Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Posts tagged ‘Depression’

Being Mean. Excuse Denied.

I’ve had some thoughts percolating in my head for a few weeks.  I knew it was only a matter of time before my thoughts poured out my fingertips.  It’s inevitable for me.

Before I dig in, I need to say something.  I need a disclaimer in italics, I guess.  I’m about to get some stuff off my chest.  I want to talk about people who are mean.  I was hashing this subject matter over with Scott.  We talked about how on any given day, our paths could cross with people experiencing depression, grief or despair.  On any given day, we, ourselves, could be experiencing depression, grief or despair.  We ALL have bad days.  People having bad days are NOT mean.  Right? Agreed? 

The trouble with talking about mean people, is that people who aren’t mean might be tempted to to worry that they ARE mean. They are not.  

Here’s a guideline for you that I pulled out of one of my “How to Pretend You’re a Psychiatrist in your Blog” books. (Or, out of my butt. You be the judge.).   I can assure you, if you’re the real deal kind of mean person, you’re not worried about it.  If you’re legit mean, being mean doesn’t worry you.  Being mean makes you proud.  Mean folks wear their, “I don’t take no crap from no one” badge proudly.

I feel pretty sure that authentic mean people wouldn’t find my blog interesting. This thing is pretty soft.

This blog post you’re reading  is designed to help us sort things out.  It’s designed to help us see things clearly, and to help us figure out what to do about people who are mean.  It’s also a bit of therapy for me.  Cause you KNOW how I like to talk it out; you’re sure good to listen.  Let’s continue…

I was remembering one of my favorite movies, “Say Anything”.  I like that movie for a lot of reasons.  One line in the movie is fairly obscure; most people probably don’t remember this line was said.

In the movie, John Cusack is a high school kid.  He lives with his sister who is a single, hard working mom.  These two are siblings in real life too.  That’s unrelated trivia, but interesting. Don’t you think?

say anything

This is what we remember about “Say Anything”.

John Cusack’s older sister is probably overwhelmed, anxious, depressed and a bunch of other things that we become when life craps on us.  So, let’s just give her that.  The other thing John Cusack’s sister is is not nice.  There are more colorful words to describe big sister than “not nice”, but I hate to offend.  Please, use your imagination.

The older sister never has anything positive to say to her little brother.  Little brother can always expect big sister to be short, and to respond with sarcasm.  This kind of thing goes on between the siblings for a few scenes.  Then, little brother finally addresses the situation.  He uses that line  I’ve remembered for the rest of my life.  Little brother says, “Why can’t you just decide to be in a good mood, and then be in a good mood?”

When I watched this movie for the first time, I wanted to stand up and cheer when little brother put my thoughts into words so perfectly.  I was a teenager then.  My life was untouched by depression, anxiety disorders, or any significant trauma.  I was completely naive.   I was a pretty happy young person person;  I thought the whole world, and everyone in it was just grand.  I thought  little brother  had just solved everyone’s problems.

At 43 years, I do know about, or have experienced, depression, anxiety disorders and trauma.  I’m suitably jaded.

But, still, “Why CAN’T you just decide?”

Yep.  Still on board with you, little brother.

I have been thinking about when people have to walk on egg shells.  You know what I mean?  You know how you have to be super careful to say and do all the right things around certain people?  These egg shell people are unpredictable. They’re so easily offended.  Keeping egg shell people happy requires a ton of energy.

I’ve also been thinking this deep thought:  screw eggshells.

I mean it.  Screw them.  I think we should stop walking on them.  And, everyone should just calm the crap down.

I think you need to realize something. Egg shell people are just mean.  I think we should stop fussing over egg shell people, and start having a good time.  That’s what I think.

In, “Say Anything”, the big sister comes to her senses.   Big sister is wore down, drug out and overwrought. But, she loves her brother.  She heard him, and she takes his advice.  She decides to change her response and her words. Then the love flows. Aww. She’s not mean at all.

