I’m Back

Santorini, April 2018; honeymoon

I’m back. In the five months I’ve been off work, I had aspirations to write a book, blog more, figure out my true calling in life, go on some wonderful adventures, get involved and volunteer more in the community, and most importantly find my voice. I had some great starts, but a small inner voice of self-doubt kept nibbling away at my resolve, and a bigger voice called “life” kept me grounded in the real issues of the day.

No matter how much I try to reinvent myself, those cleverly disguised doors that appear to be opening to new vistas bring me right back to where I started. As much as I want to deny it or fight it, or run from it, I am forever a mental health advocate.

Since December, I have been trying to lend support to loved ones as they struggle with serious mental health crises. It is heartbreaking and yanks at my soul in a way that is hard to describe. It brings me back to the days of feeling helpless as I witnessed my mom’s descent into paranoid schizophrenia. In the years since then, I have learned that mental illness comes in many forms, major depression, suicide, mood disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, eating disorders, panic attacks and anxiety, none of them less terrifying or heart breaking than the other. The people I know who have struggled with one of these are too many to count, and I know that each person is doing the best he/she can with limited resources.

When it comes to helping someone who is going through a mental health crisis, I feel rather inept, as I walk the finely dotted line between thinking I have the answers to knowing I don’t have any answers, unsure about whether to encourage or dispense advice, to show false optimism or tough love. Shoving my own personal feelings deep down so that my disappointment doesn’t show through when it seems like someone I love is slowly being ripped away from me by some mysterious illness.

I have been in a dark place before. I have worked my entire life to never go there again, knowing the fragility and resilience that exist within me. I have invested countless hours in counseling, reading self-help books, attending support groups and conferences, developing my spirituality, and conceding to taking a tiny pill to treat my anxiety disorder. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t work as hard when faced with their own mental illness, but then I grew up with the consequences of ignoring such illness first-hand, watching my mom go in and out of one crisis after another. Her choices were limited and there was no simple answer. Her only real choice was to be treated like a criminal, and who would want that?

I am hoping soon to become part of an organization that is working on a small piece of the puzzle to help correctly diagnose and treat mental illnesses. I wonder if I have the will to keep on immersing myself in mental healthcare, having spent a lifetime trying to figure it all out with some moments of real sadness. Yet, I don’t seem to be able to get away from it; therefore, I must find the strength to forge on, searching for better treatments and educating people to fight the stigma that works against finding answers.

So here I am, back again. A mental healthcare advocate, blogger, and warrior of sorts.

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Getting Help for Depression

PICT0012President Abraham Lincoln said of being depressed:

“I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I cannot tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.”

Unfortunately, there were not many options for those who suffered from depression in the days of Abraham Lincoln. Today there are many types of treatment available, but the process of finding the right one can still be quite challenging.  It is hard to reach out when depression drains one’s energy, and the earlier you can begin the process, the better the outcome. Don’t give up!

The following tips were taken from the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) Depression web page:

How can I help a loved one who is depressed?

If you know someone who is depressed, it affects you too. The most important thing you can do is help your friend or relative get a diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make an appointment and go with him or her to see the doctor. Encourage your loved one to stay in treatment, or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs after 6 to 8 weeks.

To help your friend or relative

  • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
  • Talk to him or her, and listen carefully.
  • Never dismiss feelings, but point out realities and offer hope.
  • Never ignore comments about suicide, and report them to your loved one’s therapist or doctor.
  • Invite your loved one out for walks, outings and other activities. Keep trying if he or she declines, but don’t push him or her to take on too much too soon.
  • Provide assistance in getting to the doctor’s appointments.
  • Remind your loved one that with time and treatment, the depression will lift.

How can I help myself if I am depressed?

If you have depression, you may feel exhausted, helpless, and hopeless. It may be extremely difficult to take any action to help yourself. But as you begin to recognize your depression and begin treatment, you will start to feel better.

