>What if I am Never Healed?

>

I recently finished this book. There are some profound things in here. I have always admired Lincoln because I believe we are very similar. He also has given me hope. If I, someone with depression, could achieve something an iota of what he achieved while suffering, I would consider my life great. Probably the most profound thing was found on page 156. The author, Joshua Wolf Shenk, states, (bolded, mine):

Many popular philosophies propose that suffering can be beaten simply, quickly, and clearly. Popular biography often expresses the same view. Many writers, faced with unhappiness of a heroic figure, make sure to find some crucible in which that bad feeling melted into something new. Lincoln’s melancholy doesn’t lend itself to such a narrative. No point exists after which the melancholy dissolved…Whatever greatness Lincoln achieved cannot be explained as a triumph over personal suffering. Rather it must be accounted for as an outgrowth of the same system that produced that suffering. This is not a story of transformation but one of integration. Lincoln didn’t do great work because he solved the problem of his melancholy. The problems of his melancholy was all the more fuel for the fire of his great work.

This was not something I heard for the first time, but an idea that has been rolling over into my head these past few months (and maybe even years): Can I live a successful life with depression? Or do I continually feel I need to eradicate depression from my life before I can live?

Well the truth is that I already am. That is, I already am living with depression. I have no choice at this point. This was made even more real to me after listening to Greg Boyd’s sermon (I listened to the pod cast since I missed the service.) It was entitled “Communion in the Wilderness.” Based on Luke 22:7-20, the Communion Supper, Boyd talked about the space in between when we take communion and when we finally arrive in heaven. He called it the Wilderness, like the Israelites experienced before they arrived in the Promised Land. He had a member of the church, Scott, come up and talk about his experience with MD (muscular dystrophy). Scott talked about how his whole life people would “pray over him” for healing, but he was never healed. In fact, his MD just worsened. Now Scott has come to the point where he has accepted his MD and when people ask if they can pray for him, he kindly says, “Thanks, but I don’t believe that is what God has for me at this point.”

Wow! Like Scott, I have been told in so many words that my life would be so much more amazing if I was healed, in my case, from depression. NO kidding??!!!?? I have always struggled thinking I have lack of faith because I continue to suffer. Like Scott, I often felt people were saying it was MY fault that I wasn’t healed.

On the other hand, am I just giving in to this depression because I am too weak to fight it?

Because of what GOd has been saying to me personally and through this book, this sermon and through the words of many people who, like me, haven’t found supernatural healing, I have come to believe this: It is okay that I suffer from depression; and that I may have to take meds my whole life. Each time my depression gets better , I often think, this will be the last time. But now I am starting to think, each time I go through another depression, I will come out a stronger person. And without my depression, I wouldn’t be the sensitive, bright, caring person that I am.

Not saying, I wouldn’t take away my suffering or that of others’ in a heartbeat. But what choice have I right now, except to live in and through what has been given to me? And who knows, maybe like Lincoln, I will accomplish something great, and my depression will be a part of that.

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>Live in this World

>I wrote this on 1-4-10. It refers to many people who are important to me, including a woman I know at one of the group homes where I work.

Dearest LORD and my closest friend
I am so confused as to how
I can just sit here
My knees capture the sunlight
Coming in from the window
Just sit praising you
How is this changing anything?
But yet I do it
Because I just can’t not do it
It is my very being
Who I am
And I don’t feel in control now
Your Spirit is coming in
And the Sunlight is You
I’m captured by a real Being
I don’t really know anything
Except you want me to do this
Why can’t I just do this every day

Spend each day like this
Maybe I’d like life a lot more
I wouldn’t be presented with
Screaming and self-induced bloody scratches
On arms and legs
And a mind that can’t
Tell herself with words or actions
What she truly Wants
Or others, those that care for her
And the worst is that I can’t comfort her
And in that way I am very
Alone and uncomforted
Oh Lord but in this moment I am
Comforted in your Love
And I know she is too
Even in her pain and discomfort