What if life was always that easy? Sometimes it is.  Most the time, not.

In real life, that scene would probably go down differently.  Little brother would tell big sister to stop being so mean.  Big sister would then punch little brother in the face, and say, “You want mean?  I’ll give you mean.”

Then, little brother would apologize.   And, later, he would go back for second helpings.  The next time though, he’d be more careful.  The next time, he’d be sure to try not to say anything to set his sister off.  After all, she suffers from anxiety, depression and she’s had a rough go.  Little brother knows he should always remember what big sister’s been through, and all the stress she’s under.  That’s why she’s so mean.

BLAACHHHH!!!!

From where I stand in my life right now, here is my advice to little brother:  Pull the shades, bro.  Your sister is mean.

I’ve had little experience with mean people in my life.  I know I’m fortunate.  I do not know any mean people intimately.  The only down side to this is that I cannot be a credible source on the inner workings of a mean person’s mind.  My limited exposure to meanness has only taught me this:  stop wasting your time trying to figure it out. You can’t.

I know YOU are not mean.  I know it.  Stop worrying.  I’m not talking about you.  All of us have bad days.  We all say things we regret.  I know I have a long list of words I’d like to retract in my lifetime.

I think mean people have (at least) two common traits:

  1. Broken relationships.   A lot of them.  A heap of friends and family a mean person no longer speaks to, because, you know, the mean person won’t be mistreated.  And everyone (I mean, EVERYONE) eventually tries to mistreat a mean person. Mean people won’t have it.  Not for a second. Mean people eliminate offenders from their lives with no regrets.  Anyone left standing  is prepared to do what it takes to keep mean person from getting upset.  It’s a small group.
  2. Being easily offended.  Oh for crap’s sake. This one makes me crazy. Would you stop with the being offended stuff?  I have come to the conclusion that few things bother me more than folks who are always offended.  Don’t be so freakin’ fragile, man.  It’s self indulgent.

Have you ever gotten an email, or a phone call from someone apologizing for something they said that they  think may have offended you?  I have.  I just think those people are so precious.  Almost every single time this has happened, I can honestly tell this person I was NOT offended.  In fact, most of the time, I do not even remember the conversation where this “offense” occurred.

I can remember one time about 8 years ago.  Eddie was super sick;  I did not have my full mental strength.  A good friend said something that actually DID hurt my feelings.  You’d have to put me under hypnosis to get me to remember WHAT she said.  I have no idea.  I just remember an offense happened.

My hurt feelings would not have stopped me from hanging out with my friend, for the record.   There is a good chance if that offense kept bugging me, I would have eventually told my friend what was in my head.  It never came to that.

My friend’s  a sensitive gal.  She called me to say that she was thinking about our conversation.  She said she was very sorry, because she felt like what she said was insensitive.

I said, “Too late.  You’ve got one chance with me, woman.  You blew it.”  Then, I circled her name on my list of people to ostracize and/or murder at a later date.

Naw!  I’m kiddin’ ya.  The way I figure it, murder is just to be used in extreme circumstances.  You know, like a last resort.

Apology accepted, you sweet, humble and lovely human.  My friend is not mean.  I am not mean.  That’s how not mean people do business.

I’ve sent plenty of apology emails myself.  In fact, just this week I sent an email to Olivia’s volleyball coach.  I got caught in a conversation at the end of her “beginning of the year” talk.  I didn’t even hear her last line or two.  I was rude.  I was sorry.  I’m always anxious to fess up and apologize when I do people wrong.  Once I apologize, I don’t worry about it much.  I mentally check it off my list.

I used to keep worrying and worrying, until harmony was restored. I  stopped doing that. It took some practice.  I’m pretty good at it now.

Now, I know that I’m only responsible for the stuff that is within my control.  I have no business spending energy on any of the rest of it. Whew.  What a relief to be getting older, and learning stuff that makes life easier.

