Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Caring for a # Mental Patient

Mental illness causes a lot of suffering to the patient but it is not the patient alone who is affected by it.There are chances of the atmosphere of his home deteriorating and ripple effects being felt by the whole family.Quite a lot of juggling and readjustments have to be made.If the disease has crossed the initial/mild stage then caring for the patient becomes an important necessity.

The do's and don'ts
  • The first step of course is to take him for a physical check up.Diseases like Thyroid,Cancer,stroke and many others can also cause depression.Some medicines too can spark mental disorders like anxiety,depression,hallucinations or suicidal thoughts.When all this has been ruled out the physician may refer you to a Mental Health Worker,Psychologist or a Psychiatrist as per need.
  • If the patient has been prescribed medicines then make sure he takes them at the right time.Psychiatric medicines can have many negative side effects.If he is unhappy with one medicine you can request the doctor to change it.If by chance the patient decides that he cannot continue the medicines then these should not be stopped voluntarily, all of a sudden.Take your doctor's help in easing them off slowly.
  • If you are apprehensive of him committing suicide,do not keep quiet by suppressing your fears-ask him outright.It is best to know and discuss.To be safe,remove all such items which he could use for that purpose from within his reach.
  • If the patient has given evidence of self harm then diagnosis ,followed by treatment of the cause of such behavior is essential.Make sure the patient does not shut himself in a room for too long and does not have access to sharp objects.
  • Caring for a mental patient is not easy--it is a full time job.You cannot take a day off.You will have to synchronize your siesta with that of the patient.
  • Patience is the key tool because you cannot respond in your usual fashion to any stimulus coming from him since he is not his usual self.
  • You cannot check,judge or criticize him even if he is being irrational,inconsiderate,ungrateful or downright rude;because doing so could worsen his condition or even spark off a crisis.
  • At the same time it is important to wean him off unhealthy ways of thinking and behaving.All your talent in diplomacy will be needed to cajole and motivate him to bring about those changes in his lifestyle.For instance if you want to take him out for a walk it will be better to say 'I have a terrible headache,can you accompany me for a breath of fresh air?';rather than saying 'You should go out for exercise,it is good for you.'
  • If he takes umbrage at the slightest or zero provocation,just say 'I am sorry,I did not mean to hurt you.'
  • A mental patient may suffer bouts of self pity but telling him to snap out of it or reminding him that numerous people are much worse off than him;is not done.This truth does not help him because he has to live in his own body,with his own devils.
  • Mental illness is accompanied by a constellation of physical symptoms which might seem minor,bizarre or even non-existent to an onlooker;but check that impulse to ascribe it to his imagination,because there is definitely something in his body which is producing those symptoms.
  • At the domestic level,take care of his diet,personal hygiene and exercise.See that he does not take alcohol or any other harmful drugs.Even smoking and an excess of coffee intake should be avoided.
  • Assure the patient that you love him and will always be there for him.Encourage him to share his worries and emotions with you.Do not be judgmental-it will shut him off.Advice too,may not be welcome;wait till he asks for it.Just empathize and be his sounding-board.
  • Give him hope,tell him that his disease will not last for ever.Motivate him to be proactive.
  • Keep the atmosphere of your home peaceful and affectionate.Enliven it by cracking jokes,highlighting humorous aspects of situations,recalling fond memories and playing peppy music.
  • Encourage him to participate in family routines like having his meals with others,watching TV and doing chores around house.
  • Take him out for socializing,entertainment and recreation.Help him to pursue a hobby of his choice.
  • You may have to act as a liaison between the patient and other agencies like his doctor,banker,teacher and employer etc.
Self care for a caregiver
Looking after a mental patient is a very taxing responsibility.Constant vigil and long hours make it very tiring.Mentally too, you are likely to feel exhausted because you may have to put up with a lot of annoying behavior,simultaneously curbing your own instinct to vent your anger.There is real danger of you falling ill if you do not take proper rest and respite.  

