Be Kind To One Another….and Yourself

At the end of each show, Ellen Degeneres tells her viewers to “be kind to one another”.  That’s kind of hard to do when you’re depressed and angry.  Basically, when I’m in my angry phase; angry that I’m chronically ill and mad that my old life is gone, it’s hard.  At best, I do well to just not be mean.  I tolerate people; not go out of my way to be kind.  Kind is too much to ask sometimes.

What’s Even Harder

What’s even harder to do is to be kind to myself.  When you feel nothing at all, literally nothing, nothing positive, or what you do feel is negative; it’s nearly impossible to be kind to yourself.  When you feel like a disappointment and a burden to your family and friends you feel worthless.  When all I could do was come up with negative words to describe myself why would I be kind to myself?

I once made a list of words to describe myself, and at the time I honestly couldn’t come up with a singe positive word.  Sad, depressed, sick, worthless, disappointment, burden, and tired where a few of the words I came up with.  I was sitting outside by a lake, a tranquil relaxing experience is what it should have been, but it turned into an eye opening experience.  I wasn’t doing well at all.  Not a single positive word came to mind and that made me feel even worse.  I felt nothing, or I felt negative.  I beat myself for the way I felt.  I beat myself up for not having the energy to do the things I wanted to do with my friends and family.  I beat myself up for my house not being as neat and tidy as it used to be.  I beat myself up because I couldn’t handle the stress of everyday life.  I beat myself up all of the time.  Beating myself up is exactly what I should not have been doing, it only proved to make my situation worse.  My brother often told me to stop beating myself up, and while I listened and said I would, I kept on doing it.

I no longer felt smart because I lost my train of thought and couldn’t remember what I was saying in the middle of saying it.  I couldn’t find the right words, I began using my hands and saying thingy a lot.  I was no longer funny because nothing amused me.  I was no longer happy, because I couldn’t find my joy.  I didn’t think I was a good friend because I was no longer fun to be around and I often just wanted to stay in the house and be alone.  I didn’t even want to talk to my friends on the phone.

Improvement

That day by the lake was a few years ago.  Although I am still depressed, I’ve improved.  Now the list of words to describe myself would include both positive and negative.  I am funny, sometimes.  I am a good mother (I do the best I can and my kids love me).  I am smart, when I can remember things. I am a good person to talk when you’re feeling down, because I listen and offer support, I know that’s what you need when your down because I know how it feels.  As I’m writing this I am realizing my positives come with a condition.  I guess I have more work to do.

I still beat myself up, but not nearly as much as I used to.  I spend much of my time in the bed watching TV.  I used to feel bad about this, but now I accept it because I often have no choice.  If I don’t rest during the day I am in more pain and sluggish when my kids get home from school.  So, I’ve come to enjoy the TV watching and think of it as being entertained rather than being a couch potato.  I started this blog to give myself something “productive” to do while I am in the bed.  When I do get up and do things I stop before I get tired so I don ‘t trigger a flare.  I don’t go until I can’t go anymore even though it’s very tempting.  The more tired I am, the more depressed I am, and the more anxiety I feel.

Me resting is my being kind to myself.  Being kind to myself allows me to be kind to others.  When I take care of myself it’s much easier to take care of my kids.  When I’m kind to them, they are kind to me.  Sometimes being kind is hard, being kind is worth it.  Try being kind to yourself, even when you don’t feel like it.  You just might find that you feel a little better.

Are you kind to yourself?  In what ways?  I’d love to hear what you do in an effort to be kind to yourself.  Hey, I might be able to incorporate your methods into my life.

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A Dr. Hurt Me When I Needed the Most Help

cryingnegwomanSeveral years have past,but I can still recall the anguish I felt during one particular visit with my then psychiatrist.  Before I explain, let me give you just a little bit of what led up to this visit.  My family doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, and had been treating me for some time.  After trying several different medications to manage my depression and anxiety, my doctor decided I needed more help than he could provide.  He told me that I needed to see a psychiatrist; I immediately burst into tears.  Before fibromyalgia I was not the crying type, especially in front of other people, but these tears gave no warning; they escaped my eyes before I knew they were even there.  He asked why I was crying and I didn’t know exactly.  I was supposed to be strong and able to push through this.  I was supposed to be better already, and he was telling me I was worse off than I thought.

My First Psychiatrist

I went to my first psychiatrist for about a year.  He tweaked my medication and I started feeling better.  I told him one of my meds was making me extremely groggy in the morning, and that I thought I needed a change.  His response was something like, well you don’t work so what difference does it make.  Really?!  I have kids, I wanted to go back to work, I wanted to get better!  He didn’t get it; I stopped going.

The Worst Doctor Visit I’ve Ever Had

I eventually found a new psychiatrist.  After a few visits that seemed to be going well; (at least he talked to me for more than five minutes) it all went wrong.  If I thought the first psychiatrist was insensitive to my situation, I was in for a rude awakening.

This new doctor told me he knew people with fibromyalgia that got better, and that I was acting helpless.  Helpless?  I asked him why he felt that way.  He told me that people usually came to him with goals and I didn’t seem to have any.

I couldn’t believe a doctor could be so cruel.  It was horrible; I immediately started crying (again), walked out, cried all the way home and never went back.  I was lost, stuck in a depressed state, struggling with anxiety that caused panic attacks, and I needed help.  I was in the midst of a divorce and at an all time low. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to keep going.  I had marriage problems, a disability appeal, two kids to raise, and I didn’t know how I was going to pay the bills if I didn’t get approved for disability.  Couldn’t he see that he was kicking me when I was already down?  It was condescending.  How could he say thatword to me?  It stung, it felt like a punch to the gut, I was broken.

Was I ReallyActing Helpless?

I told my parents and brother, (a doctor himself), what this doctor had told me.  They listened as I cried and asked if he was right; if I was acting helpless and I just didn’t see it.  My family reassured me that I was not acting helpless.  Had I been acting helpless I would not have been trying so hard to get better.  I had dragged myself  to so many doctor appointments, physical therapy, had blood tests, neurological tests, MRIs, tried numerous medications, and went to therapy…. That Dr. was wrong.  A helpless person would have simply given up on getting better.  I had/have major depression and generalized anxiety disorder among other conditions, and I needed help learning how to deal with it.  He expected me to have answers when all I had was questions.

We expect our doctors to be compassionate and help us.  They take an oath to do no harm, and this doctor hurt me to my core.  Since he was a doctor treating people with mental health issues he should have had some idea that telling me I was acting helpless would do more harm than good.

On a Brighter Note

I later found a psychologist who was very empathetic and helped me tremendously.  He asked me questions and listened to my thoughts, worries and desperation.  He worked with my regular family doctor on tweaking my meds, andgave me strategies to manage my condition.  It helped.

Now I see a psychiatrist to manage my depression and anxiety meds.  He doesn’t spend much time with me since his role is not to provide therapy, but to handle my medications.  I can see that he believes what I am telling him and he shows compassion.  He always asks me how I am doing.   I always say that I am tired.  He always questions why.  Fibromyalgia I remind him.  Then we talk about my medications and he tells me to call him if I have any problems.  It never fails that the last thing he says to me is to go home and get some rest because I am making him tired by just looking at me.  I may have to remind him of things, but he has never used words that hurt and for that, I am grateful.

Has a doctor hurt you?  How did you deal with it.