Monthly Archives: October 2012

C.I.T. Crisis Intervention Training program for police officers

This is an example of a scenario that a CIT police officer might be confronted with

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A young woman is in the mall. She has stopped taking her medication and is psychotic. She is responding to the voices in her head that are shouting things she is unable to understand. Bystanders are pointing their fingers at her and some are laughing. This increases her frustration and agitation and she starts chasing her tormentors.

The police officer who has been called, has to try to de-escalate the situation, find out the young woman’s name and decide on what action to take. But, he/she first has to disperse the crowd that has gathered to watch the fun. Crowds perplex and upset a person in this kind of situation.

It is sometimes better for the police officer not to arrest the person causing the disturbance even if he has probable cause. This officer has to make a decision fast. He notices the characteristics of mental illness that she is  displaying and realizes that she is hearig voices as well.

He has to decide whether safety issues are involved or not.

He has to find out the woman’s name and does so by asking her quietly and a few time. He needs to get her to tell him something about her family and her attending psychiatrist? He needs to know whether she is on medication or not. All this takes time. Of course it is easier and faster to handcuff her and bundle her into their police car but that will not gain positive results. After all, jails are overflowing with people suffering from mental illnesses who should really be getting treatment in psychiatric hospitals or clinics.

Has he been able to make a decision?        

All this takes place in a short period of time so the police officer can only do this if he has had practice using the information he learned during the C.I.T. course and the practical training courses in the field. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

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A talk I was asked to give on police Crisis Intervention Training for police officers

I was asked to give a talk to police officers on the reason for starting a Crisis Intervention Training Course for Policemen. it was one o’clock and they were tired, hungry, bored, and half lying in their seats. My heart dropped. How was I going to to get them to listen to what I had to say? I took a deep breath, then said: “I know what you are thinking. What does this old woman think she can tell us?” They laughed, sat up straight, and gave me their attention. When they heard my story of mental illness in my family which lasted for 16 years, there was absolute silence. They probably won’t remember every word I said, but what I do know is that they will remember the way I made them feel.

I don’t want to turn them into psychologists. All I want is for them to be given the tools to help them when they come in contact with a person suffering from a mental illness who is probably not taking his/her meds regularly and who needs supervision until the episode has been brought under control.

Police officers need to meet people who suffer from mental illnesses. They need to know how to differentiate from an ill person and one on drugs. They need to know how to speak to them. For example, if a police officer makes a promise to a person suffering from a mental illness, now known as a consumer, he must keep that promise. If not, the consumer will not trust him the next time around. The officer should speak in a soft, calm voice. His walkie talkie should be turned down as low as possible. Loud noises and flashing lights only add to the consumer’s confusion.

These are only a few examples but they are not difficult to use and there are many more.

A love affair that lasted for almost 60 years.

SERENADE 2 SENIORS

While walking home one icy day, I stumbled on a wallet someone had lost in the snow. I picked it up and looked inside to find some identification so that I could call the owner. But, the wallet only   contained $3 and a crumpled letter that looked as if it had been in there for years. The envelope was worn and the only thing that was legible on it was the return address.  I unfolded the letter hoping to find a clue. Then I saw the datel– 1924. The letter was almost 60 years ago. It was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue stationery with a little flower in the left hand corner. It was written to someone named Michael. She said that she could no longer see him because her mother had forbidden it. Even so, she wrote that she would always love him. It was signed, Hannah.

It was a beautiful letter but there was no way that the owner could be identified. Maybe, if I call  information, the operator would be a ble to find a phone listing for the address on the envelope. I called and explained that I was trying to find the owner of a wallet and requested information. She suggested that he speak with her supervisor. The supervisor hesitated for a moment then said: “Well, there is a phone number at that address but I cannot give it to you. As a courtesy, I will call, explain the story and ask if they are willing for you to be connected.” A few moments later she called back and put me through.

The woman on the other end of the line said that she had bought her house from a couple with a daughter named Hannah, but that was 30 years ago. “Do you know where I can find that family?” I asked. “Hannah had to move her mother to a nursing home some years ago,” she said. “Maybe they might be able to track the daughter down.” With that, she gave me the name and the number of the home. They said that the old lady had passed away some years ago but that they did have a phone number for the daughter. I thanked them, called and was told that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home.

It was then that I decided that this whole thing was ridiculous. Why was I making such a big deal over finding the owner of a wallet that only had $3 dollars in it? A wallet that was about 60 years old!Nevertheless, something pushed me to call the nursing home where Hannah was supposed to be living and was told that she was indeed still there.. But it was already 10 p.m.. In spite of the late hour, I decided to drive over to see her and was told that I could do so as she was probably watching television in her room.

The night nurse and a guard greeted me at the door and we went up to the third floor of the large building. The nurse introduced me to Hannah, a gentle, silver-haired woman with a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye. I told her the story of the wallet and showed her the letter. The second she saw the powder blue envelope with the flower on the left, she took a deep breath and said; “Young man, this letter was the last contact I ever had with Michael.” She looked away deep in thought and then said softly. “I loved him very much. But I was only 16 at the time and my mother felt I was too young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean Connery, the actor. Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If you should find him, tell him I think of him often. And, I am still in love with him,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes. “I never got married. I guess no one ever matched up to Michael.” I thanked Hannah and left, taking the elevator to the first floor and as I stood by the door, the guard asked; “Was the lady able to help you?”  “Not much,” I said, “but she gave me a lead. At last I have a last name but I think I’ll let it go for a while. I’ve spent almost the whole day trying to find the owner of this wallet, you know,” I told him, taking it out to examine the simple, brown leather case with red lacing on the side. When the guard saw it he said: “Wait a moment. I’d recognize that wallet anywhere. It belongs to Mr. Goldsteint. How many men have wallets with red lacing? And it figures. He’s always losing it.”  W”here is Mr. Goldstein?” I asked, my hand trembling ever so slightly. “He’s one of the old timers on the 8th floor. He must have dropped his wallet on one of his walks.”

