Saturday, June 9, 2012

Meet Your Mental Health Experts: Horsham Clinic's Charlie May and Dave Mauermann - Poem: O Horsham!

Here we are in the upstairs lobby of the Giant Supermarket.  Charlie May, MSS, LSW, was our wonderful speaker. We all relaxed in the lobby until the program began.

Here's Horsham Clinic (HC) administrator Dave Mauermann standing near Peg, an RN, who works in administration on "safety issues."

Safety is always an issue at hospitals so Peg is constantly reminding her staff to be vigilant.

My one and only psych hospitalization was for being aggressive toward my mom during my first psychosis. The police carted me off to Montgomery County Emergency Service in Norristown, PA.

One woman at today's talk said she punched a patient when she was at Horsham.

"Our professor?" I asked turning around.

"I was psychotic," she shrugged.

Ah psychosis! How drearily I remember you. It's been nearly a decade since I'm cured. And, lucky for me, my kidney antirejection meds have no side effects,

Oops! Almost forget about my insulin-dependent diabetes from the tacrolimus and prednisone.

 Charlie sat on a high stool and led us in mindfulness-meditation exercises. He talked about the act of sighing. It's a natural response to stress, he said. A good long sigh is actually the precursor to meditation.

"Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth."

The 15 or so people in attendance all breathed together. It was a good feeling, but I imagined myself sitting in a circle at HC with very ill individuals, each one in a different space.

We use the breath, he said, to shift from a "fight or flight" response to "rest and digest."   

He also had us focus on the simple act of sitting in a chair and being aware of our bodies. We focused on our face - forehead, eyes, mouth and jaw.

R-E-L-A-X !!!

Charlie, who was trained at the Bryn Mawr School of Social Work, has a great understanding of mindfulness meditation but is a very modest individual.

He admires the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and also Karen Bowles, MD, who brought the mindfulness program to University of Pennsylvania. She spoke at ND a few years ago.

And, yes, Kabat-Zinn added his wife's name when they married. She's the daughter of the American people's historian Howard Zinn. In fact, I'm listening to his audio tape - in the car - A People's History of America. 

All the staff at Horsham Clinic, said Dave Mauermann, are employees of the hospital, rather than contract workers. Charlie May has a small private practice in North Wales and for sure, I'll add him to our Top Doc/Top Therapist list.

Charlie said Evan Thomas, a well-liked psychiatrist, also has a private practice, psychodynamically based, which utilizes therapy invented by this native of Vienna:

Gee, if only I could get Dr "Sometimes -A cigar-is-just-a cigar" to come speak at our group! You're a little too late, Ruthie. His years are 1856 – 1939.

While meditating, said Charlie, our thoughts may continue as we try to remain in the present tense. We are not our thoughts, nor are we our emotions, he reminded us.

"Thoughts are a sideshow," he said, "and it's about 'catching yourself" to be in the moment."

I'll tell you, writing this post keeps me in the moment but occasionally I pay attention to the Miles Davis CD  "Bitches Brew," after Miles' music morphed into the electric sound. Love it!!!

I use music to motivate myself just as "Anna," who sat next to me said, "I'm jumping out of my skin with this meditation and can't wait to go home and listen to loud rock n roll."

A type of helpful therapy, said Charlie, is "schema therapy," developed by Dr Jeffrey Young. I can think of some folks at ND who might benefit from this therapy.

One is a very smart man who is a "help-rejecting complainer" and the other a young know-it-all who alienates everyone he meets.

Charlie also talked about a "fork in the road" where we decide which path to take. Read Robert Frost's great poem here.

Do we take the road that leads to destruction or the one that leads to health?

The mind helps you wake up to that moment of triumph with as little drama as possible, he said.

Unless, of course, you like drama!!!

I mentioned a NY Times article I read before today's program. Suicides from our soldiers in Afghanistan are far higher than deaths from the war.

I told him ND is embarking on a new project "Support Our Troops" in which we will send amenities to the troops including a mindfulness meditation tape that a woman named Leslie will make for us. Our Katy will make copies.

Charlie said that HC has seen many soldiers come in with severe PTSD and depressions.

Remember Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt Therapy? Another German Jewish psychiatrist who escaped the Nazis and ended up teaching at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA.

When Perls (nee Friedrich Salomon Perls) lived in Germany it was an exciting time with all of Freud's disciples and those with original ideas like Perls himself. Both men saw the coming of the Nazis and got out before it was too late.

Perls, 1893 -1970, said: AWARENESS is THERAPY.

Good one, Fritz baby!

Ellen shared with the group that she took a time-out when her mind was speeding by going into her darkened bedroom to get her head together.

Charlie said, "That was an act of great compassion to yourself."

We always give our guest speakers a nice gift. Can you see the beautiful orchids in the background behind Dave and Peg? Click to enlarge.

The below gentleman very much enjoyed the program.

Rich Fleisher, a radiologist, admitted it's nearly impossible for him to meditate. "I've always gotta be in control," he said.

We all had a wonderful time at the Japanese Gardens on Wednesday, sponsored by Ada and Rich.

New Directions! C'mon over and see us some time.

Would you believe I actually wrote a poem about Horsham Clink about 10 yrs ago? I used to give inspirational talks there on Monday nites. I loved it!

I remember one time a grumpy guy named "Fred" didn't like my zippered camel-colored shoes.

"Fred," I said. "I'm a trendsetter!"

 Mine own backyard with Bill, my gardener.


O, Horsham, who needs you tonight?
I have seen them come in paddy wagons
frightened, out of control, knowing not
what will become of them.

I arrive in my warm coat
ruby earrings and
my boom box to
get them up and dancing.

I am like you, patients at Horsham,
searching my whole life
for happiness
for meaning
for the tiniest bud on the maple tree
to show me
spring is here.

I watch the clouds for signs
and rush to the window when there is rain
to see each tiny drop hit,
then fall,
and drip
filling the earth with
and verdure. 

And snow.
I have seen you only yesterday
quite a sight
time stopped as I bent down
in the backyard
something had dug a very deep hole
a woodchuck perhaps
and ringed around it were snowflakes
placed just so
all in a pattern

a circle of contentment:
O Horsham.

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