A visit to the hospital

I met Jennifer at the hospital last Friday afternoon, armed with my “Focused Listening” bag that included all the equipment she would need for listening to the music. But, would she go for it? Would she even be pleased to see me? I went up to the second floor of the building and knocked on her door. She was in, but wasn’t expecting me because the staff hadn’t told her I was coming, as I had called ahead to request them to do.

Jennifer, as long as I have known her, has extreme “flat affect.” At her worst, she appears cold and disinterested, but I have seen her at her “better” after her stint in the hospital four years ago, and she was kind and sympathetic.

We went downstairs to get a coffee. I noticed that Jennifer was talking, not just to me, but to the other patients. This seemed like a big improvement over the what I had observed over the past year. We sat down and I asked her what brought her to the hospital. By now, she had been there about a month.

“I was doing nothing wrong, and at 7 a.m. one morning they came to my room and arrested me,” she said.

“That was tough. Why would they do that?”

I did nothing wrong, she insisted.

“I’m sure you didn’t,” I said. “Maybe they thought you weren’t taking your medication?”

“That medication they put me on, Haldol, was awful. It is a very old medication, shouldn’t be used, and it made my hands shake.”

“Yes, I remember seeing them shake,” I said. “Haldol will do that. So, are you still on it?”

“No, I went to a doctor who said I shouldn’t be on it, and I managed to get off it.”

“So, what are you on now?”

“That’s none of your business,” Jennifer replied. If looks could kill, I’d be dead. My take-away is that she ended up in hospital because she was off her meds and had no back-up plan. Not that a back-up plan would necessarily have worked. Going off meds takes a lot of trial and error, mainly error until something sticks.

“Okay, fair enough,” I say.

She launched into a tirade about her ex-husband being raped and murdered. And so has another woman whose name she mentions and I don’t recognize. Apparently, a lot of the the people in this town have disappeared and been killed.

Continue reading “A visit to the hospital”

Combat arts for recovery

Several people I have corresponded with through this blog have positive things to say about becoming a disciple of martial arts. One such person is Jane Alexander, who studied internal martial arts — ba gua, tai chi chuan and chi kung healing under Master Bruce Francis.

Another such person is Skyblue Cure. In one of his blogs (below) he explains why movement therapies are more important than “talk” therapies, although he believes that his emotional cure came first, allowing him later to benefit from martial arts. He cautions against martial arts for someone likely to suffer a psychotic break. I’m not judging the validity of martial arts for someone who has been diagnosed with e.g., schizophrenia, but it’s good to be aware that there are people who think MA has been helpful in their own particular case.

“Nowadays, I see psychotherapy is regarded as a “support system” and referred to as “talk therapy”. I see this in all the public information distributed by governmental mental health organizations in North America. It is obvious that the definition of the term itself has been modified and co-opted by the pharmaceutical companies in the selling of their drugs as the only solution for the human condition. “Psychotherapy” has become a support system to ensure “compliance” for patients to take their drugs.

There is the tendency to think of it as a means to protect the sensitive rather that to transform the sensitive into the tough.

Psychotherapy is more than “Talk”. Eclectic, confrontative, Gestalt, bio-energetic psychotherapy involves emotional expression and doing things with the body that changes the nature of emotional expression. This affects both the body and the emotions, is permanent in effect and is far more than the verbal “talk” function of the voice box.

Changing the nature of emotional expression can be done in many ways, martial arts being one of these ways. In my blog I have spoken about the benefits of taking the body/mind approach through other activities such as sound therapy, the Alexander Technique, Family Constellation Therapy. Another of my blog reader wrote of the benefits of Direct Confrontation Therapy. Then there is Low Expressed Emotion, another excellent approach to lowering the emotional tone in our everyday interactions. Martial arts are also an excellent way to work with issues of unresolved anger that create energy blockages.

So I was intrigued to learn through MindFreedom, that Corinna West, a former Olympic athlete, has created a program called Combat Arts for Recovery. Her program is one of 12 semi-finalists out of 55 entries to the Team USA grants competition. If chosen as the winner, her program stands to earn $12,000 to promote combat sports for mental health issues.

Please read what she says about the program, and consider voting for this worthwhile endeavor. 

Local sports clubs are providing scholarships to people with emotional difficulties. Mental health service providers can use advocacy skills to encourage their doctors to prescribe exercise instead of medication. This is a first step in my business’ goal of providing a mental health system so cheap that people in recovery can pay for it themselves. This will include almost all peer provided services and no medications. I plan for outcomes that should rival the Open Dialogue model in Finland where most people completely recover without even getting labeled.

Please vote for our program at http://www.facebook.com/USOlympicTeam. You can vote once per day per email address until September 18. Right now we are a little behind and we need as many votes as possible. Once you’ve voted for Combat Arts for Recovery the first day it should just be three clicks the other six days.

For more information about the program or for more detailed voting instructions, check my website at: http://corinnawest.com/why-to-vote-for-combat-arts-for-recovery/

Corinna West, MS, CPS
Creative Director, Wellness Wordworks
PO Box 172351, Kansas City, KS 66117