Friday, July 13, 2012

Reach for the stars and you might just end up with the Milky Way

FORT WORTH, TX, April 29, 2010—Okay, you have decided to really get to know yourself. Maybe not even that. Perhaps you have just decided your life needs some change and the steps take you within.
Among the internal cobwebs and dust bunnies you find long forgotten interests, hobbies, or maybe even a vocation. There are some dark shadows here and there, but you look about as if on a treasure hunt. Oftentimes it’s almost as fun as being a kid in a candy store.
Memories greet you like the warmth of meeting an old friend. You realize that you had forgotten just how much you like to play the saxophone. Or knit. Or that you were better than most in your competitive swimming class in high school.
Life is moving along, a little change here, a bit more of a change there. Since we’re all different creatures we all move at varied paces. Change happens at different times and in different ways for individual people.
Then out of the blue you can’t get out of bed. Or if you do, your body is full of lead as you trudge about your day. You think you’re coming down with something.
Sometimes this lasts for a day or two, or it can last weeks at a time. You can’t function like this. You worry about your responsibilities: children, homes, bills, jobs, food, etc., etc.
Then it’s gone. Sometimes it’s gone for a while - but it always comes back.
If not with the irrepressible need to sleep, you’re filled with hopelessness. And/or irrational fear, irritability, excessive crying, angry outbursts, difficulty in decision making, and thoughts of death or suicide.
You think you’re going crazy. Spouses, friends, co-workers, and others are usually concerned at first. But when this behavior continues many of them react with confusion, anger, and even denial.
You try to take the huge load off by yourself. But try, try, try as you might, you can’t—even when you are accused of being a big baby who can’t deal with life.
For some this becomes a way of life, for others, there‘s another side to the coin. Such as dramatic and unpredictable mood swings, excessive happiness, racing thoughts, restlessness, making grand and unattainable plans. Also, less need for sleep, increased energy, high sex drive, uncontrollable spending that gets you into trouble.
For the record, I am not a medical doctor. I do, however have some personal experience with the subjects at hand. I also took a look at WebMD.
The first sets of symptoms indicate Clinical Depression. Then add the opposite traits and you have Bi-Polar Disorder.
These symptoms don’t always show up when a person makes changes to their lives, but something usually triggers them. These diseases, for that’s what they are, are also hereditary. Environment definitely plays a role too.
The medical field doesn’t always know why symptoms present at an early age for some people and later for others. But brain chemistry is usually where doctors start treatment. The medicine helps the patient to be in control of their lives once more.
There may be underlying issues such as childhood abuse or drug use to deal with. The meds prescribed will further help the patient to deal with those issues as well. Many people abuse drugs because they suffer from chemical imbalances in the brain.
Drug abuse is often an unconscious way of trying to correct the problem.
Unfortunately there is still a stigma attached to mental illness. Patients are often regarded as if he/she sports naturally purple hair or has just sprouted a second head. Even in our enlightened society.
I’ve run into folks who find it too much to be close to someone with one of these disorders. They feel put-upon. To be a friend or close family member requires too much of themselves.
I say good riddance. Sufferers of these disorders do not need people in their lives they cannot depend on. Or people who think tough love is the way to get rid of the disease.
Mental and physical diseases and disorders certainly add change to any life. If chronic, they cause one to set forth on a new path as well. But that does not mean most of your dreams can’t come true.
By necessity it’s not uncommon to find passions you wouldn’t have come across if not for an infirmity. Amazing, isn’t it?
Dealing with diseases and/or disorders in life just means there are additional paths to get to where you are going. That’s part of the beauty of taking any kind of a journey. Whether by car, train, or life - the experience of getting there is half the fun.
I have found that by changing your perceptions and expectations, a fearful challenge can become a welcome challenge. Don’t let a need for help from the medical field and/or loved ones hamper your journey.
Go ahead. Discover and live new passions. Create new dreams and reach for the stars. They are there for the taking.

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Welcome! Here is the first column I sent to my editor this morning. It should be posted today or tomorrow.
I want to state for the record that unless a comment is really ugly and uncalled for I will post them. I don't care if the opinion of someone else differs from my own. I am a firm believer in Freedom of Speech and that everyone has a right to their opinions and to express them.
I also believe we can learn from others no matter how different their life experience is from our own.