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A Much Needed Phone Call

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. 

~~~ Betty


You Are Cool Just As You Are

There are so many things I want in life.  I want to be healthy and happy.  I want my children and grandchildren to be healthy and happy.  I want my friends to be healthy and happy.  I want to enjoy the wonderful things that this life offers.  I want to be a blessing to others.  I want the people of the world to get along.

There are also things that I don’t want in life.  One of the biggest is that I don’t want to be a decision maker.  I don’t want you to look to me for the answers.  I don’t want to constantly be the one to decide where we’re going or what time we are meeting or how long we are staying.  I don’t want to decide what you are having for supper.   I don’t want to be your interior designer.   I also don’t want you to ask me to make decisions that YOU should be making about your life.

Sadly, this “what should I do” venue is what Facebook has become (and I do love me some Facebook).  People are constantly asking other people to make decisions for them.  What in the world is that all about?  Why do you ask me, whom you may have never met before, to decide what you should do?  If you spend any time on Facebook, you know exactly what I’m talking about, especially if you belong to any of the like-minded groups there.  You know, the crafty, DIY groups that are designed so that you can share your work with others and be inspired by their work.  But, instead, it has become a group for people who have no clue how to make a decision.  Should I use this color green or that color green?  Which pattern should I use?  Should I paint this dresser teal or orange?  Should I fry these pork chops or bake them?  Should I crochet a hat or a shawl as a gift?  Whoa!!!!!!!!!!!

No, I cannot tell you whether your bedroom will look better painted gray or lavender. I cannot tell you if you would look better in orange or violet. I also cannot tell you why the dresser you have chalk painted has not sold. I’m sorry that I can’t tell you which book you will enjoy the most. I cannot tell you why your friend of 20 years has decided to not respond to your messages. I cannot tell you what to fix for supper.  I also cannot tell you if scrambled eggs or grits will be better for your child. I cannot tell you whether you should continue working on the blanket or if you should frog it and start over because you’re not happy the way the colors are working out.

There are so many things that I just cannot answer because I am not you. I don’t know your favorite colors. I don’t know what you like to read.  I don’t know the games you like to play.  I don’t know what furniture you have in your house. I have no clue what your child likes to eat. I don’t know if your husband hates anything you wear that is purple.  I don’t know if you should buy a two-swing or three-swing set for your children to play on.  Even if I knew these things, why in the world would you want me to decide for you?  Who am I to determine how you live your life?  Honestly, my thoughts and opinions don’t matter a bit when it comes to your life.

I do wish that I knew how to answer your questions because you get so upset when people don’t answer.  But, I don’t.  And I never will.  The best advice I can give is this —  Do what YOU want to do. Paint your house in the colors YOU like. If you want to paint your kitchen cabinets gray, then paint those suckers gray.  If you want to paint them red, go for it.  It’s your darn kitchen.  You are the one who has to cook in it every day.  As to your friend who won’t talk to you?  Call him or her yourself.  It’s YOUR friend of 20 years.  Ask what’s wrong.  Don’t depend on my thoughts.  I have no clue about your friend.  Listen to your child when he or she says they HATE scrambled eggs.  Pick the blanket pattern that YOU like and get busy.  I promise you’ll feel so much better in the end if you have made the decision.  And for Heaven’s sake, don’t get all uptight when you ask questions that only YOU can answer and no one gives you answers.

Be brave.  Just be you and don’t worry about anyone else’s opinions. You are cool just as you are. Don’t change for us.

~~ Betty

Depression Has Won Another Fight

My heart is so very heavy right now. I just learned of the death of a dear friend.

It is sad to learn of anyone’s death, but to hear that depression is involved in that death makes it that much worse.  Why did it happen?  Was something missed?  Were there signs?  Could it have been prevented?  How did I not know?  How will the poor family get through it?  Those are all questions that we ask.  Sadly, many of those questions will never be answered.  

Clinical Depression — An illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and that affects the way a person eats, sleeps, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things. Clinical depression is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be wished away. People with clinical depression cannot merely ‘pull themselves together’ and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people with clinical depression. The signs and symptoms of clinical depression include loss of interest in activities that were once interesting or enjoyable, including sex; loss of appetite, with weight loss, or overeating, with weight gain; loss of emotional expression (flat affect); a persistently sad, anxious, or empty mood; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; social withdrawal; unusual fatigue, low energy level, a feeling of being slowed down; sleep disturbance and insomnia, early-morning awakening or oversleeping; trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; unusual restlessness or irritability; persistent physical problems such as headaches, digestive disorders, or chronic pain that do not respond to treatment, and thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts. The principal types of depression are called major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (manic-depressive disease).

