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A Visitor From The Past

I have been out sick for a week as I was visited by an old visitor from the past that I had thought I had outgrown. ASTHMA. Gasping for breath is scary; but even more frightening is hearing mysterious sounds as you lay in bed that nobody else can hear. As a psychologist, I know about hearing voices and these would even wake me up in the middle of the night.  Once, I got admitted, I think the hospital staff must have thought I was crazy.  This was a strange illness because I got very sick before I sought treatment.  I did not run a temperature.  I just got out of breath.  Even my oxygen percentages were good.  My heart rate was normal.  I had just run out of steam.  However, I was very relieved when they hooked me up with oxygen; pumped me up with steroids, and admitted me from the Emergency Room.   Missed church that morning and didn’t get to celebrate Mother’s Day or should I say Grandmother’s Day.

Once, I got admitted, I think the hospital staff must have thought I was crazy.  This was a strange illness because I got very sick before I sought treatment.  I did not run a temperature.  I just got out of breath.  Even my oxygen percentages were good.  My heart rate was normal.  I had just run out of steam.  However, I was very relieved when they hooked me up with oxygen; pumped me up with steroids, and admitted me from the Emergency Room.   Missed church that morning and didn’t get to celebrate Mother’s Day or should I say Grandmother’s Day.

I am now on all sorts of asthma drugs.  I am feeling better.  I am home and laying around.  Just going to the doctor wore me out and I can’t talk too much without getting breathless.  However, I have been having some feelings of Deja Vue as I remember feeling this way as a child desperate for air and also coughing my guts up.  Must have really scared my parents.  This was a common thing for me in the winter as I grew up.

I was told I would grow out of it and I thought I did but on a rare occasion I would have that familiar gasping for breath and would have to leave where I was and do something to catch my breath.  I usually was apologetic and would leave wherever I was so as to not cause others any concern about me in order to calm down and get over the spell of being out of breath.

Scarier even yet is recently I have begun to have strong allergy reactions to air bound particles.  Fortunately, I recognised what was going on and got myself out of the situation either under my own power or with the help of friends.  I, fortunately, had begun carrying a rescue inhaler.

Also, asthma causes damage that doesn’t go away and can come back to haunt you later.   I know that wood smoke (yes, fireplaces) is difficult for me to breath; but until we started to worry about second-hand smoke, people just thought I was a party pooper if I reacted to things like cigarette smoke and wood smoke.  I could also detect strong chemicals in the air just by the way they made me feel.

I had years of bronchitis but I didn’t think of it as asthma related.  I would continue to go to go to work and would hope that I could control my cough when I had to talk to patients.  I knew that it was probably not catching and would eventually go away on its own although that might take a long time.  Once the air got cold, I had to throw a scarf around my mouth or have a coughing fit.  It didn’t help that I was a mouth breather either.

I didn’t know that I had a bunch of unhappy bronchioles swollen that wouldn’t let my air get out so I could breathe back in.  It was these guys that were making the wheezing noises I could hear.  Chest x rays didn’t show anything so that wasn’t a path to treatment either.

If you feel sick, you are sick.  Keeping going until you find effective treatment.  Don’t apologize for something you can’t help doing.  Yes, it is going to make some trouble for other people and you might be the center of attention for awhile  It is your turn to seek and receive help.  Don’t die trying to cover it up and not inconveniencing people.

P.S., I now have a preliminary diagnosis, pulmonary hypertension which was given after I had an echocardiogram of my heart.  For your information, previous to that I passed certain breathing tests with flying colors.  My oxygen percentiles were high.  They were consistently in the 90’s.  I passed a breathing test.  This was the second time I had done so.  My lung x-rays were clear ( I had two recent ones).  Therefore, I was not put on oxygen when I went home although it was very helpful while I was in the hospital.

Fortunately, my nurse practitioner had another idea about what was wrong.  She said I might be overworking my heart to keep my oxygen percentiles high.  This is what appears to be happening and it didn’t show up until I had the echocardiogram of my heart.  Curious enough I have had previous echocardiograms where it didn’t show up.  I am waiting on my heart doctor to review the findings and to confirm the diagnosis although that may take further tests.

So what is my conclusion?  It is that sometimes when you think you are sick, you are really sick and don’t stop seeking help!  Look at my case.

Ruminating? Is It Useful?

rp_8619481133_df8a85fccf_m.jpgHave a problem you can’t solve?  Has somebody hurt you?  Do you like to talk it over with a friend or friends?  Do you want to share your frustration or hurt feelings.  Do you think it will make you feel better if someone thinks or feels the same way you do?

A little coruminating can help but continuous airing of frustrations, bad news, or unrequited love can make you feel worse, especially for women.  Depression can deepen and anxiety increase and you can even drive away friends with your constant texting or late night phone calls.

