If You Have Something Good That’s Happened, Say It

Self-Help Graphics

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Self-Care Tip #164 – If you have something good that’s happened to you because of your self-care, tell others about it.  Be a friend to yourself.

Have you ever heard of SparkPeople.com?  I’ve been a member for a few years and believe they are one of the most supportive networks out there for diet and lifestyle change.  Today I received this email from one of their bloggers and thought to share it with you.

From “GUITARGAL2”

Today is my one year anniversary on SparkPeople.  I have to admit this is the longest amount of time that I have ever spent focusing on me and my health.  A few things I have learned in the past year are:

1. I can lose weight be happy.

2. I can educate myself on a healthy lifestyle.

3. I have learned that when I slip up, refocus, refocus, refocus.

4. I have learned that I like being a runner.

5. I have increased confidence.

6. I like how my clothes fit.

7. I don’t need chips and dips to feel satisfied.

8. Captain Morgan is not my friend.

9. I can inspire people.

10. Having a support system makes the difference.

One year ago I wrote on my SparkPage, I can do this, and I have.

This is only one example, as described by GUITARGAL2, of what self-care has done for her, specifically through diet and lifestyle change.  All of our lists are different and powerfully inspirational to others when we share them.  It also comes back to each of us, as good things will do.  How does it comes back?  Well, I can’t try to explain that kind of magic.

Keep talking.

Question:  What list do you have for the things self-care has given to you?  Please tell us.

Taking Care of Yourself is The Best Part of Your Treatment Cocktail.

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Image by schmeezla via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #163 – Taking care of yourself is the best part of your treatment cocktail.

We often talk about partial or failed treatment in medicine, in each other, in relationships.  But those are only about 40-60% of the time.  There are many people who get full treatment response to medication and self-care.  Mindy is one of them.

Mindy has seen me for about four years in clinic for her depression.  She’s never been very anxious, which is less usual as anxiety and depression tag-team so often.  Mindy’s depression had lurked in her, stepping out in the light and slipping into the shadows, for years even before she started working with me.  We seemed to hit by chance or skill the right medication cocktail that had evaded her, and she was not depressed anymore.  However, she never told me she was great.  She was “pretty good.”  She was, “doing alright.”  She was, “you know, good.”  Mindy wasn’t great.  She was good.  We spent three and a half years like that.

Then about six months ago, Mindy came in looking hot!  (I can say that because I’m a girl.)  She had lost the mom bumps around the midline, dropped padding in the hips, her hair wore a fresh coat of glossy brown, and I could tell her outfit hadn’t been worn more than twice.  Mindy was smiling and sincere when she said,

I’ve never felt better!  I had no idea what taking care of myself would do for me!

Her eyes were telling me their own conversation.  They were so expressive saying,

I can’t believe this is me!

Mindy told me in testimonial fashion, about the strangers who now noticed her.  Being noticed was an elixir and she was drinking it as often as it was served, but not in an arrogant way.  Mindy was still very human.  She wasn’t manic or grandiose.  She was doing what Gary Vaynerchuk describes in his book, Crush It!

“Do what makes you happy.  Keep it simple.  Do the research.  Work hard.  Look ahead” (p 12).

Mindy said,

I used to think that what I got from life was good enough; from my husband and from the people out there.  I didn’t know I could get this by just doing what I wanted to do for myself all along.

Mindy was still taking her medication cocktail and had no plans of tapering any of them.  She thought the combination of these medications that took her out of depression, along with exercise and other self-care measures were just right.  Mindy had not forgotten her years of melancholy and sadness even though it was now four years since.

Questions:  1) What is your reaction to Mindy and the 40-60% of people who get full treatment response?  2) Do you have any questions you wish you could ask the “Mindy’s” out there?  3) Or something to say for the other 40-60% of people who don’t get full treatment response?  Please tell me your story.

Celebrate Insight, Choice, and Hope. Celebrating Can Be Self-Care.

A young paper wasp queen (Polistes dominulus) ...

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Self-Care Tip #161 – Celebrate your insight, your choice, and your hope to be a friend to yourself.

I realize autism has taken over my life and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

When April said this, I jumped.  The insight into her situation, the implication of her own ability to choose, the hope of what those potential choices might do for her and her children – all these leapt at me, so of course I jumped.  Startled.

April was the parent of three lovely although autistic children.  She was wiping her face.  “I never cry.  I’m usually really strong.”

And then she said those words.  Her realization.  I don’t know how much thought she had put behind them.  She certainly didn’t have much time to self-actualize.  Getting only a couple broken hours of sleep every night.  Responding to complaints from the school.  Springing towards her son every time he tried to hit himself in the head to stop him.  April was busy.  Mostly all that I had been able to do so far in our treatment together was help her kids via medication therapy.  We were clearly still working on things in that department.  She was willing to wait for us to make our slow way towards her children’s health, even though she was falling apart in the process.