Therefore it is of extreme importance to look after your own needs--whether it be your diet,sleep or your precious me-time.Try to keep your life intact as far  as possible and don't feel guilty about it.Assign part of your duties to other members of your family.In case there is no one else but you and the patient at home,hire someone on a regular basis.But you definitely need time to rejuvenate.Only then will you be able to give your best to someone who desperately needs it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

'Good Enough' is good enough :)

Good enough is good enough.How I love this statement!I think I will make it the dictum of my life.Enough of running after excellence.I have nothing against excellence as such--it is an admirable quality to have,but the danger is,that sometimes the pursuit of excellence slips into perfection which has often affected me adversely.Can anything ever be perfect?Utopia exists only in fantasy or fiction.And anyway,striving for perfection can be very tiring.Why should I tire myself chasing a mirage?

I agree that some disciplines like Science,maths and music require perfection.Just to digress a bit (rather digress all the way to the interstellar space),Voyager one,which was launched 38 years ago to study the outer planets;did that and also went beyond.Even Voyager two,reached it's final target,Neptune,within seconds of it's scheduled time.That is perfection for you.But this kind of perfection I think,is not necessary for each and every activity of ours.

Where major life-goals like career,marriage or domicile are concerned,perfection would be an ideal situation but it is hard to achieve because there are so many variables involved.We nail upon the best option after considering all the pros and cons but still,often fall short of what we had set out to achieve.Suppose we attain only 70%-80% of our target?I think that is the time when we should tell ourselves that good enough is good enough because after a certain point,subsequent efforts do not give us commensurate gains.

But perfectionists tend to ignore this truth.Even after hitting upon a workable solution they continue to hunt for other,better options.Their crusade never ends.That is why they are a tired,dissatisfied,unhappy lot.What's more,they end up achieving less.If you give 80% of your energy to one project what do you have left for other responsibilities?At the end of the day there will be dissatisfaction and criticism in other fields--whether it be other obligations,relationships or personal care.

Letting go of perfection frees our mind for other essential jobs which too,need to be done.When we settle down with a viable alternative even if it was not our original dream,we are saved a lot of drudgery involving wastage of time resources and energy. 

What about excellence?No doubt it gives worth to everything.If you are attracted by a piece of work or a product,chances are,it must be excellent.But  the problem with excellence is,that it is a moving target--you are always skeptic whether you have arrived or not.Is this article that you are reading,outstanding?Will everybody find it thus?What more should I write to make it excellent?See the problem?Ultimately I have to be my own judge and leave it at that.

What's more,like perfection,excellence too,is not always necessary.We are required to perform a multitude of functions every day.If we were to strive for distinction in each and every one of them we would require the strength of a Hercules,the tenacity of a leech and a week-long day every day.It is a personal decision where we want to shine and where it is OK to just make do.No matter how hard we try,there will always be critics who can poke holes in our smug satisfaction.

So now I come to my favorite spot--'good enough' is good enough.Leaving any project or task at the level of 'good enough' enables us to achieve more.There is minimum fatigue and lesser disappointment since we have decided that our performance will serve the purpose.At the end of the day satisficers are much happier than maximizers

It is in the sphere of relationships that they have the maximum advantage.Since they do not expect full compatibility or conviviality,they are happy with what they get.There are no disillusions.There is less of nagging and more of acceptance and adjustment.No wonder they are popular everywhere.

In fact there is a lot to be said in favor of going with the flow.It is not about rejecting ambition or evolution ,but about accepting the ground reality.When we accept 'good enough' as being good enough we evolve spiritually and invite harmony.The Brahmakumaris have put it succinctly 'Being content now attracts the best possible future.Wherever you are and whatever you are doing is wherever you are meant to be and doing.'Amen !

Links courtesy google.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Self Help for # Major Depression.

The word depression is bandied about casually but there is a world of difference between being sad,upset or worried;and being depressed.The first three moods come and go according to specific challenges or situations but depression is longer lasting and mostly unrelated to external stimuli.This post can help you determine whether you are plain sad or depressed,and whether your depression is minor,moderate or major.

