Musical Odyssey: From Pain to Recovery

Marjorie Lee Jacobs


Psychiatric rehabilitation aims to promote health recovery from significant losses, both physical and psychological, that have derailed the lives of adults and young adults diagnosed with a serious mental illness (SMI) so that they can actively participate in rebuilding and recreating themselves.  The population faces premature morbidity and experiences higher than average rates of chronic and life-threatening disorders. When participants join the BU Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation services’ programs, they take on the role of student, increasing their knowledge, skills, and supports to further their personal goals and recovery journeys. 

The submission, Musical Odyssey: From Pain to Recovery, is an original poem informed by the values and practices of my work in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation as well as my recent medical experience as a patient.  The poem was inspired primarily by my four-month experience of having to navigate through the primary care system and advocate for myself to get services for two herniated discs while working.  During this period I was teaching three courses: Empowering Ourselves through Song, Buddhist Psychology’s Path of Recovery, and Mindfulness: The Practice of Buddhist Psychology.

In the 2018 fall semester, I was role modeling recovery-oriented rehabilitation for my students, a Certified Peer Support Specialist, and three interns (two from BU School of Social Work and one from Tufts University).  Despite excruciating pain from two herniated discs, I taught almost all the classes before and after a micro-discectomy and hemi-laminectomy surgery at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and prepared detailed lesson plans for my interns who had the opportunity to develop their clinical and teachings skills while receiving my support.  My suffering and sharing of daily meditation, music listening, and singing helped grow everyone’s awareness, compassion, and commitment to mindfulness practice.

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by The International Association for Music & Medicine