Flaws You Love. Presence.

More on Life-ers.  (Those darn perdy dandelions.)

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I had an interesting comment a couple of days ago on the concept of Life-ers.

If you have a weed in your garden, you pull it.  If there’s something wrong in your life, you don’t fall in love with it.  You get to weeding.

I can see the point of this argument as I’m sure you can.  I can also see where I didn’t get my point across well, or else this argument wouldn’t as likely have been voiced this way.  The person who said it isn’t stupid and neither am I.  But how do we come together on this?  There are Life-ers that are both weeds to pull and weeds to just plain garden I reckon.

We here at FriendtoYourself.com, got one of the most practical life examples of a Life-er.  It is both one that can be weeded and one that can’t.  Please read it if you haven’t yet.  Emily said in response to blog-post, One Woman’s Struggle,

I related deeply to Kara’s experiences. …I have been a self-identified compulsive overeater (or binge eater) since I was a child. It has always loomed large (pun intended) in my life. I have successfully dieted and lost 30-40 pounds at a time, and then I’ve gained everything back — with interest. It has been my obsession and my bete noir.

Eight years ago, out of pure desperation, I went to a Overeaters Anonymous meeting. I didn’t necessarily like it at first, but I recognized my problem as an addiction. If you hold my experience up next to an alcoholic’s, there is no difference. I struggled a long time with the program, but today I am living what OA calls an abstinent life. My definition of abstinence is three reasonable meals a day with nothing in between. I am shrinking to a healthy body weight.

I have also developed my spiritual side and my relationship with my higher power (that I get to define) is what makes it possible to eat like a normal person. My obsession has been lifted, one day at a time. Like an alcoholic, this is not something I can do on my own.  This is supported by about 25 years of data.

I am experiencing freedom I couldn’t even imagine walking in the doors of my first meeting — freedom from fat, freedom from compulsion, openness to change and growth and a life that is no longer nearly as self-centered.

Sana, you asked if it helps to think of it as an addiction — for me, it’s not an analogy; it IS an addiction. I use the Big Book for the solution. My recovery is just like that in any other program.  And it’s the ONLY thing that made a difference — not just for me, but for the dozens of people I share OA with. I hope this is something health professionals will understand one day. OA is an underutilized tool, and I think that could change with better understanding and guidance.

Thank  you Emily for your story.  I haven’t been able to get you out of my mind.

Addictions is a weed we could more often agree is a Life-er.  That isn’t to say there aren’t those of us who think that they can be weeded and be done with, but the general consensus in medicine is that they are Life-ers.   However there are other Life-ers besides addictions.  Recurrent major depressive disorder, treatment resistant major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, okay – a gazillion other medical illnesses that won’t respond to weed killer or a gloved garden-grip.  There are also non-medical Life-ers, such as poverty, natural or unnatural disaster, rooted social stigma and so forth.  We could even use the biopsychosocial model to catalogue them if we wanted.

One of the things that intuitively sits poorly about Life-ers in our culture and communities is the helplessness that can soil it.  However, we are not implying helplessness at all.  Just as this courageous Emily described, when we take care of ourselves, when we befriend ourselves, we take accountability for where we are now.  Our yards improve neighborhoods.

For the world out there who is scared to garden with us, I have this to say.  Get over yourselves.  What we are growing is worth the space we occupy and of high value.  You may never know it, but we are and we have bank to show for it.

Questions:  What is your response to those who call your Life-ers weeds to pull?  What are some examples of Life-ers you’ve fallen in love with and how did you?  Please tell us your story.

No water and no Internet

I don’t know which is worse – no water or no Internet. Oh poor me. Boo hoo. (I’m laughing cuz I know how pathetic I sound.)
I was w/o water yesterday and today alas, no Internet. I think I am in shock. If you don’t hear from me again, please know that I loved you. Think of me with fond memories and carry on the torch. Out.

Life-ers – Our Beloved Flaws

Giovanni Baglione. Sacred Love Versus Profane ...

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Life-ers.  Our flaws that are ours for life.  Not a broken leg, not a bad haircut, life-ers last as long as our genetic code stays in tact.  I was talking with my beautiful eighteen year-old niece yesterday about loving our flaws.  The look she gave me was enough to say,

“Auntie Sana, you are the crazy auntie aren’t you?