And his heart
Is bleeding out til there’s no more
Emptiness
Closed off to love
And so abandoned
He can’t even figure out
Who or what love is
He loves her but he is still
Bleeding, fighting, misunderstood
She is so busy and fleeting
Not able to think one way or the other
Because she so desperately wants
And needs love from a man
But a mangled and broken
Heart cannot lover her Even
If he says he does
These are two broken shattered people
And their pain is hard to bear

And I see it in her crystal
Shiny beautiful eyes
Tinted blue oceans
She really looks and will
never let me escape a room
Without those arms opening
And I see it her eyes
She is so broken
But the most incredible lover
I have ever seen
The way she loves is amazing
Yet how could she not love herself
She is longing for freedom
But somehow can’t make a leap
She keeps going because Your love flows
out of her and
Her love makes me want to live

Their joy is deep but sometimes
Strained under
The wrinkles of hurt
The things that threaten to tear
Everything
Throw them in a puddle
A useless pool of water
But somehow life keeps going
And now a new year

Will it end the same?
Questions unanswered
A mom who keeps abusing
Awaking to another endles
Day of job searching
Barbing statements about your
Worthlessness
As a single person
As a jobless person
What society and family and even Christianity
can say about you
About your “condition”
Whether it’s because you only
Have one hand
Or maybe because you have an actual illness
located in the DSM that is called
Major Depressive Disorder
OR maybe because you are just a “label-less” person
Who feels
Like a nobody

That’s why I wish I could sit
Here
And just forget the world
Because no matter how much
Pain I bleed out
It doesn’t seem to change anything
I will stay in your presence
As much as possible
Until You teach me how to
Live in this World.

>Looking Back on ’09

>Monday, January 4, 2010
“it’s gonna be happy new year…”

2009 in retrospect..

1. what did you do this past year that you’d never done before?
was a bridesmaid in two weddings, taught inner city Kindergarteners, went to The Fray concert, drove with a friend down to El PAso, went on a 2-week long vacation with just my parents,

2. did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I try to make a daily commitment to things otherwise I just burn out. Each day, I try to live fully by taking care of myself, and demonstrating

3. did anyone close to you give birth?
no, not til this year

4. did anyone close to you die?
my uncle Tom was killed on his bicycle in May. We shared lots of fun memories, especially the last few years. Love you, Uncle Tom!

5. what countries did you visit?
Mexico! I visited my friend Becca in El Paso and we spent some time in Juarez, Mx where she works with children in a children’s home!

6. what would you like to have this year that you lacked last year?
more patience and understanding for self and others, how to see myself as a beloved person, the way Christ sees me and a willingness to trust Him more than I ever have

7. what date from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

8. what was your biggest achievement of the year?
graduating from DBT (dialectic behavior therapy), making it through a tough year of teaching, being more open to God’s involvement in my life in the smallest things

9. what was your biggest failure?
not being renewed as a teacher at the school I was at (even though I was going to resign anyway), or getting recognized by principal (which was kind of impossible), not getting a teaching job

10. did you suffer illness or injury?
normal every day battle with depression and migraines once a month or so

11. what was the best thing you bought?
I didn’t buy a lot.

12. whose behavior merited celebration?

13. whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

14. where did most of your money go?
paying off loans; food; gas; rent, the normal!

15. what did you get really, really, really excited about?
Umm…probably when two of my friends got pregnant!

16. what song will always remind you of this year:
Any of the Woodland Hills worship songs, especially “Lead me to the Cross,” “At the Foot of the Cross,” “Jesus Draw Me ever Nearer”, “Still”–Reuben Morgan (Hillsong) “Shadowfeet” and “None but Jesus” by Brooke Fraser (Hillsong),”The More I Seek You”–by Karie Jobe

17. compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Both in different ways, but I don’t really like those terms

18. thinner or fatter? same

19. richer or poorer? I am richer in a lot of of non-monetary ways. God is teaching me to see people the way he sees them and that is a true gift. I have become a more open-minded and loving person (but also experienced more pain because of it, I think). This year has made me a richer person simply because I lived.

