Sara Speaks: Tom

Sara on counseling: Sounds deep, but it’s actually quite enjoyable. Neither Tom or I take science horrifically serious. He’s by far the best therapist, out of many, that I’ve worked with (going on five years). This is about psychology, a huge subject, depression – something we both have insight into and everyone has experienced too much of – and Tom. I insist on entitling submissions and “Tom,” sounds better than “Depression.” I’d prefer not to print his last name – we have a non-disclosure agreement.

Before delving into the secret society of Tom and Sara, I’d like to point out that I, like everyone else, used psychology, both by observation and experimentation, in early childhood. It’s been utilized for as long as we’ve had salespeople, politicians, armies, medicine men… The word psychology has its roots in a Greek classical tale. Psyche being the princess of outstanding beauty who aroused Venus’ jealousy and Cupid’s love. We have to take its naming in the context of the time of its formation. Psychology was so called in the late 1500’s. It was then known as the science of the soul. Psycho/psyche meant breath, soul or mind in Greek. Pythagorus taught that the soul was essentially the mind, but that they worked together. Of the vision of God, Plotinus* stated, “…what sees is not our reason, but something prior and superior to our reason…” The word is something of an anachronism. Later, its association with theology and philosophy were partially the cause of its neglect until Wundt (1879). Nowadays, living scientists generally deny the existence of the soul, period. The hard sciences in effect sneered. It’s well known that chemistry was once alchemy, while both advanced mathematics and astronomy evolved from astrology. Science, theology, political science, architecture and a lot more, grew through the reconstruction of ancient Greece’s culture. For better or worse, Western science adapted classical Greek thought, much of it philosophy and psychology, to define our current scientific method.

Tom sees the humor – his job is secure. The 1s & 0s on his PC apply to duality. Tom knows the meanings of the Yin & Yang mandala. Reality is hardly black and white. His insight into eastern thought once cost him though. Tom attended a Western religious university, and sort of forgot about that when turning in an assignment. In his enthusiasm, he used a reference to eastern thought and got his only B. Saraswati sees the humor. Like most consumers I’ve seen my share of medications and therapists. Having Tom as lead therapist for ShelterCare was a good idea. He’s ahead by having great rapport – enthusiasm even and outstanding knowledge. Those of us in ShelterCare know, all too well, that we mostly have intractable illnesses. Tom is acutely aware that time is often the only cure for a lot of what we go through. He gives me hope by his example, lend’s much needed support, wisdom, advice and laughter even. Our’s is a very collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to mostly depression – something Tom sees a lot of. Therapists have no binding oath like an M.D. I found a pre-written “Code of Ethics,” by two psychologists, which ends with – 10. I will take care of myself, so that I can take care of others. Tom keeps it next to his desk.

Back when I was homeless and a substance abuser in Phoenix, where it reached 122 degrees, I went to the main library a lot. I read self help – mostly in the form of comparative religion, psychology, parapsychology, philosophy etc, in a nearly, in vain, effort to understand insanity. I was tired of being told – “If you had any common sense you wouldn’t be depressed,” and “Forget your past; it’s over!” PTSD is all too real. Ask any (childhood especially) sex crime victim if the damage doesn’t sometimes haunt. These are my best coping strategies: 1. Know your enemy. Get a “psych eval,” to hopefully rule out a persistent illness. Take my word and don’t attempt/tempt denial. 2. Research your illness and options. Learn, from whatever sources you can, and apply. 3. Stay in the moment, in my case, reading is a Godsend, 4. Socialize and please stay in touch. 5. Laugh – there aren’t enough reasons. 6. Spirituality: if you’re “messed up” so be it. You may be closer to the “goal” than you think for that very reason. 7. If offered, get Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or an offshoot. Why? Because I’m a connoisseur by now and so are most insurance companies. 8. Moderation (although I run on tea). 9. Good company (remember moderation?). 10. Be “routine.” 11. Accomplish! Stick to one thing mostly and develop a talent. 12. Stay physically active. Even mindless TV brings blood to the brain. Avoid the news. 13. Meds: you take them, your prescriber basically recommends them. Prescribed drugs can induce suicidal ideation, mania, etc. Trust me. 14. Face your fears. 15. Avoid guilt like the plague. 16. Become philosophical about life. An example – “I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing.” Wm. James.

Afterthoughts from the Writer
After writing the above I don’t want anyone to think it’s as easy as my “expert opinion” would have you believe. This is not completely a case of “Do as I say, not as I do” as much as “Physician heal thyself.” I’m pragmatic though. I constantly mix-up my strategies to depression. My medications are often “adjusted.” Tom changes his approach to fit the occasion, so to speak. Dealing with depression is an evolving art that requires a practical mind-set. I’d like to take this time to thank…
Tom, My Editor – Janice Daniels,The Bigelowe, Twinnings, and Lipton tea companies for altering my mind, and *Wm. James, The Varieties of Religious Experience pp. 329.

– Sara

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