That’s it. That’s all I got to help you with mean people.  Do what you can, and then pull the shades on that.  Your apologies and efforts will never be enough.  Find a way to extricate yourself physically and/or emotionally.  Who knows? Maybe God will step in and make a miracle happen. That’s what it will take, because you’re not winning that battle on your own, my friend.  It’ll take you down.

I bet you didn’t know that I’m an artist.  It’s true.  I’ve got skills.  We went to ArtSpot this past weekend for my Mom’s birthday.  The deal with that is that no matter how much you suck at art, you’re supposed to come out with a painting that isn’t half bad.

My sister, Heidi, and I were jackin’ around like the old days.  I felt like I had better technique, and seemed a bit more like a serious artist, but she said the same about herself.  Take a look, if you want.  Feel free to tell my sister that she just doesn’t have that secret something that I have. It’s hard to put your finger on it, really.

Of course it’s not her fault.  I’m gifted, and I’m humble enough to know that isn’t anything I did on my own.  My kind of talent comes from above.

I made this picture:

bird pic

I thought it might be going a good direction. When I finished it, I realized it was actually garbage (true artists are never satisfied). So, I wrote on it.

My Mom is good at painting in real life.  She was the teacher’s pet, and made the rest of us look real bad.  Sounds like the perfect birthday gift to me.

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Scary Dreams and Another Disease

I’ve lost my blogging rhythm.  I used to have one, but I don’t any more.  Now my blogs just erupt spontaneously.

After writing about depression, I felt a little depressed.  That surprised me.  I spent a lot of myself writing that story.  When I finished, I thought maybe I finally got all of these words inside of me on the outside of me.  I felt empty; like I was actually done.

I thought, well then. I guess I finally have blogging out of my system.  Soon I will be saying, “Remember when I used to blog all the time? I was so weird back then.”

A couple of days after I published my Depression Story, I felt more words starting to slowly pile up again.  Not words to change anybody’s world.  Just more like another purge of random nonsense.   Those kind of purges are soothing for me.

Maybe I’m sick?

Just a sec. I have to go Google something.

SHUT the FRONT DOOR!!!  This is a thing.  I knew it.  I’m suffering from an illness.  And, you didn’t believe me?!  Maybe this will teach you trust my instincts.  Especially when it comes to impending doom.   I always have my money on that.

Check it:

Hypergraphia is a behavioral condition characterized by the intense desire to write. Forms of hypergraphia can vary in writing style and content. It is a symptom associated with temporal lobechanges in epilepsy, which is the cause of the Geschwind syndrome, a mental disorder.[1]Structures that may have an effect on hypergraphia when damaged due to temporal lobe epilepsy are the hippocampus and Wernicke’s area. Aside from temporal lobe epilepsy, chemical causes may be responsible for inducing hypergraphia.

Now I don’t understand most of that definition, nor did I read anything but the first sentence.  But,  what is pretty obvious (when you read between the lines) is that this writing disease is fatal.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to make you cry again.  I know we’ve become friends.

I shall make this vow to you: I shall keep writing and writing and writing things for you, until I die from it.  You have my word and my honor.

Wow.  Things just got real serious.  Real fast.

One of the things I felt so compelled to write about was Olivia’s dream.  Scott doesn’t like it when we talk about dreams.  He’s so literal; he abhors drama.  Dreams are dramatic. I think when we explain our dreams to Scott, he mistakenly thinks that that WE are being dramatic.  Like we have a choice about what our subconscious conjures up while we sleep.

I have been in the middle of telling Scott about how I gave birth to his little son who actually turned out to be a monkey, and Scott will  just cut me off.  He doesn’t want to hear another word.

I’m like, “Just let me tell you the part about how we bravely overcame our disappointment in our monkey son, and how we embraced him instead.  We gave him a home, Scott.  That should mean something to you.”

MonkeySad

Hello, Scott Junior. Your Father doesn’t mean to be so harsh. He’ll learn to love you, in time.

Nope. He doesn’t care.

I am very interested in dreams.

