweat after exercising. And we shiver to raise our temperature back to normal after a cold swim.
  • People living with schizophrenia do not need to be institutionalised. With the right balance of the right medication and counselling, they can live reasonably normal lives.

FeltSense1

Click here to learn more of what it can be really like living with schizophrenia. Courtesy of the charity, Mind, it’s a group having a chat over a cuppa. (6½ min’s approx.)

Why 9th May?

On 9 May 1970, “The Times” published an article by retired university professor, John Pringle. His son had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. The article asked for action to be taken to improve support for those living with schizophrenia themselves, and the advice available to those caring for them.

More than 400 readers answered the call, and in 1972, the National Schizophrenia Fellowship was born. Today though the Fellowship has evolved into four charities across the UK. In alphabetical order, they are:-

Please take a look.

That’s it for another month. Take care.

How Are We All Doing?

Hello, everyone.

It’s no fun being in the house all day, every day. Only the delivery person and occassional neighbour provide face-to-face human contact.  If exercising in the outside world for thirty minutes is possible, its around the same place – no change of scenery.

I’ve been doing a shorthand version of the SMART technique this past month in lockdown. I’ve been what I call “SAG-ing”: Setting myself a Small Achievable Goal once a day.

Online Wordsearch

The other day I went online with the goal of setting someone a wordsearch to do. I went to a site called “The Word Search”. (As they say, it is what it says on the tin.) The site’s “maker” page helped me.

I gave my wordsearch a title, added a small description of my design’s topic, and listed 30 words for my friend to look for. There was no need to grid the letters myself; the website did it for me.

Then it was my turn to complete the wordsearch made for me. It was good fun seeing who could do whose quicker.

What Else?

Whatever you think of, let it be something do-able, requiring just enough effort to give yourself a sense of success. Here’s a link to a fellow brain injury survivor with her own tips for how to cope. Her name is Anne Johnston. (Approx. 9 minutes)

I will say that Anne refers to going to the gym’ and the online workouts that people are streaming. Not everyone is so nimble and co-ordinated to be able to do that. But I agree with her, it is important to physically exercise as much as possible.

Mods and rockers fight, Brighton 1964

Chairobics

No, not quite as in the picture. (This is part of Stanley Cohen’s study into how newspapers etc create “moral panics” by the media – the mods and rockers at Brighton, to be exact.)

No. Click here for some exercises for wheelchair users. By the groovy electropop beats and rythmn it’s a proper 1980s workout. It certainly looks dated. But it’s still worthy of a look.

Quick Update

Just to let you all know before signing off, I’m in the middle of an online course on e-counselling. Fingers crossed, I will soon feel fully competent at telephone and email counselling if not video. Obviously, I’ll let you know when.

Bye for now. And please stay safe!

Sean

Keeping Things Together

IMPORTANT:

Until further notice, I am not taking new clients. I am continuing to counsel and mentor current clients. Current sessions are by telephone. Normal service will resume as soon as possible.

This may come as a surprise to some. All the anxiety and fear that is being passed around right now, you’d think this is the time when people will want counselling more than ever.

The thing is, it’s my responsibility to take care of myself as well you. I need to be “fit for purpose”. For the time being, I don’t feel it would be ethical of me to invite more work than I can manage right now. I hope you understand. As I say, normal service will resume as soon as possible.

Meantime, I can still provide help and support via this here blog. If anyone out there wants to comment, share your experiences, please do.

Sorry to write this off the cuff. There’s a lot I’ve had to get my head around in the last fortnight. And I’ve had to do it fast. Haven’t we all?

In the coming days and weeks we’re all going to cope as best we can. For those whose immune systems are less effective, it’s going to be harder. The advice to stay indoors should be taken seriously.

A lot of people are learning what it is living life in isolation. We are all having to take extra care of our wellbeing. Keeping active, keeping a sense of routine and purpose is more important than ever. Anything that takes your mind off things will help keep us calm.

Here are a few links back to some helpful posts I’ve given you before:-

pacingMaintaining achievable goals & a rouine: SMART pacing

Art Therapy

Being creative: Expressive Art & Brain Injury

Journal keeping: Writing Therapy (Part One)

Writing Therapy

Writing stories: Writing Therapy (Part Two)

Take good care, all of you.

Sean

 

More Than One Way

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Hoping you all managed through the festive season. Now that we’re out and on the other side, I thought we’d take a look at a slightly different option when seeking help. Or wanting to help a client with A.B.I. / T.B.I.

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (C.A.T)

What It Is

illustration-im-lost-hiker-no-direction-frits-ahlefeldt

C.A.T. is a type of therapy based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Psycho-analytic Therapy.

Typically, therapy is given with a collaborative, person-centred style. New names / labels are found to describe difficult patterns of events, stages in process and emotions and behaviours that link them.

This means that problems can be looked at more in depth. Patterns can be drawn out and joined up in relation with different areas of life; whole situations can be mapped out.

The number of sessions spent with a therapist is limited.

How it Can be Applied to Acquired Brain Injury

I’ve done a little diagram of my own. I think many of you will recognise the re-occuring cycle.

CAT Diagram

This is how I have seen it with different clients over the years. But it can never be a case of “one size fits all”. With help, the best person to draw the process you go through is YOU.

