Just simple practical suggestions for many of life’s difficult situations.
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My late father used to say, “Just wait till you get to be my age boy”.
Of course, like many of our parents that was one of many of my Dad’s favorite sayings to me throughout his long life of 83 years; from the time I can remember till just before he died.
The older we get, the more we tend to reflect on our age and the past. If it’s not the result of a deep lingering memory, it’s that old sports injury or new diagnosed illness which creeps up behind us, taps us on the shoulder and says, “you’re old”; you want to just turn around and slap it but then you realize you can’t turn around like that anymore.
None of us want to believe we’re getting older. I know a writer I met a few years back in her nineties told me she couldn’t believe she was as old as she was because she just didn’t feel like it.
One of my university “Geriatric psychology” professors used to say, “You can try to run from it, ignore it or simply change the subject but the fact is, if you’re lucky age will catch up to you.” Think about his remarks,”…if you’re lucky…”. He would also add, “If you’re not lucky enough, it won’t really matter and you and God can discuss what happened up close and personal”. Most of the class didn’t appreciate his dry humor at the time but it was his way of saying “don’t take life too serious”.
In other words if we’re fortunate enough to experience all that accompanies a long life, we will have aches, pains, difficulties and the emotional stress of moving forward in time and “getting old”.
A Christian Psychologist colleague of mine (who is no spring chicken) says repeatedly that the older we get the more important it is to have a daily personal reaffirmation which involves positive affirmation about our present life situation; regardless of our current circumstances.
Everyone should formulate their own daily plan. My simple fifteen to thirty minute daily “re-affirmation” (reaffirming the life God has given me) usually goes something like this: I pray thanking God for today, my life, my family, church and our nation. As an epileptic I also ask for a “seizure free day”. I sing one of my favorite praise choruses, “Let’s forget about ourselves and magnify the Lord and worship him”, I read scripture (currently reading through Proverbs and Ecclesiastes), I read a portion of a favorite book or two and finally I formulate a plan for the day.
We must never dwell on the past because we’ll never get it back. The past poisons and penetrates our mind and very ounce of our being; to quote a popular cliché’ of our day, “Just let it go”.
The bottom line is that each of us are “Ageless wonders”. Leave the past behind, don’t worry about the future and pursue the present.
Jesus said it best, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” (Luke 12:25:26)
God bless your day.
© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD
In follow up to my previous article, “Depression is everybody’s problem”, this article will point out the danger of depression when gone unchecked.
The 2015 crash of the Germanwings Airbus A320 flight 4U9525 on March 24, 2015 which killed all one hundred fifty persons on board is a stark reminder of the need for closer scrutiny of those who are put in charge of the lives of others.
In the crash of the Germanwings Airbus A320 flight 4U9525, the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had apparently been struggling with mental illness and depression for some time. He even received a letter declaring him unfit for work (at some point)which somehow officials are only finding out about now as a result of Lubitz hiding the letter.
Like many depressed and psychologically distressed people, Lubitz apparently was able to hide his illness all too well; many who knew him, found him, normal, capable and even fun.
Even when he was originally hired by Lufthansa in 2008, the company said Lubitz was psychologically sound and completely fit to fly.
As of today however, after the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Bild (a German Newspaper) citing unnamed sources claiming that Lubitz had suffered severe mental illness, Lufthansa has now admitted they learned in 2009 that Lubitz had suffered a “previous episode of severe depression”.
Although Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, knew of Lubitz’s battle with depression, they allowed him to continue training and ultimately put him in the cockpit.
Lufthansa contends however, that because “Lubitz had a valid medical certificate, had passed all his examinations and “held all the licenses required”; there was no reason not to let him fly.
This is a staunch reminder of the need by every one of us to take a proverbial pinch of our mental capacity to see if we’re really ok. We all need to maintain good mental and emotional health but unfortunately not everyone is willing to check their mental and spiritual compass.
If you doubt your mental stability for even a minute, for goodness sakes talk to somebody professionally. Don’t be so proud that you endanger yourself or those around you.
On another level of mental health, too often like the recent German Air crash, someone with less than competent mental capacity gains control of people and either limits or ends their lives.
The potential for anyone with power over people to take such control to the extreme is just too fragile to allow incompetency to be put in control.
Having worn so many professional hats over the years as a pastor, theologian, psychologist and insurance adjuster, this writer has seen far too much incompetence among those in charge of others.
The old saying of “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is so true.
This writer has seen good men and women totally collapse under the obligation of power and control.
I’ve seen pastor’s attempt suicide after major catastrophes like hurricanes which wiped out their churches and homes, theologians who couldn’t handle a flaw in a theological truth they once held firm, attorneys who lost major cases, athletes who lost the big game, parents who lost children and on and on.
In short, everyone is vulnerable to mental illness and associated depression at some point in their life.
When life becomes more than we can handle on our own, that’s when we need to talk to someone professionally.