Pathways can be reinforced in our brains and associated feelings can be intensified with constant musings and repetitious ventilating.  Going over and over a problem for which there is no current solution or recourse is frustrating both for you and the person you are sharing it with.  It may even make it worse leaving you unable to recognize a solution or change in the situation when it happens.

Sometimes you can create a time table suggesting when you should try to solve the problem again or when you really should worry because you haven’t heard from someone.  In the mean time take a break and encourage yourself not to do anything rash or jump to conclusions.rp_300px-High_Anxiety_movie_poster.jpg

For example, being called to jury duty may throw a wrench in your monkey works if you are sequestered in a jury on long infamous trial but you might get excused from jury duty before you even have to report because of something that you didn’t know would excuse you from serving in the first place or after you get called in for the jury selection for a trial.

There is one thing that I usually say to myself when I start worrying about something that might happen or have happened and that is usually when something bad happens, I don’t expect it so if I am worrying that it has, it probably hasn’t happened.

Enjoy yourself.  It is later than you think.  Excuse yourself from ruminating about something especially when you don’t have all the information and won’t have it for a while.  Yes, be ready when the time comes to do something about it.  It is a lot easier to prepare for something and make plans for when something happens when you’re not worried about it and can think rationally.


Whose Business Is It Anyway?


EXPERT (Photo credit: Pete Prodoehl)

Most of us have trouble controlling our own lives so why do we think we can do a good job of controlling someone else’s life, especially that of someone we really don’t know.   It seems that our media encourages this and hour upon hour of television news is spent speculating about people who are in the public spotlight and garnering opinions about them, who they are, what to do about them, and why they did what they did.  They survey dozens of “experts” and whether these experts know what they are talking about is often not very clear.

Usually this speculating starts before the facts about the situation (if we ever really get them) are all in and often the initial information from which people are drawing conclusions is sketchy, at least a little inaccurate, and sometimes just plain wrong.  This jumping to conclusions can lead to actions and  reactions that are not just inappropriate, but downright harmful.  Mob violence, for example, can be such a thing.  There is something to be said for delays in reporting some of the news until all the facts are in and for taking the time necessary to put together a full and unbiased report.  Even then should people, consumers and “experts”, be called prematurely to offer ideas as to how they would describe the motives of possible “suspects” and as to what should be done in terms of punishment and in terms of changes in the law that should be made.

How can some of us who may have similar problems of our own that we can’t or won’t solve and/or who have little knowledge of the problem in general tell others with that problem what to do?  In college, the sophomore who was taking introductory psychology always knew the most about the subject and was inclined to offer other college students who had not yet taken the class, friends, and family unsolicited advice and opinions about others’ behavior and psychological problems.  “Don’t look at me; look at them,” the person seems to be saying and often following this with unsolicited and unsound advice.  Control yourself, not others, unless you are officially responsible for them as a teacher, law enforcement officer, judge, or parent.

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Suicide, What’s The Matter

I have a hard time with condemning people to hell and with not burying suicide victims in a consecrated cemetery.  Even those who believe in reincarnation do not give an

inch.  Victims have toDetail of The Death of Socrates. A disciple is...

come right back and deal with the same situation that was associated with their suicides.  I have noted recently a change in attitudes toward homosexuality and homosexual marriage by politicians who have discovered that at least one member of their family is a homosexual.  What next?  Will there be a change in some prominent people’s attitudes towards suicide when one of their family dies that way?

Suicide is often committed when people are experiencing the dark night of their soul.  Mother Teresa had one of these experiences, but I don’t know if she thought of taking her own life when it happened.  At one point I even thought of giving my own life (which I felt was worthless except for this purpose) so that others could be saved.  Martyrdom is overrated.  How can people come to think of themselves as so worthless?

People are constantly competing with each other to be better than somebody else.  Some people become suicidal when they think that they have lost this competition.  Others have so many demons that their life is torture.  For some people dying a “natural” death is so agonizing and costly for the survivors that they want to save themselves from the torture and not handicap the survivors who are already grieving with medical and funeral bills. Combat veterans realistically relive the horrifying nightmare of combat over and over again without any relief.

Believe it or not, I am not encouraging suicide.  I am just trying to get you to see the state of mind that some people are in when they are thinking about suicide.  At the time, there appears to be no way out, but suicide.  Suicidal people often feel that they are alone and friendless and have exhausted all other ways to solve their problems.

Wait a minute.  There are  people (often with personality disorders) who repeatedly make suicidal gestures, but even they can miscalculate and commit suicide when they didn’t intend to.  A dosage they thought was not lethal turns out to be lethal or the person that they counted on to rescue them does not turn up on time.

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Doing Those Things Others Can’t Or Won’t Do

Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development

Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a debt of gratitude we owe to those who volunteer to do dangerous things.  It is a huge step in moral development to do this and (I think) a step backwards for those who, not only don’t do it, but also don’t appreciate it when others do it.  First responders are an obvious example.  The military and especially special forces are another.  There are other people that people don’t think about who either live a reduced life style to do the work of helping others and/or perform their jobs in dangerous situations.

