Introducing our new co-author at Friend to Yourself

Finally!

I’ve been hoping, asking, looking, waving awkwardly in the hospital hallways, trying to find someone who would join me in this great blogging experience with you on self-care. And, finally.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Helme Silvet! You will love getting to know her, and she will love, as I do, sharing space with you. Keep on.


Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 3.04.34 PM

Helme Silvet, MD, MPH, FACC
Loma Linda University School of Medicine
Chief of Cardiology, Jerry L. Pettis VA Loma Linda Healthcare System

Hello!

 

My Blog Journey

Sana (or Dr Q) and I have known each other for two decades or so (and yes, we have lived that long). We have spent hours talking about what makes us excited to be physicians, what gets us up in the morning, and what makes us upset. Finally, we decided that it was time to share some of these thoughts together. Taking care of self is a principle that we both try to teach our patients, but also practice ourselves in order to be effective parts of our families, communities, and humanity. The goal of this blog is to attempt both from the, perhaps, somewhat unique perspective of biology, and medicine as the starting point to self-care.

My Professional Journey

My medical experience started in the “old country” behind the Iron Wall – I grew up in Estonia and graduated from medical school there. After the Soviet Union opened its borders, I made my way to the U.S. and finished an internal medicine residency at Loma Linda University and cardiology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Lown Cardiovascular Center. Starting in 2003, I have worked at the VA system as a cardiologist. Along the way, I also graduated with an MPH degree from Harvard School of Public Health. I am passionate about making people get better – this includes preventing, treating and managing heart disease as a cardiologist – but also helping my patients make sense of their life journey. One cannot treat and prevent disease without caring for the whole person.

My Life Journey

Between my two sisters and myself, we have lived in 5 different countries – this has made for interesting holidays! Seeing different parts of the world up close has given me plenty of experience, but has also come with a certain sense of displacement. It has been a continuous struggle in my life to figure out where I fit in the wide world in general, and in my little microcosm of a world in particular. In this context, it has been fascinating to learn different things from different cultures, and observe how people with different life experiences can effectively communicate with each other. And I noticed that somewhere along the way, my quest for truth and knowledge is giving way to a quest of understanding and compassion.

Disclaimer

The thoughts on this blog are my own and do not represent entities I belong to in a professional capacity. The stories that I tell are true in principle but the details may have been changed to protect people’s privacy. The blog is not meant to offer professional advice or treatment advice for specific medical conditions; the goal is to share ideas, general principles and stories of a personal journey.

 

Turn Toward Something Better

Had a great time at, “Seams of Gold.”  Great example of how community is friendly to “Me.”  Met a wonderful man.

Me:  Hi!  I’m Dr. Quijada!  I’m a psychiatrist.

Him:  I’m Frank.  I’m a recovering Alcoholic.

Got to love love that kind of company.  Thank you to all who participated and volunteered.

images

Found after our evening, was thinking about that darn “justice” ever skirting so much of Me.  The way becoming the victim to abusive treatment drives “Me” into helplessness all around us.  Things like money turn us to blame and ugliness.  In the end, telling our story, we hear from our own selves more about the behavior of the curmudgeon than would ever leave cause/change/control space for an innocent like “Me.”  Yep.  It’s them.

Using the behaviors and emotions of others is never useful to explain/justify the emotions or behaviors of “Me.”  We are as free to choose to be a victim as we are to not.

Programs like, Seams of God, and people like Frank, remind us that turning toward something better is, Way!  It is way, like opening a window to a hot room, like turning the lights on, like biting into a ripe home-grown cherimoya.  Turning toward something good rather than away from “bad” is choosing to be free.

Be free. Everything starts and ends with Me.

 

Keep on, dandies.

your own,

Q

 

Your Fabulous Stardom

ImageTaylor Swift is a rock star!”

The girl was in awe.  She had written versions of this all over her paper in various star-quality designs.  Everything was about Taylor Swift.  I was watching her at the park and drifting among my own thoughts, when her father leaned over and said, “Now write, Susan is a rock star.”  Young TS-Fan, alias Susan, looked up with an expression capturing a combo of wisdom with a big flip-off.  My thoughts were not adrift.  She was my interest.  She was a star.

And so was her dad!  What a guy!

Think about what your temperament gave you.  Think about what you like most to do, what your thoughts noodle when you aren’t “thinking.”  Is there someone who emulates the “star?”  Write that person’s name down in a bumper sticker statement.  Now write your own name in another.  You are peers.  Meet your cohort.

Susan’s dad had it going.  Be productive at any age.  Know that you have something to offer.  You have valuable stock.  Put you name out there, where ever that is.

Christian is a brilliant gardener.  Mindy is being her real self all the time.  Craig works words in classic timeless style.  You are a star.

Self-care tip:  Put your name into print.

Question:  What are you a star at?  Please tell us your fabulous story of self.

How do I become a friend to Me? Start with seeing.

magic mirror

“I like the way he sees me.  I have a lot of trouble seeing myself.”

Madge really had it going, as far as I was concerned.  In this one statement, she is insightful.

Juxtaposing being able to see into oneself with the self-declaration of not being able to see, is ironic.  It is lovely, like going toward anxiety to diminish its power over us.  It is complex, as are the many hues of gray.  A beautiful weed.  Great weakness.  Useful trash.  It is a pretty great irony to come to that place of wisely recognizing how little wisdom we have.

We have trouble seeing ourselves. Part of what makes it so hard to be friends is that doing that is like shaking our own hand.  When we try, we are a purse flipped inside out.  The crude insult, “Her head is stuck up her own a–!” comes to mind.

