Thursday, 30 May 2013

Burn Out Remedies in Carers

It is life's greatest irony that those who are most loving and caring with the best of intentions can be transformed through burnout, exhaustion, despair and lack of self-love into detached , uncaring individuals with nothing left to give and the experience of a truly bitter mood about the daily grind. Many times burn-out is temporary and fleeting, it passes like bad weather and is  easily lifted by rest, respite, sleep, a change of perspective and a holiday, some laughter and good fun. The person regains their old determination and their true intent to look after whomever it is needs their care an attention. This can be in personal family life as a parent of small children or  as a child of an ailing elderly parent. This can be in professional life in the health-care profession or in education and many other spheres. Sometimes this burn-out becomes chronic and very damaging to the sufferer and consequently to all those in relationship with them.

Burnout can creep up easily on us all. There are warning signs of distress. These warning signs should be heeded and acted upon. Otherwise the carers risk doubting themselves , the path they have chosen and the capabilities they have. And very frequently those who are the receivers of the care (children, patients,the sick and elderly) can suffer harm of various kinds. Any doctor, nurse, nurses aid, parent, devoted son or daughter, teacher, dentist, child care worker, therapist will have experienced some degree of burn out at some stage in their lives. Burnout does not necessarily mean the person should not be in that job, it does not mean the person is bad, unkind or even cruel. It does not signify failure.

What it does mean is that person has run out of the fuel of love. Because they themselves have not been refilling their tank. They have not been receiving care, receiving love or been able to love and care for themselves. They do not set store or value on their own entitlements to care and love from their own personal relationships. They do not value themselves innately, or value the work that they do. They do not set store on what it is to give of oneself.
It is easy to devalue caring...very often it is voluntarily given or given in exchange for meagre salary and zero acknowledgement and gratitude. When a person is underpaid and never thanked, it can seriously undermine their view of themselves especially in a society which measures success by affluence, prosperity and freedom from care.  When a person has no support with achieving the most demanding of tasks, it becomes like a mountain one can never climb.

Very often the people who are drawn to caring-work have suffered from a lack of care in their own lives. They seek to give to another what they deeply longed to have received for themselves. Have you ever heard of the expression wounded-healer? This means that the 'healer' was able to facilitate healing by virtue of their own personal awareness and insight into pain they developed from their own wounds.

Very often people who love children with all their hearts, understand them and know how to connect and reach to their level are people whose childlike self was fragile and had difficult experiences...the adult then carries that child-self within, always able to connect with children no matter what age they are themselves. People sometimes are drawn to work with children to connect with a part of themselves and heal and repair it. Occasionally though, this subconscious attempt to resolve a life-issue can go wrong and the person can become stuck with having internalised too deeply the mistreatment they themselves suffered. Exhaustion can bring people to their bad places and exacerbate weaknesses in one's psychology. Any intensely sleep-deprived parent will be aware of this. In the case of other professionals, a teacher can condemn the 'stupidity' of her students, a doctor can condemn the 'inability to take responsibility' of her patients and the list goes on.

When a carer's attempt to resolve life-issues succeeds, the carer heals himself at the same time as being of service to another. A child who was very hurt turns into an adult determined to protect any child from hurt and who are extraordinarily sensitive to vulnerable children and will do anything to look after them. A vocational doctor very often has a fascination with illness from suffering from poor health themselves or had to witness physical illness in their family and thus from their experience develops a determination to cure and battle against illness. A teacher will inspire , encourage and further their students who will remember it for life. A psychotherapist or psychologist may have had a dysfunctional family and suffered much trauma and want to understand the workings of the mind in order to heal and repair troubles.

The cure for burn-out is self-care and self-love. The challenge of burn out is exactly this: physician heal thyself. For those who rage with a deep burning sense of injustice against harm to children, make sure to be tender about how hurt you might have been in your own childhood and take steps to heal and soothe that deep ache for the loving parenting that you never had. For those who vowed never to place your parents in a nursing home because of your distress at seeing someone's lost dignity, make sure you offer your own self the dignity of equal rights to other people and create a good quality life for yourself.

For the harshly condemned childcare workers in Ireland this week, I doubt very much that there are not some parents who relate with the desperation to take a break and get a rest, the frustration and helplessness at not knowing how to care for someone whose needs you don't really understand, the isolation and fear of revealing these things to other people, not being able to ask for help for fear of losing one's job and being seen as a poor worker. Or as a parent, not feeling able to ask for support for fear of being a failure at the one task you swore you would do very well. How many parents have not had their buttons pushed and lost control? This is not to excuse behaviour which is abusive. Once someone is an adult they must take responsibility for causing harm to others. But, when someone is absolutely exhausted and yet is still obliged to go on meeting the needs of it any wonder there are signs of not coping through neglect?

