Be a Celebrating Hero

An Asian black bear, shot after charging the &...

An Asian black bear, shot after charging the “Old Shekarry”, as illustrated in Wild sports of the world: a boy’s book of natural history and adventure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Potty-stench made going to the bathroom awful. Phong would wait for days rather than use a public bathroom. Just going near one left him showering for hours under scalding water and layers and layers of soap. He would work through three bars of soap at a time before he could even think about stopping. Stopping before was too horrific. If he did, before he stopped feeling dirty, than something horrible would happen, or so his thoughts shouted at him. The devil would eat his little girl.

Phong knew that was not going to happen but the thoughts were tormenting and nothing made them better. Sometimes he would rather die than see the bloody gruesome scene in his thoughts another day.

Obsessive Convulsive Disease is a bear. Getting treatment is seriously scary. The treatment not working is petrifying. And just about anything in between is fear invoking. You get the picture. Who will go up against a bear like that?

I remember in the Disney*Pixar movie, Brave, when the dad, Fergus, yells:

Mor’du! Elinor, hide!
[Elinor and Merida run off, one of Fergus’ men passes a spear to him, Fergus charges towards Mor’du (in bear form) but he snaps off Fergus’ spear, then we see Elinor and Merida escape on horseback, then Fergus holds up his sword at Mor’du and shouts]

Fergus, like the beast he fights, growls a bellow:

Come on, you!
[suddenly Mor’du lunges forward and the screen goes blank]

Eventually we learn that Fergus won but suffered the casualty of his leg. The amount of adrenaline in that time and sympathetic hyperawareness Fergus experienced is just close to the amount that Phong has daily or multiple times daily sometimes in his Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy and medications. In ERP, he has to choose to expose himself to this nearly incomprehensibly horrible fear, respond to it and then wait until the fear lessons. This is a bad case of, “it must get worse before it gets better.” But Phong does it. Mostly. He just does not want this to go on and like a prisoner of war, he is eating the grass under the fence line to survive. The man has courage. Can you imagine going through that kind of cortisol crisis every day?

And as mentioned, on top of that, he takes his medications. Anyone who takes medications, knows that we don’t need courage once to do it, but every day, hand to pills to mouth, we need sinew. Phong is one of my heroes.

Question: Do you know you are a hero? Any ideas, why? How do you celebrate that? Or would you if you would celebrate this? Please tell us your story.

Self-care tip: Growl a bellow at what you fight! Be a celebrated/celebrating hero.

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.

The Price of Manure

In yesterday’s post I asked “What has happened in the space between you and the ones you love?”  A reader responded,

Think of being loved but not being able to be touched. …Rituals above spontaneity. Of having Lysol applied to everything you touch. Lysol applied to children’s legs and shoes. Not being able to hug your kids after work until after a bath and your inside-clothes on. The tirades. Most things literal and not humorous. Any cabinet or freezer needing to be as stuffed as possible.
As a young person it seemed very personal and hurtful. …All the lost years….  After all those years now on the mend.

It doesn’t matter how old we are, it takes courage to live.  There are many astounding parts of this story, but today I draw attention to “the lost years.”

I don’t know if any of you readers saw the episode last week from the musical comedy, Glee.  It irreverently tossed together a potato salad of high impact emotions.  (Delicious potato salad!)  The best part was as usual the great Jane Lynch.  That woman is brilliant.  She shows us anger, resentment, and personalization through spitting words.  She contrasts this against her thick velvet love for her older disabled sister. Sue Sylvester (Lynch’s on-screen character) has festered the insults she absorbed on her sister’s behalf, ever since she first realized her sister was different.  It was only until her sister, with a still-waters affect told Sue that she didn’t care what others said about her.  Her disabled sister was whole inside.  Sue started to heal too.

Being present with our dark history, can summarily be our gain.  Especially if in the end we found love, became connected with our journey and with others, and forgave.  It becomes rather an education of sorts.

When I was struggling with my ambivalence about vocational choices, my dad told me, “Education is never a loss.”  I plunged forward with that as a talisman.  

Education is never a loss.  Even our school of suffering?  Look at it as a currency of sorts.  It’s all perspective.  Even manure helps you know.  We had to pay $100 the other day for a truckload of chicken-poo for our farm trees.

Self Care Tip #73 – Find the value in your suffering.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  Do you agree or not?  Please tell me your story.

Between Me and Thee, Don’t Believe it

He felt blamed by his daughter.  It is one thing to perceive it.  Believing what we perceive might be separate.

There is a disease process named obsessive compulsive disorder.  In this illness, we perceive things that at some level we understand are not likely nor true. These fears are called “egodystonic,” when we can tell that our fears don’t make sense.  For example, it may preoccupy my thoughts that I fear I just ran over a pedestrian with my car, even though at some level I know I didn’t.  Not driving back and forth on the street to look for the victim where I fear the accident happened for hours is therefore terrifying to my core.  If asked outright if any of it made any sense, I’d say no.  We all have features of this disorder but don’t necessary to the full extent.  And that is where we got terms like “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.”

It goes to reason that fears consistent with our inner selves are “egosyntonic.”  In its diseased states, we see this in disconnected thought form disorders such as schizophrenia.  The healthier examples are much easier for most of us to understand and relate to.  I fear if I speed, I will get a ticket.  Healthy and connected fear.

Now what was going on with the man I mentioned above?  Did his daughter ever say she blamed him?  Was he trusting his feelings?  His Jedi-intuition?  Was this egodystonic or egosyntonic?

Egodystonic fears in a much milder form include simple personalizations.  Making something about us that isn’t.  Your girlfriend makes jokes about you being irresponsible.  A friend doesn’t return your calls.  Your daughter is moving away.  You can see the potential fears building up.  Will we believe them?

Believing our perceptions depends on different paradigms.  There are our biological illnesses that predispose our perceptions (major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, etc…).  We have our temperaments to answer to.  Some of us are wired to be more suspicious v. trusting.  There are adjustment issues, related to stressors around us.  We have our own coping skills.  And how about poor self-care such as poor sleep hygiene and little exercise?  All of that will play on what we are going to do with our perceptions.

Truth is, generally very little of what we hear has anything to do with us.  Now there is the other extreme of course.  A personality disorder who has little insight into the way they are influencing the world around them and take little responsibility.  But that is the exception.  More often, we walk around licking wounds that came from a series of misperceptions and personalizations.  It takes up a lot of time and is a disconnecting force between me and thee and thee and thee.

Self Care Tip #72 – The best way to keep the space between us open, honest, healthy, connected – is take care of our own selves.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  What has happened in the space between you and the ones you love?  Please tell me your story.