Senior Day in My Town

Today was a special day for Senior Citizens in my town. They treated us to lunch, an awesome Elvis impersonator, and door prizes. I almost didn’t go because I had to walk in alone, but I wasn’t alone, but a minute, before I found some nice people to sit with. Some I already knew from the Senior Center, where I go from time to time and a couple others were like old friends once I met them.

If you are a Senior Citizen, or know one or have one in your home, encourage them to get out and enjoy activities. It really brightens the mood and makes the world look so much better.

When I download/upload/whatever load the pictures from my phone, I will try to remember to post them here. Let me see if I can do that right now.

Depression or Reality?

I am not a doctor. I am a senior citizen who is writing about my personal viewpoints. They have not been tested as to their validity, so please do not assume I’m right. I’m just sharing my personal thoughts about what seems to be a common “problem”.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed . . . Feeling sad or having a depressed mood.”

I’ve had problems with depression frequently in my life. Looking back on different situations, I can see that I had every right to feel sad and to lose interest in activities once enjoyed. I’ve been “treated” for depression and it helped, but it also hurt. The talk therapy helped me get through the week, but the medication affected me very badly. In my Blindman book, which is a memoir, I talk about how that medication caused me problems. I won’t go into that here.

I just woke up this morning thinking I feel depressed. I often feel depressed. What I am dealing with right now is an old (16 years old) dog who is suffering the problems of old age, although my vet says for her age, she’s in “remarkable health”. What would she be like if she wasn’t in remarkable health? That makes me sad to think that other dogs are worse off than she is, when I see her stumble from time to time with arthritis. She pants frequently and he says her blood test shows that is from “seasonal allergies”. How much longer will this “season” last? I do have a good vet. He has seen my cat through heart failure and she actually came out of it. She may regress, but for now she has been able to stop the meds. She is old too.

I see many things every day that cause me to feel depressed. I could list them, but then you’d be depressed, and chances are, you might already be that way, if you’re reading this.

What I want to say about depression is that often it’s a valid response to current events. I’ve had a very hard life. My children have had hard lives. When you think back on a hard life that has had few and far between moments of joy, I would assume being depressed was a normal response.

Everything doesn’t need a pill thrown at it. Some pills cause more harm than good. Some doctors cause more harm than good. I suffer from two conditons that were caused by the ineptness of doctors. That’s why I don’t like doctors, for the most part. That’s common sense. If something hurts you and you can escape, you don’t stay there and get hurt again. Being hurt by something causes feelings of depression. People need to deal with what’s depressing them and not act like it’s an illness. (Remember, this is my opinion, not a tested fact.)

The fact that homosexuatlity was a psychiatric disorder at one time, but isn’t now, makes me think that everything pyschiatrists and medical doctors tell you is not necessarily the truth, and nothing but the truth.

If you are depressed, think about what is going on in your life right now. If nothing bad is going on, maybe it is a “disorder”. If something bad is going on, maybe you need to figure out how to change it? Can you fix it, or do you just need to suffer through how you’re feeling until the situation changes?

Depression, for me, has been an emotional response to a terrible situation. That’s it. Normal response to how anyone would feel in the same situation. How is that a “disorder”?

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Perspective

As we age, our perspective changes. Heck, as we go through the year, our perspective even changes.

This morning when I was outside with my little dog, I noticed a Robin hopping in my yard. I remembered how excited I was in spring when I saw my first Robin this year. I always take that as a sign that winter will indeed end and spring is just ahead. I get a little excited when I see my first spring Robin! Today . . . nothing . . . except I wondered what it had found to be so happy about? Breakfast, probably.

(You should have seen all my bird friends in the backyard last week after Joe mowed the grass. They were having an absolute party! There was hopping, and chirping and low flying everywhere!)

We’ve had a few very cool (40’s and 50’s) days lately and I bought a bag of birdseed to be sure my bird friends were staying warm. I read somewhere that feeding them in winter is as much about keeping them warm as it is about making sure they’re not hungry. I glanced at my birdfeeder this morning, while the Robin was hopping in the front yard, and noticed a small bird at it. However, although I filled it yesterday morning (Happy Mother’s Day! Mother Birds!), it was still half filled. Not like the winter when I’d glance at it and panic if it was completely empty. The birds usually let me know in the winter when it’s all gone because they will do what sounds like a squawking noise of desperation, if that feeder gets empty and it’s below freezing. I guess their perspective changes over time as well.

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Mother’s Day, Collect

I went to college in the 1970’s. I worked fifteen hours a week, which equaled three hours a day, at ECU’s News Bureau as a Student Helper. I got my job through the Work-Study Program that was part of my Financial Aid Package. My mother wasn’t able to help me at all and my father had long been out of the picture. I struggled. I learned to live on two meals a day and I learned to take detailed notes because I could not afford all my text-books. 

One Sunday in May, when it was Mother’s Day, and I had no money for a bus trip home, and no money for a phone call home, I sat and thought about my mother. She had been crippled by polio at age three. Now she was totally disabled, although she’d worked when she could as a legal secretary. I missed her. It was Mother’s Day and I missed her. 

I contemplated things I could do to try to talk to her and the only thing I could think of was to go to the pay phone and place a collect call to her. I’d worked two years before college as a telephone operator and I knew the cheapest way to make the call. It sounded so good to hear her say “Hello” when she answered the phone. 

Then I heard the telephone operator make her announcement, “I have a collect call from Connie, will you accept the charges?” My mother answered YES! quickly and I could tell from her voice that she was startled. 

“Connie, What is it?”  she asked me . . . “What is WRONG?” 

“HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!”  I said loudly into the phone. 

“What?” her voice held slight disbelief. 

“HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!” I repeated cheerfully. 

“Did you call me COLLECT to tell me that?” she asked, as if astonished by the whole thing. 

“Yes, I did,” I replied. I was very proud of myself for solving my problem of finding a way to hear her voice and let her know I was thinking of her on Mother’s Day. 

Suddenly I heard her loud, booming laughter come across the phone lines. “Well, I’ll be . . . ” she said. 

She told me thank you and said we couldn’t talk long; she couldn’t afford the bill. I told her neither could I and that’s why I called collect. We laughed again at the situation and hung up the phone feeling better. 

I lost my mother a few short years after that. I still miss her. I’ve lived now more than half my life without my mother and the pain eases, but from time to time it becomes a sharp knife again. 

I’d say I missed her voice, but I’ve never forgotten how it sounded and I play it in my head from time to time. Sometimes it plays itself when I’m doing something and know she might disapprove or question what I’m doing. 

It would be so nice to see her again. 

If God had phones in heaven, I’d dial her up right now. And it wouldn’t be collect. 

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Teaching Profession

You think you’re going to be a teacher, but you’re not. You pay lots of money to go to a four year college and get a teaching degree. You finally get hired. Then the disappointment begins.

Teachers in this state have a three year provisional license and if you don’t dot your i’s and cross your t’s . . . which means do exactly as told, including attending meetings with mentors and supervisors to insure you are teaching correctly and not becoming too creative, which might, in fact, hold children’s attention better . .  you might not get that regular teaching certificate.

Then after your initial three years, you hopefully get a regular teaching license, but by then you have been indoctrinated into the “Do as we say, not as you think is right” belief.  You miss days in the classroom attending professional development meetings while your class full of children have a sub and miss out on your expertise. You find out that faculty meetings are either before school, and earlier than normal report to work times, or after school, and those are the worst because they can drag on forever!  You have unappreciative parents, children who refuse to settle down and be a part of the classroom, so more time is given to discipline and classroom management than you’d expected.

The first two weeks of school focuses on routines and procedures where you teach your class how to enter/exit the room, how to line up, how to behave during a fire drill, how to turn in homework, how to turn in classwork, when to use the pencil sharpener, when they may speak, where materials are, etc. . . .

The vision you may have had of guiding children into exploring the world and learning about science and math and reading and writing, health, art, music, etc . . . begins to dim.

You sit in meetings every week where your grade level decides as a group what they will do the next week for lessons. You are warned not to veer from the path of lesson plans. Do as you’re told, not as you think might work best for your group of children. I had one principal named Mrs. Fogg, who insisted that every First Grade teacher be doing exactly the same thing in each First Grade classroom at all times during the day. She would do “walk-throughs” to insure her demands were being met, and if you had taken a little longer to explain a topic because some of your children didn’t understand it, and you were not reading the big book at the same time the other two teachers were, well, you got called into the office to discuss it. She is the reason I left that job.

That’s another thing. Principals. They can make or break you. A good one is heaven, as was Mrs. Burton whom I loved and enjoyed working for. Others will make your life a living hell. One I know has even worked two teachers to death.

Teaching – it isn’t what you think it will be when you sign up for the education degree at your college.

My first few years of teaching, back in the late 1970’s, I thoroughly enjoyed. The last few years, working with Mrs. Burton, I enjoyed. Many of the years in between . . . well, I kept wishing I’d gone into Physical Therapy instead. That was what I chose between – where my interest was – Physical Therapy and Teaching.

For today’s teachers, many quit within the first five years and never come back. It’s a sad end to a four year degree you worked so hard to get.

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Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged

Matthew 7:1-3King James Version (KJV)

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

The above Bible verse has been swirling in my head for a couple days. I’ve heard sermons on it. The interpretations I’ve heard is about how others will judge you as you judge others. It doesn’t completely “swirl” when I think these thoughts.

What I’ve found in my life is that as I judge others for their mistakes, when I make the same, or a very similar mistake, I judge myself in the same way.

When others made a serious mistake, did I say, “We’re all human” . . . and refuse to judge at all, or did I heap scorn on the person and feel so much better than they were, until the same, or similar circumstances hit me and I reacted in the same or similar manner?

Depression is anger turned inward; Anger is depression turned outward. Or so the following link states:  http://www.mcleodandmore.com/2010/07/19/anger-v-depression-two-sides-of-the-same-coin/

Both conditions are hard to live with. Perhaps we should be less judgemental.

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