Stinking Thinking

Some of you may remember from my book, “Turning Blue to Blue: How God Used Art to Lift My Depression”, that I have watched and learned from some of the saddest reality shows. Well, I came upon another lesson recently.
The show follows morbidly obese people for a year after their weight loss surgery. In the season finale, a woman believed to be 800 pounds was featured. They were not able to weight her initially due to timing and health concerns.

Her background story was that she had been kidnapped and held at gunpoint by her boyfriend after trying to end their relationship. He managed to escape after killing 2 police officers who had come to rescue her. She continued to fear for her life and hid in her home for years. Food became her comfort. Now she is in her early 40s and wants to change her life.

Due to the severity of her situation, surgery is immediately performed on her. Usually the doctor asks patients to lose 50 or so pounds first to see how serious they are and what kind of family support they have. After surgery it is usually advised to get up and walk as soon as possible. But this patient refused to even try. She would tell the physical therapists at the hospital to come back later. She was busy on her laptop. That went on for several months. Eventually, the doctor sent her home. Despite family that seemed supportive, she continued to refuse to try to walk for 10 months. Finally, at a family member’s request, the doctor came to her home and coaxed her into allowing the paramedics to help her stand. They showed her standing twice in a row for about 5 seconds each. Afterwards she smiled and seemed so relieved. She said she hadn’t believed her legs could hold her. That’s why she wouldn’t try.

Now I realize this is “reality” TV. It was edited in such a way to make it a compelling story. It ended on a hopeful note that now she would continue the hard work to regain her mobility. However, the lesson for me was powerful.

I’ve been watching that show for years and have seen the miraculous physical and emotional breakthroughs patients have had in their first 12 months. But because this woman didn’t believe she could stand, she shut herself down from trying or even getting more help. Many of the patients see a therapist and I certainly think that would have been beneficial for her. So in effect, 11 months were wasted. At 600 – 800 lbs, every day is precious and proven professionals offering help is a godsend.

I thought about myself and some other people close to me. How long have we been refusing to “stand”, because we don’t believe we can, when all the while we have access to everything we need to not just walk but run? What we believe about ourselves and our situations is so powerful. We just can’t allow stinking thinking to hold us back any longer.

Everyday I’m working on freeing my mind. At some points in the day I may need to recite a scripture or sing myself a song. My meds continue to help and so does my art. Through inspirational words on my Facebook page, my writing workshop, my art workshops or talking with me one on one, I hope to encourage those I can touch to free themselves from self-doubt, self-hate, perfectionism, anger and fear.

An Apple A Day…

-apple-clipart-8An apple a day will keep anyone away if it is thrown at them hard enough. – unknown

There is a storage business that I pass everyday on the way home. It posts funny or clever sayings. Perhaps my humor has turned somewhat dark over the past couple years, but I find the above saying both funny and clever. It is obviously a turn on the American proverb, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” I’ve always taken the proverb in its fullest sense to mean that making a habit of doing a simple healthy thing will pay dividends. It also reminds me that we are what we eat.

There is a TV commercial on these days for a beer.  When folks at the bar are deciding what to drink, they are knocked down by an apple.  This appeals to the love of slapstick comedy in each of us. But I think it also reaches back into folklore with Sir Isaac Newton making a great discovery after being hit on the head by an apple. The fancied Newton experience has come to mean a boink on the head can make a concept very clear to one.

I got hit by an apple the other day. The actions of a friend really hurt my feelings. I shared that with her, but she didn’t really “get it.” It then became abundantly clear to me that I cared a lot more about her and her success than she realized and more than she did about me. Of course, at first I told myself I was overreacting. But then I decided I’m not the overreacting type. I’ve since adjusted my reality and expectations of the relationship. Reality can present itself as clearly as a knock on the head and just as painfully.

I was angry with God

At this point in my journey I’m all about being honest with myself first,  the Lord second and the world third. It’s not like I was ever big on lying to the world, but I’ve learned I couldn’t really be honest with them when  I wasn’t honest with myself. And really what point is there in lying to God? He already knows!

English: Angry woman.

English: Angry woman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I was angry. I had come to believe that God had let me down when He should have been protecting me from emotional harm. Also, when I prayed earnestly for a particular situation to resolve itself as I wanted it to, He ignored me. Perhaps the real fuel was that I found myself in those situations as a new Christian. I hadn’t made it through the entire Bible yet. I didn’t know about praying in tongues. I didn’t have any good female Christian buddies yet. No one in my immediate family was walking with Christ. All I had was Him. And He let me down.

When this revelation came to me in therapy, I was embarrassed and immediately penitent. I realized how foolish I had been. I realized how ungrateful I had been. How could I ever know all that the Lord had protected me from? How could I take for granted that I was still breathing? I couldn’t!

