Author: Michael Rosmann

Depression Can Be Difficult For Spouses Too

Living with a marriage partner who is depressed can be taxing on the non-depressed person as well as on the symptom bearer. It can also be an opportunity for both partners to make themselves better persons and to deepen their love for each other as they become competent together at managing depression. Depression is tough on the melancholy person and usually a burden for those around him or her. None want the ordeal of this behavioral disorder; all want to function optimally. Anger is common for the depressed person’s partner, mainly at the malady rather than at the partner. Spouses become tired of trying to lift up their “down” partner, frustrated by a lack of intimacy (sometimes it’s about inadequate physical intimacy, but more often it’s that depression takes priority over their own welfare) and they feel overwhelmed with more than their fair share of responsibilities for the household, and any children in the domicile. Neither partner wants to feel this way. The depressed partner often feels guilty about difficulty handling responsibilities that are easily managed when not depressed and uncertainty where their relationship is headed. Both partners desire to solve the dilemmas and both hope to move ahead as individuals and as a couple. Depression varies in its causes and the degree of difficulty for every depressed spouse and married couple. Here are some ways I recommend to...

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Employee Assistance Programs Reduce Workplace Stress and Improve Agriculture

Most people connected with agriculture know that it is among the most stressful occupations. Many of the factors that affect the outcome of agricultural production, like the weather, are not under the operators’ control; even the factors that farmers can control somewhat, like crop management practices, are fraught with uncertainty. Two weeks ago I wrote: Persons engaged in agriculture (farmers, ranchers, farm laborers, fishers and lumber harvesters) had the highest suicide rate among 30 national Standard Occupational Classification groups, at 84.5 per 100,000 persons in the agriculture occupation during 2012 in 17 states that were studied. I suggested that a national program called the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) could help distressed farmers and their families and save lives if it were available. The FRSAN was modeled after the Sowing the Seeds of Hope program that served seven Upper Midwestern states (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin) for about a dozen years during the early part of this century, but ceased as funds ran out. Each state had a farmer-friendly telephone hotline and website that offered confidential, free telephone counseling 24/7 to callers and emailers, as well as up to five prepaid counseling sessions from a licensed behavioral healthcare professional who had a farm background or experience working with farmers. Essentially, it was an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) for the agricultural population. Many...

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“Farm And Ranch Life” Readers Speak Up About Changes In Farm Culture

Four weeks ago I asked readers to offer observations about changes in farm culture over the past generation. Twenty-six people around the world, but mostly in the Midwest, had a lot to say. Here are some of their observations. There isn’t enough space for all the reflections, so I combined redundant observations. I made a few comments also. “We used to have neighbors…now we have competitors,” said a Missouri farmer. “We don’t get together with neighbors anymore,” said a middle-aged Iowa farm woman. “It (farming) is a business now and not the way of life I thought it would be when I married a farmer,” said another person without identifying her location or age. “We’re struggling to make it work and aren’t as sure as we were when we started.” “I miss not having neighbors to talk to,” said an older Iowa farm gentleman. “Now all the ground surrounding me is farmed by one or two operators who hire out the spraying and fertilizer application, and sometimes the ground preparation, planting, and harvesting too. We wave to each other if we pass across the fence, nothing more.” “Farms were smaller years ago, but you can’t make a go of it on a small farm anymore,” was another common theme. Small dairy and swine production farms are mostly gone, farmers in the Netherlands, Canada, Florida and Ohio lamented. So are...

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A Farm Family Takes a Positive Turn With Alcoholism

It’s been almost three years since I first wrote about Dan, a farmer in his early 40s, who didn’t want to admit his alcohol abuse. The Farm and Ranch Life article for the week of April 18, 2016 was the fifth and most recent in a series about Dan and his wife, Darla. An update is warranted because this farm family is currently dealing more effectively than previously with Dan’s issues. As in earlier columns, the identities of Dan and Darla have been disguised, but not the issues they struggle with. I thank the readers who have written me with sage advice for Dan and Darla, often from the perspective of “having been there.” I passed along many of your observations and recommendations to the couple without your personal information. Background. Dan and Darla, now both in their 40s, are purchasing the farm where Dan grew up from his parents. Darla, a nursing supervisor, contributes part of her salary to payments for their farm and provides the family health insurance. Their children, a daughter and son, are currently 9 and 6 years old respectively. Perhaps this ongoing saga should be entitled The Breathalyzer, for Dan destroyed four of the devices while proclaiming over the years that he didn’t have a drinking problem. He was charged with DUIs twice but seemed to be heading straight when I last wrote about...

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