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.

Escape Self-Loathing

happinessinthisworld.com

Self-Care Tip #91 – Put the fight down and take 2 steps back.  Be a friend to yourself.

He came in looking really good.  Chris had seen me for many years and he hasn’t always looked this way.  I said

You look great!

Chris shrugged and told me he had just had a long messy argument with his partner and somehow still felt alright.  In the past, after they fought and the self-loathing set in, he might have hurt himself – like using alcohol or cutting on himself to

…just feel something different.

I was ready to move past the story as he sounded like he was ok with it.  We talked past each other.  Me asking about his sleep, and Chris telling me clips and phrases from the argument.

But amazingly I’m fine!  If he wanted me out today, I’d be out of there, no problem.  He just needs to say the word!

Chris was sitting back in his chair, relaxed until then.  His hands came up and took control of his space, thrusting as he spoke.

Being a psychiatrist, my expertise kicked in and I realized I should turn back.  Chris wasn’t ready to talk about sleep.  You see what all those years of school can do.  Not everyone knows how to pick up on such subtleties.

Chris, maybe you aren’t so happy you argued.

We talked more about his energy, appetite and motivation.  Then we came back to his argument.

It’s none of his f—— business where I am during the day!  I’m not his child.  I’m his partner!  I told him…!

And so on.  Chris still looked better than when he was in the grip of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, or when he was catatonic.  But he didn’t sit comfortably with himself.  And I thought, Chris has fought so hard for himself, why can’t he handle what I want to say?  And I did.  And he did.  Beautifully.  He was a brave knight on a black steed holding his wounded sides.  Life had been a battle for him, but he was making choices to fight less and live more.

“Ok.  Yes.  You’re right.  I will next time.  That makes sense.”

When you’re about to engage in something that in the end will make you loath yourself, choose not to.  That’s friendly to you and your other.  Say something like,

When I was gone you felt jealous?

Give over stage and anger and open windows and breath.  Just choose not to hurt yourself.  Winning or losing the argument, in the end, you hurt by your own choice.

Biologically and probably spiritually Chris wouldn’t have known what to do with that years ago.  But he did now.  I saw him relax again and put his hands away.  I knew Chris had a love for Love and this clicked for him.

I can’t describe how happy I was/am.  Being a part of his journey is a great honor.

Question:  How have you escaped self-loathing and your mean self in the heat of the moment?  Please tell me your story.

Get Gangster on Your Shame

 

Photo by Wesker

 

Shame.  Ah what a cloaked villain!  In this post I’m going to tell you about why shame is not an enemy you want to ignore.

“Michael Corleone” in The Godfather Part II was not the 1st to say it, but maybe was the first to make the quote famous

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Not many people would at first think that keeping shame close might be a good thing, but I’m here to tell you that it is.

Meet Bill the highway patrol.  He’s been seeing me for melancholic depression.  Sometimes he feels a little better, but those times even still are not so great.  Bill has told me about where he thought his anxiety and fear came from.  His story made sense to him.  This wouldn’t be too much of a problem except that he thought about it often.  Very often.  He was running in sprints away from it.  Somehow after all the time he’d spent reluctantly in the presence of his fears, he hadn’t realized that shame was connected.  Shame of being treated the way he had been.  Shame of being misused.  He hadn’t faced his fears because he was always angled away from his thoughts of shame.

If we don’t go where the shame is, we won’t be free from its effect on us.  Fear is a big bad bully.  Until you turn around and say stop, you’ll be running for a long time.

 

 

We all need to be a bit “gangsta” at times.  Ignoring shame is not.  It’s not emotion-street smart.  I’m waiting for Bill to think, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”  And sit in the feelings that come with those thoughts long enough to realize that he’s still ok.

In obsessive compulsive disorder, there is a psychotherapy treatment called “exposure and response prevention.”  In this treatment, the person with the ego-dystonic fear exposes themselves to their fear for a progressive amount of time.  They realize that after going where the fear is over and over and materially seeing that nothing bad happens, the fear looses more and more control over them.

This is effective in any anxiety condition, including shame.

Self-Care Tip #83 – Get gangster on your shame.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  Has shame bullied you?  Please tell me your story.