Symptom


It was September 18, 2002, a sweltering heat wave was upon us as we stood in black clothes absorbing the sun’s rays on the peaceful green hillside. It was a bit of a climb getting to the exact grave site. And I stood there with my family sobbing and I felt nothing – nothing but anger and confusion. How could someone just want to die? How could someone in my family just decide it was time to go? They just did and that day I learned that sometimes depression, anxiety, and paranoia were symptoms of something much larger and scarier than they seemed. That they could take someone away from me, out of my life, after a long and slow torturous downward spiral.

A symptom is only an indicator of something larger – a single fraction of the bigger picture which we can’t see sometimes until it’s too late.

I miss my uncle, and I wish I had known what it was like to suffer with his symptoms sooner – maybe I could have done something to change his mind, to convince him to take his meds, to convince him to stop drinking, but I doubt it would have helped. You see, he didn’t accept the fact that he was suffering from these symptoms and he refused to get help. For that, I am very sorry that I didn’t take any of the opportunities I had to influence him positively in his hour of need. This is one of my biggest regrets, but sometimes reason goes out the window when illness consumes someone. His illness was called schizoaffective disorder.

I am determined to tell as many people about this disorder as I can – it is often misdiagnosed because there isn’t as much research on it as there might be for other conditions. It is hard to pinpoint and diagnose. 

Schizoaffective disorder consists of the hallucinations and paranoia that are characteristic of schizophrenia coupled with mood disorders like anxiety and depression or mania. Many people with this disorder are misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder because they share similar symptoms.

Some causes of schizoaffective disorder are genetics, brain chemistry and structure, drug use, and stress. 

It’s a rare psychological condition believed to affect less than 1% of the population, (more than 200,000 cases per year in the U.S.) but it needs to be talked about and treated immediately. There needs to be an awareness about this condition and all other mental health disorders that exist because people’s lives are at stake if we don’t talk about and recognize these conditions. We will lose them to a disorder, and having experienced that loss, it’s not what we want at all for anyone.

Symptom

Acceptance

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As I type this there are approximately 3,995 living, breathing people waiting for a new heart and one of them is dear to me. I know him. I’ve known him for a year and nine months, I’ve worked with him, and he has supported me in my work for all that time, never telling me until now that he has health issues – major health issues. Nevertheless, he is in the ICU at one of the top hospitals in the country, doing just that – waiting – painstakingly for someone else’s heart to be a match. He’s higher up on the list, but that doesn’t mean it will be any time soon. It could be any minute, any day, any month, or so.

Waitlist copy

Typically, it takes four months to find a heart that is a match. But there’s nothing typical about being in this situation. I’m constantly surprised and humbled at how positive an attitude he maintains throughout all of this. The only dietary restriction he has is about consuming low sodium foods. There are things he craves once in a while, but most of the time he forces himself to eat – not having much of an appetite.

He has accepted the reality of the situation – that there is nothing he can do but wait and pray. This acceptance has, in a way, set him free. He knows there is a good chance that he might not make it through and he has looked back on his accomplishments knowing he has done a lot of good in this lifetime. And this gives him peace.

Common Diseases That May Lead to Transplantation

I don’t know exactly which one of these he has, but this man is unlike any other. The biggest hearted individual I’ve ever met – he always has room in his prayers for everyone and every issue we share.

This is where you come in. Whether you believe in God or not, all I am asking of you is to say a prayer for those in his shoes – that they receive the care and attention they need and deserve. That they receive the organ they so desperately need and that their bodies do not reject this gift but accept it – this gift of life that we are blessed to give one another.

Just a quiet prayer for health – for you and those dear to you. That’s all.

Acceptance

Luck?

What-luck-Means

“I don’t believe in luck,” he told her. “I believe in being blessed.”

Luck, good fortune, whatever you may call it. It has manifested itself in one culture after another for as long as we can remember. But do you believe in luck? That there is some chance in the universe that luck plays a role in your life?

Like in this conversation that took place quite some time ago in my own life, you have noticed at one point that some choose not to believe in it, and to believe in blessings instead – like gifts of good intention from an all-knowing, all-powerful, and unconditionally loving God. And yet, luck is a word that shows up in common vocabulary and common conversation still – even in my own, though I too believe in blessings. Maybe I choose to humor this word, “luck.” I still say, “good luck” and wish others good fortune.

I had never really thought about this before the conversation above happened. I had taken luck to be figure of speech like in “good luck” or just a regular phrase I use like “lucky you.” Before that point in time, I hadn’t realized how I was taking this word for granted, not really thinking about what it stood for and how it didn’t line up with what I believe.

That is, unless, I believed that luck was God’s doing, too. And this I do believe. I believe we are lucky from time to time that God intervenes and makes us meet the right people at the right time to use our strengths for His divine plan to work itself out, that we are lucky to have the blessings that are bestowed upon us every day, and that we are lucky to be able to use our strengths and blessings to lift each other up, help one another, and better serve one another. This is the luck I believe in.

Do you believe in luck? How so? Why or why not? I’d love to hear from you and understand your point of view.

 

Luck

Immerse

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Do you ever just walk straight into the pool from the steps inward, and feel the water immerse you as you walk closer to the deep end? Okay, maybe I’m weird, but I have done this many times. As the water envelopes me, I feel like I’m one with it.

When I write my creative works, I feel this way – immersed in another world of my making, except it sort of writes itself as I can see it all in my mind playing out like a movie. And there I sit at my computer like a recorder of this movie in my head. Creating all of these characters, making them so real and likable, sharing these moments with them.

I can understand why writers say their works are their babies. First off, they take creativity and cultivation to grow and develop into finished products (if a piece is ever really finished). Secondly, a writer spends so many hours laboring over their writing, editing, rewriting, etc., that the personal investment in these works is incredibly amazing. It takes a great deal of dedication and imaginative/creative energy. It can be draining, but I can attest to the fact that there is nothing like it – nothing as fun and filled with wonder than immersing yourself in an imagined world.

This is why I fell in love with reading and writing at a young age.

So I encourage you to immerse yourself in the world of a book, whether you like the smell of the paper of a crisp new one or the aged appreciation of an older used one. Perhaps you like the digital copy – easily accessible and mobile? Whatever the case, I urge you to immerse yourself in a world different than your own. You will laugh, cry, learn, and grow in understanding and enjoyment at the wonder behind all of those words on every page.

Immerse

Parlay

“Parlay. I invoke the right of parlay. According to the Code of the Brethren set down by the pirates Morgan and Bartholomew, you have to take me to your captain.

If an adversary demands parlay, you can do them no harm until the parley is complete.”

This word brings to mind a favorite series of movies and tales of pirates. “Parlay”/”parley” meaning the Code of the Pirate Bretheren that Elizabeth Swann invokes in one scene of the movie series. It unleashes her surprisingly extensive knowledge of the pirate world and earns her some respect among the pirates who surround her.

Close to the French word, to speak (“parler”), it beckons temporary protection before any attacks are made to ensure safe negotiation between parties – here, Ms. Swann and Pintel’s captain.

Don’t we all find ourselves in a pickle from time to time? It would be nice if we could have a parlay to save us momentarily from whatever awaits us. And this, I think I have found for myself, is the moment when I say quiet prayer. A captain perhaps being God, and myself in some kind of trouble, I go to God; however, I need not negotiate for anything – he has made the biggest parlay for all of us (intervened to bring us salvation from our shortcomings as we are only human). And realizing this again from time to time is what keeps me going – walking that path that was meant for me.

What do you think of when you read this word?
Parlay
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