Category Archives: Loss

A Life Altering Experience – Part 2

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A Life Altering Experience – Part 2

So many losses. Mercy. Words painted gray with disappointment in my head. What was wanted didn’t come. What came wasn’t wanted. We’re left with shattered lives. In the dark, there resides a pounding and persistent uncertainty between us. Ron isn’t who he was. I’m not who I was. The lost parts of ourselves are vast. How do we proceed with a life altering experience? Good Lord, what’s next?

With a blood clot still in his brain two years after his stroke, Ron, tried to settle 10888736_945259278841328_7498673198762713532_ninto the reality of a different life, and so did I. Physicians had decided that the episode of dizziness that Ron had at work was actually his first stroke, not a pinched nerve. Well, that pissed us off. You mean he was misdiagnosed? How do you miss a stroke? A little more than a week later after his “pinched nerve” on that September day, a major stroke turned his life upside down.

There were many activities he could not do. I was sad for him. He hated taking blood thinners to prevent additional clots. He hated the caution he needed to take so he wouldn’t bleed out from unintentional cuts or injuries. He hated me pushing him to do more than retreat to the sofa. He was quiet, withdrawn. Depression was a companion. He battled to accept the many losses of things that were once routine: his job, playing sports, being able. Now he was disabled with no job, and could only watch sports.

It was about this time that I noticed a tremor in my hands. Like that jitter when you’ve had too much coffee. Except I didn’t drink coffee. Maybe it was a fluke. When I saw my PCP, she thought it was anxiety–stress from Ron’s condition and the stress of my job, and stress of medical bills, yeah, stress. No doubt. I had that!

Anxiety medication did nothing, the tremor remained. Then one day at work when providing an oral report in the daily meeting that takes place, the paper I was reading from was quivering. It was quivering because it was in my hands.

IMG_1027Now I was having anxiety over this alleged anxiety!! Then, while in treatment to determine the cause of my hand tremor, on January 18, 2012, my employer of ten years, suddenly and without warning, “eliminated my position.” What? I was devastated. Wait, what? Crushed. Hurt to the core. I laid in a fetal position betrayed. No one could console me. I didn’t understand. I did nothing wrong. Why did they do this? Was it my hand tremor? Because I was unable to hold paper still?

Ron was on disability and I had no job. Fear pooled in all the spaces left in me.

There were many tests of my nerves, muscles, brain, and blood. There were second and third opinions from the best movement disorder clinics. In April 2012, a month before Ron’s third stroke, at the leading Movement Disorder Clinic in the country, I was diagnosed with Parkinsonism at Rush Memorial Hospital in Chicago. I have the symptoms of PD, but it has not progressed into the full-fledged disorder.

I must seek a way to put myself back together because I feel like someone dropped me on the floor. I’ve broken into pieces. What was God doing? God broke me. He dropped me and I broke. What was I going to do?

I didn’t have much time to reflect on that question. Ron came to me saying he had a headache–that’s kinda a big deal when there’s a blood clot lodged in the brain. He also had sudden vision problems.

Back to the hospital where they again tried to remove the blood clot stuck in his brain. No go. It’s still in a location that they didn’t want to mess with. The physicians agreed he should be transferred to Northwestern Memorial in Chicago where leading neurosurgeons were having some success with cases like Ron’s. Well, that could be a life altering experience.

Nope. After a gazillion tests at Northwestern, they weren’t going to touch it either. But they did discover that Ron’s left carotid artery in the neck is 50 percent blocked. Wonderful. Ron’s lodged blood clot is on the left side of his brain. Oh, AND, he’s diabetic. He’ll need insulin injections, twice a day. Okay, so now I know this was some kind of joke, right?

No.

So that’s the story of the past six years. This is how I became a Life Coach and IMG_1267blogger. Ron does a lot of volunteer work at church and it’s given him a purpose in life and it makes him happy. He gets tired quickly, his speech is off, his attention span is non-existent, and he forgets things most of the time. But he’s stable.

We’re both on disability. Oh, and, we’ve lost everything.

I know there are many people with disabilities that are in even worse situations, I empathize. Tell me how you make it through the day. I want what I don’t have. I wish things were different–the way they were before. I play moments the way I want them to be, not as they are. Damn Reality! A life altering experience.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

 

Letting Go, Holding On – Dr. Sandy Nelson

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Letting Go, Holding On

We’ve heard the phrase many times: The past is the past for a reason.

