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.

Imagine If You Were Your Own Friend, And Take Your Advice

Postcard - Sexy Woman writing a letter

Image by Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL) via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #234 – Imagine if you were your own friend, and take your advice.

Joana Johnson, author of CreatingBrains.com, full-time mom of six, part-time University history teacher, student, wife, confidant, friend and sister-in-law… (no she’s not running for president) …Joana asked me today,

Write a letter to someone you love sharing what you want them to do to take better care of themselves.  You don’t have to give it to them or you can.

Now imagine what letter with what self-care requests would someone who loved you write to you?

…You’re right.  I’m going to have to talk her into running for president.

And so, I offer this challenge to you.  I wonder after you.  I am sitting in waiting.  Please tell us this part or more of your story.

Living Where We Feel Safe is Part of Self-Care

Self-Care Tip #213 – Live in safety.  Be a friend to yourself.

In My Fridge

Image by Nikita Kashner via Flickr

I love psychiatry because for me it is a safe place.  A place where I am comfortable pushing aside distractions.  The blinking lights disappear and I don’t have to waste myself on B.S.  Some time ago, I told you about how Mom has been when Dad’s been hospitalized in the past.  When she pushed his tubing aside and just got in bed with him to hold him.  All that mattered then was Love.  They didn’t see the clutter any more.  That’s what psychiatry offers.  If we want, we  can come together and be real.  In twenty to forty minutes, we can hune and warp time and find a gravity where we breathe differently.

Chewbacca

Image by Andres Rueda via Flickr

Unfortunately, I have found that the longer I do this psychiatry thing, the worse I am with life otherwise.  Whether I’m with the grocer, dog-trainer, my child’s teacher or person in front of me in the coffee-line – I just don’t graze well.  (See blog-post, “Do You Feel Pleasure.”)  I’m always yelling, “Hit it Chewbacca!” and we’re off at warp speed into asteroids of personal information; perhaps inappropriate to the setting.  (See blog-post, “Using The Force.”)  I hate to think what I’ll become when I’m more thoroughly demented and disinhibited.  These things just get more pronounced with age and soon I’ll just be that crazy Auntie with her bra snapped on top of her bathing-suit in winter yelling at the young kids to turn the music down so we can talk.

The truth is, I’ve never been so wonderful in tinsel-town.  I found home and found that home needs to be a place where we are safe.  In fact, this is true materially in the home we live in.  It starts there and diffuses out.  If at home we are able to speak uncensored knowing we respect others and are respected because we are human, not because we have to earn it, if we can enter our kitchen and not fear temptation from chocolate chip cookies, open the fridge and know as an alcoholic the wife or husband didn’t buy beer, argue and trust that we are loved enough to be a priority, we know the issue won’t be lazily passed up, we know we are safe – then there is a ripple and a ring of safety and another ripple and another ring of safety and soon safety follows us because we just aren’t interested in anything else.  (That was a super-sentence.)  We have found home.

Questions:  How do you define safety?  What feels safe for you?  How do you grow your circle of safety?  Please tell me your story.

Just to Feel Pleasure

week-end-pleasure

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #189 – Heal for yourself, and you’ll see that also, everyone heals.

The best thing I ever did was go on antidepressants.

Bianca sat, but her whole body was talking.  She was telling me about her changing life.  She had read some of her journal from a year ago when she pounded on herself for her behaviors.  She thoroughly grieved the time with her children when they heard her scream about small things that kids do.  She told me about her sons face when she was irritable.  He showed all the waiting tension that an open child will when waiting for Mom to lose it.  She was trying to push it aside and think rather about how she now could finally enjoy them.  Bianca said,

I just had no idea before how much better life could be.

Bianca’s face became tight and she didn’t make eye-contact,

There’s no way to describe what it’s like to not enjoy your kids – My own kids! – for most of their born lives and then wake up and experience something different.  I just can’t explain what it means to now actually like being with them.  I’ve always loved them but I didn’t feel the pleasure and I hate that.  I want that time back but I can’t have it and I can’t give it to them either.

I’m so scared it will end, the pills will stop working and I’ll lose this new life.

Before her medication, Bianca worked hard at taking care of herself.  She was a check-list of responsible self-care.  Bianca thought it was important that I knew this.

  • Aerobic exercise – check!
  • Healthy diet – check!
  • Sleep hygiene – check!
  • Bianca talked about God but things got confusing for her there.  She didn’t like to think about Him being on “a list.”  He was in her life and didn’t feel He failed her even though she couldn’t feel pleasure or joy.

Still, she continued to coil up and release hard punchy words at her kids and then hate herself for it.  She had prayed so much about this and wouldn’t even mind if God had to puppet her, if that’s what it took, in order for her to treat her kids better.  She could not stop herself from being what she called,

Crazy Mommy.

But now, after she was treated, Crazy Mommy was gone.

Aside from dropping the shame, the best thing for Bianca was knowing that her kids could trust her, felt safe with her and that she felt safe with herself.  Everyone was healing subsequent to Bianca healing.

How many of you have told us a similar story.  A similar rescue.  Yet, never-the-less others of us are afraid to go there.

Question:  How are you present with others who don’t understand your rescue story?  How do you stand beside someone who needs medical help for emotional illness but won’t accept it secondary to stigma?  Please tell us your story.

Feeling Human. Get to Work.

mycountryroads.blogspot.com

Some days, I feel more human than others.  Today was one of those days.  “Chalk full,” as my Aussie-friend says, with stuff.  Started when I got up with the usual dishes, laundry, breakfast and such.  Thankful for it you know.  Means we’re living here.  Moved on to the car dealership to get some work done on my mom-van.  They said thank you and promptly shuttled me and my 3 small children to the mall.

