When we diet or alter our nutritional intake from what we used to consider normal, our body feels a change, but our mind and spirit also feels different. So I find myself having a wakeful period at a time when I ordinarily would be deep in slumber. I am not sure if my body is in ketosis yet, which is where the majority of the metabolizing is of fat instead of carbohydrates. And it could be this abundant night energy is partially coming just from eaten too much unsweetened chocolate which can stimulate me. Either way, it is not the ordinary for my body and it is not what my mind and spirit is used to.

So I find myself thinking back to college, which by coincidence I graduated six years ago today. At first I was thinking about Autobiography class and how when I took that class I felt some of the students and a professor I ended up adoring seemed to be judging me. Of all confusing and concerning things, a few of the students who didn't know me well asked me outright if I am a "sociopath" and they were being sincere. I was in the process of writing about going to a mental ward and being diagnosed as bipolar, which then was my diagnosis. These students wanted to hear about my memoir, and then asked me if I am a sociopath.

Back then, and in part now, I have had this thing about that label. I find it to be one that casts people out, and I don't always see the redeeming value of applying it to someone, even if it may be true. For me it definitely isn't, but I will get to that. So then I had asked the professor if I could stay in her empty basement because I was borderline without a home at that point. And she said sure. Then she was the professor of that class, Autobiography, and she wanted me to explain a little more in response to the students who were stigmatizing me with that untrue definition.

The thing about the sociopath definition is I feel people cringe when it is said, and I know people hurt one another all the time. Yes, it is true, there is a reason to fear strangers and sociopaths, I guess, and yes, as my home care nurse informed me on the only visit she ever made, I guess about 15 percent of all people are classified this way, and yes, sure, maybe it is a useful classification for diagnosticians.

But the diagnosticians all know I like people, I am kind to people, I try to be. I fail miserably sometimes. I can be very insensitive, and possibly because I might have some autism, and then there is the schizoaffective type bipolar disorder, that I used to call bipolar because that was then the diagnosis. But people who really study this stuff know I am good at heart and big hearted. Nice to animals. All that.

So here I was feeling quite burdened in Autobiography class, and I tried to hold my own. I felt so many of those questions just came to me because I was talking so openly about my mental illness, my time in the mental ward, so on. And that felt like stigma, though in part, maybe it was just curiosity. Or not knowing.

So flash forward a bit. Still at college, my last semester, another professor was my acting advisor, Kate Egerton. I remember exactly what she said in one of our meetings. I forget how it came up but she said "There can never be too much compassion." And it stuck with me.

Then the next time I had an advising session, I came in with something heavy on my mind. And I guess she could see it. So Kate asked what was up, after we decreed that it was okay that I didn't have any real plans after graduation other than to graduate.

I go "I am not sure I know what compassion really is." It felt tricky to admit, like I had been ignoring the most important thing in the world, I could have looked deeper into it, but I just was not ready or interested yet.

So Kate turns on her monitor, and I watch her across the desk. She reads this brilliant manifesto sentence, that I am certain must come from her favorite guru or the Dali Lama's blog or something. "Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental or emotional pains of another and themselves." Of course, the source is wikipedia.

The next time I see Kate, I'm worried because I am not sure I really know the difference between empathy and compassion. I am not sure if all of her advising appointments go this way, but I ask, and she says I am really digging into a question she posed to all her students.

"Compassion involves "feeling for another" and is a precursor to empathy, the "feeling as another" capacity for better person centered acts of active compassion; in common parlance active compassion is the desire to alleviate another's suffering." I found that language a little clunky. I don't think that the difference between compassion and empathy could be as simple as the distinction between "for" and "as" especially considering all of the recent hub hub about self compassion.

I really resonated with this sentence on compassion. "Compassion involves allowing ourselves to be moved by suffering, and experiencing the motivation to help alleviate and prevent it."

So then six years passed and I read a whole lot about self compassion. And I thought a lot about self compassion. You even could buy my Amazon book and upcoming Audible book on compassion (Heart Whispering).

Part of what I am trying to understand tonight is how to be more compassionate in my daily life. I think it almost takes an extracurricular activity, personally. I thought about volunteering for one of 2 possibly nonprofits, but I haven't figured out how to start that yet. The other major thing is just being as compassionate as I can be inwardly and outwardly in every course of my life, to remember to be sensitive and to invest my action in kindness.

Right now, for all parties, that means getting back to bed as soon as I can.