life, mental health, mental illness, neurology

People That Believe They are Dead / Cotard’s Delusion

Cotard’s  Delusion is a very rare mental illness where the sufferer does not believe that their body is alive in the way that normal people are alive. There are varying degrees of the illness from the person believing that parts of their body are dead to the person believing that they are dead.

This mental illness was named after the neurologist that first recognized this as a disorder.  Jules Cotard did case studies and research in the 1880’s and called the disease “The Delirium of Negation” which is to say that the sufferers thought of their body in a negative way to the point of believing parts did not exist.

In 1880, the neurologist Jules Cotard described the condition as Le délire des négations (“The Delirium of Negation”), a psychiatric syndrome of varied severity. A mild case is characterized by despair and self-loathing, and a severe case is characterized by intense delusions of negation and chronic psychiatric depression   Wikipedia

Jules_Cotard

Neurologist Jules Cortard

Image from Wikipedia

One of Cortard’s  patients, referred to in his research  Mademoiselle X  was a woman who believed that certain parts of her body did not exist. She did not believe that she needed to eat because she did not have the regular internal organs that normal people have. 

Mademoiselle X believed that she had been cursed to eternal damnation, to walk the earth as a dead person. There was nothing anyone could say to her, to convince her otherwise and in her mind she was a dead person walking the earth, and was destined to continue on that way.

She ended up dying from starvation, as no one was able to convince her to eat any food. 

There is a recorded case of what seems to be Cotard’s Syndrome, that was documented in, prior to the disorder being named after Cotard.

“In 1788, Charles Bonnet reported one of the earliest known cases of Cotard’s Delusion. An elderly woman was preparing a meal when she felt a draft and then became paralyzed on one side of her body. When feeling, movement, and the ability to speak came back to her, she told her daughters to dress her in a shroud and place her in a coffin.

For days she continued to demand that her daughters, friends, and maid treat her like she was dead. They finally gave in, putting her in a shroud and laying her out so they could “mourn” her. Even at the “wake,” the lady continued to fuss with her shroud and complain about its color.

When she finally fell asleep, her family undressed her and put her to bed. After she was treated with a “powder of precious stones and opium,” her delusions went away, only to return every few months. MentalFloss.com

Suffers of Cotard’s Delusion, believe that they are missing certain internal organs or that they do not have a digestive system, blood, or some other internal function. Depending on the person, their reasoning as to why they have lost organs, organs have been taken away, or organs are putrefying varies.

The first stage is called the Germination stage—the symptoms are psychotic depression,  and hypochondria 
Next is the Blooming Stage — the syndrome develops and the delusions of negation cause the person to negate / disassociate / deny that certain parts of their body exist, or that they are alive at all
The last stage, which often ends in death is the Chronic stage—characterized by continued, severe delusions and chronic psychiatric depression.

There have also been cases of Cotard’s delusion that have occurred in people who sustained a traumatic brain injury. In 1996 there was a man who sustained traumatic brain injury from a motorcycle accident and he believed that he had died in the accident.  

Once he was physically recovered, his mother moved with him to South Africa. He told people that he was dead and actually had gone to Hell. He did not believe that he had survived the accident and thought his mother was in spirit form, to escort him and show him around in Hell.

Another incident of this disorder was in New York in 2008. A woman asked her family to take her to the morgue because she had died and believed she should be with the dead people. She reported that her body was beginning to smell like rotting flesh.

Other incidents of this disorder include a woman who went to the ER believing that her internal organs had all melted and that she was almost dead. There was also a man who believed that he was dead and that his daughter’s were also dead.

If you want to read these stories, you can find them at this  LINK for MentalFloss.com

Suffers who do not die from starvation, sometimes commit suicide. They feel that only their body is still walking around and they do not belong here.