On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?  -Romans 9:20

Romans 8:28 became real to me all over again. “All things work together for good for them that love the Lord…”

You may have asked or stated, “Why did you let my uncle do those things to me?”

“Why did He let my son be murdered?”

“I was a good husband. I deserved better, God.”

The reality of our lives is that some incredibly painful events and loses have taken place. As Christians, on  a certain level, we want to feel we will be protected from the hurts and losses. But really we know, or we come to know, that neither of those are true. As we mature in our understanding of the word and God’s nature we accept  that pain and loss is a significant part of this walk. We gain strength accepting that God’s grace is sufficient[i], that He has equipped us and that when we lack wisdom we can ask Him for it and we will receive it[ii].


[i] 2 Corinthians 12:9

[ii] James 1:5

all verses from the New American Standard Bible

 

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Lord, You Know

1 “The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeedthey were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am theLord.”’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.”

April's Swoops crop

My Pastor was preaching on Ezekiel 37. I’ve heard the passage preached many times. But this time, one phrase jumped out at me. God asks, “Can these bones live?” What I heard was, can what has been dead/impossible come alive/be possible? Only God can know the answer to the miraculous. Ezekiel was so wise and humble to know that when God suggests the impossible, it’s never about what we can do to accomplish it.

Ezekiel’s response was simple. “Oh Lord God, You know.” In that I heard, “Lord I have no idea, but I know you do and you are able. I trust you.” That resonates in my spirit these days. It feels like He suggests the impossible to me everyday. My humble whisper is “Oh Lord God, You know.”

Is He asking you about some “dry bones”?

The Makeover

I was selected for a business women’s makeover by internationally acclaimed transformational makeover expert Eve Michaels on Thursday. The makeover included hair, make-up and an outfit. I had the opportunity to model my “after” look in front of a business crowd. I also got information on how to style myself as an artist. I was super excited for this opportunity. “What NOT to Wear” has been one of my favorite shows. I’ve learned some good general points from Stacy and Clinton. The opportunity, however, for personalized instruction from Ms. Michaels was so precious and inspiring.

Points Ms. Michael reinforced for me included:

  • jewel tones ( sapphire, jade, amethyst) look best on me
  • a supportive bra is an everyday essential
  • expensive clothes don’t have to be if you know where to shop
  • thrift store finds can be figure-flattering if you compare your measurements to those of the garment and have a neighborhood tailor

New things I learned:

  • my eye glasses are too rectangular for my face, and too narrow so that they cut my eye space (eyebrow to bottom of eye socket) in half
  • wider and rounder frames would be more attractive
  • “droopy” hair elongates my face and makes me look sad
  • more height to my hair will be more complimentary
  • a more flattering, attractive, artistic look may actually help me sell more art at better pricesIMG_2065

Perhaps the bottom line for me is, I could be doing better with my daily presentation of Kartika: the wife, mom, artist and author. Too often I rush and throw something together and skip the make-up. Years ago I had gotten my make-up application down to 7 minutes. But recently the thought came to me, why should I rush? Why shouldn’t I take 30 minutes to create the day’s look? For me the “whys” speak to some underlying issues. Had I believed I wasn’t worth the time? Had I believed it was vain to make the effort. Was I uncomfortable with “looking great” or “looking sexy”?

I’ll continue to dig into those issues. In the meantime, I’m reading Ms. Michael’s new book, Dress Code: Ending Fashion Anarchy. She has a 3 day makeover boot-camp coming up in September which I’d love to attend!

Please learn more about Eve Michaels and her life-work at her website.

www.http://evemichaels.com/

Ladies, wanna weigh in on these issues? I’d love to hear from you!

Guest Post from Dr. Pamela Wible

What I’ve learned from saving physicians from suicide

 | PHYSICIAN | MAY 27, 2013

A psychiatrist in Seattle had picked out the bridge. At 3am he would swerve across his lane and plunge into the water. Everyone would assume he fell asleep.

A surgeon in Oregon was lying on the floor of her office with a scalpel. Nobody would find her until it was too late.

An internal medicine resident in Atlanta heard an anesthesiologist joking about the lethal dose of sodium thiopental. Alone in the call room, she would overdose that night.

Three planned suicides. All three physicians survived. Why? physician-suicide

While preparing to overdose, the internist was interrupted by an endocrinologist calling to check on her. Before grabbing her scalpel, the surgeon called several physicians pleading for help—I responded immediately. Two days before he was to drive off the bridge, the psychiatrist spotted my ad for a physician retreat. He called me begging to attend.

One week later, I’m hiking through the Oregon Cascades. The scent of cedar envelops me as I approach the lodge where I’m welcoming physicians who have arrived from all over the United States and Canada, all of us on a pilgrimage for answers.

Tonight we begin a retreat for doctors who yearn to love medicine again. Studies confirm most doctors are overworked, exhausted, or depressed. The tragedy: few seek help.

