>What if I am Never Healed?

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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.

>Car accidents, earthquakes, and my Job as a Caregiver

>Yesterday I awoke to see that I had a missed call from my mom. I remember hearing it ring as I was just beginning to fall asleep the night before. So I immediately thought something bad happened since the call was from 10 pm and my mom knows I got to sleep early. But she almost always leaves a message; this time she didn’t. And when it’s bad news, it’s a sinister voice saying, “Hi honey. Please call when you can.” I’ve heard that voice one too many times. The more sinister and firm, usually the more serious the occasion. So of course, I was nervous. I called and got no response from either Mom or Dad’s cell phones, so my head started spinning. I was so worried something horrible had happened. Luckily my mom called a couple minutes later. Sure enough my brother Greg was in a car accident on his way home from work the night before but he is okay. I was still so worked up and anxious I could barely calm down and started crying on the phone with my mom not even noticing. (Ever since Christmas night, tears have come on suddenly, forcefully. When they start, it is like a warm blanket cascading down. So needed and comfortable at first. I have to let out all that pain, that pain so real, raw, indescribable pain. I can’t even put into words. There was no tragedy, just an imagined one, but everything comes back so easily for me. Probably for most people that have had a loss, an almost-loss, or some sort of traumatizing event happen to them. These get relived through little things, like phone calls and voices. They plague and imprint your mind and you can never forget. Add on to that the fact that I simply cry easily and get down extremely quickly. Call it a season. Call it depression. Call it Brittany. Whatever. I go through periods where I am more dried up; now is not one of those periods.)

Anyway, I also called Greg but not on an impulse. It was a carefully planned event. Should I say painfully thought-over. That’s my mind for you: What if he answers? What if he doesn’t? What am I going to be doing while I talk to him? If I don’t do something at the same time, I will be late to work. What if we talk too long? What if I say the wrong thing? But my phone is dead; maybe it won’t be charged enough to talk. Maybe I shouldn’t call him. I’ll probably be bothering him. If I don’t, what kind of sister am I? Why didn’t he call me after the accident?

Finally, I got my breakfast ready and told my thoughts to shut up because they were still going. He answered after the first ring and immediately said, “Hi, how have you been doing?” as if nothing had happened. My brother Greg is always one who gives. When we talk, he hardly ever talks about himself. And, I am one who, when given a listening ear, can never shut up. But today, I didn’t want to focus on this pain. How dare I turn his scary accident into my own problem? Augh! I hate when I do that. So I didn’t mention me, but kept probing about how he was. I knew it was better for me that way. He assured me he was fine so that was good to hear, but I was still so anxious and troubled. He told me a little bit about the accident that involved four vehicles. His car was totaled, and so were some of the others but everyone was okay. I should be praising God, right? I tried to amidst my soft, cracking voice and brewing tears. I could barely eat my breakfast. Before he hung up, he said “Well, I am so glad to hear you are doing okay.” As if I were the one in the accident. But he was positive and I tried to feel it too. Maybe I was okay. If I just talked myself into it…I knew I could change these thoughts, this horrible sinking feeling in my gut. It just got deeper and the nausea grew. But I forced down the cereal and coffee as I said “I love you” to Greg and hung up.

Believe it or not, I had a pretty good day after that-once I got to work. Yesterday, I worked with my friend Maddie. She is a young woman with special needs who lives at home with her parents and siblings. It has its challenges, but I think it’s one of the best jobs in the world. I knew Maddie would want to know all about my family. She always gets my brothers mixed up (who doesn’t, though?). “How’s Nate doing? Is he the one in Germany?” “Nope remember you met Nate and Kat when there were in town over Christmas.” “Oh yeah! How are they?! They are so nice. I mean so sweet! Can you tell them I said hi?”

It’s hard to hang out with Maddie, take care of her, help her and learn from her, when I am so buried in my thoughts. But, luckily, I force myself to. I take her out to the library, book stores, coffee shops, plays, and her favorite: the animal shelter. I love seeing how she responds to different situations and how personable she is with complete strangers (of course, that can be dangerous, so I’m there to redirect her if needed.) But if I am ever too afraid to ask for something, no worries, Maddie has few inhibitions. She doesn’t worry about what people think of her. I have a lot to learn.

Of course, Maddie is quite vulnerable. I know she gets sad too. In my role helping people with disabilities, I have connected with them probably the deepest when I am sad. I don’t want to say my depression is a gift, but I know that there is nothing like crying with someone and truly feeling his or her pain. Yesterday, we talked a little bit about the earthquake in Haiti. That particular subject had been haunting me the past day and I was still feeling down from the morning occurrence so I didn’t really feel like talking about it. Luckily, Maddie’s soothing chatter turned elsewhere and quickly (which is quite common).

I enjoyed my time with her the rest of the day. And also, at ACR later in which I just did a short shift at one of the two homes where I work. Some people with depression can’t work. I am the lucky one. I work to survive. At least in combination with other much-needed things like a faith and spirituality that consumes me, healthy food, enough water, exercise, psychotherapy and a strong community of friends. In my role as teacher and caregiver, I am distracted, able to put my mind and body to use and not focus on myself and my sadness.

I am extremely affected by sad stories in the news or from family, friends, etc., so with the recent events in Haiti, I have been as down as ever, but not necessarily joyless. Sometimes, I wonder, as I walk into a classroom of bouncy teens, or giggly, squirrelly first graders, or as I look into the deep eyes of one of the residents, Shouldn’t the world stop? How can I be giving a bath or teaching about the Civil War when there are people dying, gasping for air under feet of rubble, crying out for relief. And as Greg Boyd said, will probably never be found because of their lack of resources in that already-impoverished country. But, no, life doesn’t stop. And, as I always try to do, I put myself in the shoes of those I serve. How are they thinking? How can I make life better for them? Life goes and on and will continue to go on in Haiti, but also here. So I need to stay in the moment and be here for these innocent children/adults who are dealing with this tragic news in their own way, or maybe not-maybe they have no idea but I need to make life comfortable for them. How is this possible when I have a hard time caring for myself, that I can be so focused on others? But this thinking is what is actually the most freeing for me, the times I feel most liberated from my depression.

>Today

>I got one call for subbing today. Technology ed at a local “close-to” inner city high school. And I just sat there staring at the phone and then logged on to the website and stared at it. Pretty soon someone will take it and I won’t have to make a decision. Well, I could have a job today. But, of course, in a few minutes, the job was no longer available because of my inactivity. I pictured myself supervising a bunch of young men (and women) doing woodwork or something…it wasn’t really fear it was just…inactivity. That’s what I do when I don’t want to make a decision. Now I don’t have a choice.

I am not working today and I am trying not to say, “You should have” every two seconds.

I am in a lot of pain, physical especially. The last three days or so I have experienced lots of muscle tension in my neck and back. Trying to stretch and exercise on Wednesday seemed to make it worse. OF course, the common thought was “You’re doing somethin wrong.” And then, “You’re fine. Suck it up.” Then, “What if something’s really wrong?” THen I used my roomie Jen’s massager and nwo it’s really sore!!! So I scheduled a massage (since it’s half off) at a nearby place for today at 5! I am excited for that “me” time although I still feel guilty for not working. I hope the massage doesn’t make the pain worse. That I am really able to relax.

More on my depression in the next post…since I have the whole day ahead of me…

>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.

>Us

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So many aching hearts
Racing minds
Souls ripped by a hunger
That seems to never be filled
Questions
Have I been forsaken?
Doubts
Life is just too hard.
Tears
Fall Within
And Out
I see and feel the pain
Of so many
And my eyes burn
With an intense
Compassion
Zealousness
For justice
For hope that’s real
Not just a dream
Each face has a Name
And each Name is
Written in your Book
And yet as you see
Each Sparrow Fall
You let each of Your precious
Children Fall
Questioning
Scavenging
My tears won’t end
Because my heart
Is breaking for So Many
But yet what’s this
Feeling I have alongside
Intense Sorrow?
It’s beauty
It’s beauty of these
Exquisite Souls
I see them, I try to see them
As Yours
And I love them
But unlike you
I don’t know what to do
So I wait
I hope alongside them
Cry with them
And fear each crack
In their hearts grows
Larger
Until nothing is left
Nothing is left
Except Us.
That’s why
You’ve given me this
Indescribable gift
To hurt for the hurting
Because maybe
Your love has become
More real to me
in these Trying Times
And today I pray
to Your Spirit
To walk with Us
To carry our agonies
Our doubts
Questions
Our jumbled up
Nothingness
That sometimes comes
Out as tears
Or as blank stares
Or as empty smiles
Carry them with your
Wordless Groanings
To Heaven
Because we are Done
And the pain is too Much
But You’ve given Us
Each Other.

>Free for the Moment

>I’ve been enjoying a bit of freedom
From an uncontrollable power
That seems to bind me at the most random times
Where tears fall so often
It seems I should be crying
When my eyes are dry

I am sitting in a state of mind not too unfamiliar
A little separated from what is going on
But the sun shining in
Reminds me of hope
And faithfulness
Deliverance
From all these problems
The suffering of so many is not in my hands

I can only look to Him
And Him only
As I-not trudge-but triumphantly
Walk from one moment to the next
In a complex, confusing
But utterly beautiful, engaging, stunning world.

>New Battleground

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“Give ear to my words, O LORD,
consider my sighing,
Listen to my cry for help,
my King and my God
For to you I pray
In the morning, O LORD,
you hear my voice
In the morning I lay my requests
before you
and wait in expectation.”
Psalm 5:1-3

LORD, help!
My heart is heavy
Mind all boggled with
Endless thoughts, ideas, aspirations, fears
I am so heavy laden.
I feel so bursting full

I do see beauty more than I ever have before
But I feel I’ve never been more
Overwhelmed
By thoughts, opinions,
That encourage, break down, accuse, question
Harrass, excite, enlighten, enrage, calm…

I can’t get away from my racing brain
Just exacerbates any physical ailment
I have
And seems to be both the cause and
Result of my
Jumbling emotions.
I’ve always had anxiety-but never before-like this
The good turned bad
All these thoughts have gotten me
Excited passionate about things
But at the same time I feel
Eaten alive by scorpions
Stuck in a box with little air
They’re crawling everywhere
I’m suffocating in my good ideas (and bad)
Because I don’t know what to do
With them all

There is so much pain in the world
I feel lately I’ve tried to take it all on
I’ve been not only passionate to stop it but
Totally incapacitated because of my
Utter bewilderment as to what to do
And the realization of my total
Inability to make a difference

When my depression was severe
I could fully feel my own sorrow
And when presented with others’ suffering
My choices were
To totally deny it
Or to add their pain to my badge of suffering
Therefore deepening my already gapened wounds
And rendering me even more pitiful
And helpless

Now, a new increasingly whole person,
I recognize the danger in
Suffering without action
But yet I am so weak
Daily presented with stats of rises in Swine Flu deaths
And percentages of those starving across the world

I refuse to let this news
Stick itself to my consciousness
And plague me with unwarranted
Selfishness and guilt
My heart has now flopped to my stomach
And I am raging inside
At injustice

Wondering why I am sitting
Inside a nice warm house
Belly full, hot coffee next to me
On my way to a well-paying job
And, I try to remember
To thank you,
But I am so dry.

Lord, hear my plea for freedom
I’ll never go back to where I was
but I’ve entered a new Battleground