“Some people with Cotard’s have reportedly died of starvation, believing they no longer needed to eat. Others have attempted to get rid of their body using acid, which they saw as the only way they could free themselves of being the “walking dead”  New Scientists Health.com

Neurologists theorize that the cause of this disorder may have to do with the part of the brain that recognizes faces, called the fusiform. 

This distorted reality is caused by a malfunction in an area of the brain called the fusiform gyrus, which recognizes faces, and also in the amygdala, an almond-shaped set of neurons that processes your emotions. The combination is a lack of recognition when viewing familiar faces (even the face of the sufferer), leaving the person feeling disconnected with reality.  Scientific American

Overall the research I did shows that this disorder is still a mystery. Some people responded fairly well  to treatment with antidepressants, or anti-psychotic medication. Others were treated with electroconvulsive therapy, which is shock treatment.

abnormal psychology, life, neurology, psychology, science

Circle with your Hand Triangle with your foot…Hmmmmm

This is fun and it helps to create new neuronal pathways in the brain.

I did do some research about neuronal pathways tonight. I even wrote most of an entire post. But the cold med I took is kicking my DUPA ( that is what my Polish grandma used to say….the word..nothing about kicking it)

I am tried too cancan no longer focus my eyes.

Enjoy this little video. I did and I forsee having a silly contest with my daughter tomorrow, where each person adds a new move.

sorry for any typos

Wishes for peasant dreams

Annie .

life, philosophy

A Philosophical Rant about the Rain

I can hear the rain beginning to pour onto the roof of the house. I am thinking about whether or not the car windows are up, or if I left them open. I am thinking about where the flashlights are just in case the power goes out.

These are practical things but they are also emotional things. The flashlight is practical but the fear of being in the dark house, is being mentally triggered by the sound of the rain.

The doubt in myself about the windows in the car, is a self doubt and fear, based on not feeling like I have been prepared in the past, for the events that occurred.

We can spend a lot of time worrying and trying to prepare for every possible scenario in life, but we will always miss one. It is not even that we miss it…but we just had no idea it was coming.

Life is full of unexpected things. Some things can be anticipated and other things cannot. There is no way to prepare ourselves for everything.  Sooner or later we will be in a situation that we had no possible way to prepare for.

The better thing to do….rather than try to mentally prepare for each possible scenario…is to prepare for the unexpected scenario. Our brains need to be in a state that can withstand the unexpected.

The more we try to worry, predict, and play out future scenarios in our minds, the less prepared we will be when the unexpected occurs. No one will avoid the unexpected, no matter what you do.

The difference between the resilience of people is in their capacity to deal with a completely surprising unknown. Our brains have great capacity to think and deal with circumstances.

We can think on our feet and adapt. We can draw on skills and information in our brains, in order to deal with a new and unexpected situation.

When we know that the unexpected will happen, then we will understand that we have to proceed through life with this knowledge and acceptance. We found our way through a lot of unexpected situations already. Not all of them were bad. Many of them were good.

Predictability does not always apply to things. We can only prepare for a portion of the things that could happen during the course of our days. Better to prepare the mind to be resilient in any circumstance. To accept the unknown as part of living this life.

If we accept the unknown as part of the adventure of life, then we will learn on our feet when we need to. We will find out what things we need to know,  just when we need to know them. Our brains have a great capacity to take in new information and also to adapt known information for new situations.

Know that your brain is adaptable and intelligent. You can be creative and inventive when you need to be. The brain can actually connect, reconnect and disconnect neurons , in a real organic way, in order to adapt to different situations and different behavioral patterns that are needed.

The brain is an amazing, adaptive organ and it can serve us when we need to be protected, or healed. The brain can problem solve, learn new information, adapt to new environments and accept new relationships. It can even accept and adapt to new realizations about reality itself.

Reality is made up of our experiences and the way we perceive those experiences. We can decide to interpret information into our reality, in a way that is helpful to us. We need our environment to support us. We need our perceptions about our experiences to support our mental health.

Looking at the unexpected as new experiences, can allow us to reduce our anxiety about not being prepared for everything. We prepare as we go along. We are not just stuck with what we have.

