What Moment Do You Have? This is Enough For Life.

orange toes in sand

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Self-Care Tip # 224 – When you have something beautiful, stop and think about how you feel, and then shrink it into some words to remember for always.

The day is late and sand is in my ears and between my toes.  I don’t have much left on the clock before I should shower and sleep.

Earlier, while walking to the car with my daughter, I remembered Anne Hathaway‘s performance in the movie, “Love and Other Drugs,” based on Jamie Reidy‘s 2005 memoir, “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.”  Hathaway plays the role of “Maggie,” who despite her progressive demise secondary to Parkinson’s Disease, says to her love,

This is how happy I am, in this moment right now, the way the light’s hitting that face of yours, there’s this little breeze coming…, it doesn’t matter if I have 10,000 more moments like this or just this one because…. Right now this moment.  I have this.

The sun had set and we were wet and barefoot trying to get back to the car before dusk faded out.  I asked my daughter that if she could put all the feelings inside her she was feeling right then, that moment, into a tight little ball, “What are the words to describe it?”

This isn’t easy for a seven year-old to do developmentally and poor girl, I torture her with these questions.  And for all her suffering, I couldn’t tell you what she said beyond, “happy.”  But I do remember thinking, “This moment.  This moment is enough.

She was so beautiful, full up of goodness.  She belonged in the moment.  And me?  I was a part of it by God’s magic.  And now I have it.  Some bit of heaven already.

Questions – What moment(s) comes to mind that you have to remind you of what makes life worth living?  What do you have that is enough?  Please tell me your story.

The Patient-Doctor Relationship And Self-Care

Viral pharyngitis. The oropharynx is swollen a...

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Self-Care Tip – Explore self-care in ways where you do have choice, including healthy alliances with your connections.

PattyAnne came in knowing what she wanted.  She was sure she was struggling with ADHD because she could not focus, she had difficulty connecting with others and she was impulsive.  This was limiting her intimacy and ability to love and be loved by the people she wanted in her life.  PattyAnne had read about ADHD and was relieved thinking that taking a stimulant would improve her that much.

Getting ADHD as a diagnosis would explain to the people she would hurt why she hurt them.  It would give PattyAnne a name for the chaos that followed her or preceded her – she could not tell which.  Having a diagnosis that comes from a figure of perceived authority, say a Doctor of Medicine, offers this.  It is much like a judge who pronounces us innocent and another guilty.  This is not a bad or good motive.  It just is.  It is natural, as far as I can tell, to want to get away from implied or direct negatively perceived labels.

As a practitioner, it is not that easy to resist the lure of treatment when it would be so easy to make our patient happy.  It also takes a lot more time in patient education and building a trust relationship if we don’t agree with the patient’s self-diagnosis.  These pressures are real for any practitioner and many have wondered if the frequency of prescribing is affected by it.  For example, it is estimated that 73% of doctor visits for sore throats result in antibiotic prescriptions, but over 90% of sore throats do not respond to antibiotics.   (I know.  That is robbery!  Those poor other patients who got nothing for their copays!  Not even a prescription!)

So in comes PattyAnne, diagnosis and treatment already in place, all she thinks she needs is my signature.  It is not easy to be a patient.  Being a patient is a hard job in fact.  It requires at least some insight or the ability to receive insight, a vulnerable pose, humility, courage, self-respect and so much more.  Maybe PattyAnne was thinking, “Oh boy.  Now I got this woman who does not know that I’m ADHD!”

We have each other and begin the adventure of doctor-patient relationship, an alliance and a connection.

Questions:   What does a doctor-patient relationship mean to you?  How do you see your involvement in choice and control inside of it?  Please tell me your story.

 

Self-Care Woven and Unravelled Simultaneously for Best Results

Change is good--Kente Cloth Loom

Self-Care Tip #222 – See the different parts of your self-care as independent yet dependent on each other.

One of my truest pleasures would be to teach well.  My temperament is, per Myers-Briggs, designed to be a teacher and I agree that I feel inner congruence when I’m doing just that.

…If you’re feeling your hands closing into a bracing grip, it is probably because you, like many, really don’t want to be schooled – which has happened in my less refined moments, so caution is understood.  This is not what I hope to do here.

After yesterday’s blog-post and comments received, it shows that I have not taught as well as I implied to myself.  Implied intimacy is a danger of any familiar relationship, including with ourselves.  The beauty of you guys, is you help me say things “out loud” decreasing misunderstandings.  You guys are teaching me and I thank you.  So whatever this is we are doing, learning, schooling, teaching or whatever it is that Mr. Rick C. does – what we are doing here together is mucho-much fun.

