If You Don’t Take Care of Yourself Someone Else Will

Suburban Girl

Image via Wikipedia

If Archie isn’t going to take care of himself someone else will.

Whoever wrote that line, should have written the rest of the script of Suburban Girl (2007).  The movie moved from something I couldn’t believe I was watching, to worth it; just to hear those words.

If Sana isn’t going to take care of herself someone else will.

Taking care of ourselves is what we have to participate in freedom.  Not taking care of ourselves is as much as saying, “Here.  Take my freedom and make my choices for me.”

Self-Care Tip:  Take your freedoms back by taking care of yourself.

Question:  What does your name sound like in this space?  “If _________ isn’t going to take care of herself/himself someone else will.”  And what does that mean when read that way?  Keep on.

Pay a dollar

Repost from July 29, 2010.

We all have a number of our own eddies, currents that spiral behaviors. Assuming that when those are friendly behaviors, then like “casting your bread upon the water” you’re bound to see something nice coming back your way. Some people say these patterns come from neurological loops, grooves in your brain like indian trails. When you go back down over your same footsteps 100 more times, you now have an open path without resistance, easy to travel. That is how the connections – neurological, electrical, chemical, are all biased in our brains.  Adaptability to stress, in part, means that your pattern of coping is on a path that serves you well when you need it to.

Come on, though! Who spends even five minutes talking about good behavior? What we do ruminate over, is why we keep doing what we don’t want to do. …Such as screaming at the kids when what we really want to do is to grow up and practice the good skills we’ve read about in all those parenting books!

Why is it so hard to stop?  Why are we “triggered” so easily?  Grooves, my friend.  Grooves.  Any day we can list off several seemingly unrelated events – but our reaction is all too familiar.  It feels like getting sucked into a tornado with a word spout, as if today turns you round and round the same way you did the day before.  Inevitable self loathing follows, which can set off more self-destructive behavior.  The cycle goes on.

When you feel trapped by your own self, get friendly by remembering this.  You’re mistaken.  You’re talking about a groove, not a vampire.  It’s not hopeless.  Not much more, not much less than what it is.  A groove can be abandoned.  New paths can be made and when the stressor hits next time, you will have a longer moment to decide on which behavior to play.  You will have a choice and you will realize more often that you are not trapped by what you thought; you are not hopeless and ugly.

For example, now when I yell at my kids, regardless, I pay a dollar to the family money jar.  Anyone can call me on it.  That’s my effort to steer clear of the “yelling-groove.”  The innumerable reasons for righteous anger, took me on miserable trips.  Round and round.  Yelling equaled me jamming myself all over again.  That’s right.  Who did it to me?  Me.  Now that’s not too friendly.  So something’s got to change.

It may be something different for you, but if you end up hating yourself in the end, it couldn’t have been good.

Self Care tip #5: You are not trapped. Pay a dollar. Be a friend to yourself.

Questions:  What has helped you abandon old grooves and make new ones?  When you don’t feel hopeful, how do you recognize that even though you feel that way about yourself, there is hope and the feeling is deceiving?  Please tell us your story.

What Makes A Doctor-Patient Relationship

Power

Image by JAS_photo via Flickr

In our last post, The Struggle in A Doctor-Patient Relationship To Not Get Personal, your comments were critical to bringing it all together.  So much so, that I think it’s worth our time to review the main points about the doctor-patient relationship.

1.  People wonder about how to relate or conduct themselves.  It’s not clear and there are no directions.  In fact, for something so objective, why isn’t it?

  • a subject I have often wondered about – Cindy Taylor
  • when I see the new Doc, I just tell my story and describe symptoms????  – Sekan Blogger
  • hope that those professionals would be much more upfront with their patients – Nancy

2.  The professional distance itself between doctor and patient lends to the healing process

  • The doctor patient relationship is one thing that makes healing possible – Pattyann
  • if friends could help me I wouldn’t need to see a professional… – Patricia
  • distance …is such a strength – Kate Shrewsday
  • something far more greater than what a friend could provide and if I knew the intimate details of her life, that would have changed – S Sanquist

3.  The exchange of money for service is generally part of its constitution and brings motives into question.  Is there a price for the value of a patient’s health or even life?

