Don’t Let Your Sense of Need Get Away From You

Pinocchio Illustration - When He Becomes a Donkey

Pinocchio Illustration - When He Becomes a Donkey (Photo credit: Kev.Kirsche)

Self-Care Tip:  Find your need, grip it tight enough to not let it be taken from you and loose enough that fatigue will not lose it for you.

If we don’t know our need, if we don’t know our wanting, the reason we say “Evangelize,” “Buy this!,” “Don’t miss it!,” if we don’t know why we care what other people are doing, we will not be so productive.  We will be a poor salesman.  We will have a droll experience.  Things will not make sense to us and will be something other than friendly.  We bore ourselves when we don’t know why.

What was it like when not being a friend to Me?  Remember the way we treated others, the disconnection from the people we wanted and the way life didn’t absorb.  Remember why we started with Me.

This is everywhere in our lives – taking medications and resenting it, skipping our exercise, staying up late at night when we are feeling so good, turning our addictions over to our Higher Power becomes rhetoric and you know what more.

This is just a short trip into this idea today.  I’ve been blessed remembering my lows, being in my lows, and experiencing my wanting.  I’ve been messed up when I didn’t.  I don’t want so many goodies that I turn into a donkey.

Keep on.

Questions:   How has remembering your wanting improved your ability to be a friend to yourself?  How do you keep the memory of your wanting even when you don’t?  Please tell me your story?

A Testimony of “Being A Friend To Yourself,” From Bipo Blogger

You might recognize these five questions from yesterday’s blog-post.  Thank you for your testimonies.  Is there anything more powerful than hearing someone’s personal story?  I think not!  Here is what Bipoblogger has to say.

Q1:  What does being a friend to yourself mean to you in real-time life practice?

A1:  That’s easy, but not so easy, LOL!  Being “a friend to yourself” means that I acknowledge I need to respect myself, just like I do other people.  It means not sabotaging my self, plans, job, relationships, etc.  I love myself enough to not kick myself when I am down. 

Being bipolar can be so detrimental to my being, but just like normal people, I still have the need to …allow for room and time to grieve about whatever horrible circumstances (were) caused (by) the bipolar disorder.  

…Stop every once in a while to acknowledge my accomplishments and own that.

Q2:  What helps you do this one time vs. another?

A2:  Yes, I have found that BPD is in part an anger disorder and knowing the true source of the anger can help me go forward.

I have chosen to no longer hurt myself cause when I do, and anyone else, I build up layers of hurt and it hurts to start to take the layers off when I’m ready, so why even do it? …

Also it helped me so much to learn that God doesn’t deal with me the way I deal with myself or another.  I’m not a fanatic, but I just believe in what makes sense.

Q3:  What still hinders your efforts?

A3:  Wanting to be better than I already am.  Not accepting that the balance I have is better than having less or no balance at all, …(which means various kinds of) risky behavior.

Q4:  What has pushed you past those barriers?

A4:  Really just forgiving myself for how I was affected by BPD and remembering that I am breakable and valid as a human, just like all of us.  If I keep practicing a constructive way of life, I will be okay, and that has been true for the last 3 years.

Last push.

Q5:  How do you understand the interplay between biology and choice in being “a friend to yourself?”

A5:  I was created with the choice to choose how I live my life and I do, BPD or none.  Natural inclination is to do the wrong thing because I am imperfect.  I seek power, fame, notoriety and in someway someone, including myself is gonna get hurt in the process.  …People without mental deficiencies don’t experience or don’t carry out to this degree.  So in short, biologically the deficient brain makes more extreme choices, overly withdrawn or overly outward and destructive.

Whoa, I smell smoke.  I never think that hard.  LOL.

Questions for you:  

  1. Anything you’d like to share with Bipo Blogger? 
  2. If you had a blank page for this, what would your own questions be?  What would you answer?  

Emotions Are Contagious – Such as, Anxiety.

We are starting a narrative series on discussing where emotions and behaviors come from:

Anxiety bubbled, frothed and infused the air.  Yesenia could barely catch a breath.  Here’s the thing.  Yesenia is not in treatment with me.  Her husband, Rob, is.  Yet it was Yesenia who filled our space.  There was barely room for Rob and I to sit or speak with all that anxiety around.  Rob was breathing faster every moment and his face didn’t have much color.  …Where to start?

