When dealt a shitty hand…

When dealt a shitty hand…

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Had a friend on here ask what I have been up to since it has been so long since my last post. It doesn’t take much to get me writing again. =)

I’m loving working as a therapist at the jail. The last few months I’ve been meeting monthly with this 19 year old who has been dealt such a shitty hand in life. He and his sister were adopted probably around the age of 5 or 6. Then their adopted father molests his sister so then I think he and his sister go into foster care.  He ends up at the Division of Youth Corrections for a couple of years as a teenager. And then the only person he knows he can love (his sister) is shot dead when she is a teenager.  So NOW how is he able to believe that there are more good people than bad?? That this world is a good place?? I sure wouldn’t if I was dealt the hand he was dealt. I worry about his depression. At our last session I told him he HAS to BELIEVE that there are good people in this world. And when he runs into the bad people, now he CAN make the choice and move on and not have those bad people in his life any more. Surround himself with good people.  Life isn’t easy and at times discouraging, but when we surround ourselves with good people it makes the difficult times bearable.

I’ve been thinking A LOT about Aaron Hernandez’s suicide. I enjoy the work that I do because just about every patient I have at the jail has someone that cares about him or her. I fear one day one of my patients will lose their life to suicide. I’m working DAMN hard every day to make sure it doesn’t happen. It’s tough to see the signs of suicide at the jail….most people aren’t happy to be in jail….they spend their days sleeping in their cell. Isolating. And how can I find those that are isolating? Thankfully, I work with a GREAT team of Deputies (and many hot ones too, haha). I’m relying on them to communicate to me when they notice someone isolating….But with  Aaron Hernandez, if he was isolating, was that normal for him?  It’s tragic Aaron took someone’s life too soon but also tragic that Aaron was so hopeless.

Hopes and dreams

Hopes and dreams

I am finally working full time at the jail and I am actually liking it more and more. The diversity of the patients I see every day is unbelievable. I think I’m getting better at figuring out who is not telling me the truth and who I can truly help.

I have to tell you the story of this patient because well, it’s a story worth telling.

This patient is pissed that he has a new therapist (I drive about an hour one day a week to see patients in a small town jail). He said he didn’t want to have to repeat his life story again.

Me: “You don’t have to, let’s focus on yesterday.”

Patient: “It sucked. I want to shoot my head off and that’s the first thing I’m gonna do when I’m released. You don’t need to worry about me cause I’m not going to do anything now!! I don’t want my soul to be tapped here.”

Me: “If that’s what you want to do then we should consider having you go to a psych hospital.”

Patient: “I’m not going to any fucking psych hospital!! I’ve been to the state hospital for 6 months before. They had me taking so much Seroquel I couldn’t even wipe my ass. You know why I’m at jail now? Because my fucking ankle bracelet malfunctioned! You talking about me needing to go to the psych hospital is gonna make me flip out! I don’t need meds. I’m now gonna stop taking Prozac which I agreed to take with the previous therapist.”

He finally stops talking. I know I need to refocus our conversation on something else…so I say: “Want to learn a little about me?”

I go on to tell him I used to be a librarian…and his face immediately softens…he breathes…we have a chance.

The following week we meet again. FYI, I looked to see if he did indeed stop taking his Prozac and he didn’t, he continued to take it daily. During the second session, he tells me about his abusive father. How one night his father found him in bed with a girl and grabbed him and kicked him down the stairs. Then kicked him off the porch. He goes on to talk about more abuse. No mention of his mom.

Here is a guy who probably has never known what it is to be loved. And so I asked my clinical supervisor this week if someone is never loved, how do they learn to have self love? My supervisor said if someone can talk about a dream, a hope, or something they want to accomplish, that shows self love. It shows that someone has  enough love to know that there is more to life than the life that they have experienced.

Does this patient have any dreams or hopes?? I didn’t get into that with him but I definitely plan to do so if we ever meet again.

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Depression

Depression

I had a patient the other day that I continue to think about every so often.

He said he was adopted and never felt like he belonged. He tried to find his birth parents but found out they live in two different countries and they do not want to be contacted. He said he received a Bachelors and was a Chef but most recently was doing some other work. He said he has seen many therapists in his life and does not like therapy. He said one of his good friends had just committed suicide at the mental health agency in our town. He briefly touched on him being in jail and said he believes he was going to be released later that day or tomorrow so his charge was not serious. Yet, he said he is on probation for another three years and can’t wait to get out of Colorado and go back home to New Jersey.

And he looked sad…very sad and this is why I think of him now. That old saying how the eyes are the window to the soul I believe is totally true. I can tell by looking in someone’s eyes if I need to worry about them. And I worry about him.

What did I say? I talked about how depression lies; how sometimes people have to create their own family; self love is important; and there is always another option.  BUT see, even with me knowing all of this, I still get depressed. So, if this happens for me WITH all of my support and all of my knowledge; I just can’t imagine how shitty depression can be for some people and why I worry about them.

Our mind can be a brilliant gift or a horrible nightmare and if it’s the latter, life becomes so hard.

