Christmas isn’t always a happy occasion for all. It can be a tough time for some. While everyone is different with different problems, there are some ways to deal with the holiday blues and not spend another year in turmoil. I recently edited and epublished some self-help books with sound advice dealing with bullying, dating, how to be your own boss and dealing with grief.
Dr. Guy Ekisa is the author of the four books above. He doesn’t give pat answers or silly motivational clichés; no, he gives experiences from his own life. As a clinical psychiatrist he has devoted four decades to helping individuals overcome challenges caused by loss of mental or physical health and disruptions in social, spiritual, financial and relationship well-being. I asked the Edmonton professional a few questions on why he’s sharing his wisdom with the world.
WRITING FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
For me now, writing is an extension of my clinical work as a psychiatrist except that I’m no longer seated at the opposite side of the desk from my patient. The message that I share is a distillation of the knowledge, the skills, the insights that I have gained from my patients foremost, and the growth that I had the privilege to experience during my life’s journey through Uganda, United Kingdom, Canada and overseas – the insights that have helped many of my patients and contacts. This journey has taught me, among other things, that we are all interconnected and interdependent and do benefit by sharing. We are dependent on so many – the bees that pollinated the plants that fed the cows that produced the milk that sustained the women and men that made the shoes we are wearing. We learn and grow from others and others grow from us; we support one another and we are supported by others.
WHY DID YOU WRITE FOUR SELF-HELP BOOKS?
I wrote STOP MILKING A CHICKEN: Employee or Unemployed Personal Wealth Creation Resource plus a student companion book because most men, women and children are struggling to make ends meet while they continue to work flat out to make others wealthy. When we have more of anything we feel more contented and are able to reach out to socialize, help others and to share. Everyone has inner wealth that can be unleashed to create more personal wealth and improve personal lives and the lives of their loved ones, not to mention humankind and the planet.
I wrote DATE SMART in Five Steps: Don’t Settle For Less Than A Friend because in reciprocal relationships we feel happy, fulfilled and we strive to support one another. Unfulfilling relationships are more prevalent than we care to think. It’s painful to experience or witness an unequal and unbalanced relationship. While it’s natural and common initially for the partner who is at a disadvantage and who experiences emotional, physical or intellectual pain of disappointment to look to his/her partner for solutions to the pain that the partner caused, it’s futile to continue nurturing such an expectation in the absence of corrective actions – this would be like expecting a cactus plant to come and remove the thorn in your fingertips.
A significant amount of time and effort gets devoted to the bully and whatever turned him/her to start the bullying behaviour and I do concur that effort in this direction needs to continue. However, it’s your child who is being targeted and who continues to suffer abuse despite whether the bullying is due to learned behaviours, family or traumatic backgrounds or due to temperament in the person who bullies your child. That’s why I wrote COMFORT YOUR CHILD: Don’t Let A Bully Steal Your Child’s Dream.
This book doesn’t focus on the tormentor nor does it seek to work on or with the bully, his sympathizers, accomplices or unhelpful bystanders. Efforts that aim to create positive change in a bully need to be delegated to those who have the means, skills, opportunities and authority to effectively deal with the bully such as the bully’s parents, professional caregivers, the school and school board administrators, law enforcement authorities, the judiciary, civic leaders, government institutions, religious institutions and self-help groups. Armed with a coordinated and focused action plan, these individuals and agencies are better placed to address a bully’s lack of empathy, injustice, insecurities, aggressiveness and any pertinent traumatic or family issues. As a parent or caregiver, you will, however, need to either be instrumental or have your representatives be involved in prompting school authorities and community agencies to institute such a team as mentioned above to address the bully’s issues and ensure this team receives your feedback.
Loss of expectations is central to the experience of grief. Abuse, trauma and loss through separation, divorce or death only represent the tip of the grief iceberg. Any loss of physical and mental health, our attributes and anything we are attached to, be it human, animal, thing, spiritual or idea that may destabilize our functioning and undermine our wellbeing. FINDING COMFORT: As You Heal from Abuse, Trauma or Loss addresses grief in its widest sense.
WHY DR. EKISA WRITES SELF-HELP BOOKS
I receive and give advice almost on a daily basis and move on, incorporating some while being oblivious to the rest. While the words in my books include advice, they are presented in a form that encourages the reader to delve deeper into specific issues, work out possible solutions to meet their unique needs – thereby helping facilitate personal growth.
WHY DR. EKISA’S BOOKS ARE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SELF-HELP BOOKS
In my books I focus on the crucial need for each reader to identify his/her inner strengths/wealth and the wealth around him/her and to then deliberately take ownership of and responsibility for all aspects of his/her life and growth, including recruiting support. Based on my professional and personal growth, I know and believe that each reader, no matter his/her personal circumstances, has a great deal of resilience and inner strength. It’s this inner strength that has allowed him/her to overcome whatever challenge he/she has faced thus far. It’s this inner wealth that I encourage the reader to identify, record, own and tap into for problem solving and growth, while recruiting additional help from his/her network of supporters.