Unfortunately, when people give me that look, despite the love in their eyes telling me to stop before I make things worse, I get set off to flap harder against the air trying to make them see how to fly.  My thoughts, like little ducklings with fluff for feathers, don’t always show what they will become when they are matured in discussion and practice.  So when my niece gave me her loving, “You are crazy,” look, I started talking faster, louder and my hands were doing the up and down thing.

I wanted her to know that she will love the people she wants to love better when she does that for herself.  When she loves her flaws, seeing them like a favorite rock she’s never been able to consistently climb or a piano sonata that she has practiced over years but still trips through and loves it even though she will never be its master – when she loves her imperfect self that much then she can love me.  She can love me better when she doesn’t hate her failing self.  I fail her and will for life.  She can love me as I am when she gives herself the same passion.  She can love me enough not to want me to stay this way, when she pushes herself, works herself and throws her energy against the barriers against her own growth – why? because she loves herself enough to do that.

My niece and I talked about God too.  God loves us completely now.  He doesn’t want us to become perfect before He loves us entirely.  He doesn’t love the parts of us that don’t let Him down only.  He doesn’t divide us up between good and bad cells, genes for heaven and genes for… well, not heaven.  God loves us passionately now.  Why in the world would we think He would want us to feel any differently about our own selves?  Wouldn’t that be pretty lame if God said,

“I feel this way about you, but don’t you go accepting your own flaws.  Only I can do that.  You had better hate your flaws and despise yourself for them until they go away.”

I was reading an amazing story accounted by The Itty Bitty Boomer, where we are given some of the inner scene of one woman’s flawed and perfect self, Carie, growing to love her life-ers just like you and me.  She tells us,

“Recovering from obesity is much like recovering from any addiction – the battle is never done or over.  Over the last 3 years I have regained 25 of the 90 pounds that I lost.  I could fall easily into blame and self-hatred and beat myself up for failing again … but I do not think I’ve failed. And the more I keep myself in that mindset … the easier it is for me to keep on track to dump the pounds picked up.”

Speak it!

Self-Care Tip – Love your life-er.  Have you given your life-er a hug today?  (Smile.)

Questions:  What are your life-ers?  Are you able to love them yet?

What do you think about a God who asks you to love yourself either differently than He does or as well as He does?  How do you see it?  Please tell us your story.

Oxymorons – The Flexibility In Us That Ties Us to Both Sides of Hope

Clara Bohan, wrote about the wise “white buffalo,” sacred to the Lakota as well as other Plains Tribes, such as the Apache and Cheyenne.  White buffalo’s bring us a message.  Read Clara’s blog if you want to know the message, but what we reference here at FriendtoYourself.com, is the embrace of magical thinking with an indian wearing sunglasses beside a plastic banner.  I love it.

The oxymoron is no more inappropriate than the oxymoron we find in becoming our own best friend.  In yesterday’s post, bluebee called it “schizophrenic,” which means a “broken mind.”

Self-care is an oxymoron at every turn.  Love ourselves the way we are.  Love ourselves too much to stay that way.  Are you okay with that?

Sometimes I say that calling myself a “Christian psychiatrist” is an oxymoron because I know emotions and behaviors come from the brain, yet I believe in outside input, or what many call magic and unscientific.  My own white buffalo.

Getting comfortable with the oxymorons in our life is a friendly thing to do.  We are not so perfectly collected, so well-designed and well-defended that we will ever be above the magic each of us consider, quality of life.  We could describe this in part as having a flexible identity for our own safety.  If we take away the oxymoron, we threaten our hope-factor in life.  We die as anything does that doesn’t move.

So there’s our tip.

Questions – What oxymorons are serving you well?  How?

Have you hugged your oxymoron today?

One Woman’s Struggle To Shed Weight, And Shame

Joana Johnson, from CreatingBrains.com, found the following story on the NPR iPhone App:
http://www.npr.org/2011/07/25/138606501/one-womans-struggle-to-shed-weight-and-shame?sc=17&f=1001

One Woman’s Struggle To Shed Weight, And Shame

by Tovia Smith

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America.

In her 37 years, Kara Curtis has seen every dress size from 26 to 6. Looking through old photos, in her slimmer days, you see a young girl standing tall and pretty in her tiara as high school prom queen, and strong and lean in team shots of her track and swim teams.

