Author Topic: MLC Monster Resources: About MLC  (Read 121404 times)

Offline Silmarion

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MLC Monster Re: Resources: About MLC
« Reply #110 on: October 20, 2011, 03:52:11 AM »
Uk is looking at male menopause and ML Crisis.

Here is website if anyone's interested:   
http://www.andropausesociety.org/midlife-crisis

It's a concise description of MLC with the facts.   This should be used as a label/excuse for the sitch but certainly is useful to read MLC and/or hormonal imbalance. 

I personally think biological changes are underestimated in men because there has been less research in this field.  Women's are physical changes which are clearer to measure.

Sil x

Offline Bewildered

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Re: Resources: About MLC
« Reply #111 on: November 03, 2011, 05:28:20 AM »
FROM A UK PAPER YESTERDAY ........



The new mid-life crisis: Today's men seek their thrills on boys' own adventures. Now meet the women they leave behind
By RACHEL PORTER


Mary Amos was looking forward to sharing the quiet comforts of middle age with her husband of more than 30 years. Their mortgage was paid off and the children grown up, so she pictured cosy evenings on the sofa, gentle weekend strolls with the dogs, and hard-earned holidays in exotic locations.
Her husband Brian had other plans, however. Which is why 52-year-old catering manager Mary now finds herself on the sidelines witnessing — with a mixture of bemusement and incredulity — her husband’s extraordinary mid-life transformation.
At almost 55, he has lost his paunch and his wardrobe is full of expensive new clothes. He has new friends and even, to Mary’s absolute horror, his very first tattoo. But if these sound like the symptoms of a classic mid-life crisis, then there’s a twist.
For instead of buying the motorbike of his boyhood dreams or finding a younger woman, Brian is one of a fast-rising number of middle-aged men who have become hooked on heart-racing, adrenaline-pumping adventure.
In their droves, men in their 40s and 50s — who have spent decades with their feet under a desk or on a footstool in front of the television — are risking limb and quite possibly life conquering the world’s highest peaks; trekking to the Poles; swimming across oceans; cycling stages of the Tour de France; going on motorcycle tours of India and Argentina; or training for the Cresta Run — as well as competing in ultra-marathons (any race longer than the standard 26.2  miles) in the world’s most inhospitable climates.
 