Did we not know that? What does it even mean?

It’s a nagging whisper to remind us that whatever or whoever we’re clinging to from the past should be let go. We need to set it down. It’s a jarring reminder IMG_2250that we can’t go back. The past is the past for a reason. It’s a sounding alarm.

How do we set down a past that occupies a great deal of our present thoughts? How do we let go of prior regrets, lost love, anger, and betrayals? These experiences may be dead in the past, but jeopardize our life, happiness and success today, right now.

When we can’t let go, we drag along with us a sack filled with yesterday’s aftermath that we refuse to leave behind. The sack is heavy so it holds us back, weighs us down, and handicaps our current efforts. We’re not able to keep up with the opportunities that are offered today. We may struggle to get ahead because we’re dragging around this sack of the past, we’re stuck in yesterday.

Dragging our pasts through life everyday will never allow us to change any bygone circumstances. Holding on to yesterday will not provide control over IMG_2321what has occurred. But we can be invested in our future and have 100 percent control over our thoughts and actions today.

The past is your history. It’s a history that may have been painful at times, but also made you more wise, more cautious, more kind, and more confident. You can honor who you were by becoming who you are meant to be. I love this quote by Jeffrey McDanielI realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go. How fitting after letting go is their return to the living in spring, more ample.

FullSizeRender (8)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com unless otherwise indicated

 

 

 

 

Seven Ways To Age With Spunk

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Let me ask you a question: what is your outlook about getting older?

forgetThis aging business is not for the weak. Aging. Growing older. Sucks. It takes guts. It feels like a second puberty stage, but in reverse. I resent aging. And I’m fighting it tooth and nail. My dresser top is packed with creams, serums, lotions, and round-Stridex-like-pads that are not Stridex, they are some type of over-the-counter peel. Is any of this stuff working? When will my 20-year-old lips return?

Why didn’t someone warn us about the changes that come with getting older? Why didn’t my mother pull me aside and say, “Look, one day you will have more crow’s feet than crows, and there will be a map of lines on your forehead, and the skin on your body will slide a full six inches down, but, hey, you’ll be okay.”

Of course everyone is aging as the years go by. It’s reaching a certain age, however, that shock and awe tend to take us by surprise. It occurs in front of a mirror where we view changes made by nature that only leave hints of our former self. There will be gasps of horror. What the hell happened? It’s different for each of us what age this is.

I often ask myself if I would blow 50K to have something done to my face and body to look younger. Women have, for a long time, worked to fight the aging process with plastic surgery. Men are doing more about their appearances, too. In February of 2014, The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that 15.1 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2013 in the United States; which marked the fourth consecutive year of growth. When it comes to reversing signs of age, it appears many of us are taking it lying down. But, surgical alterations are not even an option for most of us.

Dealing With Change

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It’s quite humorous to think we can cling to a comfortable redundancy—days ord83194e0-d432-4f1b-a35d-5ac0bd979803-medium years of routines that have brought solace through familiarity. We even may be proud that nothing can or will change us. I envision the universe chuckling at our unwavering stubbornness as the seasons and currents are ever-changing and taking us with it, ready or not.

Lucy: Do you think anybody ever really changes?
Linus: I’ve changed a lot in the last year.
Lucy: I mean for the better.
—Charles Schulz

How silly to think we can be the only elements in a vast universe unaltered by time or change. If we realized how natural and often we alter our opinions, the idea of change would not be so scary. The truth is that we change constantly. Our taste, our preferences, our appetite, our hairstyle, and our favorite color are just a short list of aspects in our lives constantly being altered.

President John F. Kennedy said: Change is the law of life.

We can resist change—even refuse to change, but that will not stop change from occurring. The seasons consistently change and so do our circumstances. The people in our lives change, too. Everything is in constant modification. Today, look around you and note the things that are in a state of constant change—trees, flowers, children, pets, gasoline prices, appetites, even moods. We redecorate to make a change. We even move for a bigger change.IMG_2946

But sometimes change is no laughing matter. Unwanted change requires a letting go of a security and safety found in a way of life we’ve always known. This is true when we lose someone or something close to us. As life thrusts us forward, what we leave behind is a part of ourselves. Loss causes a basic and radical alteration in all those experiences of assumptions underlining our lives. It demands a reconstruction of who we are, without what we had.

Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014 Dr. Sandy Nelson E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

Dealing With Loss

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photo-camera-219958_150In the past decade, Americans have endured such ruin and bereavement that it compares to the years of the Great Depression under the failed policies of Hoover¹. People have lost their jobs, their savings, their homes, their cars, plus in many cases, their self-confidence. And there’s still an additional one in three Americans on the verge of financial ruin.²

American author and Social Worker Virginia Satir wrote: Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is.

Well, unless you’re rich, the way it is sucks. It’s a good thing that we’re Americans because there are days that it’s only that spirit that has kept us going. It’s that tenacity found in our heritage that stirs the fight to endure. That and are own guts.

Psychologist and Business Consultant Dr. Kathryn D. Cramer says: People who suffer a loss must reinvent their lives.

Really? You think?

That reinvention isn’t a choice, it’s survival. It’s motivated by a resentment that isn’t often able to let go of the whys, the regrets, the anger, and the pressing sadness.

No one wants to grieve this crap. No one looks forward to Friday because they plan on grieving over the weekend. Grieving involves sadness, regret, heartbreak, weeping, suffering, and pain. Who wants to experience all that, at the same time, for a period of time?

It’s not only loss that requires change, it’s reality. It’s not optional. Something 793c70f5-805c-4b35-8655-785a91de8436-mediumisn’t the way it used to be and will never exist again. Something isn’t the way it should be and never will be again. The purpose of grieving is to adjust to the change in life that reality demands. It’s to bring us to the point of making necessary changes so we can adjust in healthy ways, even if we resent having to do so.

Think about it.

¹http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2007/12/bush200712

²http://www.marketwatch.com/story/1-in-3-americans-on-verge-of-financial-ruin-2015-02-23

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014 Dr. Sandy Nelson E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

What are you doing to have happiness?

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What are you doing to have happiness? Notice the question is not: Are you waiting for someone to stop doing or start doing something so you’ll be happy? Or: What situation do you need in place before your happiness can arrive? The question also isn’t: Who are you depending on to make you happy?

IMG_0830Some people are easily soared into joyful spirits. What’s their secret? Some people always seem to be in happy or good moods. But exactly what is happiness? Is this disposition genetic or dependent on specific neurotransmitters in the brain? Is there an unhappiness gene distributed to a select population? Scientists are searching for answers to these questions which means they still do not know what specifically causes depression, or for that matter—happiness.

Previously called Melancholia, depression has been recognized as a common condition for more than three thousand years with documentation noted from the 2nd century. Some experts think that depression is the result of learned experiences. Others say it’s all about brain chemistry. And then there are those who believe it’s all in the genes. I think a state of clinical depression can be a combination of these factors.

Similar to other disorders, there’s evidence to support that depression can run in families like diabetes or heart disease. So if a parent or grandparent experienced episodes of clinical depression that increases the likelihood at some point you will experience clinical depression. A depressed state of mind can also be a learned behavior acquired during childhood, just like negativity or anxiety.

IMG_0080 - CopyA tendency to be down in the dumps may have described some of the adults surrounding you in childhood. If as a child, you watched adults react to life mostly with sadness and despair; then today you may be more likely to display those same behaviors when things go awry. The body experiences many sorts of problems when its needed nutrients are in deficient supply. And Clinical Depression can be the result when the levels of serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine are at a shortage in the brain or off balance.

Everyone knows what depression feels like because all of us at one time have experienced its character traits of hopelessness, tearful hours, helplessness, sleep disturbances, eating changes, heartache, consuming sadness, and an inability to function. For most of us these episodes are not chronic, last a day or two; and usually result from life events. Most of us are able to adjust to the changes in life that are usually uninvited and demanding. We pout for a time, rebel at reality, express our frustration, but then accept “what is” and move on to tomorrow. But for those individuals who have learned to be depressed, experience a neurotransmitter deficiency in the brain, or are genetically predisposed to depression, snapping out of it is like trying to awake from a coma. For these persons a state of depression sags their enthusiasm, interrupts their ability to function, keeps them tearful, and often not wanting to wake up.

sun28 - CopyThe full extent of depressed individuals in our neighborhood, in our churches, in our offices, in our friends and family is unknown because the menacing stigma towards mental health remains strong in our culture. Ignorant people judge mental conditions as being the equivalent of being crazy, so many people do not seek treatment for depression. They suffer quietly because of the fear of rejection they would otherwise experience if more folks knew their struggles. The stigma can trigger attempts to self-medicate. Alcohol abuse or other substance abuse could be efforts to block the chronic emotional pain. Other actions could also mask a deep on-going sadness: obsessive shopping, compulsive gambling, or sex addiction.