Growing up in rural upstate New York, Curtis and her family were totally into fitness and nutrition. Her mom used to send her to school with a lunchbox packed with liverwurst on homemade whole-wheat pita, topped with sprouts grown in their kitchen cabinet. It kind of makes sense, Curtis says, that she went a bit crazy for chocolate and cheesy stuff when she was finally living out on her own. But it still took her by surprise after college when she gained nearly 100 pounds in a year.

“I remember the first time I ever heard myself called obese — it was terrible,” Curtis recalls. She was at her doctor’s for a regular check up when he started dictating notes in front of her, describing her as “an obese 22-year-old.” “I was just shocked to hear the word obese related to me.” Curtis says.

No Easy Solution

Fifteen years, countless failed diets and another 100 pounds later, “and now I’m morbidly obese,” Curtis says. “And it’s just overwhelming.”

Indeed, as one of the 70 million Americans who are obese, Curtis has watched her weight become the overriding fact of her life. It’s why she put off buying a new car, and stuck with a less-than-fulfilling job (she worried her size would limit her options.) It’s why she bought a custom-made bathrobe and porch swing and why she can’t comfortably go to the movies or get on a bike or in a boat.

“I love to kayak, but I haven’t been in years because I’m afraid my hips will get stuck,” she says.

At 300 pounds, every day is a struggle with the little things — like chafing on her inner thighs or tying her shoes — and with the biggies — like love. With bright eyes and high cheekbones, Curtis is as pretty as she is engaging and witty. And she’s into kids and family, but totally down on the idea of ever getting back into dating.

“It’s not like I can just fix myself and be done,” she says. “If you lose the weight, you’re still stuck with the stretch marks and the extra skin, and the toll you’ve taken on your body already. And I’m probably still not going to be excited about getting naked with somebody.”

She has poured all her energy and untold resources into trying to get fit. But it’s hard to stay motivated, Curtis says, when the challenge begins to look not just difficult, but impossible.

“Really, if there was an easy solution, Oprah would have bought it,” she says.

Many Factors

There is little that Curtis hasn’t tried. Making breakfast one day — a pureed concoction of hemp and rice protein, coconut milk and avocado — she recalls the gamut: macrobiotic diets, Weight Watchers, Overeaters Anonymous, acupuncture, aerobics, meditation, therapy and all kinds of exercise — from punishing pre-dawn runs to what she calls more “joyful movement.”

She starts most days with a vigorous hour-long walk, escorting a group of neighborhood toddlers to their day care. Pulling several kids piled into a big red wagon, she breaks into a sweat just minutes into the mile-long trip. Several times a week, she sweats through a rigorous dance or yoga class.

But sitting down later to a lunch of a squash soup, Curtis concedes that what she really needs is not to burn more calories but to eat less. And yet every time she tries to diet, she ends up binging.

“This is not a simple thing,” she sighs. “There are genetic components. I mean, I look just like [my] grandmother and my aunts.” Looking back, Curtis says, she has battled serious food addiction and body image issues since she was a little girl. “Clearly, there is this piece that is programmed in.”

But it’s not the only piece, Curtis says.

She’s as conflicted about what’s behind her obesity and how to deal with it as society seems to be.

One minute she’s sympathetic and cutting herself slack, and one breath later, she’s beating herself up.

“It’s a very schizophrenic relationship we have with obesity,” Curtis says. “I understand it as addiction, but then there’s also this other piece of me that knows that there is a lack of willingness on my part. So really, who’s to blame for that? Me!”

But another moment later, Curtis will pivot again: It can’t be all her fault, she says. Those who make and serve or sell really unhealthy food also have a role to play.

Walking through her local grocery store, she points out the junk food that lies, like a trap, right inside the front door while the healthy foods section is at the far corner of the store.

“It would be really hard to walk out of here without something with sugar on it,” she says. And once she starts, “I’m never going to eat just one cookie. And there are times recently where I’ve eaten most of a box.”

The Personal As Political

What’s brutal, Curtis says, is that your failure is out there for everyone to see and judge. So, for example, at the checkout, she says, “There will be that moment of being like ‘Oh my gosh, I have ice cream on my conveyor belt.’ Like there is that pint sitting there. And I catch someone checking me out, like I shouldn’t be doing that.”

It’s the same kind of glares she gets on an airplane. These days, Curtis says, it’s like her personal problem has become political.

“Now, it’s not just like ‘You’re fat and I feel sorry for you.’ It’s like ‘You’re fat and that’s taking a toll on my life. You’re burning more fossil fuels, you’re raising health care costs.’ It’s more vigilante. It’s more harsh.”

