Depression, Encouragement, Good News, Mental Health

My Days in the Georgia Department of Corrections

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.

Depression, Mental Health

There’s a Fungus Among Us

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)

  1. I have a cholesteotoma in my “good”  ear that must be removed.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

~~ Betty 

 

 

Depression, Let's Lighten the Load, Mental Health

Yep. I almost got “rained” upon.

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.

~~ Betty

Changes, Depression, Mental Health

A Bit of a Change is Coming

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.

~~Betty

 

 

Depression, Mental Health

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

 

Depression, Mental Health, Suicide, Uncategorized

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.

 

Depression, Mental Health

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.

 

Depression, Mental Health, Uncategorized

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.

Depression, Mental Health

Undeserved Emotions

I’ve had an extremely hard time coming back to the blog since my last couple of posts.  I wonder if I spoke too much.  Was I too open in talking about the incidents that have compounded my depression?  Should I have just continued to deal with my feelings by myself?  I have been so confused.

And then……I reached out a couple of weeks ago to a prayer group that I’m a member of and asked for prayers for peace for my troubled mind.  I gave a brief testimony and the administrator of the group denied my post.  In talking with her later, she said that my prayer was “too big” for the group.  She said that many members of the group were “new in the Lord and might not be able to handle” my testimony and my request.   How can that be?  How can prayers be too big?  Is there a certain amount of time that you must wait before telling someone “who is new in the Lord” about a significant problem that you are having?  I guess I didn’t read that part of the “I love the Lord Handbook”.  I’m still at a loss over that.  I tried to not take it personally, but I just don’t get it.  How do you tell someone that their prayer is too big?  So, I decided to just sit back and do my talking directly to God.  And that’s where I’ve been for the past few weeks.  Stewing.  Simply stewing in emotions.  Those emotions are taking a toll on me.  My mind is in overdrive and it is so hard to focus.

Then, last week something happened in my hometown and I’m so confused about how I feel.  That’s not entirely true, though.  I know how I feel;  I am sad.  But deep-seated emotions keep rearing their ugly heads and are keeping me off balance.  There are so many things I want to say, but out of respect for others I can’t.  And that’s the tough part.  It’s almost as if my emotions are not valid.  But, how can that be?  Isn’t everyone entitled to their own feelings?  No matter what the circumstances, feelings — any feelings — are valid, aren’t they? I feel no anger.  I feel sadness.  And regrets.  And sorrow for those involved.  But I can’t speak of it.

Undeserving — that’s the word I used when speaking to a friend last night.  I was trying to explain my emotions and said that I feel as though any emotions I have are just plain underserving.  And I know that it’s not good for me to feel that way.  I’ve spent far too many years living with the assumption that my feelings don’t count and that they are underserving.  I have got to find some way to break this chain of thought.  I feel what I feel and I can’t help it.

Many of my friends, without my reaching out to them, have contacted me to relay their thoughts and prayers.  And that has meant the world to me.  They know, all too well, the conflict that is running rampant in my head and heart.   I just need a way to address these feelings.  Isolation isn’t working.  Sleeping isn’t working.  Pouring my heart out to God isn’t working.  I guess I just must be patient.  God is going to speak to me.  He is going to guide me in the right direction.  I do know this to be true.  But, in the meantime, I am struggling.  And it is so not fun.

~~~Betty