Microsoft word - loneliness the silent killer_20100618.doc
Loneliness, the Silent Killer
By Arthur Burvill
As a volunteer phone counselor with Life Goes On, I am greatly touched by the deep loneliness my callers are experiencing. I have heard so many times “I have no-one, no family and no friends! I am all alone and I am sick, what can I do?” In response to this common short list of words spoken, I say “How can I help you?” These lonely and sick people have taken the first step without realizing it; they have called a friend, a caring stranger. As we travel this journey of life, we experience many situations. Some are good and some are not as good as seen from our own personal perspective. Emotions are tried and tried again. We are stretched in many different ways, so close to breaking point, and on occasion we are pushed beyond our own personal limits. But emotions are a wonderful thing too; they are the safety check that keeps us going but only when we have loving support from those around us. The people at Life Goes On help us see our impossible situation from a different angle. If you choose to listen and use their strength to hold yourself up, as the saying goes, love will conquer all. When a small child falls over and is hurt, he cries. Usually his mother hears his cries, and comes to comfort him with a warm hug. It worked when I was a young boy many years ago. My story started many years ago in the late 50’s. I was the middle child of seven and I was different. I had a sickness; I was a bed wetter and I was very much alone. I had a loving family, but my Grandmother could not accept my weakness and my self esteem was crushed. This was a hurt I lived with until I turned 50 a couple of years ago. As I struggled through life, I chose to spend most of it alone. I had, as I thought, only one close friend from prep to the early 70’s. I was wrong. It wasn’t until the years had rolled by that I noticed many people wanted to be my friends and spend time with me. In 1974 I was the proud owner of a Harley. I drank too much and partied hard. Some of my friends were not of good character and as a group we believed the world owed us something. But what I was missing was love and understanding. I would go for long rides alone and try to get a handle on a life I did not understand. One day I headed for Portland Victoria. To my surprise, 6 bikers from the next town noticed I was missing, and so they came looking for me. These bikers were not even part of my circle of friends. I was touched, but I found it hard to show any gratitude believing it demonstrated yet another weakness, and I did not want to be rejected again. I spent a lot of time at the local hotel in Portland and drank daily hoping to deaden the pain and despair of loneliness. This went on for 2 months. Then one morning in a chance meeting, I met a relative from WA. I knew nothing about him but he knew of my family
and where we lived. I realised then that I was not alone; I had family and I was loved. I went home to where I belonged. After settling in, I got my old job back due in part to our well respected family name, and I continued employment for another 6 years until the business closed down. Unemployed, I felt uncertain and afraid: What would I do? I have no job! But when one door closes, another one opens (as the saying goes). Two of my brothers knew the manager of the local timber mill and they encouraged me to call him as the mill was about to advertise for new employees. Once again, my respected family name got me through the door. I was offered the job and asked when I could start. This gave my self-esteem a huge boost. I was good enough in another person’s eye for him to give me a job without even an interview. I felt I had been given another chance, so I changed my life and began working harder. Some of my old friends by this time had lost their lives from living the hard and fast life. I realised I could have also gone down this path, living in a fantasy land and not caring about anybody or anything. But rather than dwell on what ‘could have been’, I choose to close that chapter of my life. My life began to take shape, I had purpose, new friends, and I felt better about myself. As we make changes to our lives we attract people who are living a similar existence. These friends were different to what I was used to, they were mature, educated men and women who lived in a caring family environment. I was no longer alone and I had friends who truly cared about me on an emotional and intellectual level. At this point I was complete and happy with my life. It’s like I said earlier, our emotions regulate our ability to cope with life. By the early 80’s, my heart was breaking. I was lonely, but this time the loneliness was different. I wanted someone to love me with all their heart, just like in the movies, and I would live happily ever after with a wife and children. But I was shy, and had trouble talking with confidence to the opposite sex. I felt inferior to most of the girls I knew. Rather than make myself appear foolish, I chose instead to be anti-social and listened to that inner voice keep telling me I was not good enough. I believed this self-doubt stemmed from the disapproval I experienced at the hands of my grandmother and I began to believe I would never marry. Then one day I met someone. I suddenly went from being single, to being in a relationship. Initially it was on equal footing, then what felt like overnight, it became one of a carer and a patient. In hindsight, this union should not have happened. At the time I was extremely lonely for an intimate relationship, and along came this woman who wanted to be with me. I felt like an empty void was filling up and I had finally connected with someone on that level of intimacy. However life is not always as it seems and we experience highs and lows. I was about to hit some lows.