As we unravel the rug together, we see these threads,

  • emotions and behaviors appropriate to context - yesterday we spoke about guilt
  • emotions and behaviors inappropriate to context - yesterday we spoke about guilt as a symptom of medical illness
  • the magical miraculous beyond our current understanding – before we “see face-to-face- yesterday Carol Ann mentioned the changing power of God
  • freedom to do self-care and related choices
  • what choice yet remains when other choices are lost either by action or disease
  • (this last one I’m just putting in here to finish the pretty rainbow) - helps me get in the barn where I’m comfortable

The reason I think it’s important to see these together yet apart, as well as we can (through a glass dimly), is that too much of one or another of these, diminishes the results of our self-care intentions.  Don’t mistake this for preaching that one can get too much of God in their lives.  It just isn’t true and not in our best interest to get waylaid.

Questions:  How do you see yourself more effective in your self-care efforts and what has influenced those improvements?  In what way have certain bits of your self-care gotten “too much” attention?  Please tell me your story.

Guilt Furiously Chasing You Is Commonly Experienced In Illnesses Of The Brain

Orestes Pursued by the Furies, by John Singer ...

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Self-Care Tip #221 – If you feel chased down by guilt, stop running and get friendly with yourself.

I’m so busy!  I am trying to work, raise three kids, and be a wife!  …and I’m just spread so thin!

It was new for Connie to think that where she was at in life was linked with her choices.  Somehow she intuitively felt taken along by it all, a current of life as people say, of either randomness or design.  Who could know, but it was more than her choices, she was sure, and she resented the influence on her life’s design.  Not that she had intended on taking over what was playing on her.  She just simmered in the house of cards hoping that when she got to make a play of her own, she’d make a good one and come out better for it.  In the mean time, she just had to keep moving fast.

Things would have been fine, except that over the past six months, she hadn’t been enjoying what she was living for, her kids, parenting, being a wife or her employment.  Yes, she was also  living for God but no, she wasn’t enjoying Him either.  Did she want to?  Did she feel guilty about it?

I feel guilty all the time.  It’s the guilt that gets to me.  It’s like I can’t see or feel much else.  Just when I think I’m about to get into what I’m doing, guilt comes chasing at me in a fury!  Distracting me and worrying me.  I’m on edge more and irritable from feeling defensive, and trying to get away from whatever this is.

Connie looked at me when I said,

Self-care begins and starts with “Me.”  Although we may be living for others and other things, even living for God, if we don’t take care of ourselves, our health first, our emotions and behavioral health included, we can’t give much, in the way of living, to those others.

I could see her pupils change and I got a little excited.  She was hearing something that affected her whole body and I sensed it was hope.  (See, I am an Emotions Jedi.)

We talked more about approaches she was using, prayer/meditation, exercise, grit and determination, waiting it out for better days to come and others.  Then I introduced the medical paradigm.  (You’ve heard me say it.)

Behaviors and emotions come from the brain.  We culturally think that they are volitional, under our control.  But how much can we really control of what the brain does?  Some.  But when we do the best we can with what we can control, and our behaviors and emotions are still hurting us, affecting our quality of life, damaging our relationships and connections – we need to look for biological reasons.  That’s where choice can still come into play.

She was looking and nodding.  This was at her “consideration stage” of introducing these new ideas.  I said,

I thought of telling you about this when you talked about guilt Connie because maybe your guilt is coming because of a brain illness.  It’s common in several emotional illnesses, like depression or anxiety, and in these illnesses it commonly comes in force, like you’ve described.

Her pupils had reduced to their earlier size, and her posture said she was winding down for that visit.  Whatever we discussed after that would be low yield, so we made a follow-up appointment and called it a day.

These days later, remembering Connie gets me thinking about what I would have said if she had been available to still hear more.  This bit about freedom to choose self-care, yet saying we have little to do with how our brain works can get confusing.  It might seem contradictory.  Tomorrow, I’m going to discuss it more, but for today, it would be wonderful to hear what you think.

Questions:  With behaviors and emotions coming from a material biological organ, the brain, yet knowing that we are free to choose for our self-care, what gives?  How do these ideas jive?  How have you seen it play out in your life?  Please tell me your story.

If it Matters to You, Even The Hot Shots Say, SELF-CARE BEGINS AND ENDS WITH ME

i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i ! i i i i i i

Self-Care Tip #220 – Take your freedom and be good to yourself.

Free-will keeps cropping creeping climbing clambering up with us.  Go figure.  As usual, Carl pushed buttons and inspired me to remember the lovely word “self-government.”  I was so delighted that not only does the term self-government say it so well, but I felt like I was the first to come up with it.  Then I googled around and found Webster, many countries (possibly yours,) and even our own constitution of the United States (“We the people…”) might have wrinkled time and stolen it from me before I even thought of it (See Einstein and the Fabric of Time.)  Can you believe that!

