Yesterday I re-started my writing groups, after a break for Christmas and New Year, with a writing session in Psychiatric Intensive Care. Two people came to join me, separately, one for about 45 minutes and the other for perhaps 30 minutes.
The first was a woman who I could tell is very creative, but at the moment she lacks the concentration and quietness of mind to write as much as she would like. Just before we met she had been composing a song in the shower and she sang the whole thing to me. At my suggestion, she started to write out the song, and she seemed keen to do so. But she only managed a few lines as she was repeatedly distracted by thoughts and associations, which we then talked about. However, although she didn’t manage to transcribe her song, she did appear to enjoy our conversation. One thing we talked about, because I feel it would benefit her greatly, was mindful writing. I explained what I mean by mindful writing and, at her request, I wrote a couple of lines about mindful writing to give her an idea of how to do it. We went to the window to look out onto the courtyard and she spoke about what she could see. And I spoke a little about the same view. These shared observations seemed to help her understand what I mean by looking at, and writing about, something mindfully.
Today I wrote a small stone based on our shared experience:
The glass in the courtyard door
reflects the changing picture
of the television.
The silver handle looks
like a penguin
with a lifted beak.
The second patient was a 30-year-old man. He cannot read or write (but would like to learn) and is embarassed by that. Yesterday he talked some of the time about traumatic memories which, at the moment at least, seem to be very easily triggered. I had brought along some amusing captioned photos cut from old Sunday supplement magazines. He looked at them all and I read the captions to him. He liked some and disliked others. Some of them he said made him think unhappy thoughts. However, I don’t think my choice of photos was at fault, I believe he is just easily triggered at the moment. He stayed with me for about half an hour and I found a way to connect with him through songs – we sang together snatches of a number of songs – and through talking about movies. He seemed on balance to get something good from the session, but I feel I need to speak to a clinician, probably the Occupational Therapist who was around for part of the time, to gain another perspective on how well the session went.
With every patient and every session I continue to learn.