Over the last few weeks I have become increasingly alarmed and even saddened by the number of advertisements I see on television offering legal assistance to those adversely affected by some not so long ago hyped pharmaceuticals. Birth defects caused by antidepressants that are more than likely still being marketed and recommended by medical professionals. Really?
I know I shouldn’t be shocked. It is common knowledge that drugs have side effects. But, still I am. And what saddens me is that with all the technological advancements of our time, we seemingly remain in the dark ages about the human body, the human psyche, our bodies, our needs.
The point of this blog has never been and will not become to assault the pharmaceutical industry as I know from both education and experience that there are times when the possibility, often enough only remote, of encountering a drug’s side effects pale in comparison to the ailment we are facing and fighting. But there are also times when we, me included, are choosing the easy and seemingly quick way out. More focused on the symptoms and complications they create in our lives rather than taking the time to dig and look more deeply into the illness or prolonged condition. Yes, unfortunately sometimes we just don’t have that luxury. But when we do, are we really exercising that option to its fullest? Personally speaking, not nearly enough; so, I must take us back to my earliest lessons in wellness and healing. Know thy self.
Become an expert on you. As my grandmother once said, “…they give M.D.s to those with C’s as well as A’s”. Doctors and health professionals are human and thus capable of error. Scientific research and studies reveal new information all of the time and previously held notions frequently get shot down in the crossfire. What should be relied upon is the time and experience we’ve gained living in our skin.
Where to start?
Observation is the natural first step in developing awareness. And there are not only physical observations to be made but also the more subtle ones of our mental and emotional states, our behavior and even our lifestyles. As I write this it comes to me that maybe beginning with our lifestyles and backtracking through our behavioral responses and their resulting emotional, mental and physical experiences may be the more efficient way to get re-acquainted with ourselves. We can start the process with some simple questions.
- What are my daily, weekly, monthly, etc. commitments and responsibilities? i.e. rent/mortgage, tuitions, debt/loan payments, care-taking of others, volunteer work, professional and/or school deadlines, social group meetings
- Which are the busiest times of my day, week, month, etc?
- When, what and how do I eat, drink, sleep, relax, and recover?
- What do I enjoy the least and the most?
- When do/have I felt at my physical, mental and emotional best? Worst?
- What do I worry most about? Least about?
- How do I fulfill my commitments and responsibilities? i.e. fulltime work week, overtime, second job, time and/or service bartering, hired assistance, night and weekend schooling
- How do I celebrate my accomplishments, handle my disappointments, and manage my stressors?
- What are my healthiest and unhealthiest habits?
- Do I have vices? Do I know and respect my limits with them?
- Do I judge myself? What are my judgments?
- How do I feel at the end of my day, week, month…?
- How do I feel when I am challenged, when I succeed, when I please others, and when I disappoint?
- Where do I hold the most and least tension in my body?
- What part of my body ails me the least, the most?
- Do I want or need help changing, stopping, starting or improving any condition in my health and wellbeing?
- What do I need?
- Who do I trust to help me?
Some of the above may seem too obvious for review; while others may be too complex to merely bullet in a list. Look at them as opportunities to go further down the rabbit hole, if you will. Examining the demands of our routines can reveal the greatest assets and vulnerabilities within our lives and even help us get to the root of the conditions that plague us. At the very least, we become more informed of our beliefs, tendencies and preferences and are therefore better able to select and work with our health care professionals from prevention to diagnosis and treatment. For more detailed guidance in the area of self-awareness and self-care, check out the Memory Minder Personal Health Journal by F.and D. Wilkins and the Wellness Workbook by Travis and Ryan. Until next week…
Take Notice, Take Note and BeWell
- National News: Patients face quiz on lifestyles (coventrytelegraph.net)
- Patient Engagement From The Patient’s Perspective (healthecommunications.wordpress.com)
- Are you a Talk Walker, or a Walk Talker – My Challenge to Health Professionals (weightymatters.ca)