And that tends to be counterproductive, Curtis says. It just ends up making her feel bad — and eat more. But she’s working hard to get past it. It was a huge step for example, to go on NPR and talk about being fat. It’s taken a long time, but she’s begun to measure progress by more than just her dress size.

“I’m really proud of myself for being honest about my situation,” she says, fighting back tears. “I feel like it was gutsy to come on and say this is what I struggle with, and I want it to stop.”

It’s all part of a very uneasy paradox, Curtis says. She’s got to accept herself and her body, even as she’s desperately trying to change it.

“There were periods of time when I used to hang skinny pictures of myself up on my fridge,” she says. “But that was brutal and mean. And I don’t want to be brutal and mean to myself.”

Curtis says she had a huge breakthrough recently, when she came out of the shower and caught a reflection of herself in the glass door.

“It was the first time that I’d seen that body and not been horrified,” she says. “It was not like I don’t want this to change, but it was just about standing there and seeing the entirety of my shape — and still feel loving toward it.

Curtis actually took a picture of her reflection, and she still looks at it, almost giddy with hope, that she might finally be on the way to shedding her excess weight by shedding the shame that surrounds it. But on the other hand she adds softly, “I’m also at the highest weight I’ve ever been, so that might be complete delusion.” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

I Must Remember – Me, You and Self-Care

Federal Express ATR 42-300F (EI-FXC) in Frankf...

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My dear friends, “second family” as Carl D’Agostino describes us, tomorrow is our one year anniversary. The misty memories leak a little, slurring my senses from any more I could handle just yet. I am almost forced to account. I am wetted.

By your simplicity or complexity, by your comments completing all those blog-posts with what we all needed still to hear and say, because you gave me your time better than I had known – in these ways you took me to spaces, cultures, homes, pleasures and suffering I could not have discovered in any travel, insight or study. You are the gift I never knew to ask for, the gift that was not a negotiation, that was free and multiplied because of its inherent goodness – you.

Every time I saw that you read, I read that you thought, with me, and knew you gave also.  Every time it has been as if Fed-Ex dropped a package at my little door. My fingers tingled when I joined you in our space as we typed and pondered and explored to unwrap,

“What makes Me a better friend to myself?”

Of all the late nights and frenzied minutes here and there, when I maneuvered moments into my days to spend with you, I never regretted the work. I never wanted less. I discovered, as if a virgin shore came in site and after years of feeling like a slow-moving barge – after that, I could race ahead. I wanted a going, a learning and a people to know and be known by. I discovered where to exhaust and pour my precious self with purpose rather than chance.

I found in this year together that every day there was a place to grow myself, to connect me with Me and with others, to account for what I determined loss and for what I considered gain and together, I found my best friend. Me. How could there be a better gift? You didn’t even know, which showed that the gifts we give are not always deliberate. Some of them come from us by accident and some by design. Maybe what you gave was just because but, I don’t care. I care about the rest. I care about my improved self-esteem, my refined purpose, my voice I learned better to throw and shape according to the needs I felt in Me and others.

And now as my eyes clear a little, since I’ve been given my chance to tell, this year stands alone in my history and unlike so many others, I am now able to say with any voice I find – I am special and worthy to be served.  And in so doing, I am loving both of us better. I can say without a blush that this is different from what they call “self-serving” and when I see you doing it too, I will try to bank better in my own account rather than steel.

The circle that started with Me and connected then through numbers of points where you are and who you touch and tell and have exemplified what being your own friend means, circles back and find Me again. I am humbly grateful to you and most to my God who brought us together. It is enough of a miracle that if I hadn’t before, I would now believe that I don’t understand. I submit myself to He who is greater than Me yet calls me His Beloved.

Thank you for this year of magic.

Your Own,

Dr. Q

Self-Care and The Body Connection

 

Guest Blogger: Sharon Sanquist, MSW

My friend Sana asked me to guest post here and I quickly knew what I wanted to write about.  Also, I especially love FriendtoYourself.com so, besides being flattered I am happy to contribute.

 

 

 

Self-care and the body connection

Isn’t it funny that when we start to tap into something important, we begin to “see” it everywhere?  The grocers, the office, at home or in the gym, there it is again.  Seeing this new point of interest in so many places is because we tuned into it.  The same thing can happen between our emotions and intellect with our physical selves.  We can become connected to our body; listening every minute of the day, always aware and seeing our needs in any circumstance.

