Family & Friends

Living with illness – Possibilities for Change

Posted by on Mar 31, 2012 in Family & Friends | 0 comments

Bad things happen to good people. People who become ill or disabled do not have to blame themselves. Even if you have contributed to your problem, for instance you smoked when your doctor told you not to and now you have emphysema, you are not a bad person. You were in the grip of a habit that was hard to break.

Let’s take smoking, for example. If there is blame to place, what about the government that gives tobacco farmers subsidies to grow their plants? Or the cigarette manufacturers who add substances to their product to make them more addictive? Or the advertisers who make smoking cigarettes look appealing? In most instances, individuals alone rarely cause their problems single-handedly.

Self-blame is a problem for specific reasons. Think about these questions:

  • Does feeling bad about yourself make it easier or harder to take care of yourself now
  • Are you more or less likely to ask for help, if you blame yourself or think you are a bad person?

These are some approaches to living with illness that may make it easier.

  • Let people know. Do not isolate yourself.
  • Ask for help. Often people don’t know what they can do to help. Giving someone something specific to do can be helpful to them.
  • Find at least one person to confide in. Talking to a good listener may not make the illness go away, but it will help to feel less alone with it.
  • Get medical help. Don’t try to mange your problem on your own.
  • Get information to help you understand your illness or disability. Knowledge makes people feel more in control.
  • Find a support group for your condition in your community or on the internet.
  • Reduce stress. This may seem impossible, but even reducing stress in one area can have a positive impact. You may need help in accomplishing this.
  • Eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep and rest.
  • Try meditation for stress, fear and pain reduction. Most medical centers now teach meditation for relief of physical and emotional pain.

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Living with illness – Suggested Do’s and Dont’s

Posted by on Mar 31, 2012 in Family & Friends | 0 comments

Do’s

  • Do get the best medical care possible.
  • Inform yourself about your illness or disability.
  • Find others who have similar conditions and talk to them.
  • Let family and friends know what you experience and let them help you.
  • Keep doing the things you enjoy doing to the best of your abilities.
  • Develop and practice healthy habits.

Don’ts

  • Don’t blame yourself for your medical problems.
  • Don’t isolate yourself from others.
  • Don’t think you have to cope with your medical problems alone.
  • Don’t try to be stoic about pain and discomfort.
  • Don’t let yourself fantasize about the worst case scenarios.
  • Don’t focus on cure to the detriment of focusing on good care in the present.

Solutions for a Caretaker

Do’s

  • Continue to take good physical care of yourself.
  • Learn to read your own signals to know when you must take a break from caretaking.
  • Talk to others about the demands of caretaking
  • Appreciate what you are doing.
  • Allow yourself to feel “negative” emotions like anger and irritation at the person you are caring for.
  • Join a support group in your community or on the internet.

Don’ts

  • Don’t think you have to be able to solve every problem that arises.
  • Don’t work yourself to exhaustion.
  • Don’t take it personally if the person you are caring for is irritable or mean.
  • Don’t isolate yourself from friends and activities.
  • Don’t think that limiting your own life will make it any easier in the long run for the person you are caring for.
  • Don’t hesitate to talk to a professional to get help for yourself.

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Women in Their 20’s Dealing With Anxiety

Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Family & Friends | 0 comments

In an Ally McBeal episode:

Ally: “Why do you think that women feel the need to be married anyway?”

Renee: “Society drills it into us that women should be married. Society drills it into us that smart people should have careers. Society drills it into us that women should have children and mothers should stay at home. And society condemns the working mother who doesn’t stay at home. So what chance do we really have when society keeps on drilling us?

Ally:”We can change it, Renee. . . . I plan to change it! I just want to get married first.”

A young woman recently told a therapist she was having problems with “anxiety.” In the conversation, the therapist mentioned that in her generation women went to college to get their “Mrs.” The young woman looked at her blankly, having no idea what she was talking about, not getting the reference. The therapist said, “You know, to find a husband, to get married.” The idea was so foreign to the young woman, she had trouble comprehending.

“That’s not what’s happening now,” she said. “I have to go to college, get a degree, and be good at what I choose to do. Otherwise I won’t make it.”

The therapist asked, “What do you mean– ‘make it’?”

“Well, you know, have a career, make lots of money.”

“And what else?”

“Get married and have children, of course.”

They then entered into a discussion about the kinds of pressures young women in their 20’s experience.

They (we) live in a time of increased production and consumption
–faster, better, smarter, more power.

They have increased access to information
–information the media moguls decide to produce.

They are bombarded by how they are supposed to look, what they are supposed to eat, what to wear, how to keep fit, where to be seen
–the computer-generated “perfect” female image.

Then the young woman said that many of her friends, ranging in age from 21-29, were also experiencing different versions of what they call “anxiety.” Why were she and her friends having this particular experience? The woman and the therapist thought that perhaps these young women, who go to college to get degrees in biology, psychology, film, communications, anthropology (not to get their Mrs.), are horribly affected by the pressures enumerated. These women are supposed to have a career, find a partner, make money, have a life. Do it all. Do it now. Responding to all of these expectations is, of course, impossible. And what happens when women see how impossible it is?
They experience anxiety.

