A season for change

In nature, spring is, of course, the time of renewal.  Trees budding, flowers blooming, wildlife rearing young.  But, for people, we grow up with the new school year starting in fall, going away to college, football season starts, and for many workers, vacations for the year are done and the busy time of year gets underway.

So, I always thought of fall as the time of renewal. Besides school, I started a couple different jobs in the fall, and I moved out on my own for the first time one September.  I tended to seek out new things as autumn moved in. I joined a film making group one fall, started volunteering at an independent film theater another year.

Then, over the years, I started to lose that association of renewal with fall. Any schooling was a distant memory, started my current job in the spring about three and a half years ago. I haven’t really done anything new in the autumn for a long time.

So, while it’s fall now, where I am, maybe the new theme should be renewal anytime. I hope to get my writing back on track now,  not just posting here, but working on writing projects. I’m not working overtime right now since it’s temporarily unavailable. That makes it a good time to renew and get into good habits, so that when I have less time, I can still do what I need to do in my off hours.

In other words, there’s no better time than the present. While it’s okay to associate a certain time with renewing or trying new things, the flip side is that you don’t need to save something special for that time.  Anytime is a great time to grow,  or renew, or branch out, connect or reconnect.

So, wish me luck on my creative endeavors and get busy with your own! Carpe diem!

Living, giving, striving

A commercial for Shriners Hospitals just reminded me to be thankful for what I have, and not feel sorry for myself about the negative things. The kids in the commercials are not sitting around helplessly. They’re working to overcome whatever obstacles life has dealt them.

I can’t speak for them, of course, and I expect that they sometimes feel sad or discouraged. Everyone does. Still, it’s inspiring to see them smiling and handling challenges at very young ages.

I’ve shared some things in this blog that I’ve dealt with, including some health challenges, but I was born with all my limbs, fingers, toes, sight and sound, organs intact and functioning normally and all the things we take for granted.

I feel like I’ve dealt with a lot and have shown a lot of strength and tenacity, and I have, but I would do well to remember that there are so many others who have challenges to deal with every day beyond what I’ve experienced or could even imagine.

I don’t mean to belittle anyone’s personal struggles which may not be as serious or severe as others’ by some measure. We all have crosses to bear, and they are important. The point is that we can take heart from those around us, or that we hear of through media sources.

It’s a strength of humanity that we experience empathy, and have a desire to help and support each other. Many people lament that we’re losing that capacity as we become desensitized, ever busier and harried, distracted, and perhaps, overwhelmed.  Not to mention, how divided we are in recent times.

But, when disasters happen, or a children’s hospital commercial is aired, or any of many causes, people give. Many people volunteer their time to better the lives of others. Family members make sacrifices to make life more livable for their loved ones.

There is good in humanity and we all should be thankful for what we have, and what we are able to do. Remember to give back because we’re all in this together.

Exclusion

Yesterday, I mentioned about my sister’s chattering driving me nuts, and it concerns me for her own sake. It’s hard for people to tolerate it, and I want to see her have a healthy social life.

While I can’t blame people, and I think she has to work to change that, I think people could give a little more of their time to talk to those who are a little different. I’ve been on the receiving end of exclusion and it hurts as much as direct bullying or snide remarks, if not more.  I’ve been excluded even by friends when everyone did something without me.

I was shy and quiet in school and had anxiety,  which made me socially awkward.  I get that people don’t want to deal with that. I know I’ve done it myself, avoided someone who was “strange” or talks too much, or something.  But, I have learned and grown from experience.

I think everyone has the capacity to do that, if given the chance.   The more a person is around other people, the more “normalized” they become.

Is there someone in your life who needs that chance? Take the time to reach out to them once in a while. I know sometimes you just don’t have the time, or you’re tired or stressed, and that’s fine. You have to take care of yourself. But when you can, be inclusive.

Mental health update, 7/30/18

I’ve had technical issues and other distractions, but I wanted to give another update on my sister.

She came home after about a week.  As predicted, the insurance company decided to send her home early, against the doctor’s recommendation and the social worker’s protestations. There was not even enough time to bring medication changes to the full dosage. Fortunately, she was well enough this time to stay stable in the meantime. She continues to do well. I just had a nice talk with her.  We’re both trying to lose weight and we trade successes and challenges on that front, among other things.

We can also talk about mental health issues, since I have bipolar depression and anxiety myself. I have pretty good insight into what she goes through.  I like to think I offer some help in coping from what I’ve learned.  And, I’d like to share more about that in coming posts.

I’m relieved she’s doing well, but I still worry about the coming years. There’s the financial issue, and the social. It’s hard to meet and keep friends when you have a serious mental illness. It’s even harder to meet a significant other.

I have to admit that she drives me nuts sometimes when she chatters incessantly. She also tends to turn the conversation back to herself a lot. I hope that I can help her to see that, and maybe learn to listen more. It’s not totally her fault. Her mind races and it’s hard to keep it all in.

It’s a hard knock life.

 

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.  Their 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.