Go low and slow.

Nothing like a cowgirl psychiatrist in the saddle.  I try to keep my spurs off and make no more than one medication change at a time.  Then, when something happens, negative or positive, we know what we are looking at.  April’s children were taking their time getting to their therapeutic responses.  But at least we hadn’t done more harm than good.

We had made the changes to our plan of care that we were going to make, and April was about to leave.  She had just said what she said and my mouth was open.  Unfortunately for April, I’m not consistently articulate.

Yes April!

And then she left, while I was still bouncing on the chair.

I don’t know if she’ll celebrate that marvelous epiphany.  If she does, I know her kids will benefit.  I’m confident about that.  If she does what is not intuitive, that is self-care, she will still be able to do what is intuitive.  Taking care of our kids is the most natural instinct.  Wild dragons and other mythical or natural creatures could not keep us away from it.  Now taking care of them well, however, is something that definitely is more likely to happen when we as parents are healthy, too.

For now I will celebrate this.  April has insight.  She has choice.  She has hope.

Yes April!

Question:  What has your life been about?  Where is your choice and hope?  Please tell me your story.

Blog-Jacking by Mr. Rick C. – #2 (Do I or anyone really deserve this?!)

Hello Folks.  Today Mr. Rick C. is taking this post over….

As a person with a vast amount of psychiatric experience, I have learned the importance of watching for danger signs in others and myself.  Recently, you may have noticed, our very own DQ displaying a few atypical qualities.  Let’s take a look at her last blog.  Apparently, she has now given herself the new name of Dr. Q (any body remember that show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman…Hamm) and began referring to herself in the third person.  Another great blogger, xcandyxcane, does this effectively but differs from our own “little bundle of identities” by acknowledging that she is speaking in such a manner.  Dr. Q aka DQ aka Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman may or may not be aware of this.

Her blog entry seemed well written, as always.  However, she did seem a bit flustered by the fact that she got a few negative little thumb things.  Let’s put this into perspective, depressed people can be negative.  It is a key symptom of being depressed.  We are here to learn how to make little thumbs up things more often.  The fact that I picked this up and she did not, while not unusual, could be an indicator that she is not functioning at her highest level.

Finally, a sure indicator that she is teetering on the brink of collapse… the use of that oh so pointed word, “shucks.”  I can only imagine the stress and pain required to push her to such an outburst.  For these reasons, and my true desire not to watch “The Doctor Formerly Known as Quijada” spiral down to a point at which she goes on and on about flooded basements, frogs and Lebanese births, (certainly was a fun week you may remember,) I have taken it upon myself to give her the day off.  If nothing else, I’ll make her sound really professional when she returns.  Let us all keep her in our thoughts as she sits comfortably in the castle (aka future sink hole) she calls a home, self-medicating while being a friend to herself.

Since I am not a real doctor, I cannot share a heart warming narrative about the one-legged blind puppy being held by the child with such a distant look in his eyes as his mother crocheted for reasons unbeknownst to the rest of the world that came into my clinic.  However, I would like to speak up about an aspect of this blog that I am truly pleased with.  (And I’m not going to try to understand what the word “paradigm” means that she keeps using.)  As I took in the fine nuggets of wisdom that are typical of this blog, I was especially pleased with the mental image when reading the description of  “Gorgeous Candy.”  Of course, any functional male reading this immediately recognizes this fine moniker.  (There is no medical term for that, I looked.)  Trust me, Q had no idea, none what so ever.

So…. as I absorb the plethora of psychiatric knowledge, I realize, I could very well be the man who could save Gorgeous Candy.  The image is clear in my mind and I know I can help.

All right, at this point, I would like to share a story about my drinking and a self-help program.  One night, after ingesting a large amount of alcohol, I decided to sit down on the couch and enjoy some television.  Interestingly, at three in the morning, there are many programs on involving various forms of “self-help” for a fee after calling and speaking with gorgeous women.  You can teach yourself to speak Icelandic in three days.  Several programs guaranteed to make you stop smoking and drinking while you do nothing.  Then – my personal favorite, the Flowbee.

The Flowbee allows you to cut your own hair with a vacuüm cleaner attachment as demonstrated by some great looking individuals.  As a result of my intoxication and the brilliant manner in which it was presented, the Flowbee sounded like an excellent idea with very few negatives.  I called just in time to be one of the lucky callers that got a discount knife set, as well.  Not so surprisingly, I was intoxicated when the Flowbee arrived.  No problem… easy enough to operate and certainly no need to watch the instructional video.  Hook it up to the Shop Vac and away I go….

Folks, you have not experienced incomprehensible demoralization until you have had a Flowbee lock onto your head with the full force of a ShopVac behind it.  At this point, as I lay on the floor trying to kick the plug out of the wall, I realized that my life was completely unmanageable and I would possibly need to go beyond the resources I had within myself.

Upon having the Flowbee removed from my head, I was fairly certain that all of my problems had been solved.  Hence, I went back to drinking.  Several years later, I would discover the twelve steps.  When I did, I was in Texas and had the fortune of becoming part of an AA group where people had no problem being honest or saying it like it is.  One of the first things that I was told, was that this is a “we” program and that if this program were to rely on “self”…. Well, based on my track record of helping myself first, I was in trouble.  Every single step talks about “we.”

Through the years, I would learn more about how important the group is to a twelve-step program.  Furthermore, the basis for AA (the first of many twelve step programs) is a movement called the Oxford Group.  This was a group that became popular around the turn of the century.  They had some basic principals that have become the basis of twelve step programs.  Key to the Oxford Group and twelve-step programs is the benefit of sharing among a group that is working this same program.  There are many tests online and other places designed to help individuals determine if they are or could be an alcoholic.  I think, for many, this test could be simplified into…. have there been times in your life that a Flowbee sounded like a great idea?

Please, share with me your thoughts.  Why are paradigms important?  When doctors self-medicate… is there a copay?

This would make even less sense if I was drinking…. Can you imagine?

No Matter Why, Where, or What Happens, Self-Care Starts and Ends With Me

Cover of "To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Ann...

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Self-Care Tip #158 – No matter why, where or what happens, self-care still starts and ends with Me.

It’s no secret that I look at behavior through many paradigms.  Most of what I’ve shared on this blog is medical because I’m a physician.  That’s my specialty.  I’m not a physicist and don’t spend my posts on explaining how physics influences our behaviors – although I believe it does.  However, I don’t want you to think that I think behaviors and emotions exist within only the medical paradigm, even though that’s what you hear me talk mostly about.

According to Dr. Q, the roughly sketched breakdown of how stress intersects with medicine:

1.  Stress influences how we behave and feel. We “see” the stressors, and we see the emotional and behavioral responses, and we know their sources.  We know that emotions and behaviors are produced by a human.  Where else?  Anything magical or otherwise comes from Someone from another place.

2.  Stress influences our medical condition. Stress will awaken sleeping genes that carry the names of different diseases; cancer, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and so on.  Would those genes have awakened on their own without the external trigger flipping the switch?  We don’t always know.

3.  Because there are so many factors that influence the reasons a disease process demonstrates itself, we cannot say that it is causally related to the stressors.  Many people try to do this, and sometimes the disease’s labeled cause comes down to the jury’s decision.  But we don’t have to have read, “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee to know that people’s opinions and judgments are biased.

4.  People try to find the reasons why.  This is natural and in my opinion appropriate.  However, where we look for the reasons for the feeling and behaviors is equally important.  Seeking accountability for how we feel and behave to come from outside of ourselves, to come from external reasons, to come from a source to fault is more often missing our chance to get friendly with ourselves.

“It just is,” as many say, and the 12-Steps would say “Surrender what is out of your control to your Higher Power.”  These are not inconsistent with owning that mental health begins and ends with Me.

Sure, there are the despicable situations of abuse, trauma, violence and other horrible biology changing events.  These are known to cause the one non-genetically related psychiatric disease process called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)  These are situations consistent with our previous post on not being responsible for our history but being responsible for our futures.

5.  Stress, other than in situations of PTSD, is not causal for the progression of mental illness.  Everyone has stress, but how we deal with it, how we cope makes the difference.  Even horrible events, such as losing ones wealth and the sequelae of it are not causal for the continuance of brain disease.

6.  Medications, lifestyle change, Love and various other therapies effectively influences the way genes express themselves, our biology, and our medical condition….

7.  …In so doing, medications, lifestyle change, spirituality and various other therapies effectively influence our emotions and behaviors.

Question: How has your understanding of how stress intersects with with how you feel and behave affected you?  Please tell me your story.

The 12 Steps To Serenity

Ben‑Enwonwu‑Negritu

Self-Care Tip #154 – Go towards Love.

I realize that many of us talk about the 12-Steps, we know people working the 12-Steps, we even recommend the 12-Steps but have never read them through.  So here they are.  For all of us.  A wonderful walk with and towards love.

The 12 Steps To Serenity

  • Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
  • Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  • Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
  • Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  • Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  • Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
  • Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
  • Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  • Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
  • Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out
  • Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

Question:  What do you think of these steps?  Please tell me your story.

Think About What You Have. The Season of Epiphany.

the Epiphany

Self-Care Tip #145 – Think about what you’re wanting and waiting for, and then think about what you have.  Be a friend to yourself.

Today my husband told me that it is the season of Epiphany – the climax to our waiting and wanting (or Advent) is celebrating when we find out that God became a human.