A short time into our relationship, we went out to a restaurant and she ordered some wine with dinner. Several wines later, I realised she drank too much and looking back I can now see she had a sickness. She admitted she was an alcoholic and that she was taking responsibility and ownership for her sickness. At the same time, I experienced my first encounter with an epileptic fit that left me feeling petrified and hopeless. Trained in First Aid, I have always considered myself the type of bloke who tries to fix a problem when it arises, but I never thought I would witness someone having a fit so close to home and I realised quickly I was way out of my depth. At times, 8 seizures per day was not uncommon and so many times it was the excessive alcohol that triggered them. That my partner could not fight this temptation to drink consistently made me very angry. I did not understand how we can be addicted to something that can totally control our lives even when we know it is slowly killing us or taking away our ability to live to our full capacity. We were married and stayed together for 8 years, during which time I had many encounters with both illnesses. When I least expected it, both illnesses would manifest. The alcoholism was the hard one to cope with as I would come home from work to find a victim of its abuse. After a day of substance abuse there was a day of remorse, self pity, low self esteem and a hangover. The next day, in most cases, was a day of epileptic seizures. And it would interrupt our lives for a week or so until the Tegretol (seizure medication) started working again. This relationship and experience convinced me that alcohol is not important in my life. I witnessed its controlling effect on my wife’s life, and when combined with epilepsy, I felt pity for those affected as it strips their dignity and self control just like any life threatening illness. The problems associated with these two illnesses were starting to take their toll and I was becoming deeply depressed. I had to take care of my sick wife and was always on guard. Has she taken her tablets today? Is she showing any signs that she may soon fit? Or is she planning that trip to the pub when I go to work? Were there any signs of this happening soon? Most consider drinking a social activity; however I was alone in her drinking. I was constantly asking myself: Is she drinking too much? What side effects will I have to cope with? I was so afraid and alone once again. I asked myself on this occasion what would it have been like living in a normal relationship all my married life? I realised I had learned some valuable life lessons that would help me reach my full potential one day. I grew through this relationship as I was constantly pushed to my limits, and on several occasions contemplated suicide. As I said earlier, I realised it could have been me on the other end - I could have been alcoholic, drug addicted, dysfunctional, devalued and possibly even dead. Had it not been for the cards dealt to me I would have had an easy, boring life with no meaning, but instead I encountered a rollercoaster ride that has taught me to enjoy the highs and weather the lows by enjoying my life no matter what comes my way. And hopefully, inviting others on the journey with me.