I thanked him and ran back to the nurse’s office. I related the story to her and we returned to the elevator and went up. I prayed that Mr. Goldstein would still be awake. The nurse said that he was a darling old man and that he was still up and reading. She asked him whether he’d lost his wallet and he looked up in surprise, put his hand in his back pocket and said; “Oh yes I have. It’s missing.” “This gentleman found a wallet and we wondered whether it could be yours,” said the nurse. He smiled  when he saw it and said. “I’d like  to give you a reward.” “That won’t be necessary, thank you,”  I said, “but I have something to tell you.  I read the letter in the hope of finding out who the owner was.” “You read that letter?” he asked, his smile disappearing. “Not only did I read it but I now know where Hannah is.” He grew pale. “Hannah? You know where she is? How is she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please tell me,” he begged. “She’s fine … and just as pretty as when you knew her,” I said softly. The old man smiled in anticipation. “Please tell me where she is. I will call her tomorrow.” He grabbed my hand saying; “You know something mister. I was so in love with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended. I never married. I guess I’ve always loved her.” “Mr. Goldstein. Come with me.”

We took the elevator down to the third floor and found Hannah watching television. The nurse walked over to her. “Hannah,” she said softly, almost in a whisper pointing to Michael who was at the door.” Do you know this man?” She looked at him without saying a word. “Hannah, it’s me, Michael. Do you remember me?” She gasped. “Michael. I don’t believe it. Michael, it’s you. My  Michael.” He walked slowly toward her and they embraced. The nurse and I left with tears streaming down our cheeks.

Three weeks later I received a call at my office from the nursing home.. “Michael and Hannah are getting married on Saturday and they would like you to be there.” Hannah wore a beige dress and looked beautiful. Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall. They made me the best man. The nursing home gave them a double room and if you ever want to see a 76-year-old bride and a 79-year-old groom acting like teenagers, you should have seen this couple.

Over and … overcoming

Written by Yaho-Hanan Fiwchuk

I know I am becoming psychotic when I hate my own flesh, when everything around me seems negative and i can’t go with the flow. Even the air becomes an enemy.

Thoughts swirl, reality is hard to find, everything seems to bear down on me. So I get changed into some clean cotton sleep apparel and lay out clean cotton sheets and I wrap up in a bed cocoon and focus on the ugly unti I can bring it down to a small kernel that can be set aside. I like the winter because I can make the cocoon. In summer, I lie on top of the bedding and try to keep myself below all the thoughts above me.

The episodes often hit in the late afternoon. They start as an agitation in the periphery. i feel threatened, want to disconnect. I know it’s brain activity and if I can get hold of it and release it in time, it will clear quickly. Other times, it can take 20 minutes, sometimes hours.

I take more than 20 pills per day. Lithium, Risperidone, Loxapine, Seroquel and Ativan when needed and vitamins including niacin and B complex. I like learning new things using my mind and body. I do Tai Chi and study philosophy but it can be hard while on pills as I feel as if i am stoned.

Now that I have an acute awareness of my schizophrenia, I have more peace of mind. No more dangerous thoughts or actions as I did in the past and no more voices but I still have frightening associations triggered by sounds. Now I paint. My soul is imprinted on confines of not more than 50 becausey 50 is all my easel can hold.

My life is one of cycles and patterns, some days drag by slowly and are painful. Other days go faster. All I ever want to do is to get into bed and shut off my life.

As John Lennon said: ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Time is a friend. Pain is time’s sister. Reality looms and I say goodnight.’

Making the best of life … Life isn’t fair, but it can be good.

Coping with adversity is no easy task. I know, as I have been working on it for years.

  • I surround myself with people I love.
  • Dwelling on the half full cup is something I learned from my late husband who managed this from an early age and it is a very positive thing to do.
  • I keep busy.  I listen to classical music which is soothing. I blog, read and do volunteer work for the mental health society.
  • I watch the waves breaking on the shore and at high tide, enjoy watching the breakers smashing against the rocks.
  • Talking to a good friend is helpful. I discovered that crying with someone is more healing than crying alone.
  • And I learned that one might forget a friend one has laughed with, but one will never forget a friend one has cried with. It’s okay to cry.

Laugh and the world laughs with you.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain and conflict. Humor lightens burdens. i’ve discovered that it connects me to friends and inspires hope. Laughter adds joy and zest to my life. For many years I did not laugh and if I found something amusing, it was not a natural, long, loud, happy laugh. laughter eases anxiety, strenghtens relationships and atrracts new people.

Know me as a person and not by my mental illness !

I’ve heard a ‘weatherman’ describe the day’s weather forecast as schizophrenic; a journalist describe a woman suffering from a mental health problem as ‘a time bomb.’
A leading newspaper ran the following heading: INSANITY IN GAZA. When reporting on Serbia’s Mr. Milosevic, the following description; LEGACY OF A MADMAN, was used.

Insanity is equated with horror far too often, A television commercial once showed the picture of an iPod on a Man’s forehead with the following announcement; ‘Hearing voices in your head?’

Sanity is something we take for granted and if we lose our sanity, we grieve for it. No one can cause a mental illness. I repeat; NOBODY CAN CAUSE A MENTAL ILLNESS.

We need to break the silence surrounding mental illness, get it into our school systems as a subject for discussion; train our teachers to identify the first signs in their students and guide them toward getting the professional assistance they so badly need.

WE MUST GET TO KNOW THEM AS INDIVIDUALS AND NOT BY THEIR MENTAL ILLNESSES.