Memories

Christmas pastToday we put up a Christmas tree. Like the Scrooge story I started thinking about Christmases past. Most of my memories are good but not all. There were two Christmases when my husband was in Viet Nam. There was one Christmas when I was in the hospital and not home with my children. The interesting thing is that I remember the happy years more than the sad ones. Our memories are selective. It’s funny how one person can remember an event clearly and someone else who has the same memory remembers it so differently. It has made me think about how our brains pick and choose which things to make easily accessible and which things are hidden away. We know that the memory is there somewhere. Why can’t we access it? My daughter says that our RAM memory is full. She may have a point. If only I could remember everything that I have learned.

I am grateful for the memories that I have and glad that some of the bad memories are less clear. I wonder if this is our way of living with the bad things. People who have PTSD can’t shake those bad memories and relive them over and over. That is living in a nightmare. I know that many people have bad memories that are so traumatic that they are vivid and color their days. That kind of memory produces pain that most of us can’t imagine.

woundsI think that mental pain can be so much worse than physical. The torture that our own minds can produce is far worse than what someone else can do to us. That is why so many more suicides are committed by those in mental pain. There is no way to get away from it. Our thoughts rule out lives so we have to create ways to escape from that pain. The treatment of mental pain is so much better than it has been in the past. Now if we can just remove the stigma that accompanies it.

Christ cast out demons. I am sure that they were the same kind of demons that afflict us today. His healing is still there for us. We just need to be able to accept it.

An anxious world

anxietyToday I read an article about our reactions to stress. With the state of the world the way that it is overreacting to simple events is almost a given. When talking about memory my daughter says that when we can’t access names etc. our RAM memory is full. I think with life being so chaotic our ability to handle events is over taxed. I do wonder if the number of people with anxiety is on the rise because of how the world works. It is hard to get those kind of statistics as many people with anxiety are not known. Are more of us suffering with anxiety? We don’t know but I suspect the answer is yes.

There are so many reasons. The internet makes bad news so much more accessible.
It is almost impossible to avoid it. We now have a whole world of people to agree or disagree with what is posted on social media and some responses attack the writer viciously. Even though it is evident that we are all different and have different opinions people are inclined to take taking sides to the extreme.

There is no silence. We need silence and down time to be creative. We don’t disconnect from everything enough. Silence rests the mind. We don’t know how to sit in silence. We are addicted to noise. Just ask people to sit in silence for one minute and watch the fidgeting.

Life is running at such a fast pace that we barely have time to draw breath. We plan so many things in each day that we are overwhelmed. Whether you are spiritual or not just resting with peace and quiet can help. If you pray, spend time listening for God instead of talking to Him. We spend so much time talking TO God instead of waiting for God to speak. No wonder we can’t hear His voice.

silenceSo…turn off electronics…..sit quietly….think…..meditate…..pray. If you do this each day you will find life more manageable.

Help us find caring

mentalI was watching a story on netflix this morning. It was the true story of a family who lost the father to suicide. I had many questions while watching this. It seems that all of the children had major issues. I think several of them were Autistic although, if so, their affect on the show did not show it. The family seemed loving but overwhelmed. Just watching it I found myself diagnosing each of them…right or not. The father seemed manic depressive (I forget what the new name is). The family took many videos over the years and maybe that’s why they were chosen for this.

It reminded me how mental illness (and many other illnesses) run in families. Sometimes I wonder if we had a clear view of our own problems would we chose to have children and pass our issues on to the next generation. However, I think it takes living for us to discover how we will react to life. Knowing our mental issues is much more difficult than the physical ones. It is not so obvious especially to us. That is, unless it is a critical and obvious problem.

There is help for so many issues today but to seek them is to admit that they are there. That is the hardest part. Add to it the fact that mental illness has been such an avoided subject and those who suffer have been outcasts. There is also the problem of affording treatment. The family I viewed seem to be British so I am thinking they had some access to care. Here in the US mental health is the least funded of any illness. Insurance companies only understand dollars and cents and it is difficult to show that no treatment initially will be more costly later.

Having done Case Management, that is how decisions are made regarding treatment. If we don’t treat this will it cost us more money in the long tun? Can you show me that it will? This is a terrible way to determine care.

There are not as many people who have acute mental health problems as there are those of us who have episodic or milder issues. Because of that getting treatment is harder. Money is part of the issue and knowing that we need help and seeking it is the other part.

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I hope that looking at the person as body, mind, and spirit will help us to look at all aspects of a person and treat anything that prevents us from being whole. Which, by the way, is related to the word holy. This is how God created us to be. Whole, holy people.

