May Mayhem: Mind Readers, Mental Health and Medical Directives

I can’t predict the future or read minds. I’d venture to say, neither can you. Sure, we can all get a “feeling,” but, that’s about it.  However, our actions indicate we can predict the future and read minds.  We put off things like there is plenty of time and let’s admit it,we assume people want the same things we want or at least they should. A few weeks ago at brunch, we discussed theories around reward; it’s not about how “you” want to be rewarded, its how people want to be rewarded and you need to ask them; one size does not fit all.  As we went around the table, how we each wanted to be rewarded was different, no two answers were the same; some were similar and others were very different. A potent reminder, you don’t know what someone else is thinking, what someone else wants.

May is mental health month. It started in 1949; 73 years ago. But we really don’t like to talk about mental health until there is an incident. Maybe a shooting, maybe a suicide will cause a brief period of awareness. But again, as proven, kind of, sort of, you can’t read minds, you don’t know what someone is thinking or going through. You will see things through your lens, through your worldview and there is nothing wrong with that as long as you remind yourself, this is my view. So, what’s the big aha reveal for this week? A question, “who knows your death wish?”

Much in the same way, we really don’t discuss mental health until something happens, the same with death wishes, or as they are more commonly called, end of life wishes, advance directives, etc. OK, this is where predicting the future comes in. Unless you know when and how you’re going to exit from the living, you need this. My wishes are documented in my will and trust. I have told people what I want and to my surprise, a few  argued with me. Each time, as I started to “defend” my position, I realized, I don’t have to. These are my wishes, my choice, period. Like chocolate or vanilla ice cream, I don’t have to provide a justification, it’s a choice.  

A few posts back, I talked about that’s not helpful, the deadly silence around mental health. In the same way most people are not equipped to help you deal with a mental health issue, and you hear “snap out of it, others have it worst, blah, blah, blah.” Well, people are not equipped to handle your death wish either. If you don’t have anything in place, a POLST Form is a good way to review and understand various scenarios. While it is designed for people who are seriously ill or medically frail, it is a good way to start a discussion and planning. On Saturday, 14 May 2022, a gunman killed 10 people in a Buffalo New York Grocery Store. I believe no one in the store with the exception of the shooter expected the outcome.

Without the ability to read minds or predict the future, it may be an unpleasant task that needs to be done. This May, during mental health awareness month, can we have these uncomfortable conversations about an inevitable outcome? If you love those around you, don’t leave them with ambiguity. This week, consider your end of life wishes; what’s your choice and who knows?

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