Unknown source

(What do you think? think?  think? echo echo echo…)

It was too early in our work together to expect Rob to know this, but emotions are contagious.  Anxiety is very contagious.  To say this another way we could say, the emotion of anxiety around us influences how our genes express themselves.  It is further explained by saying that my “patient” isn’t only Rob.  My patient includes the system he lives in, i.e. his home milieu, wife, kids, work and so forth.  But especially his wife.  Because of Yesenia’s untreated emotional disease, Rob’s emotional disease worsens.  The inverse is true as well and so we go round and round gaining momentum.  Like a big ball of hard packed snow gathering speed and girth as it rolls down the mountain, anxiety grows.  …Where to start?

(What do you think? think?  think? echo echo echo…)

Self-Care Tip #267 – When suffering from emotional illness, remembering that emotions are contagious (no matter who they come from) is useful to your self-care.

Questions:  How have you experienced the contagion of emotions?  or seen it play out in others?  Please tell me your story.

Be Aware of Your Feelings and Your Body Function When Getting Friendly With Yourself

Self-Care Tip #202 – Be aware of your feelings and your body.

symptoms and signs

Image by madamepsychosis via Flickr

Wordsmith SuziCate commented to our post three days ago on finding depression in those of us who appear “fine.”

It can be more apparent in what is not said…. When I was depressed it was the absolute last thing I wanted to talk about. I evaded the subject, and if forced to talk it was about anything but what “I” was feeling.

Yet again, the comment completing the post.  It was on my mind and in my face somehow over these sum of days.  When I would start thinking about something else, a patient would nearly quote SuziCate and I wondered if you all have met behind my back on some other blog site with intent to trip me out.  (Grandiose delusions….)

Margo said yesterday in clinic, with hands moving, eyes wide and leaning in,

When I was really down, I just quieted down, stayed low, did my thing.  The last thing I wanted to talk about were my feelings.  I felt afraid of the Nothing that waited there.

She was talking more quietly now and her whole body receded a little.

You aren’t interested or interesting to anyone.  You don’t have anything to say.

We were both quiet for a bit.

These flattening-of-the-spirit symptoms used to be called “Pseudodementia” because they resembled dementia so much.  A muting of the mental and physical function.  A disease progression slowing the nerves and body.  We now refer to them as “Neurovegetative Symptoms.” **

When thinking about getting friendly with ourselves, we can’t forget about what we don’t say or feel emotionally.  We remember also, that the brain is connected to the rest of our body.  Brain is sick, the rest of us is sick too.  This can be a good check point once we start realizing that something is wrong either by insight or by comments from others.

It can be more apparent in what is not said….

Hear more than words.

Not all depressions are these muting processes.  Some of them are activating and agitating types leading to anger and irritability.  Those are hurtful too.

All types of depression are dangerous when left untreated.  The reason isn’t only the risk of suicide or the distance it creates from others.  The reason also includes the less familiar brain changes that it causes on the brain function.  The sooner we are able to pull out of a depression, heal and return to ourselves, the better health our brains will have the long term.  The longer a depression is left untreated, the more damage is caused to the brain’s health.

Questions:  How did you figure out you were depressed now or then? Or that someone else was depressed?  Please tell me your story.

**Neurovegetative Symptoms are the things about affective disorders that most of us don’t know about.  We think about emotions – depressed, sad, happy, angry and calm when we think about mood or anxiety.  We don’t think about the body.  We don’t think about cognition, concentration, memory and what SuziCate or Margo described so well.

It can be more apparent in what is not said….

Neurovegetative symptoms are called “neurovegetative” because they are caused by the changes in the nervous system and they limit our ability to function.

Taking Care of Yourself is The Best Part of Your Treatment Cocktail.

IMAG0142

Image by schmeezla via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #163 – Taking care of yourself is the best part of your treatment cocktail.

We often talk about partial or failed treatment in medicine, in each other, in relationships.  But those are only about 40-60% of the time.  There are many people who get full treatment response to medication and self-care.  Mindy is one of them.

