Murder or Suicide? A twisted tale….

17 06 2012

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Lunar-tics

24 03 2012

In my twenties I worked overnight for a medical locum service. We sent doctors out on the road to visit people at home overnight. Not quite medical emergencies, but at least in theory, things that couldn’t wait until morning.

Because I was studying at university at the time, and possibly because I was quite fond of a certain quality of life, I worked the weekends. Half of Thursday night (3am to 8am), all of Friday night (10pm to 8am), all of Saturday night, All of Sunday night and half of Monday night (10pm to 3am).

It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. It paid very well. (Very well.) And there is an entire community out there that works weekend nights and we got to know each other and had chats and sometimes met up for breakfast at the Hilton or the Hyatt in the morning. And it was nice driving home when rush hour was heading in the other direction. Every so often, I actually had a social life on the weekend and I would swap with the woman who worked the weekday nights.

Which is where my full moon story comes in.

It was a well known fact for we night workers in the medical industry that full moons were weird. Not in an astrology way, in a literal sense. And sometimes really bad. And the worst of all full moons was the Saturday night full moon, probably because it combined with a major drinking / partying night.

Full moon nights would be characterised by:
• Pubs – more fights and more injuries
• Police and Ambos – more call-outs for drunks and disturbances
• Hospital EDs – more bizarre cases, more injuries from fights and falls
• Nursing homes – patients restless and wandering, falling
• Prisons – more disturbances amongst the inmates

So the whole full-moon-thing is a fact, not a fiction.

Of course the reasons might be different – less the “lunatic” and more the fact that additional light means people sleep less deeply, are more likely to be out and about on the streets, etc. Either that, or the tide has gone out on their brains. Present company excepted of course.

So back to the story. I used to comment on how completely bizarre some of my Saturday full moon nights were, and the lovely woman who worked the week nights used to sympathise.

Until one day she did a swap with me and actually worked the full moon Saturday night.

And swore she would never swap with me again.

So yes, Virginia, there is a full moon syndrome. And everyone working those shifts knows about it – medicos, nurses, police, ambos, publicans, wardens. And I have to say, the bizarre stories in the media (and particularly social media, which I monitor) come thick and fast at the full moon.

So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The next full moon at time of writing in Australia is 6 May 2012. You have been warned.





Oval Therapy

10 11 2011

photo credit Andy F


A psychiatrist I used to work with had a model of care he called oval therapy.

Basically he and his client went outside and walked around the oval while they did their therapy. It meant they both got outside, got a bit of Vitamin D, a bit of exercise and fresh air. Probably did both of them the world of good.

It also meant that they weren’t siting in a clinical office in an institution – a reminder of sickness – and instead of being face to face, which can be confronting, they were alongside each other. A completely different relationship dynamic.

I digress. This post is in fact triggered by a Psychcentral article I just read linking exercise and mental health. The original article can be found here, and another similar one here.

But generally there are a number of ways that exercise can affect psychological health.

1. Vitamin D (from the sunlight) is shown to affect mood. Lack of Vitamin D is associated with Season Affective Disorder (SAD) where sufferers are depressed during winter months.

2. Physiology. It is hard to walk or do any other form of exercise without straightening up a little. Physiology affects mood (think of how a depressed person sits).

3. Stress Reduction. Through appropriate use of adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone, reductions in build up of this hormone in your system don’t raise your stress levels.

4. Fitness. A physically healthy metabolism processes sugars differently to an overweight unfit one. A physically healthy body supports a physically healthy mind (think of how many illnesses have psychological aspects – or just the general psychological malaise of being unwell).

5. Change of scenery / change of focus. Being outdoors, concentrating on doing something physical can break patterns of thought. New things to look at, a focus on physical sensation (muscular effort) can distract from negative thought patterns or worrying thoughts.

So that’s my cue to exercise! See you out there.

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Reasons I should be exercising
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