Olivia has been on edge lately because, well, sometimes she hears the news.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lately the news IS terrifying.  If I were writing a serious blog today, I might point out that if hearing about the terror happening on another continent is enough to give us nightmares, I wonder how it is affecting the victims actually experiencing it.

I know that I can’t actually know how good I have it.  It’s impossible to appreciate it adequately.

So, here is the dream:  Olivia dreamed that the enemy/terrorists stormed the United States.  The terrorists came into our home with guns.  They pointed them at us and said, “If you praise God, we will kill you.  If you praise the Devil, you will live.”

Then, the terrorists said, “Get on your knees.  If you face East, you are praising God.  If you face the West, you are praising the Devil.  If you praise the Devil, we will let you live.”

Of course, we all folded our hands, and faced God’s direction together.  Then, at the last minute I yelled, “Wait.  Wait.  Don’t kill me.  I’m going to face the Devil’s direction.”

WHAATT????  Are you kidding me, Olivia?

So, that dream is simultaneously terrifying and humorous.  Terrifying, because people really are executed for their beliefs.  Not in some weird era of history either.   Right now.  Humorous, because I thought maybe my daughter had more confidence in me.  Apparently, she thinks it will take approximately 15 seconds to break me.

That makes me nervous, because I have been known to crumble under pressure.  Let’s just say nobody’s every accused me of being overly courageous.

I’m glad Olivia gave me this horrifying plot to think about.  I’m going to visualize and practice bravery in my mind.  For the record, I’m totally a God worshiper.

I’m also going to ask God if there would please be another, slightly less scary way to end my time here.  Like a writing disease, or something like that.

 

My Depression Story

My oldest sister, Chris, told me about this blog she thought I would like.  Strange.  I had just started reading this exact blog a few days before my sister mentioned it to me.  Chris and I are like that.  We often are separately coming to the same conclusions.  It is starting to freak us out.

Chris thought I would like this blog.  She was wrong.  I don’t like it.  I love it.  The author of this blog is so clever and humble and sincere.  She is insightful.  She’s thought a lot about faith, and uses her faith to guide her every day.   She has a family, and she also has Chronic Lyme Disease.

If you read her blog, you will see that she has made up some of her own theology.  You don’t need to warn me about that.   I know.  I don’t limit my reading or listening to people who think just like me.   I would not like to live that way.

I read her essays, and I get that she is intellectually out of my league.  She is playing for the Brewers (during a winning season); I am still playing T-ball.

I’m not saying any of that because I need compliments.  I’m saying it, because it’s true.  Saying these things doesn’t make me insecure. It just makes me honest.

Some of my very favorite people in the world are cursed with a negative inner dialogue.  All day they are tuned in to an unending loop of self-criticism.  They negatively compare themselves to other folks, and reject their own awesomeness.

I thank God that tape is not playing in my own head.  I am okay with my weaknesses. Other people’s awesomeness does not make me feel unworthy.  It usually inspires me.

One thing this blogger/author said was that she has all these ideas floating by her each day, begging her to write them down.   She says that need to put her thoughts into words is intense. She has a busy life, and a beautiful family.  She has more thoughts than she has time.  Sometimes she has to let  thoughts go before they’re captured.

I cannot explain how much I understand this.

Sometimes people ask me if it’s hard to keep writing.  It isn’t.  It’s hard to NOT keep writing.   But, I’m not an author, and I don’t write for a living.  So, a lot of the time I’m forcing myself  to attend to my responsibilities, and not write.  Not writing is an act of self  discipline.

This author I like talks a lot about her own mental illness.  I’m inspired by her honesty.  Scott and I were discussing this author and Robin Williams the other night.  I said I thought that Robin William’s passing was creating this positive dialogue about mental illness.  I told Scott I considered writing about my own experience with post postpartum depression; I didn’t know if that was selfish.  Robin Williams death is so sad.  I shouldn’t use his death as an excuse to shine the light on me.