This accounts for the strong isolation depressed individuals experience. Our culture still believes on some level that we shouldn’t need help or support for the problems or events that pre-empt our plans and land us in despair. There’s still the idea that it’s a weakness to seek counsel or take medication for mental conditions. On the contrary, it takes strength and wisdom to seek help, and I respect those individuals who do so.

IMG_0682Just like the common cold, the symptoms of depression are generally the same for everyone, but the same can’t be said about happiness. Scientists know more about the state of depression than they do about the state of joy. Taking into consideration that happiness is the most important goal in the lives of people, experts can’t even agree on an explanation for it. What is happiness? Is it being in a good mood? Is it having fun? Is it securing the approval of other people? Lots of money? No worries? What is happiness for you? Americans might say that happiness is a consistent state of well-being, void of stress, worry, frustration, and disappointment. This definition, of course, is not realistic, or is it?

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

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©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Do you curse yourself for screwing-up?

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The highly successful Brian Tracy wrote, “Always choose the future over the past. What do we do now?” That’s good advise, I think, when it comes to solving problems. But it does little to release those of us tortured by past regrets and mistakes.
Some of my bad choices from many years ago caused painful and damaging IMG_0578(2)consequences for other people. Those are the regrets that can haunt me the most. Those memories sting and I placed myself in an emotional jail where I inflicted suffering upon myself as punishment for hurting people I care about. My thoughts would persistently remind me that I was unworthy, marred, screwed-up, or whatever the word of the day was.
It took time for me to heal with soul-searching therapy. I understand how other people live fully in the past and why they speak about regrets and degrade themselves for mistakes from years ago. I get why their current happiness isn’t possible because of this or that occurred last month or last year.
I’m here to tell you, from experience, that as long as you cling to the mistakes of yesterday, you make another mistake today. When you’re busy mentally IMG_0885torturing yourself, you’re unable to focus to learn from, and understand the mistake so you can become wiser, so you can grow, so you can help others through their pain. Making a mistake is not a crime. Passing judgment on yourself along with a sentence to an emotional punishing prison for penance, doesn’t work. There’s nothing you can do to alter your actions of yesterday, but you can choose differently right now. No amount of self-punishment will alter what happened. But you can make amends where possible. You can remember that you’re not perfect. Mistakes happen.
“People screw up. People screw up a lot. We allow our own selfishness to overpower us at times. It happens. But you can’t allow that to tear you down. You can’t keep dwelling on your past choices, and your past actions, or else you’ll never learn from them.”¹
Give your past regrets meaning today, not punishment, by seeing them as turning points in your life, not condemning moments.
Thanks for your time and comments. –Dr. Sandy
¹Nicole Sobon, Deprogrammed

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

What are you getting out of relationships?

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If you view yourself as a loser, or a flop, because a marriage, friendship, or other significant relationship ended, you don’t have the correct view of yourself. There’s a difference between a relationship failing and a relationship ending. If you view past unhappy relationships as failures, you will create more unhappy relationships in the future.

If you acquired wisdom from past relationships, you will create happier IMG_0536relationships in the future. Life is a series of relationships. We’re drawn to friendships and love relationships to make us wiser and add to our lives. But sometimes that’s the problem—we often don’t learn from relationship experiences. Instead we become more bitter, more resentful, more distrusting, more self-degrading, and deeper in self-pity. We get stuck in the hurt and repeat poor choices in relationships rather than look at the lesson from the experience and learning what to do differently. Author Alan Cohen wrote, “We form new relationships according to the way we think about old ones.” You want to break that any cycle.