To Help Yourself

  • Do not wait too long to get evaluated or treated. There is research showing the longer one waits, the greater the impairment can be down the road. Try to see a professional as soon as possible.
  • Try to be active and exercise. Go to a movie, a ballgame, or another event or activity that you once enjoyed.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities and do what you can as you can.
  • Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative. Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
  • Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Do not expect to suddenly “snap out of” your depression. Often during treatment for depression, sleep and appetite will begin to improve before your depressed mood lifts.
  • Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced or changing jobs, until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
  • Remember that positive thinking will replace negative thoughts as your depression responds to treatment.
  • Continue to educate yourself about depression.

Everything didn’t get better overnight, but I find myself more able to enjoy life and my children.

Where can I go for help?

If you are unsure where to go for help, ask your family doctor. Others who can help are listed below.

Mental Health Resources

  • Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
  • Health maintenance organizations
  • Community mental health centers
  • Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
  • Mental health programs at universities or medical schools
  • State hospital outpatient clinics
  • Family services, social agencies, or clergy
  • Peer support groups
  • Private clinics and facilities
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Local medical and/or psychiatric societies
  • You can also check the phone book under “mental health,” “health,” “social services,” “hotlines,” or “physicians” for phone numbers and addresses. An emergency room doctor also can provide temporary help and can tell you where and how to get further help.

What if I or someone I know is in crisis?

If you are thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, tell someone who can help immediately.

  • Do not leave your friend or relative alone, and do not isolate yourself.
  • Call your doctor.
  • Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help, or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.

How to stop wishing your life away

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”

Helen Keller

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I can’t wait until the holidays are over…

I can’t wait until it is warm outside

I wish I were thinner

I wish I didn’t have to work every day

I wish I looked like Jennifer Lawrence

I can’t wait to get out of this meeting

I wish I were “normal”

I can’t wait until this class is over

I can’t wait until I see my family

I can’t wait until I retire….

How often do I say these things to myself, essentially wishing for things to be different from how they are in this moment.  The truth is, this moment may be the only one I have so how can I make it count?

I was in a staff meeting the other day and someone said something that really hurt my feelings.

staff meeting

At first I drifted off into a litany of thoughts about how bad that person made me feel and how bleak my future was going to be at work now.   I then realized that I had the power to change the dialogue in my head to something more compassionate.  I am not a victim of the world I see. I don’t need to give anyone permission to rob my peace in this moment. I was able to acknowledge the way I was feeling and give myself the choice about how I would frame that thought and how I would deal with it.  Staying present in the moment was empowering and enabled me to address the person in such a way that acknowledged both of our feelings.  I utilized the tools in my toolbox that I have learned over the years of therapy, support groups, etc to reframe my anxious thoughts.

As a young girl growing up, I drew much strength from reading about Helen Keller.  When it comes to living in the moment, I can’t think of anyone who illustrates an example of accepting one’s state of being more than her.  Before she was given the tools to accept her conditions of blindness and deafness, she was wild and unruly.  Once Ann Sullivan taught her how to reach out to the world around her, Helen was able to bridge those gaps and “see” the world in a different way.  It took a long time for her to learn how to cope and compensate for her disabilities, but she went on to accomplish many great things.

Dealing with mental and emotional illness is no less daunting at times and it would be easy to give up hope.  Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and seek the tools and answers that will allow you to make peace with what is in the present moment.  It will take practice, perseverance, and patience, but it will be worth it.

 

Notice How You Judge Yourself and Others

You suppose you are the trouble
But you are the cure
You suppose that you are the lock on the door
But you are the key that opens it
It’s too bad that you want to be someone else
You don’t see your own face, your own beauty
Yet, no face is more beautiful than yours.
Rumi

Notice each day how often judgments about other people are in your  thoughts.  What are these judgments about?  I have found that many times the judgmental thoughts I have about someone else are the very things I am struggling with about myself.   When I learn to approach myself with more compassion, then I am more likely to let my negative feelings about others pass through me without needing to react in a hurtful manner.

alone in the dark a little girl sits up in her bed in the dark in the ...Each time I have a thought about myself that I am not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, clever enough, young enough, thoughtful enough, or creative enough, I am casting a shadow on my  true self.   I am learning that I can question these intrusive thoughts and find another possibility that is more loving.  Often they are rooted in an all-or-nothing mentality, overlooking all of the options in between.

