Being A Victim

Being a Victim

The other day I was up at the chemotherapy ward. I had a pleasant conversation with a 61 year old man. 11 years ago, he was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. In spite of being ill he had a great attitude. He had these words of wisdom:

“If you find yourself asking: Why me? Change the question to: Why not me?”

 

I chose to share this today because it’s a reminder of a few things:

 

1. We aren’t alone in our pain and suffering

2. We are all equal

3. The Universe is benevolent; or at least neutral

4. Anything can happen

5. Making the most of NOW is the best thing to do

 

Really, you are not a victim. If you are, then we all are.

A friend of mine who is a pastor often says, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” What does that mean? It means that despite what we want and despite all our efforts, we can end up in any situation – for better or for the worst.

I know I am speaking to a broad audience. I imagine some of you are, objectively, fairly healthy. On the other hand, I imagine that some of you are in constant pain. What do you have in common? Everything!

There will be times of life when you can be the helper, and there will come a time when you need the help.

Open your heart to this reality and may you be touched with compassion for yourself and others.

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Monkey Mind Panic Attacks

Since I know you love hearing about them.  I am writing about my most recent panic attack which was yesterday at 2pm.  It lasted until just after 4pm.  This post will give the reader a picture into what a panic attack accompanied by chronic illness feels like.

In brief, if we named panic attacks, I would name this one like an interesting flavour of ice cream.  I’d name this panic flavour, Monkey Mind Panic.  Caution, contains nuts (pun intended).

icecream

Monkey mind, a phrase I picked up a while ago, is “from Chinese xinyuan and Sino-Japanese shin’en 心猿 [lit. “heart-/mind-monkey”], is a Buddhist term.”  (Wikipedia)

I imagine the monkey habitat at the zoo.  A deafening, dizzying, cacophony of “Ew Ew Ah Ah.”

monkey-mind

 

Racing thoughts obviously go along with every anxiety disorder.  They play a particularly powerful role in the anxiety before, but also during a panic attack.

During a panic attack, it’s like an argument erupts in my mind.  The mind does not heed the warning, Don’t Feed The Trolls.

I wanted to tie this into chronic illness.  It might explain why I had the attack.

Here are some of the contributing reasons:

  1.  I have issues getting around my apartment.  I was spending the day and this night on my own
  2. I regularly take some serious medications, one of which is for my anxiety disorder.  I had run out on the weekend and the pharmacy didn’t deliver until later
  3. I have on-going concerns about my recent surgery.  I feel frustrated that the surgeon’s office has not returned my calls
  4. I have a phobia of vomiting and choking.  My stomach was off from a Meatloaf I made that was too fatty (I went on one of those Everyone loves Bacon kicks)

bacon-double-cheeseburger-stuffed-meatloaf-2014fb-wide2

 

So I add bits of those ingredients together and add the secret Monkey Mind ingredient that I called Existential Freak Out No. 9 aka “Oh my god, I’m going to die.  I am dying.  I need an ambulance.  I should call one.  I don’t need an ambulance.  I should be seeing the doctor more because there must be something they don’t know about.  I’m too young to die.  Everybody dies!  Yes, but no one is especially good at it…”

Okay, okay, take a breath.  STOP!!

And this is the quiet moment when the Monkey smiles at you and starts peeling a banana.  It’s gotten its way.

 

0cb1725c000005dc-2880780-image-a-40_1419004497062

 

This is that moment of lucidity, the calm inside the eye of the tornado.  It’s here that I remember that I talk a lot about mindfulness.  I give myself a nervous laugh at the irony.  The irony makes me feel more human and asserts that I’m not the only one who might be feeling this right now.

At this point I did what I needed to do.  In that moment, I need to calm my stomach, so I took a stomach medication.  I also needed to deal with the Monkey.  I did this by getting up, changing my perspective, hobbling around on my crutch and tidying up in the kitchen for just five minutes.  Then I took some breaths, called the pharmacy to ensure my medications were coming.  I then sat and waited.   Things were winding down, I was exhausted but I had to stay awake.  I decided to grab one of my journals and a Sharpie and make a list of words I knew in French.

My medication came and that solved the other physical issue.  I made myself a tuna sandwich.  Then I fell asleep.

So take what you will from that!  Can you relate?

 

tintin-plastic-folders_0003-black-island

Pain Tolerance: Musings on …

As I lay here writing this sentence I am in pain.

Correction.  I can feel pain.  Correction.

 

It hurts and I want:

a shot of morphine

 morphine

a big bowl of pasta with meat balls and cheese and a dry white wine

FN_Ina Garten Real Meatballs and Spaghetti.tif

my mother

mother

 

to sleep

to wake up

to do

to not have to do

to fling myself off a moving train

to be bathed in healing light

to scream bullsh*t! at a doctor

(  X  )   all of the above

 

What is pain?  Is pain some psychotic demon throwing lit matches at our nerves?

No.  Pain is a signal.

We say it hurts, what do we really mean?

Is it an ache today?  Does it start small, pulsating, and then radiate outwards like a cat’s tail whip in slow motion?  Cold wind and bee stings upon exposed flesh

 

cats-tail-whip.

Pain?  Are you real?

Yes.  I’m a matter of fact.

Pain?  Why do you hate me?

I don’t.  I am merely saying something is wrong.  If you want to dress this up, here’s the number of a shady guy who does that sort of work:

555-5555

Mr. Suffering, Esq.

 

cat-are-you-done-yet

 

 

 

 

Gray clouds, rain, and no.

Lost Arts Radio – Sharing!

Today, just a quickie!

 

I have discovered this awesome radio program through YouTube.  It’s called Lost Arts Radio and it’s hosted by a great fellow named Richard Sacks in the United States.

It’s a health program… but health on levels that aren’t superficial.  He has many prominent guests that come on the show.

