Everyone matters

everyone mattersEveryone matters. It is so easy to dismiss people as not being worth our notice. I have frequently visited nursing homes with many patients in wheelchairs sitting the hall. I have noticed that most people pass them by without comment. It is as if they don’t exist. How terrible to be relegated to such a position. I have always made it a point to speak to each resident and smile. Most of them are so happy to have someone reach out to them and I receive lots of smiles in return.

I live in the South of the United States and there is a big difference just walking the streets of the town I live in. People routinely smile and speak as they pass on the street. The city has a large Art college with lots of students and it is easy to tell that some of them are startled when passers by speak. You can see them wondering whether to respond. I am not sure that this is routine in all southern cities but it is in many that I have visited. It is nice to acknowledge people and have them respond.

kindnessHowever many people do not speak to those who are obviously homeless. They choose to not acknowledge their existence. So even in a place where people routinely greet another person they still attach a stigma to those less fortunate. I do continue to speak to them and usually get a smile in return.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to feel as if you don’t exist. I know that has happened to many who suffer from mental illness. They certainly know what it feels like to be deliberately ignored.

I hope that we can learn to see each person as a human being deserving of being recognized. I wonder how thing would change if this were so.

Finding meaning

What Gives You Meaning Concept

I read the daily articles from Richard Rohr who is a wonderful source of inspiration for me. Today he quoted the works of Viktor Frankl who was a respected psychiatrist. Frankl talked about how most of us seek for meaning at some point in our lives. I know this has been true for me.

I have found myself at several points asking “what is it all about?”

Frankl posited three possible sources for meaning: in work, in love and in courage. He talks about the possibility of being able to do work that has some meaning. There are jobs where this seems obvious….doctors, nurses, social workers. (there are lots more) In other jobs meaning may not be so easy to find. I am sure that those of us writing blogs have found some meaning in the response we receive and the assurance that we are helping others. This is very affirming.

The second idea…love…also seems fairly clear. Hopefully our love reaches out to others. It allows us to help others in our everyday lives. Again this allows for meaningful affirmation.

The third idea….courage…means being courageous in difficult times. This certainly includes times of suffering. He says that suffering by itself has little meaning. The meaning comes from how we respond to it. We have the ability to use our suffering to be an example to others. Our response can encourage others who are facing the same kinds of challenges.

Positive-Affirmation_10-1

It seems to me that many of the bloggers I read can find affirmation that their lives have meaning as so many blogs help others. The community members need to see that this work can bring meaning to their lives. You are important!

Listening

people-dont-always-need-advice-sometimes-all-they-really-need-is-a-hand-to-hold-an-ear-to-listen-and-a-heart-to-understand-quote-1 (1)Understanding. A word that means so much. I think that each of us longs to be understood. I know that I do. Each of us is an individual. We have our own past, our own values, and our own lives. Many of us have issues with mental health. This makes it harder for people to “get it.”

The other problem is that most people (including us) don’t really listen. If we take the time to stop and really hear what someone is saying it makes all the difference. No one can be understood if they are not listened to.

working-on-listening-skills

Maybe that is why we do feel that we are heard on Word Press. If someone is reading what we have written no one is interrupting. When we are talking with someone that may not happen. Too often we spend time deciding what we will say next instead of hearing the other person. Maybe if we really listened then it will encourage someone else to really listen.

Talking is over rated. Listening is the key.

Wholeness: mind + body = wellness

feeling-sick

Today has been up and down. I realize I ran myself into the ground planning, traveling, cleaning etc to get ready for my husband’s surgery at Mayo. My immune system was bottomed out. So, after getting a cold while at Mayo, I ended up with a sinus infection and on antibiotics. I am someone who seldom gets sick and to say it unsettles me is an understatement.

I am worse than the parents of the children I saw when I worked for a group of pediatricians. The child would be put on antibiotics and the parent would call later that day saying he/she isn’t well yet. (completely true) I have been given an excellent treatment and I want to be well yesterday!

Feeling down and sick is not fun. I am not sure which is at the top but I guess it doesn’t matter.

There are so many people suffering with physical illness and coping beyond amazing. There are so many with mental illness who are also suffering and coping. My oldest daughter worked at a children’s hospital in a unit called “Adolescent Med-Psych.” That unit cared for teens who were having mental problems because of their physical problems or the reverse. They handled teens with diabetes who didn’t care for themselves, and anorexics with who had created physical problems from their diet. Some patients had severe mental illness that had led to physical problems. I don’t know how she worked there. The anguish of both teen and family must have been horrible. She loved her work.

