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Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Struggle. The Black Dog. Loony Bin. So many absurd names and so few solutions. Many famous, and infamous people, have suffered, and continue to suffer, with depression, bipolar and other mood disorders. In fact, the NIH says one in four have experienced a mood disorder in their lifetime. Neurology and psychiatry don’t fully understand the massive intricacies of brain chemistry and each case must be treated individually. Look at the historical efforts to quantify the source in the bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, over the last fifty years. We still know so little in the scope of human experience.

Some nations say that depression does not exist. There are their citizens who say otherwise.

We are lobbying for stiffer gun controls in the midst of horrific shootings that have robbed us of our best, brightest, and most innocent.

With the most recent nightmares in Aurora and Newtown, people are fighting for quick movement on gun control. But they are avoiding the most obvious wounded elephant in the room: those with mood disorders or other mental health issues that are not being adequately addressed.

Suicide is rampant among our Wounded Warriors and Silicon Valley geniuses.

In my work, I meet people from all different backgrounds. There is still so much shame and stigma about mental health issues, that many don’t seek help or avoid taking their medication. Others cannot afford the rising patent and insurance costs associated with antidepressants and antipsychotics. Some patients require a combination of medication and therapy to carry on a functioning life. The price of one antidepressant alone can be $1500 per month! Mental health disorders can strike anyone at any age, gender, orientation, nationality and religion.

The next time you see a homeless person who screams and swears at you, remember that is not some “crazy person.” Perhaps, that is someone who is unwell and not receiving treatment. Consider taking a more charitable view and remember that there but for the grace of G-d, medical treatment, or a dear supportive loved one, go we.

People have lost homes, jobs, families, and lives. Far too many have a dual diagnosis of drug or alcohol addiction in attempts to self-medicate and “escape.”

The medical and insurance red tape that keeps people, and doctors, from accessing or administering medical care affordably, is at crisis proportions. Many of our wounded lost their access to medication and their homes trying to afford it. Many are hiding in shame, and stigma, rather than seeking help in fear of losing their standing in the community or among their colleagues.

I sat with someone yesterday who was suffering from multiple mood disorders. She shared the story of living with one sibling after another until they could not care for her anymore. She told me how she went back to her husband because he has health care coverage that she needs to seek help from a psychiatrist. She told me that he drinks until he passes out at night, and has been arrested repeatedly for DUI with 126 days of jail time. But she cannot leave him because she will not be able to get mental health care. She told her life story, grateful for the comfort of someone listening, with abandon. She had so much pain and had lived with it for most of her 59 years. She has worked as a nurse for 32 years but cannot afford to get the pills she needs and is grateful that the psychiatrist gives her free samples.

I have met a parent of a 9 year old who has tried to commit suicide three times.

I have met a woman who still suffers from mental health issues that include panic attacks, severe depression, and paranoia due to spousal abuse.

Don’t look away and think that this is not your problem. If you have not been afflicted personally, look around you; someone in your circle has, and is, struggling and hiding.

If you are able to get help, thank a therapist, social worker and/or psychiatrist. If you or someone you love is suffering, seek help, call 911, take your medication……….lobby and write to your elected officials for affordable Mental Health Care……you cannot wish this away. You cannot pray this away. You cannot look at the bright side, nor can you just snap out of it.

The tag line of my favorite medical show no longer on TV is “Everybody Lies.” When it comes to Mental Health, it is the truth.

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The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.  Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.  Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.  Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.  Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.  Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

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Being Empathetic means that you can feel and observe someone’s emotions. You may best know intuitively how to be kind, but you also learn to feel the range of emotions.  A Queen is fine-mannered but smart too. One of the lessons I am still struggling to learn is that not everyone looks out for others or is genuine.  It sounds silly, but it is taking me a lifetime. 

The question of WIIFE (what’s in it for me) is not one I ask.  How can I help? How are you feeling? Those are the types of questions I ask.

Life has depth and meaning and it is not all about money or how much you will make from being nice.  Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping and what money can do.  Just ask anyone in my family.  Or the people at Nordstroms.

This is not a Judeo-Christian type of turn the other cheek behavior meant to let people walk all over you.  Yet, Empathy has the power to heal and comfort. How cool is that?

It also lets you see the ones who are insincere, manipulative, not listening, arrogant and too busy to care.  That is not an excuse. Everyone is busy. Even the President has the time to look around the room while planning war strategy.

Empathy is knowledge. I don’t always have a lot of patience because I pick up quickly the intention, or lack thereof.  Intention and attention are attributes of Empathy.   Footprints on your back are not.

But, back to that life lesson I am still trying to learn.  Years ago, I took one of many personality tests I have taken over the years.  The results showed that I am part of only 2% of the population. While that can be affirming that I am one of the chosen and special few, it is also a reminder that what I take for granted in treating other people courteously and kindly, is misunderstood by 98% of the population!

Self-knowledge is hard won;  the ups and downs, heartbreaks, and losses are not easier because you are an Empathy Queen.  However, the opportunity to choose and reveal yourself to those who appreciate it or need it is one of the leaps of faith you make.  Sometimes the only “thank you” is the one you tell yourself through gritted teeth.

Empathy is powerful.  It comes from firemen, police men, teachers and nurses. It informs idealism, creativity, productivity and cooperation. But cross an Empathy Queen, and try to abuse her abilities, and she never forgets.

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I appreciate it more than you know.
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Disclaimer: Not everything I write is about one person. I really do have a combination of experiences from life, adventures, and work history. Please don’t think it is all about you, good or bad.

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