What happens to the body when we are stressed?  Do we feel pain?  When we are anxious, depressed or have other negative emotions, what happens?

Through personal experience, I have become acutely aware of what my body is telling me.  For example, when highly stressed, the headaches and body aches become prominent.  But what to do about them?

People tell us to relax, meditate, eat right, sleep well and get exercise.  We all know these are things are good, but do we practice them?  And what are the specifics?  Which ones for headaches?  What about sleep?  We need strategies to coördinate our mind and body set up before the stressors hit.  We need a sign to make changes.  Signs such as pain, anxiety, depressed mood or headaches – these are our tools for listening and connecting to the rest of us.  They are not separate in any way from our skin, liver, arms or toes.

My self-care lately includes these signs to make changes – listening and being aware of what affects my body and making changes quicker when needed.  Being tuned in emotionally as well as intellectually, we can begin to learn what our body is saying.

Questions for readers: 

  1. What signs have you noticed that connect the physical symptoms to your emotional self?
  2. How have you made changes in your life once you tuned in to what your body is telling you?

Self-Care Tip – Listen… What are your emotions and your mind saying about the rest of your body?  Know your signs to make changes.

Sharon Sanquist, MSW, is a recent graduate from Fordham University at Lincoln Center. She has worked with individuals and groups in a long-term residential rehabilitation facility as well as in a community outpatient mental health agency. Sharon’s mental health therapy interest includes trauma, dissociation, LGBT, and issues surrounding chronic pain. She recently moved to Tampa, Florida and loves the warm weather and sunshine.

Serving Others May Not Have As Much To Do With Giving As You Thought

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Self-Care Tip – To be our own friend, be accountable for the service we do.

Bree was someone who was into details.  The moment of now was her reality.  She didn’t naturally consider the, “What if’s,” of tomorrows – but she did for the now.  And in her moments, if she slowed her day down so we could see all the threads individually weaving themselves together, we would see her doing lots of things.  Whirr.  She was busy.

I am a giver.  I know that I give all the time.  And I don’t get much from others.

Bree states she wasn’t getting much.  Giving, yes.  Getting, no.  Hm.  Let’s look at the threads that she spins and weaves.  Is this true?

Question:  Using the biopsychosocial model, what are the

things that Bree, or you, might be getting from giving?  Break it down! 

When You Fail, It Is Just Part of Your Journey so Keep On – Presence

No one can tell me what’s wrong with me!

When medications don’t do what we hoped we wonder what that means.  We think about the possibility that our diagnosis is wrong, that we are outside the known world of science or a new variation of diseased who will suffer without a label.  Is suffering without a label even decent?

I predict imminent catastrophe

Image by forestine via Flickr

Stephani wasn’t the only one in the world with these thoughts but she felt like it.  It was as if she was waiting for her real life to begin when she considered herself well.  There was the good part of her that was about fifty percent of her day hanging around.  The rest of the day was wrong.  She wasn’t able to cope with stressors and became helter skelter at random times of the day.

Trading places, in the door and out, out and in, polite enemies at best, the good Stephani and the wrong Stephani vied for platform.  Either part of her never felt fully right because of the looming flaws.  She couldn’t trust herself as long as they divided her life.

I don’t know why I don’t get better.  

I don’t know either.

That’s a precarious position to maintain as a physician.  My job is at stake because who goes to a specialist without answers?  …At least not traditional answers.

Take this pill tonight and put this warm compress on your bladder.  In the morning you’ll feel better.

Darn it!  Sometimes I so want to be that doctor!  But this is me.

What are you waiting for?  Is this place in life better than losing your life?  Why?

And then Stephani mentioned a few things that kept her breathing:  hope to get well, hope to have a family some day, life itself, her husband….

Why are you right or wrong?  Why are you well or sick?  Can you be both?  

Hm.  I saw some relief begin to settle in.  However, I also saw frustration.  Stephani wasn’t ready to be flawed and perfect.  She really like either/or.  That’s fine for now.  We were able to spend a little more time on the idea of loving all of her, of being a friend to all of her and of counting this moment worth living more actively.  If she doesn’t bale on me, we have time for her to get into the same room with herself.  The joining up of her wrongs and rights will make her life journey a lot better and less confusing.