My belief system was that the man of the house was to be strong and in control, that the man of the house could fix things. We also had a little girl who needed her dad because her mum was too sick to care for her properly. Alone and depressed, I was stuck in a hopeless situation. I had nobody I could speak with and even though I was one of seven kids, I felt I had no support: mum and dad had enough problems of their own with ailing health and age creeping up on them, and my siblings had their own families to look after. Believing I had failed as a husband, a father, a man, I began thinking of suicide on a regular basis and was planning how I could do it effectively and permanently. Part of me wanted to run, but I had felt wanted and needed by my wife on occasions and I knew my daughter wanted and needed me. You see I was a carer who was not being cared for, I was not looking after the carer and I was unaware that I needed someone to support me too, someone to debrief, and someone to say it’s ok to feel that way. I wanted to hear someone ask me “How are you feeling? Tell me about your concerns, it sounds like you are trying really hard to be a good husband and father’. As I said earlier, I felt I failed as a man but I just needed to know I was not alone, I needed to know that there are other men struggling through life as I was, with the same or similar issues. I felt so alone and so sad I began to seek help through newspapers and telephone books. As this was the mid-80’s, there was not a great deal of support for men with issues and all I could find advertised was support for women, children and family as a whole unit. While still feeling depressed and suicidal I became angry. I was disappointed at the limited support for men and I felt this was wrong and how many other men were going through the same issues with limited support? I made a promise to myself that if I got through this dark time, I would, in turn, find a way to provide help and support for men going through the same such hardship. My wife however, had a different plan. She left one day never to return, and within 12 months lost her life to her sickness. When she told me she was leaving, a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. I had my life back and as such, the depression lifted. Suicidal thoughts can be a symptom of depression (as were mine) thus without depression the symptoms disappeared. That was 25 years ago and I have since remarried. Hope is a word that is close to my heart. I know now that my life is full of hope and the final path that is before me is the one I now travel. As a carer I can now share hope with others just like you. Life is an interesting journey full of highs and full of lows. I have learned to enjoy the highs with a passion as this helps us weather the lows no matter how bad they become. It’s your choice as it was mine.
We all have a different perspective on our lives and the problems we face every day. And sometimes we need another person to support us as we go through the hardships of life, someone who has had a similar experience. If you have walked the walk then you can talk the talk. Most of us struggle with accepting ourselves because of our past and it is so hard reaching out to others if we think we are not good enough because of past failures. Oddly enough most people struggle with self esteem issues and men are not exempt. We all have needs and yet are afraid to ask for them to be met. I have met many people over the years that have pushed people away rather than show weakness asking for love and understanding. We can be so overwhelmed by our emotions that we cannot see the hope that is just outside our circumstances. If you are feeling alone right now, think of me as your hope. I said in the beginning as a volunteer telephone counselor with Life Goes On, I was greatly touched by the loneliness my callers were experiencing. I learned through my life that if you look beyond your situation there are many people who love and care for you. However some will find it difficult to support you personally as they struggle with their own emotions and it may seem that they have abandoned you. They do this for their own protection; their heart has just been crushed by your bad news and in most cases they cannot think of what to say or how to handle such a situation. While others may give too much support because they care too much and don’t want to loose you either. However we do have choices. We can choose to live the rest of our lives the way we want to. I had to learn that everybody goes through struggles. I felt so alone but never realised I was looking at a forest through so many trees. I chose to take a different approach and now my life has taken a turn for the best. Life will throw hardships at us but there is always plan B and if that doesn’t work, there is plan C. Life Goes On supports life threatening illness and many different afflictions associated with it. Men in Crisis supports Men's issues and concerns. Counselors will talk with you and offer you hope. They will discuss and offer guidance concerning many different afflictions, such as illness, depression, suicide and domestic break-ups. You have the answers but they are hidden within you as were mine. I have never been totally alone and I have many wonderful friends. I am not perfect, but who is? I make mistakes often but that only makes me human. We are all on a journey together. Lets make it memorable.
On Self-Organising Mechanisms from Social, Business and Economic DomainsSalima HassasLIRIS-CNRS, University of Lyon, FranceE-mail: [email protected]://www710.univ-lyon1.fr/~hassasGiovanna Di Marzo-SerugendoUniversity of Geneva, SwitzerlandE-mail: [email protected]://cui.unige.ch/~dimarzo/Anthony KarageorgosUniversity of Thessaly, GreeceE-mail: [email protected]
Assessment of menstrual blood loss in Belgian users of the framelesscopper-releasing IUD with copper surface area of 200 mm2 and usersof a copper-levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine systemb Reproductive Health Consultant, Vesancy, France Received 5 January 2003; received in revised form 3 February 2004; accepted 16 February 2004 Abstract Objective: This study was conducted to evaluate