A year ago a teenager in the small town where my children grew up took her life. Much has happened in that town in the past year. Parents, grandparents, and a sibling grieved along with family members and close family friends. Adults and children cried; they got angry; they held onto each other; and they asked — Why?
As in most cases, we may never know the real Why. But, we can watch what has happened in this last year and we may come to a conclusion. We have seen a town rally around a grieving mother and brother. We have seen teenagers begin to understand what life is about. We have seen young and old hearts touched. We have seen movements begun to help us all remember #SweetCaroline and to hopefully combat suicide. We have come to understand the importance of organ donation. We have seen many turn to the Lord to understand. We have seen those who have contemplated suicide in the past have their eyes opened. And with each of these things, we still see her smile each time we are touched.
Through Facebook posts and through my family who still lives there, I have watched the townspeople and the teenagers do things to make sure that Caroline would never be forgotten. As I was looking at Senior pictures today for my grandson, I was again reminded of #SweetCaroline. In this picture, you will see that my grandson still keeps one of Caroline’s pictures with him in his vehicle.
We ask ourselves why people take their own lives. Sometimes it is so that others will cherish their own. #SweetCaroline Know. Your. Worth.
I’ve been gone for a long time. Writing had become too hard for me. Admitting my failures, being too honest with my hopes and wishes, letting too many people into my heart, allowing others to see the hurt I was experiencing with the death of my sister, knowing that I had opened up with everyone — all those things became overwhelming. So, I disappeared. I crawled back into my hole — that hole that was safe, where no one could reach me. And I stayed there. For far too long.
I’ve tried to crawl back out for the past few months, but each time I took another step on the ladder, I’d doubt myself. Did I really need to crawl out or should I just accept life as I had allowed it to become? I’m still not sure about the answer to that one, but I figure I’ll make another attempt at reaching the top.
As this new year begins, I began to look back to the beginning of my blog. I’ll admit, I’ve been lax lately. I’ve struggled to post and have found that I had to have a lightening bolt inspiration to do so. I hope that I can do better in this new year. As I looked back to the beginning, I reread my “Little About Me” to see what has changed. In some ways, nothing. In other ways, a lot. I have become much more informed about clinical depression. I have been inspired by the many friends and strangers who have left comments on my posts. I have found some things in which I was just pure wrong and others in which I hit the nail on the head. Do I still struggle with depression? Yes. I do. Is it as overwhelming as it has been in the past? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. A while back I told a friend that I had come to the realization that I was just going to be depressed for the rest of my life and that it was too hard to get better. I’m not sure if that’s so.
So, as 2019 begins, I wish you all a wonderful new year — full of love, laughter, and all the wondrous things available in life. I am praying that I will be filled with inspiration and the desire to become much more active on A Light At the Top Of The Hole. We shall see.
And, now, back to the beginning…………
I am just a person. I am just like you. I am nothing like you. I have dreams, fears, needs, wants, demons, and joys. You may have these, also. I have suffered just as many of you have — abuse, rejection, put-downs, disappointments, unfulfilled expectations, and terrors. Do I understand why this has happened to me? No. Will I ever fully understand? Probably not. Is it fair? No. Can I change those things in my past that have made me “me”? No. Do I wish I could? Of course. Knowing these things, what do I plan to do about it? Not sure yet, but I do know that I’m going to change. I am going to become whole again (although I wonder if I was ever whole to begin with).
I was first a daughter. I am a sister. I was a child. I was a student. I was then a wife. I was then a mother. Then, I was no longer a wife. I was a teacher. I am now a retired teacher. I am my children’s biggest cheerleader. I am a Grams who cherishes her grandchildren. I am a loyal friend. I am a floundering Christian. I am a lover of knowledge. I am someone who has spent time in a Mental Health facility. I am a person involved in on-going mental health therapy. I am a person who yearns to love and be loved. I am a person who wants to understand all the “why’s” of life. I am a person who has many fleeting interests. I am a person with big dreams. I am a Southerner. I am an expert in the art of sarcasm. I am a lover of words. I am a person who has lived behind an array of masks for most of my life. I am a person who is constantly climbing to reach the light at the top of the hole that I find myself in quite frequently. I am a person determined to become whole. I am Betty (although Social Security and the DMV insist that I be Elizabeth.) I am now a Blogger.
If you choose to leave a comment (which I sincerely hope that you do), please feel free to ask questions, challenge me, or disagree with me. I will always do my best to give you the most intelligent answer that I can give. Remember, though, that I am someone who is living with clinical depression and I only have my own answers. I am NOT a mental health expert. I am a mere mental health “be-er”.
Please recognize that while I may make posts that contain some scientific information about clinical depression, I am in no way claiming to be an expert about anything. I may post videos found on YouTube or elsewhere on the Internet that contain some factual information. I do fact-check as much as possible, but please do not hold me to be 100% correct — I will just normally post something that has drawn me in and that I think others may be interested in. These videos may use information that I have learned through my readings or perhaps was introduced to me in my Psychotherapy sessions.
