Accepting every moment with a smile and a tail wag is what life’s all about

Bill’s tip for December: Lessons Dogs Leave when they Leave Us

Nurturing others, whether it is the act of raising a child, giving your time to a charity or rescuing a dog and adopting him, is an experience that fundamentally changes us. The act of watching and nurturing someone other than ourselves forces us out of self involvement: We simply can’t be distracted by the stories in our heads while we are being of service to another. Ironically, by expanding ourselves in this outward direction, our souls are inwardly fed -we grow in ways we never imagined.

I find myself typing these sentences with my left hand because my ailing Joey is resting peacefully in the crook of my right arm and I don’t want to let go of him. -Letting go of Joey is something that I will soon have to do because the results of last week’s lab tests were lousy.

At nearly 18 years old Joey’s kidneys are shutting down. This is information that I must deal with in parental silence because Joey doesn’t understand that his attempts to nurture his body are in vain; his organs are no longer processing his food in a way that can sustain him. Joey’s cycle of eating and vomiting is more apparent in the last several days and, with this new knowledge, I am thrust into the weary monitoring of a parent/caregiver with a dying child.

As Joey lies in my arms I am faced with the certainty of grief. I want to stay strong and not back away from emotion because, even in dying, Joey has things to teach me about living a healthy life.

Catherine Auman, LMFT writes: “When we suffer, which is an inevitable part of the human condition, our hearts break, and in that breaking is the possibility of the growth of compassion. When we learn to stop fighting the fact of suffering, we can accept it as a purposeful process in our lives. When we allow our hearts to break, we become more open and loving towards those close to us and to the whole world.”

So that’s where I’m at: Staring at a scary crossroad, questioning how to proceed and knowing the crossing will be made with or without my acceptance.

I want to thank all of you for your open-mindedness and trust over the years. Unfortunately, it is still uncommon for a therapist to utilize the many resources of a canine co-therapist. Please take this moment to honor Joey’s body of work by considering the lesson he shared with us without needing to utter a single word: How accepting every moment with a smile and a wag is what life is all about.

Phillip’s tip for December: Bringing Bipolar Home (part two of two)

It’s estimated that 5.7 million Americans are Bipolar. This disorder typically becomes apparent during puberty when hormones are raging, wreaking havoc on a person’s life -creating both personal and professional relationship conflicts, especially when misdiagnosed or misunderstood. However, having Bipolar disorder is not a reason to give up hope for a happy life or a reason to stop living: Many highly creative and successful people have been Bipolar and there are effective treatments available.

Helping someone you know or love cope with bipolar symptoms can be challenging because an individual in a bipolar cycle can become agitated or even hyper-logical and, therefore, not be open to guidance. In these circumstances it may be beneficial to wait until these oppositional behaviors have subsided before offering these helpful tips:

-Get a full night’s sleep on a regular basis -this can be a very effective!
-Get a psychiatrist’s evaluation and adhere to any regime they may prescribe. -We can aid the bipolar person when they are acting erratically by concretely asking when and where they last took their medicine.
-Have them construct and maintain an emotional support system.
-Ask them to attend regular and structured counseling.
-Be supportive of their striving for proper nutrition and ask them to consider taking Omega 3 fatty acid supplements.
-Help them construct a daily routine and suggest they come up with a method to remain accountable to it.
-Encourage them to educate themselves about this medical condition.

These are but a few interventions. The important thing to remember is that there is help available and you don’t have to go it alone! Some of the world’s most creative and successful people have been Bi-polar and managed to do great things by thinking outside of the box. Get informed and have hope!

I wanted to also say happy holidays to our wonderful readers and clients. I feel very blessed to have you all and wish you all a prosperous and happy New Year!

Note: The above article is only a simple beginning of the complex topic of what it means to cope with being Bipolar. The key is proper diagnosis and treatment. Talk therapy can be a helpful tool.Treatments will be discussed in next month’s newsletter. Feel free and contact me for more information in the meantime at 310-779-2456.

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