If you like to be informed on the state of the world.

If you will challenge your fear of red pill reality.

If you will open your mind, but more importantly your heart.

Then, this might be a gold mine for you!  I have been listening to the archives, but the next show is Saturday morning at 11am EST / 8am PST and after that there’s another on Sunday.

So I’m sharing this with you:

 

 www.lostartsradio.com

 

Be well.  Be happy.  Be filled with loving kindness 😀

Pardon My Panic Attack

This past weekend I had an IBD flare.  I don’t deal with being sick well.  You’d think I’d take it in stride considering my illness is CHRONIC.  But, no.  I freak out.  I have a panic attack which snowballs into making things worse.

Anxiety and depression are components of chronic illness and are chronic illnesses themselves.  I tend to ruminate.  I notice every little pain and think the worst is happening inside me.  This past weekend, I thought I was dying.

When you feel so bad that you start to think you are dying, it sucks.  But in a way, it’s also the point where you may or may not be able to laugh.  Life — no one gets out alive!  It’s true!

There is a mindful way and an unmindful way to approach death.  The unmindful way was me freaking out and ushering in the suite of panic:  shallow breathing, dizziness, worsening nausea, restlessness, thoughts of going crazy/imminent death.  I started having some traumatic thoughts of choking on my “final breaths”.  That wasn’t mindful, but I’m not saying this in a judgmental way.

At such a point, what do you do?  My best solution was to reach out to another.  To just let the panic attack happen and blurt out all my feelings and worries to whoever will sit with me and listen.  Sometimes, we all lose it and need others to be mindful for us.

Different people may be or less helpful, appreciate them all.  If you pray, here’s a good time!  If you have a pet, then you are really lucky.  I have a cat.  She curled up with me and comforted me.  There is always someone that can pick up the ball when we can’t be mindful ourselves.  To seek comforting is human.  We don’t always get it the way we want, but we can appreciate the forms the universe takes in meeting our need.

Can you relate?  Who are the helpers when you are in need?  There are always helpers!

Shame, Shame

Did you ever do something really bad?  Is there a moment from the past that you don’t understand and feel sick to your stomach about?shame

I was sitting here and my mind drifted way back.  I was remembering myself as a much younger me.  Most of the time that my mind leads me back there, I see myself, and I don’t know that person.  I am not that person.  If I was that person, I am sorry.  Shame washes over me.  I can feel it warm and burning in my past.  My throat gets a lump.  My eyes fade and do not sparkle.  My stomach twists itself into a pretzel.

I sat here and in the now moment and fully felt the shame.  It amazes me how physically it manifests itself.

I did not run from the emotion or from the memory that triggered it.  What we resist persists — this has been true for me.

I started getting all guru on myself with the whole “the past doesn’t exist” and the whole “forgive yourself” and then I stopped myself.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with those statements, but today, I had a new lesson.

As I saw myself, and as I judged myself, I let my compassion guide me toward understanding.  I wanted to know why I was that person in that awful moment.  I thought about it and one of my conclusions was that, the person I was seeing was suffering from a complete lack of love in their life.

I thought about the distance between that me and the me I am now.  I thought about wanting to disown the me of the past.  Those who disown, do you know how violent your disowning is?  And that’s when it hit me.

I wasn’t going to disown that me.  I wasn’t going to beat up on that past me.  I was going to to love that me, because that me needed love.  And that’s what shame taught me today.

Is This That Empath Crap?

What’s an Empath?  Well, my general understanding is that it’s a person who is greatly affected by the energy and emotions of others.  Empaths tend to be somewhat introverted.  Being in crowds can be difficult for an Empath because of all the noisy energy.  Empaths are really super sensitive to the energy vibrating off of others.  From what I’ve read, it’s considered a gift but one that can cause many years of suffering as one needs to learn how to protect themselves from the negative energies that are all around.

I used to believe in this phenomenon.  I used to believe in a lot of new-age type things.  I was introduced to the idea of Empaths and to Twin Flames by a woman I loved very much.  But in the end, she hurt me and abandoned me.  She became the antithesis of all the “love” she preached.  My reaction was that I stopped believing in Empaths and in Soul Mates and in Twin Flames.  How could these sacred phenomenons exist if the one person I knew so intimately seemed to be, in the final analysis, full of BS.

Today, I found myself reading some random person’s blog.  It’s not the first time and won’t be the last time that I found myself developing a little crush on the blogger.  It’s completely irrational because I don’t know them and they don’t know me.  They could be my polar opposite.  I love potatoes and they might love something I hate, like escargot.  I play guitar and they might be a rapper.  I think rainy days are romantic and they might find them depressing.  Truly, why crush on a stranger?

Being a psych nerd I’d point to projection and transference.  I project my desire to be desired and to have the fairytale love of my life.  That could be it.  Or, maybe it’s transference.  I find something similar in them, even something very tiny and insignificant and suddenly I start attributing the qualities of a lover to them unconsciously.  These would be rational explanations of my irrational feelings.  Afterall, how many of you day dream of being with that one person who gets you, who is “home”, who loves you unconditionally?  Am I alone in desiring that?  Probably not.  This world is pretty love sick if I can relate all this to a common chronic illness.

But aside from a psychological interpretation, the thought flashed within my mind, “Is this that Empath crap?”  Truly, facets of projection and transference would be common to the Empath experience.  I can’t say for certain that something like this makes me a believer again, but it does help me become open to the idea of “yes, maybe” once again.

The mindful response within me is simply this:  That I don’t claim to know.  It’s what Zen Buddhism calls “beginner’s mind”.  The mindful response within me is to open my heart and to notice the flutter that accompanies the crushing.  It feels… slightly delicious and yet, slightly sad.  I am just going to sit here and feel it.