Monday, January 30, 2012

A Month of Kindness

It's been a month since I started my kindness project.  So what have I learned?

I've learned that 140 characters isn't very many.  I've learned that people define kindness differently.  I've learned that reading and posting a great kindness quotation in the morning doesn't mean I'm going to be kind all day.  I've learned that I can't be truly kind and cranky at the same time (although a kind moment can peek through a cranky cloud).  I've learned that having a single focus for an entire day is tough.

I did not grow up in a house filled with kindness.  I was not taught to be kind.  I learned lots of good things in my home, but I wouldn't say kindness was one of them.  I grew up in a home with a lot of sarcasm, a lot of yelling, a lot of fighting.  Not always, of course, but those things stuck with me.

Kindness was something I found outside my home. 

My grandmother was kind.  There was something different about her that drew me in.  An unconditional love.  Did she talk to me about kindness?  I don't remember.  But she treated me kindly.

And I'd say that is how I learned kindness -- by others being kind to me.  Kind people popped up in my life often.  They were heroes to me.   I wanted to be like them.  To this day, truly kind people will always be a draw for me.  It's like a magic power.

I've tried to be kind.  Sometimes I've succeeded; sometimes, not so much.  But I've really been struggling with it lately.  Especially in my home.

That's why I chose this word.  I want to be more kind.  I want to feel it in my heart.  I want to feel it so much that I can't contain it, that it is bursting from my seams.  I want to radiate kindness.

I've been working on it for a month and I'm not there yet.  Not even close.  I go like gang busters for a while and then fall flat.  Out comes the sarcastic remark or snotty comment.  I can apologize (although I often don't), but that won't take back what I said.

Change is hard.

It's possible that some of my difficulty is because I'm struggling with my emotional/mental/physical health.  It's always more difficult to be kind when I don't feel well.

Can I be kind when I am miserable?  Is it possible? 

I think so.  I haven't proven it yet.  The experiment goes on.

I'm going to broaden my word choice a bit.  I'm going to include words which I feel connect to or are an aspect of kindness.  Words like charity, respect, compassion.  One word just wasn't enough to capture the change I'm looking for.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I'm Crazy -- It's Official

I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone who knows me well that I've been struggling.  In fact, it probably won't surprise anyone who reads my blog, is my friend on facebook, or follows me on Twitter.  I wouldn't even be shocked if the mailman knows.  I've tried to fake it but suspect I haven't been doing a very good job.

I have needed to see my doctor for months.  I have been ill.  I have had pains that should be addressed or checked.  I have run out of meds that made my life a little easier.  And I was past due for my annual checkup.  Why didn't I go?  Ironically, because I didn't feel well enough.

I understand that sounds ridiculous.  I didn't go to the doctor because I didn't feel well enough.  But it's the honest truth.

I have been white-knuckling my life.  Holding on with both hands to keep it all from falling apart.  Picking up what I could of those things I dropped.  And trying to smile and say, "No, really, I'm fine."

But I wasn't.  I'm not.  And I finally went to the doctor.

I went because I couldn't get my meds refilled without going.  And because my husband caught me in a moment of meltdown and offered to get me an appointment.

After all the opening fun of being weighed and giving a urine sample, I changed into the lovely gown and drape and waited for the doctor.  My tension was rising as I knew I needed to discuss everything with him.  I needed to give him as complete a list of the mess of my life as possible so we could work together to find a direction.  And I had a written list just to make sure I hit it all.

He came in, we went through the normal review of medical history, and then I asked if I could give him more information.

And I did.  I shared my history of abuse, my struggles with fatigue and pain, and the new things that have come up.  I was as brief as possible.  I fought through tears.  I said what I needed to say.

And do you know what he did?  He listened.  He didn't interrupt.  He didn't rush.  He just listened.  And when I finished he asked a few questions for clarification.  And in that moment I felt like I had a partner, someone who truly wanted to help me.  Someone who saw a person and not a problem.

He didn't have the answers.  I didn't expect him to.  But he still helped.

He performed my physical exam, ordered all the blood tests indicated, gave me new prescriptions for the things I needed, and gently gave me some direction.

He suggested I get back into therapy AND see a psychiatrist.

I was already planning to get back into therapy; I have done so since that appointment.

But I hadn't thought of seeing a psychiatrist.  As he explained, they don't really do therapy anymore.  Mostly they are medication detectives.  They can try different combinations of medications and off-label uses to offer new choices when the basics haven't worked.

I have had many symptoms of low-serotonin for years.  I have tried many medications.  I have had no success.

I am now fighting more symptoms.  They aren't huge in scale but they are numerous.  They are making my life difficult.  I am fighting social phobias which are limiting my participation in the outside world, including church.   I am fighting anxiety which is causing me to isolate and refuse to communicate or spend time with family.  I am fighting an OCD issue -- repetitively spelling in my head (yeah, that is obnoxious and hurts my head and I can't stop).  I am impatient and often rude without having any idea.  When I realize it, but can't stop it, I go back to my room to prevent hurting people.  I have no emotional strength to face anything that isn't going just right.

The inch or two of mud I was walking through has become shin-deep.  The slog of life is much, much harder.  I am trying, but I am struggling.

So, I am eager to jump back on the medication roller coaster and play Russian Roulette with the psychiatrist (in March, which was as soon as I could get an appointment).  Even though I may be setting myself up for disappointment, I am hopeful that we will be able to find something that will help.  Because, honestly, I don't know how much more I can take.  Things have to get better.  They just have to.

To read about my visit to the psychiatrist, go here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What Will This Year Be?

I'm not big on marking the new year as some great day with a bunch of resolutions.  I don't usually make resolutions.  I used to and then just got angry with myself if I didn't follow through or felt like I had to continue even when it no longer fit my life.  I'm always trying to change, trying to improve.  I don't think I need a calendar to tell me today is the day to start.

Plus, I hate going along with the crowd.  I've been known to not do something that everyone else is doing, even though I wanted to, because of it.  But this time I am going to overcome that tendency (that's one goal right there -- done!).  I am going to push through my natural rebel and start something today that I intend to continue.  Maybe for the whole year.

A while back I saw something somewhere (don't you like how well I track my inspiration?).  I think it was on a blog, but I really have no idea.  This person chose a word to define the year.  One word to use to guide them in all they did.  Maybe to improve on.  Maybe to notice more.  Whatever.

I like this.  And I'm choosing to do this.  I don't know if it will be for the whole year or if I'll feel like choosing a new word in a month or if I'll just decide the whole thing is stupid and throw it out the window.  I like to see how things go and switch it up when they don't work.

And, because I can take commitment in small doses, I am going to do something every day.  I am going to find a quote, thought, maybe a scripture for my word each day and tweet it.  That's it.  I will commit to one tweet a day.  I believe that is doable.  And if I miss a day (which I shouldn't because that's really a small commitment that anyone should be able to follow through on), I will forgive myself and get over it.

My word for the year is KINDNESS.  I want to practice it more.  I want to notice it more.  I want to feel it in my heart and to my toes more.

You can follow me on Twitter to share my experience.  Or you can just come to my blog every now and then; my Twitter feed shows on my sidebar.  Who knows?  I might even write a blog post about it.

This will be a year of kindness. 

I'd love to hear about how you're going to change the world this year (or just change yourself).  Feel free to share.


To see how it was going after a month click here.
To see what I learned through the year click here.