Fear

April 16, 2017

If there is one thing that would change my life for the better, it would be having less fear. That is an understatement. It wouldn’t just change my life, it would revolutionize it.

I am not afraid of snakes, spiders, or bridges. I’m only a little afraid of heights and commitment. I am, however, terrified that I will not be taken care of.

I have believed in God for my entire life. But I don’t trust God. I don’t believe that God cares about me or will care for me. This is, of course, a bit of an exaggeration. I believe in my head that God cares about me, but it’s never made it to my heart.

I want that to change. I really do. I don’t want to spend sleepless nights trying to figure out what I’m going to do about housing a year from now or if I’m going to be alone when I die. I don’t want to go through every worst-case scenario and everything I’m afraid of and try to figure out what I’ll do in every possible case.

I want to actually believe God. I want to trust God. I don’t understand, but I want to know that God cares for me, cares about me, and will take care of me. I don’t want to fear the future; I want to be excited for what God will bring me.

But how?


How Not to Help With Depression

August 24, 2012

Here’s the thing with depression: people don’t understand it.  If you have a broken leg with a cast, they get that you need help.  Cancer, diabetes, MS: horrible diseases that I wouldn’t wish on anyone but (I think) people understand that those with those diseases need physical help sometimes, need rides places, need food brought to them.  No one is going to tell them it’s in their head, they’re not trying hard enough, or they’re not trusting God enough.  Well, maybe so, but it’s easier to see that those comments are horrible and untrue.  Not so with depression.

Two weekends ago, my ex-boyfriend got married.  It is a good thing we’re not still together and hi wife is probably in for some tough years unless he’s dealt with more than I think he has.  But it still hurts.  It’s the dying of a dream; it’s the feeling that I wasn’t good enough, that he’s able to find someone who wants to spend the rest of their life with him and I can’t find that.  It’s the fear that I’ll be alone for the rest of my life.  This was coupled with helping get ready for a very dear friend’s wedding.  I wanted to badly to be happy and excited for her but I was in a lot of pain.  Plus the summer of med-adjusting has definitely taken its toll on my confidence and mood.

I tried to take care of myself.  I knew it would be hard, so I asked for prayer and I asked for help.  In retrospect, maybe I didn’t ask for help as specifically as I should have but I know I did tell people I’d really like having people to hang out with and that I really thought I needed it.  Everyone kind of said they were really busy.  Which they are!  Someone had parents in town.  Someone else was out of town.  A lot of people were helping get ready for the wedding.  Someone had family birthdays.  Someone else was moving.  There was legitimate busy-ness.  But I know that if I had broken my leg and needed to go to the hospital, all of those people would have been there for me.  If someone had died, same thing.  If I had been throwing up, many of them would have come even if it meant dealing with vomit.

I texted people during the weekend too.  I was crying too much to call.  Many people asked me if I was going to be safe.  I answered that if I meant was I going to kill myself, I wasn’t.  I wasn’t going to self-harm.  But that I wasn’t by any means OK.  Some people said they were glad I wasn’t going to do anything stupid.  Some people told me to look on the bright side, I didn’t want to be married to him anyway.  Some people told me to stop being self-defeating.  Some people told me to go back to counseling.  Some people said if I could get to their house I could hang out (I couldn’t get out of bed or talk on the phone, driving was out of the question).  When I pointed this out, they said well sorry, they couldn’t get there.

I don’t feel like I do this very often.  In fact, it’s been years.  I guess I used to need people a lot more but it hasn’t been true for the last few years so I don’t feel like I’m asking that much.  So I’m going back and forth between I am so angry and hurt that no one could be bothered and oh my goodness, I ask too much, I’ll never ask again.  But again, had I needed a ride to the ER, all of these people would have been here in a second.  Had I been sick from chemo, they probably would have scheduled an around-the-clock watch.  These are people who love me but do not understand.  I stayed in bed all weekend and cried more than I have in years.  Not only was the weekend bad, but I felt abandoned.

