Say It Out Loud. Three Day Challenge.

Hello friends. Please join us at Friend to Yourself in a three day, “Say it Out Loud,” challenge.

Throughout the next three days, whenever you think of something you like & are grateful for about yourself, say it out loud to us.

I’ll start! ūüėČ

I like my body.

Say It Out Loud.

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Celebrating Your Courage Will Connect You With Your “Me” and With Community

Veterans Day

A seriously cool veteran was cruising Old Town today on his Harley with about fifty American flags affixed in mysterious ways to his bike and person.  I cannot figure how, but those flags were not going anywhere he was not.

I had forgotten today is Veterans Day, even though my kids were all home, off from school, properly running amok. ¬†This man, in his leather skins and industrial number of stars and stripes, reminded me. ¬†As we approached each other from opposite sides of the street, I saw him nod to another biker passing him by. ¬†His nod was enough to say, “Hello. ¬†You are not alone. ¬†I am not alone. ¬†We connect by this brotherhood.” ¬†I watched him in my rearview mirror and immediately dialed my dad, of course. ¬† “Happy Verterans Day.”

Sometimes we do not wear our history as confidently as this cool vet. ¬†How messy that would be, right? ¬†Imagine a world where people used their hard-earned losses as a tool to empathize with themselves and others. ¬†Where people’s pain was used as a force to connect with their Me and with others. ¬†How tiring to receive nods, to accept judgments and applause, as it may be. ¬†Right? ¬†Company can be a burden.

This is my guess as to why not many of us speak up about what electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has done for us.  We hear about the miracles of medication therapies from first person reports, heck, even second, third or tenth hand.  We do not hear much about the miracles of ECT.  Instead, we hear the sound of quiet or else hopeless barbarism.

I was talking with a patient, Carla, about ECT as an option for treatment, and we laughed that we are anesthetized¬†for a colonoscopy for much longer amounts of time than we would if we had ECT. ¬†They seemed like such funny things to juxtapose. ¬†The convulsion lasts around thirty seconds and you are done. ¬†There are no broken bones. ¬†No tongues bitten through. ¬†There are no chickens sacrificed on anyone’s chest. ¬†Carla had never heard about the physician-patient who had undergone thirty-six ECT treatments as a patient, whose morbid melancholia resolved and who later returned to practicing medicine in full capacity. ¬†Why would the physician tell people about his history? ¬†What kind of nods do you think he would get? ¬†What patients would be willing to go to him for medical care? ¬†Carla had not heard about the gamers, computer programmers, the nurses or anyone from the functioning productive public who had the courage to fight for themselves by choosing ECT.

My patients with whom I discuss ECT have concerns. ¬†You have concerns. ¬†Much of the world is concerned. ¬†There are reasons. ¬†ECT has improved farther than Jack Nicholson’s report on¬†One Flew Over The¬†Cuckoos¬†Nest,¬†though many of us were alive when his movie was first viewed. ¬†The distance we have come in refining the practice of ECT is out of proportion to the distance in time from when ECT was not much more than sticking your finger in a socket and getting voltage in a continuous sine wave for therapy. ¬†Is it shameful being connected to that history? ¬†Is it too soon to say, “These are the ancestors I claim?” You know what to do with shame.

There are few medical specialties that gather as many opinions as psychiatry.  Yes.  Well there are even fewer medical treatments that are found in the company of so much frothing opinions than ECT.  No wonder we are quiet.  No wonder we are concerned.

So, although we veterans of ECT perhaps have not spoken up in our community, although we may not tear up at ceremonies for what our courageous self-care has done for our country or understand how we fit in, although we may not hang flags or tattoo it into our skin, we are courageous important citizens in company.  We are heroes.  Maybe not as cool in leather, but we are where we are because of those who have come before us and for what we have carried on.  We have suffered and died and lived and we are connected.  We have community and we are not alone.

Happy Veterans Day.

Self-Care Tip – Celebrate your courage.

Name Your Fear To Know You Are Free

She knew the Horned King‘s secret name.

His name? ¬†… I never realized a name could be so powerful?

Yes…. ¬†Once you have courage to look upon evil, seeing it for what it is and naming it by its true name, it is powerless against you, and you can destroy it.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

Science Fair Wins Ribbons

Image by OakleyOriginals via Flickr

Mistakes and the mist of shame thicken about us and it is hard to hope.  As if each effort of our intended labor produced Seconds and Flops we must stand in our Besties beside what we have done to get a participant appreciation ribbon tagged onto our lapel.

And somehow standing there, the layer of sweat thick under too many clothes, we remember¬†the secret name, it comes and we whisper. ¬†We whisper it; our last courage still enough for that. ¬†There is a moment of surprise, as if we and whatever pressed us down didn’t know we might still live.

We can see now that we are not alone; just there, in fact you are there with your own passed over table.  I remember you working nights on it, your tired eyes, a happiness in your muscles still.  In those days.

We can see that we are special for more than injury; we hear now.  We feel concern for more and taste newness that filled the space.  The secret name.

We won’t tell you or it¬†wouldn’t¬†be secret any more. ¬†But now that we remember we are free. ¬†Now that we have the knowing, we will keep the power, thank you.

There is power in a name.

We won’t forget what came after evil and will speak more readily into dark spaces, will wait less and fear less because we have already been there. ¬†Going toward the pain like that. ¬†What’s the worst that can happen when you name your fear? ¬†It takes no more than a whisper to be strong.

Self-care Tip РSpeak into your dark spaces the name of your fear.  Be a friend to yourself

Question РWhat reminds you that you are free despite the fears that tell you otherwise?  How is freedom your truth in life even when your senses tell you otherwise?  Please tell us your story.

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Flaws You Love. Presence.

More on Life-ers.  (Those darn perdy dandelions.)

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Image via Wikipedia

I had an interesting comment a couple of days ago on the concept of Life-ers.

If you have a weed in your garden, you pull it. ¬†If there’s something wrong in your life, you don’t fall in love with it. ¬†You get to weeding.

I can see the point of this argument as I’m sure you can. ¬†I can also see where I didn’t get my point across well, or else this argument wouldn’t as likely have been voiced this way. ¬†The person who said it isn’t stupid and neither am I. ¬†But how do we come together on this?¬† There are Life-ers that are both weeds to pull and weeds to just plain garden I reckon.

We here at FriendtoYourself.com, got one of the most practical life examples of a Life-er. ¬†It is both one that¬†can be¬†weeded and one that can’t. ¬†Please read¬†it¬†if you haven’t yet. ¬†Emily said in response to blog-post,¬†One Woman’s Struggle,

I related deeply to Kara‚Äôs experiences. …I have been a self-identified compulsive overeater (or binge eater) since I was a child. It has always loomed large (pun intended) in my life. I have successfully dieted and lost 30-40 pounds at a time, and then I‚Äôve gained everything back ‚ÄĒ with interest. It has been my obsession and my bete noir.

Eight years ago, out of pure desperation, I went to a Overeaters Anonymous meeting. I didn’t necessarily like it at first, but I recognized my problem as an addiction. If you hold my experience up next to an alcoholic’s, there is no difference. I struggled a long time with the program, but today I am living what OA calls an abstinent life. My definition of abstinence is three reasonable meals a day with nothing in between. I am shrinking to a healthy body weight.

I have also developed my spiritual side and my relationship with my higher power (that I get to define) is what makes it possible to eat like a normal person. My obsession has been lifted, one day at a time. Like an alcoholic, this is not something I can do on my own.  This is supported by about 25 years of data.

I am experiencing freedom I couldn‚Äôt even imagine walking in the doors of my first meeting ‚ÄĒ freedom from fat, freedom from compulsion, openness to change and growth and a life that is no longer nearly as self-centered.