So these are some signs of burn-out:
  • exhaustion, tiredness, feeling completely drained
  • demotivation and dread of the day ahead
  • feelings of failure and worthlessness
  • distress at being the one person whom nobody notices
  • bewilderment at why no-one ever thinks that you have your own life to live and deserve some attention
  • anger and resentment towards the person/people you care for, despite having set out to love and look after them
  • occasionally in the worst and most chronic cases, partial hatred of the person whom is being cared for and projection of all fears and hurts onto them, feeling helpless to them, enslaved, victimised or manipulated by them
  • a hardening of the heart in a usually loving individual
  • permanent apathy and indifference to the distress of more helpless and vulnerable people 

Homeopathy can help. So here are some suggestions:

Sepia . Indications for using this remedy range from extreme tiredness, lethargy, absolute indifference to a deeper depression-like experience where everything is seen from a dark perspective. Mothers at home or child carers are burned-out and just need personal space, to get out for a walk in fresh air. Women can be quarrelsome and irritable with their husband in particular and may end up shouting and snapping at their children. They may go through phases of going through the motions with their children and feeling switched off and lacking in affection and love towards them. They then start to berate themselves for that detachment that they sense developing inwardly and get into a cycle of guilt. But this guilt will not be able to change their feelings. Some Sepia types escape into their work or become extremely busy in order to run away from the situation. They have this feeling that no-one can understand their situation and can be very weepy and convinced that nothing will change. Burned out Sepia teachers can become sarcastic and harsh towards their students. Some physical accompanying symptoms for Sepia can be anaemia, sleeplessness, constipation and severe I.B.S. due to stress. Back pain and the classic "putting one's back out" and being laid up for days is another indication.Cravings for chocolate, fresh air and physical exercise. Dancing suits Sepia women and helps them to have an outlet. Men can easily develop Sepia states from over work and workaholism. You will find these types wishing to stay away from home and spending alot of time in sports , trying to feel better and thinking mistakenly that they can solve the problem physically.

Phos-Ac. This is another excellent burn-out remedy. People needing this will have low energy but this may manifest in a type of Chronic Fatigue situation where the person can no longer continue to work and will simply have to give up responsibilities until they feel better. The person will not be able to concentrate, focus or think straight. They may find it difficult to remember things and can often experience bouts of dizziness or vertigo. They will want to take regular naps as even a short nap refreshes them greatly.
They can be physically extremely run down and hair may start falling out. They crave fruit and smoothies and refreshing things. They feel apathetic and even wear an apathetic expression on their face. This is a slightly different version from Sepia's emotional indifference. Phos Ac types have suffered intense disappointment and also disappointment in love. They may have long-term chronic grief or have had multiple griefs leading up the development of fatigue symptoms. Phos Ac can sometimes be indicated after a virulent viral illness which left the person very tired and their energy is simply not returning. Phos-ac are more likely to become depressed rather than irritable but are not particularly aware that is how they feel. Sometimes women have this form of burn-out and depression. But often men are in this state...when they come home from work they just want to sit down and watch TV. Nothing moves them or motivates them and they have no joy or interest in life or in the things they used to do. Their partner may tell a cheery or interesting anecdote about their day, and he will stare ahead, unacknowledging and unmoved.

Cocculus. Cocculus is for those who become exhausted and sick from anxiety over a loved one. They develop huge anxiety about health and think then that they are also becoming ill. This remedy helps people whose exhaustion stems in part from prolonged sleep-disturbance due to nursing people at night and all night long. This may include shift workers. People who are burned out in this manner are particularly affected in their nervous system. I once treated a counsellor who was utterly emotionally drained and was also suffering from trigeminal neuralgia. All her symptoms lifted and she was also surprised that she had become so quickly drained and exhausted. It was a great initiation into self-care if she was to pursue the vocation she loved. Cocculus types will tend to develop vertigo and floaty, dissociated feelings. These symptoms force them to lie down and rest is what they should be getting.

Once again, these are just three of the remedies a homeopath may prescribe to carers. Every individual is so different. Physical ailments from exhaustion are experienced according to the individual physical constitutional make-up of that person and what they are susceptible to. If you do not know which homeopathic remedy to choose to relieve your symptoms, then hand it over and go and seek out a professional homeopath in your area who knows how to help you.