I ask the group, “How many physicians have lost a colleague to suicide?” All hands are raised. “How many have considered suicide?” Except for one woman, all hands remain up—including mine.

“Physicians have the highest suicide rate of any profession,” I explain. “In the United States we lose over 400 physicians per year to suicide. That’s the equivalent of an entire medical school. Even that’s an underestimate because many physician suicides are incorrectly identified as accidents.”

I tell them, “Both men I dated in med school are dead. Brilliant physicians. Loved by their families and patients. Both died young—by ‘accidental overdose.’ Really? How many physicians accidentally overdose?”

The room is quiet.

It’s easier to say accident than suicide. Doctors can say gonorrhea and carcinoma. Why not suicide? Maybe we can’t face our own wounds.

“I’m a family doc in Eugene, Oregon, where we’ve lost three physicians in eighteen months to suicide. I was suicidal once. Assembly-line medicine was killing me. Too many patients and not enough time sets us up for failure. Rather than kill myself, I invited my patients to help me design an ‘ideal clinic.’ It is possible to love medicine again.”

The Canadian doctor to my right wipes her eyes. “I’m feeling so discouraged. I want to give up and work at Starbucks. My head is exploding from banging it against the system.”

A bright-eyed, blonde woman reveals, “I just took a leave of absence from med school because it was ‘killing my soul.’ Three classmates attempted suicide.”

A newlywed couple join in. “I’m a nurse. My husband is an internist. He’s suffering, but I don’t know how to help him. Doctors don’t seek psychiatric care because mental illness is reportable to the medical board. He fears he’ll lose his license.” Her husband adds, “I was suicidal three months ago. On the edge. My wife and I are hoping to find answers here.”

Here, physicians, nurses, and medical students share their wounds and their wisdom—in community. We share new practice models, communication techniques, and strategies to care for ourselves—so we can care for our patients.

In four days, I witness more healing than in four years of med school. Once strangers, we’ve become family. Parting ways, the psychiatrist from Seattle thanks me again.

I didn’t know these doctors, but I know their despair. By speaking about my own pain, I validated their pain. By being vulnerable, I gave them the strength to be vulnerable too.

But mostly we healed each other by not being afraid to say the word suicide out loud.

Pamela Wible pioneered the community-designed ideal medical clinic and blogs at Ideal Medical Care. She is the author of Pet Goats and Pap Smears.

 

What’s real?

Process of perception, approach and framework ...

Process of perception, approach and framework of perception (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So one of the side effects of the drugs I’m taking for the depression is a decreased appetite. I can’t tell you how shocked I was to have the cravings just go away!  It really made me think about what is “real.”  Everyday we perceive things in certain ways. We decide if our boss not speaking as we walk by means she was really involved in her work or if it means she is very displeased with our work. We decide if the busybody 4 year old is precocious or ADD. We decide if that girlfriend/boyfriend breaking up with us means there was an issue with them or something wrong with us. We decide that “I’m just a high strung person.”  We decide, “I just love to eat. Everyone has their vice. I’m not hurting anyone.”

For the first time I was able to separate my cravings, my perceived weakness from “me.” Hmm, so that was a chemical imbalance and not who I am? Maybe so. Wow.

This year I’ve lost 30 pounds. Not just because of the medications. I decided to use the opportunity to finally lose the weight I picked up 20 years ago with my first child. So I have been watching my calories taken in and burnt with the help of a fancy little app called MyFitnessPal.  I’ve done a lot of walking. Early on this year, other than sleeping, walking was the only time I felt at peace.  I would walk for up to an hour. But I’d get blisters on the long walks. 😦

After twenty pounds, folks started to notice I had lost weight.  I admitted to a buddy that I knew I had lost weight, because neither my pants nor belts fit any more, but I couldn’t see it in the mirror. I would stare at myself naked in the mirror and I looked the same.  I remembered how anorexics look in the mirror and see a fat person. It occurred to me that perhaps what we look like is more in our brains than in the mirror. Again I had to think about what is “real.”  I had always thought of myself as fat and dressed in looser clothes. I called it being conservative and modest.

Well yesterday I slid into a pair of jeans sized in the single digits for the first time in my adult life. I gleefully bought them. I brought them home and asked my husband did he notice anything odd about them. (poor thing) He said, “Noooo. What?” I said “They are tiny! And I can fit them!”

When I looked in the mirror at myself, I could finally see that I was much smaller than I had been.

I believe I’ve learned about portion sizes and making informed decisions about what I eat which will keep me from blowing back up when I’m finally off the medication. But I’ve also been reminded and assured that the only things that are “real” or “true” are what my Lord has said in the Bible or to me personally.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8 & 9. NKJV

Those verses warrant deeper study as I put away the lies I’ve told myself and the one I’ve accepted from the world.

Hey, no better time than the present to study. See ya later!