Scott didn’t agree with me.  He said that the more people talk straight up about mental illness and depression, the better.  He said there is strength in honesty.  He asked how we could help each other, if we weren’t  being honest. I agree.  I have always agreed with that.

I have never decided NOT to talk about my postpartum depression.  For me, it is like the time I broke my finger.  It happened. It hurt.  It healed.  It’s over.  It isn’t relevant any more. Except, now I’m thinking that maybe sharing my story might be relevant for someone else.  For someone who is living in  it right now.  My story  might help someone who’s suffering to know that sometimes there is an end to it.  Sometimes you heal.

I know it is not like that for everyone.  Some people battle with depression, mood disorders or mental illness their entire lives.  That takes courage.

Here’s my story:

When our third child, and first daughter, was born I could NOT stop smiling.  Olivia was like Christmas every day for me.  I loved her intensely.   I would guess that the folks who know me the best would tell you that my knack for loving people intensely hasn’t always helped me.  I have been known to love people so much that I start to believe  their happiness, good health and well-being are completely on me.  Their happiness and success are my responsibility alone.   THAT is a lot of responsibility.  I didn’t used to  know that you can over-love people.  You can. I have.

When we brought Olivia home from the hospital,  life was sweet.  I can honestly tell you that postpartum depression, or not, my 8 years as a  stay-at-home mom were the BEST years of my life.  They were also the hardest years.  

 

olivia birth

 

I promise you that I didn’t take those years for granted while I was living them.  Scott and I made a conscious  effort NOT to do that.  We would tell each other out loud, “remember to appreciate this moment.  Some day they’ll be big.”   Then, we’d just be quite for a bit and try to permanently burn whatever image was in front of us into our memory bank.  It worked a little.  I have a whole trunk full of happy memories with our babies that I like to think about and re explore when I have time.

 

20140820_213914

I thought that not taking that time for granted meant that time would go slower.  It didn’t.  Time went just as fast as if I HAD taken those years for granted.   I was right there, and now it’s gone.

When Olivia was born, Zeke was a baby too. He was 16 months old.     Zeke didn’t take kindly to sharing his mom at first.  We knew that’s how he felt, mainly because he said, “WAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!”  All freaking day long.  Every day.  For many, many days.   He was sad.  Of course,  I took his sadness to heart.  I felt so guilty for giving him a sister.

Then, you had Eddie.  Sweet, sweet, precious, ever-lovin’, never puts a sock in it, Eddie.  Who’s bright idea was it to read to that kid in the womb?

 Eddie was a very early talker.  Once he started talking, he never stopped.  Non. Stop. Chatter.  4-year-old chatter on top of WAHHHHHHHH!!!! On top of nursing an infant who was extremely attached to her mother.  I think all those things together could have broken the toughest soldier.

I’m going to be really honest about something else.  I’m saying this, because I know there’s someone else out there like me.  Maybe I can help you avoid the same mistakes.  I want to tell you that the other contributing factor to my temporary insanity was my habit of being too nice.  I hope you don’t think I’m complimenting myself.  I’m not.  Being too nice is NOT a worthy attribute.  Being too nice has nothing to do with being a good Christian, or being loving and kind.  Being too nice is being weak.  You know what else being too nice is?  Being too nice is dishonest.

When we had three children under four, there were things I needed from Scott.  There were things I needed Scott to do, and things I needed him to stop doing.  Scott is my favorite person on this planet.  I am his biggest fan. He only keeps getting better.    I want you to know that.   I wish  I would have been more clear with Scott about how he could help me back then.   He would have helped me too.  I just needed to tell him how.  I didn’t tell him, so without trying to, he made things worse.

Olivia was born in June.  All summer long I could feel my mind slipping into something unfamiliar to me.  I couldn’t explain what it was;  it felt a little bit like despair.  

Women with preschoolers, who are trying to keep the house clean, entertain the children and keep everyone fed and healthy are working like slaves.  They are.  It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done.   The only people who think that work like that is easy, are people who haven’t done it.