Clinical depression is such an awful, debilitating thing to deal with. Those who suffer need to know that you care.  Please, people, reach out to those you know to be depressed.  Be gentle in the way you reach out, though.  You don’t need to go into “save them” mode and tell them to just think positively and or turn it over to God. Those remarks do not help someone struggling with depression. Clinically depressed people already try their best to think positively and if they are believers, they have most definitely turned it over to God and He is working on them. The problem is that the depressed person is so mired down in self-hate and despair that they cannot see past that. They don’t need or want your “I know how to fix it” comments. Those types of comments just make them feel that much more broken. The absolute BEST thing to say is that you are there and that you love them. And then, let it be. Pray for them during your own prayer time, but please don’t push the sufferer.

 I am sure that some of you are now thinking that my remarks are pretty curt and “know it all”. Maybe so. But, that’s because I’m speaking as someone who struggles with major clinical depression on not just a daily basis, but on an hourly basis. I speak as someone who has fought to not end it all. So far, I have won that battle. I speak as someone who “turns it over to God” on a daily basis and I know that He is working on me, but I am still depressed.  I speak as someone who has others tell me constantly that I just need to think positively. I speak as someone who is told that I have much to be thankful for.  I speak as someone who has others tell me constantly that I am depressed because I just don’t trust God. I speak as someone who is torn down just a little bit more each time I’m told those things. I speak as someone who knows in her head that I am worthy, but who feels none of that in her heart. I speak as someone whose heart is now breaking because another friend has lost the battle — that battle that “looks so very inviting”, but is so dangerous, that battle that would end the personal suffering, but would cause so much suffering for so many others. I speak as a depressed soul who struggles each and every day to be here and who is terribly sad when someone loses the fight.

I pray constantly that others will learn to understand the hell that a clinically depressed person lives with each and every day. This lack of understanding causes such a stigma about mental health problems.  If we look at the many problems in today’s world, we can easily see that we need to do more concerning mental health.

It’s not that we’re just sad. It’s not that we just don’t want to go out and play today. It’s that we can’t. We struggle each and every day to just get out of the bed. We struggle to just go to the corner store. We struggle each and every time we are forced to communicate with others. And we struggle with ourselves constantly because we don’t want to be this way. We don’t want others to fix us. We just want others to love us and not judge us. We want to be just like you, but don’t know how. We just want to love ourselves. But, we don’t.

Pray for those who suffer.  Let them know that you love them.  Be there.  Just be there.  

I will miss you, my friend.  I’m sorry I was not there for you.


And Here I Sit

I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve made a blog post.  I’ve tried to many times, but the words just fail me.  I guess it’s because I’ve quit.  I’ve quit caring.  I’ve quit wanting.  I’ve quit trying.  I’ve quit just about everything.  And I’m not exactly sure why.  I think it’s because I’m just tired.  When I try to figure out what I’m tired of, I just keep thinking that I’m tired of EVERYTHING.  And I’m tired of NOTHING.  I just don’t see a purpose in anything.  I look around at everyone enjoying life, enjoying companionship, enjoying laughing, enjoying their own thoughts, and I think, “It’s just too hard.”  I feel like I’m just stuck here, all alone.  Many days, I don’t even use my voice, other than to say, “Bella, you got to go potty?”  And that’s sad, mainly because all she does is run to the door.  You’d think that she’d at least bark once to say yes, wouldn’t you?  But, she doesn’t.  And then I say, “Good girl.  Let’s go back in now,” and she runs back up on the porch.  And we start back over with the circle of no communication with anyone.  And I sit here.

So, you say, “Geez, Betty, get off your butt and go do something.”  Easier said than done.  That takes energy.  That takes desire.  That takes someone to do something with.  That takes somewhere to go do it.  And I can’t seem to connect with anyone or anything.  I can’t seem to be able to gather the willpower to try anymore.  And so, I sit here.  I read.  I do communicate on Facebook with some friends.  I do a bit of crafting.  I watch far too many videos on You-Tube.  My sweet granddaughter makes me take her to lunch every other week and that is a good thing.  I truly do enjoy my time with Ash.  I sit here and wish I could make myself go to Douglas to visit or to Columbus to visit, but for some reason, I cannot find the energy anymore.  Just getting ready for a trip is stressing and exhausting.  And the ride just kills me.  I remember a time when hopping in the car and driving three hours to see the kids was a piece of cake.  Now, it takes me days to get things together and get the car packed to go.  By the time I have gotten everything in the car, I am so tired I can barely handle the trip.  Plus, the kids are always so busy; I feel like they don’t need some old Grandma to come in and slow their lives down.    That’s ridiculous when I think about even saying that because I know they would like me to visit more, but I have convinced myself that I’d just be in the way.  I never, ever want to do anything that would hurt my children.  So, I stay home.  And it’s really getting to me as I sit here.