Although single men may not experience the degree of pressure to get married and have children that women do, expectation is something they have to deal with as well. They are also subjected to the expectation to do it all and do it now. For both men and women who stay single, unless they have entered an alternative life in which marriage is not the expectation, the pressure can continue throughout life. James, a 48-year-old architect, reports that 80% of the clients he works with ask about his marital status and wonder what the problem is that keeps him unmarried!

 

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Questions for Parents and Relatives

Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Family & Friends | 0 comments

Beginning Questions to ask about anorexia/bulimia

  • Has the problem of anorexia/bulimia in any way taken things from your life that you value?
  • In what ways has the problem of anorexia/bulimia affected your relationship with yourself; friends; family; etc.
  • Who or what persuaded you into thinking that an anorexic/bulimic lifestyle is the best life possible?
  • Who or what do you think persuades other young women’s minds into this harsh way of living?
  • If you could wager a prediction, what kind of a future does this life with anorexia/bulimia hold for you?
  • What advice do you have for my many colleagues who find themselves befuddled on how to best help people go free of anorexia/bulimia?
  • Has your come-back to your own life been inspiring for other women?

Family Questions to Consider

  • Has the problem of anorexia/bulimia made attempts to divide and conquer your entire family?
  • As a parent how has anorexia/bulimia turned you against yourself?
  • Are there ever times when you are able to see your daughter/sister free from the grip of anorexia/bulimia?
  • What was is it that you notice about your daughter/sister during these times of freedom?
  • What are your feelings now that your daughter/sister is a member of your family fighting side by side with you?

Questions for Parents and Relatives

Family members have found that asking themselves certain questions, is often helpful. Here is a sample of questions taken from successful therapy sessions:

Q: What have you been led to believe about the causes of anorexia/bulimia?

This question is asked to:

  • investigate the family’s theories of anorexia/bulimia.
  • locate them in a particular body of understanding to see what they have been told.
  • widen their point of view.
  • open up broader conversations and possibilities about what ideas support anorexia/bulimia that live outside the family system. (i.e. How anorexia/bulimia is helped along from inside the family and from outside the family.)

Q: Why is it that professionals seem to blame parents (particularly mothers) as the cause of anorexia/bulimia?

This question opens up the possibility for families:

  • to discuss how badly they feel.
  • to discuss the history of their involvement with professionals.
  • to open space for more hopeful and broader discussions.
  • to open space for the possibility of what they might do differently.
  • to stand against mother-blaming.

Q: What sorts of worry and worst case scenarios do you get captured by when you consider this struggle with anorexia/bulimia?

This question allows families:

  • to speak openly about their worst fears.
  • to break the silence about these fears.
  • to re-discover the ways that they currently rally as a family to overcome their fears.

Q: What have you noticed, that you do, to promote health and undermine anorexia/bulimia’s grip on your lifestyle?

This question allows families to begin recognizing that they do have family strengths and wisdom they can count on. If anorexia/bulimia could think and talk, could you think of any reasons why anorexia/bulimia would not want a family to work together against this problem?

This question:

  • puts everyone on the same team.
  • separates the person and family from the anorexia/bulimia.
  • builds family strength and unity among all members against the problem.

Q: Do you have any reason to believe that someday a person can go free of anorexia/bulimia?

This question publicly investigates the families stories of hope as a way of battling despair.

More family questions to consider:

  • Has the problem of anorexia/bulimia made attempts to divide and conquer your entire family?
  • As a parent how has anorexia/bulimia turned you against yourself?Are there ever times when you are able to see your daughter/sister free from the grip of anorexia/bulimia?
  • What was is it that you notice about your daughter/sister during these times of freedom?
  • What are your feelings now that your daughter/sister is a member of your family fighting side by side with you?
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Some Initial Questions about anorexia/bulimia

Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Eating Disorders, Family & Friends | 2 comments

Worried about anorexia/bulimia?

Anorexia/bulimia is a problem for many of us!

  • Read Jade’s story. Does it sound familiar to you?
  • Has anorexia/bulimia affected your life or someone you know and care for?
  • Has anorexia/bulimia separated you or someone you’ve known, from a richer more fulfilling life?

Fortunately, people have found new ways to think about anorexia/bulimia that are very helpful. Many women have found that asking questions about anorexia/bulimia, of themselves and others, is a good beginning to undermining this insidious problem.

Beginning Questions to Ask about anorexia/bulimia:

  • Has the problem of anorexia/bulimia in any way taken things from your life that you value?
  • In what ways has the problem of anorexia/bulimia affected your relationship with yourself, friends, family, and so on?
  • Who or what persuaded you into thinking that an anorexic/bulimic lifestyle is the best life possible?
  • Who or what do you think persuades other young women’s minds into this harsh way of living?
  • If you could wager a prediction, what kind of a future does this life with anorexia/bulimia hold for you?
  • What advice do you have for therapists and other professionals who find themselves at a loss on how to best help people go free of anorexia/bulimia?
  • Has your comeback to your own life been inspiring for other women?
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