More...
•   Leather boy Arnie! Schwarzenegger takes his bike for a spin in black chaps and a brown biker jacket
For adventure travel companies, it is undoubtedly a lucrative market.
But for wives such as long-suffering Mary, the trend for their husbands to morph into mid-life action men is as exasperating as it is bewildering.
For Brian, a utilities company manager from Oxfordshire, it all began last year with the relatively modest Two Moors Challenge — a five-day, 102-mile trek across Dartmoor and Exmoor, which raised several thousand pounds for charity.
But within two months of conquering that particular challenge, he was staggering to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, suffering from the effects of altitude sickness and anti-malarial drugs.
‘He said: “Shoot me if I ever say I want to do something like that again,” ’ says Mary.
Understandably, she thought that was the end of it. It wasn’t. ‘Now he’s going to the North Pole,’ she says. ‘It’s become a sort of addiction.’
On the many evenings and weekends she has spent alone in recent months while Brian and his friends have been cycling coast-to-coast or dragging sledges up and down their nearest beach (more than 100 miles away) in preparation for the big polar expedition, Mary has had plenty of time to ponder the reasons for her husband’s transformation.
‘I did think: Why are you doing this? Are you going to leave? What is it that you’re not getting from our life together? But now, I take a deep breath and tell myself it’s just a phase: “This too shall pass,” ’ she says with a sigh, thinking ahead to six more months of pre-trek training and nothing but North Pole talk at the dinner table.
 ‘I think we’ll get the North Pole out of the way, then we’ll have to have a serious talk before he has a chance to book the next thing.’
She insists: ‘I do understand the need for something to fill the gap when life gets a bit easier and you’re not ready for retirement, but I thought he’d join the Rotary Club.’
Yet for Brian, and growing numbers of men like him, it seems there is simply not enough chest-puffing pride to be gleaned from an evening of beer or bridge. A mid-life crisis, after all, has always been about massaging the ego, according to psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall, a specialist in happiness and confidence issues.
‘Whether it takes a more cliched route — the Porsche, the mistress and so on — or this new, adventurous path, the mid-life crisis is about saying: “I’ve still got it. It’s not pipe and slippers time yet,” ’ Dr Arnall says.
Brian, whose new tattoo is a tribute to his six-strong team of polar trekkers, readily admits that, as a younger man, he imagined a very different middle-age for himself.
‘I’ll be 55 in seven weeks, and I’m doing things now that I wouldn’t even have thought about in my 20s,’ he says. ‘I don’t want to stop. Don’t tell Mary, but the South Pole is next on the agenda.’
The more gruelling the physical challenge, the better, it seems.
As Dr Arnall says: ‘Of course, men have always wanted to prove their vitality to themselves.
‘But this new form of mid-life behaviour has the added benefit of improving their physical fitness, and giving them tales to tell, instantly making them feel more attractive and more interesting.
‘When others are climbing higher, running farther and pushing themselves harder, it’s easy to be outdone, which is why so many men get hooked on ever-more extreme challenges.’
Andrew Boyle, a 45-year-old project development manager from London, admits he would never have challenged himself to climb Kilimanjaro — a popular first step for middle-aged adventurers — if his friend hadn’t done it first.
‘There’s definitely a bit of competition between us,’ says Andrew. ‘When my friend told me about Kilimanjaro, I knew right away that I wanted to do it. I thought: “Sign me up!” ’
Andrew confesses he wasn’t exactly in his physical prime, since work, marriage, and a young family had put paid his former hobby of playing football on a regular basis.
‘I’m sure my wife Tracy would have preferred me just to join a gym to shed a few pounds,’ he says. ‘But the opportunity arose to climb Kilimanjaro, and it offered more than just a chance to get fitter.’
Despite an agonising ascent to the summit after putting his back out en  route, Andrew came back down buzzing from ‘the thrill of getting off the treadmill of life for a while’.
But that was just the start of it. His sights are now set on a long-distance cycling adventure.
‘Maybe I could do the coast-to-coast ride through Cuba, or even the Lawrence Dallaglio and Andrew Flintoff ride from Greece to London next summer,’ he says, contemplating a mere 1,778  miles across Europe. (Needless to say, he hasn’t told Tracy of his plans yet).
But Andrew flatly rejects the notion that his sudden urge to be a he-man is the symptom of a mid-life crisis — though he admits the thought has crossed his mind.
‘Mid-life isn’t what it used to be. I may be 45, but I don’t feel old enough to be having a mid-life crisis,’ he says. ‘I’ve only been married a few years, my children are still young — Dominic is five and Molly is three. By the time my dad was 45, he’d been married for more than 20 years and was well on his way to his third affair by then.
‘The opportunity to be young, free and single into your 30s didn’t exist for his generation, and neither did the opportunity to climb distant mountains or trek through amazing landscapes. My life isn’t comparable.’
Nonetheless, countless adventure travel companies are tapping into what they see as the emerging ‘mid-life crisis market’ — leaving the wives back home to deal with the consequences.
As the exasperated wife of one City lawyer, whose husband morphed into a mid-life action man, told me: ‘It’s so competitive between him and his friends. ‘It’s no longer about what car you drive or where you go on holiday, it’s about how many triathlons you have notched up, or which far-flung part of the world you are heading off to for an extreme run or climb.
‘These are well-educated men who want to push themselves and push their boundaries, while their wives are left holding the baby at home and expected to cope with it all.’
That’s a sentiment 45-year-old Jacquie Cooke can sympathise with. Until his 40th birthday,  her husband Mark was more  than happy to put his feet up in  the evenings.
Little did Jacquie or their two daughters — Lucy, 19, and Holly, 16 — imagine that, over the next seven years, Mark’s one-time schoolboy enthusiasm for long-distance running would become an all-consuming passion.
‘Some men reach 40 and go off the rails — having affairs and buying motorbikes — so I suppose I got off lightly when Mark decided he wanted to run ultra-marathons,’ says Jacquie. ‘His alternative mid-life crisis may be all excitement for him, but it’s pretty tedious for us, the family he leaves behind.’
Mark has developed a love for particularly arduous races which last for days, cover hundreds of miles, and have resulted in runners’ deaths.
Once again, it was at the suggestion of a friend with a shared taste for middle-aged adventure that Mark signed up for the Marathon Des Sables four  years ago.
‘As a family, we look forward to it being over, so we can return to some sort of normality. But Mark is always wiped out and miserable. It feels like normal family life just isn’t enough for him — we’re not exciting enough’
 