I did have two people come by – and they were the two people who really shouldn’t have.  The bride-to-be, who had 10 million things to do, came by to get me out of bed and take me to the grocery store, with no judgement or resentment, even though she REALLY didn’t have time.  My friend who is still post-op and needs to be careful with over-exerting herself AND had a family birthday AND was practicing music for the wedding came by with food.  So I’m incredibly grateful for those two people who really really didn’t have time.  But I’m so resentful and hurt at the others and I don’t know how to let it go or address it or even know if it should be addressed.

Again, if it had been something else, I feel like the reaction would have been very different.  But I also don’t feel like I should have to say I’m worried about being suicidal in order to have support.


A Sunken Place

July 2, 2012

I was looking up the word “depressed” because I feel like it’s overused and doesn’t really convey want I want it to convey.  I realized that there are different things I want to convey at different times.  Sometimes it’s that I’m absolutely at the edge of the pit of despair and that I can’t remember anything being OK, ever, and that I’ve lost all hope and am swallowed up in darkness.  Sometimes it’s just that something heavy is pressing on me and everything is harder.

One of the definitions I found was “a sunken place or part; an area lower than the surrounding surface.”  That’s how I feel today.  Lower than all the surrounding surfaces.  Sunken.  I got into bed this afternoon even though I wasn’t that tired.  My dog came in the bed with me and we took a nap.  Then I woke up – still not tired – and just couldn’t get up.  Couldn’t read, couldn’t get up, couldn’t make a phone call.  I wasn’t crying and sad, but I felt like I was in a sunken place – sunken into my bed and unable to get up.

I did get up finally, but it took a lot of effort and I felt like I was sleepwalking. Fortunately I had some dinner plans with friends which helped and I feel better now.  But all these episodes are reminding me of how this can come on when I don’t expect it and frightening me, because I’ve lost decades of my life to this and really don’t want to lose any more.


The Medication Dance

June 19, 2012

As anyone with a “mood disorder” knows far too well, medications can be difficult.  I think even most doctors will agree that it’s a lot of trial and error – and when you’re talking about your mental health, “error” is not what you want.  I started on Prozac when I was 20, almost 17 years ago.  Since then, I’ve had a series of medications regiments that worked somewhat – I was so used to being depressed, that I didn’t realize I had only gone from severely depressed to mildly depressed – for the next 14 years.  Finally, after a pretty major breakdown which involved an emergency room visit and an outpatient program, I got put on a medication which actually brought me up to not being depressed – a whole new level for me.

After 3 1/2 years of being pretty stable, my doctor and I decided it was time to address the fact that one of the medications might be giving me some anxiety.  I tapered this medication down very,very slowly, and was fine, mood-wise, so I even allowed myself to think for a minute that maybe one day I could be medication-free!  (probably not going to happen).  Although I was not depressed, I started having more trouble sleeping, so we decided to re-introduce that one slowly.  Frustrating, but it made sense.

Well, even though I’m on THE EXACT SAME COMBINATION as I was a year ago, it’s not working well.  I’m anxious and I’m crying easily and feeling sad and lonely.  I suppose some of it could be external but it coincides perfectly with putting that one medication back in.  It’s known to have anxiety as a side effect, so that makes sense, except that was on it before!  And I suppose the depression could have followed from the anxiety.  Or my body chemistry could have changed.  I don’t know but it is frustrating and discouraging.  And I am really not wanting to do trial and error again.

This also freaks me out because even one day of anxiety/depression can catapult me right back into what it feels like to be in the pit of despair, not able to get out of bed and not able to see any hope in anything.  I’m not even close to that but these little pills might be all that’s standing between me and that situation and that is truly terrifying.


Purple Flowers

May 8, 2012

I’ve made a decision.  It may not seem that dramatic, but it’s been coming for a while and I think it has the potential to change my life.  Here it is:

If I say I trust God to take care of me, I need to trust God to take care of me.

I know that sounds obvious and simplistic, but I’ve been so worried about so many things lately (work, money, future… I’ve even found myself not able to sleep at night because I don’t know who’s going to take care of my in my old age.  I’m 36.) and worry is contrary to what I say I believe: that God loves me and cares what happens to me.

