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In the past week there have been a couple of events that have reminded me of how people are so important in our lives.
My senior offspring alerted us to a situation where a husband had recently been diagnosed with cancer, their children being of primary school age. His spouse is naturally devastated, and by all accounts not coping too well with daily life. Enter the female psyche - which in these occasions is often far superior to the male variety - with the very basic observations of "Are you eating properly? Do the kids need anything for their school lunches?" Within 24 hours there was a meal roster established to deliver food, and "Mums Mafia" was clicking into gear at the school level to cover for lifts and after school activities.
The other event that moved me was the reporting in the local paper of how Glen Mitchell, an ABC media legend in this part of the world, revealed that he was suffering from Bi-polar disorder and that on one occasion he had driven to a remote area, with a hose pipe, with serious self-harm thoughts in his mind. What changed his mind, and in fact changed his life, was the fact that the local Ranger spotted his car and came over to see what he was up to. He obviously spotted the hose in the back of the car and stayed on to chat to Glen. The two carried on a seemingly normal conversation and eventually Glen went home to his amazing wife Karen. She too spotted the hose and was frantic with worry. The great news is that with a change of medication, Glen has now had one of the best periods of his life for some years, and is now reaching out to help others with similar problems.
It would be wonderful to think that the answer is to simply diagnose a person with a mood disorder and give the right medication, then "Hey presto" all is stable and well and everyone lives happily ever after. But the neuro-biochemistry of the the brain is somewhat more complicated than that, and there are so many variables at play in anyone's life at any one time, that although medication can be a part of the solution, in reality, there are so many other issues to address to ensure that consistent progress is sustained.
That's where we come back to the common denominator here: PEOPLE.
We need people in our lives who are sensitive to our moods and our needs. My senior offspring was sensitive to the needs of a friend and did something. The Ranger in the park was sensitive to the needs of a struggling stranger and listened: Glen's wife was sensitive all the time and had kept a journal that alerted his treating doctor to Glens real situation - that's what love does: it cares. And I'm not just talking about family and friends being alert to the needs of a mate: the Ranger might have just been doing his job, but he in fact did far more: he showed the rest of us how to be good humans by taking time, by listening and by being a sign that goodness does exist in this often crazy world and thereby offering hope to someone who was lost. There's a lesson there for all of us.