January 2, 2010

Got Goals...?

A young man that has been close to our family overdosed on prescription medicine Christmas Day. He said he was depressed with life, he's had some history with depression and other mental and emotional issues. We visited him at a psychiatric hospital a couple of days later and inadvertently came during what was called "family therapy" so we served as his family. We believe he's going to be okay and are trying to be a blessing to him. While I don't intend to trivialize any part of someones important quest for mental or emotional health, there were several interesting components of the what the therapist shared that I thought was relevant for this New Year and New Decade that we've just entered. Here's a summary of what the therapist shared:

Confronting the diagnosis (problem) - According to the therapist and of course age-old wisdom, unless you clearly and unashamedly confront the negative issues that you're facing you will not begin down the path toward overcoming them.

Schedules - While our family enjoys routines, I never realized how a simply daily-life schedule is empowering for mental health. The therapist encouraged the patients to have regular sleeping and eating times, remaining as constant as possible.

Eat Right & Excercise - you are what you eat and you have eat the right foods and excercise to keep your body healthy.

Team - he talked about how life was a team sport and discussed how everyone has two sets of people in their lives - the ones that don't need to be in your life and ones who are your support system and need to be more in your life. They even talked about the power of regularly attending a church (this was not a Christian facility).

Goals - this subject got the most attention with patients being encouraged to write down very short-term and some mid-term goals. According to Wikipedia, "goal-setting ideally involves establishing specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-targeted objectives. On a personal level, the process of setting goals allows people to specify and then work towards their own objectives — most commonly financial or career-based goals. Goal-setting comprises a major component of personal development."

Granted, I only spent a couple of hours there and I am not schooled in psychology, but here's what I didn't hear..."awaken the giant within, just do it, we is bigger than me, or the power of positive thinking. Of course most of these books and ideologies have their place but they don't help a kid get over clinical depression.

What impressed me so much about the therapy is that it reminded me of what most mothers have told their kids for as long as we can remember. Get real, eat your vegetables, go play outside, get to bed, be true to your friends, get a job and get something done! It seems that acting on Mom's advice can really keep us all-around healthy.

Here's a more entertaining version of what I remember from Mom.

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