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

 

Slowly Seeing More Light

Slowly Seeing More Light

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I’ve been looking at the computer screen lately and wanting to write but not feeling up to writing…I’m going through a funk and I just haven’t felt like myself. I think I’m slowly seeing more light now.

I realize I have no desire to move to Denver so I haven’t been looking at jobs in the Denver area. I’m staying focused on the area I live in…I guess, after 8 or 9 months if I still haven’t found full time work, I’ll start applying for jobs in Denver.

A friend recently wrote this to me: “I am aware that you’ve encountered a variety of hurdles in getting situated in the right work at the right time in the right place, etc. I salute your persistence.” And I’ve been thinking lately why is life so difficult for me?? I’m tired of moving, tired of being fired, tired of being single…So I think these things BUT then I tell myself what I tell my patients at the jail: If I continue to think of all of the things that suck in my life, I’d be miserable. So I have to tell myself STOP thinking about those things and put my mind on something positive (family, friends, my health, etc.) I tell those at the jail this and then I say: “I just met you so I don’t know what will make you feel better, but you gotta put your mind on something else or you are going to drive yourself crazy.”

With therapy, I like to give clients reading material so they don’t feel all alone. At the psych hospital, for those dealing with depression, I gave out over and over again a quote from one of Jenny Lawson’s books. For those who dealt with anxiety, a quote from https://jolenemottern.com/ And now for those at the jail, I give them the following from Damien Echols:

”For those who aren’t familiar with my story, I grew up in West Memphis, Arkansas, and I was sent to death row when I was 18 years old for three counts of capital murder. I spent 18 years and 76 days on death row before we were finally able to do DNA testing that led to my eventual release in 2011.

When I first went to prison, the day that I walked onto death row, there was a man in there who became a priest in the Rinzai Zen tradition of Japanese Buddhism. Before he was executed he told me, “You can either turn your cell into a monastery and learn and grow, or you can sit in here and go stark raving nuts. You can lose your mind.” And that’s what most people did in there. Most people couldn’t hold it together long enough. There’s no momentum in prison. ..You exist in a vacuum. If you want to keep growing, learning, expanding, you have to make yourself do it. And that was what I decided to do…I was trapped in a cell 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The last 10 years I was in prison, I was in solitary confinement. I had no contact with other people. It made it very, very easy to stay focused on the meditation techniques. Even if I reached a point where I was bored, if I thought, “I don’t want to have to do this again,” it was like, “Well, what else are you going to do?”

When it comes to karma, the number one thing I would like to say is that you can go through life being a victor or a victim. You’re going to have to face your karma. You can go through life with a “poor me” attitude—“Why me? Why this?”or you can go through it saying: “I’m going to honor my life. I’m going to honor my karma. I’m going to come through this. I’m going to be stronger, I’m going to be wiser, I’m going to help spread what I learned from this situation to other people.”

So starting today, I’m stopping the “poor me” attitude and going to honor my life.