During the race, which takes place in sweltering heat, runners battle across sand dunes, carrying everything they need to ensure their survival, while the sweat and sand flay the skin off their feet. Someone collapsed and died en route during the 2007 race.
Mark’s next challenge was the 2009 Jungle Marathon, a six-day, 125-mile race down a tributary of the Amazon in Brazil, in the company of deadly snakes and spiders.
‘We were out of contact for the whole time Mark was away,’ says Jacquie. ‘Whenever I checked the race website, I’d see video clips of runners looking like they were at death’s door.
‘I knew he’d gone out there as prepared as he could possibly be, having trained most mornings, most nights, and most weekends for months in advance. But the environment was so dangerous, I wondered if I’d see him again.’
Even when he does return home from his adventures, the anxiety continues as Mark adjusts back to his ‘normal’ middle-aged existence.
‘It’s such an anti-climax for him,’ Jacquie says. ‘As a family, we look forward to it being over, so we can return to some sort of normality. But Mark is always wiped out and miserable. It feels like normal family life just isn’t enough for him — we’re not exciting enough.’
Two years on from his last trip, Jacquie can sense that Mark’s keen to take on a new challenge. ‘That polar marathon looks like a good one,’ he cautiously admits.
And on behalf of the wives of middle-aged amateur adventurers everywhere, Jacquie heaves an exasperated sigh.
No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one is true.”
Strength is when you have so much to cry for but you prefer to smile instead. - Andy Murray

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. -Marilyn Monroe

"The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power." - Mary Pickford

Offline With Gods Help!

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Re: Resources: About MLC
« Reply #112 on: November 04, 2011, 08:39:42 PM »
I know some of you may have read this but thought i would post it anyway xxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Six Stages of Paddy’s Midlife Crisis.

1. The Happy Marriage (23 years BGZ-before ground zero)

Love, youth, kids, friends, planning for the future. The usual ups and downs, but seemed to go by so fast that the bumps were not felt, the kids grew older too fast and life was good.

2. The Subconscious Struggle- Part A-No Clue (8-10 years BGZ)

I still percieved myself as being in an overall good situation. There were the usual stressors: work, teenagers, parents, bills, getting older, issues with my wife.

I kind of realized I was not quite satisfied with my life, but I could not put my finger on it. Looking back on this time I realize I was not the perfect companion, although at the time I was too focused on my own needs and struggles to see this.

I was a Dad, but still wanted to be a kid. I was a husband, but still wanted to be attractive to other women. I was pretty insecure in spite of my successes.

I was not totally satisfied, but was restless and completely unaware of the impending disaster.

2. The Subconscious Struggle, Part B-Very Slightly less clueless (0-8 years BGZ)

I was tending to focus more on issues with my spouse as the source for my restlessness. I never thought about leaving, but I began a lot of fantasizing about something different than what I had. I became more involved with exercise, music, coaching my kids (probably as a way to look for some distractions or fulfillment).

Still no thoughts of leaving, Loved my wife. Basically still clueless.

3. Fantasy Becomes Reality- Ground Zero (Tapers off over about one year)

All repressed frustration in my life seems to feel released when someone I have been fantasizing about shows emotional and physical interest in me.

The feeling is overwhelming. I imagine it feels like combining a bath in the fountain of youth, a rush of heroin reaching my brain, and the feeling of getting up on Christmas morning as a child, only better (I have only experienced Christmas morning).

I couldn’t stay away from it if my life depended on it. It was a pull so strong that came out of nowhere. It was like falling from the sky, I could only go down. When you are falling, how do you stop falling down and start to fall up?