These concepts are extremely difficult for me and I struggle with them every day.  I try to remember (many times forgetting) to set my intentions each morning, and the moment I walk out the door, with each encounter, the critic in my head gets louder and louder.  I am learning to take a few deep breaths during the day when it gets too overwhelming and that seems to help.   It is hard to retrain one’s brain and the first step is to simply notice.  I worked hard at these concepts when I was recovering from my eating disorder and the underlying anxiety, many years ago.   While it has been over 26 years since I have engaged in the self-destructive behaviors, I’ve come to realize that raising my awareness of how my thoughts impact my overall well-being is an ongoing process that I must embrace, as a mother embraces her child.

“Look at the weaknesses of others with compassion, not accusation. It’s not what they’re not doing or should be doing that’s the issue. The issue is your own chosen response to the situation and what you should be doing. If you start to think the problem is “out there,” stop yourself. That thought is the problem.”  – Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Suicide Prevention

tide pool photoBecause of all of the media attention Robin William’s and other recent celebrity suicides have attracted, it is an excellent time to focus on sharing as many resources as possible about how to address these issues and save lives.  The National  Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is a public-private partnership advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. According to their annual report, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans, the 2nd leading cause of death for adults ages 25-34, and the 3rd leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24. I am fortunate that my daughter survived her suicide attempt and hope that through education and awareness, these statistics can be greatly reduced so that nobody has to endure such a loss.

The Message Matters – How to Talk About Suicide

hope-in-focusIn the wake of Robin William’s death from suicide, there have been many posts and messages circulating about suicide.  While most of these sentiments are well-meaning, it is possible to actually perpetuate certain misconceptions and stigmas about mental illness and depression, leading to a negative impact on those who may be most vulnerable.  The  Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention offers some great pointers on “promoting the positive in the form of actions, solutions, successes, or resources” as seen below:

What is the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Framework for Successful Messaging?

Framework GraphicThe Framework is a research-based resource that outlines four key factors to consider when developing public messages about suicide:

The central resource for the Framework is this website, SuicidePreventionMessaging.org (link is external).

The Framework was created by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention as part of its priority to change the public conversation about suicide. For background on the Action Alliance priority, see How does the Framework “Change the Conversation?”

Who is the Framework for?

It’s for anyone who is messaging to the public about suicide and suicide prevention. This includes, for example:

  • Suicide prevention organizations and projects
  • Government officials
  • Mental health organizations
  • Researchers
  • Community-based organizations
  • Institutions conducting suicide prevention activities, including colleges, schools, workplaces, and faith communities
  • Advocacy groups
  • Individuals speaking to the public about their personal experiences, including survivors of suicide attempts, survivors of suicide loss, and consumers of mental health services

The Framework initiative complements important and ongoing efforts to promote safer coverage of suicide in the news and entertainment media.

What do you mean by “public messaging?”

“Public messaging” is defined broadly as any communications released into the public domain. Examples include:

  • Education and awareness campaigns or materials (posters, PSAs, flyers, giveaways, etc.)
  • Organizational websites
  • Newsletters
  • Fundraising appeals
  • Publicity for events and observances
  • Social media
  • Press releases, media interviews
  • Public presentations
  • Publicly-available advocacy materials
  • Any other public-facing messages or materials

All of our messages and materials contribute to the public’s perceptions about suicide and suicide prevention.

What isn’t public messaging?

The Framework addresses only public messaging. It is not intended to address other important types of communications that relate to suicide, including:

  • Private conversations
  • Doctor-patient interactions
  • Interactions with individuals in crisis or who you think might be suicidal
  • One-on-one conversations with legislators or policy makers
  • Talking in support groups or other therapeutic settings
  • Training delivered to professional audiences, e.g. clinicians
  • Reporting by the news media

Not looking for guidance on public messaging? See resources for other types of suicide prevention communications.

Why was the Framework developed?