I like epiphany’s.  Who doesn’t?  At dinner we talked it over with the kids.  We asked them questions like, “What do you remember from last year that you’re glad about?”  “Did you learn anything that you want to remember in this new year?”  My three-year-old was glad our house isn’t destroyed yet by the rain.  (Yes.  It is raining again.  Blah.  The basement should be filled in with dirt!)

Then, my epiphany came.  Self-care includes being grateful for what and whom we already have in our lives.  Ta-da!  May not seem like much but it hit me strong and soulful.  I have names, including yours on my list.

Self-care for me today was stopping on the bits of life I already have, the people I already know, the gratefuls I don’t habitually spend enough spirit on (generally all of them.)  I get poetic and lumpy thinking about it.  My epiphanies feel like soppy insides, doe-y eyes, choking up over the smell of my husband’s neck, the mysteries of time and such.  Epiphanies generally don’t come without a waiting and a wanting.  It can all be deliberate, which is good news too, because those of us who don’t do that unconsciously have a chance.

As said by Fred Clark, Author of blog “Slacktivist,”

Epiphanies don’t seem like the sort of thing one can schedule ahead of time and plan for.

It isn’t as romantic as I hear it was for Edison, but we can plan.  Waiting, wanting, and the ah-ha’s can be deliberate and are part of self-care.

Question:  In this season, what are your epiphanies?

Work Hard If You Think You’re Worth It

Road Trip!

Image by -Snugg- via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #144 – Work hard if you think you’re worth it.

On the last day of our family road-trip, thinking about self-care and I don’t know where to go with that!  In the past when I thought about road trips, I’d sooth myself with visions of ice-cream stops, cheese puffs, and other expected and unexpected delicious treats to enjoy and bribe the kids with.  However, I’m taking care of myself these days, (hard work!) which subsequently results in me taking better care of my kids, …my family.  They had a nap, which was nice but now they are awake, refreshed and talking.  A lot.  So close to my head in fact that it feels like I have headphones on.  Volume adjuster not currently functioning.  Oh where are the bags of junk food!? (Disclaimer:  No offense intended to my kids.)

But old habits die hard, so I imagine this one will hold on at least as long as our road-trip.  In the mean time, without inserting needles into my eyeballs, I am thinking instead about self-care.  Thankful, despite gritted teeth and ringing ears, that I will lose the baby-fat before I forget that I was any different before the babies.  The memory is already distorted a bit by the fact that I have thrown away any clothes I used to wear and haven’t allowed any pictures of me below my shoulders to pass before my eyes in years.  I’m a happy frog in a Jacuzzi getting hotter and hotter and have to find a way out before I get eaten by someone French.  (Disclaimer:  No offense intended to the French.)

Thankful also about the ripple effect to my kids.  I’m gifting them a healthy me (because I will succeed), to offer them and theirs in their future.  I’m gifting them better odds that they won’t be in my same position in time.
I’m gifting my husband as well with the hope he continues to voice that I am around to care for him when he is dyeing.  Whenever that is.  (That is a gift if it ever happens!  He can be a real baby when he’s sick.)  (Disclaimer:  No offense intended to my husband.)

And I haven’t forgotten about you either.  You will have me indefinitely to chirp on and on about self-care.  It really is the holidays!

It’s a good thing I’m belted in because I might start levitating. OH!  I just remembered I have ear-plugs in my purse!  Yes!

Ah.  That’s better.  I know I’m working hard for good reasons.  And all the reasons start and end with “Me.”

Question:  Why are you working so hard for yourself?  What has been the hardest thing for you on your self-friendship journey?  Please tell me your story.

 

Leave Space in Your Beliefs to Grow

 

standing up to stigma - mambo.org.uk

Self-Care Tip #144 – Leave space in your beliefs to grow.  Be a friend to yourself.

Madeline brought her son in.  He was born male but has always allegedly believed he was female inside.  It was Madeline’s appointment with me, not her son’s.  But he came in with her and I could either listen to her concerns about her son or ask him to leave against her wishes and still hear her talk.  So I listened.

The issue was a matter of salvation.  Madeline was fighting for her son’s salvation as a mother might.  That part was lovely to watch.  I thought of God hearing her and being present with her pain and being The One behind her fierce love in the first place.

We talked a little about the biology of homosexuality.  What is transgenderism?  If God’s Word is absolute, what part does a progressive understanding of biology play in our perception of truth?

Madeline’s son asked to leave.  I thanked him for coming in and he shrugged.  His whole family abused him, Madeline said, gulping and losing form.  She had spent many years defending him even though in her heart she was terrified that her son was damned.

Some of you may have read the powerful blog-post, “My son is gay” in which a mother described her halloween experience.  Her son dressed up as Daphne from Scooby-Doo.  She and he were promptly abused. As a mother I empathized, and as a scientist, I wanted to scream things like, “You thought the world was flat too!”