People like Stephani have an addiction-like disease process to the either/or, the extremes, the poles, which we describe as “all-or-none” thinkers.  They remind me of any other blessed addict.  They would most likely do great working this over as an addiction.  Working the Steps.  Then they would understand what any other addict who works The Steps understands.  Failing is just part of the journey.

Questions:  Can you be both flawed and perfect?  How?  How do you love both parts of you?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip – When you fail, remember that it is just part of your journey and keep on.

  1. You Might Fall In Love With Your Flaws
  2. Love Differently, Love Your Flaws – Be a Tall Poppy
  3. Lady Gaga – Born This Way
  4. Try, Knowing We Will Fail
  5. Loving Me Without Ambivalence
  6. Codependent
  7. Finding What Perfectionism Can Offer Our Self-Care – In Summary
  8. Celebrate Your Imperfections
  9. Getting Away From All-Or-None Thinking
  10. Adequate

Whenever You Are Unsure, Go Back To “Me” – Self Care as A Reference Point

Church

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I’m back to everything starts and ends with Me.  It is such a delight to spend time in that space that I can’t help myself.  It draws me.  In that space, I find hope for conflicts in my life, a plan I believe in, I am accountable but not destroyed by my mistakes, I am less lonely and more connected to others and to God.  In that space, I am more a part of my life and the lives of others than I ever was in the “lose yourself in service” philosophy I was more familiar with or any other philosophical approaches to quality of life.  But I dont’ know sometimes how to share that with those who are afraid of Me.  I don’t know.

For example, sometimes when I’m in church and see the excellent people around me, I wonder what they would think if they read this blog.  I wonder if I were given the mike, would they be in their seats for long.  I’d want them to be.  I am a teacher and I get a lot out of sharing this message.  I thrive on connection so I’d be blessed that way too.  There’s much more about how that would roll back to Me and I to them.

Self-care is a reference point for me in these questioning times as well.  “What is the friendly thing to do?” I ask myself, “for Me?”  During these times, in any environment that turns me into a bunch of uncertain questions, I go back to “Me.”  That is where God is, my support network, my family, my coping skills, my health, my books and favorite toys.  That is what I call Me; my home.

Questions:  How do you share your self-care with other “cultures”?  Are you afraid?  In what ways have you been effective in doing it?  When you have done this effectively, what did it do for you?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip – Whenever you are unsure, go back to Me.

If you’d like to read some more about this, see “Related Articles:”

Everything Starts and Ends With Me
Are You Empowered to Start Everything and End Everything With Me?
Emotions and Behaviors Will Get Better As You Heal.
The Relationship Between God and The Me In Self-Care
Self-Care Works You, Pushes You, Tires You Out Until You Are Happily Spent On Your Friend – You

Revenge – Not so Friendly to Me

Original caption states "A photograph tak...

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If you have been around kids much you may marvel as I do, how fast they dish revenge.  I’m here to tell you, if you eat food off of my son’s plate, you should run.  Yet, seeing my or your four year-old hit someone is much less awkward than seeing an adult do it.  But they do.

Ingred told me that she had been humiliated at the make-up counter of Sephora.  A stranger had called her a bad name.  The stranger said it loud enough that other customers and staff heard it too, Ingred was sure.

“I just told her to go F— herself!”  

Unfortunately for Ingred, she was soon escorted out of the store by security who didn’t care about Ingred’s story and just wanted to keep the peace.  Also, unfortunately for Ingred, she essentially absolved the stranger of what little remorse she may have felt before Ingred retaliated.  Ingred essentially dissipated the natural introspection that comes to us after we misbehave, the natural drive to right our wrongs and the self-care that that stranger was due for.  Ingred had “paid the price” for both.  Ingred made herself the scape goat.

Ingred needed to buy into this concept but also that for her, everything starts and ends with Me.  Like us, Ingred takes care of her own feelings and behaviors to get friendly with herself. Taking revenge, getting even and responding by acting out we are trying to take care of their feelings and behaviors.  That’s not friendly to Me.

Inversely, if Ingred, or my four year-old son, had owned their feelings as their own, been accountable to their shames and angry selves and adapted to this stressor, they would have … Well you tell us.

Questions:  What has happened to you in these situations?  And how do you take care of your own emotions and behaviors, and account for them even when you perceive that you are provoked.  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care tip – Revenge isn’t friendly to Me, but being accountable to why we want revenge is, so try it out.

