Mental health update

My sister was transported in the wee hours of the morning to a facility an hour and a half away from her home. At least she didn’t have to wait days for it.

I’ll have to drive my elderly parents there to visit on Saturday during the one hour all day that the facility allows visitors.  She’ll probably be there about a week before an insurance company makes the medical decision that she should go home. She will most likely not be ready.

I hope that I make it as a writer so I can help take care of her in the coming years as funding for Medicare and Medicaid is cut down more and more.  It’s scary to think about. It’s enough to think about how my brother and I are going to have time and energy, or be available to help her when our parents are gone.  Hopefully, the services she will need to rely on will still be there. We simply can’t do it all while working full time (with overtime).

I hate to be so negative, but a guy’s gotta vent sometimes. There are good things that come along and make it bearable, and she does have a caseworker who has been helping her to be more independent in the last couple years that she’s had her own place.

I know that I must have faith in God to provide, and I do, but I also believe that God works through His people. We must fight to make things better for all, while we do what we can for our own loved ones.

 

Behavioral health: a misnomer

This post was sparked by news I just received from my mom concerning my sister.  She has a psychiatric diagnosis. The specifics will remain undisclosed for her privacy, but let me first address the general term.  For some years, the psychiatric field has taken to calling things like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. by the phrase “behavioral health”, rather than the older, and more accurate, mental health.

It’s a misnomer because it implies that the patient’s behavior is somehow causing the problem. It’s mental illness, not behavioral illness.

My sister was already kind of  “on the edge” lately, emotionally and mentally with her ongoing illness. She’s had many hospitalizations over the years when the symptoms of her illness or the medication management thereof, become too much to deal with.

Then someone from her church, whom she thought was turning out to be a new friend, invited her to a Christian coffee house last Friday. That was not the problem. They both enjoyed it. It was a couple days later that this person said something to my sister about the devil putting a bug in her, or something to that effect, referring to her mental illness. I’m getting a third party relay of information here, but I’ve heard it before.

I myself have bipolar depression.  It was more than twenty years ago, that I tried Biblical counseling. During the months that I was going there, I began to realize I was missing something. It was the fact that I, like my sister, had a mental health issue. When I shared this with my counselor, he told me mental illness is a misnomer. I never returned. I felt betrayed that I had spent time and money there, and shared intimate things, only to be met with a brick wall of ignorance and rejection.

I sought medical help and through medication and God-given inner strength, I have fared much better than my sister, thankfully. As someone I met through NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) once said, “But for the grace of God, there go I.”

So, this night, my sister waits alone in the ER for a bed among the mental health departments of any area hospital.  Somehow, none are available in the expansive, profitable “non-profit” hospital networks of our area, save for one an hour and a half away, which somehow qualifies as part of this network area, as far as the profit-gorged insurance companies are concerned.  She’s alone after my exhausted 86 year old dad and 77 year old mom went home for the night, having spent most of the day with her, waiting.

Visitation will not be practical, if she ever gets to that bed. The social worker said it sometimes takes days to arrange a transport from one facility to another of that distance. What a system.

I’ll keep you posted.

P.S. A moment of tough love from a sibling. While the church member should not have said what she did, I wish my sister would learn to assert herself. Hell, tell her off, and be done with her, rather than build it up to this dramatic event. I understand that she has an illness, but that’s what therapy is for. Sounds harsh, I know, but what are sibling for, right?

Small world

I sometimes feel bad that my indoor cats don’t get to go beyond the deck.  They’re world is so small.

Then I think how relatively small my own world is. I’ve been to a number of states in the US, but I’ve never been abroad. I’m not a socialite who has a hundred friends or so. I don’t go to a lot of different area eateries or places of note. There’s a lot of things I haven’t done, places I haven’t been, people I don’t know.

But it’s okay.  I’m branching out more as I go. I’m making more friends, trying new places and things. Unlike the cats, I have the internet, so I can at least virtually explore the world and its varying people and nature.  I can always explore the world around me through the people I see everyday. They all have stories to share. That’s pretty exciting.

I will not stop believing that I’ll get to do the things I want to do, as long as I stay determined and motivated.  And as for the cats, well, they have me and my brother, and each other, and the deck and windows. They seem content.

Am I content? Hmmm. Have to say not entirely. I’m trying to be happy with where I’m at, while staying hopeful about the future. I do pretty well at that. That’s good enough for now.

We’re all in this together

With so much division in our nation, right now,  it’s hard for any of us to remember a frequent theme of mine: “We’re all in this together.” I must admit I too have had many an argument on Facebook,  and tweeted or re-tweeted some harshly worded political messages. Some of my social media friends may find it hard to believe, but I’ve actually refrained from posting things many times because I feel like everyone is sick of it.

So how do we breach the divide? How do we, the common folk, the labor force, the consumers, the middle class, work together? Wait, we do it everyday.  At our jobs, at the grocery store, in the doctor’s office waiting room, at the fair or the park, and many times, coming together in a crisis.

I work with one woman who hates Trump and one who whole-heartedly supports him. The funny thing is, I (and many of my coworkers) don’t like the person who shares my ideology, while I enjoy conversation with the opposing one. We never talk politics, but who needs to?

Perhaps, we need a middle-of-the-road third party to replace these privileged politicians, these manipulating players, these bickering bureaucrats.

I think, when it comes down to it, we all want the same thing. Safety, security for the present and the future for our families and friends, and everyone else, and a little extra for fun stuff, and, of course, someone special to share it all with.