Minor or moderate depression can be cured by psychotherapy or lifestyle changes.Major Depressive Disorder is harder to tackle but even here,as found out by Yale psychiatrists Wexler and Cicchetti in a meta-analysis conducted by them,psychotherapy alone should be the initial choice of treatment.Take a look:---

in a hypothetical cohort of 100 patients with major depression, 29 would recover if given pharmacotherapy alone, 47 would recover if given psychotherapy alone, and 47 would recover if given combined treatment. On the other hand, negative outcome (i.e., dropout or poor response) can be expected in 52 pharmacotherapy patients, 30 psychotherapy patients, and 34 combined patients. This meta-analysis suggests that psychotherapy alone should usually be the initial treatment for depression rather than exposing patients to unnecessary costs and side effects of combined treatment (Antonuccio, 1995 [43]).

Deliberate,conscious,lifestyle changes can also play a significant role in alleviating major depression.It asks for tough measures to be got rid of.The repetitive,depressive thoughts which have been assailing the patient's mind for days on end convert into an unconscious habit;the pattern gets grooved into the brain and becomes difficult to dislodge.In order to get better it is incumbent to change that cycle of thinking and the resultant behavior patterns.

This is easier said than done because the patient is extremely apathetic and not at all inclined to take any action;but it is a notable way out of this tunnel.If you feel that severe depression has you in it's tentacles,then you could try the following routine to free yourself.

In order to break the depressive cycle :----
  • Throw off your duvet,be thankful that you can move your limbs and are alive despite the oppressing circumstances.
  • Compel yourself to leave the bed.It is only the initial resolve to put your feet on the ground which is most difficult.
  • Now make your bed.Your room looks better---no?
  • Continue with your daily routine.
  • Make a cup of your favorite beverage,sit down and enjoy it with a biscuit or two.
  • Put on a smart dress,go to a mirror,smile,and observe how much better you look when you wear a smile.Not only look,but you will also feel better when you smile.
  • Walk out of your home and into a garden or a public park.
  • Greet those you come across,even if you don't know them.If you greet ten persons today,tomorrow ten or more will greet you.Don't you feel nice when a stranger greets you?Give that joy to others and it will come back to you.
  • Watch the world around you-- people,flowers,bushes,grass,sky and birds.
  • Talk with whosoever is near you.Yes I know,you do not have anything to convey to anyone but initiate small talk anyway.This site tells you how to do it.
  • Return home.
  • Relax.You are probably tired after having forced yourself to do all the above.Lie down or sprawl in an easy chair.Close your yes.Mentally go over each part of your body and relax the tense ones.Now consider--do you feel a tad better than you did when you opened your eyes?If yes,then resolve to do it again tomorrow. 
The above measures might seem inconsequential at first glance but the benefits will be very restorative.Most importantly,they come without any ill-effects attached to them.As the sufferer makes them a part of her/his daily routine it becomes easier and easier.

Related posts :---



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Rewards of Meditation

Imagine you are riding a strong,well built 'ratha' or  a chariot driven by five horses,each having a mind of it's own.You might be anxious to reach a certain destination but the horses do not cooperate with you.Depending upon which one has the strongest heft,you are carried to that particular region.There are diversions and distractions galore.Plus the dissipation of time,energy and resources.You are not driving the ratha,the horses are driving it.When will you reach your utopia?When you can control the horses.

Meditation-for peace and well-being
This in a nut-shell,is what meditation can facilitate for you.It will empower you to control your five sense organs,prime your faculties,enable you to focus on what you want to achieve,make you strong-willed enough to channelize your energies in your chosen direction and thereby improve your performance.Peace,equanimity and success shall follow.

Meditation has been defined as the practice of spending time in quiet thought, focusing upon your breath or a single object like the third eye (the spot between your eyebrows), or the core of your heart, for a given length of time.It has been a part of the spiritual practice in India since millenia and perhaps because of this,we often set it aside as a religious ritual fit,only for the yogis.

But Recent scientific research on meditation found that meditation brings about positive physiological changes in the brain of the practitioner.The research showed increased activity in parts of the brain associated with happiness and a decreased activity in the portions related to negative emotions like depression,fear and anger.An unusual increase in empathy and compassion was also seen.

Going into the benefits of meditation:--

Meditation calms the mind.Various thoughts will flicker through your mind when you sit down to meditate but as you concentrate on your breath these thoughts will subside.By and by,you will learn to control your thoughts,they will cease to disturb you and you will be free of anxiety--meditation is very good for curing General Anxiety Disorder.