Become a Better Friend To Yourself In and With Your Culture

"Energy Crisis!" ...

Image by Toban Black via Flickr

A barrier to getting friendly with ourselves might be our culture.  The inverse of course could also be true.  ‘Takes culture to design the flavor of our homes and habits, our communities and the energy between us and them.  Think, TV in the bedroom, alcohol tasters offered to children, books or the absence of books on the floor and shelves.  Think religion and diet, family meals or take-out.  The way we deal with shame.  Culture is a gate-keeper for many of us.

We could call our culture, the way we live together at home, the balance between each family member and the flavor of emotions there.  Culture might be layered, wrapping us from one balance of energy into another into another creating our own galaxy between each point of light.  In any room, if we look we can find culture.  In any space outside, there is a flavor telling us how to maintain the balance between me and thee.

I don’t know if sociologists look at culture this way yet, but I hope they will.  With all that observing, data gathered and surmising, I hope they study how the individual can be a better friend to herself in “this” culture.  And then I hope they tell us.

Becoming an active designer of your culture is not always easy.  But it is friendly.

Questions:  How has your culture introduced you to your friend, “Me?”  How have you been able to develop a more friendly culture for Me to live in and grow in?  What’s still keeping you?  Please tell me your story.

Draw Sleep Hygiene Into Your Culture

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Thomas didn’t want to organize his life.  It wasn’t fun when things were predictable.  Lately however, that was the problem.  He wasn’t having fun anyways.  Thank God for work.  It was the one firm construct in his life.  Wake up, shower, drive and work until he drove home.  It was like Harold and his purple crayon had drawn this into place but forgot to draw up the rest.  When to go to bed?  When to eat?  When to play?

“Harold!  Get back here.”  

Before, Thomas had resented any imposed restrictions on him.  He liked to graze.  Now, with bewildering awareness of his unhappiness and unbounded self, he wanted help.  If help meant medication and the opinion of others, then so be it.  At least until he found out what happened him.

When Thomas came in to see me, he said he had lost himself.  His personality had changed and he was suffering.  We approached things from the biopsychosocial model.  We ran labs, got him in to see his primary doctor for a physical, considered life-stressors and his support structure.  We started medication and we introduced sleep hygiene.  I almost lost Thomas there.  Changing his sleep was changing his culture and he had enough recollection of his identity to know that he had liked to stay up at night.

Out came the sleep journal.  Thomas turned his body away and looked at me sideways.  We agreed to try improving Thomas’ field of knowledge on sleep and see if he would buy into this for himself.  We set a time-frame for his research and decision.  If he didn’t do the work to get informed, than he’d go with my recommendations until his brain illness improved enough to allow him to do more for himself.  We’d work together with our purple crayon and drawing in some lines.

Sleep hygiene is one of those purple lines in our life that help us know a better sense of who we are.  It does this for many many reasons you can read more about in previous posts listed below if you like – but it does do it.  Regardless of our temperament, if we like to graze or run to the barn, we all need solid refreshing sleep.

Self-Care Tip – Use sleep hygiene as a tool to get friendly with yourself.  Don’t be afraid.

Questions – Do you consider sleep hygiene as a useful tool in your life?  Does it come naturally or do you have to work at it?  How do you draw your lines in?  Please tell me your story.

Related Articles:

Let Love Come, Even When It Poops On You

There are not many people who can poop on me whom I will still want back.  Today, sitting at Olive Garden I noticed some brown on my white linen pants.  I thought, “Oh bummer, my soup spilled.”

Salad

Image by adactio via Flickr

The food was delicious.  I love their salad and minestroni soup.  Yum.  People say that the Olive Garden salad is the healthy food that really isn’t healthy and I believe them.  Especially because I always eat like it’s a challenge.  As if this may be the last salad I’ll get for weeks or perhaps I’m being filmed and about to get a prize for eating so much salad.

We were there with family, including my nieces and parents.  You may remember my youngest niece who was born premature and damaged, yet dominated the NICU at UCSD with her rapid developing health.  Remember how loopy I am over the perfect white and soft nape of her neck?  Well she is about one and a half years old now, weeble wobbles all over the place, and she loves me.  She really loves me.  I have thought that perhaps she may know something the rest of the bozos around are missing and I quietly congratulate her often.