My anxiety and sadness seemed to intensify over time.  I am an anxious person by nature, but I am definitely not  a sad person. I started to develop irrational fears for our children’s safety.  I remember at night giving myself lectures, “Normal people do not want to crawl in a crib with their babies.  Your baby girl is safe. Stay in your own bed.  Your baby is across the room.  You will hear your baby when she cries.  Just go to sleep.  You need sleep.  Sleep now, while your baby is sleeping.”

She would sleep, but I wouldn’t.  I wouldn’t sleep, because I was worried that she might not sleep.  Even though she was right there sleeping.  It all makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?  

One night, when Olivia was about 4 months old I went out for supper with my sisters, Mom and Grandma.  My sisters didn’t know how fragile my state of mind was.  They thought we were going to have fun.

I watched my sisters interact with their beautiful baby niece, Olivia.  I was jealous of how carefree and genuine they seemed.  I was so full of fear and worry, that I couldn’t remember the last moment of sincere pleasure I had with my baby girl.

At some point in our dinner, I put my head down in my arms and I started to quietly sob.  I know women cry.  We’re emotional creatures.  I am weird. I  have never been prone to crying. My sisters rarely saw me cry.  My role was to make them laugh.  That day I cried.

I sobbed for a few minutes.  Everyone around the table became silent.   When I brought my head up, there were 6 women staring at me with tears pouring down their faces.  Wow.  Empathy.  It is so precious. So many lonely women go through postpartum depression without love and understanding.  Now, it’s so easy to see how God used His people to comfort and carry me.

I went back home after our dinner, and I cried some more.  My sleeping became more interrupted and anxious as the weeks passed that summer.  Eventually, I couldn’t sleep at all.   Literally.  I went several nights without one blessed minute of rest.  Then,  one morning I had a panic attack.  

I have wished to God that there would have been just ONE occasion in my life before that point, where someone would have described a panic attack to me.     I didn’t know they existed.  Being completely unprepared and uninformed for one of the scariest moments of your life, makes the moment worse.  Much worse.

Now, I am glad I had that panic attack.   It was a turning point.   Scott took one look at me that morning and he said, “You need help.”    Scott downplays things.  He is calm, and he doesn’t think in extremes.   Scott is definitely not in the habit of asking for help.  That day he knew we needed help. He was clearly in over his head; his wife would not be able to pick herself up by the bootstraps this time.    

I told him I might need to go to a hospital.  I explained that I thought there was a small chance I might  be having a nervous breakdown. The real kind.

I can’t really remember everything that happened after that.  I didn’t go to a hospital.  I do remember staying with my parents.  I remember my mom drawing me baths, and my dad hugging me and crying.  I remember my sister, Chris, staying with me, and treating me like something fragile that needed to be encouraged and cared about.  She was exactly right about that. All of those things helped.

Our Doctor put me on anti anxiety medication, and an anti-depressant.   She told me I had postpartum depression, and that I should stay on the anti-depressant for a year, at least.  I had never been depressed in my life.  No one in my family had been clinically depressed either.  All these words were new to us.  

My parents found a friend at church to call me.  This friend had gone through postpartum depression.  She knew exactly what was happening to me.  I clung to her.  Every word out of her mouth was sacred to me.  She told me what was happening to me was not going to kill me.  She told me that I was not going to lose my children, and I would not need to live in a psychiatric hospital.  She told me that I was NOT insane.  Or, maybe I was, a little, but I could handle it.  

I know now she was guessing at all those things.  How could she really be sure of any of that?  But,  she knew what I needed to hear her say, and she said it.

Seriously, why had no one told me about any of this before?  Never.  Not one person had mentioned that I might lose my mind after I gave birth.  That’s something I would have liked to have known.  

I  listened to my new friend, and I took great comfort in knowing that many people had gone through what I was experiencing.  So many people, in fact, that there were books and other resources dedicated to the subject.   I did what I always do when faced with a problem.  I researched and read.  I gathered information,  and I followed the experts advice.  

