Soul Searching

Trying to find a peaceful place in this life can sometimes be difficult. We find short term happiness in materialistic things. We sometimes find short term happiness in relationships with people around us, we go through good times and bad times, happiness and heart ache.

We sometimes find ourselves suffering from illness. Sure there are some people that never get ill, but for those of us that do, we need to find a way to beat it! We need to beat it, not for others but for ourselves. This can be hard at times because so often we just want to give up.

I have wanted to give up so many times, even in the past four days. It was not until I spoke to a mentor of mine last night that I realised where I was going wrong, I needed to bring my focus back onto God. Once I did this I realised that what we are feeling God also feels but he hurts even more as he feels everyone’s pain, people turning away from him, people blind to him, people blaming him for the hurt they have felt.

We are a world full of imperfect people in a perfect world but all God asks is that we focus on him. God cries out for us to love him and share his love with others. We are always fearful of circumstances but so often we forget to fear him. And today I feel so blessed to beloved by him and that I can love him anyway possible.

Today I want to make a public declaration to anyone out there reading this, that I give myself to him, not just through the easy times or the fun times but the tough times as well. For I now know that all I need is him, all I need is him.

As I have been in hospital for the past month I have dwelled on things that aren’t right in my life and tried to work out how I can fix it. I have struggled to reach out to him, the one that has ultimate control and surrender the things only he has control of. We have to remember God has a plan for us and as hard as that may be at times, we just need to accept that and do the best we can for all good, not be selfish or self loathing and accept the cards we have been dealt and move on with our lives in a way that glorifies our lord and saviour. Only then will we find true happiness. True happiness comes from Him.

Four days ago my wife told me that we could not be together anymore and that hurt, I felt empty, I felt useless and a burden on society. I tried to find the only thing I could to harm myself and ultimately go to sleep and not wake up. I thank The Lord today that I was unsuccessful and its never made me see him clearer. I think it’s true sometimes what they say about needing to hit rock bottom before it gets better, so long as we do not have a hard heart, god comes to those that need healing, and I bear witness to that. I couldn’t be more grateful for the help he has given.

If you have been or are still in this place, such a dark place that you feel there is no way out, I invite you to reach out to God and just listen for him, you may not hear anything to start off with but if you intentionally listen, you don’t need to talk to him, you don’t need to ask for anything for he knows what you need, he has a plan for us and he will deliver in the end.

I encourage you all to share your stories with others, this can be great healing for you as we’ll as others out there. For these people need to know they are not alone, that God loves you more than ever.

I titled this article ‘soul searching’ because often we think we need to be soul searching, find out who we are and what our meaning is and what our purpose is in life… Well I encourage you to stop searching for all that, instead begin searching for god. Only he can give you the answers you need.

Perfectionism

Is perfectionism a good thing for us to have as a trait?

So many of us think as perfectionism as a bad thing but in reality there is no way we can be successful without it. But it is when we get anxious, depressed or an extreme sense of guilt when we don’t get the job done perfectly.

For those of us that have extreme expectations of achieving the perfect result, often this can lead to us not actually doing anything because we are to afraid of failure and fear that if we do fail, the earth is going to explode. So then not only have we not done the job at all, we have done the exact opposite to what we desires, the need to please others or please yourself.

As men in today’s society it has become very complex to become perfect in things we do because so often we are given mixed messages about how to behave and how treat others, so while doing the job, often we need help from others but regularly we think we need to do things ourselves because its either easier to do it this way so that we don’t get mixed messages or we get more help than needed and once we get to many opinions we don’t know what to do. This often creates a very difficult situation to do the perfect job.

So is perfectionism a good thing? Yes it can be but not if it is causing health problems. So what do we need to do if this is a problem? Well I don’t have the magical answer for you, especially because I am not a psychologist, but what I can tell you is a while ago I was told about a study the proved that people who aimed for 80% were more likely to do a better job than those that aimed for 100%. So in conclusion, maybe we just need to relax more, take more time for our selves, pray more and realise that the world will not end if we do not submit a paper on time.

Box Hill Hospital – Melbourne

With Box Hill Hospital (Upton House) being one of the first psychiatric hospitals I attended, I had very low expectations and was very nervous about what to expect. I soon found out it was exactly as I thought it would be. Some people with extreme mental illness to others that just needed a place to stay and remain safe within themselves.

Upton house is your typical public hospital but with a great community spirit. There way of treatment seemed to be solely focused on medication and no group therapy, however they did offer leisure activities such as pool tables, table tennis, movies to watch, basketball court and many other activities to keep the patients amused whilst there.

In my opinion the public hospital services provided are greatly lacking in funding and this can be seen greatly by the lack of therapy available and a typical ‘dose them up with medication’ mentality. I do recognise though that Upton house definitely do the best they can with the resources available and by incorporating the broader community to assist.

I found that the patients where predominately made up of males. I believe that this is because as a general rule men wait longer to seek help and by the time they do, they are not allowed in a private hospital as they are at to higher risk.

In conclusion, the hospital is a good hospital that serves a purpose. It just reinforced that men need to talk more about there problems and seek help before it is to late.

Chisholm Ross Centre – Golbourn

The best way I can explain this place in a few words is by saying ‘what a Joke’. This hospital is no more than a minimum security prison.

Under staffed, under trained and slightly unprofessional in the way things are handled (with the acceptation of some lovely nurses).

After being admitted to a different hospital due to an extreme ‘flip out’ whilst drinking hospital, I was placed on a section 1 (became involuntary and had to do as I was told by nurses and doctors) and unfortunately the local hospital did not have a psychiatrist in the area for some days. I was then sent to Golbourn so that I would be seen earlier…. Well unfortunately the psychiatric hospital did not have a psychiatrist available for one week. This meant I was held against my will, with no leave privileges simply because There was no doctor to see me.

