Some of our most difficult cases are when we, the medical care-givers, think we know better how to take care of someone than we do take care of ourselves.
When a person maintains decision making capacity, but whose brain health disables them, if we care, we care.
Monty was one of these. He was ill! He was ill on so many tectonic plates, no one near him could keep their footing. His quality of life wasn’t what he wanted. He was disconnected from meaningful relationships. He was suffering. However, he couldn’t decide to engage in therapy.
Monty wanted to go “natural” but couldn’t name any natural therapies he’d be willing to try. He didn’t want to continue suffering, but couldn’t accept medications “just yet.” We went into one option after another, invested time together learning about brain illness and coming to terms with the biological involvement in where emotions and behaviors come from, and we did it many times. Monty had a full informed consent.
Deciding not to treat or to treat is not easy for any of us. Watching Monty step away into the foggy chaos of sex abuse and obsessive compulsive rituals was really hard.
We fight for our freedoms when we fight brain illness. I suppose we fight for the freedoms of others as well, simply by taking care of our own selves. Letting Monty choose even when his choices are affected by his illness is still his right and I defend him. We all who take care of ourselves have more to offer Monty than if we didn’t, including a defense against the losses that brain disease brings – like processing information.
I’m not sure yet how to explain how taking care of ourselves influences the freedoms of those around us who are less inherently free by brain illness. I suppose like anything good, freedom is contagious, a little bit of light in any room, Love being stronger than death and the Gettysburg address – this is along those lines. It makes a difference to the Monty’s out there that we all take care of ourselves.
Self-Care Tip: When frustrated that you can’t help others, get yourself healthy. It’s contagious.
Question: Have you been in the place where you thought you knew what was better for someone else then that person’s own choices? How did you deal with that? Please tell us your story.