Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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The Usual

I’ve been staring at my screen for a while now. I’m trying to think of something creative or clever. Funny is my favorite. I know this blog was started around grief and loss, but I try to mix it up.

But alas, it has been more of the same. The universe hasn’t shifted much this week. People are still being born. People are still dying. No one has learned to live forever. It’s the usual cycle of life and death.

Yet, I know for those folks that have been touched personally, their lives are anything but usual. Their worlds have been turned upside down. They are either slowed in a fog or frantically keeping busy every moment of the day handling “stuff” which also serves to shield them from the full impact of loss.

My neighbor from where I grew up died recently, much too young. There was a benefit for her just days before her passing. A terminal illness battle.

A dear friend lost her father. He was the same age as my dad, also a Korean vet. His story reminded me of my mom. Three fast, confusing weeks of illness with little or no answers and suddenly you have lost a parent. Devastating.

My current neighbor lost her mom. I read her texts as things developed and my heart ached for her as she waited, unable to do anything but accept the inevitable outcome.

This weekend my family will attend a memorial service for Mom’s twin, a woman who was at one time so very close to our hearts she was like a second mom.

So the statistically normal thing will just keep happening. But I know that for many, many families, “normal” will be changed forever. My heart hurts for all of you and I offer my love and friendship if wanted or needed as you go through the painful days ahead. If you know someone enduring a loss, take the time to make a call, send a card, or offer a hug. It will mean more than you know.

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Guest Blogger

It’s been a while since we’ve had a guest blogger.  Jennifer Scott has written the informative article below. I apologize that her pictures did not translate over!  Her website is http://spiritfinder.org/ if you would like to know more. Thanks so much Ms. Scott!

Improve Your Overall Health While In Addiction Recovery

It was a long road, but you made it. After years of substance abuse and suffering from addiction, you managed to get clean and formally enter addiction recovery. This is a great time for you, but it’s not going to be easy. Although you’re strong enough to beat addiction, that doesn’t mean you can’t use some extra help to make this journey easier.

One of the best ways you can help yourself through the recovery process is by improving your overall wellness. But what does that even mean?

Being Healthy Supports Addiction Recovery

The University of California Riverside lists seven dimensions of wellness as a way of defining wellness:

  1. Social: Having friends and family to socialize with.
  2. Emotional: Cope with stress and challenges.
  3. Spiritual: Having peace and harmony.
  4. Environmental: Living safely.
  5. Occupational: Having a good paying and fulfilling job.
  6. Intellectual: Learning and challenging yourself mentally.
  7. Physical: Being physically fit and well.

These elements are imperative if you want to be successful in your addiction recovery journey.

As samhsa.gov explains, wellness and health are particularly important for people struggling with a disorder or addiction. Chances are, your body and mind were hurt by the addiction, so your chances of addiction recovery go up when your wellness improves.

What You Can Do To Stay Healthy

Wellness is important to you, but how can you improve it? It starts by knowing yourself. You need to understand what helps you socially, emotionally, intellectually, and so on. For example, what type of social activities do you love? Extroverts might love big parties, while introverts prefer small gatherings. As you explore your options, write down what works for you.

Then turn that list into a checklist that you can regularly review. Think of it as a road map to your overall wellness, or at least reminders of what you should be doing. Addictions And Recovery has a great example of a checklist you can use to monitor yourself. It includes items like:

  • Call your friends or family when you have problems.
  • Keep eating healthy and work on getting enough sleep each night.
  • Avoid the “friends” who helped you get addicted in the first place.
  • Engage in hobbies that promote wellness.

You also need to keep track of how you are doing week to week. Here is a great self-evaluation checklist to monitor your progress. By checking in with yourself each week, you can catch any slips before things get out of hand., but you can also see how successful you are, thus boosting your confidence and self-esteem.

Holistic Therapies That Work

As you continue to develop individual strategies to promote your overall wellness, you should also look into holistic therapies. This is not some kind of New Age medicine! Instead, these are treatments that work on your overall wellness — and they can help with your addiction recovery.

The Treehouse explains that holistic therapies can play a vital role in regaining your previous life. Although everyone should have their own personalized plan, here examples of holistic treatments that can help:

  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation or prayer
  • Biofeedback
  • Yoga
  • Herbal therapy

Even just getting some regular exercise can help you get through addiction recovery more smoothly.

Your Overall Wellness Matters

Addiction takes a toll on your mind and body. Although you’ve beaten it for now, addiction recovery is still a tough road to travel. That’s why you need to look to your overall wellness. Examine your life through the seven dimensions and find ways to support those that work for you. Keep a checklist handy, and find a holistic therapy that interests you. And remember, taking care of your wellness is a vital part of your addiction recovery.

 


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Malarkey

Stressful week. Nothing earth-shattering, just annoying. I will pick just one thing to write about lest you get bored and stop reading.