Know after lots of therapy over the past twelve months, I know when I am healthy enough to leave hospital or not and I guarantee you I did not need to be in hospital at this stage. So much so, when I finally did get to see the doctor after a week, he immediately said “let’s get you out of here”.

All that aside, the hospital has one tv and a deck of cards to keep you entertained, very very little therapy sessions and they wonder why patients jump the fence to escape!

I believe NSW health system has a lot to answer for in regards to this hospital and I feel sorry for the patients and the lovely nurses that have to work there. The nurses are constantly under staffed and over worked. This is a big thumbs down!

Delmont – Melbourne

Delmont was a caring and loving environment. This is where I spent a large amount of time during my original diagnosis period and attended day program during my therapy.

Being a larger facility it has a broad range of experienced staff that can be very thoughtful in what they offer. And thankfully you never get lost in the crowed as they never seem short staffed.

On my first admission there the food was gourmet and the chef took a lot of care in making the menu exciting but unfortunately he left so on my next stint there the food was terrible and kitchen staff were rude, so don’t expect a five star dinning experience.

All in all though it is a good hospital, generally great staff with a great program.

Hyson Green – Canberra

Well it’s my third full day here and I have very little to complain about. The staff are lovely (except one woman I can not handle), they are very professional and because they only have twenty beds, everyone knows each other.

The hospital is run by the Catholic Church and offers pastoral care, church service and anything else you need.

Any requests have been at least considered and staff seem to be flexible and fare in the way they run things.

The rooms are like a three – four star hotel with plasma tv, desks and your own bathroom. The beds are reasonably comfortable and unlike other hospitals you’re not woken at the crack of dawn.

Probably the only constructive criticism would be that the meals could offer more taste.

All in all a great hospital.

What do we know about Bipolar?

Staying Well with bipolar disorder

Principal Researchers

Dr Sarah Russell¹, Dr Jan Browne¹ and Margie Nunn¹

beyondblue Victorian Centre of Excellence

Project completion year

2005

Project brief

This project examined factors that enable people with bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) to stay well. Participants were invited to share information about:

how they stay well
their early signs of things going wrong
strategies to prevent an episode of illness
Rather than recruit participants through mental health organisations, the study recruited 100 people with bipolar disorder from the general community. Those eligible for inclusion were people with bipolar disorder who had stayed well for two years or longer. Although the sample does not represent all people who experience bipolar disorder, the research fills an important gap in previous Australian mental health research. By documenting how people manage bipolar disorder, this research provides important new insights.

Key Findings

The findings provide evidence that, when diagnosed correctly and treated appropriately, people with bipolar disorder can get well, and stay well. Although there was no “one-fix-fixes-all”, participants learnt what worked for them, and what did not work.

A key finding of this research was the role of stay-well plans in the successful management of bipolar disorder. A stay-well plan helped many participants to gain greater control over their illness. Although participants were aware that the illness could not be cured, they felt able to prevent relapses of illness. By actively managing bipolar disorder, participants were able to control their lives and stay well.

Participants described how they minimised the impact that bipolar disorder had on their lives. Participants described the importance of observing early warning signs – small changes in their physical, mental, and emotional status. Rather than wait until late signs of hypomania or depression, participants felt it was important to be aware of minor changes in mood and behaviour.

When participants experienced early warning signals, they implemented interventions to ensure they avoided episodes of illness. There were many different types of interventions. Participants’ “stay-well strategies” were based on their individual needs and social contexts.

Implications for Policy and Practice

Rather than focus only on crisis management, the emphasis of policy needs to include assisting people with a mental illness to prevent episodes of illness. A wellness approach will help to decrease stigma by demonstrating that people with a mental illness can stay well.

In addition to biomedical factors, the stay-well plan also emphasises social, environmental, and personal factors. A stay-well plan empowers people with bipolar disorder to identify their own specific triggers and early-warning signs, and to develop individual strategies to prevent episodes of illness.

Future Directions

The findings of this research were: shared with all 100 participants, also published in a number of journals (see below), and also resulted in the publication of a book A lifelong journey: staying well with manic depression/bipolar disorder (Michelle Anderson Publishing).

Research Matters received funding to develop two innovative Stay-Well Programs:

Stay-Well Workshop for health professionals and carers and Stay-Well program for people with bipolar disorder.

About the Researchers

Dr Sarah Russell and Ms Margie Nunn have been friends for many years, though it was not until 2003 that they first discussed their experience of mental illness. They shared their different ways of managing manic depression. This sparked their curiosity to hear how other people prevented episodes of mania and depression. Dr Russell and Dr Jan Browne have considerable experience in community-engagement processes. After being awarded a research grant from beyondblue, Sarah told Jan that she had lived with bipolar disorder for 25 years. To disclose to work colleagues, particularly academics and health professionals, is risky. However, Jan saw past the illness and saw Sarah, her colleague and friend.

References:

Russell, S and Browne, J. Staying well with bipolar disorder Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 2005; 39:187-193

Russell S and Browne,. J “Stay well plans can benefit people with bipolar disorder” Primary Mental Health Care Resource Centre Newsletter 2005; 2 (2): 17-18

Russell S, Browne J, Nunn M Staying well with bipolar Ausinetter: Australian network for promotion, prevention and early intervention for mental health 2004; 21 (2): 20-22

Russell S Staying well with bipolar disorder New Paradigm June 2005

Russell S “Staying well with a stay well plan” Bipolar Disorder educational program, Black Dog Institute