Posted in Life Lessons

Elusive Panacea & Tragedy

Today’s post is in response to WordPress’s Daily Prompt: Panacea.

All humans can agree that our world is full of difficulty and disease, but the concept of something that would cure all of our ailments and mend all of our troubles seems like the beginning of science fiction novel where the reader will immediately begin wondering: what’s the catch?  If there were a solution that fixed everything, wouldn’t we have found it by now?

I think panacea is an idealistic illusion. It’s something that everyone would want, but would require sacrifices we would not be willing to make. I imagine that the necessary sacrifice would be our individuality. It’s both what makes us human and what prevents us from reaching a panacea.

The tragedy that happened in Texas this Sunday killing more than two dozen is something that could have been prevented. If you’d like to debate that fact please do so elsewhere, I won’t be engaging in that conversation.

I’d instead like to focus on one of the reasons why these events keep recurring in America while other countries like Australia effectively ended mass shootings decades ago.

When it comes to reforming gun laws many Americans immediately think of something being taken away from them. Beyond that initial fear they are paranoid about what the government will do after reforming gun laws: the possibility of more of their ‘freedoms’ being ‘violated’. The concern for life is immediately eclipsed by our need for individualism and we fall back into the same pattern: tragedy > outcry for gun reform > outrage at possibility of gun reform > no reform > tragedy.

We’re trapped in this stubborn cycle and there doesn’t seem to be a way out. I know I’m not alone in feeling so hopeless and helpless. What can we do about it? I can’t lie, I’m normally not one to call my representative directly unless all the information is laid out for me (after writing this I looked it up, it is SO easy through Call Your Rep). I have tried to boycott companies before, but have gotten lazy. I found a list of companies that support the NRA for boycotting, but most of them aren’t relevant to me.

What can we do about it? We can stop fighting each other on social media. The change we need isn’t going to be coming from the comments section of a news article or from an insightful post shared to your followers. We aren’t getting any closer to a solution when we rip one another apart. Instead of sharing your fury online, share it with your representative or share it with the companies you support. Leave your social media for funny memes, cute pictures, and compassion.

Will we ever find a panacea? No, but we can always do better.

 

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Posted in Free Time Fun

Another Mood.

I am still riding out a bout of intense depression and couldn’t muster the strength for a real post. Instead I started playing with words, words beginning with the letter o. I challenged myself to create a poem with o-words expressing my current state of feeling. I think it turned out quite nicely and maybe the positive spin here is that even if I feel like garbage, I can still find some fun playing with words and expressing myself.

OVERCOME

overwhelmed openly observed

obviously obfuscating outcome

obscured oxygen oozing organism

obnoxious obsession overact

opposite outlook ominous

obtuse obtrusive offensive

odd obscene outcast

Posted in Free Time Fun, Life Lessons

Hour of You

I challenge you to spend one hour each day in November focusing on your dreams. Why? In conversations lately I’ve been running into people who get themselves stuck in the same situation that I find myself in now. There are so many things that we WANT to do, but when we get home from work/school/social obligations we readily let go of those things we hunger for and settle for the quick escape that presents itself instantly in the form of television, movies, and social media. It makes me wonder what we could accomplish if we spent the first hour we got home tuning into ourselves.

You might be wondering what that looks like and I don’t have an exact answer for you. For me it’s going to be writing as my dream is to one day be a published author. Here are some questions that will help you determine how a daily action can bring you closer to achieving your dreams: What are your dreams? What is a goal that you have wanted to accomplish, but never had enough time for? What are your values and morals? What do you want your life to look like in 5 years? In 10 years? What’s something you’ve wanted to do that you never allowed yourself to believe was possible?

If there isn’t anything you want to work on that’s fine, but you should still take an hour to be present with yourself. Spend some time meditating, go for a walk, journal, the options are endless. Who knows, maybe when you’re taking this time a desire or passion that you weren’t aware of might present itself! For more on the power of connecting with yourself check out this interesting read on Wired written by Robert Wright: How Mindfulness Meditation Can Save America.

Posted in Life Lessons

Mental Healthcare is a Struggle

For the past year (maybe even more) I have been struggling to get back into regular treatment with a therapist. It’s something I don’t talk about because it’s a frustrating process. I won’t waste much time on how hard it is to get access to healthcare. Seeing a regular doctor for a routine health issue can be a complicated process with numbers, carriers, referrals, approvals, co-pays and so on. Access to treatment for specific illnesses involves more complications. Without insurance it’s nearly impossible to afford treatment. 

Beyond the issue of access there’s the problem of stigma associated with mental illness that can make reaching out for help incredibly difficult. I talk a bit about the weight of stigma is in my post Bouncing Back From The Blues.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) put together an excellent fact sheet on mental illness statistics in the United States and it’s saddening yet not surprising to me that Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year.” To put that percentage into perspective there are approximately 43.8 million people living with mental illness in the U.S., which breaks down to approximately 26 million people without care. 

More than an individual’s mental health is at stake when mental illness goes untreated. Lack of treatment is a risk to physical health. NAMI notes, Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.” Lack of treatment can lead to traumatic outbursts and, “Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.”

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. indicating that there are countless people out there without hope for the possibility of healing.

Let’s pretend you have great insurance and can get right to a mental health professional without a referral. Then there’s the chance that they might not be a good fit for you. There are innumerous horror stories about providers that fail to help. I heard something that really touched me in a podcast from Psych Central. Their guest Natasha Tracy recalled an incredibly painful comment that a provider made when she was feeling suicidal, “You’ve tried every treatment and they’ve all failed, what’s the point in you having a doctor?” For Natasha those words, “drove me into a place where I felt like suicide absolutely was the only option for me.” I haven’t been in the exact situation, but I have been in similar situations where I was searching for hope and help and instead was met with judgement and defeat.

Recently thanks to a random series of circumstances I have been linked with a therapist that wants to help and fits my needs. A friend begun treatment and loved it so much that she gave me their information. I had given up on finding a provider because each referral was for a clinic I could never make it to since they were only open during regular business hours, but my friend’s excitement about tackling her anxiety gave me the courage to reach out to the contact she gave me. I was impressed at how quickly they responded. Not only did they take my insurance, they had me setup for an appointment in less than a week. I’m still slightly apprehensive about the process since I’ve been burned before, but I know how helpful it is to have that support while I sort out my thoughts and behaviors and aim for a happier life.

If you’re out there struggling with your mental health you are not alone and there is hope, even if you can’t see it right now. Call the suicide line at 1-800-273-8255 if you’re struggling and need someone to talk to, they’re there to help. You matter.

Posted in Life Lessons

Body on the Tracks

“Body on the Tracks”

Huddled. An empty train packed.

Delayed. Half hour commute tripled.

Paused for Signal. Still silent bodies wait.

We appreciate your patience.

Rerouted. Shuttle buses to final destinations.

Tracks closed from Belmont to North/Clybourn.

Two miles of investigation.

Attempts to make sense of the unknown.

Two miles of collection.

Piecing together an incomplete picture.

Two miles of re-assembling existence extinguished.

We apologize for the inconvenience.


I wrote this poem this morning after my commute to work. Normally it takes 30-40 minutes and today that was almost tripled. All the CTA would let us know was that downtown service was stopped from Belmont due to police activity. Maybe I should have assumed it was a jumper, but I didn’t. After I found out the delay didn’t matter as much. I only felt sadness and that question that always looms… why?

For more on what happened head to the Chicago Tribune.