But Madeline was worried not only about bullying.  She was worried about the Last Judgment.

Stigma comes from all directions.  Inside of us, our homes, our churches, our schools, our government, up, down, sideways, this way, that…  Stigma is everywhere and it is usually a painful encounter for everyone involved.  Perpetrator included.

So here’s the scoop folks.  Homosexuality is biological. We have as much choice in it as the shape of our nose.

I’ve seen kids be mean about noses.  I’m half-Lebanese and believe me, I know what big noses are.  The nose that makes you wonder how the head escaped the vaginal canal without injury.  But I’ve never heard anyone hate someone’s nose and believe that he’s going to loose his salvation for it.  I’ve never seen someone turn her back on her brother and leave him to die without the love of family around because she thought she was condoning his nose if she did.  I’ve never heard about moral judgment being attached to a culturally incorrect nose.

In my son’s church class the other day, the teacher was trying to get him and the rest of the other oppositional three-year-olds to wear angel and shepherd costumes for the song they were going to perform. Only the stage-hams garbed up.  She kept giving the rest of us parents her pleading eyes, pleading words, and pleading emotions. She was making the wrong people feel guilty.  The kids were unfazed in both compliance and emotion.  The ones who were genetically inclined to get energy from performing that way, were.  The others were not.  I could have said to my son, “Get this on!…!”  And made him feel like he was bad if he didn’t.  But attaching morality would never change where he gets energy.  That part is genetic and it won’t change despite his conditioning.

It’s a bummer that Paul’s letters were translated the ways they were in the 1950’s using the word homosexuality.  A lot of people are scared when they read it.  Fear has threatened and hurt a lot of people.  Reverend Mel White posts about this.

I don’t know if Madeline was given anything she came looking for.  I’m not always the best teacher or student myself.  But I do know that we, all of us, will continue to learn through all eternity.  We will never know enough, love enough, or be sinless and perfect enough to take over that awesome job of being Judge.  I once heard of a beautiful beloved angel who tried.

Question:  What has been attached to morality in your life that you know is not?  How have you dealt with stigma?  Please tell me your story.

Connecting to Others is a Condition of Freedom Rather Than Loss of It.

Sitting on this land, fenced and gated I felt small.  It was different from my home.  Here I lost my connection to beyond the fence.  The string that attached me wasn’t long enough.  At my home, without thinking about it, I thought my self was bigger.  Small yet as large as the large connection I had to all the life that stretched out.  I hadn’t been in that place for a long time.

In the distance I saw the strange mountains, snow-covered, scoops of freedom and thought, “I must get there before I disappear.”

That’s what internet, (blogging, Facebook, Twitter) has done for me.  Taken me there.  No fences, no neighborhoods or zoning.  Suddenly my home became the great outdoors again and although I became smaller in it’s largeness, I became bigger by connection.  I had died a little in my isolation.  Designed in temperament and by human nature to get my energy from connections, I was weakening and alone.

I did not know.  I did now know a name for my condition.  I did not know the nature of my weakness.  I did not know what would happen when I took it down.  And I was afraid.

Tomorrow I’ll talk a little more about what conditions us to disconnect.  But for today I only share the openness around me with you.  It surprised me and wasn’t my conscious goal originally when I set out writing FriendtoYourself.  But as all true gifts come, It came to me from Love, not bought by labor or coin.

My land has changed.

Self-Care Tip #142 – Use the internet as a way to connect with others to be a friend to yourself.

Question:  What have been the connecting forces in your life?  Please tell me your story!

When You Are Hurting, Remember Why You Want To Live, And Live For That

 

greaterlearning.org

Self-Care Tip #133 – When you are hurting, remember why you want to live, and live more purposefully for that.

My daughter has a viral upper respiratory infection.  She is laying on the floor in her sleeping bag that has the stuffed puppy dog head for a pillow.  She just wants to be near me today while I work.  She wakes up and coughs, I check her out and dose her if she’s febrile.  She goes back to sleep.  Awakens.  Trundles up to drink some mango juice, water, eat 3 noodles, comes down again and lays there, pink in the cheeks, red eyes and chafed upper lip.

Sometimes when one of the kids is sick they stay home if I’m here.  It usually stresses me out but I’ve been getting better at believing more that we can take what comes and still get the work done.  Today, in-between patients, I laid down beside her.  Face-to-face.  She leaned in, opened her eyes and smiled!

She is one of the most delicately framed little people I know.  My nuclear family has never had small bones so this must be from someone on my husband’s side.  My daughter swung that tiny arm, warm with fever over my neck, put her face on mine, and fell asleep.

Lying there, thinking I’m so glad I could do this for her, suddenly felt wrong.  It flip-flopped over in my mind and I realized that I was glad.  But for me.

Having her near me while I work is a connecting force.  To both of us but maybe more for me.  My family has been exchanging this virus for 2 weeks now.  It hasn’t been hell but it has not been a delight.  Yet here I find myself delighted.  I wonder how long I’m going carry this gladness around.

Come what may in this world, it is these surprising moments that convince us about the rest.

In psychiatry, I’m required to ask each patient if they have thoughts of wanting to die.  Then I ask, “What do you want to live for?”  That catches some people off guard and I’ve gotten looks that could defend anyone in war.  But we aren’t at war and eventually they tell me why they want to stay alive another day.

At some level we all answer that question even if indirectly.  Everyone suffers.  If I were asked, my daughter’s smile would be on my list.

I am often amazed by good things that come out of bad.  Knowing that, gives hope.  But it also gives purpose and we can choose to angle ourselves more purposefully towards that rather than passively.  We can choose to live for the reasons we think worth living for.

My husband prays, “God please turn my posture toward you today.”  I’ve always loved that.

Question:  Why do you want to stay alive?  What are you living for?  Please tell me your story.

Self-care Begins and Ends With “Me” – Own It

lovingyourpet.org

Self-Care Tip #129 – Self-care begins and ends with “Me” – own it.  Be a friend to yourself.

Yesterday we talked about connecting self-care with pleasure to make it sticky.

Today, We’ll talk more about some of the adjustment issues of why we don’t do self-care on the obvious, such as nurture vs. nature.  We’ll talk about the nurture part.  Specifically, our own not what our parents did to us.

Why don’t we stand up to our personal needs?  We don’t.  We don’t own the friendly changes that we would benefit from.

Carol who used to abuse methamphetamines and alcohol many years ago, now tells me that smoking is her only vice and she needs to have at least one.  She says she doesn’t want to stop even though her feet and hands are blue from not getting enough oxygen.

Another part of the answer is that we are so overwhelmed by the wrong we see around us.  We qualify and quantify it away, desensitized to our own needs.

“Have you seen that dietitian?!  How can she possibly give advice on weight loss when she can’t see her feet?”  And we ignore our own central fat, knowing that it has meaning.  Meaning like, we have unseen fat layering onto our central organs.  Meaning, we are more likely to develop metabolic illnesses such as diabetes.

We don’t own it.  We don’t “Just do it.”  We talk about other people and draw lines between their mistakes making pictures that we can hide our own problems behind.  We can make sense of why they are suffering so.  Yet our own problems are some sort of enigma.  Yet to be determined by science!  Open-mouthed, hands splayed in a why stance, we can’t connect our own dots.

All health begins and ends with “Me.”  Including mental health.

Find yourself again.  Amidst all the world’s needs, you still are important.  Peel off Channel 4 News, the internet, the fears about what is outside your front door, and see yourself there under it all.  Needing self-care.

Question:  How do you keep view of yourself despite the distractors?  Please tell me your story.

When Self-Care Gives Pleasure, You Will Be Friendlier To Yourself

Self-Care Tip #128 – Connect pleasure with self-care.  Be a friend to yourself.

There’s a reason we have bad habits in our life.  It’s not only the loops, the neurological grooves in our brain, it’s also that they bring pleasure!  It’s not so unbelievable understanding obesity, drugs, addictions, poor sleep hygiene, inactivity, whatever it is when we think about the amazing effect that dopamine has on our pleasure center!  Ah.  Say, “Dopamine!”

Our real question with ourselves should be why we so often expect ourselves to do “good” things if they don’t give us pleasure?  How do we expect to stop over-eating if the substitute we offer our biological selves is suffering?  How do we expect to exercise, if we’d rather poke needles into our eye-balls than jog a mile?

We’re smart people, we have knowledge and we know what to do.  But, knowledge isn’t the answer always.  The “language of the heart” is dopamine, is feeling good.  How can we link what we want to do with ourselves objectively with feeling good.  It would be nice to pair up our dopamine with friendly habits and not those that are self-destructive.

How to do that might be worth some effort figuring out.  Figure it out individually if we want it to succeed.  The reason for the discussion here is not to give directions, but simply to draw attention to our need to find our own feel-good buttons and how we can wire them up to self-friendly behaviors.

I’m struggling through this also.  I hope to share this awareness with my kids before they move out, so I better get busy!  Can’t do that too well until I do it well for myself.

Today when I went on a mommy-date with my daughter, instead of taking her to Starbucks, we went and bought Bendaroos.  That was all I could come up with in the 10 minute date we had allotted for something feel-good.  Maybe she’ll develop shopping addiction instead of food addiction.  Time will tell, but I hope she got out of it the pleasure of creating shapes with Bendaroos instead.  Hopefully when she get’s creative, dopamine squirts out in her brain like a geyser.

Now, to get back to me…?  huh.

You can read a related post here.

Question:  How are you linking self-care with pleasure in your life?