A relationship can only be defined as a failure if you didn’t learn from the experience – if you didn’t look at your role that could have contributed to IMG_0363its ending. For instance, if more than one person tells you that you fail to pay attention, that’s an area you should give thought to since it would be a positive trait that’s necessary in a good relationship. If you have a trail of dumped relationships with individuals who are part of a rock band, what’s that telling you? If you acquire information about yourself that you didn’t have before the relationship, then you have successfully gained wisdom to use in future relationships. Sometimes we want the truth to fit the situation. When it doesn’t, it’s easier to ignore the truth than to change the situation. Ignoring the truth when it comes to relationships, will prevent happiness in your life.

It’s helpful to see past unhappy relationships as learning experiences. And you need to be aware of what exactly you learned about your choices, attitude, and behavior and make adjustments where necessary. Take responsibility for improving your life. Every person in your life has something to teach you. Listen. Observe. Successful relationships are those in which both individuals are happy with themselves first, and therefore, possess self-confidence and a healthy independence.

What are the relationship mistakes you feel best prepared to avoid today? -Dr. Sandy

 

Are you and perseverance in the game?

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Perseverance, faith and commitment produces some remarkable successes. But, many of us are stifled by past failures and inadequacies. We’re afraid to try. But the errors of the past are not the forecast for tomorrow. We can’t allow ourselves to live in a world of prior mistakes. Because our hard work and efforts come from the heart, mistakes or failures hurt us deeply. Yet we need not be obsessed with the pain of disappointment and inadequacy. We need to start thinking of what’s next. What do we need to do now.

With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.¹ Did you catch that word: ordinary. Ordinary talent – not rocket science talent – ordinary. Never giving up is not only a test of the belief in ourselves, it’s shows our life character. Look at past mistakes and failures as valuable information of what didn’t work and what to do differently.

Thomas Edison is as famous for his example of tenacity as he is for giving the world the light bulb. He didn’t give up when his first efforts to find an effective filament for the carbon incandescent lamp failed. He did countless experiments with countless kinds materials. As each failed, he would toss it out the window. The pile reached to the second story of his house. He didn’t quit. Instead, he sent men to China, Japan, South America, Asia, and Jamaica in search of fibers and grasses to test in his lab.

IMG_0877One weary day on October 21, 1879 – after 13 months of repeated failures – he succeeded in his search for a filament that would stand the stress of electric current. This is how it happened:                                                                                                                                     Casually picking up a bit of lampblack, he mixed it with tar and rolled it into a thin thread. Then the thought occurred: Why not try a carbonized cotton fiber? For five hours he worked, but it broke before he could remove the mold. Two spools of thread were used up. At last a perfect strand emerged – only to be ruined when trying to place it in a glass tube. Edison refused to admit defeat. He continued without sleep for two days and two nights. Finally, he managed to slip one of the carbonized threads into a vacuum-sealed bulb. And he turned on the current. The sight he had long desired to see finally met his eyes. His persistence amid such discouraging odds has given the world the wonderful electric light!

To be successful you need to keep thinking – to keep trying – to keep learning. Stay in the game. -Dr. Sandy

¹Sir Thomas Foxwell Buxton

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

are you and perseverance in the game?]/whohit]

 

Are life’s unknowns knocking on your door?

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One summer night during a severe thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was about to turn the light off when he asked in a trembling voice, “Mommy, will you stay with me all night?” Smiling, the mother gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said tenderly, “I can’t dear. I have to sleep in Daddy’s room.” A long silence followed. At last it was broken by the boy’s shaky voice saying, “The big sissy!”
IMG_0926Fears of the unknown can cause total havoc in life. As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can.¹ We have a need to know; a need to be prepared–a need to control. But reality tells us that we also have a need to learn to live with uncertainty. When life is sunny, we do not worry if we will be able to handle the happiness or get through the joyful experience. There are few frets when life unfolds as we planned. We feel in control of our lives.
Likewise, when the storms of life occur we need to believe that we will handle the havoc and get through the unplanned. We can not see what tomorrow will bring. In fact, there are oodles of things we can not see or have future knowledge of despite the control of details in the present.
Remind yourself that whether today is sunny or stormy, you will and can handle whatever knocks on your door and survive it.
If you have found this post helpful, please pass it on! -Dr. Sandy

¹ Julius Caesar, Roman General and Statesman, 100-4 B.C.

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net