Sana, you asked if it helps to think of it as an addiction ‚ÄĒ for me, it‚Äôs not an analogy; it IS an addiction. I use the Big Book for the solution. My recovery is just like that in any other program. ¬†And it‚Äôs the ONLY thing that made a difference ‚ÄĒ not just for me, but for the dozens of people I share OA with. I hope this is something health professionals will understand one day. OA is an underutilized tool, and I think that could change with better understanding and guidance.

Thank ¬†you Emily for your story. ¬†I haven’t been able to get you out of my mind.

Addictions is a weed we could more often agree is a Life-er. ¬†That isn’t to say there aren’t those of us who think that they can be weeded and be done with, but the general consensus in medicine is that they are Life-ers. ¬† However there are other Life-ers besides addictions. ¬†Recurrent major depressive disorder, treatment resistant major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, okay – a gazillion other medical illnesses that won’t respond to weed killer or a gloved garden-grip. ¬†There are also non-medical Life-ers, such as poverty, natural or unnatural disaster, rooted social stigma and so forth. ¬†We could even use the biopsychosocial model to catalogue them if we wanted.

One of the things that intuitively sits poorly about Life-ers in our culture and communities is the helplessness that can soil it.  However, we are not implying helplessness at all.  Just as this courageous Emily described, when we take care of ourselves, when we befriend ourselves, we take accountability for where we are now.  Our yards improve neighborhoods.

For the world out there who is scared to garden with us, I have this to say.  Get over yourselves.  What we are growing is worth the space we occupy and of high value.  You may never know it, but we are and we have bank to show for it.

Questions: ¬†What is your response to those who call your Life-ers weeds to pull? ¬†What are some examples of Life-ers you’ve fallen in love with and how did you? ¬†Please tell us your story.

Demanding Freedom and Other Oxymorons That Empower Our Self-Care

Désirée Nick at "Oxymoron" in Berlin...

Désirée Nick at "Oxymoron" in Berlin, 1999

I read today on bipoblogger’s blog,

I am trying so hard to keep my head wrapped around keeping a hold on this broken heart/life balance/bipolar thing.  It’s been complicated by stupid migraine headaches.  It’s hard to make sense of things and to pay attention.

Today while I was waiting for my laundry to dry, I began writing some deep thoughts, deep like I didn’t want to deal with them. I basically wrote a page of self-help advice.  I appreciate my stubbornness.

My answer:

This sounds like a woman of courage doing it, taking accountability for where she is at, afraid maybe but pressing on to start over any time she chooses, demanding her freedom to self-care.   Demanding freedom seems like an oxymoron but this is what is called for when we feel trapped.

I will add to this “answer” that self-care often seems like an oxymoron. ¬†Such as using the brain (the same organ that is diseased) to figure out what it’s behaviors and emotions mean or everything starts and ends with Me (when we know that there was a beginning before Me) – we see the weaknesses and the conflict and we say yes. ¬†I am an oxymoron. ¬†I am good and bad. ¬†I am healthy and ill. ¬†I am growing and dying. ¬†I am flawed but perfect. ¬†I’m sure you have more.

Demanding freedom is a basic tenet of self-care.  We say that despite the limitations in our lives, in our decision-making, in our suffering or pleasures Рdespite all, I am free to do self-care.

Questions:  How have you managed to demand your freedom to self-care?  What oxymorons in your life are empowering you in your self-care?  Please tell us your story.

Don’t Run Away. You Might Fall In Love With Your Flaws.

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Empower yourself by going towards what scares you.  Take it to the table and be with it.  Get to know it and openly share company with it.

Opal was throwing up. ¬†She threw up more when she gained weight or felt fat. ¬†Throwing up didn’t help her lose weight. ¬†It was just a tool she had to deal with it all. ¬†Opal was told often not to worry about her weight. ¬†Told, she looked fine and not to weigh herself. ¬†No one said openly, “Opal, you’ve gained weight and you’re going to get other illnesses because of it if it keeps going.” ¬†They were afraid saying anything like that would make her throw up. ¬†Hm.

What do you say?

