You Are Enough.

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.

The Great Lie.

One of the great lies of mental illness is that, “If things weren’t so stressful, I wouldn’t feel so bad.”  Look inside ourselves now and see them.  All the numbered and ranked stressors we tick off to explain how we feel and/or behave.  How about someone we love.  Do we tell them, “Of course you feel that way!  Look at all you’re going through!”

Because major depressive disorder (MDD) is mainstream enough, I’ll use it as an example.  Who, when they are down, doesn’t look for reasons why?  Say there is an additive effect of stressors such as home conflicts, financial duress, and poor sleep.  Since these events, you haven’t felt pleasure, you’ve felt sad and depressed.  You aren’t motivated or interested in your usual.  And where you normally would seek people out when you felt down, to get more energy, now you just want to be alone.  And so on.  You are able to say that you started feeling this way progressively since triggered with those stressors about 3 months-ago.  Before that you were “fine.”

Many people in your life, have told you that you are just going through a bad spell.  You have believed them but say, “Even if this is a bad spell, if it goes on much longer I think I’d rather die.”  Your best friend responds, “Anyone would be depressed if their boss was that evil!”

My answer, “No.”  Feeling down is appropriate to stress when it doesn’t disrupt your life for more than two weeks at this level.  And it is never normal to want to die.  Everyone has stress but not everyone responds to stress in the same way.  Not everyone if put under your same triggers would develop MDD.

Would you have developed this disease if you weren’t put under these stressors?  I can’t say.  We develop illnesses for many reasons.  One of the many reasons is external stress.  A hypothesis supporting this is that stressors trigger our genes for MDD much like we know cancer genes can be turned on by stress.  However, we do not have a direct correlation to the stressors as being entirely causal events.

Even if it were, none-the-less, we are left with the disease process in progress.  It is not an adjustment reaction to stress.  It is medical illness.

Feeling this way is not normal for what you are going through.  Telling yourself that it is, that is the great lie.

Self-Care Tip #118 – Don’t believe the lie if what you’re going through is affecting your function in life.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  What whispering lies are you struggling against?  Please tell me your story.

Pebbles to Diamonds

 

yourloosediamonds.com

Self-Care Tip #117 – Notice, you got diamonds out of stones!  Be a friend to yourself.

Cindy replied to yesterday’s post (that had some discussion on functional mental illness,) “I understand Miranda’s feelings completely.  Some days it’s all I can do not to down tools and scream ‘What about ME?’”

That is one of the lovelies that these illnesses bring to us.  In our honest moments, we can, like Cindy did, perceive our own traits that resemble them.  Perhaps, if we are lucky, that will lead to empathy, one of the great human experiences.  To be able to put yourself in the hypothetical place of someone else.  To imagine what they think and feel.  “If I were in your shoes…” and so forth.  If you’d like, read more on this at this post.

Illness is often considered a step in the dyeing process.  Others see it as part of the living process.  Of course, it is both.  We are all on level ground when it comes to having been born, coming into life, and knowing we will equally die.  Illness reminds us of our like-natured frailty and of course the opposite – resilience.  Whether seeing our own illness or someone else’s, we have this privilege of being blessed this way.

My Dad used to tell me a story (author unknown) when I was little.  It’s been a long time but I remember it this way.

Three travelers were walking when they heard a voice telling them to bend down, pick up pebbles and put them in their pockets.  The voice told them further that in the morning they would be both happy and sad.  The travelers did but not equally.  Some pockets were more full than others.  In the morning when they awoke, their stones had turned to diamonds.  Whoever gathered many stones were happy even though all of them wished they picked up more stones.  But whoever gathered few, well, they were not happy.  They still had diamonds but the comparison soured them and they finished their journey full of “what if” thoughts and not thoughts about the obvious.  They got diamonds out of stones!

We are all similar, with the opportunity to say thanks in seemingly off times, such as mental illness.

Question:  What have your “stones” turned into?  Please tell me your story.

Courage Not To Presume.

Pony Express

Self-Care Tip #116 – Have courage not to presume.

Courage.  Courage is doing what frightens us.  I heard this definition and as usual I got a little stiff.  Definitions sometimes feel sticky to me and I’m trying to understand why.  Why is my lip curled?

In line the other day for the theater, a grandfather in front of me got talking.  I didn’t get any names; just that he was a grandfather of a 7-year-old girl who owned him.  Naturally he drifted into stories about her, including their most recent vacation to Knott’s Berry Farm.  They rode “The Pony Express” despite his fear and instincts.  I asked him if he was proud of his granddaughter’s courage and he replied, “She wasn’t scared!  So she wasn’t the one with courage.  I was!”  He laughed, and then I laughed, but I walked away to the ticket booth whispering, “What does he know about her thoughts?”