Dr. EKISA’S REAL LIFE EXPERIENCES
STOP MILKING A CHICKEN: Employee or Unemployed Personal Wealth Creation Resource: Jake takes ownership and responsibility early.
Jake’s parents struggled financially but always sacrificed to provide for his school supplies and tuition fees. He was an average scholar with his eyes set on studying mechanical engineering at university. He had an aptitude for mechanics and was often found tinkering with small engines or anything with a motor. He got his driving license at 16 and soon after that passed his Class One license and was ready to drive trucks. He immediately got himself a part-time job with a good company driving trucks within the city on weekends. He had good work ethics and got along well with his boss and other employees. After graduating from high school the following year, he made a decision that upset his parents. Rather than going to university, he decided to go to work instead. He had just landed a job as a long distance truck driver for another trucking company. After 18 months, he had accumulated enough money to pay for his university tuition for four years, with a surplus left. His parents were amazed at their son’s resourcefulness. His reply was, “I reckoned it was better to wait for a couple of years to go to university in order to save a lifetime in student loan shackles.”
He subsequently went on to university but continued to work some weekends. By the time he graduated, four years later, he had bought a one-bedroom apartment with a sitting tenant in it. He decided to keep it as a rental property. He also bought two medium size trucks from an auction and had his mother scouting for delivery business and working as the dispatcher for two young drivers he employed. He got a job as an engineer but continued to build his own trucking business.
The above example is ownership and working outside the box at the very best. Jake took charge of his destiny early on and decided to do things differently, against the best advice his parents could give him and against conventional practice. He knew his strengths and sought to learn from different settings. He developed a clear vision and image of what he wanted in life and how he was going to approach it. He had heard of relatives in their fifties and sixties, who were still bearing the burdens of student loans so he made up his mind that his education would involve more than merely going to school. He found another way to supplement school through practical experience. He found a way of sidestepping the stranglehold of student loans.
DATE SMART in Five Steps: Don’t Settle For Less Than a Friend: Misplaced assumptions.
Zolif was a 22 year old medical doctor who lived by himself. At 20, he had broken off a two-year turbulent relationship with his girlfriend due to her uncontrollable anger. It took him three months to work through the grief caused by the break-up. When he felt comfortable enough to start dating again, he chose a woman who was charming, bright, witty, funny and very sociable. The two liked each other and started going steady after a month. The one thing Zolif valued most in a relationship was to “feel heard.” It was not long before he started noticing that his girlfriend was more interested in enjoying herself than sharing time together. She loved being the centre of attention and cracking jokes. She was very opinionated and it was hard for Zolif to have a meaningful conversation without her taking over the talking. He had to repeatedly interrupt her in order to get a word in edgewise. Zolif grew tired of not being listened to and gradually became disillusioned with his girlfriend. After five months, he called off the relationship. His girlfriend was devastated because she had thought their relationship was great.
Zolif needed to feel that he was in a mutually beneficial relationship. He had assumed that this charming and witty woman knew how to make him feel special. It took him several months to realize that she had no clue how to do this.
COMFORT YOUR CHILD: Don’t Let a Bully Steal your Child’s Dream: Kindness heals – working through guilt and shame.
Vince was eight years old when he was raped by his maternal grandfather who then threatened to shoot him if he ever told his mother. His grandfather showed him the gun that he would use. Vince’s father had arranged for the whole family to go on a camping trip. However, Vince had pleaded with his parents to allow him to go to grandpa’s. Grandpa had promised to take him fishing – his first experience.
Vince’s life was never to be the same again. Out of fear, he kept the secret and suffered in silence. He kept his parents and siblings in the dark. His parents felt that his problems were due to laziness and his tendency to procrastinate. His irritability, anger and argumentativeness were seen as behaviour problems associated with his stubbornness. His declining school grades were seen as due to his unwillingness to work hard.
Although he never went to visit his grandfather again, the rape continued whenever the grandfather visited the family. The grandfather would instruct Vince to stay at home when the family went out and made sure that Vince saw the loaded gun. At 15 years of age, Vince decided to leave home to stay with a friend. This put an end to the cycle of abuse but not to the ongoing emotional pain.
The memories, the recurrent nightmares, the emotional pain triggered by the smell of tobacco, the sight of blood, middle-aged men, toy guns, to name but a few, continued to torment Vince. Worst of all were his feeling of guilt and shame. They were relentless. He would get very depressed. He blamed himself for putting himself in the place where he was raped.
An entry in Vince’s diary written when he was 17 read, “It was me who refused to go camping. It was me who insisted on going fishing. It was my fault. I brought it on myself. I am to blame…” Shortly after this he became so depressed that he talked to his friend about ending his life. The friend responded by driving him to a hospital emergency room where he was admitted into a psychiatric ward. He received ongoing counselling after discharge.
This example highlights the need for you, as a parent or caregiver, to be emotionally connected with your child, to be aware of his/her emotional space and wellbeing, and to respond to the smallest signal that indicates that he/she is beginning to deteriorate.
FINDING COMFORT: As You Heal from Abuse, Trauma or Loss: Confronting the nasty and disagreeable characteristics and behaviours
Wanda lost her baby at birth and addresses the nasties (painful and disagreeable memories relating to her doctor’s actions).
