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What the teachers in my practice have taught me

Through the years I have had a few teachers in my psychiatric practice. They have been a varied group of people, vulnerable to the same mental health issues as the rest of us. I have noticed in more vocational professions, careers to which people feel they have been “called”, that there is a higher rate of burnout. It holds true for the teachers whom I have treated. It seems like a process people with a deep calling have to go through. They give too much, then crash and burn, Part of their healing is learning how to return to teaching…

What the nurses in my practice have taught me

As a profession, nurses present slightly less to my practice than other occupations. Nurses do, of course, get sick just like everyone else. I think that their “can do” attitudes possibly make them only present when things get very bleak, sometimes to their detriment. They do come in higher proportions as the family member accompanying the patient to my practice. I get the sense that nurses often carry the “medical problems” load of a family. Which means that they will be the ones hauling loved ones in to get help. I have found that certain professions change you as a…

How to love someone with serious mental illness

My gut still churns when I see that look in family members’ eyes. The one of desperate confusion and frustration. The fatigue and anger, especially if the symptoms their loved one suffers from has been ongoing for some time or involved aggression. If your loved one has a serious mental illness like schizophrenia, profound depression, bipolar mood disorder, addictions or eating disorders, it is awful. They aren’t the only ones suffering. You are too. The good news is that improvements for mental illnesses are as good, or even better than, chronic physical illnesses like diabetes or cardiovascular disease. But there is…

Google plus salt, please

The world we live in is truly amazing. We have the knowledge of specialists at our fingertips. But, as Peter Parker’s uncle told him in Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. One of my more anxious patients got seriously ill recently. She was hospitalised and they started treatment. I spoke to her physician and was satisfied that they had things in hand, so I expected her to be discharged within a few days. I was surprised to hear from her a week later. Her physician was running more and more tests, some of them invasive and painful. My patient’s…

Are you moody, bipolar or misdiagnosed?

To suffer from bipolar mood disorder is rough. It is often difficult to treat, with two mood stabilisers and an antipsychotic being needed, before even a bit of control is achieved. This hand full of pills can come with serious side effects like weight gain, sedation, hormonal imbalances and movement disorders. As if that’s not enough, as soon as you get a diagnosis of bipolar mood disorder, you get exposed to the stigma of such a label. People with serious mental illnesses have employment difficulties, get excluded from certain benefits and get labeled “mad” by loved ones. Despite all these problems, untreated…

Resilience – life’s bounce back

Resilience is one of the sexiest topics in psychological research at the moment. That property which enables one to bounce back after hardship or trauma. Researchers have tried to examine why some are broken by trauma and why some do better than survive, they flourish. The prior models of “grit and determination” helped previous generations endure difficult times; think of the stiff upper lip British in WW2.  It also has the dark side of people toughing out toxic situations, like an abusive marriage or work situation. Nowadays, a more transcendental model is being put forth. Resilience now not only means enduring…

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