20. what do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing, volunteering or missions trips, traveling

21. what do you wish you’d done less of?
Complaining, obsessing, COMPARING MYSELF TO EVERYONE

22. how will you be spending your birthday? I don’t know

23. how will you be spending the holidays? probably the norm, I don’t know

24. did you fall in love this past year? with life a little more than last year

25. how many one-night stands? none

26. what was your favorite TV program? Law & Order: SVU, Everybody Loves Raymond, but I kind of stopped watching TV

27. do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
no

28. what was the best book you read? When Bad things Happen to Good People by Harold s. Kushner, PRacticing the PResence of God by Brother Lawerence, and Beautiful Boy by David Sheff (a memoir of a journalist’s son’s addiction to meth)

29. what was your greatest musical discovery? Brook Fraser of hillsong

30. what did you want and get? jobs

31. what did you want and not get? a FT teaching job (I don’t know if I really wanted it, just wanted to say I got it, and also for security/benefit reasons)

32. what was your favorite film of this year?

33. what did you do on your last birthday, and how old were you?
25, nothign much celebrated with boyfriend and close friend

34. how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

35. what kept you sane? worship music (Woodland Hills and Hillsong), other favorite music and singing, close friends, WRITING and reading, crafting

36. which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

37. what political issue stirred you the most? probably economic difficulties after our church’s sermon series called Compassion by Command

38. who was the best new person you met?

39. tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009: Be Still and know that I am God. Lately I have been bearing the pain of everyone around me. It’s like an addiction. God is teaching me that I can’t do that, to say it simply, or I may die (seriously)–like the pain is so great sometimes, I just feel like i can’t live in this life. god and I talk and he tells me things like, “It’s okay to just breathe. Rest against by chest and just breath. Be still. Know that I AM. I am God.”

40. quote a song lyric that sums up your year: None but Jesus–brooke fraser

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

When You call I won’t refuse
Each new day again I’ll choose

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You’re Sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

When You call I won’t delay
This my song through all my days

All my delight is in You Lord
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You Lord Forevermore

The More I Seek You–Kari Jobe
The more i seek you,
the more i find you
The more i find you, the more I love you

I wanna sit at your feet
drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breath, here your heart beat
This love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace, it’s overwhelming

>Yesterday’s Mind

>I had to borrow this because it it describes very well how it is inside my mind. This man’s blog has been helpful to me in my struggle with depression.

It was the kind of thing I might read about in a case history – safely distant, someone else’s particular torture. But it wasn’t remote; it had directly invaded my brain. That overpowering noise could distort every mental pattern, setting all perception loose from its mooring. The torrent of sounds and sights disorients each moment, leaving nothing firm to hold to, no shape I can recognize , only a din of color, motion, threateningly near, whips of sensation, each small pain magnified in intensity because each is experienced for the first time as part of a shriek-like collision. There is a flailing to organize, find pattern and order, the habit of the intentional mind, but nothing sticks, no memory holds, no meaning persists to render the assault of bulleting crashes ordinary, expectable, endurable. It is the constant stress of assault, defense, striking back, retreat. No escape, just a desperate running, and there is nowhere to run. ~John Folk-Williams

>Success

>Just read an article called “How to Practice Safe Optimism” by Tamar Chamsky.Here’s a link to the whole (really good) article. I could write a blog entry about each one she lists, but today I will just stick with one:

Strategy Five: Define success flexibly: Value process, not just product An optimist hopes for the best, but has realistic expectations. There isn’t just one bull’s eye of success and everything else is failure. This usually means girding ourselves for slow progress and defining success broadly. When we set unrealistic expectations we manufacture unnecessary disappointment that we then have to waste our precious energy overcoming–it’s an additional hurdle which we don’t need right now.

This reminds me of what I read in Never Good Enough (a book about perfectionism) and what I learned in DBT about black and white thinking. Currently I am working on “cognitive restructing.” Due to my perfectionism, personality and other things, I tend to have really distorted expectations for myself.

Success has been defined in my mind in black and white terms. Such as, “Your teaching licensce was non-renewed. Failure.” “You’re single with no children at age 25. Failure.” “You don’t have a ‘real’ job. Failure.” “No graduate degree. In fact, no idea what you want to do with your life. Double failure.” I could keep going but this isn’t helping things. SO I have to change these thoughts into degrees. Such as “You survived two years teaching inner city teaching. Success!” and “You will make a better wife and mother one day because of your committment to healing of self and waiting until you are older and wiser. Success!”

More on this later.

>God Does Not Intend for Us to Suffer

>I have been reading this blog of a family with a child with Down’s Syndrome and on one post she asked the question to her readers,

If there was a way to take away the extra chromosome away from your child and make them “typical” would you do it?

And why?

At least a dozen people responded and I was struck with the variety of answers. Many said, “no” they couldn’t imagine their child a different way, and mentioned the joy he or she had brought in their life. Some who answered no in this way admitted they were being selfish, which I admired. A few answered, “yes” in a heart beat because of the pain and struggles their child had gone through. Of all the answers this one really aggravated me:

“For me this is an easy one! I would not take away Erin’s extra 21st anymore than I would take away any other genetic trait that she has, as that is a piece of her that God created. I trust He knows what He is doing Smile. I would also not wish for my other kids to have T21 because that is not what God intended for them. I want what God wants. Over the past 22 months, my hubby and I have felt incredibly blessed to have our little Erin, as we believe she is a gift not only for us but for the world. Yes, our kids are hidden treasures! We sure have grown to love that little something extra!”

Okay, while I do believe God created this beautiful person and in his eyes she is perfect, the fact that this parent thinks God intended for her to have this disability is appalling. I would have agreed with this person (with some reservations) before I read the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner, but now I can see that God INTENDED for no pain or suffering for any of us. And to say “I want what God wants” is great, but does he WANT this little one to suffer with Down’s? When he created her did he think, I want her to suffer. As Kushner says in his book, does God go around joyfully doling out depression, cancer, or MS diagnoses. Hell, no! Because as much as we gain from children with Down’s aren’t we being selfish and heartless to say “If I were to give son/daughter with Down’s freedom, I would choose not to.” Here is another post where I have similar thoughts.

I don’t know because I have often thought of that with my depression, would I want to be TOTALLY free? My depression is NOT me but it is a PART of me. It has truly influenced every ounce of my being and brought me to an incredible understanding of people and life and faith. So, maybe God did intend me to have it; or could we say, he forsaw (is this a word) my life with depression and my life without…and then did he just choose to allow the former. Anyway, I guess, in essence, I am torn because I understand people who say “My ____ (insert, cancer, e.g.) is the best thing that ever happened to me” but then I still don’t believe God wanted them to be struck with it…More on this later.

>Tumid Mind

>I went to thesaurus.com and found a lot of synonyms for the word “packed.” So here are some good words/phrases to describe my mind:

awash, brimful, brimming, bundled, chock, chock-full, compact, compressed, congested, consigned, crammed, crowded filled, full to the gills, jam-packed, jammed, loaded mobbed, overflowing, overloaded, serried, stuffed, swarming, to the roof, tumid.

I especially liked “tumid” whose synonyms are

bloated, bombastic, distended, enlarged, inflated, overblown, pompous, protuberant, puffy, swollen, tumescent, turgid.

I do thank God for my swollen mind because it’s beautiful and complex and never-ending. Sometimes it just plain sucks. More about that later. My therapist has suggested finding a box and writing down each thought on a slip of paper, putting it in the box as a literal way of “putting the thought aside.” Then I would take one piece of paper out at a time to worry/think about for that particular period of time. So maybe I will try that. I could list each of my thoughts on here, too, but then this blog would be too long and it is already quite lengthy.