Coffee and Older Adults

I like being around older people. I enjoyed that aspect of being a minister. I enjoyed the brief time I spent doing home health care. I considered focusing on older people for my counseling career, but really want to spend more time with the young, so I may not take the Gerontology course.

While at work, I noticed this and took a picture. it made me sad for the reasons I will share:

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It’s a smaller size which makes me think of the loneliness of the elderly. Widows and Widowers. Grieving a spouse, missing kids and grandkids. Single-serving instant coffee is kinda depressing.

It’s a “lightweight, EZ open jar” which speaks to the frailty and failing bodies of us when we age.

Our older adults need us. Call, write, hug one today. They are too often lonely and alone.

I remember reading statistics about how few visits nursing homes get. It’s ridiculous.

Communion Reflection

A neat thought came to me during worship a couple of weeks ago. I can’t remember the hymn but I started imagining carrying my sins and struggles up a gravel road toward the cross. Whether it was a person, a word, an item that represents a temptation, I carried the heavy load and tossed it at the foot of the cross.

But a few minutes later I had a better idea, a better image, it was of me carrying me toward the cross.

I am the problem. Think about how much you weigh. Even the strongest and smallest of us would get tired of carrying that weight very far or long. And we do.

So I tried to imagine carrying 180 lbs uphill toward a dying, naked man. And arriving, I would fling my heavy body on the rocks beneath my Lord. Let him take it, do whatever with it. Toss my heavy butt on the ground. Give it up. to Him.

That’s what I need.

Unholy Ghost: writers on depression

I just finished this amazing collection of personal stories of depression by professional writers. Some were siblings or spouses of those suffering, but most of the writings were by people who have suffered a great deal.

When you are depressed, you don’t write. But these people, after the fact, sometimes with help from family and journals, recount their lowest points and what they learned.

One chapter is a woman in her thirties who talks about being pregnant while on medication. An African-American woman talks about how depression is viewed by the black community. A man survives overdosing on 65 pills then finds another pill in a jacket pocket and wonders if that would have finished him off.

They write about suicide attempts, long hospitalizations, and many more sad events. Grab a used copy at McKays or Amazon.

Unholy Ghost: writers on depression edited by Nell Casey, includes excerpt from Styron’s Darkness Visible; Styron’s wife, Rose; Larry McMurtry (western author, Brokeback Mountain); Susanna Keyson (Girl,Interrupted); Jane Kenyon’s Husband; Nell and Maud Casey, sisters, both giving an account of Maud’s struggle.

I highly recommend reading it. It provides a great balance to some of the textbooks I have for school.

Here are some of the quotes that struck me:

“I think depression and despair are reasonable reactions to the nature of life.”   -Susanan Kaysen

“The raw nub of my soul bobbed up to the surface, ugly and ungainly, and I was suddenly pierced with panicky malaise.” -Darcy Steinke

“my own view….is that depression arises out of an enormously complicated, constantly shifting, elusive concatenation of circumstance, temperament, and biochemistry.”   -David Karp

“You do not cheer up depressives; the worst thing you can do is to count their blessings for them.”  -Donald Hall (husband of Jane Kenyon)

“My failure was not in perceiving reality; I perceived it full well, and despised it.”  “I was nearly paralyzed by dread of my inadequacy.”  -Nancy Mairs

“My heart pumped dread. It was an actual substance I could feel coursing through my bloodstream–some days a barely-there awareness, other days a carbonated liquid that seemed to have replaced my blood.” -Lesley Dormen

“Depression is a place that teems with nightmarish activity. It’s a one-industry town, a psychic megalopolis devoted to a single twenty-four-hour-we-never-close product. You work misery as a teeth-grinding muscle-straining job (is that why it’s so physically exhausting?), proving your shameful failures to yourself over and over again.”  -Lesley Dormen

“I don’t know where depression comes from or where it goes. I do know that it was the crucible, the rite of passage, that allowed me to create my life.”  -Lesley Dormen

“…one thing people always say about depression is that stubborn, consistent support helps even when it seems like it doesn’t..” -Nell Casey

“…to be depressed is not to have words to describe it, is not to have words at all, but to live in the gray world of the inarticulate, where nothing takes shape, nothing has edges or clarity.”   “Being depressed felt like living in a corpse, so being dead seemed like ‘a better place to live.'”  -Maud Casey

Dark Emotions have Value

“We have lost our connection to the dark side of the sacred. We prize status, power, consumerism, and distraction, and there is no room for darkness in any of that. Americans tend to have a naivete about life, always expecting it to be rosy. When something painful happens, we feel that we are no good, that we have failed at achieving a good life. We have no myths to guide us through the painful and perilous journeys of the dark emotions, and yet we all suffer these journeys at some point. We have high rates of depression, anxiety and addiction in this country, but we have no sense of the sacred possibilities of our so-called illnesses. Instead we have a medical culture. Suffering is considered pathology, and the answer to suffering is pharmacology.”

Miriam Greenspan, author of Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair, in an interview

can’t wait to get this book! Could the “American Idol” of optimism be a source of some of our problems?

Rohr on Your Powerlessness

We are all powerless, not only those physically addicted to a substance. Alcoholics simply have their powerlessness visible for all to see. The rest of us disguise it in different ways and overcompensate for our more hidden and subtle addictions and attachments, especially our addiction to our way of thinking.

We all take our own pattern of thinking as normative, logical, and surely true, even when it does not fully compute. We keep doing the same thing over and over, even it is not working for us. That is the self-destructive nature of all addiction, and of the mind in particular. We think we are are thinking, and we even take that thinking as utterly “true,” which removes us at least two steps from reality itself.

 

—        Fr. Richard Rorh

Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the 12 Steps