  • You better keep me alive or there will be less money for you to make – Carl D’Agostino

4.  Power Imbalance

  • health professionals and I are not on the same social level when I am the patient and they are my health provider – Val
  • It (is) a loss to move from friend to patient. That is just how it has to go in the self-care process. Then there is the anxiety of the Dr. discovering who you really are and perhaps being disappointed. – M
  • same fine line in the teaching profession – Sarah McGaugh
  • most of my relationships have some sort of power imbalance – Shout Abyss

In truth, all relationships have an imbalance of power.  In healthy personal relationships, there is a flux in power, back and forth.  It’s a problem if they don’t pulse and is possibly one of the signs of an abusive relationship.

However, this doesn’t hold true in doctor-patient combos.  They are imbalanced by design and stay that way.  It feels counterintuitive at times to those involved.  But a good physician is like a good book – he/she/it is there for Me.  It is a unidirectional relationship.  There aren’t many good unidirectional relationships otherwise, …except for all those others.  You’ve heard of police, cashier’s, housekeepers, entertainers or, for example as Sarah reminded us, teachers.  But these are professional relationships and none of these are personal either, are they?  Unless you’re human, and then they are.  Oh bother!

Self-Care Tip – Find out what pleases you and what bothers you about your doctor-patient relationships.

Question:  What does please you and what does bother you about your doctor-patient relationships?  How do you imagine it would be if it were even better for your needs?  Please tell us your story.

The Struggle in A Doctor-Patient Relationship To Not Get Personal

Conversation between doctor and patient/consumer.

Image via Wikipedia

In a patient doctor relationship, one of the realities is that our roles limit us from personal relationships.  Do things get personal?  I suppose inevitably as long as we are both human they will.  But we do our best to stay professional and use the standard of practice and the guidelines presented by our profession’s specialty board to help counsel us.  Because of years of increasing litigant awareness on both sides, patient and physician, this has culturally become important.

Each physician must decide what defines their ethical boundaries in their practice of care.  Each patient at some point must understand that there is a difference between what they are receiving and what they are giving in this relationship.  The patient doctor relationship is different from a friendship in part because there is an unequal level of power between them that opens up a huge index of interpretations on motives, intentions and fair play.  It also robs the patient of receiving what is considered a more objective level of treatment.  When things are personal, it’s more difficult to be objective.  It’s more difficult to do our job.

When I was in medical school, the psychologist I saw became intensely special to me.  She was the one who saw my vulnerabilities in every color.  Even though I cried regularly, brought her gifts that, thank God she accepted, and felt affection toward her, she somehow reciprocated without making me think I’d ever hear about her personal life, see her cry, receive gifts from her nor affection beyond what was appropriate for our professional exchange.  I learned so much from her but wish I could learn more.

Physicians do different things to help themselves learn and practice professionally.  It isn’t easy.  After all, we have feelings.  Some of us have temperaments that are naturally what culture would consider professional; temperaments that predispose for cognitive processing, naturally not personalizing what isn’t about us and have needs outside of interpersonal relationships.  Other physicians are designed to bring people into our inner space, and when that is not considered ethical, have an ongoing degree of struggle to maintain distance.  It is an important skill for anyone who plans on practicing outside of prison to learn quickly.

In psychiatry, historically when we used to do more psychoanalysis, it was accepted practice to collect all fees at the beginning of the session.  The patient placed the money on the table where it stayed throughout the hour as a reminder that this is a professional relationship.  I have chosen to maintain a variation of that practice where I try to collect the fees in cash from patients rather than my staff.  Sometimes when I’m behind or such I’m not able to but I try.  My hope is that Freud got something right and that the patients, at some level, register that I am hired for a medical service which is perhaps more than friendship.  You can imagine how this is less obvious to some seeing their psychiatrist rather than their podiatrist.

I have other support to help also, such as through my malpractice insurance, CAP-MPT.  They are wonderful.  They are available any time for a phone or email consultation on any question I have.  (I believe they know my name by now.)  They also send out regular newsletters on related topics to their clients which I read seriously and try to implement.

Before writing FriendtoYourself.com, I was much more guarded.  I never treated friends or family and felt isolated from my community which I thought I was doing to maintain patient confidentiality issues.  I’m so glad that has eased up a bit inside of me.  I’m a better physician because of it.  I will continue to learn about this dynamic balance in patient doctor relationships from my patients and from experience and welcome the growth.

Self-Care Tip – Give yourself the benefit of keeping a professional in your life who knows their role.