Are You Compassionate?

Compassion_FuneralCallI have often thought about the difference between “feeling sorry for” and “feeling compassion for.” We can feel sorry for someone but it puts us in an us and them mode. We are outside the situation and see it from a distance. We are not really involved.

Compassion is a totally different things. When we are feeling compassion we can feel the pain of the other person. We are involved. We are connected.

When we have been through a similar experience, such as losing a loved one, we know how that is. We have had some of the same feelings and hopefully have come out the other side. This is not a time, however, to offer advice. When people need our compassion they just need someone to be in the same place. Listening, touching (if appropriate), being present in the moment are the most important things.

God uses our stressful experiences by given us the compassion to help others. Compassion is healing for us and others.

Some things can’t be fixed

i_can_t_be_fixed__by_x_arisu_x-d7sz2heToday someone said something to me that reminded me of a profound truth that I began to accept late in life. Having attended college twice with two different degrees it wasn’t until my 40s that I finished my nursing degree. Working with those who were sick brought home to me in a different way that there are some things that we cannot fix.

I have a friend whose grandchild is suffering with brain cancer. It is tragic and I mourn for the struggle they are facing but I can’t fix it.

Right now I am watching three hurricanes in the Atlantic that could devastate some people already hit by another storm. I can’t fix it. I wish I could. I really want to.

 

We expect everything to continue just exactly the way we want and we are gobsmacked by something that we can’t fix.

While nursing I did learn that things that can’t be fixed can usually be helped in some way. The sick child still has cancer but thanks to medicine he is better (not cured) and has many people helping him and others with financial and emotional support.

The last hurricane has shown that it could not be stopped but many people have put their lives on hold to help. What was amazing to me was to see linemen from Houston here in Savannah helping to restore power to us. They were “paying it forward.”

help 2I have learned that we can’t dwell on the fact that it can’t be fixed but instead concentrate on what is possible to do to help. That way we give of ourselves…….the most precious thing that we can give.

Understand there are things that can’t be fixed but we can help the unendurable be endured.

 

How do we fill the void?

What are we missing? What is the thing that makes us feel as if we are not complete in some way? What is it that makes some of us feel that only money can fix it. For others it may be fame and others some sort of addiction. We try to fix it with food, alcohol even suicide. We label some people as having an addiction and yet each of us is addicted to something. The question is something that helps us or something that hurts us.

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Each of us lives out life striving to fill that void. The quote below from Blaise Pascal shows that humans have had this longing for centuries. Pascal equates it as God.

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” 
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)

Some people have said that there is a God sized hole in each of us that we try to fill with things but nothing works. Those of us who sense that hole may be reaching out to understand and find God….each in our own way. For me that search fulfills itself in Christianity. For others it may be Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or wherever you find that peace.

peace

In my mind that peace is found in love and compassion toward others which seems to be at the root of most faiths. Accepting and caring for others no matter their beliefs, color, sexual orientation or anything else pulls us toward filling that hole. Seeking to find something more than ourselves by meditation, prayer and acts of love fill us in a way that nothing else can.

Seek to find that peace for yourselves and help lead others to it.

Laughter Heals

Today has been a good day in spite of everything messing up.. No matter that it was very hot and also humid I pushed myself to work outside. I tried to finish all major yard work during the spring so that only maintenance  would need to be done in the summer but as usual I didn’t finish. Our yard has long stretches of azaleas which form a border between our property and the next door. These are large bushes which grow with little help but so do the vines that love to climb on the azaleas and prevent the sun reaching them. Dragging out vines has become my lifes work. I use an antique golf cart and pull a cart behind it to fill with vines and haul them to the street to be picked up. I was half done with my planned job when the golf cart quit.

Leaving the cart half way down the drive way I decided to weed wack the area I had been working on. As expected I pulled the starter for at least ten minutes before getting the weed wacker to work. When I had done about half of the area new string was needed. That’s when I found that my grandson had replaced the string incorrectly requiring me to go in the house for pliers to fix the problem.

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The thing about all of this is that in spite of the hiccups, the aggravations, and the heat I got something done. After a cold shower my sense of humor returned and I found the whole thing funny. In life one of the most important things we need for survival is a sense of humor. Not only should we be able to laugh at events but most importantly laugh at ourselves. We can do some really stupid things but being able to shake them off with laughter is critical. Laughter heals. It is good for our health. If we could laugh for ten minutes of each day we would feel so much better.  If we try and find the humor in the things that upset us we will be so much better off.

I am sure that God laughs at us frequently.