Living In A World In Which I Am Invisible


In my fifties I started to notice that I was becoming invisible to most people.  What I mean is that most people no longer met my eye when we passed in the street or had an accidental coming together in a public place.  I first noticed it with men and young people.  Even if they had to go to great lengths to not see me they would do so.  Then as I aged and lost the status of a profession this general non-recognition spread to most people. 

You may know what I mean.  If you go to someones house and they have teenagers, they don’t see you if you are an adult.  The parents may force them into some recognition of you but they usually make it quite clear that they don’t want to recognize your existence.

As an older woman it seems to terrify any man I meet to acknowledge my existence.  I have a feeling that men feel that if they acknowledge me I will then think they find me attractive  Having blessedly reached a point in my life where I agree with Gloria Steinem’s dictum that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle I would still like the recognition of my humanity.

It amuses me that when I am going into a store or walking down the street the one person who will meet my eye is an older women.  We acknowledge each other with a wry smile that allows us to affirm our existence to one another in spite of the world’s judgement.  I treasure these moments. 

So what is the point of this reverie?  It has made me more sensitive to others that don’t exist.  Who are they? People who are unattractive or handicapped or have mental problems or are of low status or like me simply old.  I have learned to try to acknowledge these fellow non-beings when we encounter one another.  Often times they are so used to being ignored that they don’t even realize I am trying to meet their eye.  Sometimes the destitute when recognized ask me for money which is a grace from God if I can help them.  What I give them isn’t enough to really make a difference and may even be used for drugs or alcohol.  None-the-less I hope they felt recognized in a simple friendly human glance and a smile.

One of the benefits of being invisible is that it can result in humility.  After my husband died my invisibility made me feel desperate to prove that yes I exist.  When I wasn’t acknowledged by others I despaired of ever being significant to anyone.  This contributed to my suicidal desire.  I wonder if Job felt that way?  Especially since he was the richest and most important man in the land.  I wonder if the most difficult thing for him wasn’t the loss of health, property or even his children but simply the loss of his identity?   He no longer was who he had been.  He was a man sitting in a garbage dump scraping his skin as it peeled from his body.  He couldn’t give lavish gifts to his children even if they still existed.  He had nothing.  Maybe he thought his children wouldn’t have wanted to know him if they still lived since he had sunk so low. 

The turning point for me was that moment when I knew that I exist even though the world may not care.  I exist because I was created by God who loves me and sustains me.  At that point my prayer became like those wry smiles I exchange with other older women, God and I share the recognition that I exist because he loves me and that is simply reason enough.

Anti-Depressant Drugs Can Cause Suicidal Thoughts


Last week I went to a psychiatrist for help with a high level of anxiety . He prescribed  a low dose Lexapro, an antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug.  My appointment ran for 1 1/2 hours and covered my background.  He diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by the suicide of my husband a year and a half ago and by childhood physical abuse and neglect. 

I believe this is the correct diagnosis.  However the drug is the wrong drug.  I started having suicidal thoughts within 5 days.  I read the literature that says the drug can cause suicidal thoughts in people less than 24 years old.  The pharmacist I spoke with said that while it is rare the drug can trigger suicidal thoughts in older people as well. I sent an email to the psychiatrist who responded  with questions about what I had done to develop new interests.  I reminded him that I have plenty of interests and am well-disciplined in keeping up a daily regimen of activities.  I questioned whether he knew which patient he was emailing. He sent me another email which did not address the possibility that the drug was causing the problem.  Yesterday I cancelled my next appointment and went off the drug.  This morning I am already having fewer suicidal thoughts.  I believe that this is an example of a serious problem within the mental health profession. 