Many of us don’t take care of ourselves. We let our emotional problems cause physical symptoms. Conversely, we can’t cope with the physical problems and let them move over into emotional problems.

Whole+Body+Health+logo

I think the coping skills for the two things are similar. We are whole. We are not a separate thing. Our minds and our bodies and forever connected. To flourish we need to care for both. The things that we do for our mental health help out physical health. We know that meditation, mindfulness, and managing stress have a powerful affect on our bodies. Keeping up with needed physical exams is also critical.

We need to continue to learn and use coping skills that work for us. Not everyone is the same. Keep testing and trying different things until you find what works for you. It will pay off in big benefits in the long run.

We were born communal

We all need someone to talk to. We all need someone who actually hears us. It may not be the people we love but we need someone. We were not created to go through life alone.

We are communal people. The earliest humans survived because they lived together. We are no different. One of the worst tortures that a human can go through is to be confined alone in a room for a long period. Most people would lose their minds.

We-re-communal-animals-If-we-re-by-ourselves

It is sometimes difficult to find that person who will really hear us when we share our lives. Too often people are thinking of themselves and not really listening. Often we are sharing with someone who truly cares but wants to fix everything. Most of the time we don’t expect or even want ideas for fixes. All we really want is to be heard. The trouble is most people don’t understand that.

This is the reason that so many people need to talk with a psychologist or psychiatrist. They should be the ones who really listen. (at least if they are any good) If we don’t have someone to share with then they are certainly a help. At least they shouldn’t be judgmental or share confidences.

In the last year I have also found that this community on Word Press is a good place to share and be heard. We are understood the best when someone else has had similar experiences. In this community there is understanding and affirmation. Sometimes it is hard to find that kind of understanding elsewhere.

you are not alone

 

Wherever you find it seek someone who will listen and hear you. Even if they can only seek to share your feeling it is a help. If you don’t have anyone to talk with face to face you can find understanding here.

There is understanding out there

love-you-my-dear-friend-52650-15419Today a dear friend brought us a meal and stayed to eat it with us. It was a wonderful gift. Not just the meal but her presence. Friends are such a blessing. Since we are more or less trapped in the house it is wonderful to see a loving face.

Those of us who have people to turn to when we are deep in a hole can save our lives. I am so blessed to have those people in my life. It is a terrible thing to be alone. I do mean completely alone with no one to turn to.

people-dont-always-need-advice-sometimes-all-they-really-need-is-a-hand-to-hold-an-ear-to-listen-and-a-heart-to-understand-quote-1So often, with mental illness, there is no one who understands. Even the therapists we turn to for help. There are some who have suffered the pain that we feel and understand. It is important to find someone like that. Some therapists, even though they have not experienced it, have enough empathy to join with us in the emotion. A empathetic therapist is a gift. That it is why it is so important to find the right one.

My current isolation is trying but important to me. To be able to help in my husband’s healing lets me give back some of the love he has given me. I know that soon we will find that “new normal” we’ve been working toward.

age is a work of artWhen I was young I thought that aging was almost a worry free process. I don’t know how I could have thought that! I must have been really naive. Aging brings tremendous challenges but also wonderful gifts. You may be able to see the fulfillment of your dreams for you children and the amazing people they have become. I am not talking about monetary gain or major status but just seeing them as loving and caring adults.

God’s grace has been with me and will continue to be no matter what!

Today’s blessing: my children

 

Can we love?

Today I have thinking about my dogs. The two of them are such a joy. They have me get up laughing and go to bed laughing. They are so loving and caring. No one else greets me at the door so excited to see that I am home. They sense when I am happy and when I am sad.

If only we could be as kind and loving as my dogs. Most of us realize how much of an example dogs are for us. It seems they are the best of us. They have been exposed to humans for so long that now we are seeing them with the same illnesses that we have. My daughter recently adopted two bonded dachshunds…Lucy and Cash. Both dogs must have had a terrible life. They are both so stressed that they are on multiple meds for anxiety. Lucy is afraid of everything…especially men. Someone was very cruel to them.

cashlucy

It almost seems that we humans created such horror for those dogs that they have PTSD, were abused and hurt beyond imagining.  We humans suffer too when life has hurt us so badly. We also suffer when, for no reason that we can see, anxiety, depression and other forms of anguish cause us to struggle to cope.

My daughter and her family are working hard to have those two dogs understand that they are safe and loved. Life would be better for everyone if we could all feel loved and safe.