Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tucson, AZ Part I

The debate continues about what happened in Tucson, and how it should be handled to prevent such tragedies in the future. For me personally, as a licensed mental health professional, as a mental health advocate, as the director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, the discussion is a painful one for many reasons. I, like all of us, am profoundly saddened by the loss of life and serious injuries that have changed lives forever. I am deeply saddened this poor, tortured soul wasn't able to cry out and receive effective treatment that might have avoided this whole ordeal. Like the proverbial train wreck, I have wanted to look away and at the same time couldn't take my eyes and ears away from the aftermath.

Going forward, trying to cope with the tragedy in my own private way, I have listened to the national debate like the rest of you. To me, it divides into three primary areas of questioning. First, was the tragedy in Tucson caused, or at least encouraged, by the strident, and at times, hate filled political fighting that rages day and night through the media? Second, was it caused by the access to guns, particularly those with automatic settings and over-sized clips obtained by a person with a history of perceived mental illness? Or thirdly, was it caused by a untreated mentally ill individual whose mental health needs were ignored or dismissed as beyond the scope of providing help whether the person wanted the help or not?

While some of the debate delves into similar, or even completely different aspects, I believe these are the three central themes making up the primary arguments. And they are all highly complex. Tomorrow, we begin to take them up, one at a time. Feel free to join in the discussion.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day #3 The Great Blizzard of 2011 or What To Do?

Well, as most of you know, this has been the proverbial "week that was." Like me, many of you have been trapped by the most dramatic, most paralyzing snow storm I've seen since moving to Reservoir Hill in 1981. Never, have we been so unable to move as noted by the condition of the Saab pictured above. My latest Saab story, as I like to refer to them. This one doesn't involve my mechanic, but low wheel clearance matched against 14.5 inches of snow and three to four foot drifts. So, what to do? Check out my second picture and add in spending time with my most wonderful, lovely wife, walking the dogs, cooking elk chili, baking bread, eating ice cream and chocolate, working via Google Apps, and anything else that comes to mind, and generally, making the best out of helpless situation. I only hope your time has been as wonderful as mine in the Great Blizzard of 2011.

Now to more serious matters. Well, actually, not so much. Being my blog, I have to poke fun a bit at the media. As most of you know, the Mental Health Association gets calls from the media to comment on mental health or substance abuse related events. First, leading up to the big storm, one of the local TV stations asked for an interview on how to prepare oneself for the Big Storm. Wow! Six years of university and 30 years of practice experience. Get ready for this! See who can top these suggestions from my years of wisdom... cooking, board games, cleaning out closets (I haven't done mine yet, but I will tomorrow), walking to the movie theater, reading a good book, etc. The ideas just keep coming.

Then, a local radio station calls today regarding this thing called "cabin fever." It is something all people trapped by weather or possibly...prison, come to understand very well. While not a real diagnosis, we all recognize the common symptoms of feeling restless, trapped, a bit anxious, bored, and maybe a bit angry and frustrated by the helplessness of the situation. While not serious, it can have a much more serious side over time. Especially when people start running low on their needed medications, or start to run low on food, or oxygen supplies, or other necessary needs that are directly connected to quality of life or even safety, and well-being. For many of us our work disruption can lead to loss of income, potentially threatening our housing or ability to pay bills. More serious yet, people often turn to alcohol or substances (or be unable to re-supply their addictive substance) during this long period of being cooped up, which may lead to the threat of domestic violence or other serious conflict between family members or friends.

In closing out Day #3, stay warm, and stay safe. Try to manage the dreaded"cabin fever" and avoid getting on the roads unless you have a four wheel drive, or until some warming begins to break this mess up.

Tomorrow: Tucson