4. Can’t Get Off the Train (or some trains do go both ways) (1-2 years post Ground Zero)-I still can’t get off

Confusion, ambivalence. I still loved my wife and my friend of 30 years. I still had the attraction/addiction to the other woman and the fantasy of another life.

Back and forth. Cortex vs Limbic system. Brain vs heart. New vs Old. Therapy, depression, suicidal thoughts, anti-depressants. The pain and hurt of my kids and wife.

I had no idea what I wanted or needed. I was still mostly blaming my wife for her role in this. If she had just changed, everything would have been different.

The pull from the other woman was like a drug (once I have started using I couldn’t stop). I could not be honest with my wife about contact with the other woman.

5. Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for landing. (Is this grand Central or Terrapin Station?)(2 years from Ground Zero to present)

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Things seem clearer. I see what I have given up and who I have hurt. I take more responsibility.

This has been about me more than my wife. I am no longer depressed.

I am slowly learning about myself and why this happened. I am continuing psychotherapy and have recently begun spiritual counseling.

My wife has been very patient and as understanding as a person can be. Although I try to separate myself from the other woman, I still sometimes break down and contact her and cannot always be honest about this with my wife. Although I feel like I am learning to be more honest.

The fantasy of the other woman is less a fantasy and less addicting.

I feel like I want to go back to my wife and family , but I need to know this for sure. I don’t want to hurt them again, and it was also very painful for me. I want to move slowly and be sure I am ready before I commit.

I want to act out of wisdom, and not fear or guilt.

6. Stepping onto fertile ground- Feets, don’t fail me now!

I’m not there yet.

If it is with my wife. It will not be the same as before, it will be better.

There will be much happiness and good, but also some sad things. I will be much wiser and will be a better companion and friend from all I have learned.

I hope to be mindful of my partner’s needs and less focused on myself. I hope to work hard to keep my new relationship exciting and romantic.

I will live in the moment and not for the future.

Thanks for listening.

Paddy.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2011, 01:03:56 AM by justasking »
Life is like photography, you use the negatives to develop!!!!!
H returned after 8 years bd may 2009 multiple returner high energy cling boomerang

Offline Anjae

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Re: Resources: About MLC
« Reply #113 on: November 04, 2011, 09:14:10 PM »
WGH, also did not knew this one. Do you know some stories, or have links to, of people that have spend over 5 years in MLC and how it went?

It would help my sitch if I could read some stories with people that have been longer in the crisis.Thanks.
Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. (Marilyn Monroe)

Offline With Gods Help!

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Re: Resources: About MLC
« Reply #114 on: November 04, 2011, 09:23:56 PM »
http://midlifeclub.com/category/survivor-wisdom/page/2

only just found it again this evening although i do remember visiting it a few months back......there is some stories there click on the link and then you will to see new and old stories if you click on them it will bring them up xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Life is like photography, you use the negatives to develop!!!!!
H returned after 8 years bd may 2009 multiple returner high energy cling boomerang

Offline Anjae

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Re: Resources: About MLC
« Reply #115 on: November 04, 2011, 10:07:33 PM »
Thanks, WGH. Already new the midlife club (found it before this site but prefer it here). Think I've read if not all, almost all the stories there. Must are for people that have been on the crisis 2-4 years. Think that may be the average time most MCLers take...

Still, I'm gonna check again the midlife club and see if I found something new with someone that as been on it for 5 + years.

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. (Marilyn Monroe)

Offline Chrysalis

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Re: Resources: About MLC
« Reply #116 on: November 05, 2011, 11:56:18 AM »
From the same UK paper today.

