Caregiving and Selfcare

Fallen_tree2Being a caregiver is, well, …giving!  There is a need.  We respond to the need.  We give.  There is taking from what we give.

When we talk about this, some of us hear the tap, tap of a bookkeeper balancing ins-and-outs.  Tap, tap, take, take.  We feel dangerously close to objectifying what is Magical.  Objectifying what we get from giving loses at this point in our thoughts the bigger circle of love that motivates us.  Let’s acknowledge and respect that.  The bigger reasons are so worth aspiring to and treasuring.  You who believe in what is more than the numbers of our motives and behaviors, please continue to nurture us with this wisdom.  Be patient as we wander in the corners and cracks and in the places we don’t understand so well.

The point of giving, others pursuing the caregiver’s story later respond, is what we receive.  The love, the satisfaction of observing what our efforts contributed to in another’s rescue.  Perhaps, knowing we participated in saving a life.

Am I a caregiver?  Are you?  Well, maybe we think we are excluded from this category because we don’t liaison between one suffering life-being with the world around.  But are!  We all are caregivers by the definition of what is means to be living.  Living is connection.  We, each of us, are connected to the Universe and the different points from there to here where we stand.  Connection is inherent to living.  To live is to be connected.  To disconnect is to die.

This is somewhere along the philosophical thought experiment of, “If a tree falls and no one hears it, does it exist?”  I am told by those who might be wiser that it does not.  I don’t get it and what does that say about me? 😉

Observation vs. reality.

Connection is like that.  It is not perceived sometimes, and sometimes it is perceived.  This is important to Me.  To the part of each of us that is more than our senses.  More than Time and the condition of our health.  More than brain illness.  This is important to caregiving because by increasing our self-awareness of our role in connection, and thereby caregiving, we have an opportunity to increase our ability to combine the Magic of it with the “accounting ins-and-outs.”  Thereafter, we are lead to increase our transparency to others, increase our connectivity and increase our experience in Life Quality.

Magic is compatible with that which is known.  More even, they are not divided, whether we know it or not.  Magic and that which is known, just are.  We are arrogant people any way we turn the talk, of course.  None of us without agenda.  None of us without projectile pride.  But despite this, we have Grace and whether we hear the tree or not, Magic and knowledge have made allowance for us.

Caregiving comes with connection.  We give, we receive, and we do it with agendas.  Increasing our self-awareness through the process, although it feels at times like ringing out a cash register, and feels soiled by the sound of that which taking brings, – self-awareness of our agendas brings more freedom.  We are more free to give by choice rather than martyrdom.  We give without perceiving ourselves the victim to those to whom we give.  We are more free to give to our other agendas.  We are more free to consider our own needs as needs-of-value from one who is also Loved and valued, Me.

Question:  Might increasing our consideration of our “Me” increase our giving well to others?

Do you consider yourself a caregiver?  How so?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Give well to yourself to give well to others.  Keep on.

And Then Stigma Disappeared

scarlet

Discover Your Sweetness – Value, That is To Say.

This historical post above is what I will start tonight with when we meet at NAMI.

The blooming sense of value that comes when we pause to appreciate our imperfect selves, our abused selves, diseased, pecked at, and unrighteous selves, this we can trust more than the who believes she serves altruistically.

I remember the Scarlet Letter by, Hawthorne, and wonderful dirtied Hester.

But, in the lapse of the toilsome, thoughtful, and self-devoted years that made up Hester’s life, the scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world’s scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, yet with reverence too. And, …people brought all their sorrows and perplexities, and besought her counsel, as one who had herself gone through a mighty trouble. …with the dreary burden of a heart unyielded, because unvalued and unsought,—came to Hester’s cottage, demanding why they were so wretched, and what the remedy! Hester comforted and counselled them, …at some brighter period, when the world should have grown ripe for it, in Heaven’s own time, a new truth would be revealed, in order to establish the whole relation between man and woman on a surer ground of mutual happiness. 

Once we value ourselves, much of stigma disappears.  There is a coming together of that which is “perfect” with that which is imperfect, flawed, “unvalued and unsought,” and we can see the disease in others and not demand perfection in them either.

Everything starts and ends with Me.

Questions:  How has stigma touched you?  How have you, do you, deal with it?  What helps you?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Let the imperfect come together with the perfect in you, to deal with stigma in others.

Getting Yourself Healthy Protects The Freedoms of Others

hey if you are too stinky we will ask you to l...

hey if you are too stinky we will ask you to leave not really sorry (Photo credit: stevendepolo)

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.

Recommended Reading:

Why not skip medication And Go Natural?

Mistaken Expressions of Freedom and Medication Compliance

Self-care is Not Selfish But You Might Feel Alone

Social circles of Influence

Many times I feel like a stranger because I don’t want to do what they want.  