Obviously, there’s a great deal of disagreement on how to achieve that, but the answer is usually somewhere in between the extremes. We all feel helpless and angry at different times when major events occur that we have no control over.   Maybe that’s why there are so many social media “debates”. It’s all we can do. Doesn’t help, does it?

Personally, I think we’re all being played by the rich and powerful as they consolidate their wealth and influence. Divide and conquer. We are certainly divided.

So, let’s try our best to remember that we truly are all in this together. We’re all just trying to get by, muddling through as best we can.

Sunrise, sunset

A follow-up to Tuesday’s post: I was about to hit the snooze button the very next day, when I spotted a red glow through the closed blinds. A peek through revealed a gorgeous sunrise. I took it as a sign, and opened the blinds to enjoy a good long look at nature’s beauty. Then I went back to bed. Just kidding, I’m happy to say.  Did I get ya?

On the contrary, I turned the alarm off and got ready for work. I got there the earliest I have in a while. I quite accidentally overslept today, but still got to work a couple minutes ahead.  Momentum starting.

Then I was reminded by a news update that today was the first day of summer. It was a good day. Now, I’m watching the sunset on Midsummer’s Eve and enjoying the longest day of the year come to a close.

The lightning bugs rise up from the lawn to meet the day’s last light with their own. Earlier, my cat joined me in my chair on the deck, purring and padding my shirt. He has really soft fur, soothing.  I feel like I can do this. Working a lot, trying to write, keep house, take care of business, and myself.

I guess you have to find inspiration in the everyday beauty around you.  Find strength in the people around you, most of whom are dealing with the same things, or similar that you are. We’re all in this together. We can do it!

 

Photo credit: Eric Ritchey, Summer solstice sunset, 6/21/2018

Time to get serious (and this time I mean it)

I’m talking about discipline. Self-discipline, to be specific.  I’m 60 pounds overweight.  My old punctuality problem is back.  I’m not working out, and as you may have noticed, I’m not writing much. Ugh. It’s a constant struggle, isn’t it?

Part of the problem is that with my weight at my personal max, my sleep apnea is worse, and the lack of energy has made it very difficult to get other things done. I’ve had several naps rage out of control lately. I plan on 30-45 minutes and end up losing 3 hours, or more, even going so far as to reset the timer on my phone to sleep a while longer.

So, I’m not really blaming myself, or being hard on myself, but I am determined to push forward. Don’t worry, I’ll get medical attention for the sleep apnea worsening, but I’m not waiting for that to be wrapped up. I’m forging ahead with my discipline renewal now.

Am I setting myself up? I don’t think so. I’m very determined, tenacious, a little stubborn, perhaps. I know I can do better. You’ve got to do the best you can and allow for some minor slippage when you’re working on life improvements.  Don’t beat yourself up. The world does enough of that.

One thing I managed to figure out years ago, is that discipline is an interconnected thing. It’s hard to be disciplined in one area while completely lax in another. For example, sticking to a diet and exercise plan will actually help me work on my writing.

You don’t want to take on too much all at once, but you do want to have a brand spanking new mindset, one that accepts the reality of the occasional setback, but marches on relentlessly to the goal, knowing you’ll get there. That’s what I’m going to do.

Who’s with me? We’re all in this together, after all!  Go to it!

Roots for the future

My recent family reunion reminded me that it’s important to have roots in life. Everyone needs a base, a center, etc. If you’re a Big Bang Theory fan like me, then you can say, like Sheldon, it’s your 0,0,0.

Like many Americans, I don’t know my lineage beyond a few generations.  I know the Ritchey’s who settled the small town my Dad comes from were German, that I have a Scottish grandmother and a bunch of other DNA thrown in, including some Native American.

I’d like to know more of that, but for now, I’ll focus on what I know. My dad was one of eight children, of whom four are left, including my dad, thankfully.  From the time I was 5 or 6, we had our reunion at the same place every year, for a week. Yes, a family reunion that lasted a week. It was because those eight siblings and their families had spread all over the country. It was difficult to time everyone getting there at the same time and wasn’t really worth going that far for a day or weekend. Of course, many only did the weekend but I stayed the whole time almost every year.

I had one cousin, in particular, who was only about 10 months younger with whom I could pick right back up where we left off, after a year, as if we’d just seen each other the day before.

It was important to me to have this, since both of my grandparents on that side had died before I was born. I didn’t have that sense of lineage, or legacy. My maternal grandmother also died before I was born, and my maternal grandfather, the only grandparent I knew, died when I was just four, so I have few memories.

My many aunts and uncles were my only connection to where I came from.  They and my cousins were my reminder that I was part of something bigger, though I only saw them all once a year.

In the last few years, some of us have returned to the old place we had the reunion for so many years, though only for a weekend, not a whole week. There were a lot fewer in attendance this year, but the memories of those gone were shared.

As my dad’s generation fades, I’m so thankful for the time we’ve had and the time remaining. It sure makes you feel how fast the years go by.  I was also reminded that feeling old is, well, relative. Pardon the pun.

As I was talking with a couple of more distant relatives this time, and acquainting/reacquainting ourselves, I remarked that we started having the reunion when I was 5 or 6 years old, and now I’m 46.  They told me I was young yet. I was comforted by that perspective. I do need to work harder on my long term goals, and more urgently. I’ve started doing that over the last year, though. I don’t have time to waste, but I do have time. Time to be a writer, to travel, to meet my soul mate, and grow old together.

As I do all that, I will carry a legacy of a generous, spirited, warm and fun-loving family. I will strive to bring them honor, and to be the man I’m meant to be.