Self-Care Tip #119 – Remember that you are enough. Be a friend to yourself.
Forrest Gump (after watching his girl Jenny throw rocks at her childhood home of abuse,)
Sometimes, I guess there just aren’t enough rocks.
That movie grabbed almost everyone’s heart-strings. And when I saw my patient Sarah, I kept thinking about Jenny throwing rocks.
Sarah started crying. I’d never seen her do that in the 8 years we’d worked together. She was one who talked in spurts. Sometimes saying nothing for many visits, and then she’d start questioning me about foods, diet questions, or parenting. Then quiet some more. Today out of the blue came her tears and words.
When she started on her disclosure, I tensed up thinking, “What am I supposed to say? She’s never done this before!” I realized that being a psychiatrist, I should know the answer to that question and got even more insecure because nothing came to mind.
Her lovely face crumpled over the story of her “stupid” father. He never let her go to school. He was violent. Sarah is now teaching herself how to read; and more tears, her lovely face trembling. She is a mother and there are no books in her home for her children because she is ashamed of herself. ”My dad is an idiot man.”
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can last a lifetime. The horrors that are relived by the survivor can be unspeakable for them. We never know what people are going through really inside. They could be a survivor like Sarah or Jenny.
So far, I hadn’t said other than a few “psychiatry-sounds” like “hmm,” and “Oh.” Don’t be too impressed but I remembered someone somewhere wiser than me put it this way,
Sometimes it’s better not to say anything.
And I really didn’t. She did. And she did it wonderfully. We ended up talking about authors she hoped to read eventually. She’d heard of Isabelle Allende and wanted to get to her books some day. We hadn’t even started talking about medications yet. Sarah left after saying that when she stopped learning and growing, she would be dead.
What hit me was that Sarah wasn’t looking for more than me. I searched, wanting to give her more and came up with what I hoped was an appropriate facial expression. In a way, by not speaking much, I was able to receive and be blessed by her story. I might have missed that.
My mentor, author of blog CreatingBrains.com, encouraged me when I was unsure about teaching others. She said, “Look at your life and who you are. You would be surprised.”
When we are insecure about something, it helps to remember that we are enough for the task at hand. As individuals. We have in us all the days that came before, the experiences, the generations that handed us down, the God who made us and as per my belief, never leaves us. We have so much. Considering all this, be still and know.
Question: When have you been amazed at all that was inside you? Please tell me your story.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Ups Heart Disease Risk in Vets (nlm.nih.gov)