Spending time with kids at home can be too crazy for me on a good day.  Spending time with the kids, without transportation, in the mall 3 days before Christmas….  Words cannot describe it so well.

Four hours later, the shuttle came back for us to collect their $730-some dollars.  I said thank you and drove my kids home.  This was around 2:30pm.

carpetcleaningbluepoint.com

We found our basement flooded.  Really flooded.  It is 9:41 and I just sat down.  My basement is now mostly just wet.

I am tired.  But still grateful.  I fell a little more in love with our house today, thinking, “I will do this for our house.”  “Home.”  (Myuaaah!)

You can yell at things and sometimes people you love and it doesn’t have to mean you love them any less.  A bang-up fight in fact can make the bond even stronger.  I fought with my home today.  My fingers are numb.  My back hurts.  After the rain I can fix the original sin causing the flooding.  However, I imagine that because it is still raining, I’ll have to do this again tomorrow.  There’ll be more fighting.  More love.

The thing that got me through today most of all, was the commonality.  Work.  Work just has to be done.  So human.  To live is to work.  There is no emotion attached unless I put it there.  Work is.  There is a lot of life satisfaction when we do it and don’t get all personal about it.  Don’t dance around, away, negotiate it.  Get it done and or don’t.  Either way, you get what you worked for.

Self-Care Tip #139 – Get up and live.  Work it.

Question: When have emotions, issues, temperature gotten in the way of your work?  Please tell me your story.

Go Toward The Pain To Get Connected

dailymail.co.uk

Audrey came in looking fresh.  Better than before for sure.  She had an aura that brought to mind the moment just when tearing off wrapping paper.  It was nice to see her.

I am doing better.  I’m able to let more of the little things go, like the house doesn’t bother me as much when it’s not clean.

She was more able to do self-care with less forethought.  What did take her by surprise though, was her guilt.  She could see that it was inappropriate but insight didn’t entirely remove what shouldn’t be there.  She said these thoughts and feelings were something her husband likely never struggled with.  She didn’t think he was worried about her home doing dishes when he was at work.  However, the reverse for her was true.  She gave a coughing laugh.

I do!  I feel bad when he does the things.  It doesn’t make sense.  If he wasn’t washing dishes when I was working he’d just be watching TV.  But I still feel bad.

For her, working her job, taking her jogs, and attending Mommy groups were all in a grey category of “extras” for life.  Not necessary but bonuses she was spending their retirement on.  However, despite this, she looked the champion she was when saying,

I still am able to take care of myself.  Even though those thoughts come.

Audrey, by thinking about, talking about, and materially man-handling these thoughts, she was able to join her personal journey.  These things became connecting forces in her life.  They drew her closer to her family and not away.  Resentment dissipated and she was able to take part in her available positive emotions and thoughts.

It could have been different.  It had been different at other times, before medications and other positive deliberate choices in her life.  But it wasn’t now.  The could-have-beens trickled away together, the other near misses that sometimes we know about and sometimes we don’t.  There they go…

Going toward the pain in life, not averting from it, is a connecting force in our lives.

Question:  What have you been avoiding?  What has it done for you when you went toward the pain?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip #124 – Go toward the pain to feel connected.  Be a friend to yourself.

Your Heroic Self – Waiting For Normal

Self-Care Tip #82 – Have courage to go for what is lovely to you in life.  Be a friend to yourself.

Pretty, blond, about 5’6″, slender, in her 30’s, mother and wife, no funny shapes or movements but Britt still asked me, “Am I normal?”  It takes guts to ask someone that.

I just finished this heart-squeezing book, “Waiting For Normal,” by Leslie Connor.  (Yes!  I finally read a book!  It took me 5 times as long but it was no less pleasurable.)  Connor tells us about pre-teen Addie who grew up on the waves of her bipolar mom’s chaos, salvaging bits of wreckage along the way to survive.  Addie is the life-preserver her mom uses for life.  Addie’s own buoy through it all is her hope of one day finding normalcy.  She uses all her smarts to avoid the thrust her mom’s messes force on her.  It requires her full attention.  Addie must have looked pressed for something because her Mom finally asked her

What’s so special?  What are you chasing after?!

Addie was fisting optimism when she answered

I’m not chasing after anything.  I’m waiting.  Waiting for normal.

Later Addie explains to her mom

Normal is when you know what’s gonna happen next.  Not exactly what because probably nobody gets that.  But normal is being able to count on certain things.  Good things.  And it’s having everyone together – just because they belong that way.

My son used to have shaggy hair with curls that flew at the world around him.  He came home the other day and told me he wanted it short.  I finally figured out that because none of the other boys in his class had longer hair, neither should he.  He showed me pictures of what his hair should look like.  The whole process was too cute.

We are all looking for normal.

Putting aside defining normal, for now I am content to just contemplate the largeness of the effort to find it.  The journey, the process, the coming into such a thing reveals the beauty in one’s character and essence.  It is that, rather than the “hair-cut” that makes me say, “Wow!”

When Britt, my patient, strove towards her health and normalcy, her intent in context was lovely.  She seemed to me, in those moments we shared together, as one of the great heroes of our day.  A woman of courage.

Self-Care Tip #82 – Have courage to go for what is lovely to you in life and appreciate the beauty in your heroic self.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  Have you struggled with the question, “Am I normal?”  Please tell me your story.