It is important not to condemn others so easily. Walk in their shoes first before making superficial judgements about people's behaviour. If you visit your GP and come away raging at her brusque manner and seeming utter indifference.....maybe just think about how she arrived at that point. Next time you see a frazzled mother snapping at her child in the supermarket, give her empathy and compassion and even offer support in that moment or a loving smile. Sometimes when people are rude, uncaring and switched off ...they are quite simply all used up and they need love. If you are overflowing with energy, and happen to be in a lucky life-phase at the moment where you feel you can cope, please be alert to the suffering of others. You may not always spot it in the patient in the hospital but surprisingly in their harassed and tired-looking nurse instead. When you are angry that a person you have relied on for help, turns out to be human and not an all-knowing angel and your expectations are disappointed, be grateful for the realisation that we are all the same. That we are all equal and that life can be hard and despite our moral courage, perseverance and fortitude, we stumble and make mistakes. When someone is young, cut them a bit of slack. When someone is old, try to recognise how frustrating and occasionally saddening a slowing-down body and mind can be. When someone who puts themselves out to care, seems unaware of you , well do it for yourself instead.

Love thy neighbour, as thyself.

And remember Saki's saying " Be kind, for we are all facing the same battle"

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Upset Toddlers - Bad Experiences Can Be Healed

A huge controversy has erupted around the standards of childcare here in Ireland. Parents are distressed and deeply disturbed with the realisation that their children may not be tenderly cared for, nurtured and engaged in learning and exploring their world but instead shouted at, manhandled, neglected, inappropriately disciplined or merely exposed to child care workers who are burned out, exhausted and clueless when it comes to understanding small children. 

Very often it is easy to think that bad experiences can mark us for life. Anyone who has ever been bullied, harassed or felt intimidated can remember the emotions and are aware of the potential permanence of the scar. But such things as healing, growth and letting go do exist. There are possibilities for change, recovery, new situations, new behaviours and new happinesses. These changes mean we leave old , unhelpful ways of living and being and interacting behind. Sometimes what is unhelpful to our happiness and the happiness of the people we love is ignorance. To have dangers exposed and brought out into the light really serves us. So in that sense, so much good has come of this week. 

Small children are the most vulnerable of all when they are non-verbal. As if it isn't bad enough  for adults trying to be understood and struggling with how to communicate. To be heard through body language and behavioural signs alone is tricky and never guaranteed. The tremendous waves of anxiety, shock and guilt feelings which parents are experiencing are gateways to adjustments and providing deeper and ever more secure protection for our children. It brings our society further on, it addresses simple naivete and trust that may have been misplaced. Crisis brings the opportunity for maturing and  increases levels of true responsibility.

Anyhow, here is the great hope : remedies for release and healing of emotional upset. 

If your baby is upset and clinging to you, if your baby/toddler cries when you leave the room and feels very anxious if you're not going to be there, try the homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla.
Pulsatilla is the homeopathic remedy for the central issue of separation anxiety. This separation anxiety can be temporary and or long lasting. It can be related to an old separation or recent trouble. 
Further indications for Pulsatilla are: frequent crying or whinging, very changeable moods, will not fall asleep alone or sleep alone, jealousy between siblings, clinging behaviour, temperamental difficult behaviour or incessant attention seeking. Physical ailments can include green snotty noses, asthma,  hay-fever (particularly when symptoms are alleviated outside in the open air) , coughs (caused by mucus building up and/or dripping down back of throat), hives and urticaria and skin allergies. Also eczema (which is aggravated by warm temperatures and especially becoming warm in bed at night). Generally speaking, Pulsatilla children are disinterested in drinking any fluids during the day and are warm-blooded and can sometimes faint in a stuffy room. 
Signs that a child may need Pulsatilla tend to be in the main: clinging behaviour and easy crying.  
Babies may sleep on their backs with their hands over their head. 

Lycopodium is for children who are very insecure and lack confidence. They are not as clingy as Pulsatilla types but like for someone to be in the next room. They can be very shy of other children and vulnerable to being bullied as they don't have the confidence to assert or defend themselves. They have trouble with letters and their speech may not be as advanced as other children. Sometimes they can be quarrelsome. Sometimes their insecurities manifest by being the child who tyrannises over or dictates to other children. They can internalise bullying behaviour from other parts of their lives and bring it into creche/childcare settings and act it out.  OR they may internalise bullying from a bad child-care setting and bring it home instead. So if you are the parent of a child who has been 'accused' of bullying or have noticed this in your child at home, you may want to consider this as well. Lycopodium love sweets and sweet things and chocolate but particularly biscuits and wheaten carbs such as pasta. They can suffer from pains in their tummy, constipation or diarrhoea and nervous tummy upsets and appetite whims. 

Stramonium is for the more serious upset to a child. A child needing Stramonium may run behind the mother and cling to her legs, crying hysterically. This type of child may suffer night terrors and sometimes sit up in bed at night clinging frantically to their parent in terror. The parent is shocked at the intensity of the fear showing on the child's face but usually the child won't remember anything of it the next day. Stramonium is for a child who may have suffered abuse and fear. They can sometimes develop a fear-based, psychosomatic asthma, have difficulties swallowing food, fear of water and of dogs. They can be superstitious and gripped by the idea of ghosts, and monsters and are afraid of the dark and will always need a night-light. Stramonium is an incredible remedy for dealing with post- traumatic stress and also ADHD. Stramonium children can be clumsy and lack good spatial awareness, motor skills and co-ordination and balance. They can also have a tendency to laugh excessively and disproportionately and may be vulnerable to acting out  by hitting, striking, biting and kicking others as a sign of their distress. 