The background research section summarizes the research literature and background work that led to the Framework. In brief, we found that:

  • Resources exist to improve news and entertainment coverage about suicide (“the media”), but little guidance has been available for others communicating publicly about suicide (“the messengers.”) The Framework fills that gap.
  • Some prevention messages violate safe messaging guidelines, such as portraying means or talking about suicide in a way that normalizes it, i.e. makes it seem more common than it actually is.
  • Public messaging about suicide often has focused more on describing the problem than on conveying concrete actions or solutions. This unbalanced picture contributes to a harmful social narrative suggesting that trying to prevent suicide is hopeless  and no one recovers from suicidal thinking. Because the media often perpetuates these negative and inaccurate narratives, it is even more important that the prevention field counter them.
  • Suicide prevention messaging would benefit from adhering to recommendations from the broader communications literature, including:
    • Defining a clear purpose for communications before  crafting the message itself
    • Designing messaging as one component of a broader suicide prevention plan
    • Promoting specific behaviors in defined audiences
    • Using information about the audience to design more effective messages
    • Choosing delivery channels that match the message and audience
    • Assessing message success
  • The suicide prevention field is not taking advantage of the many extant best practice guidelines that can and should be used when developing messaging related to particular goals (e.g., stigma reduction), populations (e.g. LGBT populations), channels (e.g., social media), and other areas. The “Guidelines” section of this website provides links to many such resources.

What is the purpose of the Framework?

Our background work revealed that the most successful messaging will be shaped by at least four key factors. The Framework brings these together:

  • Strategy involves planning and focusing messages, so they are as effective as possible.
  • Safety is avoiding content that is unsafe.
  • Positive Narrative means ensuring that the collective voice of the field is “promoting the positive” in the form of actions, solutions, successes, or resources.
  • Guidelines means using any existing guidance or best practices that apply.

 

The Washington Post also offered some great insight into how to prevent a phenomenon called Suicide Contagion  that can be particularly prevalent amongst teens who are suffering from depression.

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Ultimately the goal is to save lives through raising awareness and promoting resources that send a message of hope to anyone affected by these treatable illnesses.

 

 

 

The Loss of Relationships

st john beach

It is a sad truth that sometimes relationships are lost either because of someone’s struggles with a mental illness, or sometimes as  the result of becoming healthy again.  I like this poem by Elizabeth Bishop, which at first glance seems to describe such losses in casual  terms, as if they are of little consequence.  It is only when taking a deeper look that one is able to recognize the true impact of these moments of loss.

One Art

By Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day.  Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel.   None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch.   And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones.  And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster. 
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied.   It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
 
flower bud
 
I first came across this poem in the movie, In Her Shoes.   The movie is about the impact of a mother’s mental illness on her children, her spouse, and her mother.  I cry whenever I watch the scene where the sisters are talking about their memories of their mom’s manic episodes.  Here is a clip from that movie:
 

Why Do I Blog About Mental Health? – A 2-part Question

Blog for Mental Health

Part A – I love to write

child-writing-credit-istock-91513956-630x420I am obsessed with writing I still remember my first diary that I kept tucked under my pillow.  I remember how it smelled, how it felt to put the tiny key into the shiny gold key hole, unlocking a space where I could write down all of the things that were swirling around in my head.  I remember thinking that my brain was like an attic, and every time I wrote it felt like I was sweeping up its dusty corners.  I felt like the little mermaid swimming into her secret world under water, safe from everything above the ocean’s surface.

sisters at beach

Writing gives me something to do with all the memories that pop up unexpectedly at inappropriate timesI have learned from experience it doesn’t pay to impulsively spout off a random story about my mom’s propensity to hear voices at the dinner table, when others are sharing their stories about family mealtime.  The awkward silence and puzzled looks on people’s faces quickly taught me to refrain from this type of sharing.

Writing is an acceptable way to deal with my obsessive thinkingMost days I wake up with a bunch of thoughts coming down the shoot, like chocolates on a conveyor belt.  I have found that it is easier to write them down than to engage in the many other unhealthy outlets that I have experimented with over the years.  There are the words I share here in my blog, and the ones I reserve for my journal.   Both venues provide an outlet to release the thoughts and feelings that visit themselves upon me every day.

Part B – Mental Health is Important

Mental illness impacts all of our lives – Since I have opened up and shared with people about the mental health issues in my family, many people have begun to share their experiences with me.  It turns out that at one time or another most people have experienced a mental health issue or have had a family member or close friend who has grappled with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar, alcohol or substance abuse, or any of the many other neurological imbalances that can affect the human brain.