I went to this psychiatrist because he recommended by a psychiatric case worker who was sympathetic to my having been forcibly sent to the hospital by a doctor when I asked for an antidepressant drug a few weeks ago and although I admitted to suicidal thoughts I stated I had no intention of following through with the act.  The case worker told me that competent psychiatrists no longer take insurance and I would have to self pay.   Obviously this is not true of all psychiatrists who take insurance but the ones that I have had under medicare were clearly burned out and not interested.  They were unreachable in a crisis.  So I thought I would spend a precious $250 to see a private one.  I would have to say he was just as burned out as the medicare psychiatrists.

Perhaps the problem is that the profession is trying to treat a medley of problems with drugs.  I think that the primary cause of mental problems is probably spiritual.  Drugs may offer a bridge of support to the patient while therapy and spiritual guidance  have a chance to work.  However, in the last 20 years insurance companies have decided to reimburse psychiatrists for drug treatment only.  Any therapy is left to social workers who are much less trained.  These workers are perhaps competent to moderate in couples therapy and problems that are amenable to practical solutions.  This leaves people with serious disorders with no real alternative for help with resolving deep issues.

Since I am a Christian I have support unavailable to many patients.  Prayer definitely helps me through crises.  I just wish that I could find help in the mental health community that wasn’t outright hostile or simply concerned about avoiding law suits. This is realistic fear for mental health professionals since patients are often eager to sue and lawyers are certainly eager to oblige them. I think only a complete overhaul of the system can remedy the situation.

Mental Illness Is Real And Can Be Treated


Mental Illness Can Be Treated

Several of the comments I have received indicate the writers do not believe that bi-polar illness a real illness. Some have written that they were diagnosed with bi-polar illness and that the prescribed medicine made them suicidal and when they got off the meds the suicidal ideation went away. I am sure if there is a misdiagnosis this can happen. These are powerful medications and if a person is misdiagnosed these medications can certainly bring on a variety of symptoms.
In the only case I have extensive experience with that of my husband there is little doubt that he had a very severe mental illness. His father also had this terrible illness. Rich’s father killed himself in 1969 before any of the medications for bi-polar illness had been invented. Lithium was being used in Europe but was banned in the US at the time of Rich’s father’s death.
Rich had a deep desire to not take the medication. Several times he tried to get off them with disastrous effects. Each time he had to be hospitalized and it took months to get the meds back into balance. My husband was always good about taking his meds and I guess I can thank his obsessive compulsive disorder for that. Many people with this illness refuse to take the medications when they are in the manic stage ending in hospitalization or suicide attempts or worse.
On the other side of this issue The American Psychiatric Association is currently considering classifying grief as a mental illness. This is medical malpractice. Grief is a normal condition of people who suffer great loss. However depression is a serious condition and though grief may resemble depression there is a world of difference. Depression changes the brain’s chemistry and recovery without some kind of intervention is rare. With grief however there is a natural healing of the pain as time passes and the person comes to terms with their loss resulting in a return to their normal personality. This can be a matter of months or even years.
In my own case I think the prolonged grief I have gone through was caused in part by the length of time I cared for my sick husband. Over 17 years of debilitating mental instability took its toll on me as the caregiver.
I think the suicidal thoughts and depression were something that could have been helped by a good therapist which I didn’t have available at the time they began. When in the course of blogging I talked about issues that turned out to be causing the depression and suicidal thoughts I was released from those thoughts by the very act of bringing them out in the open. Had I gotten a prescription for anti-depressants then I think the symptoms would have been masked by the medication and the problems would still be unresolved.
Prayer helps with this process but does not replace good medicine. If you are dealing with someone who has bi-polar disorder or severe depression or schizophrenia don’t hesitate to get them the medical help they need. You may save their lives or extend them by years. God expects us to use ordinary means to help those we love who are sick. If it were a heart attack or a broken leg you would surely get them medical help. So too with severe mental illness, don’t wait get the help now.