Wanda was a 22 year old married woman who went into hospital to deliver her first baby following a normal pregnancy. After a prolonged trial of labour, a cesarean section was performed – too late to save her well-developed baby boy, who by then, was in serious distress. He died within 10 minutes of delivery. Wanda was devastated.
She was discharged three days later with a follow up appointment in a week’s time. Wanda worked through her grief, with help from her relatives, but remained very angry with the doctor who could have prevented the death of a perfectly developed baby, had he done the pelvic measurements or responded in time. He had failed to live up to his promise to her and that he would make sure that the delivery went as smoothly as her pregnancy had gone. Each time she thought about her son, whom she never even held alive in her arms, she couldn’t stop crying and bargaining or feeling very angry at the midwives.
Two weeks later, Wanda decided that the only way for her to deal with her never-ending anger would be to meet with her doctor. After doing her own preparations for this meeting (i.e. visualisations and trial runs using drawings and after practising releasing exercises for a whole week), she decided she was ready to confront the doctor. She rehearsed what she was going to say and how she was going to say it and armed with her note book, so she would not forget anything. The she made the appointment with her doctor and took her sister with her as a supportive resource who waited for her in the reception room.
Once in the doctor’s office, Wanda took charge of the meeting from the outset. She didn’t ask for reasons or explanations. She had been in the delivery room for 36 hours and knew everything that had gone on, up until she was sedated for her operation. She told the doctor what she wanted to say and upon finishing, thanked him for his time and left. Wanda later reported that the doctor had tried to take charge of the meeting but she stuck to her script. Apology was not her objective, “My baby is in the grave. Nothing can bring him back. His spirit was, is and will always be in me. I need to heal and move on, beyond this pain.”
After she got home, she wept for hours. She did a release exercise and said “goodbye” to the doctor and her experiences in the maternity ward. Her preoccupation with the doctor and what went on in the hospital was no longer a major problem by the end of the week. She continued to reclaim shattered connections and to release the remaining pain – the things that were within her control. She retained the memory but not the severe negative feelings associated with it.
THE TARGET AUDIENCE
My books are intended for any one searching for betterment and fulfilment in their life’s journey, specifically those:
- Struggling with the pain of loss, whether this is due to bullying, loss of expectations, ideas, a pet, separation, divorce, trauma of emigration, serious traumatic events or death;
- Teenagers, and those who need to maximize their dating skills so they can focus on recruiting a friend for a companion, while avoiding human predators;
- Parents and caregivers of the bullied child (target) and
- Students, employees and the unemployed of our planet so they can learn to cast their nets wider as they seek financial security in the light of limitations inherent in employment as a means to become financially wealthy.
DR. EKISA’S CENTRAL MESSAGES
Stop Milking a Chicken: Employee or Unemployed Personal wealth Creation Resource – plus a Student companion book: As the reader works though this book he/she will gain additional insight and personal growth to the extent that he/she will feel more psychologically ‘fitter’ and more ‘adaptable’ enough to say: “I am aware that there are indeed forces that limit personal wealth creation. These forces are amenable to change. I do have necessary tools inside and around me to start creating for myself and increasing my personal wealth. If I can create wealth for my employer, I can create wealth for myself using the same skill set.”
Comfort Your Child: Don’t Let a Bully Steal your Child’s Dream: For a bullied child (target) or person to begin to feel that he/she is not alone because parents, caregivers and community supportive network are pooling together their resources to comfort and fortify him/her. This will empower the child to reach out to those who love and care about him/her including medical, mental health, life skills coaching and anti-bullying self-help groups. He/she will then be able to start focusing on day-to-day living, his/her aspirations and dreams, rather than continuing to be preoccupied with the bully’s nasty characteristics and disagreeable behaviour – thus the bullied child will become more “my wellness-focused” as he/she declares the bully unwelcomed and irrelevant to the healing and the journey towards fulfilling his/her dreams.”
Finding Comfort: As you Heal from Abuse, Trauma or Loss: Here my hope is that the reader will become aware that experiencing emotional pain (grief) during and after any abuse, trauma or loss is a normal human reaction. The pain comes in waves and lulls – the lulls give us a breather and an opportunity to start reclaiming our hitherto shuttered well-being. We need to hang in there. Grief pain does get better, sometimes with help from our supportive network and resources. When we are in a crisis what we need most is a shoulder to lean and cry on – we are not alone. While many have been there and lived to tell the story, each experience is unique to the individual.
ADVICE ON LIVING LIFE
Friends talk, can cover each other’s back and can agree to disagree. Enemies can’t talk and always seek to fight or annihilate one another. Strive therefore to befriend that which is inside you, but which hurts you, makes you ashamed of yourself, beats on you or is disagreeable to you because you are joined at the hip and you live in the same house.
I have three books in draft form and a few more in the incubator.
WHERE TO PURCHASE THE BOOKS
Check my website for write ups: http://drguyekisa.ca.
Contact Dr. Guy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twitter: @Ekisa Guy; Facebook: Guy Ekisa.