Question:  What is your opinion about the patient doctor relationship?  Do you ever struggle with boundaries?  How do you see those boundaries as being in your favor of getting better medical care?  Please tell us your story.

Let Things Come Together And Fall Apart To Experience Them More Fully – Presence

Cover of "Boy"

Cover of Boy

He still has some lingering vestigial baby-smell that sets the pheromones into motion.  I turn soft and doughy sniffing his hairline and would claw out any threat; as if there would be one within our stuccoed walls in jungled suburbia.  But just in case, I am primed.  Grrrr.

This moment that comes in one lungful of air sets off the sixth sense, like chimes in the wind, into a little pretty song of contrasting emotions – something warm and nice against fear and aggression.  Lovely.  Complex and simple.  I breath in and taste what is in the air again more slowly.  I let it come together so I can pull it apart.  I am in awe.

What creatures we are.

Big breath everyone.  What contrasts come together for you?  Is the experience of letting yourself watch them coalesce and then dehis add any sense of presence to your moment?

Self-Care Tip – Let things come together and fall apart to experience them more fully – presence.

You Are Free To Feel. Emotional Freedom.

I should feel happy.

Norma Talmadge

Image via Wikipedia

In Mona’s efforts to process what it meant for her to claim her emotional freedom, she tripped over this,

I should feel happy.

I almost tripped too, with, “No you shouldn’t!” But wouldn’t that have been weird?

Freedom to feel how we feel is not the same as picking and choosing our feelings from the great many genetic options we have all been given.

“No. I’m going to a meeting today. I’m going to feel powerful, confident, secure and somber. I’ll save ‘happy,’ for later when I come home.”

Ahem. That sounds like another indenture; some other short sugared path to being controlled.

The first part of emotional freedom is simply unwrapping the gift.

“I have this collection of shiny and not so shiny gifts that are accumulating in the attic. Nope. Never opened them.”

Open the gift of emotional freedom or not, it’s still ours. It’s ownership isn’t about what we’ve done to get it or keep it. That’s what a gift is. Free. There’s no negotiation; no exchange. It’s a one way path to our home, attic or living space as it may be.

I hoped for Mona that she would grow in her awareness of her freedom. No other goals at the moment; no happiness quest. No scavenger hunt for emotions she wanted and house-cleaning for those she didn’t want; just an awareness that what she felt was hers. She was free.

Questions: Have you felt free to feel? Or do you believe that you feel the way you do because of what others do to you? Is this a useful thought-paradigm to you? Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip – Open up your gift and check out your emotional freedom. Be a friend to yourself.

Good Sleep

Naruto Sleeping

Image by lyk3_0n3_tym3 via Flickr

When our day feels out of control, perhaps our night doesn’t have to be.

During sleep, our body replenishes hormones and chemical messengers that it needs so badly to cope with the many physical and emotional stressors throughout our day.  If we don’t sleep well, we can’t cope as well.  It is during sleep that our memory consolidates and we can see where that might affect us.  Poor sleep means poor day time memory, concentration and focus.

Focus on the part of sleep that we can influence.  This is called sleep hygiene.  Possibly we can choose what time to go to bed, what time to wake up, what is in our bedroom and what we do before bed.

Any parent knows that there are times when these things are not in our control but they also know that without a good nights rest, parenting during the day is much harder.  Pick any one of those things to start with, such as getting to bed at the same time every night, at a time that allows us to sleep a good 7+ hours for the night.  Chart our sleep in a sleep journal for a week to get a better sense of our own sleep train and the areas we can take control over.

Taking care of others means taking care of ourself.  “You can’t give what you don’t have.”  And without sleep, we have a lot less to give to ourself and others.

Self Care Tip – get good sleep.  Be a friend to yourself.

Questions:  What does it offer you to know that the night doesn’t have to be another place of chaos in your life?  How has that improved your ability to be your own friend.

Run Away Before You Self-Destruct – Keep Yourself Safe

Run Away Before You Self-Destruct – Keep Yourself Safe

This is a slight remake from 7/25/10. Hugs to all.

____________________________________________

When you feel the pull to do something that isn’t good for you, turn away from it. Do something that you can stand doing at the moment that won’t make you hate yourself now or later.

In the evenings, when the kids are just in bed, the backlash of the day seems to have a few last flicks. Despite the anticipated quiet, my shoulders are tight. Dusk, when the land meets the sky, is when I feel like eating …chocolate specifically.