The Healing Process Can Be Confusing.

Self-Care Tip #127 – Because feelings can be confusing during self-care, keep connected to someone(s) objective.

A colleague told me the other day about his patient.  Of course he didn’t name him, but I’ll call him Brent.  Struggling with melancholic depression for many years, Brent started medication therapy.  He began feeling better emotionally.  But at the same time, he started to believe that he didn’t love his wife any more and started a dialogue with her about possible divorce.

It’s tempting to judge Brent.  Easy to say, “What the…!?”  Still, because we don’t know the full story, nor his thoughts, nor consider ourselves his Judge, we won’t.

Self-care can be a tricky road.  It’s not all ah-ha moments and nirvana.  Have you been there?  Confused by your feelings as you heal?

A common reaction to improving is associating the things in our “ill” life – when we were feeling terrible – with other elements that may not have had anything to do with our bad feelings.  Perhaps Brent’s wife was guilty by association and at some level he may have connected her to the dark emotions he so desperately never wants to feel again.  Bits of this idea are also in a previous post about panic disorder and grief.  For example, someone may change her profession because she believes her previous work is causally linked to the way she felt when ill.  Maybe Brent wanted a change in spouses for the same reason.

When we are going through the healing that self-care brings, we might not find our new emotional baseline for a while.  During that time, and because feelings are often not trustworthy, stay connected to the support network, confidants, the trusted few who can be our third-party advisors.

Although taking action on for our own health involves lifestyle changes, knowing when and how to get feedback is key.

Question:  What has confused you about your healing and self-care journey?  Please tell me your story.

Have The Courage To Be Known

 

 

 

Driving my kids to their dental appointment today, we passed a corpse.  I could see the top of his head, bits of the gurney, but mostly the shape of his blanketed body.

In the first chapter of Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince,) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Prince describes how he is a misunderstood artist with hidden undeveloped talent.  He had drawn a postprandial (after dinner) boa constrictor, large with the elephant inside his stomach.  Unfortunately people who looked at his picture saw a hat instead.  Better with words than picture, Prince narrated rather his great loneliness amongst all creation and a yearning to connect.

This morning, seeing the blanketed corpse, I remembered the boa constrictor that Prince related to.  The futility the Little Prince felt about getting connected.  The inevitable misunderstandings that left him as a hat instead of boa constrictor that just swallowed an elephant whole.

http://www.angelfire.com/hi/littleprince/However, Prince refused the constraints other people’s perceptions offered him.  He refused the constraints by believing even still that he could connect with others.  In his simple way of living, he tried, going from planet to planet to be known as the Prince he was and not that other thing.

Driving today, I was very upset by what I had seen.  The facelessness of the man shaped in his blanket.  Covering him up and no one crying over him.

Someone was there with a clipboard and I could see an investigation was underway.  Of course necessary, but yet it upset me.  I kept seeing the boa constrictor that swallowed an elephant whole all day and thought about the man’s life, connections, and hopes.  Was he understood? Did he refuse perceptions and demand to be known and to know, giving others the same courtesy of life’s desire?

I cried over him today.  The same desire being inside of me, somehow the corpse who had been the man and I shared that relation.  So I cried for my brother and hoped someone had seen him.  As I hope to be seen.

Live as courageously as The Little Prince and believe.  You can connect.

Self-Care Tip # 126 – Demand with your life, to be known.  Connect.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  What obstacles to connecting have you been covered with?  How have you refused them?  Please tell me your story.


Go Toward The Pain To Get Connected

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Audrey came in looking fresh.  Better than before for sure.  She had an aura that brought to mind the moment just when tearing off wrapping paper.  It was nice to see her.

I am doing better.  I’m able to let more of the little things go, like the house doesn’t bother me as much when it’s not clean.

She was more able to do self-care with less forethought.  What did take her by surprise though, was her guilt.  She could see that it was inappropriate but insight didn’t entirely remove what shouldn’t be there.  She said these thoughts and feelings were something her husband likely never struggled with.  She didn’t think he was worried about her home doing dishes when he was at work.  However, the reverse for her was true.  She gave a coughing laugh.

I do!  I feel bad when he does the things.  It doesn’t make sense.  If he wasn’t washing dishes when I was working he’d just be watching TV.  But I still feel bad.

For her, working her job, taking her jogs, and attending Mommy groups were all in a grey category of “extras” for life.  Not necessary but bonuses she was spending their retirement on.  However, despite this, she looked the champion she was when saying,

I still am able to take care of myself.  Even though those thoughts come.

Audrey, by thinking about, talking about, and materially man-handling these thoughts, she was able to join her personal journey.  These things became connecting forces in her life.  They drew her closer to her family and not away.  Resentment dissipated and she was able to take part in her available positive emotions and thoughts.

