Don’t saw off your arm, Laura

I just left a comment on the blog of a young woman from the United Kingdom named Laura who wrote about two different approaches she used to seek help from a mental health professional They struck me because I’ve heard of this from people I know. One school of thought is that we must go into an appointment smelling of b.o. and being quite thrown together. Pity anyone who rides the transit such a person, eh?

The other approach is to have cleaned up one’s act, looking well and talking like a sensible human being about one’s problems. I refer to the the first approach as sawing off one’s limb to see the doctor. In the new modern age of help and helping let’s strive to make people feel comfortable talking with us while they’ve got some of their wits about them. One of the massive failings of our current system is that it does not catch people before they’ve broken down and are presented for emergency  services by relatives or others.

Mary Ellen Copeland, who is a second generation mental health consumer, developed something called the Wellness Recovery Action Plan as a self help system to assist people in recognizing symptoms of distress one might call early warning signs and dealing with them. Check the link for more information about her. In the meantime, what are things everyday people to keep going? I have a cat, for example. My neighbors like to garden. This afternoon, I will go to the YMCA. And over the weekend I spoke with friends at the First Unitarian Society. In other words, I keep busy and that’s what I encourage my consumers to do.  Don’t saw off your arm, go get a cat. It’s much healthier.


9 thoughts on “Don’t saw off your arm, Laura

  1. I got a dog, but agree totally with the sentiment! Crafts are brilliant too there has been research done on people who do embroidery/ knitting and it’s affects on anxiety and depression with very positive results 🙂


  2. I like that idea. I mean our mothers and grandmothers used to sit there and knit for hours as calmly as you please.


  3. I have a dog I use for early warning detection. My dog will “reflect” my emotional state. If she is not calm, I look at myself first. Ala the Dog Whisperer, if you calm yourself, adjust your body language, you tell your dog everything is okay. I love my dog enough to be calm around her. If she has too much energy, I probably do too and we walk. Not as much fun as climbing fountains in the park, but much healthier. This is my fourth Pug (because they are typically a relaxed breed) that I have used specifically for that purpose. It took some research and human training to understand how and why it works, but a dog can offer the consumer an invaluable service to dog lovers.


  4. Thank you for describing me as a ‘young woman’. I am immensely flattered by this as I have just turned 41! I totally agree when you say that the current system does not catch people until they have completely broken down. This has been true in my case and I’ve also seen it happen to friends. I have not heard of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan but will check it out. It is definitely important to develop your own resources, but sadly this only seems to happen when people have become exhausted and let down after seeking professional help.Wouldn’t it be great if the first time you went to your doctor, they worked out a plan with you where you could manage some of your own treatment? Things that work for me include talking to friends, writing, taking a walk or being around animals. I’m also thinking about getting a dog. Maybe one day, animals will be available on prescription? I can dream!


    1. Well, you’re young at heart. Having a cat has really helped my disposition. I sometimes find that people are too talkative but with the cat, I can make up things that I bet she would want to tell me. I know that at least 1 of my consumers got a prescription for a cat to be added to his lease.


      1. I’m so weird, my blog sometimes just acts like it wants to do what it wants. Try it again, this time backwards.


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