What is also astonishing is the amount of preparation some people need in order to do their jobs like these and also that some of these people never complete the training having been washed out after already exerting a great amount of effort.  They don’t even get a chance to be in the limelight ( if there is any ) that others who do not fail are able to share when they graduate.

Some of these jobs unfortunately don’t have prestige associated with them and those that perform these jobs are sometimes even shunned.  These jobs usually involve thankless tasks that no one else will do, but have to be done.  Can you think of any?

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Stupid? Mistakes

Are you prone to making stupid mistakes?  At least that is what you call them.  There is a difference between having something turn out differently than you thought it would and going ahead and doing something because you thought it was the easy way out.  With the former, there may have been no way to predict that the misfortune would happen; but it did and now you have to live with the consequences.  Calling yourself a dumb dodo may help you find something or someone to blame the mistake on, but in reality it was just an unfortunate mistake.  Perhaps you thought that taking the interstate after a snow storm was safer than taking the highway and it wasn’t.  It happened to me.  I white knuckled it for about sixty miles while driving very slowly by semis in the ditches.  Would I have done it differently if I had known this.  Yes.  My husband was asleep at the time and we had changed drivers before entering the interstate because we thought that the driving from there on would be easier.  When he woke up and the scarey ride was over, he didn’t dare call me, “Stupid.”  Don’t do it to yourself.


Thought (Photo credits:

Ah, come on, you know it when you do something you know you shouldn’t and get in trouble.  Here is another weather-related driving incident.  How about when you go down a road that has water starting to cross the road after a heavy rain and there have been high water signs out, but you go ahead and do it anyway because you don’t want to go back and find another way around.  You know you will have to retrace your steps and then use a longer route to by pass the high water to get to where you are going.  You can learn from both experiences, but you don’t have to castigate yourself in the first instance where you might legitimately do so in the second incidence.  You know who you are.  Make adjustments for your tendency to do the easy thing when to do so will cause you trouble.  For example, teenagers and even young adults are more likely to do this because the part of their brain that controls impulsive behavior and leads to making decisions that delay rewards and reinforcement in favor of longer-term goals doesn’t fully form until they are older..

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Drama Queen

The drama queen, everything is all about her (or him).  Get a new grandchild, all the pictures are of her holding the new baby.  The occasion might also bring on stories about her child’s birth and delivery instead of the new mother’s.  The outfit (new or old) chosen by the drama queen has to be worn home or to the christening.  When things don’t go her way, she can’t cope.  Sudden tragedies involving the drama queen’s family throw her for a loop as she hasn’t planned for them.  It is difficult for the rest of the family to concentrate on the victim (not her) and what actually needs to be done.

The drama queen has developed what she deems as the ideal scenario for her life:  loving, devoted husband; dream home; successful, supportive children who marry someone of the opposite sex and of the chosen racial and cultural background and have the requisite child or children of the appropriate sex or sexes.  Plans are usually not made for any deviance from this plan.  The chances that something like this will happen are almost 100%.  There is only plan A; there is no plan B, C, or D.

Most of the time the problems, not hers, that this causes are other peoples’ and they deal with them instead of her.  Total collapse can occur when she has to deal with her own problems and there is no one to do it for her.  For example, when she has to adjust to something like the loss of the mate she depended on and focused her life around.  The denial defense often used by the drama queens fails and reality hits.

Lisa the Drama Queen

Lisa the Drama Queen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



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One Thing At A Time

Choose your biggest or most important problem, especially one where there is a time limit or penalty involved.  Examine all your paperwork dealing with that issue and determine what you need to do first, second, third.  Move all your other problems to second place recognizing there may be time limits on those problems which you can write down somewhere you can easily see them and check on them.   Dealing with a problem can help you keep from having future problems.  It can open up your mind to possible methods of solving that problem and if that doesn’t help, you can resign yourself to the consequences which you have tried not to think about before this.

If you have a major, major problem like a serious illness for which you should focus on diagnosis and treatment, leave other problems that preoccupy your mind like recurring family drama in the dust.  Frequently these type of problems are on a never ending loop repeating themselves over and over and they can only get in the way of what person needs to do immediately.  You can declare yourself an emergency and do what you would do in an emergency.  That is focus on what needs to be done right away.  This is not the time to resolve family problems and/or help out other people in your life.  Post the “gone Fishing” sign on your imaginary door and don’t allow yourself to be disturbed especially with something that is not helpful.  Some people take someone else’s problem and make it about their own problems taking the spotlight away from where it ought to be on you.

Clear yourself of mind clutter while you focus on yourself and your most pressing problem.  Those people who do not understand that it is your problem that is the most important, not theirs, should be left out of your situation.

Circle of Violence: A Family Drama

Circle of Violence: A Family Drama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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