Since Sandra died, I feel that I have nothing here in Eatonton.  Moving back here and facing my fears was necessary.  In time, I was able to do that and it was good for me.  I had been so very hesitant to move back home, but Sandra made it OK.  She was always there when things got tough.  She was always just a phone call away.  We’d visit several times a week and I had a connection.  It’s gone now, and I just can’t get over her loss.  I’ve thought about leaving Eatonton now that I’ve conquered my fears, but I have nowhere to go.  So I sit here.

I see other people grieving the losses of loved ones and my heart goes out to them.  It truly does.  But, I’m afraid to connect with them because I’m afraid I’ll lose it all over again.  I can’t stand to see someone in pain.  I was in such a deep dark hole after Sandra’s death and I know that I cannot allow myself to go there again.  I know I have a loving heart and I feel compassion, but I’ve bottled it up inside and am deathly afraid to let it out.  And I know that is selfish of me, but I can’t do anything about it.  So, I sit here.

Just before last Thanksgiving, I was connected with a half-sister that I had known existed, but never thought I’d meet.  Come to find out, she had had no idea that she had four half-sisters out there somewhere.  She was overjoyed.  In each message I received from her, she called me “sister”.  I was absolutely overwhelmed with joy.  And then I was just overwhelmed.  And then the feelings of unworthiness set in.  In my mind, I told myself that she’d be better off not really knowing me.  I was nothing special and in fact, I was just a big ole heap of problems.  And who wants to willingly jump into a relationship with someone who is nothing but problems?  Each day, I tell myself that I need to connect with Joan and then, somehow, the day is over, and I have failed again.  I have good intentions, but I haven’t been able to do what I need to do to establish that connection.  And that’s unfair.  To Joan and to me.  But, it’s because I just sit here.

I stopped seeing Roz several months ago because talking about the past was torture.  Week after week, she’d ask how long I was going to let my past rule my future.  And I had no answer.  I still have no answer.  And I’m not even sure that this has anything to do with my past.  I have finally realized that what’s in the past is over with and I know I can’t change it.  I’ve accepted the fact that what happened may have been crappy, but that it wasn’t my fault.  And believe me, that is HUGE.  I never thought that I would forgive myself for the abuse.  But, I did.  So, I ought to be able to enjoy life, right?  Well, evidently not.  It’s hard to enjoy a life of solitude and isolation.  And let me just tell you – I do a darn good job of isolation.  Each day is the same.  Nothing changes.  Others go on with their lives and I sit here.  I wonder why.  I wonder how long I will do this.  I should probably give Roz a call.  But, I just kept thinking that if I couldn’t figure things out in 8 years, it just wasn’t worth the effort.  I wonder why I let myself do this.  But, I continue to do it as I sit here.

I stopped going to church several months ago.  Of course, I had excuses.  I was going through some tough problems with my ear and really couldn’t hear anything that the preacher was saying so I thought I’d just wait until I could hear again.  Well, that hasn’t happened, but that’s not the real reason I quit going.  When I sat down and thought about why I wasn’t going, I realized that it was after I made my blog post about having my son that I quit going.  Did I think the church members would judge me?  No, I didn’t.  Was I judging myself?  Well, sure I was, but that wasn’t the reason.  I stopped going because I didn’t think I had the right to be THERE.  Not at THAT church.  People were too nice to me at that church.  Too many people in town were able to figure out from my post who I had been talking about (the curse of living in a small town) and I didn’t think that it was fair of me to be THERE. I wasn’t willing to give them a chance to show me that it didn’t matter.  I immediately took the safe route and I quit going.  But, I miss my church.  I miss the family feeling there.  I truly miss my pastor and his precious wife.  I miss the music.  Oh, how I miss the music.  I miss my friends.  But, I still tell myself that I don’t belong there.  I haven’t given up on God.  I have my own private church service here each week.  I turn on the Statler Brothers or Mercy Me or some other Christian music and I praise the Lord.  I get out my Bible and I lose myself in the Word.  But, I do it as I sit here.

A dear friend and I had a conversation quite some time ago about the difference between the feelings of jealousy and envy.  To me, jealousy is when you want something that someone else has and you’re willing to do anything to get it, even if it hurts the other person.  Envy, to me, is when you see something they have and your heart longs for that, also.  You, in no way, want them not to have it.  You are truly proud that they do have it.  But, your heart aches because you do not have it also.  You become consumed with the fact that you have nothing.  And that’s how I look at others now.  I see them enjoying companionship and I envy them.  I see them traveling and I envy them.  I see them enjoying their families and I envy them.  I see them living their lives full of laughter and joy and I envy them.  I, in no way, want them not to have those things.  I just don’t know why I can’t have them, too.  I envy their lives and their loves and their laughter.  But, still, I sit here.