If our brains are malleable then we can create new ways to perceive things. We do not have to be stuck with the same way we have always perceived things. Our brains can change and learn to have a different perspective about the past, which can change the way we see ourselves in the present.

If we see ourselves in the present in a way that supports us better, then we can be less afraid of the unknowns in our future. If our current thinking does not support our mental health, then we can begin to allow our brains to take in new information that has the capacity to change our perspective about the reality we personally exist in.

abnormal psychology, anxiety, depression, health, mental abuse, mental health, mental illness, neurology, psychology, social anxiety

Mental Illness caused by Psychological Damage and Abuse

* this post is in honor of Silvergirl who is a wonderful wounded healer and has an excellent blog on wordpress*

People with mental illness often have psychological damage from being subject to “Situations that Must never Be”.  This is my phrase for any situation which is causing log term damage to a person in any physical or mental way.

These situations that must never be, are many and come in many forms. Any situation of mental abuse or physical abuse of a person should not be. The sad fact is that these situations occur every day. People are suffering in relationships like these as we speak. You might be one of them.

You have chosen to click on this post because the title of it struck a nerve with you. Most likely you have been abused in your lifetime. It may have been during your childhood and / or it may have been as an adult. Many people that were abused as children , end up in abusive relationships as adults.

The psychological damage from living in abuse is extensive and can cause depression, severe anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and other mental illnesses. It is also common that people with other mental disorders such as depersonalization disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder , social anxiety and  insomnia have experienced abuse during their lifetimes.

As people with mental illness, we sometimes make choices that are harmful to us that other people would not make. We are so used to things being abnormal and painful that we tend to not notice the red flags of an abusive relationship until it is too late.

The mental illness causes us to end up in codependent , manipulative, abusive relationships. On the flip side, these relationships that cause severe mental suffering break our poor brains and we end up with mental illness that we may not have already had.

Which one comes first? The mental illness, the psychological damage, the abusive relationships? It is hard for us to tell. If you think back through your past , if you can remember, then you will most likely identify abuse against your mental health. 

Situations of trauma cause PTSD. The people who tend to be the most affected are the ones who have had some kind of mental trauma in their past.

There are cases of severe trauma (like military horrors,)  that can cause PTSD , even of the person had a “normal” past. But a lot of the people who endure ptsd that never seems to go away, had some form of abuse prior to that trauma.

It is sometimes difficult to identify abuse from our past/ For some people it is glaringly obvious and for others it has been blocked out by their own brain. The brain wants to protect itself from further trauma and will black out memories and deny us access to them.

People with psychological damage often have more than 1 or 2 mental disorders. Some of us have so many that we feel kind of stupid “showing off our list” to people.

It feels like it will be disbelieved to write out the list such as…

…OCD, insomnia, depersonalization disorder, PTSD,  generalized anxiety disorder, domestic abuse victim, depression,  ACOA, eating disorder,  codependence,  social anxiety and derealization disorder, and avoidant personality disorder.

 See? …Now I feel weird.  My list  looks crazy to me… Really I look at that list and wonder how the hell I get through the day at all…barely by the skin of my teeth sometimes… that is …when i am able to get out of bed…

You are not alone if your list looks as long as mine does. My mental abuse goes back into childhood and I also had abuse as an adult victim of domestic abuse.  Things that occur in life that other people could “suck it up” about and get through, send me into severe post traumatic stress.

chilbirth, family, life, mental health, mental illness, motherhood, pregnancy

Mental Illness and Motherhood / OCD Anxiety Postpartum Depression

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/what-happens-to-a-womans-brain-when-she-becomes-a-mother/384179/

This article is very interesting. It describes how a woman’s neurology actually changes when she becomes a mother. The changes that occur in the woman’s brain are designed to make her protective of the baby. Depending on the woman’s background and genetics, these changes in the brain can cause OCD, and severe anxiety.

The symptoms of these mental disorders can be temporary or permanent.

In my personal opinion, if the mother already had a predisposition for mental illness (such as my mother had metal illness , alcoholism and was mentally abusive) then she will be more likely to have a more permanent change in the neurology of her brain after childbirth.

Personally , my OCD and generalized anxiety became worse after I had my first baby. The feeling of needing to protect her in this world that had already caused me mental damage, was frightening.

It has gotten worse for me as my children have gotten to be preteen and teen.  I feel more helpless to protect them as they are older. When they were babies and small children, I always had them glued to me. Here is a quote from the article.

“Because a lot of things do change, of course, but for new mothers, some of the starkest differences are also the most intimate ones—the emotional changes. Which, it turns out, are also largely neurological.

Even before a woman gives birth, pregnancy tinkers with the very structure of her brain, several neurologists told me. After centuries of observing behavioral changes in new mothers, scientists are only recently beginning to definitively link the way a woman acts with what’s happening in her prefrontal cortex, midbrain, parietal lobes, and elsewhere. Gray matter becomes more concentrated. Activity increases in regions that control empathy, anxiety, and social interaction. On the most basic level, these changes, prompted by a flood of hormones during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, help attract a new mother to her baby. In other words, those maternal feelings of overwhelming love, fierce protectiveness, and constant worry begin with reactions in the brain.”

If you have a chance to read this article, it is very worthwhile, especially if you have children and battle with mental illness.

What Happens to a Woman’s Brain When She Becomes a Mother

From joy and attachment to anxiety and protectiveness, mothering behavior begins with biochemical reactions.

Blessings,

Annie

health, mental health, mental illness, science of the brain

The Little Brain in your Heart Has Potential Healing Power

The heart is 50  times more powerful electrically than the brain is. The magnetic fields given off by the heart are much more powerful than those of the brain. This alludes to the heart being able to send communication out of the body and to another person’s magnetic fields. Your heart can communicate love  and compassion

The Institute of HeartMath in Boulder Creek, California  has research which shows that the there is a “little heart” in your brain which has “brain-like attributes”  Triple Helix Online

This has opened up a field of study of Heart Intelligence. The field of   “neurocardiology ”  is the study of how the heart and the brain communicate with each other. There is evidence that there is two-way communication between the little brain in the heart and the big brain.

John and Beatrice Lacey were the first researchers to investigate the communication connection between the heart and the brain.  This early research was done in the 1970s. This was the first evidence that there is actually two-way communication between the heart and the brain.

On January 7 of this month, there was new research released by the Neurologist Dr. Andrew Amour.

Neurologist Dr. Andrew Amour from Montreal in Canada discovered a sophisticated collection of neurons in the heart organised into a small but complex nervous system  . | January 7, 2015 |

The heart has it’s own nervous system. This little nervous system contains  at least  40,000 neurons.  These  ” sensory neurites”   are responsible for two way communication between the heart and the brain. If the heart feels an emotion, it sends the signal to the brain, which in turn sends the sensation into the body.

The “little brain” in the heart is the heart’s own intrinsic nervous system—a network of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins, and support cells that are very similar to those that exist in the brain, but act independently of the brain [2]. This information processing system can control the brain, the hormonal system, and other pathways. By using this system, the heart seems to have its own logic that functions separately from the autonomic nervous system  Srividya Murthy

The Institute of HeartMath has studied the heart rhythms and the variation in the rhythms of the heart. It has been demonstrated that our emotions are reflected in the changing rhythms of our heart.

When we are feeling positive emotions there is a harmony within the nervous system and the heart has a regular rhythm. When we are upset the heart rhythm becomes irregular and this has an effect on the nervous system, creating a lack of flow and harmony.