Today, of course she wanted me.  We sat and snuggled and she gave me the ultimate compliment of letting me feed her.  After her third visit, and the fact that the brown spots on my pants kept reappearing, I finally let the truth sink in as well.  I had been pooped on.

After three babies of my own, anyone would think I should have known better, or perhaps been less repulsed.  But let me tell you thinkers.  I was so grossed out.  It was all of me not to lose my salad.

We all got cleaned up.  Mostly of course.  FYI – it’s not that easy to get poop out of linen in a public bathroom.  I was given lots of space by everyone thereafter.  Except from my niece.  Yes.  She was back.  And yes.  I wanted her.

Now, how to get a self-care nugget out of this?  Bring a change of clothes wherever you go and let love come.  Even when you get pooped on.

Sleep Is The Vital Sign Of Psychiatry

Yesterdays brief post, Just Go To Sleep, provoked and inspired many of us.  Perhaps it was its brevity, it’s mostly blank canvas in other words, that allowed for such freedom.  The comments ranged from major depressive disorder hypersomnia type, to insomnia related to anxiety.  We covered medication induced sleep, to parasomnias.  Some of us have to fight hard for our sleep time and others of us fight to get away from sleep.

I’ve covered a bit already on sleep in previous posts you can read if you want to review:

What I haven’t done is organize for you, as you did so well for me in your comments yesterday, the different reasons we sleep the way we do.  This isn’t a quick flick to show you but I will touch on Carl D’Agostino‘s question when talking about depression with increased sleep,

“Is our brain allowing us to escape the depression this way?”

English: Monitor of vital signs in intensive c...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love this question because it discloses simply by inquiry the full body involvement in the disease process of major depressive disorder.  Sleep is known as the vital signs of psychiatry.  It reflects what’s happening in the whole system, the whole person even down to a sore on your foot to the ravages of post traumatic stress disorder in your hypothalamus.  When sleep changes, we know to look into things.  There’s an investigation to be done.

 

 

We can, each of us, be part of the investigation:

  1. Maintain sleep hygiene.  Don’t indulge when we don’t want to go to bed.
  2. Observe our nights - is our sleep solid?
  3. If yes, is it restful?  Do we feel refreshed in the morning?  How is our day time energy?
  4. If not refreshing, why?  For example, do we snore?
  5. When do we have the most trouble - falling asleep, staying asleep, or falling back to sleep if we awaken?

When our sleep deteriorates, if nothing else has yet, we can bet it will soon if we don’t get our sleep restored.  Not everyone knows that during sleep, we heel, our hormones replenish and our memories consolidate.  Marie from blog-site, livingvictoriously, told us yesterday about her day time inattention after poor sleep,

“I have had nights with very little sleep that have left me feeling like I am unable to concentrate well the following day.” 

We all become a little drunk, disinhibited, inattentive and impulsive when we get little sleep.  Or opposite, as Carl described, with too much sleep we feel,

“vapid and uneventful.”  (Good word Carl, vapid.)

One of the sad times for me in clinic is when I meet a new patient who has suffered with insomnia for a long time along with another one or more combined brain illnesses and I fall into the, “what if’s?”  Knowing how much healing they would have gotten so long ago simply by getting sleep gets to me and I have to push it down and be grateful for the now, when I know they will find some relief.

Don’t minimize the role of sleep in our life.  Don’t minimize any changes in our sleep.  Take sleep seriously.  More serious than the rest of the stuff we usually ruminate over, like offenses taken, our appearance and the weight of our road bike.  If sleep changes, get a professional consultation.  If it doesn’t resolve, get another consultation and push and fight for your sleep.  It may be that health and lifestyle changes must happen.  Whatever it is, do it.  It is a friendly thing to do.

Questions:  What have you noticed about your whole body’s relationship to brain illness?  Has sleep been a part of it?  Did sleep harold any other important changes in your medical/emotional health?  Please tell us about it.

Self-Care Tip – Forget about sleep.  Just kidding.  Sleep well my friends.

Just Go To Sleep

Sleep

Image via Wikipedia

A multitude of sins would be forgiven, pills would be forgotten, pain would be diminished, hope would be restored, brain would be healthy if we would but go to sleep.

Questions:  What keeps you from self-indulging when it is time to go to bed but you’d rather not?  What helps you get your restorative brain rest?  Have you noticed that everything is better with sleep?  Would you describe it to us?

Self-Care Tip – Get solid restful sleep.  Be a friend to yourself.