We remember the three things that help maintain long-term weight loss. ¬†Well one of the main reasons they work is because they help keep us present with “the problem” or “fear” or “shame” or however we name it. ¬†Our natural instinct is to go away from fear but this is another example of when we don’t get help following our instincts.

What empowers Opal is to get tools to contend with her struggle with obesity.  It is probably a life-er for her and oh-well!  We can love our flaws better if we stop running from them and grow our skills in living with them in a friendly way.

Get empowered with whatever you are afraid of in yourself. ¬†If you can’t do what you need to do to be in the place of that fear, it may be that you have a medical illness keeping you from coping better. ¬†It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. ¬†Staying with your journey, even to taking medication, even to naming brain illness in your life is so courageous. ¬†You become one of the great ones. ¬†Heroic. ¬†It is so much easier to disconnect and lose our opportunity to love our flaws.

Have you ever heard someone call their life-er, “my old friend?” ¬†Maybe it is arthritis? ¬†Or recurring cancer? ¬†Maybe it is brain disease. ¬†Some day, we will also name our own, “my old friend.” ¬†And we, with Opal, will mean it.

Self-Care Tip – Empower yourself by your presence.

Questions:  How do you do what is friendly to yourself when your instincts tell you not to?  What has that done for you?  Please tell us your story.

Just Ordinary Bullying – The Bully and The Bullied

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in th...

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #251 – Help yourself break it down if you think you are a bully, or are bullied.

I was just bullied, folks.  I know.  Takes a certain someone to bully me but that person and the bullying materialized and I was left with my autonomics all barking, pupils dilated, and I had to break it down.  I was bullied.

Now, after some time and a good wonderful chat with my beloved, I am able to experience the pleasure of joining the popular group of bullied-adults.  It seems to be a posh crowd now who acknowledges that adults are in fact bullied Рnot only kids.

What is bullying? ¬†I’ve linked this blog-post to various web-articles that have stated this question and answered it well. ¬†The part I would like to highlight is the emotional bullying.

When we perceive either consciously or subconsciously that we are:

  1. Afraid
  2. Powerless
  3. Receiving implied threats (direct are obvious to us readers but the implied threats are not always as clear to us readers or others out there)
  4. Supposed to stay quite about it

Does any of this sound familiar? ¬†If it does, you ¬†might have read the blog-post, “He’s Never Hit Me.” ¬†Much is the same. ¬†I’m not able to say all that is different between emotional abuse and bullying as I don’t know of any formal scientific way of separating them. ¬†However I will propose that emotional abuse is when it is repeated and includes system issues including the victim feeling shame and deserving of that treatment. ¬†Bullying perhaps may not be repeated or it may and it might not be done to someone who is in a relationship with the bully before it happened. ¬†(This is just Me, Dr. Q saying this though. ¬†Just today in my research I have already found other sources describing it differently.)

Regardless though, what to do?!  I was bullied!

Break it down:

  1. Go to the fear.  Think about where it is coming from.
  2. Think about the power. ¬†“Why am I feeling powerless?”
  3. Clarify the threat perceived. ¬†We don’t have to do this collaboratively with the bully – who may after all, lack all ability to gain insight for whatever reason.
  4. Get it out of the closet as soon as you can. ¬†Talk about it with someone. ¬†Go to any authority who might have information to empower you. ¬†If the bullied is doing something that is wrong, we want to know! ¬†Right?! ¬†If not, we want to know that too, and be as clear about it as we can. ¬†This also helps gather an “army” around you… or you could call it support :).

Andy Becker from the Leadership Post says,

It’s not enough to say bullying is not tolerated; we need to empower ordinary adults to help stop it.

Well today, I guess I’m an ordinary person getting ordinary bullying. ¬†The bullying isn’t special. ¬†The way it affected me isn’t that special either. ¬†But I am.

Similarly, the bully isn’t being served well acting out. ¬†It’s not friendly to either of us. ¬†We are both ordinary special people who deserve better.

Questions: ¬†What has helped you when you felt bullied? ¬†…or, …What has helped you stop bullying? ¬†Please tell me your story.