The medicine didn’t work right away.  I was mentally weak.  I wasn’t the confident person I had always been.  I doubted my ability to do simple tasks, like drive to the grocery store.  I would feel paralyzed by fear.   “What if I ran our van off the road…on purpose?  I don’t  feel like I want to end my life, but what if I do?”  I lost trust in myself.

I also had this gloom hanging over me. It’s hard to explain.  I can’t remember exactly how it feels, and I am positive I don’t want to remember.   Somewhere in one of the books I read, a person said that I could embrace my suffering.  This person said to acknowledge that things aren’t right, and tell yourself it’s okay.  Don’t bury it and don’t fight it.  That advice made sense to me.   Fighting and burying take a lot of mental and emotional resources depressed people don’t have.  So I told myself that this state of being was okay; I just kept taking tiny little steps in the proper direction. 

Eventually, I started to feel more steady.  I felt more capable.  The anti-depressant did work.  It took me off the ledge and put me somewhere safer; it also left me feeling dull and numb.   My anti depressant had fully kicked in when the planes struck the twin towers on 9-11.  I couldn’t shed a tear.  My body wouldn’t make them.  I didn’t like feeling so dull, but I knew that dullness was better than the alternative.

Even though I felt a kind of numb,  I also still felt unsteady and scared.  I still had to be careful about what I read and saw for the next year.  For me, postpartum depression came in the form of intense anxiety.  It felt like my nerves were raw and exposed.   I couldn’t watch or read about other people’s pain or tragedy.  If I saw anything that had to do with children suffering,  the darkness would threaten to take me back.  I couldn’t watch the news, or watch anything but comedies for a very long time.  

I remember during this time listening to my Dad talk about someone he spoke with at work.  My Dad was a Pastor.  He was retelling a pretty wild story about someone who lived on the streets who came into the church.  Of course, my Dad tried to help this man, but I remember my Dad explaining how odd the behavior of this person was.  I guess most people would have called this guy “crazy”. That story scared me.  Didn’t my Dad know that guy was me?  

That guy was broken.  So was I.  And, what did it take to break me?  Taking care of three small children?  I couldn’t believe I was so easily cracked. I wondered why I would ever have been so cavalier about my sanity?  I didn’t realize that I was never more than a few bad circumstances away from mental instability.  I wouldn’t have believed it.

I was an excellent patient.  I followed all the rules.  I talked about my depression.  I sought comfort from people who cared. I tried to take more time for myself.  I slept more. I told myself what was true, even if I didn’t believe it.  I read God’s word.  I prayed.  I ate healthy food.  I exercised.  I did it all.  None of it worked by itself.  None of it worked quickly.  But, all together, applied day in and day out over the course of a year, I found my way back into the light.  I started to feel more like me.   

I went off my anti-depressant after a year.  I didn’t relapse, but  I wasn’t totally well either.  I started having more and more moments where I felt  like the real me.  Not the muted, anti depressant me.  

It wasn’t until Olivia was four years old when I remember the last storm clouds permanently disappearing.  The clouds blew away when I started to work again part-time.  My work excited and challenged me.  I thank God for using that work to restore me fully.

When Scott and I were talking about this the other day I told him about those occasional storm clouds when Olivia was four.  He was really surprised.  He didn’t know.  He didn’t know, because I didn’t tell him.  I explained that those clouds were scary.  I didn’t want to draw attention to them.  He understood.  

Those clouds don’t bother me at all any more.  I won’t focus on them.   I will focus on good health and happiness.  I have an abundance of those.  

Today, when I walk by the woman on the street who smells badly,  is talking to herself,  and carrying all her belongings with her in dirty bags, I will look at her and know.  I will know that I am her.  She is me.  I’m just a few tough circumstances away.  I will give her respect.  I will help her in any way that I can.  

I am sorry that I once held myself in such high regard.  I thank God for using my life to teach me how to see people properly.  I commit to remembering what I have learned.  I wouldn’t want to repeat the lesson.

 

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