I purposefully don’t bring it home, except the darkest chocolate sold with over 75% cacao for this very reason. It’s so dark, it’s practically bark.

Home is my safe place and I need to know that it is as safe as possible, even from me. I used to bring treats home that were to be eaten in moderation, but I found that when the monster in me crept out. I’d board myself up in the pantry and polish it off. That would turn me to self-loathing. It was a cycle. I got tired of being my enemy and knowing what was coming next.

Now, I choose to simply go out for my chocolate. I eat what I want when I’m out, when I’m less likely to eat myself into despair. Now, when I’m home, I can pick a different fight rather than fighting the urge to closet eat. Home is a little more safe for me.

Tonight, the kids went to bed ok, but I still took my turn around the fridge and pantry, even though I knew there was nothing, absolutely nothing, I’d want to eat in my house. I am in danger now of developing something of a ritual in this rummage around the kitchen. The good thing is that when I do make the turn, it leads me to the thought of just going to my bike and riding. Tonight, after a 30 minute spin, while watching the last 1/2 of the première to Glee, I am good again. I’m thinking about the muscles in my legs and the way my body doesn’t walk as heavy as it used to and I feel good about myself. Just like that, I feel a little less self-loathing. I feel more safe.

Self Care tip #1 – Run away before you self destruct. Be a friend to yourself.

Questions: Have you found a safe place? What is keeping your home safe for you? Please tell us your story.

Gathering Friend to Yourself Blog-Post References:
Choosing Safety:
  • basics on Weight Management 2011/06/25
  • Trusting our Clinician, or Not 2011/05/17
  • Self-Care Works You, Pushes You, Tires You Out Until You Are Happily Spent On Your Friend – You 2011/04/25
  • Participate – Work as Part of A Team With Your Medical Providers 2011/04/12
  • Choosing Connections – Take The Good and Take Care of Yourself 2011/04/04
  • Check Your Read. Even When You Feel Shame, Bullied and Herded, You Are Free. 2011/03/26
  • Living Where We Feel Safe is Part of Self-Care 2011/03/20
  • Afraid of Meds 2010/09/19
  • Get in Someone’s Space 2010/09/08
  • Run Away Before You Self-Destruct – Keep Yourself Safe 2010/07/25
Self-Loathing:
  • Number One Reason For Relapse In Mental Illness 2011/04/07
  • So Many Choices, So Little Time …For Self-Care 2011/03/05
  • Say, “I Can’t Control This” When You Can’t 2011/01/31
  • Emotions: The Physical Gift We Can Name 2011/01/06
  • Escape Self-Loathing 2010/10/29
Breaking Negative Cycles:
  • Loving Me without ambivalence – Perfectionism v. Passive Surrender 2011/05/28
  • You Can’t Barter With It. Sleep. 2010/12/03
  • Regardless The Reasons Not To, Go Get Your Sleep 2010/11/22
  • Choose, Gladly, Using Resources 2010/10/13
  • Sleep Hygiene – my version 2010/08/29
  • Pay a dollar 2010/07/29

Supercharge Your Life Purpose

SERVE

Image by elycefeliz via Flickr

Going back to basics is one of the best tours of life. It is exactly how to supercharge our life purpose.

Truth is, we’ve been in this polite exchange between serving others and serving ourselves for the past year. It’s been nice but we are smarter now.

We all agree that “living to serve Me” sounds like a two year-old. We all agree that “living to serve others” sounds like pleasuring a martyr’s stake. Perhaps, as wise Solomon said, there is a time for everything, but most of our time is best spent where we will get our highest yield. I think of that place like a sphere, whose constitution are our basics.

Our basics are all about the wonderland of our biopsychosocial selves and including temperament.

Just as with “all” extremes, the truth is a bit of both. None of us can abandon our need (Me) to self-serve. None of us can abandon our need (Me) to serve others. The commonality in both is Me. Everything starts and ends with Me and that is our sphere’s constitution.

To review some of this, I jotted down:

health

medical illnesses including brain
hungry
tired

things we are doing to ourselves

sleep hygiene
addictive and decadently enticing exercise
food journaling
daily weigh-in’s
victim role
accountability to Me, and including Higher Power
starting over, and over, and over
community

things being done to you

natural disasters
assault/abuse
stigma
environmental milieu
the biopsychosocial condition of those we choose to be connected with

Don’t let this get past basic. If the list bugs you, throw it out. If it’s too long, shorten it.