Vehicle trouble. We all know that we are crazy dependent on our cars, especially if you don’t live in a city with convenient subways or buses. This week, problem number 1 started when my boyfriend’s truck engine light went on…again. He had to get off the expressway. I called Dad and he said I could borrow his truck so that I could loan my car to him and he wouldn’t miss work. Yay!

The next day he was able to get his truck back and it was a little less than $500 which was great. Well, I should say they called him to give him the news. Before I could take him to pick it up, we discovered Dad’s truck was leaking oil. The truck is like new. I didn’t entirely panic because I knew he had just gotten the oil changed. (I’m still working on getting all the oil stains off the driveway which is proving to be a challenge.)

Juggle everything around. I have to work so my bf has his friend meet him at the garage. They pick up his truck, come to my house and pick up Dad’s truck and take it to where he got the oil change. They leave the keys where they were instructed to, I get my vehicle back. Phew, thank God he got his truck back so quickly.

The next morning, we head over to the shop to get Dad’s truck. They haven’t answered our phone calls all morning but it is now 10:30 and it should be a pretty quick fix so we figure they are just busy. Wrong. The place looks like a junk yard and the building is locked up and boarded up in places. Dad’s truck is no where in sight.

I don’t know what to do but call the police. While I am talking to them, my bf keeps trying and the mechanic finally answers. I ended up talking with him to discover they are closed but are sending someone late afternoon to fix the truck. A bunch of malarkey as far as I can tell but I’m not going to argue with him. I just want the damn truck back. Now we juggle schedules again and go pick up the second set of keys so we can get it after hours.

Not convenient, but hey, there are worse problems. At least we all have a vehicle now.

Wrong.

Then I get a text a few hours later. The engine light on my bf’s card went on again while he was working. Are you kidding me? Juggle plans again. Colin takes me to pick up Dad’s truck but I don’t return it to him because we are short a vehicle again. (By the way, I haven’t even told my dad any of this yet. Can’t wait to explain this fiasco…lol.) We aren’t able to take my bf’s truck back to the garage til 10:30 pm. They are supposed to have it fixed by 11 am this morning, but that is 15 minutes from now and I haven’t heard anything yet.

Oh well, we will just juggle again. I’ve been job hunting since January. Anyone know of any circus openings?


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Month-Aversary

This last week I celebrated my six month anniversary with my boyfriend. It is hard to believe it has been a half a year already. When I woke up that day, I found a text with a poem that he wrote at 3 am. He said I could share it, but I hesitated because then everyone will know he is actually a better writer than I am…lol.  Anyhow, I think you will see that some things are worth waiting for. I am indeed a blessed/lucky and grateful woman.

Six months ago,
You appeared.
Six months ago,
Our eyes met.
Six months ago,
You touched my hand.
Six months ago,
Our hearts met.
Six months ago,
We shared a little kiss.
Six months ago,
Our voyage began.
Today,
I absolutely love you.
Six months from now,
I will absolutely love you more.
Six years from now,
I will unconditionally love you more than more.
Sixty years from then,
My heart will always be with you.
I love you Darcy.
Darcy, Tim


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Old and New

The last few decades there has been a big emphasis on taking care of self. Make yourself happy, no one else can or will. For people who tend to be passive or allow themselves to be walked on, this message is desperately needed. Overall though, I don’t think we Americans need to be more self-focused. We could stand to be more other-focused.

Whenever I drive my dad to have lunch with his cousins, it’s a good hour-long trek. It’s the area I grew up in so sometimes he has me drive past our old house. No matter what though, we stop at the fire hall. He was honored last year for 60 years of service. Volunteering for 60 years is not something that people do anymore, myself included. Short spurts if anything, right?

Anyhow, we stop at the hall and he has to roam around and check things out. I often wonder what is going through his mind. It got me thinking about old/new, which got me thinking about my wish for us to be other-minded.

On the one hand, I think Dad has earned the right to roam anytime he wants. He has earned the right to his opinions about how things should be. He is respected there, as he should be. I also think about knowing when to bow out. There is also wisdom in the young moving in and having fresh ideas. Sometimes the quality of things isn’t as good, sometimes the creativity is even better. It takes grace to balance the two – standing your ground and making way for others. I think Dad has done a pretty great job of managing both.

I got to thinking about any time that we embark on something new. It might be entering a new family, church, job, group of any sort. I can see those long-standing members looking at the newbie and thinking, “Who do they think they are waltzing in here and changing things?” And they would be right to a certain extent.

It would all work out beautifully if everyone thought about the other instead of themselves. It would be on the shoulders of the new to say, “Who am I to come in and rock the boat?” It would be on the shoulders of the old to say, “How about I make this new person and their ideas feel welcome? I’ve had my chance to do things my way.”