I didn’t know how to end this post until today…a friend posted the following quote that I want to share: “Sometimes the only way to let go of the darkness is to express it. Write it out. Paint or draw. Take photos. Do something when you feel the darkness. Make the darkness something that gives light. Real, bright, pure light.” -Teryn O’Brien. I also like the Zacharia quote…owning one’s sadness and then letting go I think is healthy and possible for most anyone.

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Single life

Single life

It’s Saturday night and it’s just me and my furry kiddos. The norm for me which I’m totally OK with…I have had no interest in dating for the past year and it’s definitely a combination of interactions.

One is that a past client contacted me on an internet dating site. This probably happened about a year ago and I’m still a little scared to go back on any sites…lol.  I just went to see if I kept the messages he sent me but I didn’t so this is going to be a little vague since it happened so long ago.  He started his message writing about his unhappiness with another staff person at my agency. His complaint totally seemed legit so I told him that and that’s when he responded back suggesting we could hang out sometime.  I answered back saying that would not be professional of me to do so and I was now going to block him. Which I did and haven’t gone back to that site until tonight.

Then, I had my worst date ever which I did write about and you can find here: Worst Date Ever

And now while at the jail, I have patients/inmates wanting to write me when they either go to prison or are getting released from jail…Yep, lucky me.

I know having no interest in dating is not healthy.  I should get out there and start dating again. I do get on Tinder every few weeks (which I’ve done the last 6 months) but nothing has come from this site.

So this is my plan: it looks like I’m going to have to move soon…like in the next month or two. I have an interview on Tuesday in a town that would be fun to live in and which would be WAY bigger than the town I’m in now. I’ll move to a bigger town so the likelihood of me meeting a past client will be slim. I know this and because of this, it will get me out there looking again.

Good plan, right?!?! =)

 

Crisis work for those in jail

Crisis work for those in jail

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So I definitely need to process the work I just did the last two weeks at the jail. I had a 4 day week followed by a 5 day week so that is the most time I have done at the jail all at once since I started in June.

I get asked over and over again (a friend just asked last night) if I like working at the jail.  I do. It’s very similar to the crisis work I have done in the past. What makes it different is of course the seriousness of why some are in jail. And because of the seriousness, it’s not work I can do forever and ever. I’m not strong enough to handle the tragedies day in and day out but for now, I can.

In the past two weeks, I talked to two people who are accused of killing two innocent souls. One was by accident (and if you are wondering how you accidentally kill someone, I did too when the patient told me…later, I googled the patient’s name and it WAS such a tragic accident…for privacy reasons, I don’t want to go into it here).  Those two conversations are conversations I’ll never forget.

I also talked to another patient who told me he “lightly touched” a young girl while the mom was there watching. He first blamed his actions on his cousin being murdered and the stress with his wife. I said that does not excuse what you did. I asked if there were any other kids he touched and he said no. I hope he was telling the truth (the chances of him telling me the truth is about 50/50).  Now he wonder why his wife won’t let him talk to his young kids…I didn’t tell this to him, but gee, maybe she’s pissed and devastated due to his actions.

Seeing patients in Booking is difficult because it’s like doing one crisis call after another after another…so those are intense. I had two days where I had to see 4 individuals back to back. I have to make sure if they are released, they will not hurt themselves (I did this all the time while in Fort Morgan but I only had to assess one individual at a time). One gal yesterday was being released and said she always struggles with depression. I wanted to call her Dad to make sure she would be ok once released but the gal didn’t want me to. So I told her I was concerned about her and she said she would be ok. She said if she needed to go to the psych hospital, she would. I told her I’m gonna trust her and her word so I did and I hope she’s doing ok today.

 

What do you choose NOW?

What do you choose NOW?

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Liz grew up with both parents drug addicts. They would spend their nights shooting up while Liz would watch. Hardly ever going to school, Liz talks about how she would be lucky if there was mayo and bread to eat. Liz’s mom gets AIDS and her dad goes to a homeless shelter when Liz is in junior high (Liz is still really not going to school). When 17, Liz realizes “If life could change for the worst, i thought, than maybe life could change for the better…it was possible I could change everything.” Liz went on to graduate from an alternative high school and then was accepted into Harvard and graduated from Harvard.

This is the story I’ve been telling my patients the last few days because this is the book I finished last week. It’s called Breaking Night by Liz Murray and it’s an amazing story.

And then I came across this quote the other day which I immediately saved and will share with patients: “A lot of people feel like they’re victims in life, and they’ll often point to past events, perhaps growing up with an abusive parent or in a dysfunctional family. Most psychologists believe that about 85 percent of families are dysfunctional, so all of a sudden you’re not so unique. My parents were alcoholics. My dad abused me. My mother divorced him when I was six…I mean, that’s almost everybody’s story in some form or not. The real question is, what are you going to do now? What do you choose now? Because you can either keep focusing on that, or you can focus on what you want. And when people start focusing on what they want, what they don’t want falls away, and what they want expands, and the other part disappears.” ― Rhonda Byrne