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.

Presence – What is Turning In You?

How the pages turn slowly in life

Image by Nina Matthews Photography via Flickr

It’s summer break already and that means more Mom-time for the kids,… and a few other things.  But if there’s more Mom-time for the kids, we all know what there is more of for Mom.  These things come together and equal more spending-money-time combined with less work-time.  This can’t be without consequence.

I’m thinking stress, memory-makers, lots of kissing marshmellow-cheeks and tears to show.  Always tears.  The kids cry of course but if I do, its all,

Mom!  Oh NO!  Mom!  Stop crying!  Agh.  I can’t stand it when you do that!

Lots of exclamation points are involved.  I’m thinking this summer will have some of that because some days are stressful and painful.  Others are just too beautiful to leave unstained with tears to sign my name by.  Get ready kids!

Tonight, this is what I have.

I am licking my finger and turning a page.  I feel the book as the page slowly fights the air to pass over.  I haven’t seen the other side yet but the way the page lifts up and toward me, I know that this part is significant in itself.  Lick my finger, press it down and sweep up.  Up and passing over, just.  The page is turning and so are we.

Question:  What is turning in your life?

Self-Care Tip #280 – Pay attention to what is turning in you.

Keep Talking

Day 349 of 365 - Self Care/Friends!

Self-Care Tip #160 – Keep talking.  Be a friend to yourself.

Lingering in the afterglow of what all of you have said in your comments over that past six months, I am distracted in the best of ways.  The comments so often complete the post.  We are a team you know.  I hope that more of you noncommenters will shuck off your shrouded lovely selves and say something to us.  Because it is not true on this blog, that casting your bread upon the water just makes soggy bread.  Nope.  You’ve all been my living examples of this.

Yesterday, Nancy wrote,

“But to associate self-care with freedom actually made me feel free today….”

I could have cried because… I just can’t say all the many reasons why she blew me away with that.  I don’t have enough fingers to point with.

Sarah,

the civil war inside of us.

Mr. Rick C. in his Blog-Jacking #2,

Folks, you have not experienced incomprehensible demoralization until you have had a Flowbee lock onto your head with the full force of a ShopVac behind it.

That one just won’t stop coming back!  The visual itself is an almost permanent gift.

Kevin Blumer keeping things light talking about stress,

I love stress I absolutely love it being busy 10 pizzas to make in 2 mins…

Some days ago, Pattyann wrote,

I think it is much easier to ask for help and receive it when we stop looking at an illness as a personal failure.

Is there any better way of saying that?

Our own articulate CarlDAugostino who shows so much interest and respect to so many of us gave me this,

I have never really heard of this “self -friendship journey” It is a wonderful concept…

Yes, you show me that I matter and that I am not alone and that it turns out, …taking care of myself has been a pretty good idea after all.  You show me that it starts (goes across a few oceans and continents) and ends with “Me.”   Thank you, all of you for that.  There are soooo many things you’ve said, (you know who you are) that have totally rocked me.   Keep talking.

Question:  What shows you that it starts and ends with you?  Please tell me your story.

Go Toward Mental Illness and Take It To The Floor

Sean and Cheryl: Drama on the dance floor

Image by gwilmore via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #155 – Go toward the real issue.  Be a friend to yourself.

Little woman, she had pinched toes in her four-inch heals and wonder what her size has done for her.  Mindy was anxious.  Even though I wonder about her stressors, like possibly her height and the history she is telling me, I know something else.  Even though I wonder about her parenting and marital stressors, and about growing up in a small town but now living with giants, I don’t wonder what she thinks.  Mindy describes these giants as people with large accomplishments, things she would not try herself and that means something to her, but not what she thinks it does.  Mindy wanted to see how things went.  Apparently six months of this wasn’t long enough.

We could spend the next five years breaking all this up and apart and tossing it like a cranberry salad.  But Mindy’s anxiety is mostly not about the salad of life.  Mindy’s feelings are a bit about the stressors and a lot about her brain.

Mental illness is not a small thing.  We trim it down when we say otherwise.  The unfavored sister, Mental Illness isn’t spoken to much at the table.  Her more popular sisters, Stress and Life-Triggers, get a lot of the attention.

With some effort, people who once worked around Mental Illness like it was barely there take a chance and go straight at it, full charge, and swing that woman onto the ballroom floor.

I went for that dance with Mindy.  And she wasn’t talking about waiting and seeing how things went for long.  I told her, like I’ve told you, that how we feel and interpret our stressors comes from our brain.  I told her that mental illness gets worse if it isn’t treated and treated to as full a response as possible.

We weren’t talking about life stressors at that point.  We were talking about her medical condition.  Once treated, Mindy will continue to have life stressors.  We will hopefully also see however, that she responds to life stressors differently.

Question:  How do you make sense of the seemingly meaningfulness of how stress affects us with the seemingly less meaningful concept that we feel that way because of our brain and not because of the stress?  Please tell me your story.

The Presence of Stress Doesn’t Make the Disease Process Any Less Important

sciencealive.wikispaces.com

Self-Care Tip #135 – If it’s medical, call it medical and not stress.  Be a friend to yourself.

New to me, Stacy came because of her problems with violence.  She was enormous.  5’11” and 200 pounds, she was just too big for her parents to handle her any more.  She was precious to them, their only child.

Taking Stacy’s history, I asked, “Does your family have a religion you practice at home?”  Stacy’s parents were giving her history since Stacy was disabled and used very few words.  Mom looked at me, and asked, “Why?  Why are you asking about our religion?”  She was sensitive.  Worried that I was packaging her up in a religion-box, she personalized my question.  I explained that religion is part of family culture and the question was simply part of getting to know them.  She relaxed a little and then said, “We have more of an ‘Autism’ home-culture these days!”

Mom looked tired although still very much engaged in her daughter’s life.

It often happens, when someone see’s me in clinic for the first time, that my questions take them by surprise.  They aren’t used to someone so directly and objectively asking and speaking about them and to them.  So it went with Stacy’s mom.  Question after question, she seemed to be in a mild state of wonder.  It wasn’t gun fire but she might have felt like it was.

“Does anyone in your family have emotional illness?  Any depression, anxiety, suicide, drugs, alcohol…?”  Why do I want to know about the family? her face said.  “No!  No one.”  I was just ready to move on to further history when she said, “Well I… I have been depressed a little on and off but I don’t have depression.  Who wouldn’t feel depressed with this stress?!”  And then Stacy’s case manager said, “Who wouldn’t feel stressed in your situation?!” and smiled and laughed with her to put her at ease.  Stacy’s case manager is a nice person.  She is bonded to the family and cares about each of them.

We completed our history and formulated a treatment plan together.  Stacy had sat mostly quietly through the hour and her parents were now at ease.  Before they left, I was able to share with Mom a couple of sentences on taking care of herself.  On seeing herself as important and in doing so, was giving Stacy the best gift she could.

What I would like to say to Stacy’s mom and to her case manager is that thinking depression is because of stressors is a great lie.  There might be some initial correlation but it is often not the point .  The real issue is medical.  I wanted to tell Stacy’s case manager that she should know better than to promote this.  I wanted to tell Stacy’s case manager that helping Stacy’s mom not minimize what she was going through was friendlier.

Stacy’s mom is not my patient, but I did pick up that she is sad, fatigued, personalizes things that aren’t about her, anxious, a little hypervigilent and suspicious, and that something biological was likely going on.  Everyone has stress, but not everyone reacts the same way.  Some of us get ill for biological reasons.  Using the stressors as decoy to the disease only preserves the state of suffering.  And it affects everyone.  Mom was part of Stacy’s recovery too.

Question:  How do you see the relationship between stress and mental illness?  Please tell me your story.

The Great Lie.

One of the great lies of mental illness is that, “If things weren’t so stressful, I wouldn’t feel so bad.”  Look inside ourselves now and see them.  All the numbered and ranked stressors we tick off to explain how we feel and/or behave.  How about someone we love.  Do we tell them, “Of course you feel that way!  Look at all you’re going through!”

Because major depressive disorder (MDD) is mainstream enough, I’ll use it as an example.  Who, when they are down, doesn’t look for reasons why?  Say there is an additive effect of stressors such as home conflicts, financial duress, and poor sleep.  Since these events, you haven’t felt pleasure, you’ve felt sad and depressed.  You aren’t motivated or interested in your usual.  And where you normally would seek people out when you felt down, to get more energy, now you just want to be alone.  And so on.  You are able to say that you started feeling this way progressively since triggered with those stressors about 3 months-ago.  Before that you were “fine.”

Many people in your life, have told you that you are just going through a bad spell.  You have believed them but say, “Even if this is a bad spell, if it goes on much longer I think I’d rather die.”  Your best friend responds, “Anyone would be depressed if their boss was that evil!”

My answer, “No.”  Feeling down is appropriate to stress when it doesn’t disrupt your life for more than two weeks at this level.  And it is never normal to want to die.  Everyone has stress but not everyone responds to stress in the same way.  Not everyone if put under your same triggers would develop MDD.

Would you have developed this disease if you weren’t put under these stressors?  I can’t say.  We develop illnesses for many reasons.  One of the many reasons is external stress.  A hypothesis supporting this is that stressors trigger our genes for MDD much like we know cancer genes can be turned on by stress.  However, we do not have a direct correlation to the stressors as being entirely causal events.

Even if it were, none-the-less, we are left with the disease process in progress.  It is not an adjustment reaction to stress.  It is medical illness.

Feeling this way is not normal for what you are going through.  Telling yourself that it is, that is the great lie.

Self-Care Tip #118 – Don’t believe the lie if what you’re going through is affecting your function in life.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  What whispering lies are you struggling against?  Please tell me your story.

Your Life. Your Choice. Why Are You Still Negotiating?

 

 

Self-Care Tip #102 – Take what is yours and live.  Be a friend to yourself.

Cheri came, still dressed in work scrubs, with her 2 daughters, 8 years old and 3 years old.  Having finished their dinner date, they were swinging by for her appointment before going home.  Cheri told her kids, “Get out now and go sit in the lobby!  If you don’t listen to me I’ll….”  Turning to me, she said, “It’s never enough!  I just took them to dinner and they do this to me!  No matter what I do…!”

1.  Cheri tells me she’d like to cope better with simple stressors such as redirecting her kids

2.  We talk at length about her perception of her kids abusing her.

Cheri is married.  Her husband laughs at her for “…having to take those drugs to be normal!”  “…But he just sleeps his problems away.  He doesn’t deal with them like I do.  He has no idea!”

3.  We talk more about her perception that her husband is responsible for her place in life.

Cheri believes if she doesn’t take more than 2 pills a day, she is less “dependent” on drugs.  She says, “I don’t want to go on like this!”  Her tears continue talking when her voice stops.  She is ashamed.

4.  The concepts supporting taking care of yourself as being the kick-off point to caring for anyone else comes up.

5.  We talk some more about who is “The Why” for what we do or don’t do.

Cheri feels less shame, but it’s still there.  She is willing to give a new medication a try but clearly doesn’t buy it all yet.  She’s going home with her girls to her husband with new pills.  And hope?  Yes.  It is all connected.  It all pulses together and is a living negotiation of sorts.

Disease <–> behavioral/emotional negative symptoms <–> victim role <–> self-neglect <–> greater crisis <–> seeking help <–> responsible self-care <–>  healing <–> fewer behavioral/emotional negative symptoms <–> emotional abuse from husband may continue but is no longer seen as responsible for personal choices and self-care <–> less shame <–> further healing and so on….  (Lub-dub…Lub-dub…)

 

hbofamily.com

 

Cheri is still negotiating her deal in life.  She doesn’t realize that it’s already hers for the taking.  Her life.  Her choice.

The deal is already made.  Take it or leave it.  Your life to live.

Question:  How are your negotiations?  Do you see them as still in progress or settled.  Please tell me your story.