Perhaps it is not realistic, but I think the world would be a much nicer place if we acted in a way that put others first. If all parties did so, life could potentially be more balanced and we could cherish the wisdom of the old and celebrate the ingenuity of the new.

Well, at least I will try to do my part in those situations. I challenge you to try the same.


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Spect Imaging Results

Last year, I started surfing the net about Spect Brain Imaging. Dr. Daniel Amen is the name I had been turned on to and I began listening to his many lectures on-line. Since then, I have spoken to a couple of critics of his work. Overall, the feeling is that he claims brain imaging can do more than it actually does, but there is merit to the concept.

My interest was twofold. One, my son plays hockey and is a defenseman. He takes a lot of hard hits and is a tough player. Dr. Amen works a great deal with NFL players and has done a ton of research on concussions and the effects on the brain. Secondly, being a psychiatrist, he showed some fascinating brain scans related to depression, ADHD and other conditions.

As a mom, I want to know. As a mental health counselor, I want to know. And as a person that has had several decades of struggling with depression, I want to know.

Turns out there is one psychiatrist in western NY that does Spect imaging. I waited several months and finally got in. An MRI and Spect image together seem to offer the greatest combination of information, so I complied. Last week I got the results.

“Impression: Abnormal Resting Brain Bicisate Spect Due to:

There is diffuse frontal cortical hypoperfusion with pericallosal medial frontal sparing, most consistent with long-standing or refractory depression.”

What the heck does that mean? As the local skeptics suspected, the results didn’t do much of anything to change the course of treatment for me, which is why there is question as to its usefulness. However, it did something less tangible for me, but still quite important.

People who don’t struggle with depression often have difficulty understanding it. For people like me who have a good family, an excellent support system, and a host of other “blessings” in my life, understanding how I could be depressed sometimes is almost impossible. And for people like me who are self-critical, there is a huge level of guilt that comes with the depression because I am fully aware of all the gifts in my life. Feeling depression seems wrong and ungrateful.

I’ve tried absolutely everything over the years. I couldn’t even list all of the medications that I’ve gone through. Counseling, of course. Psychiatrists. Acupuncture. Spiritual Direction. Daily affirmations. Gratitude journals. Vitamin D. I can’t even remember all of the latest and greatest hopes and remedies to help cure depression that I have tried.

Now I’ve “tried” brain imaging. I actually found it to be validating. I can now articulate in another way what is going on with me, especially when talking to the people I run into that think I should be able to change how I feel if only I would really try. My brain indicates refractory depression. When I asked what that meant, I was told, “resistant to treatment.” The doctor said that is perfectly consistent with how I describe my life. Medications help me manage, but I’ve never been free from depression.

Currently, we know about Serotonin and Dopamine. There is research happening that looks at entirely different types of issues. There is some success, but we aren’t close to having anything on the market yet. So until then, I will keep managing the best I can. But I also can now articulate what I have always known in my heart: My wiring doesn’t respond to the typical treatments. It just doesn’t. No amount of willing or wanting or self-discipline will alter that.

I will work on dropping the guilt from the list of emotions that come along with the struggle. THAT is useful.


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I Call Bullsh**t!

I get that the world we live in is different from what it used to be, but sometimes I wonder how the heck some things are allowed to go on.

This week was nothing earth shattering or considered high on the importance scale of life, but I found myself irritated none-the-less. Maybe you can identify with some of these types of situations.

  • An oil change taking over 75 minutes. When asked, I got a response of, “Well, we washed your car for you” like that would take that long. I would have appreciated an answer like, “We got backed up. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
  • Having to shop for tires and having it explained that even though they are billed as 60K tires, everyone assumes they only last around 40K. The higher number is only in ideal driving conditions, which exist no where in the world.
  • Finding out that the tires require an additional $99 fee for alignment. Yep, you can buy four new tires but they won’t be put on properly. If you don’t pay for the alignment, you forfeit your warranty. So let’s be honest here. The tires are an additional $25 each.  I’d rather have that said upfront.
  • Having a business cash your payment, but not post it to your account. They can’t locate the payment anywhere, but the bank shows it has been cashed. They then need another couple of business days to research where it is. In the meantime, they dock your paycheck for the loan you’ve taken, even though you have paid it off. The bonus? No, we can’t call you when we locate your money. You have to keep calling us back.  Double standard. When it comes to us paying our hard earned money, no leniency. When it comes to them, they have unlimited time to do whatever they need to.
  • You ask the local chapter of your professional agency a question. They tell you to post the question on the national listserv. You do so and the answer is that you should ask your local chapter those kinds of questions. Obviously, no one plans to help me.

Like I said, nothing monumental. It is aggravating though, day after day. Sometimes it is just exhausting to have to be on your guard and have your thinking cap on every minute to make sure you know what is going on. And it is hard to be powerless when you can’t get what you need to live your life the way you are supposed to.

I call bullshit.

End rant.