Many like bullet points to give a, “How to.”  For example, look at Yahoo!

How to buy, store, and cook watermelon

Cook watermelon.  I know someone is saying, “Made you look.”  And maybe when I say, “How to see yourself in these moves,” someone else is swirling their eyes.  But, as I am not about to say that I know better than Yahoo!, here’s my try:

1.  Origins, (God)

2.  Brain health

3.  Community

4.  Admit limitations

5.  And a big magic mirror

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, how do I see Me?

Maybe my list is out of order and maybe it is not a perfect step approach into the soul.  So be it.  Editors of Yahoo! feel free to instruct.

Madge, in one statement, covered community and limitations.  It was nice to be in her space.

Self-Care Tip:  How do I become a friend to Me?  Start with seeing.

Question:  How do you become a friend to Me with your site?  Please tell us your story.

Conditional Love With Me

frayed rope

We have a tenuous relationship with ourselves.  Very conditional, as if we were in a constant state of probation. Have you noticed?  Conditional love: part of the human condition.

I was reading the The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel, by Helene Wecker, and found myself getting into her golem-philosophy, that went something like this,

Since so many of us have it, can’t you just say it is the way things are, and not about freedom or fairness?

Wecker in such eloquence ironically describes the human condition from the story of two inhuman beings.

The New York Times, , describes it as,

When they are later confronted by the evil power who controls their fates, they discover that the ultimate expression of free will may lie in the embrace of limitations.

In considering our limitations in loving our own self, this idea can be useful to come to terms with the day in and out internal conflict of loving what is imperfect and distasteful, with what we would otherwise rather not identify with, and with the acts of friendship toward this seemingly inhuman part of our selves.  In embracing our limitations, we may find less conflict in loving Me, less conditioning, or perhaps a shorter probation each day.  We may experience the probation differently, Chava, The Golem, when we say, “It just is this way with all of us.  I have the community of humanity.

Getting into the space of where our “tenuous bond” between what we love and would otherwise not love about ME, in fact diminishes the frailty and increases the strength in our personal journey.  Rather than putting us into further danger of internal conflict and self-loathing, it allows us to experience what will happen from and in the company of the tension.

More specifically, in brain health, getting into the space of our conditional love for our self, allows us to do things like seek medical treatment when needed, ally with help, with medical treatments that once repulsed us, with something as formulated as putting a pill in our mouth seven days a week indefinitely.  Or another treatment, such as ECT.

We are conditional with ourselves.  It is part of our human condition.  That is pretty close to, “Normal.”

Question: How often are you aware of your own difficulty loving yourself, your Me?  What improves this?  Why does difficulty with loving Me recur and recur without end?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Get into the tenuous space between the “good and bad” of Me where you are normal.

 

Celebrating Nancy

By Nancy, 

sharing some of what she has done in friendship.

“Celebrating being a friend to myself by becoming the ACTIVE artist that I have always wanted to be. Actually have an image that has been juried into a calendar which is being sold National Colored Pencil Society of America convention at the in Brea this summer…and I will be attending the convention, thanks to my husband’s generosity. So excited!! Never thought, when I was in my darkest of places twenty years ago, that I’d be willing to attend a convention alone!! Learning to be a friend to myself has given me this gift and I couldn’t be celebrating more or be more grateful to you and my friendtoyourself friends!!! Bless you all!!

This is the picture I did in colored pencil – the one going into a calendar to be sold at the CPSA Convention in LA this summer.”

nancy

 

Nicely done Nancy.  We celebrate you.

Live with an agenda

dionna, 1991.

dionna, 1991. (Photo credit: paul posadas)

The blue dragon lifted her head from near-sleep.  She knew.  Pouncing onto the rocky ledge gave her the advantage.  No one would challenge her.  The fresh corpse was for her alone.  As she ate the remains of Dionna, the red dragon who had never flown, the memories of Dionna infused her.  The blue dragon in this had saved those memories and would live them into the forwardness of time.  

Why is it that we repeat the mistakes of our forefathers?  It would be nice if we could somehow be able to capture their hard-earned life experiences.  If dragon lore were true, perhaps.

In Papua New Guinea, Congo, cannibals on the Disneyland Jungle Cruise and who knows where else, eating brain to preserve the life force, save your daughters or avoid the mistakes Dad made gets you a bad and yucky disease called, kuru.  Nothing good comes from eating brain.

And so the blue dragon, whose scales shone in the morning sun, began to tremble and seemed confused over the years.  Her brain got holes like a sponge and she laughed at inappropriate times.  

We just cannot get a leg up on wisdom and experience.  We are not made for it.  Each of make our own mistakes, have to work our own fingers to the bone, and other knowing clichés that in this case just are the darn truth.

What blue dragon and kuru are trying to tell us are that the agenda Love has for us is not to build up experiences like some sort of mental tower of babel.  It is not about the mistakes.  It is about our life experience.

We cannot help but wonder, though.  After working in psychiatry for these many years, I wonder what a joy it would be to give that experience, knowledge, skill of practice and such to my daughter some day.  Ah.  As if it had its own life force, passing it on to my daughter feels like a bit of immortality.

When I die, just eat my frontal lobe, darling.  Not the limbic system.

We are meant to live.  In that living, we inevitably repeat foibles and build up muscles and manage to survive all kinds of suffering.  In that living, we are beat up and rejected.  We are perfect.  We are flawed.  We are marvelous.

Maybe the agenda is not to get it better with each generation or to get it right.  Maybe the agenda is to live.

Question:  Have you ever been frustrated at how quickly your gains in life will be/are lost?  What is the agenda of your life?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Live life with a quality-experience agenda.

RELATED ARTICLES