The heart usually communicates with the brain through nerve fibers that run through the vagus nerve and the spinal column. When a heart has been transplanted, these connections do not immediately form again, but the heart may still able to function because of the existence of its own intrinsic nervous system  Srividya Murthy

Electro magnetic Heart fields seem to be able to interact with the electromagnetic fields of another person.The heart is responsible for communicating emotions to another person that they can feel. You can feel a sensation in your body when someone who is in love with you, stands near you. They are sending emotions to you via the electrical and magnetic energy fields of the heart, as well as the brain.

There is proof of electromagnetic fields that can extend at least 6 feet from your body. That means that someone within that field range will be able to feel emotions from you. You can literally send out your emotions into another person’s sensory system.

I wonder how far we have the potential to send energy fields. There have been experiments of groups of people sending out love energies in a concentrated effort . They have resulted in less crime and violence in the area that the group was told to focus on.

There are possibilities of using energy sending techniques for therapy. Anxiety can be reduced by an altering of the nervous system in your body. There is possibility that a person can regulate your nervous system with their own nervous system.

There is potential for help for addiction, depression and post traumatic stress disorder. These are all conditions in which people suffer from a malfunctioning  nervous system.

There is a lot of interesting and exciting potential with this new research.

As always, I a sending my positive energy to all of you now 🙂

health, holidays, life, mental illness, religion, spirituality

3:48 oops 3:49 am Time is Slipping…..Good night post

We are here once again to say good night. The day was long and full of pain and also joy. I just posted my Christmas wish list for all of you. I meant all of it sincerely from my heart.

You have given me a safe haven to express and create. A place to be myself without the usual judgement. It is a valuable gift. You are all beautiful flowers in your weed fields.

https://wordpress.com/page/73602093/1096

I am glad to get to know you all, in your ups and downs. I am blessed to have been accepted into this family of talented and creative thinkers. You are each unique and individual in the way you create and think about the world. I have great respect for those who can think for themselves. It seems rare these days.

Of course, in being independent thinkers, we take a lot of heat and a lot of blows to our self esteem from the world. We each suffer in our way, in order to still hold onto our values and beliefs. In the end that is all we have, so we must continue.

God bless the creators, the inventors, the writers, the philosophers, the thinkers and the true healers. The true healers are the ones who listen, observe and connect. It is the mind/body interconnectedness that needs to be healed as a whole.

In the coming year, I hope that we can explore the connection of the mind and the body. To take care of one, without the other is not effective. We need to be mentally healthy in order to achieve physical health. We need to tend to the needs of our bodies, in order to have mental health.

These are all things I wish for us this Christmas eve day.

I wish for peace on Christmas eve. It should be an evening and a night of peace of the soul and quietness of the mind. Let us try to let go of the anxious thoughts and controlling loops that go round and round. Let us let go of the feeling that we have not done enough or not done well enough.

We have done exactly as we have done. There could have been no more or less. We did what we did. The path is still before us. Some of us have a lot more time to travel the path and some of us have very little time. We don’t really know for sure.

The time we are sure of is the present. We have this present moment to be still. Be still and just be.

You are not your past or your present. You are just who you are right now, at this moment. Let us all take a moment of silent peace within ourselves.

As each of us takes the moment at the time you read this, we will be connected together .

Somewhere in the quantum physics world, all of our individual moments will converge together. Even though each of you will read this post at a different time, in a different time zone, we are all reading it together.

You are all reading it as I am writing it. The reality of the fact that you will read it, is becoming a possibility as the words are flowing off of my finger tips.

It is in the possibilities that we are one. It is in the possibilities that we will all be saved. We will be saved from the suffering in our minds. Keep the possibilities as real as the facts. Eventually, the facts will become secondary to the possibilities.

It is in the possibilities that exists hope, faith, forgiveness, acceptance and peace.

Merry Christmas and love to you all,

Annie

life, mental health, mental illness

“It is so Good to Hear the Sound of Your Voice! ” / The Calming Effect of a Trusted Voice

The sound of a voice  can be comforting as soon as you hear it. There can be  an association with a certain person’s voice with good feelings. To have person like this in your life is invaluable.