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Relief from symptoms and recovery are possible – We can’t give up on searching for the best treatment options. These things are within our reach if we support organizations, legislation, research, and individuals’ efforts to seek optimal mental health.

em skatingBlogging provides a positive outlet to cope with my own personal experiences –  Although it has been many years since I had an eating disorder, the underlying issues of anxiety and depression must always be managed.  I still live with the scars left from living with my mom’s mental illness (schizophrenia), and still strive to learn from my daughter’s struggles with depression, a suicide attempt, and an eating disorder.  For some reason, my life has been defined in part by these experiences, and I want to maintain a positive outlook.

Blogging is a great way to connect with other people who feel passionate about mental healthI appreciate and celebrate all of the many wonderful mental health bloggers who open up their lives, hearts, and souls, giving a glimpse into the many facets of living with mental illness.

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CHEERS TO ALL OF THE MENTAL HEALTH BLOGGERS

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

 

Its Not Just A Cold…or (Fill in the Blank)

coldThis week I have attempted to write a post on a few occasions but couldn’t quite motivate myself to follow through with the ideas that now lie dormant in my draft box.  I am suffering from Adenovirus aka, the virus responsible for the common cold.  In my case, it is a mild cold, even though I still feel like someone has shoved a bucket of slime up my nose and down my throat.  At its worst, Adenovirus can cause more serious issues such as croup, bronchitis, and pneumonia.  So I suppose I am lucky that my 5-day cold has resulted in a minor inconvenience this week and will pass quickly.  And while I was still able to experience some pleasure during my week, I can look back now and see how many ways in which it has slowed me down and caused me angst.  Here are a few of the more irritating symptoms:

large_insomniaInterruption of my sleep – Several times a night I awakened myself with snoring, coughing, sputtering, and just plain not being able to find a comfortable position.

Feelings of achiness and malaise – This made it very difficult to sit through the multitude of meetings without intermittently dozing off to sleep or shaking my leg uncontrollably from all of the Sudafed and caffeine I was hopped up on.

fall on face

Disruption of normal routine – I wanted to stay on my training schedule for the upcoming triathlon and started off great this week running and swimming like I’d never done before. By the end of the week, I opted for lying on the couch in a crumpled heap of sweat and exhaustion.

Labile mood – It has been a challenging week at work, with auditors here from two separate companies, each reminding me of the many ways in which I should be thinking about a career that requires less attention to detail.  My ability to remain assertive and composed vacillated greatly.  I have never been known for my ability to conceal my emotions, as my face involuntarily outs me whenever possible, and this week it betrayed me on several occasions.  I hate it when someone asks me if I am okay, and especially when it is an auditor!!

sandra bullock

Decline in appearance – This is the one that really gets to me – being told I look awful.  Yes, I heard that from a few people yesterday.  By the end of the week I lacked the energy and cosmetic skill to conceal the outward signs that my cold had inflicted upon me – the red nose, puffy eyes, flared up eczema, not to mention I didn’t have time to wash or blow dry my hair which wildly strayed from the pony tail I’d assembled earlier that morning.

Erratic eating habits – some people starve their cold, I prefer to continue shoving a variety of unhealthy foods into my mouth futily attempting to see if I can prompt my taste buds to wake up and start doing their job.

All of my symptoms elicited people’s empathetic responses – and I heard over and over, “why don’t you go home and rest”, “why are you here, you need to take care of yourself”, “what can I do for you?”

EmpathyI think you get the picture, but put that picture in a different frame and the reaction my be very different.  Let’s say instead of adenovirus, it is depression, an eating disorderbipolar, anxiety disorder or any other mental health issue that has caused this litany of symptoms.  Then how do we react to ourselves, and how do others react to us?  Let’s say instead of a few days of minor disruptions, it stretches into weeks, months, or years.  Society is much more tolerant of an illness it perceives to be out of our control than the ones that we are supposedly responsible for.  Perhaps I had some hand in getting a cold, a few too many late nights, a few too many sweaty jogs in the cold, and not taking care of myself.  Yet nobody told me I shouldn’t feel that way or that I should put mind over matter and cheer up.  In reality, we don’t have as much say in our health as we would like to, and we may have conditions that make us more susceptible to certain kinds of illnesses, such as asthma, diabetes, etc.  Does having a mental illness make us any less worthy of care?