While calming my unappreciated self, I ran across like-minded David Rigoni’s splendid work at the University of Marseille.  (After reading this, I’m sure he will delight in hearing us named, “like-minded.”)  Dr. Rigoni says,

Folk psychology tells us if you feel in control, you perform better.  What is crucial is that these effects are present at a very basic motor level, a deep level of brain activity.

He and his team studied thirty people over different tasks, using different mediums of examination and deduced that it is better to believe.

If we are not free it makes no sense to put effort into actions and to be motivated.

Dr. Rigoni’s work reminded me of the work of MIT neuroscientist Sebastian Seung.  Some time ago, Dr. Seung gave a wonderful TED conference,

I am my connectome.

Dr. Seung tells us the good news that we are more than our genes.  The connections among neurons are where memories and experiences get stored – not in the genome.

My pleasure grew when I read about the collaborative work from a few schools we’ve heard of – see NYU news.  ….Apparently goals and habits show overlapping neurological mechanisms.

This is all very exciting to our self-government.  I’m sure that we the people would hate to find out that all this time we’ve demanded our freedom – it wasn’t even possible.  But it is – even per the hot-shots of the world. The sophisticated and unsophisticated, in paradigms of thought, Time and Timelessness, learning, beliefs and feelings, in my country and in yours – we continue comfortably and with confidence to say, SELF-CARE BEGINS AND ENDS WITH ME.  (See Ghettysburg Address.)

Questions:  When have you found yourself unable to claim your freedom to be friendly with yourself?  How have you managed to cross the barriers you perceived around yourself or others?  What would you like to tell Carl or Carl?  Please tell us your story.

Check Your Read. Even When You Feel Shame, Bullied and Herded, You Are Free.

Eve covers herself and lowers her head in sham...

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Self-Care Tip #219 – Check your read.  Be a friend to yourself.

I’ve been reading the comments on suicide, thinking and reading and starting who knows how many posts for today, but just couldn’t pull it together.  I spent my time rather drawn to the same words that I hear so many others say as well in clinic, in church, on the street, in the home.  Instead of seeing them find their place in me like I normally do with this kind of crowd, the words kept their space; word-snobs – crutch, selfish, dependent, moral and other words, dusting and reapplying in their reflection.

I had to think, “Why?  Why am I staring like this?”  And so the rest of the day, I perused those thoughts, licked my finger, flick, next, paper-cut and so on.  After all, this is SELF-care I’m talking about, implying I am starting with me.

At last, after rereading yesterdays and past comments, I found the shame I was avoiding.  Why I feel shame about these things isn’t important in this post.  (Maybe another post.  So if you have nothing else to keep you reading, you’ll have that dish to bait you.)

Shame comes when implied or direct judgment creeps into our space.  It herds us.  We are bullied and lose our personal boundaries.  It touches and violates.  That is what shame does.  Any time our perception of freedom feels threatened, it is normal to want to defend ourselves.  Separating from stigma is a normal response.

Claiming the shame, however, isn’t forced on us.  It is our choice.  Once we own the shame, then wanting to get away from reminders of it, of course, is natural for anyone.  But jog back and see.  The perception of shame was never forced on us.  We are free.  We are free to feel, to perceive, to believe, to choose or to stop rubbernecking at the sparkling drama.

He made me so mad…!

She really hurt me.

You ruined my life!

I don’t want to take medications because my husband makes fun of me.

I take Prozac but I don’t have mental illness.  I’d be ashamed to…

It is a normal response to not want to be in the space where we feel these things.  That is natural and what many have thought worth fighting for.  But what if our perception, our Sixth Sense, wasn’t getting a good read?  A war might have been avoided.  Our lives might be lived differently.

We really are free, already, to choose.

Question:  How do you see shame affecting your ability to be friendly with yourself?  Or others?  How have different perceptions put you in a place that felt more free and safe?  Please tell me your story.

Suicide. Is It A Natural Part of Life?

Society of suicide logo

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Self-Care Tip #218 – Find your own answer about why you fight against the “natural” course of mental illness.  Be a friend to yourself.

Suicide.

In psychiatry, we hope through conversation, evaluation, intuition and information to be able to say when someone is at risk to hurt themselves so we can do the best we can, collaboratively with any others, to stop suicide.  Sometimes there isn’t enough anyone can do.  Sometimes suicide happens.  Death is part of life and people die from illnesses all the time.

Question:  Why do we fight against death from mental illness, specifically by suicide, so hard?  Please tell me your story.