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His Friend, Christian, Reaches Out For Help

Mason, a retired nurse practitioner, sat down for his first session in my office. If first impressions spoke, I viewed a man who looked drained. His eyes were puffy. I thought allergies or lack of sleep. His friend, Christian, had made contact with me. He was worried about his friend. He’d watched from up close and personal a friend’s marriage deteriorating before his eyes. His friend’s avoidance led Christian to reach out for help. Mason agreed to come alone. Perhaps Christian might join us at another session.

Hi Mason. Thank you for coming in today. How are you doing? I believe you are aware that Christian, your friend, called on your behalf. Mason took off his glasses and placed them in his lap. “Yes, I am aware that Christian called you. He and I were together when I agreed to reach out. I just couldn’t muster the energy to make the call alone. He’s a caring friend.”

“I feel like the life blood of joy and contentment has left me. I sleep restlessly and wake up exhausted. I am retired after 35 years as a nurse practitioner. I gave my all to the job. I loved what I could offer patients who were ill. In 35 years, I saw hundreds and hundreds of people. Now, I feel less of a man. I feel useless.” Mason, how do you feel about being here today? Do you think counseling and therapy can be helpful?

“I don’t know. I want to imagine life with some semblance of joy. I feel like I’m dying inside. Don’t think I’m suicidal. I just have little energy to give to anyone anymore.” Mason, thank-you for that helpful insight. Do you have family? If so, are they aware of your current situation? “Well, I’m married and all my kids are on their own. Some live nearby; others live out-of-state. I have grandkids that are wonderful. I don’t see them too often. I don’t want them to see me this way.” Which way, Mason?

“They have their own lives. I think they love me. I don’t want to burden them with my problems. And you know, friends like Christian are few and far between. I get together with him to watch sports. We have that interest in common. He invites me to his home. I don’t go too often. He has his own family. His wife and I get along. We can talk and visit. She places no pressure on our friendship. If I visit, we’ll eat pizza. We drink tea. None of us drink alcohol.” Do you have other friends, Mason?

“I have several acquaintances. I don’t like to bother them. I wave if they are shopping in the same store. We might pass pleasantries and then I make a retreat.” Do you have connections with any former colleagues, Mason? “Not really. Well … maybe one or two. We talk by telephone every so often. Well … not too often. Usually the calls arequick.” How about your biological family? Are they in your life?

“Yeah, I have three siblings. They all live with their families out of state. We talk once a month to keep updated. I see them for reunions maybe every couple of years. I sometimes share stuff with them. They love me and feel helpless to do anything useful. They mean well. I feel like a leper. No one wants to see me in this state. God, I don’t like this state either. I can’t imagine what a loser I must look to them.” Tough question, Mason. With all due respect, have you given up on life?

“Like I said, I don’t want to die. I feel lifeless. Ever hear the old expression, my get-up and go has got up and went? That’s me in a nut shell. I feel like I’m dying a slow death. Do you really think there’s hope for me?” Mason, I believe, yes, there’s hope for you. I’m not yet clear about the root cause of your peril. Also, I wonder what feeds it. Silently, as I gazed upon Mason, I felt a tinge of anxiety; of worry. He asked if there’s hope. Currently, this man, a retired nurse practitioner, was sullen, drained, and dying a slow death. In his mind, he’s dying. What, I wondered, was the contributing factor? Was he interested in receiving an injection so to speak, of life blood?

Mason presented as a challenging client. I learned that he is clearly depressed. He’s reportedly physically drained. Yet, by appearances, Mason looks to be in good shape. A place to start, Mason, as a medical provider, you must realize the value and importance of good health. Have you had a complete work-up recently? Do you have a medical practitioner? “Yes, I do. I had a physical when she realized my sleep problem needed attention. I don’t have a copy with me. Do you need it?” Well, with your consent, maybe some dialogue with your PCP can generate a team effort. What do you say, Mason?

“Yeah, maybe. I’m here. I suppose you w: to come back. Do you want me to sign a consent form so you an doc talk?” Yes, Mason. You see, it might feel odd and strange to you after years of helping others, but now it’s your tum to be helped. Time for Mason to get some substantive attention for your holistic health. Do you also want your, wife to join us? “No thanks.” How about Christian? “Well, maybe. I’ll speak with him.” We made another appointment and he signed a consent form for his PCP and Christian. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

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