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Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Free Download: Adolescent Suicide, Depression and Family Dysfunction

This paper investigated high school students' perceptions of their family dynamics and correlated this to levels of depression, suicidal thinking and a history of attempts. Our results suggested that high scores for dysfunction measured on the McMaster Family Assessment Device (FAD) should flag problems when assessing adolescents. Assessment of depression and suicidality should be mandatory in these young people

Then 'Resources'

Download here: *Adolescent suicide, depression and family dynamics 
Martin, G., Rozanes, P., Allison, S. & Pearce, C., 1995. Adolescent Suicide, Depression and Family Dysfunction. Acta Psych. Scand., 92:336-344.

Haiku on 'Bright', 'Chase' and 'Don't'


Something to ponder
Our sun has a bright future
As supernova

There was this bright light
I must have passed out, I think
A flash in the pan

Bright little people
Just adore my grandchildren
Hope for the future


Chasing each other
Thoughts tumble over visions
Tripping up the mind

Poor people chase rich
Rich people chase the dollar
Fools chasing nightmares

Foxhounds chase the fox
But greyhounds don't chase the grey
Odd language English


Don't get above your station
Don't be too clever

Think outside the square
Be creative with your life
Don't be over-ruled

We all make mistakes
Don't be so hard on yourself
Give yourself a break

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Haiku on 'Wasted', 'Yearn' and 'Absolve'


Nothing is wasted
One person's ancient discards
Another's treasure

An old truism
Youth is wasted on the young
Not sure what that means...

Training of children
So much energy wasted
Just share life and love


Yearn for your body
Its warmth, its smell, its closeness
You lie there sleeping

Yearning for silence
Away from the madding crowd
Soughing of the breeze

A jealous goddess
Pinching those who come too close
While yearning for love


Accept and move on
Allow your mind to absolve
In meditation

Sins of omission
Fiddling while our world heats up
Cannot be absolved

I can't forgive you
Until I forgive myself
A selfie absolve

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Free Download: Seeking Solutions to Self-injury; a Guide for Parents and Families

This guide was developed in 2010, and specifically written for parents and family members who may be struggling to manage a teenager or young adult who is self-injuring. The guide was based on about 60 interviews with young people, and over 40 with professionals who have experience in the area. 
Please feel free to download the guide and give a copy to anyone you know who may need advice on this matter.

Go to: 

Click on Resources in the header

Click on 'Seeking Solutions Parents' to download

Martin, G., Hasking, P., Swannell, S., McAllister, 2010. Seeking Solutions to Self-injury: A Guide for Parents and Families. Centre for Suicide Prevention Studies. Discipline of Psychiatry. The University of Queensland. ISBN 978-0-9808207-4-4
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Transverse Myelitis and Grief

I have had TM now for nearly 4 years, and I am aware just how much I have lost. Of course with loss, comes grief.

This is an odd thing to talk about in this way, perhaps. Normally we associate grief with loss of other loved ones. But having lost parents, aunts, cousins and a child, I have come to understand the process of grief, and I think the process is very much the same - whether we lose another person, or a part of ourselves.
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book 'On Death and Dying' suggested a model with five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
I know I can remember the denial in the first few minutes and again over the hours to come as my paralysis spread: "I don't believe this is happening to me". "I am so fit for my age, I am a black belt in Karate, I was teaching last night". "This cannot be happening, I just don't believe what I am sensing in my body". I think the steroids given to me over the first few days helped this process: "If I just lay her and have a rest, it will all come good; my powers of recovery have always ben so good". I can remember talking with friends and family about "When I am better..." and "After this is over..."
In fact there was almost a sort of euphoria, laughing at myself when I could not do something - like turning over in bed - mixed with a determination to do what I had to and maintain 'my standards' - personal hygiene, family position and relationships, friends in reality and online  - and keep doing what I saw as 'my commitment to child and adolescent psychiatry and suicide prevention' and 'my research students' at all levels.
Probably there were left overs from my childhood (as I have described in my book ‘Taking Charge: a journey of recovery’ ). For instance, my father instilling in me the message: “There is no such word as “Can’t!”
I am aware that I have been recurrently angry about my paralysis. In the initial stages, I was angry with myself for getting to a point of exhaustion trying to write an editorial for a journal I edit. I was angry with myself for the previous night’s karate session, where I had been demonstrating takedowns with the young people, who got really excited and kept queuing up for another turn. Could I have injured myself? It didn’t feel like it, but who knows what goes on inside the spine, when an old man pretending to be a karate teacher twists once too often.
Then I found myself increasingly frustrated and angry with emergency staff who seemed incompetent and uncaring, and later some of this transferred to the system of care in the hospital I was eventually admitted to. It was nobody’s fault that it was nearly Christmas and people wanted to take leave. Mostly, I was just angry that my body was letting me down, with paralysed legs, and bowels and waterworks over which I had no control. And so on. Waves of resentment that I had given so much of my life to medicine and helping others, and nobody could really tell me what had happened and what I could do about it...
Then you begin to bargain with yourself. Perhaps if I was a better person, I would get better more quickly. Perhaps if I really worked harder or longer at the physiotherapy it would all return to normal. If I stopped being so resentful would it help my recovery? You search through parts of your life to see whether there is something that you did wrong, for which you could make amends. If only I had meditated more regularly, then my health would have been better; OK so from here on in I will meditate every day to restore my health. Was I being punished by some higher power for my arrogance or meanness, or laziness. Well then, if I improved those things would the universe help me recover to go on with my life’s work. Should it not be MY life’s work, but rather God’s design? What would I have to do to make amends?
And then recurrently you get depressed. I have always told my patients that one way of getting over depressed feelings is to do something; don’t just sit there. But if you can’t walk far, get exhausted from physiotherapy exercises or swimming, can no longer help much around the house, get exhausted from driving, and then from part-time work, how do you DO things? So every little backward step, every perceived failure, or deficiency, makes you depressed. You feel useless, incompetent and in the way. Yes, in the way! I am slow in moving, and so often find myself in someone’s way. I need to get support from kitchen bench tops when helping out, but it is always THAT cupboard that someone needs to get to. Bowels are slow, so your appetite fades, and you really don’t feel up to eating much at home. You don’t want to be in company, that ‘lesser’ me, so you don’t want to go to restaurants or galleries or shows. In any case, you have to plan for all the toilet stops everywhere you go, so you spend more time in there than anywhere else, and public toiles are the pits. And on and on... What is the point?

And then there are good days. You have a small personal triumph, and that improves your view of yourself. Over time you get used to walking awkwardly and slowly (“there are, after all, others worse off than you”). You get used to planning the loo stops. You adapt, and from time to time accept that you are doing the best that you can for and with the new me. You begin to do all those things you wanted to do, but never had the time because you were jetting all round the country pretending to be an important speaker at conferences. You begin to accept that the handicaps are part of the aging process, and it is OK to stop pretending to be full of youthful vigour.

What interests me about transverse myelitis is that this cycle of shocked numbness that you have reached a plateau, followed by rage that you should be doing so much better, followed by more bargaining about “well if you did this, would you improve”, and then more ‘depression’, just goes on and on... It is watered down, and eventually there is more acceptance of your new reality, and an attitude of ‘just get on with it’. But the rates of acceptance are different for all of us...

My own opinion is just that this is all OK. We have to not only grieve and eventually accept the physical losses and the resultant new expectations, but we have to accept that it is OK to be angry and resentful from time to time, and depressed from time to time, as long as it does not get out of hand. If that happens we have to accept that we may need help from others. Sometimes people, grieving the loss of a close person, believe that it is such a ‘normal’ process in life that we ‘should’ be able to just deal with it. That is just not true, and from time we all need help. That is OK, guys. Well, this strange disease has led to losses – physical and emotional. We cannot be expected to smile and be wonderfully accepting all the time.

If you are feeling really awful, please pocket your pride, and seek help from friends, community resources, or professionals with the skills to help.

Sunday Haiku on 'Trust', 'Usual' and 'Vigorous'


Relationship core
Related to history
Creating deep trust


Usual evening
Dinner, then television
Then we go to bed

Holes in packaging
Larder raiders leave droppings
Usual suspects

It's been warm today
Not unusual, I guess
For early summer


A vigorous swim
Powering laps of the pool
Now I'm exhausted

The lemon tree died
But after rain new leaves show
Vigorous green growth

A vigorous man
Physically fit and well
Cut down in his prime

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Free Download: Seeking Solutions to Self-injury; a Guide for Young People

This brief self-help guide was written for young people to help them with a friend who self-injures, or perhaps to work through their own issues with self-injury. The guide was based on over 60 interviews with young self-injurers, as well as 40 professionals from a range of backgrounds who had had some experience with management of NSSI.
It may be of use to a young person you know, despite the fact it is focused on an Australian audience. Please feel free to download and use it as you see fit.
Go to
Then click the 'Resources' Tab
Download here: Self Injury A Guide for Young People
Martin, G., Hasking, P., Swannell, S., McAllister, M. & Kay, T., 2010. Seeking solutions to self-injury: A guide for young people. Centre for Suicide Prevention Studies, The University of Queensland, Brisbane. ISBN 978-0-9808207-2-0

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Haiku on 'Reserve' and 'Send'


Troops held in reserve
Never saw frontline action
The lucky bastards

Bidding at auction
Reserve price beyond our means
Keep renting I guess

Small city reserve
Some struggling grass, two sad trees
Desert oasis


Circus audience
Becoming very restless
Please send in the clowns

Send reinforcements
We are going to advance
Three and fourpence? Dance?
(In memory of 'Chinese Whispers')

Sending out signals
That go largely unheeded
Have another drink

A really hip chick
Darling you really send me
Lived through Seventies

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Haiku on 'Onto' and 'Prey'


Quick, get onto it
Write an instant small haiku
Be the first tonight

Finished the last job
Now onto the next problem
Stop and stare? No time

Recent election
Puffed up politician fell
Flat onto his face


Prey seeks prey seeks prey

The natural prey cycle
Teaching blood-sucking

Such dark images
This word preys on my poor mind
Searing my haiku

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Haiku on 'Morose' and 'Neat'


What a gloomy word
It just makes you feel morose
Thinking about it

OK, do the job
I refuse to feel morose
Write Haiku, then eat

In the normal curve
Half the world must feel morose
Statistical truth


Neat water, cool, clear
Fresh from a deep mountain spring
Not one additive

Freshly ironed shirt
Neat striped tie, Windsor knotted
Soulless bureaucrat

Neat silken stitches
Family tree tablecloth
Mother's legacy

Monday, October 7, 2013

Haiku on 'Kin' and 'Lively'


Common origin
I think we share grandparents
That must make us kin

I know we are kin
And that we share grandchildren
It's deeper than that

Kinetic people
Always on the move somewhere
Tend to lose contacts


Not feeling lively
Just need to curl up and sleep
Haiku have to wait

Lively argument
Free-flowing focussed debate
Advancing knowledge

Lively fighting fish
Defending territory
An empty glass bowl

Free Monday pdf Download: Seeking Solutions to Self-injury: A Guide for School Staff.

Seeking Solutions to Self-injury: A Guide for School Staff. This guide was developed in 2011, and disseminated widely to schools in Queensland to assist teachers and school authorities work through the difficulties, in the school environment, with young people who self-injure.
Please feel free to print it off, and discuss with your local high school staff, or set up a session with school authorities to see whether they understand the issue of non-suicidal self-injury, and have policies in place that make sense to the school, parents and (most importantly) the young person.

Click on Resources

Download here: Seeking Solutions to Self-injury: School Staff

Martin, G., Hasking, P., Swannell, S., Lee, M., McAllister, M., 2011. Seeking Solutions to Self-injury: A Guide for School Staff. Centre for Suicide Prevention Studies. Discipline of Psychiatry. The University of Queensland. ISBN 978-0-9808207-5-1.

Feel free to scan down all the other pdfs,and download whatever interests you.