Sometimes people feel that it is time to end it all because they have become too old without having achieved a dream, or because they are no longer attractive. It seems to me that these feelings may have been behind Ms Kate Spade’s recent death.
Everyone faces disappointments. And as we age we have to deal with more of them.
But we also learn new skills, and develop the capacity to cope with disappointments more effectively, if we use those skills.
Perhaps you are dealing with the loss of a relationship, and thinking that you will never find someone to spend the rest of your life with. You are too old for that to happen.
A wonderful woman who has struggled with bipolar for years, and has dealt with a string of relationships that turned out badly, was just married, at age 60.
Or perhaps you have had to deal with friends who have turned away from you.
Depression can drain the energy out of friendships. Just when you need the support. Perhaps you feel too old for good friendships.
Another woman felt that all of her friends were dying or turning from her during her two year struggle with depression. Eventually, we found a combination of medications that brought her back from depression, and, as she emerged from that state, her friendships revived themselves. She now finds herself surrounded by people who care for her. This is the tragedy of depression, but also the magic of recovery.
Your life’s purpose may be achieved “around the corner,” in the next decade or several decades of your life.
You are likely to recover from the worst of your mental health symptoms, eventually. “Patience for patients” is what I preach. You could be surprised at how productive you will become once your lifetime of “percolating” your ideas yields its fruit. Fallow periods tend to be followed by very productive ones. Exhibit One is my own experience: two books written from scratch within thirty months, following a fallow period due to bipolar of some three decades.
Maybe you feel you are too old because of the changes in how you look. You can no longer hide the changes. After years of appearing surprisingly youthful your grey hair, sagging skin, or wrinkles, and so forth, may seem to signal the end of the line. News Flash: Beauty is of character, not of the flesh.
Elders, over the course of their lives, have learned so much more than they knew when they graduated from college, or earned their last degree. It is from this store of hard-won wisdom that you will be able to create your life’s work, no matter how long it has been since you last were gainfully employed.
What you need to do to get from here to there is to Hold On! Give your treatment plan a good chance to kick in. Cooperate with your psychiatrist in tweaking the plan—scientific advances are rapid today.
Remember that you will never lose your bank of experiences so long as you live. Think about all of the lessons you have learned, all that you could teach others, if they would listen. Right now, if you are depressed, this may seem like a foolish dream, but if you live you will emerge from the depression.
Think also of how your death would affect others. Recently, Ms Spade left a note for her daughter, who is newly adolescent, telling her that her Mom’s passing was not her daughter’s fault, and that the daughter should talk with her father about this. When told “not to think about an elephant” everyone immediately is flooded with images of pachyderms. What that daughter will be going through for years to come! Be compassionate to those you love, even if you can find no other reason to restrain your hand.
“Patience for patients.” It is a goal you can achieve no matter your current state. You only need to put one minute of waiting, of acceptance, on the table and follow it with another.
-Deborahmichelle Sanders, JD
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