My oldest daughter called this morning on her way to work. She works at a major Children’s Hospital as a nurse case manager. She see some of the most critical and heart wrenching cases. In the past she worked at another unit that was an adolescent med-psych unit so she has experience with psych.
Today she was distressed that a short while ago her bosses son overdosed and died. They don’t know if it was suicide or an accident. Then she learned that a friend’s child committed suicide. This morning she was distressed that she is seeing so many cases of young adults and teens in crisis. Like the rest of us she has no idea why this is happening but is terrible concerned about the culture that is creating mental distress in the young.
It seems that both of these cases were a total surprise and not the result of known mental health issues. Of course she realizes that the problem could have been there unrecognized but in these two cases it seems not.
Recently several blogs that I read have talked about the current TV series 13 Reasons. The blogs have been very negative about the value of this program and its influence. I have not watched it….I watched a brief piece and the premise turned me off so I quit. The blogs seem to feel that this show has a bad influence on young people and the blogs were written by people close to the age.
There are so many problems with the structure of the family today that it is easy for me to see why children are stressed. In some cases the children run the family and the adults take second place. When this happens children don’t feel safe. There is no strong adult influence. Parents must be parents.
In other cases the family is so busy with outside activities that there is no family time. They don’t eat together or take time to talk and share. Children need structure and down time with their family to feel connected.
Like my daughter I am equally concerned about the pattern we are seeing in children and young adults. I pray that some change will come about that re-centers the family group and gives children security and grounding.
Raising children to become anxious and prone to violence and suicide is a plague upon our society.
“You did the best you could” words that we say or think often. Sometimes we struggle to keep going. Sometimes we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and completely lost. So we fall back on doing the best we can. Later we question ourselves. Was it enough? Did we really do our best?
Maybe things didn’t turn out the way we thought they should. Maybe we end up feeling guilty. Maybe we question ourselves. We think we didn’t try hard enough, have enough expertise, plan well enough. We just wanted to take care of everything.
The truth is that most of the time we do the best that we can with the information we have at the moment. Later more information is forthcoming and it seems we could have done something else and we begin the decent into questioning, ruminating and obsessing.
This is the trap we fall into. Life is not perfect. Decisions that we make can not always be perfect but we expect it of ourselves. We have to adjust our expectations of ourselves. Expectations can kills us. We see failure where there is none. We push ourselves too hard. Again, life is not perfect. Things may not be okay at the moment but we can go on. We can tale each day as it comes. We can trust that we tried our best and that is all we can do.
Some days are good and some not so good. I am fighting IBS again. This always brings on anxiety. I always seem to do this after things are settling down. I am one of those people who rises to the crisis, works to help, sees it resolve and then falls apart. I guess it’s not a bad way to be as it does allow me to work through problems before I crash. I just wish no crash would come at all.
We live an up an down life. At least I know some of us do. Things aren’t perfect. The ability to work through the imperfect is critical to our well being. That kind of strength is what helps us to survive.
Change is inevitable like death and taxes. The change may be as small as rain instead of sunshine but it is change. As we grow we need to learn coping skills. Without them we are set for a major fall. I am sure that all loving parents would wish that there would be no major upheavals in the lives of their children. No failures. But that is not reality.
Too often we want to save them. Cushion them from their mistakes and make the problems go away. Unfortunately, this is the wrong path. If we don’t learn coping skills when we are young then we have no experience when things go wrong. I have known parents who covered every mistake made by their children. As the children reached their teens the mistakes became bigger and harder to deal with. Some mistakes even ended with the teen going to jail.
We must learn how to cope early and keep on learning our entire life. Each bump in the road teaches us how to handle the next. We learn how to take detours and keep on going. We may suffer in the process but we survive and can use our knowledge to help the next person on the road.
Today I made bread. I often do but today I started thinking about the making of bread. You start with simple ingredients. Flour, yeast, milk or water, salt, butter or oil, sugar or honey. Lots of other ingredient choices…too many to name. You can make any kind of bread you want but one thing is always there……the smell. When the bread is baking the smell begins. You take it out to cool and the smell envelopes the house…..no not house…HOME! That smell….enchantment….home.
For me there are some things that really make anywhere I am a home. The best is good things cooking whether I am the cook or not. The smells speak of love and caring. The hope that a family will be there. That people will sit around a table. They will talk and share the day. They will connect.