It improves the power of memory and concentration.Research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that regular meditation increases blood flow to the cerebral cortex which is responsible for mental functions like attention,learning,concentration and memory.

It promotes self-awareness. Strange though it may sound,we bumble through life committing the same mistakes,throwing off unseemly reactions,misinterpreting reality and deriving wrong conclusions.When we begin to meditate the thoughts which pop up,aside from the insignificant ones like--it is too hot,my legs are stiff,how long will I have to sit like this--point to the issues which are troubling us.

These are moments of realization,we become aware of the quirks in our personality,the deep-seated complexes,irrational prejudices,unfounded fears and unreasonable expectations.All this becomes crystal clear.It now depends upon us to  make corrective changes in our thinking and behavior by discarding the negativity which had stalled our evolution till now.This is the first step towards a more organised and fulfilling life.

It promotes understanding of others.When we become aware of our own fault-lines we feel more attuned to those with whom we had been at cross purpose till now.Meditation confers a largeness of heart--an ability to overlook others' foibles and transgressions,to relate to them on an equal footing.It has many spiritual benefits.

It cures sleep disorders.Meditate before going to bed and you will enjoy sound sleep.If like me,you too are plagued by countless dreams about unknown persons and places,you will see a decrease in them.I can vouch for this.Now even if I dream at night,the next day during meditation,I suddenly remember snatches of that dream.It just shows that meditation helps us to penetrate to the unconscious mind.

It helps us to get rid of intrusive thoughts.Only those who suffer from intrusive thoughts can understand how injurious they are.These thoughts cause shame,guilt and frustration because they are inappropriate and hard to banish.They could be a facade for a severe emotional problem probably relating to an abusive past,hatred for a blood relation or an iniquity on our own part;which we are not ready to acknowledge.Meditation lays open the labyrinths of our unconscious mind and enables us to apprehend the emotional turmoil which lies at the root of our anxiety.We can nix those thoughts by sorting out the real problem.

It augments our confidence and will-power.Meditation has a miraculous effect upon our self esteem.The sharpening of our mental faculties results in greater confidence and will power.We feel in control of our lives.

It promotes physical fitness.It is a well known fact that many diseases arise from stress.When meditation soothes our state of mind this automatically results in better physical health.Meditation brings down hypertension and in this way saves us from strokes and cardiovascular diseases.It can also ease suffering caused by chronic pain like migraine or colitis.This study found that 72 percent of patients suffering from chronic pain experienced a decrease in the level of their pain after being trained for meditation.It also strengthens the immune system and curtails frequent bouts of illness.Probably that is why yogis living in forests did not need doctors to keep them fit.

Indeed the benefits of meditation are all over the media these days but the flip side is, that initially it is difficult to make it a part of your regular routine.Other,pressing matters take precedence over what a beginner may regard as--just sitting down and doing nothing.Another fact which may reinforce this belief is,that the fruits of meditation take time to emerge.It is akin to sowing a seed.You have to keep watering and nurturing it and wait patiently for the fruits to appear;but appear,they will.Once you have mastered it you will notice greater mental,emotional , physical and spiritual well-being;which is a reward worth working and waiting for. 

Do you practice meditation?Have you found it beneficial?Please share your experiences here.

Image courtesy google search.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

To My Grown Up Son

My hands were busy through the day,
I didn't have much time to play
The little games you asked me to
I didn't have much time for you.

I'd wash your clothes;I'd sew and cook
But when you'd bring your picture book
And ask me please,to share your fun,
I'd say,"A little later,son."

I'd tuck you in all safe at night,
And hear your prayers,turn out the light,
Then tiptoe softly to the door,
I wish I'd stayed a minute more.

For life is short,and years rush past,
A little boy grows up so fast,
No longer is he at your side,
His precious secrets to confide.

The picture books are put away,
There are no children's games to play,
No goodnight kiss,no prayers to hear,
That all belongs to yesteryear.

My hands once busy,now lie still,
The days are long and hard to fill,
I wish I might go back and do,
The little things you asked me to.

By Alice E.Chase.