Fred didn’t remember his panic. He thought his main problem was his sleep. His
so-called “main problem” changed with his symptomatology. Fortunately or unfortunately he didn’t know it was happening.
Fred reminded me of a paper doll. Now I’m a veterinarian, now I’m a clerk. Of course there are all the stories that accompany each outfit. Our smithy imagination is fast. Pull this off and press this in and now I’m a fire-fighter. Now I’m a noble, now I’m a… patient.
The other day after the Hemet NAMI meeting, (they meet monthly on the first Wednesday at the Hemet Seventh-Day Adventist Church), a member told me that when they do outreach, they begin their stories with something like, “We are people who,” or “I am a person who,” deliberately avoiding the word, “patient(s.)” Hoping to allow others to connect with their humanity, the specialness of their, “Me,” rather than the distortion that suffering is special they try to keep away from the paper doll experience.
Thinking of NAMI, thinking of Fred, I splayed the biopsychosocial-model tools I use. What was here for Fred? Fred’s biology was toward healing as he wasn’t having panic attacks any more and his thought processes were less circular. That’s what we wanted and signified that his treatments, (including medications and psychotherapies,) were at least not harming him as far as we could tell, and might even be part of what influenced his healing process. However, his ongoing symptomatology as seen in his poor insight, (paper-doll syndrome,) insomnia and persistent worrying thoughts demonstrated that his biology was only partially treated.
Fred, like you and I, and like women who labor babies into this world never remember their pain, by forgetting his panic, he lost his point of reference. I said,
Fred! This is significant! Yay!
Fred looked at me like I didn’t get it. He wasn’t sleeping. What was I thinking, “Yay?” Well… ”Fred I was thinking you aren’t panicking on a gurney in the emergency-room today. Yay.”
Remembering our suffering isn’t necessary but it can be a friendly reference point if we want.
Self-Care Tip: Use previous suffering as a reference point to celebrate when you aren’t. Be a friend to yourself.
Question: Have previous sufferings lost their strength in your memory and diminished your celebrations? How has suffering been used after they are gone to your advantage? Please tell me your story.
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