I don’t understand, but I remember one time when it was as if I actually heard the voice of God.  About 8 years ago, during a time when I was not doing very well emotionally or spiritually, I found out that my landlord was selling the house I was living in and I had to move.  That doesn’t seem like that big of a deal now, but I was having some issues with insecurity and upheaval and it just felt like one more thing I couldn’t do. Even though this news wasn’t exactly earth-shaking, it felt like it was.

I talked to a number of people and shared how scared I was about the future and how much this one thing triggered me.  The one thing I heard over and over – from people who were Christians and those who weren’t – told me to ask God (or “the universe”) for exactly what I wanted.  For some reason, what came into my mind was that I really wanted a house with stairs, a yellow bedroom, and purple flowers out front.  I don’t know why those things were what came up, but I kept asking for them.

I felt pretty silly but then I found a house to rent.  It had stairs in the front and a few inside, beautiful purple Mexican sage out front, and the room that my roommates didn’t want was a lovely pale yellow.  It was so exactly what I was looking for that I still have a couple of friends who say “remember the purple flowers?” whenever I doubt.  I felt like God was looking me directly in the eyes, saying he loved me and would always take care of me.I know it could be a coincidence but it wasn’t.  I can’t explain how I know, but I do.

Again, I don’t understand.  Why would God provide what I was asking for in silly details of housing when he wasn’t healing my depression (and didn’t for over 6 more years)?  Why was God providing this and not other things that I was asking for: a husband, healing for someone I knew with cancer, the ability to sleep through the night (still don’t have any of those)?  Less importantly, why did I get to have this house for only 9 months before that landlord sold it? And, of course, why would God pay attention to these details when there are people without basic needs?

I don’t know.  I have no idea.  But I’m making a decision to trust.   It doesn’t come naturally to me (it would be an understatement to say I’m a worrier) but that seems to make it more important somehow.  A few years ago, I got a tattoo to remind me that God was always with me.  It’s a beautiful thing, to know that the presence of God is with me.  It’s time to live like it.


The Plans God Has for Me

May 1, 2012

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I don’t know how this can be true.  I really don’t.  I know that our definitions of “prospering” are probably not the same as God’s.  Often, we have tiny little picket fence dreams of what “prospering” means – I know I do.  And I get sad and frustrated and lonely  because I still have financial issues or I’m not married yet.  My plans for me haven’t worked out in a lot of ways.

And honestly, I have it really easy compared to a lot of people.  I’m not living in poverty, I’m not homeless, and I’m safe most of the time.  In addition, I have good friends and a lot of luxuries.

So, I’ve been thinking about why I still believe this verse and others like it.  Because I do – I question it, but I always come back to believing it and I just do not understand why.  I can’t shake it.

I’ve been feeling some strength from that lately.  Also, this section:

“I will go before you and will level the mountains.  I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.  I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you too may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” (Isaiah 45).

I’m waiting for those mountains to be leveled.  I’m waiting for the plans he has for me.  I don’t know what they are or if I’ll see them but I’m guessing it doesn’t necessarily fit into my little list of what I want to happen in my life.


Graphs

December 20, 2011

I was looking through some of my old journals and marveling at/feeling grateful for how much better I am.  Really, it’s almost like I’m a different person – I feel a bit more like it would be more accurate just to describe my life as having started over rather than gotten better.  There were some entries where I noted that it was 4 am and I woke up feeling lonely and hopeless and cried for hours.  Not about anything in particular, just about EVERYTHING.

I started thinking about what it would be like to have my life drawn out like a graph – I definitely had a lot of high points but they didn’t last and they were followed by such lows.  My journal is full of me trying to figure out if I’m not trusting God, if I’m doing something wrong, if everything is from my childhood… Now, 17 or 18 years later, I can see really clearly that it was DEPRESSION but then, I just didn’t know.  And the only experience I had had with depression was my mother being suicidal so I for sure didn’t want to entertain that possibility.  Anyway, the graph of my life now is still up and down, obviously, and I expect it to be like that forever.  Only the baseline is so much higher.

After I thought of graphing my life, I realized how inadequate it would be.  The problem is that a graph simply wouldn’t be dramatic enough.  There is simply no way to show on a graph that the bottom has fallen out of your life – that the floor underneath me has turned into a gaping hole that is threatening to swallow me and drown me in its blackness.  That is not graphable, and not definable.