Letter to problem page.  Certainly sounds very likely to be MLC to me.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2057853/BEL-MOONEY-I-wish-husband-died-instead-walking-me.html

Offline Bewildered

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Re: Resources: About MLC
« Reply #117 on: November 26, 2011, 02:38:53 AM »

2 great IMO articles -

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-new-resilience/201111/does-midlife-feel-the-long-slide-home-heres-why

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-new-resilience/201108/can-you-liberate-yourself-midlife-fears-loss-decline-and-stagnation

B xx

EDIT: I replaced the redirect links with the actual links; it's not against the site policy to use link shorteners, but they're often used to hide spam links so I wanted to make sure everyone knew where they were going. -SS
« Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 04:41:01 PM by StillStanding »
No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one is true.”
Strength is when you have so much to cry for but you prefer to smile instead. - Andy Murray

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. -Marilyn Monroe

"The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power." - Mary Pickford

Offline Bewildered

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Re: Resources: About MLC
« Reply #118 on: December 02, 2011, 02:26:47 PM »
Here is an Interesting One ............................

Is Your Midlife Just "A Long Slide Home?"


Posted: 11/29/11 05:19 PM ET

Quote

That's how a man in his 50s described his life to me not long ago: "It's my long slide home." He was feeling morose, anticipating the long holiday period from Thanksgiving through the New Year and what he knew it would arouse in him. I often see the "holiday blues" strike people during this time of multiple holidays (Hanukkah and Christmas; as well as Ashurah, Bodhi Day, and Kwanzaa). The tendency to reflect and take stock of one's life often triggers sadness, regret, or depression -- especially during midlife.

For example, this time of year can intensify feelings of losses you've experienced as well as fears about change, in general. In a previous post I described how you can become frozen into a mindset and perspective that your life is fixed and will spiral downward from your middle years onward. Such a mentality restricts your vision. You can't see that it's possible -- and necessary -- to continue evolving your life, while reframing your emotional attitudes about the life changes that will continue to occur. I've always liked a line from one of Norman Mailer's novels, "It is a law of life... that one must grow, or else pay more for remaining the same."

Many of 78 million baby boomers, now in the thick of midlife, are vulnerable to feeling demoralized about their lives. For some it's the classic "midlife crisis." But for many, it's more of a chronic, low-grade fever, reflecting a range of things: Loss of intimacy with their partner, emotionally, sexually and intellectually. Regrets about what they didn't do well enough in their parenting of their children, who are now launched into their own adult lives... and in an uncertain world. Unfulfilled creative longings for their careers or for contributing to something more meaningful. A career that's flatlined, or worse -- lost altogether. Physical changes or limitations that accrue. The desire for deeper friendships as they feel increasingly sporadic and elusive.

On top of all that are the anxieties about what lies down the road for yourself and your children in this world of economic instability, political polarization, the specter of terrorism, and general unpredictability on all fronts of life. It can be hard trying to maintain sanity (assuming you know what that even looks like) while dealing with all this. It can make you wonder what the point of it all is, as a midlife woman said to me: "It's been hitting home lately that I'm going to die, eventually, and all of a sudden nothing has any meaning, anymore."

Of course, there are people whose emotional conflicts predate midlife, or for whom midlife issues trigger old conflicts that now erupt in the form of depression, anxiety and other symptoms. But most don't fall in that category. For the majority, their suffering is a product of having arrived at midlife in our culture with socially conditioned attitudes about loss and change; a mentality that doesn't allow for envisioning new possibilities within the reality that now exists. Without that vision, there's no hope. And without hope you can't learn what actions will support positive growth in your life from this point forward.

That's especially ironic, because people are living longer, with extended health and the potential for productive, energized lives. What we call "midlife" is really an outmoded term that reflects an earlier era in which you could expect to die in your 60s. But the mature adult years now cover several decades in people's minds. For example, recent surveys find that about 80 percent think "old age" doesn't begin until around 85.

So: Here are a few evidence-based ideas that can help catapult you out of the risk of suffering from midlife blues during this holiday period -- or any other time.

Continue Your Personal "Evolution"
Take note of the evidence that you can -- and should -- continue to evolve within your lifetime, especially during the so-called middle years. By then, you've accrued enough life experience to know what's worth going after, and what's worth letting go of. In a previous post I pointed out that your capacities for positive development -- emotionally, intellectually, creatively, spiritually, physically, and in your relationships -- are actually heightened, but you have to know how to use them. One example: Research finds that the brains of older people are not slower but rather wiser than young brains. That is, older adults in the study achieved at least an equivalent level of performance, based on that enhanced capacity.