I see so many faces flashing across my mind’s eye.  I see them, and I hear them.  I realize their whispers have become mine because I believe them.  My patients are courageous.  These, who have not told others.  Who have not screamed when they wanted to.  These people who have put on the appearance of calm despite their fears.  They are a study in functional mental illness.

Functional mental illness, although historically refers to mal-behaviors and emotions without medical cause, now after years of increased knowledge and study, it includes their biological organic etiology.

As an example of functional mental illness I’ll tell you about Miranda, a mother of 2.  Miranda says her kids stress her out and she can barely take care of them.  However at her job, she performs adequately and no one would say she seems depressed.  She falls into bed when her kids do between 7 or 8 PM yet never feels refreshed.  Crying while pouring their cereal each day, she packs them dry bread and a pickle for their lunches.  No one would know the courage it takes for her to survive the moment and then the next.  They all presume she is fine.

After teasing apart my thoughts on courage, my lip has uncurled.  I understand that definitions bother me because they can sometimes imply freedom to presume more than one should.  We can never know people’s thoughts, motives, feelings entirely and that bit that we don’t know, may be the bit that changes their story.  If you want to read more, check out this post.

So for now, I can push down my fear of definitions, put on the face of calm, …and what?  Be a friend to myself.

And you?

Question:   Where do you need the most courage to do good for yourself?  How do you deal with your fears?  Please tell me your story.

Who Cares What Your Diagnosis Is?

Wheelchair basketball at the 2008 Summer Paral...

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #115 – If it’s not serving you well, don’t waste your time on it.  Be a friend to yourself.

Trixie Hidalgo, advocate to end violence in America, tells me that many of the people engaging in gang crimes tell her that they are put in their life positions (poor, stereotyped, impoverished) by the people who have the power, to keep those people in power and to keep them down.  They have some credible arguments we’ve shared before in history relating to oppression such as race, color, gender, money, or status.  Are these people victims?  Sure, why not.  But is that the point here?

The victims reminded me of a clinic I was in the other day.  I was working with Marcus and his father.  The father was torn about where to go to get his disabled son, Marcus, treatment.  Marcus was disabled with both brain illnesses and severe psychosocial stressors.  Currently we found Marcus, 2 years into treatment with me, and as of yet, father and mother (divorced without amicable terms) had yet to engage in treatment with me.  They wanted to know why Marcus was the way he was.  Father pointed at Mother and Mother pointed at Father.  They blamed other things as well, the schools not providing the right services, the medications for not working, his genes, and more.  Meanwhile, Marcus is tearing up his classroom and his own life.  He is barely functional socially.  Moody and volatile.  Anxious with physical symptoms.  He was having multiple medical work-ups going successively for various physical complaints.

Before I let them go, I told his parents, “Who cares what his diagnoses are?  It’s not about the diagnosis.”  The purpose of a diagnosis is to serve the patient.  The patient doesn’t serve the diagnosis.  Right now, Marcus was serving the quest for his diagnoses.  If all they can see is that, and they miss the fact that their son isn’t functioning, he’s depressed and anxious and violent and no one can stand to be around him, Marcus is worsening continually while they go on debating – they’ve missed “IT.”

They’ve missed it.  And so have we when we waste time counting up the offenses we’ve directly or indirectly suffered.  We miss it when we increase our injury by holding ourselves responsible to our history.  I asked Marcus’ parents what the point of what they were doing for Marcus was.  I ask the victims of America, what the point is when they point to history to answer for their present condition.  If it’s not serving you well, if it’s not doing something good for you, than what are you doing with it?  Do good things for yourself.

For the victims, for Marcus, and for Marcus’ parents, 1st make sure we weren’t missing something medical that was keeping them from having life quality.  You can’t give what you don’t have.  Then move on to the psychosocial issues and spiritual and so on.  What ever we ran into that missed our point, we’d walk past it together and on to something that served us well.

If you’d like to read more on this topic, read more in “It’s Time to Grow Up” and “The Whole World Becomes Blind.”

Question:  How have you managed to move past things that weren’t serving you well?  Please tell me your story.

Blog Carnival – psyche’s flashlight

Blog Carnival – psyche’s flashlight.

Looking the monster in the face, and/or discovering that it’s a god.

Description ¤ Dedicated to the personal experience of mental illness, psychiatry, psychology, and mental health, especially from the point of view of the patient, client, consumer, sufferer. Open also to health care providers, mental health professionals, friends and family, academics, writers, researchers, and anyone else who blogs about this subject.
Keywords ¤ mental illness, psychiatry, psychology, mental health, patient, client, consumer, sufferer, health care providers, mental health professionals
Filed under ¤ medicine, health & fitness
Carnival homepage ¤ High School Confidential
Submission deadline ¤ last Saturday of every month by 9pm EDT
Maintained by ¤ Bor D. Erline
Current status ¤ This carnival is ongoing.