Look Around to Get Strength and Perspective.

My sister and her baby.

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Self-Care Tip #145 – Look around to get strength.

I was talking with my colleague, Janice, who works intimately in the area of group homes and advocating for the clients.  I asked her to tell me something about them.

There are times when parents give up and they can’t provide.

I wrote a blog-post some time ago relating to this as I work with many families who are near this point or past it.  Taking care of ourselves can be hard enough in this world, let alone a disabled child or two, or three…  I’ve seen marvelous results from placements.   However, my blog-post, “Get in Someone’s Space” got a response that was not so complimentary.  I asked Janice about where she thought the comment was coming from.

There are a lot of good group homes but many are not.  The workers are paid minimum wage often and they are saints.  There are about 1/2 and 1/2 that are good v. not good.  They can make a lot of money potentially.  In some of the homes, the workers are ambivalent at best.  It is a job to them.  If they do care but are surrounded by people who don’t care they lose steam.  They can’t do it all.  Emergency homes are also useful to give parents a relief.

Some of the disabled in placement have no family involved.  Others do.  And in those that do have involved family give their family some time to recharge while in placement.  The family can recharge and use that new energy for things like continue to “shop” further for the best fit for placement.  It can be work to find the right placement and get someone moved there.  Then after that challenge is met, families will find other struggles.  Struggles such as placement being so far that the family can’t visit or be as involved as they’d like.  They find, as we all do at some ah-ha moment(s) in life, that we can’t have it all.

Mr. Rick stated it well.

I will not be a victim while choosing my burdens.

We could also say, “I will not be a victim while choosing my benefits,” perhaps.

I understand that the topic of disabled family and/or group home placements may not interest all of us.  It may not appear at the surface to be an issue involving eternal truths.  Yet, we see that it does.  We are, each of us, not so far removed from unfair life circumstances.  From choices that look “bad and also bad.”  Or could we say, rather, that look to be choices between “one benefit and another,” knowing that we can’t have it all?

No.  We are not so far away from the single mother raising her two mentally retarded children.  We are not that distant from the caregiver with license to house five children but can’t find good staffing.  We can see the fetal-alcohol syndrome child who got what he got from birth and will live where they are until they die with staff as their family.

To my parents who can’t give any more, choose your benefits.  They are there.  To my kids who are confused by their own behaviors and emotions, to my staffers who struggle to understand the value of their jobs, to you who feel more of the burdens than the benefits, to all of us, we are the same in this.  We are each other’s “people.”  We have this knowing.

Look around.  Gather strength and make your choices.

Question:  What has enabled your perspective?  What part came without effort and what part didn’t?  Please tell me your story.

Pebbles to Diamonds

 

yourloosediamonds.com

Self-Care Tip #117 – Notice, you got diamonds out of stones!  Be a friend to yourself.

Cindy replied to yesterday’s post (that had some discussion on functional mental illness,) “I understand Miranda’s feelings completely.  Some days it’s all I can do not to down tools and scream ‘What about ME?’”

That is one of the lovelies that these illnesses bring to us.  In our honest moments, we can, like Cindy did, perceive our own traits that resemble them.  Perhaps, if we are lucky, that will lead to empathy, one of the great human experiences.  To be able to put yourself in the hypothetical place of someone else.  To imagine what they think and feel.  “If I were in your shoes…” and so forth.  If you’d like, read more on this at this post.

Illness is often considered a step in the dyeing process.  Others see it as part of the living process.  Of course, it is both.  We are all on level ground when it comes to having been born, coming into life, and knowing we will equally die.  Illness reminds us of our like-natured frailty and of course the opposite – resilience.  Whether seeing our own illness or someone else’s, we have this privilege of being blessed this way.

My Dad used to tell me a story (author unknown) when I was little.  It’s been a long time but I remember it this way.

Three travelers were walking when they heard a voice telling them to bend down, pick up pebbles and put them in their pockets.  The voice told them further that in the morning they would be both happy and sad.  The travelers did but not equally.  Some pockets were more full than others.  In the morning when they awoke, their stones had turned to diamonds.  Whoever gathered many stones were happy even though all of them wished they picked up more stones.  But whoever gathered few, well, they were not happy.  They still had diamonds but the comparison soured them and they finished their journey full of “what if” thoughts and not thoughts about the obvious.  They got diamonds out of stones!

We are all similar, with the opportunity to say thanks in seemingly off times, such as mental illness.

Question:  What have your “stones” turned into?  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.