May 17th, 2010
A potential client contacted me last week with questions about Patient Power. I could hear how difficult it was for her to talk and guessed that she really needed someone to hear her story. I simply asked her how I might be able to be of service. With that, she began to cry.
She spoke of some long standing feelings of not wanting to live anymore, that she felt squeezed in every direction by relationships that were demanding and no longer fulfilling, financial constraints, a budding business that seemed like a great idea and also bore no financial fruits, and how for years and years she had tried to re-kindle her zest for life amidst chronic pain that had no diagnosis.
My armchair diagnosis, remembering I am not a doctor, was that she was both depressed and anxious. I kept those labels of depression and anxiety to myself. Instead, I continued to let her expound on her story because I could see it had been a long time since she felt truly listened to. It was an honor that she chose to call me. She said she’d read my blogs and felt like I may be someone who could understand what it was like to be her.
Digressing a moment for my personal views on depression. . . ..
Depression, and its cousin anxiety are illnesses that no one likes to acknowledge. They don’t have a clear start and end date: it’s not like a broken leg when your leg gets out of the cast and then, though you may hobble, you can walk more normally. They often sneak in through the back door – we don’t know what or why or who tipped the scales.
Yet, for those of us who are prone to it, we somehow find ourselves in the company of these smug companions who slowly stealthily steal the life out of us. It’s often not a one time event but like an Achilles heel it is something we are susceptible to over and over again.
It’s usually not a dramatic downward shift. It’s the little things that often feel like they take more effort to accomplish. It’s that existential question of “how did my life end up like this” or “why can’t I get over this already”? Its questions that have no answers, and answer that don’t make sense to us anymore.
What motivated us at one time no longer does – the relationships we once held dear are all up for grabs though we may in fact still feel very responsible to uphold our end of the bargain. We may find ourselves more tired, going from one thing to another feeling rather unfocused, or in general feeling like our get up and go got up and went.
When a physical illness occurs, there is often a grace period given by society, friends and family where you get a chance to adjust to it.
Depression and anxiety don’t have a grace period when it comes to other people – they have a finite shelf life. The rule is get over it, do the things that help, exercise, find a routine for yourself that works, and keep yourself busy so you can’t think too much. Don’t forget to get your hair done, pick up the kids, keep up with the laundry, and hold it together at work.
And for God’s sake, help yourself because other’s need you to be available for them. Society has a lot of rules for pretending that something isn’t happening.
Back to my potential client now: Her true gift was in her willingness to acknowledge what was happening to her. What we acknowledge, we can begin to take the first steps to deal with.
I didn’t have a simple solution for this potential client either.
What I did share with her is that communicating clearly helps. I assured her that by buying Patient Power (which she chose to do) she would not have a magic answer to how to pick her life up off the floor and create a life that felt meaningful and fulfilling again. She wouldn’t find solutions to her issues in Patient Power.
The beauty of the Patient Power is it is a resource guide to help you ask the questions of yourself and your dedicated healthcare provider to find the answers that are most appropriate for your needs.
Used over time, it is likely to help you make the informed healthcare choices that are so integral to your psychological well being.
I look at Patient Power as a book of mindful questions to help you gently and consciously look at what’s happening in your life, express it clearly and hopefully find an experienced healthcare provider who realizes they are privileged to have an opportunity to help you when it’s so hard to help yourself.
If my work helps one person bridge that gap between talking about their needs and hearing what their provider’s recommendations clearly – that would exceed my wildest dreams of success. The next step, of course, is seeing whether what that provider is suggesting is truly a match for you.
We are a society of individuals. At one time or another, each of us will find ourselves grappling with issues that feel insurmountable. We’ll feel helpless and alone – even when we don’t want to admit it. We won’t know where to turn despite how we may pretend otherwise.
Patient Power is designed to help you take your power back with the help of someone who knows more than you do in the area that you’re struggling.
My prayer is that life blesses all my readers with good health – both mentally and physically.
And, in those human moments that we all face when life seems hard to handle, my hope is that you consider Patient Power as a first step to getting reliable help from someone trustworthy to enjoy your life in ways that feel truly meaningful and hopeful.