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

Like a Pack of She Wolves

I am so blessed to have the friends that I have.  There is one special group of friends that I am sure God sent to me.  It had to be during one of His playful times because I know that HE knew what a dangerous (in a fun sort of way) group He was putting together.   One of the gals in my group has been a lifelong best friend.  She and I have hung together since forever and have gotten into, and out of,  trouble since high school. We have more stories that could be (but shouldn’t be) told than Carter has Little Liver Pills.  The other two in the group were sent directly to me after I moved back to my hometown.  We had gone to school together back in the day, but really bonded after my move home.  When our group first got together, we referred to ourselves as The Twisted Chicks.  As a group, we went through some tough times and decided that we could no longer think of ourselves as chicks — we were still twisted, but felt we needed a bit of revamping and became The Hens.  Hens are much more mature than a bunch of chicks.  Right?  And we had certainly matured.  A couple of folks claimed that we were really more like a bunch of old biddies, but we decided not to go that far in the renaming of our group.  We lost one of our Hens about a year and a half ago to that ugly, nasty thing called cancer, but we know that she’s watching over us and when we get out of hand, we hear her sweet, familiar cluck that is urging us to calm down. