Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bah Humbug to you too

Okay, seriously upper-management?  Sending out the THIRD email to remind rub it in advise us that we will NOT be let go early this Friday since it's not acutally Christmas Eve is a bummer.  Following this message up with an animated, red and green HAPPY HOLIDAYS message does not make it better.

Sincerely, Nectarine.

Update: Big Christmas-spirit points to my direct manager however who kindly reminds us that many of us have lieu time we can use, or if we just happen to have last minute appointments booked outside the office on Friday afternoon...    ;)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Happy winter Solstice everyone.  May your life be filled with warmth and light!

It's raining and dark in my part of the world so I can't wait to get home, snuggle up on the couch and plug in the Christmas tree lights while dreaming about my holiday time...only 2 more days of work until I'm off for 2 weeks!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Language Matters: Non-compliant

This post is a part of the Recovery 101 blog series. The series will explore ideas, philosophies, language, tools, and questions about mental health recovery. Submit any ideas for topics in the comments section of any tagged post.

We in social services know the importance of language. We know that words can hurt or empower. We know that labels may stigmatize. And yet so often our work comes from a place, system or history that promotes these very problems. As one part of the Recovery 101 series I want to explore the language and word that hurt the work we do, as well as the people we work with.

One of my greatest pet peeves is the term “non-compliant”. Direct from the medical and clinic model of treatment, it is usually used to refer to someone who stops taking their medication against medical advice. It may also refer to refusal to participate in other forms of treatment.

When I hear non-compliant I hear:
1) that medication is the sole or primary method of improvement
2) that the treating physician knows what is best
3) that the patient or person is doing something WRONG or even deviant
4) that the patient or person does not have the right to determine how they want to recover
5) the reasons the person has for not taking medications are insignificant compared to what professionals or others perceive as the benefits of the medication
6) the patient or person is sick and must be made better

What alternatives exist to these words:
1) person has decided not to take the prescribed medication
2) person does not find the medication effective, or finds the side-effects unpleasant and is seeking alternative methods
3) the person is comfortable/prefers not taking medications at this time
4) the person has difficulty taking their medications consistently and may need help in this area

How do you view or support clients or others in their decisions around taking medications? Do you use the term non-compliant or have an alternative to suggest? Have you as a patient or person dealing with mental illness felt you have agency or decision making power with regards to medical treatment?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cleaning Out and Cleaning UP

A client of mine who has some, ah, let's call it "moderate" hoarding issues recently made it a goal of hers to clear out her kitchen enough that she could set up the table and chairs that she has.  I am helping her with this, and we began by tackling a corner where she had numerous plastic and paper shopping bags stacked about knee high.  In many of these bags were old empty prescription bottles she hadn't wanted to throw out due to her name and address being on the labels.  In all of the other bags were FULL prescription bottles of medication she hadn't taken, including some serious pain killers.  Apparently her doc has continued prescribing her 3xday when she only takes them as needed (maybe one a day a few days a week).  She had these from the past 4-5 years.  The mind boggles to think of what the street value of these things would be.

We just returned them to the pharmacy for proper disposal.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Recovery 101 - Series Kick Off

This post is a part of the Recovery 101 blog series. The series will explore ideas, philosophies, language, tools, and questions about mental health recovery.  Submit any ideas for topics in the comments section of any tagged post.

I’ve mentioned that when I started working in this field, I heard the word recovery tossed around a lot, but there didn’t seem to be any substance to it. I specifically remember being asked in my job interview about “recovery” – I think I said something about “believing that it is possible to get better” from a mental illness. The exchange was pretty vague on both sides.

I now think that part of the reason for this hazy understanding of recovery was precisely because it is so hard to pin down. Mental health recovery is different for each individual. But good community/social workers have always known that each patient/client/member has different needs and strengths, so there must be more to it than that.

From what I’ve learned so far:
-recovery is about living a full life (however you define it) not just getting by, coping, or managing
-it requires an individual to take responsibility for their own wellbeing
-a healthy, supportive, and empathetic environment makes so much difference
-it requires people to make choices for themselves. This may will include choices which lead to both successes and failures.
-the systems currently in place - hospitals, community mental health supports, families - although often well intentioned, may hinder as well as help
-recovery always involves HOPE.  This is probably the most key ingredient.

How do you define recovery?  What does it take?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Port: Where you dock your vessel *wink*wink*

From a mental health assessment form: 

Sec 14. Addictions
Rating example: Highly problematic, person is unable to stop using internet port sites and has lost job and wife.

Did I Miss the Party?

Email sent from a co-worker:

I would like to thank those that have given to the food drive for families that is being run by my client via the Fellowship Church program.

The champagne closes on Wednesday October 19th

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Mind Wanders Already on Monday

Alternate title: Monday Morning Musings

Or: I consider my every little thought so intricately facinating, that I just can't help but share.  I know you wanna hear 'em.

1. I wish it was a wee bit colder outside so we'd have snow instead of rain.

2. I wish that little blinky light telling me I have messages to check would just go away.

3. It's only 3 weeks until Christmas holiday, woo-hoo!

4. My Monday 'to-do' list is depressing me.