There was a ray of light a couple of weeks ago, though.  My Hens (my most dear, most special, loyal group of friends) and I spent a day together.  We started the day off with lunch at a new restaurant here in town.  Can’t say that I was blown over by the food, but the atmosphere and the waitress was great.  We spent a couple of hours just hanging out, talking about what we’d been doing, and just having fun.  Then, we went to the package store.  Hold on, let me explain.  This package store is owned by one of our good friends.  About a year ago, the Hens and I had been out for the day and happened to ride by there.  As we did, one of us made the remark that we needed to stop by to say hello.  Well, next thing we knew, we were in the parking lot.  We meant to only stop in and say hello, but things happened.  People we had not seen in YEARS came in (for whatever reason) and we ended up spending a couple of hours just hanging out, reminiscing with customers and having a ball.  The owner invited us to come back the next time we were out.  So-o-o-o-o-o-o, we decided to take him up on his offer the other day.  The daughter of one of my old teaching buddies works there part-time, also, and she’s a true barrel of laughs so we figured it would be a fun time.  We pulled up some chairs in the lobby, scanned through the latest newspaper and talked about everyone mentioned in the newspaper, and caught up on the latest gossip.  Or maybe it wasn’t really gossip because you know, if it’s true, it’s not gossip.  Anyway, after a bit, the owner came in, some more long-lost friends stopped by, and we turned it into a real social event.  We suggested that for the next visit, he should put an announcement out on the marquee that said that The Hens would be in attendance from 2 – 4 (kind of a way to boost business).  We shall see if that happens.  Anyway, it was a great day with great friends and we all had a heap of good ole innocent fun, something I needed.  But, when all the fun was over, I came home, crawled up in my recliner and there I sat. 

I do know one thing.  Isolation works.  It works so well that after a while, others give up on you, too.  If you sit here long enough, all you have left to do is to sit here.

I do wonder if this is what my life is supposed to be like.  I don’t think that it is.  I believe that there is a reason for everything.  I believe that God has a plan.  I believe that at the right time, He will reveal that plan to me.  I just hope that when He does, I’m at least dressed for the occasion and not just sitting here.


I Truly Don’t Want You To Try to Fix Me

I ran across an excellent video on Depression with so many valid points.  As J.S. points out, there are so many people out there who just don’t understand depression and the leading “fixes” seem to be the God angle or the Be Positive angle.  Neither of these, by themselves, can fix depression.  It is vitally important for others to understand the many intricacies of this disease and how to help.  I totally agree that just allowing a depressed person to “be” is of utmost importance.

Dealing with Depression — A New Look at It.

An Interview About Depression, Its Myths and Misunderstandings, When Faith Fails, and Talking It Out

I truly need to get this book. I have recently decided to stop seeing my therapist, mainly because the idea of constantly talking about why I feel like crap makes me feel like crap even more. It seems as though I’ve talked for seven years and my thoughts and feelings haven’t changed. I understand myself a bit more, but I still feel the same.

I’ve also dealt with the “just pray about it” and the “turn it over to God”. I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed about it. And, I’ve turned it over to God (or so I thought) and it’s still there. All the feelings of doubt, of self-defeat, of not caring, of feeling unworthy — those feelings (and many more) are still there.

So, I decided to just take a break. I’m not saying that I won’t go back to therapy at some point, but it’s been like a constant dread lately just knowing that I have to go talk about it some more.

As J.S. stated above, “It helped, but there were times I knew I had to step away because it wasn’t helping. I’d imagine it’s like someone investigating a crime in their own family—it’s cathartic, but it’s also dangerously close.” I just need to step away from it for a while. Maybe by not concentrating on my feelings of not caring for a while, I will somehow be able to care again. He makes some really valid points in this interview and I am sure that there is much more in the book itself. We shall see.

J.S. Park: Hospital Chaplain, Skeptical Christian

– Suzanne of biblesteps recently interviewed me about my book on depression. Her post is here. The entire interview is below. You can find my book on fighting depression here. –

Given that depression can be a fragile and, at times, controversial topic, what made you decide to write a book about it?

Depression can feel like a solo sport. There’s no team backing you up. It’s like swimming or gymnastics; once you get going, it’s up to you to make it to the other end of the pool or the mat. (I was told this is why writers get depressed, because writing isn’t really a team effort).

Most of the resources I found on depression began with the “solo” premise: It’s up to you, go get help, here’s this method, try this and this. But that sort of individualized isolation was very vacuum-ish to me. Life doesn’t…

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A New Family is out there!!

It’s been an exciting 24 hours!! My newly found niece and I have been chatting this morning and I’ve made contact with another niece and have sent an email to my half-sister, Joan. Hopefully, once I get back home we will be able to correspond much more easily. My friends know how chatty I am and without my computer, I’m having to do everything through my phone which means “one finger” correspondence. Since my brain works much faster than my one finger can peck, I’m at a real loss. Can’t wait to get home and be in contact. Oh, how I wish Sandra were still with us–she would be so excited about this!!!!!!