Friend or Foe?

Continuing education classes continue even during a pandemic. Everything is online of course. I do miss the in-person classes, especially the visual art form of Abstract Hostess Etiquette displayed on a long table near the door. I always like to see what someone came up with. They might have a continental breakfast, with the row of hospitality-sized coffee pots, labeled “coffee”, “decaf”, and “hot water”, a bowl of ice with creamer dropped in the middle of it, those little paper cups with the folder butterfly-wing finger holders, and a tray of crumbly cookies that will litter your top and lap.

don’t eat the cookies; they’re dangerous. Photo by Jason Jarrach on Unsplash

These are classes many jobs require workers to take to help keep folks up to date and skills sharpened. says, ‘As continuing education supports lifelong learning, it helps ensure mental health professionals remain curious and critical thinkers who are well-equipped to provide quality care for their clients.’

I’m currently learning about caregiving for individuals with behavioral health issues such as psychotic, bipolar, addictive and personality disorders, PTSD, alcoholism, and suicidality. While processing the material one afternoon, my brain began to think about the condition of diagnosed Schizophrenia. It is considered a psychotic disorder characterized by delusion and/or hallucinations. The psychosis can also be caused by bipolar disorder, depression, trauma, and drugs, usually temporary. Here is the important part—-> It is generally considered Schizophrenia if the voices or hallucinations are benevolent or encourage violent thoughts or action.

A delusion is a belief that does not fit reality. They tend to be unshakable, unarguable, and unchangeable by the person experiencing them. A hallucination is a disturbance in perception, such as seeing and hearing things that others don’t see or hear.

What caught my attention are recent studies about brain activity during an auditory hallucination episode. Brain imaging shows that both Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area (speech production and hearing) are active during auditory hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations are real. Limited to being heard only inside the person’s head. It is not their imagination. The same activity is present when we are having a conversation with a real person. It is a brain defect possibly caused by the overproduction of dopamine or the insufficient supply of glutamate signaling. With time and counseling, a person with Schizophrenia can learn to tell if a voice is someone in the room or being generated inside their brain. The training on this condition ended with a note, “It is the person’s discomfort that should guide the treatment, and whether or not the voices are helpful or harmful.

Custom Fit Spirits

It’s interesting to me that there are classes and books to help people find certain desirable voices, such as, well the Voice of God. If you’re going to add a voice why not go big, right? Christians, for example, may attend a class to learn how to identify the voice of the Holy Spirit. I’ll give you a hint, it never tells you to do anything that is not in the bible. Easy right?

Learning how to recognize the voice of your Spirit Guide is important to some people. An article, “How to Connect with Your Spirit Guides”, in Goop came up with these helpful hints that involve leaving your body and jumping up to the astral plane to visit them.

Spirit guides exist in the realm of infinite possibilities and are not confined by time or space. There is no limit to what they can do for us. In fact, the more they help us, the more they ascend. I encourage my students to assign at least three tasks to their guides before parting ways. Spirit guides can help with anything big—divorce, health concerns. Or small—like parking spaces, or motivation to do the dishes or go to work.

Then there are some people who do not have an internal monologue. NO VOICE inside their head. This is difficult for me to comprehend, but apparently, it’s true. There is no “middle-man” between thought and choice of action/no action. “…Additionally, not everyone has a verbal internal monologue. The looser flow of thoughts and experiences, verbal or not, is called a stream of consciousness, which can also refer to a related technique in literature.” (Wikipedia)

It seems there are some people who have voices in their minds that don’t want them, others who seek out new voices and then a few that have no conversation going on at all between the ears. This little study of internal dialogue has been interesting. I have no answers, but I do have new insights. Violent voices, self talk that brings you down should not be given energy to form into action. If you have a friend who mentions troublesome voices they should connect with their doctor about it. In the meantime, you can say, “that must be difficult. I’m here if you need someone to talk to.” In this time of social distancing, we can all listen and talk with each other. Support yourself and your friends with helpful conversation.

Here is my current mood expressed in a meme. Take care -Shannon,influence%20the%20need%20for%20care.,a%20related%20technique%20in%20literature.

cover Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

Day 20: High Expectations

Happy to report, a voice inside my head has been quieted.  It wanted me to achieve an unreasonable amount of success during the lockdown.  It told me how easy it was to work from home, finish my short stories, loose weight, eat better, get more exercise, clean every inch of my apartment and grow spiritually during this intense time in world history.  It sounded like, after the Stay Home, Stay Healthy mandate was over, I’d be as Christ leaving the tomb victorious over death and writer’s block! Well, voice in my head, I hate to break it to you, but I am not Christ,  I am human, although I’m a pretty good human, I DO HAVE LIMITS, for cryin’ in the night!  To achieve Christ-likeness during these 2-4 months of a pandemic would be a small miracle for sure.  So,  I say “Good day, sir.  Leave me to my textured life of layered excuses.  harumph!”

On a different note, here is the first draft of a poem I wrote about my house plant:

Common House Plant

Terra cotta prisoners
I have questions for you.
Gloved hands bind you
to bagged soil, force-feed
you vitamins and faucet water.
When roots touch potted boundaries
tell me, do you scream?


1) an observed joy- this morning I enjoyed St. James Presbyterian’s Easter service live-streamed on Zoom, (the music was especially uplifting) and my “regular Sunday morning check-in” call with a good friend.  It was really nice.

2) a real concern- The high cost of food in my area is still a concern. I decided to shop for fresh veg and fruit this Wednesday.

3) a personal challenge- reread “Why Poetry” by Matthew Zapruder

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- As of today, all my regular bills are paid.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- I haven’t had a haircut since December 2019. Washington State, the next time you shut us down, could we get maybe a months warning?

Here is my current mood illustrated by a meme.
I wish you, wherever you are, good health, peace in your hearts and courage for the challenges you face.