When you are having a terrible day, you can call them. Their voice has the immediate effect of regulating your nervous system. You feel instantly calmer.

Anything that is consistently pleasurable to you, will create an increase the production of oxytocin by your brain. You develop  an association between the sound of that wonderful  voice and  comfort.

Your blood pressure goes down . You feel a sense of relief. The voice on the other end of the phone is like a safe haven.

Everyone needs to be accepted. We need to be acknowledged , forgiven and loved. We need someone who boosts our self esteem. When our self esteem is high, we feel good about ourselves. The voice of that person creates a neurochemical response in the brain.

They make us feel good. It feels  good to be with them and it feels good to speak with them over the phone.  They could be talking with us, reading to us or singing to us. Their voice has a real  effect on us.

We go through anxiety and difficulties during the day, The body and the brain are often bombarded with stress. The sound of unfriendly  voices , causes the release of stress hormones like cortisol.

So, after dealing with the stresses of the day, finally, you hear their voice. This is the person you can always trust to love you unconditionally. The sound of their voice is a pleasure  to your entire nervous system.

I have heard people say, “when I am having a stressful day, I call my best friend (or boyfriend, husband, wife…) and after talking with them I feel better.”

We do feel better.  The sound of that particular voice is a signal to the brain to calm down. There is no threat there. It is safe.

Mothers sing their babies to sleep because the sound of that familiar, comforting voice relaxes the baby’s entire nervous system. Newborns can recognize the sound of their mother’s voice, even in a dark room with their eyes closed.

The sound of that special person’s voice can help us to feel better.  Email and texting is good but the hearing their voice is far more effective for reducing our anxiety.

Thank God for the special voices in our lives. They are worth a million dollars !!  🙂

abnormal psychology, life, mental health, mental illness, psychology

Compassionate Touch Blog Part 2 / When Physical Touch is Unwelcome

While most people have a positive neurochemical response to compassionate touch, some people have had their normal response damaged. If touch is associated with abuse the brain may become trained to release stress hormones when the person is touched in any way.

People that have been sexually or physically abused may have severe anxiety when they are touched by another person. This is due to an adaptation of the brain in order to protect the person from harm. Instead of releasing oxytocin and other feel good chemicals , the brain will release stress hormones such as cortisol into the body , in response to touch.

If you notice that someone cringes at a pat on the shoulder or pulls back when people get close to them, it is best to respect their right to deny any physical contact. Forcing a triggering event onto someone can cause them extreme distress and a flashback to their original trauma.

Once someone has been conditioned in this way, the trauma has to be dealt with before they will be able to tolerate anything that is a reminder to them of  their past (or present)  trauma. The fear of being touched is a post traumatic stress response.

People in domestic abuse situations may react in an unwelcoming way to being approached too closely. They may still have muscle memory of being touched in certain ways. Abusers will use tactics like putting their feet on the victim or swatting them with things that is meant to be degrading.

https://anniemimihall.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/why-i-no-longer-eat-spaghetti-with-bread-trigger-warning-please-be-advised-that-this-content-is-a-potential-trigger-if-you-are-recovering-from-domestic-violence/

This can carry over after the person is no longer in the abusive relationship. It can cause problems with the next relationship they are in but with love and understanding the couple can work through it.

Adults of childhood abuse. may also have post traumatic stress disorder, that is triggered by touch. This is  deep emotional and mental scar. There are extreme fear responses in the brain that take over to try to protect the victim from any potential threat.  The trauma needs to be healed in order for the person to feel comfortable and safe.

In some cases, it is only a particular type of approach that is triggering to the person. They may react in a defensive way and not even be aware of the reaction. I posted a poem a while ago, about a reaction I used to have to anyone reaching near or across my face. ( I may reblog it today if I have time.)

If someone was reaching for the ketchup at dinner and happened to reach across me, near my head or face, I would throw up my hand in front of my face as a protection. I was completely unaware of the reaction until someone pointed it out to me, It was purely a reflex.

