Immature, or Mentally Ill?
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Thomas Franklin is new (11-17) to He has no experience with being published as an author. He has a fondness for reading and an appreciation of words. His curiosity is insatiable. He carries the burdens of his youth like Marley dragging his chains of bad deeds. The difference is that Marley's burdens were a result of his behavior. Life just happened to Mr. Franklin. These life burdens shall be the topic of Mr. Franklin's writing. Be kind for he is quite sensitive.

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Immature, or Mentally Ill?

Anyone following this string of articles about my mental health might be growing weary.  I struggle to find the correct words.  I am generally fond of words and know how to use them, but exploring mental health is difficult terrain to cross.  It finally comes down to this: I am a senior citizen – what behavior is reasonable?

Who defines reasonable?  That is what the past fifteen articles have tried to identify.  I find that definitions of maturity help separate reasonable and unreasonable behaviors.  But if one is being immature does that mean simply that the person did not mature properly – or might it mean the person could not mature because of a mental illness?

My efforts at maturity are well documented.  Literally thousands of hours of talk therapy over forty years and my behavior remains wanting.

I am over sensitive.  My feeling are too easily hurt.

Occasionally I find myself whining around in self-pity.  Not so much as I used to but still on occasion.

I have poor patience and tolerance of others.

I have a “big mouth” so to speak.  Some people think I talk to selfishly gain attention.

I am occasionally impulsive – not as much as as in the past.

Anger has remained a tool of choice when confronted with impatient and intolerant stress.

The point here is simple: When is behavior a result of immaturity (nurture) and when is behavior a result of mental illness (nature)?  Many of my errant behaviors have responded well to talk therapy.  I have been very conscious, open minded, and purposeful at trying to improve my behavior.  Over the years I noticed some bad behavior as being a result of low self esteem.  I have consciously worked on that element of my life and honestly believe I am near 100% better than forty years ago.

But problems persist.  Much of this has been identified in the previous 15 articles on this subject.

Given the right stimulation I can become angry and very argumentative.  Even when I pause to rethink my behavior I sometimes lose control and press ahead with epic determination.  The feeling that accompanies these episodes is one of profound determination.  I feel somehow that I have been challenged.  I cannot and will not surrender.  When in that mindset I feel unappreciated, everyone around me appears to be stupid and uncaring, my position is the most important, I am determined to force everyone to listen, to pay attention to what I am trying to impose.  Any resistance is met with ferocious anger.  There is an old saying about snapping turtles – when they bite they will not let go until it thunders.  I am like that.  Forty years of talk therapy and I am like that.  Whew, I exhaust myself.

Some people note that I am like my father.  That really complicates any diagnosis.  Being like father suggests nurture over nature.  Or is there some DNA trigger for being impatient and intolerant?  We do not yet know.

Here is what we know.  I have lived an adult life searching for serenity.  I have engaged the best mental health professionals in multiple disciplines.  Cognitive behavioral, Rational Emotive, Family Systems, 12 Step Programs – it goes on and on.  When do I surrender?  When do I realize that I have either been insincere about growing up or have mental health problems that cannot be fixed with talk therapy?

I have not been insincere.  Good talk therapy is not always pleasant.  There is no point in talk therapy if one is unwilling to face our behavioral demons.  Working consciously on maturity can be painful.  I have endured that pain, used that pain to motivate me to change, and ultimately there are areas of my life that I cannot seem to control.

After being escorted out of a hospital by Security Guards I surrendered. The next morning I called my health care provider.  Forty years of talk therapy and I am finally surrendering.  The hospital episode was several months past.  The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) I use for health advice gave me two drugs to try.  After two months I found I was better but had had another anger episode.  I called the FNP and my dosages were increased.

I have an appointment later today with the FNP.  This particular FNP encourages life style changes to manage health problems.  It was a big step for her to prescribe medication.  I am going to ask that she increase the dose again.

I am trying to repair the damage done over the past several years because of my unwillingness to surrender.  My efforts are paying off.  I cannot have another outburst.  I may have already lost more than I can ever regain.  Another outburst and people will be done with me.  I know that.  Taking medicine for behavioral problems seems counter intuitive to me.  As much as I have studied and learned about mental health I still have a thread of false pride that tells me surrendering to medication is a lame excuse for behavior.

Time to go see the Doc.  We shall talk later.




There Is 1 Response So Far. »

  1. Be Thankful for a cognitive mind and that medication actually seems to be helping. There are many, my grandson David included, who even with medication, talk therapy, etc. etc., will not progress beyond the cognitive thinking of a nine year old or the behavior of a three year old very very often. His nurture was so horrific and he was already handicapped with ‘mild retardation’ so quadruple the horror factor and now lives with strange behaviors and impulse so ingrained over the years that it may be impossible for him to grow to live anywhere outside of a group home. He is 27 and throws that number out to assert his adulthood, when he is pushed to move even just a bit outside his comfort zone. I recently had my fill of his other family interfering in the process we have been working on for going on seven years. I sent a letter to the other grandmother plainly stating my total disgust that she continues to try being a part of his life after the things he had to endure under her and her daughters watch. Well, yes that was anger ruling my behavior, sometimes a spade must be called a spade. We have not had any attempts of her calling David, claiming to be me or telling staff who are new and unaware of the rules, Oh Grandma Nancy gave me permission to call or sending cards with twenty dollar bills, to appease her conscious (if she has one). I, on the other hand, do not feel any relief. I am just waiting, anxious and tense, for the other shoe to drop. Because I believe there are truly evil people in this world and she and her daughter are two of the several I have known in my lifetime.
    Getting back to you, please be thankful, that your life, whether by nurture or nature, is not much, much worse than it is. I am really proud and thankful, that you care about people enough to create a picture of your travel through mental struggles, to maybe not just ease yourself but provide a mirror for others to see a solution to their own struggle.

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