Revise the Meaning of Loss and Change
What you probably call "loss" is the conventional emotional experience of change, transition and the overall impermanence of life. It reflects your desire to stay attached to and hold onto something that's ended or evolved in a different direction. It may be a relationship, your growing child, your physical state or some experience you once "had."

It can be hard to see or open yourself to the other side of that coin: that every "loss" contains a new experience to learn from and do something with. That's your karma in action. For example, if you accept that your son or daughter is no longer a young child, that opens the door to a new challenge: building a different kind of relationship as he or she grows and matures. You might not embrace that side of the coin if you're fixed on the fear and pain of letting go of what you've "lost." The key is to fully absorb your emotional experience of whatever's changing or evolving -- including sadness or regret. But at the same time embrace and feel gratitude for what now exists in the life you have, at this moment in time. This shift of perspective can be helpful to you if you've suffered a career loss or downturn, as well.

Build A Sustainable Relationship
Studies of couples who are able to maintain a highly positive, energized connection for the long term find that they learn to "forget" themselves and become more focused on serving the relationship itself. By "forget" yourself I'm referring to conscious actions that serve and support the relationship between the two of you, not just your own needs. That is, think of your relationship as a third entity, with a life of its own.

A woman in a 20-year marriage illustrated the difference when she said to her husband during a couples therapy session in my office, "I still love you, but I hate our relationship." Psychological and social conditioning within our culture teaches us to relate to intimate partners as commodities, and therefore engage with them in transactional, mercantile terms: I give in order to get. I "invest" in the relationship to receive a "return." Relationships have become another part of a commercialized, consumer-orientation approach to life.

At midlife, though, you have a greater opportunity to break through this mentality and behavior. One reason is that you've hopefully learned from some negative experiences in your relationship. Most people have some along the way. Also, it helps to note that research has found that couples who are pretty materialistic have unhappier marriages than couples who don't care as much about possessions. The effect holds true across all levels of income. And a more materialistic orientation goes hand-in-hand with the commercialized, commodity orientation to one's partner. That's a good prescription for becoming unhappy roommates, at best.

Serve Something Greater Than Yourself
It's almost a cliché to engage in volunteer activity around holiday time -- and then forget about it the rest of the year. But providing service to some problem -- through your time, abilities and efforts -- can generate renewed vitality and life purpose during midlife. It can mitigate feelings of inner emptiness or absence of real human connection. It stimulates more proactive growth regarding your values and life. Service to some issue or purpose larger than yourself at midlife often triggers a strong yearning and action to create more positive, authentic connections in your life. It can awaken you to the reality that beneath surface differences, we're all one; all organs of the same body, so to speak.

When you engage others who have it worse off than yourself, it often leads to a healthier perspective about your own life dilemmas or disappointments. That shift of consciousness increases your flexibility in the face of ongoing life changes, and contributes to your overall psychological health and resilience during the midlife years.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 05:43:22 PM by OldPilot »
No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one is true.”
Strength is when you have so much to cry for but you prefer to smile instead. - Andy Murray

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. -Marilyn Monroe

"The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power." - Mary Pickford

Offline Bewildered

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Re: Resources: About MLC
« Reply #119 on: December 03, 2011, 12:19:22 PM »
Male Menopause
Quote


Maybe it is just that I am 49 years old and male, but I seem to be noticing that a lot of middle-aged men are killing themselves. My former patient, in his late 30s, said that half a life was enough happiness for him. My sister's friend, about 40, impulsively killed himself with a revolver after his long-time girlfriend told him she was leaving. My personal friend, a 38 year old dermatologist, is severely depressed and suicidal after his fiancée left him.

They say that older males are the most likely to kill themselves, and younger women are the most likely to make suicide attempts. What is happening with the middle-aged male cohort?

I presume it has something to do with the concept of a mid-life crisis. When I was not middle aged, I tended to think of the mid-life crisis as something faintly humorous: the balding 45 year old would buy a red convertible, maybe drive a little fast, remarry a trophy wife, and soothe his pain that way. But now that I am middle-aged -

I supposed I have to admit it now - and since most of my friends are too, I realize that it is something really dangerous, and that the pain is not like a toothache; it is more like peering down a deep well and feeling your feet giving way.