Let’s stop blaming ourselves and others when faced with a mental illness.  Let’s offer the same support, encouragement, and love that would lead anyone with an illness to seek the help needed to begin the healing process.  Nobody wishes to feel bad whether it is because of a common cold or a mood disorder.heart-symbol-vector-315085

Can I Feel Your Pain?

girls in oceanWhen we see a loved one suffering from emotional or physical pain, it seems natural to want to ease his or her suffering.  Sometimes we can have such a strong reaction that it feels like we are actually experiencing his or her pain.  But can we really feel someone else’s pain?  More importantly, can we really help another person when we believe we must suffer with them?  If you have ever witnessed a woman in labor, you will know the answer to these questions.  The only one who really feels the excrutiating pain of the contractions, like waves battering the shoreline, is the one who is in labor.  Yet this knowledge does not discount the partner’s desire to be a part of the experience and provide assistance.  Couples invest hours of time preparing themselves for child-birth so that each will know what their roles will be in the process.   Unfortunately, we don’t always have the luxury of preparing for our role as “coach” when someone we love encounters a mental health crisis.

During the peak of my daughter’s struggles with her eating disorder and depression, I came to the realization that the only way to truly help was to find an outlet for my own reactions so that I could be fully present to her in a calm, rational manner.   In those moments of doubt and insecurity, my heart learned that as much as I wanted to, I could neither take on her pain nor make it go away.  The job of working through the pain was hers, and hers alone.   My only job was to show her love and acceptance regardless of how unworthy she felt.  Being there in the hospital with her, playing cards, sitting quietly holding her hand, helping her to take care of chores that had been neglected, and laughing with her when she needed a reprieve were the simple and important actions that I could take.

Eventually all of us will know what it is like to experience disappointment, loss, trauma, or illness.  In these times of pain and crisis, it is comforting to have the empathy and compassion of our loved ones.  Yet reaching out can be difficult when faced with the prospect of disappointing or causing them pain.  Often we do not ask for help because we are afraid of how our family and friends will react.   The fear of causing someone else sleepless nights and stress can win out over our need for support, deepening our suffering.  Sending someone who is suffering the message that we can be there for them without coming apart can impact their decision to ask for our help.

In the past, I found the Familie’s Anonymous website to have some helpful pointers.  Here is one piece of literature that I made sure to keep handy when I noticed I was trying to take away my daughter’s pain.

Helping

From Families Anonymous website

My role as a helper is not to do things for the person I am trying to help, but to be things, not trying to control and change his/her actions, but through understanding and awareness to change my reactions.  I will change my negatives to positives; fear to faith; contempt for what he/she may do to respect for the potential within him/her; hostility to understanding; and manipulation or over-protectiveness to release with love, not trying to make him/her fit a standard or image, but giving him/her an opportunity to pursue his/her own destiny, regardless of what that choice may be.

I will change my dominance to encouragement; panic to serenity; the inertia of despair to the energy of my own personal growth; and self-justification to self-understanding.

Self-pity blocks effective action.  The more I indulge in it, the more I feel that the answer to my problems is a change in others and society, not in myself.  Thus, I become a hopeless case.

Exhaustion is the result when I use my energy in mulling over the past with regret, or in trying to figure ways to escape a future that has yet to arrive.  Projecting an image of the future, and anxiously hovering over it, for fear that it will or it won’t come true uses all of my energy and leaves me unable to live today.  Yet living today is the only way to have a life.

I will have no thought for the future actions of others,neither expecting them to be better or worse as time goes on, for in such expectations I  am really trying to create.  I will love and let be.

 All people are always changing.  If I try to judge them I do so only on what I think I know of them, failing to realize that there is much I do not know.  I will give others credit for attempts at progress and for having had many victories which are unknown to me.

I too am always changing,and I can make that change a constructive one, if I am willing.  I CAN CHANGE MYSELF, others I can only love.