Here’s the thing:-

  • Once expressed and put on paper, the process is not reliant on memory. How a situation is now can be seen and read.
  • Attention can be focussed more easily and areas identified that need tweaking. (For example, with support, the above “Former Self / Current Self” box can be gone into more in depth. A list of former, helpful skills that are still current might be revealed.)
  • A sense of direction could also become clear. (E.g: A still present, helpful skill could be discussed to see how it might be used to effect another box – maybe even re-write what’s in it.)

I shan’t go on. You’ve got the picture.

Research

Some of you out there might like further research on this subject. Here’s a very interesting online publication I came across. (Click the title.) It’s a paper by Caroline Rice-Varian. It’s called:

“The Effectiveness of Standard Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) with people with mild and moderate acquired brain injury (ABI): an outcome evaluation”.

Referrence: Rice-Varian, C., 2011. The Effectiveness of Standard Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) with people with mild and moderate acquired brain injury (ABI): an outcome evaluation.. Reformulation, Summer, pp.49-54.

Signing Off

Thanks for reading. Your questions, requests and comments throughout 2020 will be appreciated as always .

And now, in true “Monty Python” style, here’s something completely different: A cartoon called “The Cat Came Back”. (Approx. 8 minutes.)

Enjoy!

The Power of Zen (Part Two)

Spaceballs02

Hello all. I hope you’re as well as can be.

Thank you to the couple of you who’ve emailed and commented on last month’s post.

To answer the question posed by one of you (What is “The Power of Zen” about?) it is about that thing we have that says: “I am”. It’s about that sense we have of being ourselves whatever the state of our brain.

In Part One I explain Zen is an interface – not the whole computer. Those of you who clicked on Zen’s picture may have noted that it gives a running commentry for its / the ship’s systems as they happen. And it is in this way, the ship acquires an ego-like quality.

Here’s a favourite “Blake’s 7” quote:-

BlakeBlake:  Seven of us can run this ship properly.Vila

Vila:  Six, surely.

Blake:  You forgot Zen.

Avon:  You’re not counting that machine as a member of the crew.Avon

Blake:  Oh, what do you say to that, Zen?

Zen:  Please state course and speed.

Blake:  Very diplomatic. Set a course for Centero, speed standard by two.

Zen:  Confirmed.

We have our identity and we know we exist. But how much power over our brain injury does our identity give us if our identity is influenced by that injury?

When we actively own our personality as something more than our brain injury,  to whatever measure possible, we can increase the likelihood of change. Zen’s power is will power.

Existing with a Brain Injury

Another thing I did in Part One of this article is put us in the passenger seat of our spaceship. Why? I’m going to answer with a case example. The clent is fictional. The circumstances are real. Some of you might relate to this example straight-away.

(Justine)

Justine takes medication for her epilepsy. She often needs reminding to drink fluids because when she forgets, she gets really bad headaches. She easilly gets fatigued and doesn’t show much emotion. Although she can hold a conversation much of the time, she gets frustrated when her voice doesn’t produce the words she tells it to. Also, she has difficulty reading and writing.

She says: “I know what I want to write but it’s frustrating. I know where I want to put my pencil’s lines – how to do them – but my brain changes them while I’m writing.”

She goes on to describe both sides of her brain arguing. Justine finds it “fascinating”, “scary…” and “…not really scary… more frustrating”. She is eager to improve.

The extent to which this is possible for Justine is unknown. Coping with the unknown is hard. What Justine is showing us for sure is that she is able to make real-time observations of what she perceieves her brain to be doing. She is frustrated by her lack of control over how her writing looks.

In other words, getting back to the good ship Personality, she is eager to move from her passenger seat to her pilot seat.

How Existential Therapy (E.T.) Might Help

How about we look at Justine’s case in light of the E.T. goals I ended with last month?

(Understand Unconscious Conflict)

Justine has a sense of one half of her brain arguing with the other half. Given the opportunity via therapy, her strength of personality – that bit of her that’s feeling frustrated might get to the bottom of what it is those halves are arguing about.

(Identify Unhelful Defensive / Coping Mechanisms & Discover their Destructive Influence)

I’m unsure how this goal applies to Justine. Perhaps a more applicable goal would be to focus on something practical. With her therapist’s support, she could experiment with aids and techniques to improve letter and word recognition and hand-eye co-ordination for writing.

(Diminish Secondary Anxiety)

If and as her communication skills improve – more and more of her intended words coming out right, her confidence might grow. Getting anxious about being anxious (panicking) could happen less often.

(Righten Restrictive Ways of Dealing with Self & Others)

With better communication and her own creative ways of getting around problems, Justine might help others wanting to help her improve.

(Develop other ways of coping with primary anxiety)

Always, each new achievement raises new unknowns, new possibilities. Fearing the unknown is healthy. Quality “me time” helps. Justine might later develop a new passtime that helps her chill out when she needs to. Who knows?

 

Now for a demonstration. For a quarter hour example of an E.T. session with an ABI client, click here. N.B: You’ll probably want to turn the volume up a tad; the sound quality is rubbish.

That’s all for now. Cheery-oh.

Sean