But what about the professionals who think they’re above talking to someone?
Does this not support the need for a required mental assessment of every major professional?
Certainly all pilots, bus drivers, train operators, ship captains and personnel, doctors and hospital staff, law enforcement, attorneys, prosecutors and certainly all politicians should be required to have an extensive mental health screening; not just a criminal background check but an intensive mental health checkup.
Most of all both the Democratic and Republican Parties should include in their Presidential Candidate vetting process a mental health checkup made public to all.
Good mental health is very important and should never be taken for granted because the mind can indeed be a dangerous thing.
Please, if you are having strange or unusual thoughts, feeling depressed or lonely, call someone today at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email@example.com.
Also call your political party requesting that a mental health checkup be required in all political candidate vetting processes; especially of those running for the office of president.
© 2019 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III
Having been one all my life, it is sometimes easy to overlook the fact that I am indeed an epileptic.
I am on medication and live a fairly normal life. I do most everything that non-epileptic people do; in fact after eleven years and seven attorneys attempting to get this “Grand General Epileptic” disability, the state and federal governments denied such because they declared that I was a “functional epileptic”.
“Functional epileptic”, is there really such a thing? That’s a topic for another discussion.
None the less, most epileptics will tell you it’s not necessarily the seizure that’s the great concern but everything leading up to and afterwards such as pre and post seizure auras that are truly debilitating and hinder the ability to “be normal”.
For the non-epileptic, it’s important to note that epileptic auras are for most, more dreaded than the seizure itself and like a seizure they can occur unexpectedly at any time with or without medication with no reason as to the cause.
One thing for certain is that there is nothing fun about an aura. They can last from a few minutes to hours or even days. The average aura time for most epileptics I know is about 15 minutes. My average aura last 24 hours but I have experienced a pre-seizure aura which lasted 2 days and a post-seizure aura which lasted almost a week.
Auras are terrible. They can be mild to migraine headaches, the proverbial “seeing stars”, visualizing “saintly” like glows or halos around people, visualization can take on a yellowish hue as well as experiencing strange sounds and odors.
But the worst aura experience of all for most epileptics is dissociation; the feeling of uncertainty of where you are or what many epileptics describe as a sensation of being in multiple places at the same time. Some have suggested it is like you’re here but also somewhere else. The bottom line is if you haven’t experienced it, you simply can’t understand.
The aura often causes an epileptic to lose momentary thought, focus and concentration.
Some research now suggests that due to their debilitating effect on the epileptic, these auras are actually partial seizures. Regardless of what these auras are, they can certainly slow a person down, delay or even force a change or cancellation to plans.
It is important to note here that some epileptics never experience an aura.
In addition to the auras and seizures, there is also the emotional trauma sitting in the epileptics unconscious mind constantly asking the question, “Will I have a seizure today”? And “If I have a seizure today, what kind will it be”?
Those questions usually give rise to more questions which give rise to more questions such as, “Since I feel kind of strange today, should I go out in public and chance having a seizure away from home”? If you drive, “Should I try to drive today and possibly have an accident or even hurt or kill someone”?
“I’m feeling constantly sleepy, do I need sleep or am I trying to pass out and seize” and “if I take a little nap, will I have a sleep or wakeup seizure”? “Should I go to the ER or should I call my neurologist or am I just being silly and paranoid”?
Although life for everyone is filled with uncertainties, for the epileptic these uncertainties become magnified.
For this epileptic, the past month had gone very well; between my medications of Depakote and CBD oil I was stable and feeling great. I had gone to church, out to eat, a birthday party or two and even driving during day light hours. Being an epileptic simply wasn’t on my radar and didn’t seem to matter.
Then suddenly out of nowhere last Saturday, I experienced the worst aura since 2008. My hands and arms shaking, visualization suddenly yellowed, found myself staring for long moments into space, then the dreaded feeling of disassociation; the feeling of being in two separate places at once.
The feeling was horrible and quite frightening. The last time I had an aura that intense was prior to a “Grand Mal” seizure while driving in 2008. There was nobody hurt and no damage except to my van which was totaled. Thank God a police officer witnessed the entire thing and called the paramedics who took me to the ER immediately.
Then this very morning, with plans in process, my day is interrupted by having a moderate morning wakeup seizure with a traumatic follow up post-seizure aura destroying both my plans for the day and possibly my future.
It is totally debilitating, destructive and often humiliating (as it was for me today), this thing we call epilepsy.
But once again, I am an epileptic and as most neurologists tell us, we can have a seizure at any moment of any day; unfortunately for some repeatedly throughout the day.
Cancelled plans and appointments, inability to keep commitments, feelings of inadequacies and indecisiveness, frustration and associated depression; all associated with epilepsy.
Take the meds as prescribed, get eight hours sleep, try and avoid naps and seizure causing meds and still a seizure and/or an aura is possible.
I can never forget I am an epileptic.
© 2017 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD