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

Draw Sleep Hygiene Into Your Culture

hbofamily.com

Thomas didn’t want to organize his life.  It wasn’t fun when things were predictable.  Lately however, that was the problem.  He wasn’t having fun anyways.  Thank God for work.  It was the one firm construct in his life.  Wake up, shower, drive and work until he drove home.  It was like Harold and his purple crayon had drawn this into place but forgot to draw up the rest.  When to go to bed?  When to eat?  When to play?

“Harold!  Get back here.”  

Before, Thomas had resented any imposed restrictions on him.  He liked to graze.  Now, with bewildering awareness of his unhappiness and unbounded self, he wanted help.  If help meant medication and the opinion of others, then so be it.  At least until he found out what happened him.

When Thomas came in to see me, he said he had lost himself.  His personality had changed and he was suffering.  We approached things from the biopsychosocial model.  We ran labs, got him in to see his primary doctor for a physical, considered life-stressors and his support structure.  We started medication and we introduced sleep hygiene.  I almost lost Thomas there.  Changing his sleep was changing his culture and he had enough recollection of his identity to know that he had liked to stay up at night.

Out came the sleep journal.  Thomas turned his body away and looked at me sideways.  We agreed to try improving Thomas’ field of knowledge on sleep and see if he would buy into this for himself.  We set a time-frame for his research and decision.  If he didn’t do the work to get informed, than he’d go with my recommendations until his brain illness improved enough to allow him to do more for himself.  We’d work together with our purple crayon and drawing in some lines.

Sleep hygiene is one of those purple lines in our life that help us know a better sense of who we are.  It does this for many many reasons you can read more about in previous posts listed below if you like – but it does do it.  Regardless of our temperament, if we like to graze or run to the barn, we all need solid refreshing sleep.

Self-Care Tip – Use sleep hygiene as a tool to get friendly with yourself.  Don’t be afraid.

Questions – Do you consider sleep hygiene as a useful tool in your life?  Does it come naturally or do you have to work at it?  How do you draw your lines in?  Please tell me your story.

Related Articles:

Just Go To Sleep

Sleep

Image via Wikipedia

A multitude of sins would be forgiven, pills would be forgotten, pain would be diminished, hope would be restored, brain would be healthy if we would but go to sleep.

Questions:  What keeps you from self-indulging when it is time to go to bed but you’d rather not?  What helps you get your restorative brain rest?  Have you noticed that everything is better with sleep?  Would you describe it to us?

Self-Care Tip – Get solid restful sleep.  Be a friend to yourself.

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 – despite 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.

Are You Empowered to Start Everything and End Everything With Me?

Yesterdays blog-post brought a few neighborly questions for us to follow-up with.

One is regarding emotions from bluebee.  Is jealousy medical?  Followed by, What part of emotion is under our control?  Indeed.

Second, Sarah quietly slipped the question under our door of how to respond to emotions and behaviors that come from brain illness.  How?  Indeed.

Third, Carl banged a little louder when asking, what keeps him in a relationship with someone who is maltreating him verses leaving?  Indeed.

There is a nice flow to these.  They are leading into the next and circle back.  Emotions and behaviors come from the brain, much which is out of our control and some of which is.  The choice to engage in the life of the ill is like any other choice.  Our own.  If it matters to us if the way the brain is working in the “other” is in their control or not, we can spend more time trying to sus that out.  I’m not sure myself when I get it good from someone mean, but it has become easier to take care of my junk rather than there’s.  For that, I will say a million thanks.  If I’m getting yelled at, I do the checks on myself – anxiety? fear? anger? fatigue? shaking? dizzy? tone of my voice? do I know what this person is yelling about? (most often it has nothing to do with Me), empathy? empowerment? You’ve told me that you are growing in similar refreshing ways.

Face Down w/Laundry and Gwen Stefani

Image by NCM3 via Flickr

I’ve seen this play out a little in my children.  My daughters and son are supposed to do the laundry every morning before they play.  I don’t know how many years now, but their arguments haven’t changed.

I’m doing this all by myself.  No one is helping me!

Mom!  He’s just laying on top of the clothes!  

Mom!  …

These questions above…;

  • where emotions and behaviors come from,
  • control over biological symptoms,
  • do I respond to others with brain illness
  • or do I walk away

These questions don’t mean much if we don’t find where our empowerment comes from.  Me.  Everything starts and ends with Me.

I’m ill for reasons I have nothing to do with, yet I will be accountable for myself and how I affect others.

I feel emotions I didn’t ask for, behaving ways that I am a spectator to rather than a whole person, yet I will do what I can to gain health.  In that, I have control.

I surrender what I don’t control to my Higher Power.  I take medication.  I exercise, guard my sleep hygiene and get regular sleep, eat responsibly, gather and engage community, attend therapy groups and/or individual, I try while at the same time I let go, I love my flaws as I love my perfections, I try to develop my natural genius, try as often as I can to pour any energies I have in that direction as I know I will heal faster, enjoy life more and be more successful at all my efforts when I do.

It reminds me of that saying, that if I have success, it is from standing on the shoulders of giant midgets.  We are all flawed.  We are all wonderful.  We are supported by others who also are full of flawed perfections.

Do I have control?  You bet.  …And no way.  Always, there are both.

Do I talk when someone is mistreating me? or mistreating themselves by neglecting their own self-care? by letting their illnesses shape their lives?  Do I walk away as that may be what my self-care demands.

Everything starts and ends with me.  There are a lot of stops along the way with other forces, but empowerment is mine.  Indeed.  That’s what I hope my kids will learn when doing the laundry.

What Is Your Life-er?

Cover of The Cowardly Lion of Oz.

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been doing my usual struggle with lifestyle, health, weight and image maintenance.  It’s one of my life-ers.

There are some things we will courageously and sometimes cowardly maintain our fight with.  These are our life-ers.  We will have it on our docket every day.  There are times when this will blow us away with frustration, hopelessness and feelings of impotence.  Other times we will see it more calmly for what it is.  It is.  No more or less.

It’s helpful to say these things out loud.  That way when we wake up and see the life-er there, or catch a reprieve with distraction, or work like a mad-dog to get friendly with ourselves despite it all and find that that doesn’t take these life-ers away, we will maintain hope.  We will see these life-ers, although part of us, don’t define us.  We will own them and weave them into our friendship with ourselves – flawed and perfect selves.

What is your life-er?

Self-Care Tip – Knowing what your life-er is, is part of being a friend to yourself.

Other Fears of Medication For Brain Illness

Yesterday we talked about fears of addiction to medication therapy.  There are other fears that influence our choice to use or not use medication therapy for brain illness.

In clinic, we hear about people’s preference not to take medication, as if it were like ordering mushrooms or no mushrooms on pizza.

I am not someone who likes to take pills.

veggie pizza

Image by mccun934 via Flickr

Again, I think most of us agree entirely.  Who of us set out in life thinking, “I hope my life depends upon medication therapy?  I just want to have a reason to medicate.”

So tell me about this.  Questions:

  1. Are nonprescription substances safer for us?
    1. If so, why?
    2. If not, why?
  2. What are other risks you fear of taking medication for brain illness as compared the risk of brain illness remaining and likely progressing untreated?

Fears can provoke us to grow stigma and biases.  However they can also be used a tool for getting friendly with ourselves.  We can use our fears.  We can use them to gain clarity to know better why we are making our choices – stigma? Or friendship to Me?

Nothing is all right or all wrong.  But we should know our motives if we can because of it’s potential usefulness.  It is a friendly thing to do.

Self-Care Tip #285 – Know your fears so you know why you are making your choices.