Please remember that I do reserve the right to delete any comment on my blog for any reason whatsoever, whether it be rude, abusive, profane, or just in my opinion, doesn’t help anyone. Remember those of us who suffer from depression are normally very sensitive to criticism and have enough people in our day-to-day lives whose purpose in life seems to be to blow smoke up our butts. With that in mind, please do not use my blog to bash me or anyone else. That certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t question or comment on concepts, but let’s keep it polite, please. Your comment or question may very well be something that someone else is questioning and is seeking answers to. When we all join in on a conversation about mental heath, we are lessening the stigma that is so pervasive. My blog is designed to help you look into the disease of clinical depression, see it though MY eyes, and to hopefully be able to spot the warning signs in those that you love. My goal is for all of us to learn from each other. With that in mind, please do share in the comments and share my blog with others. This will only reach and be a help to others if it is shared.
Thank you for joining me in my search for A Light At The Top Of The Hole.
As we head into 2019, I have become truly troubled today by someone’s post in our local prayer group that I administer. And that breaks my heart.
A member of our group had posted asking for prayers for her child who is struggling during this holiday season with depression. So very many people truly struggle during this time of the year. We are bombarded on television, by friends, family, social media and everywhere we go and everything we do, reminding everyone that we are in the midst of a “happy, wonderful, joyous time of the year”. Sadly, that is not true for many. As I had posted a couple of weeks ago, this time of the year is a true challenge for many, for so many reasons. They are reminded of times past when things were good, when they had good health, when they watched the joys and fun of the season through the eyes of young children. These people may now have severe medical problems, be alone, have financial problems, or perhaps they may suffer from clinical depression. Any or all of these aspects can create real problems for these people. We cannot take their struggles lightly; not if we care. Not if we are God-fearing people who strive to understand this disease. You see, Clinical Depression is not just feeling sad. It’s not just feeling lonely. It’s not just not having enough faith. It is a MEDICAL problem. It’s like having cancer, or diabetes, or heart problems. It’s having a chemical imbalance in your brain. This chemical imbalance needs treatment, just as the cancer, diabetes, or heart problems need. Do you tell someone with cancer to forget their doctors, that their medicine or treatments is not necessary? No, you don’t. Not if you care.
While I truly believe in the mighty power of God, that does not mean that I can turn everything over to Him and not do my part. God can work miracles. God does work miracles. But, God expects us to do our part. Our faith, our healing, our salvation is not automatic. It takes us to do our part.
It is my belief that one of God’s miracles is in giving us doctors and therapists and medicine to help, heal, and cure our bodies from diseases. It is my belief that if God did not intend for us to use these doctors, therapists, and medicine, He would not have made them possible.
And, that is my problem. We had a member in our group tell others (in a response to the mother who had asked for prayer) that doctors and medicine are useless in treating depression. He stated that we just need to contact him for help in healing our depression because through his faith, he had been able to heal his depression. I’m certainly not going to say that God did not heal him. But, I do wonder if this gentleman suffered from Clinical Depression or perhaps just from a mood disorder. I have no idea. Many people call many things “depression”. Only a doctor can tell you if you actually suffer from Clinical Depression or not. Can God heal depression? Of course, He can. Does He always do so? Well, does He always cure our loved ones of cancer? Does He always make our hearts work correctly? Does He snap His fingers and cure people of drug or alcohol dependency? No, He doesn’t. He can, but He does not always do so. He expects us to do our part. Am I going to stop praying to God for healing? No, but I’m not giving up my meds, either.
I believe that it is wrong for us, especially in a prayer group, to advise others to give up their doctor, to give up their medicine, and to ONLY believe that he and God are going to cure you. You may say, but, Betty, where better than in a prayer group to tell people to trust in God? That’s my problem. I do trust God. But, I also trust His gift of doctors. I tried not to answer this member’s comment because of the pure anger I was feeling about it (and yes, I admit that I was angry that he had told that to people and I have spoken to God about it) but in my heart, I had to ask him to please not advise others to give up their doctors and medicine. I hope I was respectful. I hope I was kind. I hope I was correct in doing so. I had hoped that he would understand. By his reply, I don’t think he did.
I have spoken my peace and explained my actions and have prayed for the mother and her child who is suffering. I have prayed for the millions of others, including myself, who struggle with any health-related concerns. I have asked God to continue to grant us His blessings and thanked Him for His many blessings we have received. I hope I have done my part.
It’s been 52 years now since I whispered in your ear for the first time. That whisper was, “Happy Birth Day, sweet little boy”.
On October 5th of each of the last 51 years, I have whispered a short prayer in my heart.
On this 52nd year, I again whisper the following in my heart:
Happy Birthday, Allen Lee.
I pray that you are healthy.
I pray that you are happy.
I pray that you are safe.
I pray that you Believe.
I pray that you are loved.
I pray that you love.
After yesterday’s post, I thought it was interesting for this to have shown up on my FB page. Lots of thoughts these days about life and about the ultimate ending of it.
I think most of us wish we could go back and skip some of the tough chapters. But, what would have happened if we had done so? Would we still be the person we are now? Of course we wouldn’t. Which chapters made us who we are? Which chapters were just fluff? Without those tough chapters, we would not have learned — about strength, about courage, about love, about losing, about envy, about fun, about sadness, about winning.
Without having experienced these chapters, we would all be a bunch of spoiled, spineless people who think of no one but ourselves. We want to think that if we only had good in our lives, we would always do good in our lives. Very few people can live up to those expectations.
We are a mixture of the good, the bad, and the ugly. It almost makes our lives sound like an old western movie, doesn’t it?
If that’s the case, I want to be Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke.
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.