STOP! DON’T STOP! The quandary inside of us when deciding to take medication

Everyone says “Hi” to my dog, Timothy… Way more than to me. Silence.

Is it the springy fluffy hair, I wonder? They walk up, even speed, out of an unseen shadow without inhibition and rub him down. He is pleased every time, to say the least. Do I regret all the painful laser hair removal treatments I got years ago? Hm. I am half Lebanese after all and few really know how much fur I really came with.

(Curly-cue.)

Steve came looking for help. I spied him in the hallway before clinic. That’s always a little awkward for some reason. Running into someone out of context. Like we both are caught out of costume and the curtain just pulled up. (Gotcha!)

His strings pulled in, an inner tension, apparent even then. He looked susceptible to emotional or physical attack when we caught each others eye. I could see him wondering if this was “her”, his psychiatrist. What was he expecting?

When patients come in for treatment, it’s comparable to anyone acting on a realization that they’re vulnerable, asking help from a stranger. It can take immense courage.

Part of this understanding is what contributes to the awkwardness of meeting in the hallway, out of context. We are both a little undefended there.

So what would bring a person to do this to themselves? It doesn’t sound pleasant when put this way – vulnerable, asking help from a stranger.

Steve had a wife, kids, a job, a house, and a pet. Inside this bubble, Steve didn’t think he had reasons to feel the way he felt. He looked for them and felt stupid because everyone told him how good he had it. Nor did Steve see reasons to behave the way he behaved. He described his story, a rolling out of his life, like that of a hand stitched carpet. In it, we saw together that he had anxiety then, and then, and then. He had coped well mostly, until he hadn’t. Then he would spend some time falling out of circulation and incurring losses. Then he’d recover and forget. He’d forget that worse patch and redefine the lines around the man. Then again the lines would smudge, he’d get anxious and irritable beyond “control”, grapple within the darkness of the white noise, which panic brings, grapple for reasons why the anxiety came again. His identity would be so threatened, the suffering, the feedback from everyone around him would pull on him, that the lines of his person frightened him into treatment.

There Steve was. Timothy at his feet with his puffy furry head in Steve’s lap. Steve asking for help. At the same time as asking for help, he would also refuse, stating caution.

“I don’t want to change myself.

I like being the person who gets things done so well.

I like accomplishing things.” (He thought it was his anxiety that allowed him to do this.)

It reminds me of the, “Stop! Don’t stop!” that I’d tease my brothers with when we were kids.

People think that taking medication changes who they are. Understand that in order for this to be true, that would mean medication changes DNA code.

“Doesn’t it change my brain chemistry?”

Let’s say that were true, that medication changes brain chemistry. Still that isn’t changing your DNA. The DNA is what gives a person “personality,” or, what many of us say, “Who I am.”

After getting laser hair removal, I didn’t change my DNA, but I don’t have as much hair. When my kids were born, I checked, and sure enough, DNA…. They’re gorgeous! Wink. (That’s done with one heavy cluster of eyelashes around my dark Lebanese eye.)

Question: What are your fears about taking medication?

If you have taken medication, how did you see it affected your identity?  What happened to who you call, “Me?”

Please SPEAK! We need to hear you. Keep on!

Self-care tip: Self-care means taking care of yourself even at the biological level. It starts with “Me.”

 

Live Imperfectly, Dad is dying, and I Have no Power.

wilted flower

Living with someone like tomorrow might be their last is much harder to do when it is actually the case.

My dad told me, after my nine-year old niece died, that a parent should never outlive their child.  When I look at my own children, I know that is true. But with my parents aging process, my dad’s long and difficult past twenty years, and now near end of life condition, I just don’t know how I’d order things, if I could, between us.

When God, (Morgan Freedman,) told the complaining Bruce Nolan, (Jim Carey,) that he could have all of his powers, the audience of “Bruce Almighty” projected both a positive transference and a schadenfreude. Bringing the viewer into the character’s identity is every actor’s aspiration. And we went there. Up. “Yay! Bruce can answer everyone’s prayers with a ‘yes’!” And then down, down, down. The multidimensional disaster’s created by misplaced power, power without wisdom, love, or altruism, was just painful to watch. Power does not God make.

My Dad is dying. Not likely from cancer. Not likely from a failed liver, floppy heart, or baggy lungs. He is just dying.  He’s confused on and off. His spine is failing so he can barely walk. He has repeated blood clots. And he’s recently risen out of a deep depression. Rison right into a confused grandiosity, full awkward, awkward like pants ripping when you bend over type of awkward, and inter-galactic soaring thought content.

The first “word” Dad played in Scrabble last week was “vl.” He explained, “vl, like vowel.” …Okay? For thirty minutes Dad played without playing one actual word. I started crying when he finally stopped connecting letters. The letters floated on the board like California will look after the “big earthquake” finally hits and it falls into the ocean. (We’ve all been waiting.) Now he tells me he called and spoke to Obama and Magic Johnson. Reference point. This is bizarre and out of his character.  He’s been delirious with waxing and waning level of consciousness for a month and a half. He’s dying. Sheez.

Living well while Dad dies is not easy. Would I use power to restore him to his healthy twelve-year old self, like Elli’s seventy-year old grandfather did, in “The Fourteenth Goldfish,” by Jennifer L. Holm? Would I use power to change the order of death? Would I do anything more or less or different, while my dad is dying?

Power does not God make. I am not God. (Ta-da! It’s out of the box now.) But both of us are watching Dad die. I trust that She, with the power, wisdom, love, and altruism, is living with him well, during this time.

In Life and Other Near-Death Experiences, by Camille Pag√°n, Libby Miller decides to live, just live, rather than die perfectly.  And maybe that’s my answer to this unasked question. Living with someone dying will not be perfect for me.

Self-Care Tip: Live imperfectly to live well, like this is your, his, or her last day.

Question: How do you “live well?”

Keep on!

Entitled to Understand – NOT

Please do not state the obvious, thanks :)

Please do not state the obvious, thanks ūüôā (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We, many, share the not so friendly distorted belief that we are entitled to understand everything.  Bull bullhorn in hand, supported by the scaffolding round our personal renovations, we trumpet our oppression per the noncommunicating swine we once called our relations.

“Isn’t it our job to try to understand?” you ask. ¬† Well, no. ¬†The duty to understand starts with Me and ends with Me. ¬†(I think I just felt a poison blow dart¬†pierce¬†my flesh! ¬†Stop that! ¬†Is this being received well!? ¬†Hello? ¬†Anyone?! ¬†Ouch! ¬†Not another dart!)

Motives too easily change to build a case against each other rather than reconcile or to account for our Me. ¬†What does someone owe us, if not to let us understand them? ¬†Nothing. ¬†Sounds harsh? ¬†Or maybe, not so harsh. ¬†Not as harsh as being victimized. ¬†Not as harsh as spending one’s bank on illusive control of what isn’t ours to control. ¬†Not as harsh as the crescendo anger swells into when a child watches her parents behave poorly. ¬†Not as harsh as watching your beloved friend “un-choose” you. ¬†No. ¬†Claiming title to the thoughts and behaviors of others is generally and commonly done with little insight, but it can only be policed by the individual on either end. ¬†After all, everything starts and ends with Me. ¬†(Plink! ¬†Hear the pennies dropping?)

We deserve as much as the value of our own self.  Understanding others will come perhaps or perhaps not.  But it is as deserved as any other gift.  That is to say, not.

Question: ¬†How do you stay in your space, when you are grieving the behaviors of those you love? ¬†How do you keep your entitlement to, “Me,” where you have title? ¬†Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip: ¬†Something as easy as remembering, “They don’t owe Me anything; even understanding,” can be friendly. ¬†Keep on.

Is Religion A Barrier In Your Friendship With Yourself?

Hello Friends.

I’d like to introduce to you, my pastor, John K. McGhee, Ed.D., Ed.S., M.S.P.H. ¬†

We met about ten years ago in Boston, and worshiped together there for no more than a couple of months. ¬†In contrast to how quickly I chose him, I’ve been very slow about letting him go. ¬†He lives around the globe, talking about health, Love, God and individuals. ¬†He has been and continues to be an important presence in my life and although I sit in other churches, he’s my pastor. ¬†May God continue to bless him, his family and his work.¬†

Guest post by Dr. John Kenneth McGhee.

Dr. Sana’s blog is persuasive, and possibly life-changing.  However there may be some spiritually inclined conservative Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestants who may be uncomfortable with her emphasis on self-care as a vital first-step to healthy interactions. Isn’t it quite selfish and rather ungodly to focus on self-care?  Don’t the great monotheistic faiths teach that people achieve their greatest potential when they unselfishly focus on serving others?

I wonder what God thinks about self-care?  Probably it is impossible to know with certainty.  Who can know God’s thoughts?

However, one can find ample evidence from the Holy Books to support a few principles about self-care.

1.¬† Self-care is promoted in the Torah.¬† Genesis 1:28 ‚Äď 2:3 ¬† clearly identifies that God told Adam and Eve to have plenty of sex, and babies; eat nutritious food; and enjoy a delightful weekly rest.

