Dinah, ClinkShrink, & Roy produce Shrink Rap: a blog by Psychiatrists for Psychiatrists, interested bystanders are also welcome. A place to talk; no one has to listen.
Sunday, July 06, 2014
Guest blogger Dr. Sana Johnson-Quijada on Freedom and Self Care
I met Dr. Sana Johnson-Quijada at the APA Annual Meeting this year in New York. Sana has her own blog Friend to Yourself, and I invited her to do a guest blog on Shrink Rap. In honor of Independence Day, she sent the following post.
Self-Care is Freedom, is Democracy, is Because We Are Accountable
Self-Care Tip #159 – Be accountable for and to yourself.
was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which in my part of the world is
considered hot. But in Washington D.C., I considered that temperature
general anesthesia. I was breathing it in and trying hard to remain
alert. Just when I thought I could hold out no longer, I saw him. Big
and expressive, the long form of Abraham Lincoln was there, surrounded
by loud irreverent people. My brother and I were wiping sweat out of
our eyes trying to keep track of our kids. We wanted to read the
Gettysburg Address for our kids, and found ourselves screaming. The
kids could barely hear the words above the disinterested rabble around
us. Despite all this, I was choking; a weepy, sweaty, nearly
anesthetized but free American.
score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a
new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that
all men are created equal.
we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or
any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met
on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion
of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their
lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper
that we should do this.
down the corner from Lincoln is a president’s list of sites to see,
informers and reminders of who we are and where we came from. However,
none of them were “my Lincoln” experience.
in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can
not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled
here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it
can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to
be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here
have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here
dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored
dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the
last full measure of devotion…
A couple of days ago, writing the post about
how stress intersects with medicine, I remembered “my Lincoln.” It may
seem like a stretch at first but take a minute. Self-care is a way of
saying, “I am free.” In places where life is cheap, almost without
value, self-care is not much of an option. It is because of freedom
that we can extricate the meddling fingers, the invasions, and be the
keeper of our own private spaces however we choose to. It is because of
freedom that we can tell people that although my brain is ill and although I take medication, I am equal. Saying that is self-care. Saying that is possible if we
take that freedom to keep our own accountability for our own selves.
Accountability is not the same as blame. Having accountability for our
freedom is not the same as being at fault for what came before freedom, nor our current conditions.
we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that
this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that
government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not
perish from the earth.
you’re not accountable to your inner self, if you’re only accountable
to your actions, or you’re only accountable to what others determine and
define about you, than you are not free. You are blamed.
is such a tender privilege. We might lose it if we forget who we are,
where we came from and our rights to freedom. Democracy is self-care.
Question: How do you see the relationship between self-care and your freedoms?
I practice psychiatry and parent, with my husband, our 3 small children.
Woven into this, writing and connection to community continues to bless me. I am grateful.