For a child who is plain afraid and intensely anxious. Try Aconite.  If you see an anxious expression on a pale, drawn face with staring eyes then use this. It is good for panic attacks. It is also useful to children especially vulnerable to becoming chilled and getting frequent sudden colds and temperatures. Aconite is a remedy for shock and that means shock in the present moment or an old, less recent trauma or upset. It deals with fear lingering on psychologically after the event is long-past. 

The four above-mentioned remedies are just some of the amazing tools in the toolbox of a homeopath. 
If you are a parent worried about your child, there are natural , healing helps which you can use. You can try those remedies out or maybe even better, bring your child to a professional homeopath in your area to help them overcome any troubles they may have and restore them to the happy, carefree, loving, open and busily learning persons they are. 

Remember homeopathy is a wonderful accompaniment to the journey of parenthood. Whether it is just to be used to secure a strong, robust foundation of health for your child or whether it can help you to overcome worries, troubles from your own past childhood or intense feelings of guilt and concern. 

Take courage and heart for your children. The world provides help and assistance for every trouble. And parenthood draws blessings to itself to provide for their own. 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Body Image & Summer Wear

Coming into summer women's magazines are full of advice and tips regarding dieting and how to develop the perfect bikini body. But not everyone feels that earthed, grounded and proud to be in their skin. Summer can be a time of a background emotional stress to daily living for some women or in fact, men. What to wear which is comfortable and light without stripping off?  How to feel at ease and maintain a pride and integrity in one's body without being pressured to conform to images of tanned, sleek frames in tiny bikinis, string vest tops, bare legs, lightly clad feet? How even do men handle self-consciousness about any lack of fitness and a slightly emerging belly etc ?

Homeopathy can really help with emotional issues regarding shame and discomfort, a lack of love for self, and also of course it can help with physical ailments which cause embarassment and self-consciousness. It is a pity if one's lightness of being  is constrained during summer days where freedom, emergence, relaxation and contentment should really have a place.

A selection of tips:

Nat-mur is for people who have a tendency to feel embarrassed  and self-conscious, flush around the neck area and also overheat. This is not the best combination for summer time relaxing in the sun. People who need this are also very sensitive to light having astigmatism of the eyes and find that they always need to wear their sunglasses . They easily develop prickly heat, skin rashes and irritation from too much exposure to the sun. They also become easily dehydrated and as a result get frequent headaches. One unusual symptom  is that they very often sneeze every time they are in direct sunshine. Hay-fever is a common problem and general sinus blockage. Emotionally Nat-mur types carry alot of body-image difficulties no matter what their weight and shape . They are sensitive, deep feeling and romantic types but very vulnerable to rejection in love. They tend to harbour feelings of ugliness, shame and discomfort about their body weight. Nat-mur people can either be very thin and slender (and can't put on weight)  or can carry excess weight due to emotional comfort eating. The one thing that Nat-mur types do appreciate about the summer time is more time spent at the seaside. They love the sea, the ocean, the waves and the release and comfort they feel beside the sea. If the summer season is not for you and you recognise yourself in this, give it a try!

Lycopodium is for people who have a tendency to have very hard skin on the soles of their feet and who feel self-conscious about wearing sandals. Another tip regarding hard skin is to reduce your intake of dairy products.

Calc-carb is for those people who sweat profusely and who although comfortable in their bodies can become self-conscious, if they feel they are being looked at or observed in any way.

Sepia is another remedy for those who harbour negative self-image. Women's feelings of antipathy towards their bodies may be quite deep due to hurts from difficult or abusive relationships with men. However, Sepia types are very sensual and enjoy being earthy and grounded. They tend to exercise alot, if not excessively and exercise becomes an emotional lifeline. For women who never got a flat tummy back after having a child Sepia is the remedy which can help with muscle tone and flabbiness. Sepia women can sometimes have a little tummy pouch and no matter how slim they are , they can become self conscious about it sticking out.

Sulphur is for those who no matter their hygiene have trouble with body odour! They also are very warm-blooded creatures so hot temperatures are not appreciated.

 So this summer, shine your light when the light comes out and be beautiful! But remember having a body brings the usual variety of nitty-gritty ailments and homeopathy is the place to look for solutions! Not only will you find simple solutions but this energy medicine can uplift and relieve emotional stresses.

Let me know if you want me to cover other aspects related to this topic, I would be interested in hearing from you!

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