Our Lives Depend on the Kind of Thoughts We Nurture


Elder Thadeus

Last week, while hiking in the Sandia Mountains, my blood sugar fell to really low levels. I would guess it was under 50. I became really shaky and weak and while walking a trail that was full of small rocks, called scree, I fell several times. My feet would shoot out from under me and I fell on my tailbone and lower back. The low blood sugar was caused by eating insufficient carbohydrates before and during the hike. Normally I carry a candy bar with me and some nuts but this day I brought only the nuts.
I was so weak I didn’t know if I could walk out. I had several miles of treacherous switchbacks to go. Making it worse was that I had my dogs with me and I knew that if called for help the ambulance wouldn’t allow me to bring the dogs with me. The dogs would probably end up in the pound. I was unwilling to put them through that experience.
I started to panic as I considered all these dire outcomes. Then I thought of what Elder Thadeus said, “Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture.” My mind instantly cleared as I thought of all God’s promises in his Word. I rememered that he is always with me and the panic left. I was able to continue walking out. Although what should have been an hour and a half walk turned into a very painful 4 hours walk. I kept my head. I told myself that while it was extremely unpleasant to be so weak and fall so often, I could survive it. And I did. I offered my sufferings to Christ and thought about his thirst on the cross. Certainly my ordeal was nothing in comparison.
This experience made me think about having worked with a cognitive therapist in the past. The main idea of cognitive therapy seems intuitive: Thoughts precede emotions. So to heal the emotions change the thoughts. I never understood why this process didn’t seem particularly effective for me. Over time my thoughts got no less negative.
So why was I able to change my thoughts this time where I was unable to in the past using the tools of cognitive therapy? The key seems to be that without God, fear of the world and future events is pretty realistic. Only if there is a God who is intimately involved in my life can I trust that no matter what happens God is with me. Without the knowledge of God’s love and good will toward me changing my thinking is just a form of positive thinking with no basis in reality.
I know that God works all things for the good of those who love him. It isn’t that bad things don’t happen to those who love God but knowing that no matter what happens God will use if for both my good and the good of others is what enables me to push on through. My experience in the woods was different because I knew God was with me.
Where cognitive therapy didn’t help, now I am able to turn my thoughts to the things of God. I turn to his word and to his promises and these change the negative emotions because they are founded in what God has said and promised. I believe it because whenever I trust his word and promises he comes through for me in a way I could never have foreseen. So it is reasonable to trust him because it is not presumption it is relying on his Word.
God has been teaching me that as I think so I will be. If I allow myself to feel defeated or fear the future my life becomes a boiling pot of confusion and I cannot focus my mind. If at the first moments of fear I turn my mind to the things of God then my mind calms down and lets me pray I am able to take a reasonable course of action that God gives to me.

“Our Life Depends on The Kind of Thoughts We Nurture”


