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.

When You Are Hurting, Remember Why You Want To Live, And Live For That

 

greaterlearning.org

Self-Care Tip #133 – When you are hurting, remember why you want to live, and live more purposefully for that.

My daughter has a viral upper respiratory infection.  She is laying on the floor in her sleeping bag that has the stuffed puppy dog head for a pillow.  She just wants to be near me today while I work.  She wakes up and coughs, I check her out and dose her if she’s febrile.  She goes back to sleep.  Awakens.  Trundles up to drink some mango juice, water, eat 3 noodles, comes down again and lays there, pink in the cheeks, red eyes and chafed upper lip.

Sometimes when one of the kids is sick they stay home if I’m here.  It usually stresses me out but I’ve been getting better at believing more that we can take what comes and still get the work done.  Today, in-between patients, I laid down beside her.  Face-to-face.  She leaned in, opened her eyes and smiled!

She is one of the most delicately framed little people I know.  My nuclear family has never had small bones so this must be from someone on my husband’s side.  My daughter swung that tiny arm, warm with fever over my neck, put her face on mine, and fell asleep.

Lying there, thinking I’m so glad I could do this for her, suddenly felt wrong.  It flip-flopped over in my mind and I realized that I was glad.  But for me.

Having her near me while I work is a connecting force.  To both of us but maybe more for me.  My family has been exchanging this virus for 2 weeks now.  It hasn’t been hell but it has not been a delight.  Yet here I find myself delighted.  I wonder how long I’m going carry this gladness around.

Come what may in this world, it is these surprising moments that convince us about the rest.

In psychiatry, I’m required to ask each patient if they have thoughts of wanting to die.  Then I ask, “What do you want to live for?”  That catches some people off guard and I’ve gotten looks that could defend anyone in war.  But we aren’t at war and eventually they tell me why they want to stay alive another day.

At some level we all answer that question even if indirectly.  Everyone suffers.  If I were asked, my daughter’s smile would be on my list.

I am often amazed by good things that come out of bad.  Knowing that, gives hope.  But it also gives purpose and we can choose to angle ourselves more purposefully towards that rather than passively.  We can choose to live for the reasons we think worth living for.

My husband prays, “God please turn my posture toward you today.”  I’ve always loved that.

Question:  Why do you want to stay alive?  What are you living for?  Please tell me your story.

Pebbles to Diamonds

 

yourloosediamonds.com

Self-Care Tip #117 – Notice, you got diamonds out of stones!  Be a friend to yourself.

Cindy replied to yesterday’s post (that had some discussion on functional mental illness,) “I understand Miranda’s feelings completely.  Some days it’s all I can do not to down tools and scream ‘What about ME?’”

That is one of the lovelies that these illnesses bring to us.  In our honest moments, we can, like Cindy did, perceive our own traits that resemble them.  Perhaps, if we are lucky, that will lead to empathy, one of the great human experiences.  To be able to put yourself in the hypothetical place of someone else.  To imagine what they think and feel.  “If I were in your shoes…” and so forth.  If you’d like, read more on this at this post.

Illness is often considered a step in the dyeing process.  Others see it as part of the living process.  Of course, it is both.  We are all on level ground when it comes to having been born, coming into life, and knowing we will equally die.  Illness reminds us of our like-natured frailty and of course the opposite – resilience.  Whether seeing our own illness or someone else’s, we have this privilege of being blessed this way.

My Dad used to tell me a story (author unknown) when I was little.  It’s been a long time but I remember it this way.

Three travelers were walking when they heard a voice telling them to bend down, pick up pebbles and put them in their pockets.  The voice told them further that in the morning they would be both happy and sad.  The travelers did but not equally.  Some pockets were more full than others.  In the morning when they awoke, their stones had turned to diamonds.  Whoever gathered many stones were happy even though all of them wished they picked up more stones.  But whoever gathered few, well, they were not happy.  They still had diamonds but the comparison soured them and they finished their journey full of “what if” thoughts and not thoughts about the obvious.  They got diamonds out of stones!

We are all similar, with the opportunity to say thanks in seemingly off times, such as mental illness.

Question:  What have your “stones” turned into?  Please tell me your story.

A Little Bit is Not Enough – Claim Full Health

The good news is, I just ate 3 chocolate chip cookies.  You already know the bad news.  Has nothing to do with my post.  I’m just sharing it for the sake of your own

Schadenfreude 🙂

…Onward.  Question:

Does emotional disease get worse even while on medication therapy?  Sometimes.  It does so more often when the disease process is treated but only partially treated.  Read a little more about this in this post if your interested.  A primary care physician recently told me, “I think the term ‘Partial Responder’ is a marketing gimmick to get physicians to prescribe more medications.  I don’t think it even exists.”

There’s a lot to be said about interview skills in sussing out the partial responder.  If I asked someone if they felt better, many things play into their response. Everyone’s responses are biased of course.  We don’t have sterile minds.  For example there’s the patient who wants to please their physician.  “Yes I’m better!”  i.e. “Yes you’re a good doctor!”  There are the patients who don’t want to be patients and minimize whatever they’re going through.  There is the physician who leads the interview.  “So, you’re feeling better?”  “The medication is helping?”

Partial response means that at the end of a full treatment initiation period, there is some disease remaining but a reduction of disease.  For example, in depression, I may no longer be suicidal, but I still have trouble feeling pleasure in life.  In cancer it means that there is tumor reduction of at least 30%.

Now why would a physician presumably agree that there is a partial response in cancer, but not agree that it happens in mental health?  Anyways….  (Ahem.)  When we partly respond to mental health treatment and don’t push further for full response, about 70% will relapse.  Versus maybe 25% in those who reached their pre-disease baseline emotional health through treatment.

Don’t get lost in this.  The point is, get treated and get fully treated.  Mental illness is progressive and causes changes at the cell level.  The brain is connected to the rest of our body.  The brain is human.  A bit better, is not enough.

Self Care Tip #61 – Go all the way!  Claim health.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  Did you find this to be true in yourself or someone you know?  Please tell me your story.