Thursday, August 24, 2017

Suggestions for folks with serious mental illnesses - Poem: Lie Back and Relax

Fran Hazam sent out an email from SAMSHA. They want suggestions for those of us with serious mental illnesses.

Here's what I wrote, after going on a 20 minute walk around the block.

I should have mentioned that New Directions serves as a model support group. Also, that exercise is essential to lift the mood, create new neurons in the brain and help avoid dementia later in life. 

Submitted on 8-24-17 at 10:34 am.

Dear Ms. Foote -

I'm the founder/director of the premiere support group in the Philadelphia area called New Directions. View We serve three groups of people: Those with bipolar, depression, and a loved ones group.

I am also a psychotherapist in private practice.

View a talk I recently gave.

Everyone diagnosed with a serious mental illness - OCD, bipolar, depression, schizophrenia, etc - should take free classes on how to deal with their illness. Insurance companies should pay for these classes. Hospitalizations will be decreased. Marital counseling is also a must. The divorce rate is extremely high.

1 - A person must know his or her diagnosis. Believe it or not, most people do not!

Through my support group I hear all sorts of comments about other therapists.

"They don't speak to me as an equal."

"They say mean things and put me down."

"They do not believe me."

I kid you not, Ms. Foote.

2 - Encourage friendships. People are often lonely and isolated. Our support group is the perfect place to make friends and not feel stressed about who they are.

3 - Ask what hobbies people have and encourage them to pursue their hobbies. Life is MORE THAN just having an illness.

4 - Once a year New Directions hosts a bonfire at a local park. We get a good turnout. Everyone brings their favorite food. We play music and sing by the fire. View

5 - We also host an Arts Fest. People have many talents - singers, dancers, visual artists. View

6 - Have a list of resources, such as places to go to for drug addiction, top psychiatrists and psychotherapists, volunteer agencies.

7 - Live a life of meaning. In our group, all individuals are encouraged to get volunteer jobs if they are unable to work.

8 - We host The Beehive, a writing group held at an individual's home. We've put out The Icing on the Cake - a poetry journal - and are working on another. View

Thanks for listening to my suggestions, Ms. Foote.

Ruth Z Deming, MGPGP


New Directions - now in our 33rd year

Home phone - 215 659 2142 


You might think I'm on the massage table
covered by a white sheet with the sound
of Japanese music playing in the distance

But, no. I am at the eye doctor's, the
gentle Doctor George. My pink toenails
peek from my sandals, as the doctor
dims the light and says, Put your
chin here.

A delightful indentention fits my chin
exactly. Look straight ahead, he says,
as Stacey records his findings.

I just like being in his presence.
I stall, thinking of ways not to leave,
not to go back to the waiting room
with its smell of Folger's coffee
and the gulp-sound of the water cooler.

Doctor George, I say, as the light
goes on, gradually as the morning
sun through my drapes at home.

Tell me some new findings in the
world of ophlamology. This may be
the first time I've ever pronounced
that long word.

They're doing a lot of research in
the field of macular degeneration,
he says. Getting closer to understanding
it and finding a cure.

I smile. My aunt is 99 and has the disease.
Instead of reading, she listens to audio
books, I say.

Good thing we have them, he says, handing
me my backpack and walking me to the door.

In the car, I turn on Gary Paulsen's
Hatchet about a young boy lost in
the wilderness.

Am I practicing what to do if I go
blind from glaucoma? I am a suspect
as he calls it.

Certainly not. The maple leaves
flutter down as I drive triumphant
down my street.

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