Self-Care Tip – Supercharge your life purpose by getting at your basic needs

Questions: What constitutes your sphere of “best self?” How did you come to that? How would you describe it to someone who doesn’t understand? Please tell us your story.

Flaws You Love. Presence.

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

Taraxacum, seeds detail 2.jpg

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’s 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’ve gained everything back — 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’t even imagine walking in the doors of my first meeting — 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 — for me, it’s 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’s the ONLY thing that made a difference — 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.

Life-ers – Our Beloved Flaws

Giovanni Baglione. Sacred Love Versus Profane ...

Image via Wikipedia

Life-ers.  Our flaws that are ours for life.  Not a broken leg, not a bad haircut, life-ers last as long as our genetic code stays in tact.  I was talking with my beautiful eighteen year-old niece yesterday about loving our flaws.  The look she gave me was enough to say,

“Auntie Sana, you are the crazy auntie aren’t you?

Unfortunately, when people give me that look, despite the love in their eyes telling me to stop before I make things worse, I get set off to flap harder against the air trying to make them see how to fly.  My thoughts, like little ducklings with fluff for feathers, don’t always show what they will become when they are matured in discussion and practice.  So when my niece gave me her loving, “You are crazy,” look, I started talking faster, louder and my hands were doing the up and down thing.

I wanted her to know that she will love the people she wants to love better when she does that for herself.  When she loves her flaws, seeing them like a favorite rock she’s never been able to consistently climb or a piano sonata that she has practiced over years but still trips through and loves it even though she will never be its master – when she loves her imperfect self that much then she can love me.  She can love me better when she doesn’t hate her failing self.  I fail her and will for life.  She can love me as I am when she gives herself the same passion.  She can love me enough not to want me to stay this way, when she pushes herself, works herself and throws her energy against the barriers against her own growth – why? because she loves herself enough to do that.

My niece and I talked about God too.  God loves us completely now.  He doesn’t want us to become perfect before He loves us entirely.  He doesn’t love the parts of us that don’t let Him down only.  He doesn’t divide us up between good and bad cells, genes for heaven and genes for… well, not heaven.  God loves us passionately now.  Why in the world would we think He would want us to feel any differently about our own selves?  Wouldn’t that be pretty lame if God said,

“I feel this way about you, but don’t you go accepting your own flaws.  Only I can do that.  You had better hate your flaws and despise yourself for them until they go away.”

I was reading an amazing story accounted by The Itty Bitty Boomer, where we are given some of the inner scene of one woman’s flawed and perfect self, Carie, growing to love her life-ers just like you and me.  She tells us,

“Recovering from obesity is much like recovering from any addiction – the battle is never done or over.  Over the last 3 years I have regained 25 of the 90 pounds that I lost.  I could fall easily into blame and self-hatred and beat myself up for failing again … but I do not think I’ve failed. And the more I keep myself in that mindset … the easier it is for me to keep on track to dump the pounds picked up.”

Speak it!

Self-Care Tip – Love your life-er.  Have you given your life-er a hug today?  (Smile.)

Questions:  What are your life-ers?  Are you able to love them yet?

What do you think about a God who asks you to love yourself either differently than He does or as well as He does?  How do you see it?  Please tell us your story.

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:

Let Love Come, Even When It Poops On You

There are not many people who can poop on me whom I will still want back.  Today, sitting at Olive Garden I noticed some brown on my white linen pants.  I thought, “Oh bummer, my soup spilled.”

Salad

Image by adactio via Flickr

The food was delicious.  I love their salad and minestroni soup.  Yum.  People say that the Olive Garden salad is the healthy food that really isn’t healthy and I believe them.  Especially because I always eat like it’s a challenge.  As if this may be the last salad I’ll get for weeks or perhaps I’m being filmed and about to get a prize for eating so much salad.

We were there with family, including my nieces and parents.  You may remember my youngest niece who was born premature and damaged, yet dominated the NICU at UCSD with her rapid developing health.  Remember how loopy I am over the perfect white and soft nape of her neck?  Well she is about one and a half years old now, weeble wobbles all over the place, and she loves me.  She really loves me.  I have thought that perhaps she may know something the rest of the bozos around are missing and I quietly congratulate her often.

