Mental Health- Internal Family Systems (ISF): GAD, PTSD, CLL, Post Menopause & COVID-19 Collide
There is no other way for my body to push through 45 minutes on my Elliptical cardio workout without listening to music on Spotify. Exercising is one of a multitude of tools for reducing my generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD that has increased since the final cycles of being in a clinical trial for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) December 2020. Plus, colliding with two years into Post Menopause and the 2020 -? COVID-19 global pandemic A perfect storm! On Halloween 2021 I turned sixty-one years of age. If you are younger than sixty, this would be old! This age for me is a surprise. How have lived this long?
Here is a little peek into living with the taboo of mental health issues and cancer. Lately, I’ve discovered podcasts are another great tool, similar to listening to music or just a nice unexpected change when engaging in the need for cardio exercise. Discovering tools to support mindfulness and self-compassion toward my mental well being, increase my heart rate, and improve my overall health is a must. Scrolling quickly across my cell screen with ear buds, in search of a new podcast suggestion according to other podcasts saved.
I read this brief synopsis about Elizabeth Cush’s Women Worries podcast that resonated with a term I adopted to describe different forms or versions of the woman warrior of light within myself, linked to the book, Warriors of The Light by Paulo Coelho. I am once again becoming better acquainted with myself as I begin my sixth decade of growing on this beautiful earth we all live on. Elizabeth (Biz) engages in conversation with Michelle Richardson about finding compassion and making friends with your critical parts.
Wow! This podcast initiated another level of perspective for myself and others. Connecting to my optimistic belief that there is a realistic realm of all humanity, capable of collaborating with kindness for the common good from healing parts within our beings. I wear clear prescription glasses, not rose colored. My ancestry research combined with a need to heal.
The term “parts” in IFS (Internal Family Systems) aligns with describing various forms within my being. By the end of the 45 minute workout session and listening to the podcast, research began for this type of therapy. I have participating in CBT and EMDR. A few days later I met with my caring and compassionate social worker as part of my Mayo Hematology/Oncology Team. I was ready to ask her about IFS. She mentions IFS before I do in our session. There is more research available Wow! Two times in one week IFS crosses my path. Mentioning she had just begun training and shared some resources via email after our session.
One book recommendation was-No Bad Parts by Richard Schwartz, PHD, who developed the IFS model of therapy. The IFS Institute describes Schwartz as a systemic family therapist and an academic. Grounded in systems thinking, in response to clients’ descriptions of various parts within themselves. He focused on the relationships among these parts and noticed that there were systemic patterns to how they were organized across clients. He also found that when the clients’ parts felt safe and were allowed to relax, the clients would spontaneously experience the qualities of confidence, openness, and compassion that Dr. Schwartz came to call the Self. He found that when it was in that state of Self, clients would know how to heal their parts. A third IFS crossing on my path. Plus, Alanis Morissete wrote the forward…..Sold!
In the early 90’s Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album arrived on the alternative music scene with her well known emotionally raw lyrics. Ironic, speaking to my thirty-two year old heart and soul. Along with Four Non Blondes- What’s Up! I was divorced, You Oughta Know, alone with my eleven year old son and my one year old son, renting two rooms from a woman in her beautiful home, set up against the mountain preserves with one Hand in My Pocket. I returned to the university as a full time student to finish my bachelor’s and master’s degree and You Learn. Alanis Morsette sometime after Jagged Little Pill became a hit in the alternative music genre she discovered Richard Schwartz and IFS. Her music is a story of the early stages of my healing. Alanis is a strong, resilient Canadian woman from Ottawa, Ontario. I was almost thirteen when she was born June 1, 1974.My grandmother’s lineage settled in the Acadia area of Canada during the 17th and 18th centuries. Today this area is now New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. I want to Thank you epigenetics!