2.¬† Self-care is promoted in the New Testament.¬† 3 John 2 clearly identifies a principle stated by the human being who was one of Dr. Jesus Christ‚Äôs closest friends.¬† ‚ÄúBeloved I wish above all that you would prosper and be in health.‚Ä̬† Here we recognize God‚Äôs concern with finance and health care on a very personal level.¬† The language implies that there is a direct action involved by God‚Äôs friends that they would become financially viable and do what it takes to remain in good health.

3.¬† Perhaps the most concentrated teaching on self-care is given by Paul who mentored Timothy so effectively.¬† In I Timothy 4: 7 ‚Äď 16, I find the following direct commands:

  • Train yourself in godliness ‚Äď this requires time to read, time to pray, time to think, time to do acts of kindness;
  • Don‚Äôt let anyone put you down because you are a young teacher ‚Äď this requires time to nourish a healthy ego, time to know who you are, time to build character;
  • Do not neglect the gift(s) you have received ‚Äď this requires time to write; time to develop musical or other artistic talents, time to share gifts with others in a faith fellowship community;
  • And finally Paul counsels Timothy, ‚ÄúPay close attention to yourself.‚ÄĚ

Questions:  What conflicts do you have in becoming your own friend with your religious beliefs?  Is religion a barrier to you being friendly to you?  Or, how has it been otherwise?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Be aware of barriers to friendship with yourself, even religion.

Science & Sensibility ¬Ľ Research Review: Maternal Metabolic Conditions and Risk for Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Hello friends.  Here is the link to my recent entry on obesity, autism and some of how to be a friend to yourself in the on-line Journal, Science & Sensibility.  Thank you for sharing space.  Keep on.

Science & Sensibility ¬Ľ Research Review: Maternal Metabolic Conditions and Risk for Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Owning Our Choices Is Self-Care Even When It Feels Painful To Do

Repost.Take that for a grimace

Self-Care Tip – Own your choices, even when they feel painful.

She was leaving after twenty-two years of marriage. ¬†Eva married young and says that about one or two of those years were pleasant. ¬†The rest of the time she disappeared in her service to her husband’s ever-growing list of needs. ¬†Although he was employed, she considered him otherwise disabled by choice and mental illness. ¬†It was the choice angle that hankered ¬†to bleeding in her and she wasn’t going to tolerate it any longer. ¬†Or maybe she would. ¬†Stay, leave, stay leave. ¬†She’d been straddling those for several years although she didn’t realize it until recently. ¬†And that’s when she told him she was done. ¬†But was she? ¬†…They both decided to give it one last try.

How many of us have sabotaged ourselves like this.  The sabotage hides in the bit that says things like,

I’m sorry, but….

Or,

I have to do these things! ¬†If I didn’t he couldn’t function!”

We are naturally self-preserving and it’s not a moral issue when we try to defend ourselves. ¬†It just happens. ¬†However, we are misperceiving what is in our best interest. ¬†We misperceive what is self-reserving. ¬†We misperceive what we need to defend ourselves against.

The self-sabotage Eva was doing came out more clearly when I echoed her, asking if she had chosen to give her marriage one last try.

You’d think the answer would be as easy as, “yes” or, “no.” ¬†But in Eva’s marriage, she was using points of action, outside of herself, to explain her emotions and behaviors. ¬†Eva had the gift of freedom right in front of her, wrapped and unopened. ¬†Her freedom was hers however, whether she chose to take it or not. ¬†Eva’s freedom to self-care is one of the natural laws. ¬†It doesn’t change with her perception of what is real.

I am, but I’m not sure about him! ¬†We’ll see!

I asked her if she heard the barely hidden way she was justifying her current limited engagement in their “last try.” ¬†The “but” behind her emotions and behaviors was sabotaging her friendliness towards herself. ¬†She was stuck, because of it, in her victim role. ¬†This decision to stay or leave was not evidently her choice but rather the choice of her husband, she was saying.

We talked some more about this and when I asked her if it made sense to her, this freedom of owning her choices fully, she slowly and quietly said,

It does, but I’m not sure if I’m willing to do that.

When thinking about Eva’s self-sabotage, it’s reflexive to say that it was because of her ambivalence (i.e. two strongly felt opposing forces.) ¬†Ambivalence may not be helping, but the real damage to herself is done with her victim role. ¬†She is free to choose or not to.

I’m hoping that this discussion will also hanker in her – put up a little fight for space against the other hankering bleeds she’s got flowing. ¬†We’ll go at it again when or if she comes back in to see me.

Questions:  What was it like for you when you started owning choices (any) that felt painful?  How do you see this as self-care?  Please tell me your story.

The Holidays and Lonely Me

The Holidays and Lonely Me.

Easter’s a-comin’, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, laundry day, everyone gets a day… ¬†Can invoke loneliness though the intent is to draw company. ¬†Oxymorons doing there thing.

I reposted this to celebrate.  Keep on.