Today, of course she wanted me.  We sat and snuggled and she gave me the ultimate compliment of letting me feed her.  After her third visit, and the fact that the brown spots on my pants kept reappearing, I finally let the truth sink in as well.  I had been pooped on.

After three babies of my own, anyone would think I should have known better, or perhaps been less repulsed.  But let me tell you thinkers.  I was so grossed out.  It was all of me not to lose my salad.

We all got cleaned up.  Mostly of course.  FYI – it’s not that easy to get poop out of linen in a public bathroom.  I was given lots of space by everyone thereafter.  Except from my niece.  Yes.  She was back.  And yes.  I wanted her.

Now, how to get a self-care nugget out of this?  Bring a change of clothes wherever you go and let love come.  Even when you get pooped on.

Sleep Is The Vital Sign Of Psychiatry

Yesterdays brief post, Just Go To Sleep, provoked and inspired many of us.  Perhaps it was its brevity, it’s mostly blank canvas in other words, that allowed for such freedom.  The comments ranged from major depressive disorder hypersomnia type, to insomnia related to anxiety.  We covered medication induced sleep, to parasomnias.  Some of us have to fight hard for our sleep time and others of us fight to get away from sleep.

I’ve covered a bit already on sleep in previous posts you can read if you want to review:

What I haven’t done is organize for you, as you did so well for me in your comments yesterday, the different reasons we sleep the way we do.  This isn’t a quick flick to show you but I will touch on Carl D’Agostino‘s question when talking about depression with increased sleep,

“Is our brain allowing us to escape the depression this way?”

English: Monitor of vital signs in intensive c...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love this question because it discloses simply by inquiry the full body involvement in the disease process of major depressive disorder.  Sleep is known as the vital signs of psychiatry.  It reflects what’s happening in the whole system, the whole person even down to a sore on your foot to the ravages of post traumatic stress disorder in your hypothalamus.  When sleep changes, we know to look into things.  There’s an investigation to be done.

 

 

We can, each of us, be part of the investigation:

  1. Maintain sleep hygiene.  Don’t indulge when we don’t want to go to bed.
  2. Observe our nights – is our sleep solid?
  3. If yes, is it restful?  Do we feel refreshed in the morning?  How is our day time energy?
  4. If not refreshing, why?  For example, do we snore?
  5. When do we have the most trouble – falling asleep, staying asleep, or falling back to sleep if we awaken?

When our sleep deteriorates, if nothing else has yet, we can bet it will soon if we don’t get our sleep restored.  Not everyone knows that during sleep, we heel, our hormones replenish and our memories consolidate.  Marie from blog-site, livingvictoriously, told us yesterday about her day time inattention after poor sleep,

“I have had nights with very little sleep that have left me feeling like I am unable to concentrate well the following day.” 

We all become a little drunk, disinhibited, inattentive and impulsive when we get little sleep.  Or opposite, as Carl described, with too much sleep we feel,

“vapid and uneventful.”  (Good word Carl, vapid.)

One of the sad times for me in clinic is when I meet a new patient who has suffered with insomnia for a long time along with another one or more combined brain illnesses and I fall into the, “what if’s?”  Knowing how much healing they would have gotten so long ago simply by getting sleep gets to me and I have to push it down and be grateful for the now, when I know they will find some relief.

Don’t minimize the role of sleep in our life.  Don’t minimize any changes in our sleep.  Take sleep seriously.  More serious than the rest of the stuff we usually ruminate over, like offenses taken, our appearance and the weight of our road bike.  If sleep changes, get a professional consultation.  If it doesn’t resolve, get another consultation and push and fight for your sleep.  It may be that health and lifestyle changes must happen.  Whatever it is, do it.  It is a friendly thing to do.

Questions:  What have you noticed about your whole body’s relationship to brain illness?  Has sleep been a part of it?  Did sleep harold any other important changes in your medical/emotional health?  Please tell us about it.

Self-Care Tip – Forget about sleep.  Just kidding.  Sleep well my friends.

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.

Say Yes to Medication And No To Drugs

Please don’t call them drugs.

Image via Wikipedia

Today I spent eight hours in the company of many neuroscientists.  Smart folk.  People I look up to, want to emulate and learn from.  It was an honor.  We covered different stimulating topics about serving our patients, diagnosing better and the development of our field of practice.  We connected collegially, ate too much chocolate, exchanged cards and talked about each other’s families.  I hope to meet them again soon at future related conferences and continue learning from their experiences and study.