Pilot was perplexed and sad. 

This is familiar to me.  There are lots of these times.  When I was a kid I didn’t know to call feeling like a stranger, “normal.”  I didn’t know I wasn’t alone.  I thought feeling like a stranger was qualified bad.  In the older Me, part of Me knows.  The rest of Me is conflicted.

Talking about self-care is like that sometimes.  I don’t know yet how to consistently teach others without hurting them.  

Self-care is not selfish, I say, but it doesn’t make sense.  

They hear me and the long anticipated enemy they knew would come suddenly wears my face and uses my mouth and voice.  People look at me in horror.  I watch their faces blanch and despair, as if they know they are holding a fork and knife to defend against magic and they will die a martyr’s death.  

No.  It’s not like that, I say.  

But they don’t hear more.  They crouch in a thicket.

Researcher, Jennifer Walters, describes how social influences such as team-based competition leads to a healthier BMI (basal metabolic index) and weight loss.  We may say, “Um, yah!?!” as if everyone knows that from Biggest Loser.  But just like holding an apple looks like crunchy food to Mary, John see’s a projectile.

It must be researched.  It must be said.

We don’t believe that taking care of Me is selfless.  We are scared.  To love ourselves means being alone and feeling the stranger.  Taking care of others “first” intuitively tells us that we are connected and right. This is a distortion.

I argue that this intuition to care for others first is not our friend.  The intuition to care for others first is not friendly when it is driven by fear of being alone, fear of being the stranger.   At some point in the timeline of selflessness to selfishness we find that we cannot.  We have ruined and thereafter cannot care, serve or do much for anyone but take. Now we, without getting consent from those same others, are in a place of being served.  We didn’t ask our loved one(s.) 

Would you like to take care of my wasted self?

We didn’t ask if it was ok with them that they be put in the position of now being our own caregivers. To answer their wants before our needs is a trick on them, an exchange for us taking care of them now for them taking care of our needs later when we cannot.  But we didn’t ask. We didn’t make a transparent negotiation.  If they knew we were taking care of their wants before our needs or wants, if we knew, would we un-crouch, step out, hear and consider?  However, we responded before we felt alone.  We gave before we felt the stranger.  We didn’t ask, we didn’t consider and now we cannot.

Growing healthy involves the sometimes happy journey towards a knowing that giving to self long enough becomes someone who gives to others; long enough a stranger to grow familiar.  And it isn’t selfish.

Caregiving for others starts with caregiving for Me.

Question:  How does becoming your own friend separate you from those you want close?  How do you survive feeling alone long enough to know that you are not?  When the stranger becomes familiar, does it make that time and difficulty worthwhile?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip – Remember, self-care is not selfish, even when you feel alone.

Calibrate the forces in your life

Calibration

Calibration (Photo credit: Kyle McDonald)

I’ve taken this week off, mostly at least. Besides a couple half-days, I’m living the non-income life, otherwise known as “vacation.” In any sort of self-employment, that’s what vacation is – a carefully calibrated force with another opposing, calibrated to keep me from mutating. All for the price of income.

It was getting close there, and just in time, after the significance of making wrong change and missing signatures finally broke through, I found myself here. Vacation. #gratitude.

But what does one do, “relaxing?”

Yesterday, someone asked what Adam and Eve did before the fall. I loved that question. What did they do all day? Reminded me about my thought-thumbing through what a heaven or eternity would be like. Where’s the delicious tension from living this way, dynamic and traveling persons? I’m very interested to know what will keep my attention for eternity.

Anyhow, vacation is like what one patient described as counting the days, either with anxiety or happy anticipation, of when you will be going back to work. I would say that it’s an exercise in calibrating the forces in ones life, before she mutates.

I remember as a little girl, with tangled hair in my eyes and muddied toes, hearing, “At the end of someone’s life, no one ever says they wished they worked more.” It scared me. I sensed the intent behind these words to threaten whoever was out there working and not spending time with their family. I was scared for them and at the same time for myself. This has replayed many times in my mind since then, in shifting sounds and shapes as my thoughts took on the years and experience of what family time offers/takes verses work time. And then finally one day, I said to my sister, “When I’m in the dying stage, I don’t think I will agree with that. I can’t imagine ever not wanting to work more.”

When one gets to do something as fun as work in psychiatry, with heroes and see magic and watch what all that does to their own person in a process no less than what a dreamers canvas would display – they don’t ask for less. They will always want more, and so will I. This is not a qualifying statement of how much of my family I want in my life at all. One of the major problems with the original scare is that it is based on assuming either-or, either work or family. That’s ignorant, same as my fear.

So tonight, after a pajama day cleaning out the toy room, kids and movie time, my flow was interrupted by thoughts of patients’ narratives and personalities, and I missed them. Vacation, against that, makes for a pretty relaxing time. #gratitude.

