Self-Knowledge as a Step Toward Self-Care

Yesterday, we introduced self-care and today we continue with self-knowledge.

Knowledge, mural by Robert Lewis Reid. Second ...

PattyAnne came in knowing what she wanted.  She was sure she was struggling with ADHD.  She could not focus, she had difficulty connecting with others, and she was impulsive.  This was limiting her intimacy with 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.

PattyAnne is rich inside, dark chocolate, not white, aromatic and effectively affecting.  Being with her means being touched.  When PattyAnne is good, her fresh aura in our shared space is healing.  Many baffled by this wonder why, when she passes through, they feel so much better.

Consistent with this intensity, when PattyAnne is not good, whatever comes from her is chemical warfare, and we are not safe.  You can leave, but you will always leave touched. Any time with PattyAnne feels like either too much time or too little.  We are wanting: wanting more or wanting less, somehow with PattyAnne, we will never feel satisfied.

This is part of why PattyAnne projected confidence while self-diagnosing.  Her temperament and coping skills predisposed her to do it.  Self-diagnosis in her and others also happen because of fear, lack of trust in their medical provider or defensiveness per their feelings of inequality.

There are good things that come with self-diagnosis to consider.

  1. Self-diagnosis is always informative.  Always.
  2. Clinicians may use it as a tool to build trust.  When not put off by self-diagnosis, clinicians might recognize these opportunities.

The self-knowledge each of us has on either side of the patient-doctor relationship is not inherently dangerous, and consider the inverse.  Clinicians come to the room with their own self-diagnoses as designed by biases and countertransference.  And which clinician is not also a patient?  There is good with bad and we have a choice, as always, within stories within stories….

Patients and clinicians perceive self-knowledge, at least in part, as self-care, and we are right.  Like Dad says, “Knowledge is never wasted.”  How many times have clinicians asked why patients do not try to educate themselves about their disease?  To begrudge them for it is to deny the value of that process and what clinicians also do under the guise of a license to practice.

Any of us can imagine that for both parties, these types of encounters cost emotional and physical energy.  For PattyAnne, we have mentioned already that she came defensive.

For me, I regret the times when I did not own responsibility for my feelings.  When a patient self-diagnosed, I too quickly assumed mal-intent, personalized behaviors and missed my opportunity to benefit from the connection inherent in the patient-doctor relationship.  This is what I wanted to avoid with PattyAnne.

I celebrate, however, these past many months our work on FriendtoYourself.com.  I experience much more pleasure in my profession.  I am even more clinically effective by taking care of myself first; by being present with myself.  My self-care professionally mirrors my personal self-care in that when I am first able to be present with my own self, such as through writing and interacting with you, my online community, I can then be present with my patients.

…I thank you for teaching me and hope we share this exchange for a long time.

When I can be present, I do not have to moralize my perceptions of patients’ behaviors and feelings.  Self-care is not a moral issue.

In the following posts we will discuss more about these terms: presence, moralizing self-care, trust, and the patient-doctor relationship.

Self-Care Tip – Grow your self-knowledge and find what it offers you, in turn, when observing it in others.

Questions:  What has your experience been when you have gone to your clinician with self-knowledge?  How has gaining self-knowledge been a friendly thing to yourself?  Please tell me your story.

 

8 thoughts on “Self-Knowledge as a Step Toward Self-Care

  1. hey sana, just wanted you to know I’m following along, I’m here, this is new to me but thank you for your self-care tips and advice. ~cat

  2. I have been “doing” mental illness for more that 25 yrs; so I feel comfortable saying that I bring a lot of self-knowledge to the table every time a see a doctor. It upsets me when they dismiss my ideas or opinions; after all I’m the one living with it, have read enough to consider myself educated on the subject, and it infuriates me when I am treated like a number. Why do they want your life story, when they already have formed an opinion of what you have? grrrr….. it drives me crazy. LS.

  3. First thing I’ve ever read where the therapist shared her vulnerabilities, boundaries, and sensitivities. Comforting to know the doctor is not a sterile clinician. Even human.

  4. I appreciate your honesty about yourself and benefiting from your blog. I am so glad that it is a two way street. I love this blog and your self help tips. It is refreshing to me to learn this way of being. I knew women nurture others more than themselves but didn’t know all the ways to nurture myself and I have been a registered nurse for 33 years in all kinds of fields. Even worked in Psych in a residential treatment center for adolescents. And have raised two children. I have even been a widow for six years.So this blog is opening my eyes all afresh. Thank you, Sana.

    • thanks clar! isn’t that telling that we find ourselves delightedly surprised that it is a two way street? silly for reasons that might sound whiney and boring but still silly ;).
      your comment means heaps to me clar. thanks for saying this.

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