This is an example of a very mild reaction. There are people that have been through much more severe abuse than I was and their reaction may  be much stronger than blocking their face. They might shake and cry when someone touches them. Sometimes children will curl up or fight back with violence.

When I did my internship for college, I had a three month experience in an elementary school. There was a boy who reacted will an obvious pulling back when a teacher touched him on the shoulder.

Any teacher or child care provider who sees this happen on a regular basis should consider the possibility that the child could be currently in an abuse situation. If you feel that something is wrong, you should contact a supervisor.

Other types of people also have an aversion to touch. It does not always indicate an abuse situation. Children with autism do not always respond to pats on the back the way other children do. They may not be as affectionate with their parents. So , unusual behavior can be an indicator that the brain is wired differently for a variety of reason.

Compassionate touch can be very healing to most people when it is welcome. Part of being empathetic and compassionate is being observant and respectful of other people.

As always my hope is for Peace and Harmony for all of you,

Annie

abnormal psychology, alzheimers disease, anxiety, anxiety attack, dementia, depression, health, mental health, mental health disorders, mental illness, neurology, panic attack, self-help, short story, women's health

My Patient with Alzheimer’s disease / dementia is Afraid I will not Find my way Back to Her Again

My sweet lady, I will call her Rosalie, always cries when I leave work for the night. She also gets upset when I leave to go for my dinner break.

I always have known that she likes me there and that she is sad when I leave. But it was not until tonight that I finally realized just why it is so traumatizing for her. Now that I realize it, I can make it better for her.

A visiting nurse came to see Rosalie today. Rosalie took an instant shine to her and  felt very safe with her. The time came for the nurse to leave and poor Rosalie was holding her by her jacket and not letting go. She was crying and begging her to stay.

The nurse and I both tried to reassure Rosalie that she would come back to see her tomorrow. Rosalie said “no she won’t. She has to stay here.”

After the nurse left , I told Rosalie that she would be back tomorrow. Rosalie then said something that has never occurred to me before. She said “No she won’t. How will she find me again? How will she find her way back?”

That is when the realization came over me. Rosalie does not know where she is. She used to have a home and now she does not know how to get back. She does not know where that home is. She could not find it, even if we gave her the car keys and let her go.

She is so lost in time and space that she assumes that everyone else is too. The fact that the nurse happened to find Rosalie today, does not necessarily mean that the nurse can find her tomorrow.

Poor Rosalie feels so lost that she does not think anyone else knows where she is either. She does not understand that other people can find their way home and then back again to find her.

It was a great moment of realization to me. In her world, she is lost. She has no idea how she got to this place where she lives now. As far as she can tell , it is a lost place that no one can find.

Her family does not come to see her, so she must think they are lost and cannot find her too.

So. when she is crying at the end of my shift when I leave, she is truly afraid that I will not be able to find my way back to see her again.

So then, I explained to Rosalie that the nurse and I were good with finding our way home and back to her again. I told her that the nurse had found her way here today on purpose and could find her way home.

I explained to her that I had found my way to see her many times. It was not an accident that I ended up here. I assured her that I know how to get to where she is and that I would never lose my way to her.

This seemed to help.  From now on, I will remind her that I know how to get to where she is.

I will not lose her. I love her very much and will find my way back to her every time.

It reminds me that we all live in different realities. Our experiences form our perceptions and our feelings.

When we try to understand people by looking at their situation from our reality, we cannot truly have full compassion for them.

In order to understand, we have to listen and see that their world is different from ours. That includes the world they perceive in their mind. It is the only reality they know.

People who have been abused, people with PTSD, people with mental disabilities and people who are very poor have a very different reality than others.

It is true for many situations including people who have sick children, people who live with chronic pain, eating disorders, alcoholism and addiction.

In order to have true compassion we have to know that others see and feel things differently than we do.

Namaste,

Annie