If you are lucky enough to have parents and grandparents with reasonably normal life spans, then the mid-life crisis begins to announce itself in your late 30s, and usually by your 40s, when those who meant the most to you as a child begin to die, one by one.

First, it was my aunt; she had schizophrenia. I loved her, but I rationalized her death by thinking that her life had been so painful. Then my grandmother; I loved her too, but she had begun to become distant in her later years through illness and depression. Then my uncle developed Alzheimer's dementia: he died before he died. I missed him: we used to talk about quantum physics. Then my aunt died after going into a coma after kidney dialysis: I missed her; I used to visit her in Los Angeles once a year. Now LA feels empty to me. Then my other uncle, and another aunt. My grandfather was left; I was closest to him. He kept getting ill; we kept curing him by diagnosing and treating whatever he had. We thought we had caught his colon cancer, but it came back, and last year, I spent two weeks with him as he lay dying.

After him, only my parents are left. And after them, I know that our generation is next.

That is the mid-life crisis: Being put face to face with the reality of the end of it all. And then there are the children. They seem to be waiting around to replace us. And yet they are so wonderful; the thought of leaving them makes it all even worse. On top of it all - I believe Freud noticed this - it is haunting how five year olds want to discuss the meaning of death.

Karl Jaspers, the existential psychiatrist and philosopher, talked about death as a "limit-situation" which gives meaning to our lives. We cannot avoid it; we can only live authentically if we face it, he said. Heidegger talked about Being-toward-Death; the idea that we could not live an authentic existence until we first came to terms with the reality of its end. I thought I caught the same idea years ago when a former Black Panther (I can't recall who he was; not one of the more famous leaders) came to speak to Harvard undergraduates. I happened to attend, and I recall how he must have felt odd speaking to that crowd. I don't know what led him to make this remark but I never forgot it.

He said: "Most people do not have any reason for living. They just find themselves alive and they go through the motions. They find nothing to be really important, so important that they would put their own lives on the line. They are not willing to die for anything, so they are not willing to live for anything. You want to know the meaning of life? Figure out what you are willing to die for, and then reason your way back from there."

I think that one can go through one's youth avoiding this question, but sometime, usually by mid-life, we are faced with it. We come face to face with deciding what we are willing to die and live for. And if the answer seems to be nothing, that is when the mid-life crisis itself can lead to death.

These days, Americans probably hear about Shiites only in terms of sectarian conflicts in Iraq. They come across as an ethnic group that seems to like to fight with other ethnic groups. Perhaps this is part of the problem in Iraq: we send our soldiers, who have no knowledge of Iraq or Shiism, into a place where they simply get shot. No wonder neither side makes any attempt to appreciate or value the adversary as human beings.

I am a Shiite, as are most Iranians. The leading figure in the Shiite faith, Imam Ali, lived and died in Najaf, Iraq. (His mosque, where he is buried, was the site of major battles early in the Iraq invasion). For Shiites, his ideas are as alive as those of St. Paul are to Catholics. Ali was the first person to join Muhammad in his new religion; he fought alongside Muhammad in decades of battles as the small band of original Muslims gradually took over Arabia. He killed many people, and he placed his life in jeapordy in battle many times. In the end, he was assassinated. After his death, his followers published a collection of his sermons, Nahj-ul Balagha, long considered a classic of Arabic rhetoric.

In his sermons, he frequently repeated the belief that God only fixes two days in a person's existence: the date of his birth and the date of his death. Neither are changeable. But everything in between is up to us.

Once, writing a letter to his son, he summarized his thoughts in a maxim:
"Plan for the future as if you would live forever," he said. "But live each day as if it might be your last."

I had heard this before: my grandfather repeated it to me when I was a teenager and a young adult. But now I think I understand better: Now I know that those are not morbid thoughts; those are words to live by.


No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one is true.”
Strength is when you have so much to cry for but you prefer to smile instead. - Andy Murray

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. -Marilyn Monroe

"The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power." - Mary Pickford

 

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