Elder Thadeus

Last week, while hiking in the Sandia Mountains, my blood sugar fell to really low levels. I would guess it was under 50. I became really shaky and weak and while walking a trail that was full of small rocks, called scree, I fell several times. My feet would shoot out from under me and I fell on my tailbone and lower back. The low blood sugar was caused by eating insufficient carbohydrates before and during the hike. Normally I carry a candy bar with me and some nuts but this day I brought only the nuts.
I was so weak I didn’t know if I could walk out. I had several miles of treacherous switchbacks to go. Making it worse was that I had my dogs with me and I knew that if called for help the ambulance wouldn’t allow me to bring the dogs with me. The dogs would probably end up in the pound. I was unwilling to put them through that experience.
I started to panic as I considered all these dire outcomes. Then I thought of what Elder Thadeus said, “Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture.” My mind instantly cleared as I thought of all God’s promises in his Word. I rememered that he is always with me and the panic left. I was able to continue walking out. Although what should have been an hour and a half walk turned into a very painful 4 hours walk. I kept my head. I told myself that while it was extremely unpleasant to be so weak and fall so often, I could survive it. And I did. I offered my sufferings to Christ and thought about his thirst on the cross. Certainly my ordeal was nothing in comparison.
This experience made me think about having worked with a cognitive therapist in the past. The main idea of cognitive therapy seems intuitive: Thoughts precede emotions. So to heal the emotions change the thoughts. I never understood why this process didn’t seem particularly effective for me. Over time my thoughts got no less negative.
So why was I able to change my thoughts this time where I was unable to in the past using the tools of cognitive therapy? The key seems to be that without God, fear of the world and future events is pretty realistic. Only if there is a God who is intimately involved in my life can I trust that no matter what happens God is with me. Without the knowledge of God’s love and good will toward me changing my thinking is just a form of positive thinking with no basis in reality.
I know that God works all things for the good of those who love him. It isn’t that bad things don’t happen to those who love God but knowing that no matter what happens God will use if for both my good and the good of others is what enables me to push on through. My experience in the woods was different because I knew God was with me.
Where cognitive therapy didn’t help, now I am able to turn my thoughts to the things of God. I turn to his word and to his promises and these change the negative emotions because they are founded in what God has said and promised. I believe it because whenever I trust his word and promises he comes through for me in a way I could never have foreseen. So it is reasonable to trust him because it is not presumption it is relying on his Word.
God has been teaching me that as I think so I will be. If I allow myself to feel defeated or fear the future my life becomes a boiling pot of confusion and I cannot focus my mind. If at the first moments of fear I turn my mind to the things of God then my mind calms down and lets me pray I am able to take a reasonable course of action that God gives to me.

Hiking in New Mexico – Correct Blog Address


Boo Is The Better Hiker

Sorry about the confusion. The addressof my new blog is http://www.newmexicohiking.wordpress.com
I created three blogs before I got this one set up properly. Used the address of one that didn’t work in my posting about the new blog.

God Is A Better Blogger Than I Am


An interesting thing has happened since I started this blog. I have had to face my own suicidal impulses in front of the world so to speak. For example I would start a blog on resources for someone who is coping with suicide. But in the background I would be talking with God about why I am feeling suicidal. Finally I would stop the blog I was writing and write about the conversation I was having with God. There have been several breakthroughs with this technique. First I discovered that I needed to move both my home but especially my church. I found that I wasn’t getting what I needed in either of those situations. Once I made the decision to move the suicidal thoughts left me and haven’t come back. I don’t think the thoughts will come back because since moving to a new church I realize that the lack of nourishment in my original church really made me feel unwanted and unfed. This is nobody’s fault but my own. My unwillingness to face that I needed to make a big change and leave behind what little support I had left me clinging to my old church and unwilling to move on. God used this blog to help me see it.

Yesterday I was blogging on prayer and suicidal thoughts and I sensed my heart wasn’t in it even though it is the central issue for people facing this problem. I stopped the blog and opened a new screen and knew I needed to write honestly about the rage that had come on me in the last few days. I felt deeply ashamed of the rage and though I didn’t want to write about it I felt God was urging me on. I prayed as I wrote, just telling about the rage.

Suddenly an answer materialized as I wrote. That I was in a rage at a former therapist whom I felt deserted me when I needed him most. God gave me that missing and vital piece of information. I had no idea that was the source of my rage. As I continued to write about the situation I kept blaming the therapist but God kept calling me back to my accountability in the situation. From my perspective the therapist let me down but how I chose to use it was up to me. God wouldn’t let me off the hook. Finally I wrote “it is what it is” and the rage fell from me. I am not accountable to the therapist and he is not accountable to me. I could let go of the situation and by the grace of God I did. The rage that was pushing me to kill myself fell from me like a cloak from the shoulders.

Unfortunately I published the blog last night instead of waiting until this morning and re-reading it. In it I said that the therapist is not a good man. I can’t know that. That isn’t even my experience of the man. I don’t know why he did what he did. It may have been with the kindest of motives which I can’t even imagine.

So I ask all of you who read that blog to forgive me for saying the therapist was not a good man. I was not being a good Christian when I published that.