Mindy has seen me for about four years in clinic for her depression.  She’s never been very anxious, which is less usual as anxiety and depression tag-team so often.  Mindy’s depression had lurked in her, stepping out in the light and slipping into the shadows, for years even before she started working with me.  We seemed to hit by chance or skill the right medication cocktail that had evaded her, and she was not depressed anymore.  However, she never told me she was great.  She was “pretty good.”  She was, “doing alright.”  She was, “you know, good.”  Mindy wasn’t great.  She was good.  We spent three and a half years like that.

Then about six months ago, Mindy came in looking hot!  (I can say that because I’m a girl.)  She had lost the mom bumps around the midline, dropped padding in the hips, her hair wore a fresh coat of glossy brown, and I could tell her outfit hadn’t been worn more than twice.  Mindy was smiling and sincere when she said,

I’ve never felt better!  I had no idea what taking care of myself would do for me!

Her eyes were telling me their own conversation.  They were so expressive saying,

I can’t believe this is me!

Mindy told me in testimonial fashion, about the strangers who now noticed her.  Being noticed was an elixir and she was drinking it as often as it was served, but not in an arrogant way.  Mindy was still very human.  She wasn’t manic or grandiose.  She was doing what Gary Vaynerchuk describes in his book, Crush It!

“Do what makes you happy.  Keep it simple.  Do the research.  Work hard.  Look ahead” (p 12).

Mindy said,

I used to think that what I got from life was good enough; from my husband and from the people out there.  I didn’t know I could get this by just doing what I wanted to do for myself all along.

Mindy was still taking her medication cocktail and had no plans of tapering any of them.  She thought the combination of these medications that took her out of depression, along with exercise and other self-care measures were just right.  Mindy had not forgotten her years of melancholy and sadness even though it was now four years since.

Questions:  1) What is your reaction to Mindy and the 40-60% of people who get full treatment response?  2) Do you have any questions you wish you could ask the “Mindy’s” out there?  3) Or something to say for the other 40-60% of people who don’t get full treatment response?  Please tell me your story.

Know What You Are Fighting For – Your Right To Journey.

You Should Be Living

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #162 – Know what you are fighting for.  Be a friend to yourself.

Bridget told me,

I felt free to do something creative without having to feel guilty about it.

She had read the blog post, “Self-Care is Freedom, is Democracy, is Because We Are Accountable.”  I was just starting to think about other good places to go with that but before I got too far she hit me with,

I just hate myself!

Hearing those words is like watching squishy and partly moldy tomatoes hit the wall.  It’s messy.  It’s dirty.  No one’s excited about dealing with it.  And, there is something negative that brought it on.  Readers, you’ll remember this countertransference when you’re the counsellor in some other situation and think, “Darn that Quijada!”

My thoughts bumped and piled up.  Stopped, until they started pulling themselves off of each other.  I tried to put these disparate bits of Bridget’s narrative together.  And I wasn’t alone.

I don’t get it!  Why do I feel this way?

Who doesn’t have conflicting feelings about themselves?  Bridget perceived and celebrated her freedom to self-care, yet was betrayed by her own, just when she was reaching for it.  Is that ok?

What strikes me about Bridget is her journey.  She has struggled with anxiety and depression for many years.  I know with me, she’s been in treatment for five of them.  During that time, she has been lovely although not perfect.  She does her hair, glossy blond in large waves, trim body frame and polite like no one I’ve met.  Many medications have failed her and she has taken those failures and claimed her future over again.  The intense forward movement of her inner self has never been muted, even when she has had thoughts of wanting to die.

I have learned what she values, what she’s willing to let go of and what she isn’t.  Her appearances matter.  She is artsy and gets energy from being alone.  She loves people.  Her marriage is rocky.  She struggles with parenting.  She loves her husband and her children.  Bridget’s journey is a journey of imperfection, beauty and courage.

And here she is again.  Conflicted self, ill, hopeful and claiming her future.  Bridget is right on her course.  I wish I could help more.  I wish she wasn’t still ill.  But I can at least be as courageous as she is.  I can hope with her.  I can stand with her or walk.  I know that put to the question, Bridget prefers this journey than losing the right, the privilege, to journey at all.  Bridget is free.  Many of us are not as free as she is, who knows what she is fighting for.

Question:  What are you fighting for?  If nothing were to ever change for the better in your life, what makes your journey worth it?  Please tell me your story.

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.