The one thing I do not like about any of these meetings however, is hearing people who know better (if they thought about it) naming our good medications “drugs.”

Drugs.  Yuck.  What do you think of when you hear that word?  I think of stigma, addiction, substance abuse, ruined families, fathers who do not come home, needle marks or powder on mirrors, low-living, illegal behavior, dealers, hepatitis and so much more – very little of which is good.  Drugs.  I cannot number how many patients I have spent oodles amount of time on talking them away from the stigma attached to medications because they thought of them as “drugs.”  Blah.  It is not anyone’s fault but we can start over when ever we want to, so let us.  It is time.

Who thinks of anything that actually improves us when thinking of drugs?  Who thinks of life-saving remedies, disease cures, hope, ability to feel pleasure again, forgotten shame, ability to hold a job, restful sleep, speaking well in public, desire to live restored or a mother who no longer wants to drown her baby?  Do you think of that when you hear drugs?

Let’s get together on this and forget the word that carries so much loaded negative meaning.  It is a disservice to ourselves – physician, scientist, grocer, student, surviving family of a suicide victim, newborn baby, patient and all of us who have any connection whatsoever to disease and treatment.

Drugs.  I think of First Lady Nancy Reagan‘s famous campaign in the 80’s, “Just Say No!”  That is not what we want to say or hear when we write or receive a prescription to treat and to heal what can be healed from a debilitating disease.  Just say yes, please.

Medication.  Not drugs.  A word does matter.  A word carries emotion on it like the smell of cookies baking in the oven or the toilet that was not flushed.  A word can start a war or inspire forgiveness.  Words matter.  Words can be part of what helps us be better friends to ourselves.  Why not use them to our advantage?  Let us change our culture and decrease stigma with this simple word – “medication.”

Maybe when I am able to get together with my colleagues again, maybe next year even, we will be using the word “medication.”  Maybe it will be because of the shift in culture people like you and I can start now.

Self-Care Tip:  Please forget about the misunderstood word, “drugs,” and say yes to medication.  Be a friend to yourself.

Questions:  What do you think of when you hear “drug?”  vs. “medication?”  Is there a difference to you?  To you think it would matter to culture and your “Me” if we used “medication” to refer to prescription therapies?  If so, how?  Please tell me your story.

Related Articles:

Fears of Addiction To Medications For Brain Illness

 

Let Him “Save Face” Because it is Friendly To Yourself

Your argument is invalid.

Image via Wikipedia

If you’ve argued, here’s what I want to ask you today:

Are you getting what you want?

That argument we had, knowing the pristine rightness of our position, knowing we have taken the fall so many times for reasons as loaded, knowing we’ve been disadvantaged, our pearls were trampled and we knew and we argued because we thought we finally should.  Was it friendly to Me?  Choosing to argue.  (There we’ve already passed up the victim role and claimed accountability for the argument.  We chose it.)

The question is what is most friendly to Me?  To be right?  Hm.  What will we do with the rightness?  Sleep with it at night?  Will it clean our house?  Will we get anything for it?  Will it take us on vacation?  What ever the argument was about.

Most of us think we are right.  Now what?

Ellen had argued.  Not aggressively.  There was no volume or matter flying about.  It was short but potent.  A bit nuclear if you must know.  She was so in the right.  If she were a tooth, she’d be the brightest whitest one in the mouth.  Pearly white.  An incisor perhaps.  She gained ground but lost her goal.  Now, neither of them got what they wanted.  They just got what any one gets when they argue.  Lonely.

Mass General put out a great guideline to conflict resolution I’ve reference below if you want to peruse …or tattoo it to your arm.

Basically, if you want to get something, let the other person save face.  You ain’t getting much by being right.  Think about what is friendly to yourself and remember that friendly is not what is easy, natural or desired many times.  It is what improves you and gets you what you really want in the big picture.

If you can’t do this even though you are deliberately trying, it may be that it is a symptom of brain illness and needs medical care.

So how am I doing in our argument?  Smile.  Are you getting what you want?  Have you ever been mid-stride argument and been able to change the direction of your projection?  Have you ever been able to stop yourself once you started and chose to be friendly with yourself rather than just right?  How?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip:  You guessed it.  Let him save face.

Related Articles:

Find the Best Route To Your Destination:  Conflict Resolution

How to win Arguments

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.