Self-Care Tip – Calibrate the forces in your life. Be a friend to yourself.

Questions: How do you relax? Do you enjoy your work? What will you still want more of when you are in the dying process? Please tell us your story.

Be as Good To Yourself As You Want Your Loved Ones to Be to Themselves

English: Danboard holding a Christmas gift.

So what brought you here today?  What are you looking for?

Want to parent better?   Kids don’t take care of themselves?  They aren’t responsible?  Accountable for their actions?  They are disobedient?

They don’t realize our loving motives?  If they do, they will be able to find more pleasure in life.  If they …they will have more freedoms, they will have spending power, they will have decision making ability, they will be present in their life, able to connect with others and with their own personal journey, they will.  You name it.  They will find the shortest, most direct route to their brilliance and resources to achieve what they were designed to do – service in any form.  Is this so much to ask?  Wink.

How can we help them see?  By starting with Me.  Do this generosity for ourselves.  How many times do we point outside of Me to find a place of control for Me?  Even to the small about packing lunch – as if forced to pack our children’s lunch, we point out.

Drifting down, how many times does our child complain of what we put in their lunch?  What would happen if they packed it for themselves?  What would happen if they ate what they packed?  Oh, just junk.  …Who purchased the junk food?  Where did it come from?  It swirls on. This reminds me of the musical, “Into the Woods.” “It’s her fault! It’s your fault.!”…

But here’s the anchor.  We are free.  We are free caregivers.

Freedom is like a lovely package wrapped in the most exquisite paper, tied with a bow so lovely that we know it came from God.  It is sitting in front of us.  Like all real gifts, the gift of freedom is free.  It has nothing to do with my bank.  It came because of the Giver, not because of the merit of the recipient – Me.

Me, that is to say any one of us, cannot unearn the gift either.  Freedom is like that gift that keeps reappearing no matter how we try to get away from it.  Does it become a curse?  We are free to make it one because even if we don’t claim it, even if we don’t choose to be accountable to our decisions, it doesn’t change that we are.  And when we are finally able to look in, with insight, and have knowledge – we are accountable to what we see.

Paul said,

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  

Job said,

“therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.  …but now mine eye seeth thee.”

Does the gift, freedom, turn into a curse?

 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Every person who grows in knowledge and understanding at some point hopefully says that they grow also in understanding how little they know and have yet to learn.  This is what comfort we have in knowing that in the eternity of forever that comes ahead after this life, we won’t run out of things to do.

We all talk as if we know more than we know, with pride and forgotten humility.  I want to turn this over, but repentance in this case cannot be as implied – once and for all.  It is recurrent at best and I surrender the frequency and my degrees of insight to God and you.  Feel free to take Me gently along with you on our travels.  I hope our kids will be that good to Me when given the opportunity.  I have no doubt, they hope the same of us.  But you can see, it starts with Me.

What is a true friend?  It is one who loves.  Starting with Me.  What is parenting better?  It is giving to yourself what you want your kids to have.

The Stoic, Seneca the Elder, wrote,

“What progress, you ask, have I made?  I have begun to be a friend to myself.” That was indeed a great benefit; such a person can never be alone.  You may be sure that such a man is a friend to all mankind.

(And here I thought I was the one who came up with, “Friend to Yourself!!!!”  Oh nasty tumble.)

This is what it is; hard, easy, soft and difficult.  Having each other to help Me be friendlier to myself is a big advantage.  You are so valuable to Me.  Knock Me down and catch Me – whatever pride and forgotten humility leave Me needing.  Thank you.

Question?  How does being a friend to yourself improve your parenting or caregiving of others?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Be as good to yourself as you want your loved ones to be to themselves.  Be a friend to yourself.

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If You Love Me, Give Me Less But Give To Me Bigger and Better

Repost

Good news.  Marcy was better.  She was feeling better emotionally, less triggered by simple stressors, and parenting better.  Marcy didn’t think it was anywhere near easy, but it was better.

It had started for her about six months ago, when she realized her children were on edge around her, when she realized she didn’t want to be around her children and when she didn’t like much else either.  Was she a “crabby woman?”  Ouch.  It hurt her to think that.  Were some people just mean?  And she was one of them?  Marcy said no.  She couldn’t make anyone believe her these days but she knew she was designed for something better than that.

When this happened, Marcy hit self-care boot camp.  She cut her time with her kids, husband, any extras.  She didn’t cut them out, but she did cut back.  With that time, she went back to the starting point – herself.  She gave less to them, and more to herself so she could give bigger and better to them whom she loved, not excluding herself.

Good news.  Marcy is better.

Self-Care Tip – Give more to yourself.

Question:  What has your self-care taken from those you love?  What has it done with what you still give to those you love?  Please tell me your story.