It could have been different.  It had been different at other times, before medications and other positive deliberate choices in her life.  But it wasn’t now.  The could-have-beens trickled away together, the other near misses that sometimes we know about and sometimes we don’t.  There they go…

Going toward the pain in life, not averting from it, is a connecting force in our lives.

Question:  What have you been avoiding?  What has it done for you when you went toward the pain?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip #124 – Go toward the pain to feel connected.  Be a friend to yourself.

“You” Are The Best Gift

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Self-Care Tip #123 <–> Take care of yourself.

Before I was found by my man, my brother Vance Johnson used to tell me, “Become the woman whom the kind of man you hope to marry some day would want.”  It was one more thing that helped keep my focus off of searching for boyfun-friends and on to living my life.

Of course it doesn’t end when we get what we want.  When we stop growing, we stop living – as Sarah said in the blog-post, “You Are Enough.”  Regardless of where we are in life, we are responsible for being the person that the people we want in our life want to be with.

Many of us deteriorate under the guise of service, employment, obligation, parenting, care-giving or whatever reason.  We neglect ourselves and then give that battered up self to our hopes and to the people we love.

Don’t be misled.  If asked, those very people we are serving would say, “Just take care of yourself.”  If you don’t believe it, reverse it.  What do you want to say to the over-extended people you love?

Jennifer who is a stay at home mom, tells me that she feels so guilty when she takes time to go for a run.  She laughs, saying her husband wants her to go.  He comes home and tells her, “Go!  I’ll watch the kids.”  Yet she still feels bad.  She thinks about her husband’s long day at work and the kids moods, their needs, what she could do for them, and she can barely force herself to leave.  Once she does, she says she always feels great about herself and them, and comes home having more than she did before to offer.

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Taking care of ourselves, is giving the best gift to the people we love.  “Me.”  Taking care of ourselves might be the most selfless thing we could do.  It keeps us connected to our life journey, which by definition includes keeping us connected to the very people we love.

Keep on!

Question:  Where are you in your journey?  Taking care of yourself, connected, disconnected?  How does it affect those you love?  Please tell me your story.

Put The Struggle Down and Take 3 Steps Back

I almost gave up on tonight’s post.  But after taking a Glee break watching Kurt get bullied, get defended, then get out of his school, I felt more refreshed.  Go figure.  What I have to tell you about self-care tonight is to go back to the basics.

When you become inundated with all the good things out there to do, go back to the basics and let it rest.  Get your sleep.  Take your omega 3’s and vitamin D.  Take your medications regularly and step back from the struggle not to.  In fact, if possible, put all struggles down and take 3 steps back.  There is time enough to pick them back up when ever.  Go to sleep and sleep well.  If you don’t think you will, take something to help.  Something safe that will protect your deep sleep.  Then, get up, worship God, exercise and see what’s next.

Any time you want, any time you need, any time, you can go back to the basics any time.  These are mine.

Good night folks.

Self-Care Tip #120 – Get basic with yourself.

Question:  What are your basics?  Please tell me your story.

Who Cares What Your Diagnosis Is?

Wheelchair basketball at the 2008 Summer Paral...

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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.

Toughing It Out! …Is Not What You Think.

Mental Health of our Military

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Self-Care Tip #114 – Tough it out.  Be a friend to yourself.

Trying to tough it out is good it’s just not what most people think.

Many people think that toughing it out means staying med-free and getting through melancholy, anxiety, emotional chaos with gritted teeth.  They gather a degree of commendation from weathering out the behavioral and emotional problems until they either feel better or don’t.

This is not the kind of toughing it out that I’m calling worthy of our life efforts.  It is in fact the opposite.  Toughing it out is doing what may be socially and culturally counterintuitive.  Getting medical care sooner than later.  Not waiting to see what will happen before getting medical care if it is indicated.  Believing the medical data, the physician you trust, the knowledge that mental illness is medical, biological and often PROGRESSIVE over time.

Waiting means you are getting more ill on a cell level and at higher risk for your future and waiting is not being tough.

Toughing it out is digging into your courage bank every day to take that pill when you feel ashamed of it.  Toughing it out is fighting for your brain’s future.  Toughing it out is sacrificing what ever you need to, to give your loved ones and yourself the healthiest you possible.  Even if that means talking yourself into it, going up against your fears, ignoring prejudice, ignoring opposing recommendations from your favorite sources.

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This calls for thick skin.

Candace tells me she still intuitively can’t believe this, even though her mind tells her it is true.  She takes her medication but it still hurts a little every time.  Like she’s betraying herself.  Like she must grieve for herself.  Candace says the apparent calm, decrease in anxiety, improved relationship with her children, and the flowering hope eases her inner psychic pain.  Candace is drawing strength every day from the growing evidence of health.  Candace is tough.

Question:  What are you getting tough with in your life?  How do you do it?  Please tell me your story.