The sad part is that this doesn’t happen as much anymore. Families are so busy. Everyone running in a different direction. No time to be family. No time to listen to each other… to learn about the day. No time to share.
Unfortunately, families need this time. Without it each concentrates on their own lives. They don’t connect….there isn’t time. No wonder children are growing up feeling un-anchored.
The other piece of the puzzle is that it seems that the emphasis of the family is on the individual children. Not on the family as a whole. The parents are not the bond that holds it all together. There is no time to spend on the marriage….that relationship that is central to it all. Without that the family disintegrates. We end up with no marriage and children who see themselves as the center of the universe…entitled to be.
Entitled children grow up to be entitled adults who are totally focused on themselves. This is not the way to live. How can we make this better?
Yesterday I read an article about the newest drug craze. People are buying flower seed and using them as drugs. Apparently some seed have an ingredient that is similar to LSD. I guess it is far enough away from the 60’s for them to not remember how those drugs work. LSD was a big deal in the 60’s. Timothy Leary was the guru who encouraged people to try the drug. He wanted everyone to “take a trip” and experience altered reality. For some people it did what was advertised. For others it produced a “bad trip” and not only did people do things like try to fly off of buildings but some kept experiencing “trips” for years after using the drug once.
I have never wanted to be out of control. That may just be an issue for me but I had no desire to try mind altering drugs. Native Americans and primitive peoples have used various plants to reach an altered state. However, I don’t think they have done it for fun but as a religious experience.
I am sad that there is such a culture of drug use. There is a big problem with opiods. Some of the drugs that we use for anxiety and depression are being abused by those who don’t have any problems. It worries me that so many people need to escape their lives by altering their brains.
I don’t know if the problem is any worse than it has been in the past. Maybe we have shifted from emphasis on drugs like morphine and invented new ways to dose our bodies. Whatever is the problem, abusing out bodies is not what life is about. I have no idea how to help but I wish I could.
People can say stupid things. It is amazing to me that they don’t really think about what they are saying. When I ran a grief support group I heard some goodies.
You can have another baby (to someone who just had a miscarriage)
God needed another angel in heaven ( to someone who lost a child)
Your husband wouldn’t want you to be sad (to a new widow)
I’m sure things are better now (to someone whose wife died a few months ago)
God never gives us more than we can handle (to someone who lost two teenagers in an accident)
Everything will be alright (to someone diagnosed with a fatal illness)
Sometimes when we don’t know what to say we can fall into the trap of saying something stupid or offensive. We may not mean it that way but that is how it comes out. When people are going through tough times they don’t need to hear these kind of answers. They need to hear
Can I bring dinner by tomorrow?
I’m going to a movie tomorrow can I pick you up?
I am so sorry
I will call you soon (only if you really will)
Give a hug
Cry with them
Solid concrete help is what is needed. Only say what you mean. If you can help try to do something specific. Don’t just say “how can I help?” Instead ask if you can pick up children, run an errand, offer a day out. Each individual needs different things. You have to gauge what will help.
Most importantly offer compassion and love. Nothing is more needed. If you have suffered a similar loss you may understand better what they are going through but don’t assume it will be exactly the same. Just being there is critical. Don’t just say something…..do something!
Today was such a mixed day. I began stressed waiting for some medical results. I think I overdid my meds because of that. I got called about 11:00 that all is well and the anxiety subsided to leave me feeling groggy. It’s funny how there are times when the adrenaline goes it goes all at once. Still I felt good. I went to meet some friends for lunch and on the way out of the building down steep stairs fell the last two and twisted my foot/ankle? It hurt but I could walk on it so went on to enjoy lunch.
After lunch walking back it really hurt so headed home for ice and ibuprofen. Those helped and now it is just a minor ache. I learned a good lesson about managing my meds as I’m sure that’s why I lost my balance.
Life is about balance. Can I balance my checkbook? Can I balance work and home? Can I balance exercise and food? We are always working to keep life on track. We have to weigh the things we do and try to keep an honest balance. Taking care of others and not ourselves makes life out of balance. In contrast we can say the same thing about paying attention only to ourselves and shutting others out is not a balanced life.
Learning to balance our moods and concerns can be even more difficult. Sometimes there is just no way to keep it all together. We need to strive for that balanced life. Sometimes we will lose balance and things will fall over but that is life. Just keep trying.
“O that my vexation were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances!