If it’s not something we’ve eaten, it’s something we’ve drunk, or maybe something we smoked, or something in the air, or something in the dirt, or something that seeped into our bodies from the clothing we wore, or some other bad habit we had, or someone with a gun, or someone with a knife, or someone driving while drunk, or by the hands of a loved one, or by the hands of an enemy, or by the hands of a stranger, or something that goes wrong during surgery, or from a reaction to some medicine, or from a bee sting, or from a shark attack, or from a hurricane, or from a tornado, or from a bear attack, or from a mosquito bite, or from tripping over your cat and breaking your neck, or from being in a plane crash, or from drowning, or from choking on a pickle, or from being bucked while riding a horse, or because we were speeding, or because we were using our cell phones while driving, or from a flower pot that falls off a 4th story balcony while we were walking down the street, or from being run over by a bus while jay-walking, or by suicide, or from a frillion other reasons, or just from being old and our bodies wearing out — we are all going to die. Nobody escapes this thing called life. It may just be because the good Lord decides it’s your time. But, you are going to die. No exceptions. Make sure you use your time here on Earth wisely and appreciate the life you have been given. Because of Something, somewhere, somehow, sometime — we are all going to die. The longer we live, the more things or reasons that people can think of are going to be said to be the cause of your death. Don’t think you’ll get out of it. You won’t. And I won’t, either. Make sure you are ready when it happens.
How very true this is. In order to be an effective Martha, you must first be a Mary. It looks so simple seeing it written that way, but it’s so very true. I think this may be one of my problems; I want to “do” but I’m not allowing myself the luxury to first “be”. Thank you, Evonne Tirado, for stating this important piece of the puzzle so simply.
For those of you with a Facebook account, I know that you have seen the following post. It’s been around for quite some time.
“Maybe if people’s heads weren’t buried in the sand of ignorance and they took the time to understand, instead of judging and thinking it won’t happen to them because they have the perfect family, life would be a little bit easier for people that do experience this! This hits close to home for me, for family and friends who live under this shadow. The days of ‘it’ not being talked about or being taboo should be over. In the most difficult moments of life you realize who your true friends are, and the people who really appreciate you. Unfortunately, most social media ‘friends’ aren’t true friends. They will send you a “like” here and there, but, they do not take time to read your status if they see it’s lengthy. More than half will stop reading right here, or have already scrolled on to the next post on their page. I decided to post this message in support of all those who continue to battle with their mental illness. (Suicide is at an all time high). Now, let’s see who will have taken the time to read this lengthy post right through to the end. If you have read everything so far, please “like” it so that I can put a thank you on your page. More mental health awareness is urgently needed. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean people aren’t suffering. Please, try to spare a little of your time with someone who may just want to talk (about anything). Talking can help us all to cope a little more, keeping things bottled up just makes it worse. Most people will say, “if you need anything, don’t hesitate to call me, I’ll be there to help you” but will they? I believe a select few of my friends will post this, to show their support for those who may be struggling. You just have to copy and paste rather than sharing. I’d like to know who will take a minute out of their day to read this all the way to the end and then copy and paste it to their page, will you? If so, please write “done” in the comments. Thank you! Maybe if people’s heads weren’t buried in the sand of ignorance and they took the time to understand, instead of judging and thinking it won’t happen to them because they have the perfect family, life would be a little bit easier for people that do experience this! This hits close to home for me, for family and friends who live under this shadow. The days of ‘it’ not being talked about or being taboo should be over. In the most difficult moments of life you realize who your true friends are, and the people who really appreciate you. Unfortunately, most social media ‘friends’ aren’t true friends. They will send you a “like” here and there, but in reality they do not take time to read your status if they see it’s lengthy. More than half will stop reading right here, or have already scrolled on to the next post on their page. I decided to post this message in support of all those who continue to battle with their mental illness. (Suicide is at an all time high). Now, let’s see who will have taken the time to read this lengthy post right through to the end. If you have read everything so far, please “like” it so that I can put a thank you on your page. More mental health awareness is urgently needed. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean people aren’t suffering. Please, try to spare a little of your time with someone who may just want to talk (about anything). Talking can help us all to cope a little more, keeping things bottled up just makes it worse. Most people will say, “if you need anything, don’t hesitate to call me, I’ll be there to help you” but will they? I believe a select few of my friends will post this, to show their support for those who may be struggling. You just have to copy and paste rather than sharing. I’d like to know who will take a minute out of their day to read this all the way to the end and then copy and paste it to their page, will you? If so, please write “done” in the comments. Thank you!”
Each time I see someone post the above message, I have the same feelings. I think it’s unfair to many people. And it’s not the people you think – it’s not those who are suffering – it’s those who are in the dark. I think it’s unfair to them. Let me explain how and why. And remember, these are MY thoughts. If you don’t agree with them, that’s fine. We are all entitled to our own thoughts.
1. I think the post is judgmental. I remember the first time I saw this post and read the first line, I thought, “Well, geez, aren’t you just the perfect one?”
Is Mental Health something that should be understood by more? Of course. But accusing them of burying their heads in the sand of ignorance is not going to make them want to research anything. And blaming their lack of knowing on the fact that you think they have a perfect family or life is not going to endear them to you. I don’t think that many people are won over by a challenge to them to get smarter from someone on Facebook. We all pretty much think we are smart enough and don’t like others telling us that we are not.
2. I think the post is one of those threatening posts in which the poster shames the readers with that old “copy and paste and if you don’t do so, it must mean you don’t care”.
I hate those copy and paste threats. I think it’s because I’d rather use my own words. If there is a topic that I feel the need to share on Facebook, why would I use someone else’s words to do so? Most of the time, if you read through those things, they are filled with errors, make statements that everyone knows have nothing at all to do with you, and are just so insincere. It’s kind of like those aggravating private messages that people send you because — this is something that you MUST know, it’s VITAL for you to know, or IT’S GOING TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. Well, dang, if it’s that darn important, why are you sending the message just to me, why not send it to everyone from your Facebook wall? And why not use your own words to let me know that it’s coming from YOUR heart? I detest those boilerplate warnings or threats or life-saving messages. My friends know that I’m a real big proponent of “Use your own words.”
3. Now, for the meat of the post – Mental Health.
Yes, I absolutely think that Mental Health has gotten the raw end of the deal as far as Medical Advancement goes. However, through some of the recent books I have read and some of the documentaries I have watched lately that deal with Mental Illness, we have come a long way. It wasn’t that many years ago when people were sent to Mental Health hospitals just so that someone in the house could get a break. Doctors have most certainly diagnosed and treated mental conditions with medicines. So, yes, advancements have been made.
Are there still millions who have no clue? Absolutely. How do we change that? I think that the best way to change this is for those who do suffer to talk or write about our experiences. I know that it makes it much more real for me to hear about something happening to someone who I know and care for. It makes it REAL. I can read books about faraway people all day long and it doesn’t make an impact on me. But, let me read something about someone I know, and I’m all in it. I want to find out about what it is they are suffering from. It connects me to them. And by making that connection, it becomes MY problem, too.
We must make Mental Health REAL to others so that they see the importance of education. We must make it REAL so that they can see the actual suffering. We must make it REAL so that it becomes their problem, too. Perhaps by making it REAL to others, we can share our suffering in such a way that it lessens the impact it has on us.
4. So, in the end, do these “copy and paste Facebook threats” do any good? Maybe they do. Maybe they encourage those of us who live with Mental Health problems to share with others on a one-to-one basis. Maybe our friends who never imagined that we suffered will become aware of what a nasty thing Mental Illness can be. Maybe it will help others to learn. Maybe these posts are not so bad, after all. Who knows? Maybe I’m the one with the wrong ideas about them. Maybe.
I’m Getting Better — Another “suck and dig and burn” session today. In fact, it was session #2 for this week. I had three new gobs of fungus on Monday that had to be sucked and dug out and then cauterized. Ugh! Then today, there were two new gobs. More sucking. More digging. More cauterizing. So, looking at the numbers, I’m getting better. Yippee! The problem is that these are growing at the top of the ear canal and it’s very hard to get the anti-fungal medicine to coat the top of the canal. I’ve been told to put the drops in and then position my head upside down and let the meds soak for 10 minutes. I guess that position sounds easy for Dr. M. But, it’s not for me. That’s the problem. Do you know how darn hard it is to keep your head upside down for 10 minutes? In case you don’t, let me tell you — it’s hard. I’ve found the easiest way is to sit on the seat of the commode and put my head between my legs and then sit there. Staying in that position makes me extremely dizzy and I’m scared to death I’m going to topple over and smash my head against the tub. To make it worse, my crazy dog thinks that she’s supposed to communicate with me during that time. I have to keep my eyes closed to help with the dizziness and Bella constantly runs in to lick my face. Pain in the butt dog. But, I guess if I want this fungus to die its well-deserved painful death, I’m going to have to continue to do this 4 times a day.
Then It Got Worse — As I got off the Interstate today and headed for Dr. M’s office, I noticed that my car began to bounce and shake. Damn. I slowed down and it got worse. I sped up and it didn’t help. Still bouncing. Still shaking. Thank goodness at this point I was only about a block from the doctor’s office. Made it there and had to ride around the parking lot a few times waiting for someone to leave so I could park. Got out, looked at the tires, kicked them all a few times and decided I’d worry about it when I got through. Did a lot of praying to God that He work his miracle so that when I come back out and get in my car it would be all better. Great idea, but it didn’t work. As I drove off, car was still bouncing. Decided I’d try to find a tire shop and let them look at it before I tried to make it home. My fear was that I’d get on the interstate and have a blow out or something horrendous. And as much as my ear was hurting, I knew that if that happened, they would have to send the men in their white coats to get me. Did a google search and there was a tire store just 3 blocks from the hospital so I figured I’d head there. No deal. It was boarded up. Then decided to just go to Washington Rd. — surely there would be one on that main road. Lucky me. Pep Boys was right there. Went in and explained what the car was doing and the guy told me it would be $89.95 for them to LOOK at the car. Dang! But, what do you do when you are by yourself and are 90 miles away from home? You say, “Sure, please look at it.” He said that they were currently working on a few cars that would be ahead of me. No problem. I’ll wait. What options did I have? None. So, I sat down and started running all sorts of scenarios through my mind (while my ear was throbbing and meds that Dr. M. had filled my ear with were constantly draining) and was on the verge of tears when a sweet young lady named Sammy who worked at the counter came over and said that she was going to send a technician out to just check the lug nuts to make sure that I didn’t have a loose one. She said that if that was the problem, I could be on my way a lot quicker. Nice man came out and asked me to take him to my car. Nope, all lug nuts fine. Dang. He said, “Let’s take a ride and let me see what it’s doing.” Before we even got out of the lot good, he said that it felt like my right rear tire had a problem. We rode down the road a bit and he said he was pretty sure that was the problem. Back to the shop we go. He said as soon as he had a lift empty, he’d get my car on it and let me know. So, back I go to the waiting room to wait and ponder. About 30 minutes later he came out and said that he had been right, the right rear tire had a huge knot on it causing the bumping. New tire needed. Sure. I’m made of money. Let’s get a new tire. Another 30 minutes or so later, Sammy walked over to me and said, “You look like you need a hug.” And she bent down and gave me a big hug. Waterworks! Waterworks! We sat and talked for a few minutes and she told me that it shouldn’t be much longer.
Then It Got Better — The technician pulled my car up to the door (it had begun to pour rain while I had been sitting there and I’d rather take a beating than to have to drive in the rain) and I went to counter to pay. Sammy told me that she was going to give me a 25% discount as a “Welcome to Augusta” and “Sorry for your Problems” so she was going to waive the $89.95 fee. Bless her heart.
As an aside, a few weeks ago, while browsing YouTube, I ran up on some Dave Ramsey videos. I’d heard of him and knew he dealt with money stuff, but had not heard how his program worked so I watched a few videos. As those of you who know about Dave Ramsey know, he says the first thing you should do in your financial life is to have a $1000 Emergency Fund. Sounded good to me so I started stashing some moolah into a special new savings account. Since I had the debit card with me for this account, I decided that this was a perfect time to use this Emergency Fund. After all, here I was, stuck 90 miles from home with a new tire being purchased. Sounded like a perfect Emergency to me. So, even though I certainly didn’t want to have to use it, it sure was nice to know that I could easily pay for this dang tire. Swipe! Done. Woo Hoo! Thanks, Dave. Now, I just have to drive home in the rain. Ugh!
Got back on I-20 with no more bumping and just like that, it quit raining. Thank you, Lord. Then, the traffic just about came to a stop. Piles and piles and piles of people with North Carolina and South Carolina tags were heading west, out of harm’s way from Hurricane Florence. And we were all on I-20 together. I surely didn’t want to drive in this awful traffic in the rain. God knew that. He stopped the rain.
Then It Got Worse Again — Two hours of awful traffic, ear throbbing, and legs that had been in the “down position” since 10 a.m. (it was now after 4 p.m. and I hadn’t even gotten to the Ft. Gordon area yet) were beginning to swell. And I could feel them. I could feel my heart beating in my ear and now in my ankles. It was a miserable trip home. And all I could think about all the way home was that I have to do this again in two days. Geez, I’m so sick of driving to Augusta. And who knows what the traffic or weather is going to be like on Friday. I’m a pretty smart gal and I know that everybody and their brother is going to be on I-20 on Friday afternoon and I know that it’s going to be raining in the Augusta area. But, I HAVE to be here on Friday. The last time I waited a week to see Dr. M., the fungus had gone crazy again and we pretty much had to start over with the sucking and digging. I don’t think I can do that again so I have to be there Friday. I had a long talk with God while driving and have explained it all to Him so I’m going to just have faith that He helps me out with the weather and the traffic.
Then It Got Better Again — I made it home safely. I propped my legs up and took a three-hour power nap and didn’t feel guilty one bit when I took a pain pill. Life, for today, is better again. I’ll worry about Friday on Friday. And my sweet friend, Dru, has said that she will go with me Friday so I don’t have to deal with it all by myself. So, while today has been one with a bunch of ups and downs, it’s ending on an up. That makes it better.
A friend had posted a video this morning of the abandoned Rivers State Prison in Milledgeville. Seeing the video brought back many sweet memories of my time spent with the Georgia Department of Corrections Educational Department.
Ahh, so many memories. My first experience with GDC was teaching a class for GMC at Rivers on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I remember those long, dark, dingy halls that were shown in the video. I remember the clanking of the metal doors as I went from one area to another. I remember the students who worked hard and who appreciated the opportunity to continue their education. A couple of years later, I learned of a job opening for a full-time teacher with the GDC and applied. I became a full-time teacher for GDC for 5 years, teaching at Hancock State Prison, Davisboro Women’s Prison, Frank Scott State Prison, and Bostick State Prison. I remember those days well.
I was teaching at Bostick when Gov. Zell Miller decided that inmates no longer needed to be educated and fired all teachers in the Georgia Department of Education on Dec. 30, 1997. During the month between the announcement of our firings and the time we left, Human Resources so graciously met with all teachers to give us information on how to find a new job and how to apply for welfare and food stamps. Mighty kind of them, huh? I remember that during that month, I had sent hundreds of letters and faxes to newspapers, tv stations, and to every governmental official in Atlanta. I remember being called into my Deputy Warden’s office to be told that I was not to speak to another tv reporter about our “situation”. When I asked what would happen if I did, I was told that a decision had not been made yet, but that I probably wouldn’t like the results. Hmmmm…… I was on Channel 13 news that night explaining why we needed teachers in the prison system. I got several dirty looks the next day at work from the administration, but nothing happened. At least not that day, anyway. I also remember a group of us going to Atlanta to meet with the legislators and then trying to see the Governor. His aide told us no, that the Governor was too busy to meet with “you people”. One of the group told the aide that we had some really important information that we’d like to say to the Governor. The aide then looked at the gentleman and said, “Sir, do you happen to know a Betty O’Steen?” Gulp, I was standing right there. I must admit that at that moment I wasn’t sure that all those letters and faxes had been a smart thing. Our spokesman said, “Yes, sir, I certainly do know her.” The aide then said, “Well, sir, if you know her, you must also know that there is nothing that any of you can say to the Governor that Ms. O’Steen has not already said.” At that point, he turned around and walked off, leaving us standing there and leaving me extremely happy that my letters had indeed evidently reached the Governor’s desk. But, we still got fired. Oh, yeah, I found out what the Deputy Warden had been talking about if I spoke to any more reporters. As I was leaving work on the very last day, I was stopped at the gate and was surrounded by several correctional officers and the administrative staff. My belongings were searched and I was accused of stealing state property. Little stacks of items were placed to the side as the search continued. I was accused of stealing things like eight paper clips (that happened to be in a personally owned container that still had the Walmart sticker on it), paper that had been used to make worksheets for my students (all in my own handwriting, but yes, the paper had belonged to the state), and several other items. After being held outside for about 45 minutes, the DW who had warned me not to talk to anyone and who was leading the search, looked at me and said, “See? I told you. But, we’re going to let you go and you can take all your goodies with you.” He then walked off and told them to open the gate for me. And people think that the inmates are the bad ones in the prison system? I beg to differ.
I must say that my absolute best memories of all my years of teaching were of my students in the Georgia Prison System. I have memories of Mr. George who will always be with me, with an inmate who spent two solid months learning the letters of the alphabet and how to write his first and last name so that the letters were in the proper places, the 76-year old female who, for the life of her, could not master my last name, no matter how hard she tried and how many times I said it to her, it always came out as Ms. Oppersteen. Memories of two students, one at Frank Scott and one in Davisboro, who I had originally taught at Coffee High School in Douglas, GA, only to run back into them again while incarcerated. Memories of the day that I fell on those highly-waxed floors at Hancock SP and the educational aide rushed over to help me to my feet, only to be yelled at by the CO and my falling again when he let go of my arm. Dang, those floors were slick as glass.
My one and only really scary moment was the day that a student walked up to my desk and towered above me (he was about 6’6″ and weighed a ton) and asked me what I’d do if he reached down and slapped the s*it out of me. He was upset because as I had walked by his desk, I had reached over and had taken a picture he was drawing when he was supposed to have been working. Of course, when he asked me that, I froze and had to do some quick thinking. I had noticed that a couple of students had turned to look at us, so I loudly said to the student standing in front of me, “Excuse me, what did you just say to me?” That got all of my students’ attention and they were all watching us at that point. The upset student stood there, quite mad and repeated his original question, “What would you do if I reached down and slapped the s*it out of you?” At that point, every single student sitting at their desks, rose and came toward my desk. The all got between me and the upset inmate. One student left the classroom to go get the guard and they did not let the student get close to me. After he had been taken out, I thanked them for helping and one of them said, “Ms. O, there’s no way we were going to let him do that to you. We need you here for us.” My heart filled with thankfulness at that moment for those inmates, who society had thrown away, but who had just taught me once again that there was good in their hearts.
Then, more memories of being called into the Warden’s office at one of the prisons because an inmate had written a complaint saying that I had “never written up a white guy in any of my classes”. The Warden asked if that was true and I had to admit that it was most definitely true; I had not written a Disciplinary Report for any white students. After being yelled at and being told that I was a racist by the Warden, my Ed Supervisor pulled out my class rolls to show the warden that although it was true that I had never written up a white guy in my classes, it was also true that there were absolutely NO WHITE GUYS IN ANY OF MY CLASSES. — I was the only white person in there. I still chuckle over that one.
And my best memories were those times when I could actually “SEE that light bulb go off” over my students’ heads when they finally understood fractions or some other concept. Oh, the joy that we both felt when that happened! Remember Mr. George I mentioned? Well, I will never forget the day that he brought me a letter he had received from his wife in which she said how proud of him she was because she had just received the first letter in 17 years that he had actually written to her in his own handwriting (he normally had others in the dorms write his letters home for him because he didn’t know how to write). She told him that after she had taken his letter to church to show off, she had had it framed and had it hanging on her living room wall.
Folks, that’s what teaching is all about and I’ll always treasure my moments in those dark and dingy halls inside the Georgia Department of Corrections Educational Departments.
Little bit of history here.
I swam a LOT as a child. Swimmer’s ear was a constant companion to me as a child. Way back in 2002, I began to have some severe problems with one of my ears. My hearing was almost nonexistent in my right ear and I was having gunk constantly drain from that ear. I was also able to hold my nose, blow, and my ear would whistle. In fact, it was so loud that one day in my classroom, I told my kids to listen and they all heard the ear whistle. It was time to figure out what was wrong.
During a visit with my ENT he said it looked like there was a lot of fluid in my ear and began to suction it to see if he could clear some of it. After a few minutes, I heard the doctor say to the nurse, “Oh my goodness, come look at this.” Then there were several “Ooh” “Ugh” and “Oh gosh” comments from him and the nurse had a terrible look upon her face. I remember telling him that even though I couldn’t hear anything from my right ear, all those Ughs were traveling around to my left ear and I could hear each time he said something and that he needed to stop because he was scaring me. At that point, he stopped and told his nurse to go out and give some Dr. M. a call to see if he could work me in the next day. After she left the room, he told me that he was going to have to send me to Augusta to an ear specialist because there was “something in there.” So, the next day, a quick trip to this Dr. M. took place and I was in surgery the day after that to remove a cholesteotoma. After a lot of quick research I found out what it was and that it was most likely due to the many ear infections I had had as a child. After surgery I learned that it had destroyed all the middle ear bones and a large portion of the mastoid bone and that plastic implants had been put in. Healing took place and a bit of the hearing was restored in ear. However, during surgery the doctor evidently implanted some crazy little man who is practicing for a horn-blowing competition because he blows his horn 24/7. This has been an on-going problem since the surgery. Occasional trips back to the ENT took place for ear maintenance and life carried on.
Present Day Status
A couple of years ago, I started having problems with the ear again. There had been constant draining and pain. Back to the ENT. He has worked on it for these two years with no improvement so I finally gave up on him and went back to my Otolaryngologist to get an answer. And, Lord, did I get an answer.
Here’s my answer.
- I have an aggressively-growing fungus in my ear. This requires the following procedures each time I see my doctor (2 times a week for now – 180 miles per visit): suctioning, physical removal of fungus by digging it out, cauterizing of raw areas, and application of fungus medication. Seven trips so far and each time, more fungus has grown back.
- Once all fungus is finally gone and ear is completely healed and is clean and dry for at least two weeks, surgery can be done on this ear. That surgery will consist of repairing the damage to the ear drum, repositioning of the plastic implants that had been placed during original surgery, and the building of a new air space behind the implants that will allow them to work. This is due to the fact that because of the size of the fungus masses, the ear drum was pushed back into the canal, pressing upon the plastic implants causing them to invade the necessary air space behind them.
- At-home drops to the ear every 4 hours of an athlete’s foot medicine and of an antibiotic. (Just thinking that I’m using the same meds that someone uses for athlete’s foot just blows my mind.)
That’s the answer for my “bad” ear.” Now, for the answer about my “good” ear. (And I didn’t even know there was a problem with my “good” ear.)
- I have a cholesteotoma in my “good” ear that must be removed.
- We won’t know until surgeon gets in there as to whether the middle ear bones are still intact and working. If they are damaged, he will place plastic implants in that ear.
- Maintenance visits for both every 3 months to Otolaryngologist, NOT to an ENT.
And all of this because I used to swim every day, twice a day, as a child. Sigh………….
This ear crap is doing nothing to help with my depression.
I saw the following quote on Laura Bennett’s blog and it spoke to me so loudly it was as though she was shouting at me.
It’s not about getting your life back. It’s about taking it forward.
I’m going to take it forward. Thanks, Laura, for shouting this at me.
When leaving my doctor’s appointment yesterday in Augusta, I got quite a surprise.
I have seen it all. Really. Went under an overpass when leaving Dr. M’s office. Traffic was stopped so as I sat there, I saw a man up on the overpass. He climbed up on the edge, dropped his pants, and as I passed under him, my windshield was covered in some type of liquid. If I had not watched him drop his drawers, I would have thought he spilled his cup of tea. I think it is safe to assume that my car did not get sprayed with Lipton’s Sweet Tea. Geez. Lord, get me back to Home Sweet Home. Hurry.
I had posted the above on my Facebook wall after I got home and got quite a few comments about how I should have stopped and called 911. Maybe I should have, but that thought never crossed my mind. I was just so shocked at the fact that someone would actually stand up there and urinate on cars passing below. I mean, who does that? Evidently, this nut does.
As another friend mentioned, it was quite the appropriate ending to a painful appointment. I should have expected it.
I’ve been absent for a while and there’s been a reason.
It’s been tough. While I know that beginning my blog was a good thing for me, I had begun to feel dread each time I sat down to write. You see, I had stopped seeing my therapist because it was hard. Just sitting down and talking about my life had become overwhelming. It was as though there was a sack of heavy rocks that I needed to sit and hold in my lap each time I had to talk about my life. And that darn sack of rocks was heavy. Just driving that hour to my therapist’s office was tough. It was as though I would have to stop along the way to pick up rocks to fill my sack. Each thought I would have along my drive would add a rock to the sack. I tried to enjoy the ride. I tried to look at the beautiful scenery along the way, but even while looking at the stands of pine trees, I would see those rocks poking their little gray heads out from around the trees, beckoning for me to come pick them up. And of course, I did pick them up. By the time I would get to Roz’s office, my bag would be full. And it would be heavy. So, I decided to stop the visits and go it on my own.
It’s been a year now since I was seeing Roz. I can’t say that I’ve done a good job of healing myself because I’ve pretty much isolated myself for the last year. I still have my core group of close friends who I communicate with daily through our FB group and for them, I am eternally grateful. They have done their best to keep me sane. And of course, I’ve got my children. I’ll admit that I haven’t seen them as much as I should for the past year. Traveling — something I used to enjoy doing — has become something that I absolutely dread. It’s so very hard for me to make an out of town trip. Dealing with my animals is taxing. Getting packed and stuff loaded into my car is tough. And the trip itself is grueling. My neck and shoulder just don’t do well driving for extended periods. So, I just haven’t done it. And I feel guilty for not having done so. But, I still have my visits with my friendly Jet Foods store clerks and they keep me in-touch with the world. And, of course, I still have my visits with my doctors and their office staffs along with the accompanying visits with my pharmacist. Other than that, I’ve pretty much cut the world out. I keep up with friends through Facebook and envy their escapades and their travels. But, I do nothing to include myself in their lives and that makes me sad.
I’ve been dealing with a bad, bad ear for the past two years now and just recently finally decided to give up on the ENT I was seeing and to return to the Otolaryngologist who had done my original ear surgery to see if he could get my ear problem solved. The bad thing is that as much as I hate traveling, his office is 90 miles away. I’ve been seeing him once a week for the past month and now he has determined that one of my ears needs to be seen twice a week for a while in order to get it well enough to operate on. And once we get that accomplished, my other ear needs surgery also. So, that means that this gal who would rather take a whipping than having to drive somewhere is having to drive a minimum of 360 miles a week. And that is going to be torture. But, I do know it’s a necessary torture in order to fix my ears and I am willing to do that. My hearing has been so affected that I can’t really participate in conversations that others are having, I couldn’t hear anything the preacher was saying, and talking on the phone was a bit of hit-and-miss. I pray that these two surgeries will allow me to enter the world of the living again and begin in participate in life. I’ve missed it.
But, of course, fixing my ears won’t fix everything. I still have to deal with the dread and guilt that I feel when dealing with my life. In order to do that, I’ve decided to take a break from the “hard stuff” and deal with the comedic side of my life. Thankfully, through many of the crappy things in my life, I’ve been also able to look at these things with a bit of humor. I’m going to see if sharing some of these things with my followers will help me get back into the swing of things. And, maybe, I can continue to connect with others through the humorous aspects of a crappy life. While I may certainly still share some ways of how I deal with my depression, I’m not going to continue to make this the main focus of my blog. I hope that some of you will enjoy laughing not only at me, but will enjoy laughing with me.
Life can be crappy. I sure know that. Life can be funny. I also know that. Let’s see if I can find a way to make that crappy life funny, not only to myself, but also to you. Hope you travel along with me on the journey.
It is true. God does place people in your life who are full of encouragement just when you need it. He knows what you need. And He provides for you. He did just that for me today.
At some point today (while I was napping/resting/sleeping), I heard Bella barking. Lord, was she barking! But, my head was throbbing, and I chose to just lie there, like a knot on a log, and not get up to see if anyone was there. After a bit, Bella came back to bed and I asked her what she’d been barking at, but she just crawled back under the sheet and didn’t answer. So, I didn’t worry about it.
After finally getting up, I saw that Mary Helen had sent me a message saying someone was trying to get in touch with me. Upon seeing who it was, I told MH that I’d get in touch. I sent this person my number and said to give me a call, which she did.
She began the phone call by saying that I had been on her mind and that she thought God was telling her to contact me. We spoke for a bit about random things and then she told me how much she enjoyed reading my thoughts and wondered if I had ever thought about writing a book. I had to smile at that point. Yes, I’ve thought about it. Yes, I’ve been encouraged to do so. But, no, I don’t think I ever will. I explained that my thoughts are so random and most of them are so very personal, I cannot imagine getting them corralled into any type of meaningful book-type grouping.
I explained that I had begun my blog as a way to finally purge myself of childhood memories and experiences. As a means of therapy, the blog has been extremely successful. I was finally able to “let it all out” and that was good. I was cleansed of the secrets. But, in the same breath, it was devastating. I had spent my life keeping secrets and I had done a good job doing so. By finally putting those memories into word form for others to read, I exposed myself to judgement and criticism. I had told the world who I was and what I had done and that was, and still is, a frightening feeling. And I had done it in front of the town in which I live. I had come clean in front of the people who had been participants. Not only did I expose myself, but I exposed them, also. While I named no names, I know that people aren’t stupid. With a bit of thinking and talking to others, identities can easily be known. And that is not fair to them. At that point, the guilt began.
I’ve always been someone who can claim guilt in a hot minute. I do it well. In fact, I am a dad-gum expert at claiming guilt. I have to smile at this thought because my therapist has told me a million times that I needn’t think that I was so important that I could claim to be the “best” at anything in the world, but I know that if I’m not the best guilt-claimer, I’m right up there at the top of the heap. So, with this, the cycle begins again.
But, let’s get back to God putting people into your life at specific points. I needed this call today. I needed to hear words of encouragement. I have cut myself off from most of my friends lately. It’s safer to isolate, to not have to constantly wonder if someone is judging me. I have a core group of friends with whom I can be totally open and they have been my salvation. They know me; they know all my secrets and they know how these secrets have affected me. They pass no judgment; they only give love. But saying that is not fair to others. I most certainly have received encouragement and love from many others. And I know, in my heart, that judgment is not being passed. It’s my head that gets in the way. My head is trained to believe that I am guilty of everything and that I am not worthy, and I find it almost impossible to get rid of those thoughts of guilt and judgment. That, my friends, is what depression does to you. It makes you believe all those dark, ugly thoughts that swirl through your mind. It makes you believe that you are not worthy, not deserving of anything good, not deserving of forgiveness. No matter how many people give love, there is always that one memory of someone telling you that you are not worthy and are not loved. And you latch onto that one thought and believe it. And yes, at this point, I truly miss my sweet friend, Luann. She was always quick to remind me to clean out my thought closet, to rid myself of all those dark, ugly thoughts, and to remember that I am loved.
But today, God sent someone to remind me that I am worthy. And I needed to hear that. He knows that I am struggling. He knows that I am in the midst of a war with myself and that isolation has become my best friend. So he sent Elaine Hicks. Thank you, Elaine. I needed to hear your words today. You will never know how much I appreciate those kind words. Yes, I will continue to write as you have suggested. I will use my words to help myself and perhaps to help others. Who knows? Maybe one day I will find a way to put them all together in book form as you suggest. We shall see. Until then, I will use my blog.
As I got ready to post this, I received a message from Mary Helen making sure that I had followed up on contacting Elaine. I shared with her the encouraging words I had received from Elaine and how they had helped fill my heart. Here’s the kicker. Mary Helen then sent me the following message and from it you shall see why she is part of my core, part of what sustains me. “Like Mark Twain wrote about the Mississippi, Faulkner about race and class, you write from the depths of your soul. And often your pain is palpable.” Mary Helen “gets” me. With words like this, my heart is full.