Category Archives: problem solving

A Life Cut Short

Drew_Self-Portrait_2012

Drew_Self-Portrait_2012

A young friend took his life this week. He had just turned 31. He was handsome, funny, energetic, and so bright. And he was so desperate and discouraged that he could not see a future for himself in this world. He suffered from bipolar disorder and social anxiety, yet excelled in building online communities, seeing other’s needs, and identifying creative solutions to address them. Still he could not do this for himself.

Depression is insidious. It distorts memory and perception, so that one cannot recall nor foresee a time when feelings other than hopelessness and despair exist.

He had a support community: friends and family who loved him and wanted more than anything to keep him in a world of hope and acceptance. Depression refused to let them in and blocked his path out.

Suicide is not a selfish act, purposefully inflicting pain on surviving family and friends. It is not a cowardly act, demonstrating some inability to confront the future. It is not an angry act, designed to show others that they should have acted differently. It is an act of hopelessness, an act of acceptance, an act of assuming control over what feels inevitable, an act seeking relief, and often an act of removing the burden of oneself from the care of others – so the others may move on unimpeded. The emotional and thought distortion of depression creates its own world. He believed there was no other way.

There are many people today thinking they could have done something differently that would have saved him from this fate. Humans, at least in Western culture, tend to believe they can control outcomes if they just work hard enough to find the “right” answer to a problem. I know in this case, his friends and family did all they could to keep him safe.

I hope he has found peace. I hope he is in touch with his joy of riding.

Happy Trails, Drew.

When comedian/actor Robin Williams took his life last year, the nation’s attendance focused briefly on the dangers of depression and the woeful lack of appropriate response and available assistance, even to those with the means to access it. Perhaps the large response happened because so many people felt they knew this person. That has faded now. Now the pain and loss is felt one family at a time again. Nothing has changed to improve the understanding or treatment of the disease. We need to commit to addressing this.

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Filed under depression, healing, mental health, problem solving

Back on Track

It is amazing that the year has flown by and I haven’t written since March. Now it’s time for another Holiday Season. I’m not sure what happened, except that I continued to feel angry at the political climate in this country and at the politicians. I grew up in a time when we were taught, if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything. Maybe that has been operating, because I haven’t had a lot of nice things to say. Or maybe I have been trying to avoid my feelings of anger and frustration, and did not want to raise the issues again, or maybe I have been frustrated by wanting to keep my topics non-political, since my training as a mental health counselor and as a mediator has spent so much time on maintaining neutrality, that I have not wanted to compromise that. I don’t feel neutral. I have strong feelings and opinions. I’m just not sure they are compatible with my intention for this blog – that it be a resource for people exploring their feelings and relationships, not mine.

Politically, I am a liberal or a progressive.  I feel our taxes should be used to protect and support our people. I want people to discuss issues and compromise on workable solutions. I am willing to pay taxes for schools and police and medical services. I do not believe that feeding the hungry causes poverty or sloth.  I don’t believe policies that are legislated by a majority are tyranny.  I am concerned that our political practices are becoming more divisive more self-serving than ever.  I am saddened by the followings that self-serving people spewing hate and prejudice have built, somehow reinforcing the concept that “if you disagree with me, then there is something terribly wrong with you.”

How do we rebuild an environment where people can disagree, discuss their differences, identify the issues that can be agreed to, and seek some resolution that considers both views? We need to move forward in this country, in a way that recognizes the needs of all, and with solutions that consider those.  Instead legislators continue to be willing to cause great harm, even when there is nothing to gain. The sequestration – a solution deemed to dire for anyone to reasonable consider – and the shutdown were irresponsible. If our elected leaders cannot resolve their differences and work toward solutions that serve the people, they need to be replaced with people who will strive to serve – not just obstruct.

We live in an incredible place. Our geography is varied, our resources plenty. Still, our laws and policies favor adding to the wealth of those with resources and increasing the deprivations of those with little.  Are baby-boomers going to be the last generation with a middle-class?  I hope not.

I am grateful to be American, to live in a community that is beautiful, and that usually works toward serving the needs of its people.  I am grateful that my work was satisfying, and that my retirement is possible because of the social systems in place while I was working and now. I feel responsible for continuing to support caring for the poor. I am grateful I have the means to pay taxes, and to purchase the insurance I need for medical care.  I am grateful I had the opportunity to work with many great professionals and to serve great people. I love meeting children and adults years after our working relationship, and see them thriving.  That is the true reward of my work.

I am grateful to approach 70 with few complications and a sense of wonder.  It astounds me.

This week, our nation will gather for Thanksgiving. And while there are still many wrongs to be righted, and battles to be fought, I approach it with a hope that we will find our path again – one toward compassion combined with hard work, a sense of personal accountability and responsibility, tempered with good will.

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Remember, this forum is not intended to be therapy.  I have no way to view your body language, hear your tone of voice, or see if your words and your displayed emotions are matching.  These are essential to effective communication and great tools for the therapist (and for the consumer when reversed.) I will attempt to be as helpful as I can. I will refer you the best I can to needed services. Even though I will not be your therapist, I am by law and ethics to act to protect persons from harm. I am required to report my concerns of  harm to self or others, and suspected abuse of children and vulnerable adults.  I am located and providing these services in Washington State.

Again, I am open to communicating directly with you here.  If you have questions or concerns, please leave a comment. I will attempt to address the content if I can.

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Filed under behavior, change, emotional healing, habits, healing, patterns, problem solving, relationship, self-care, wellbeing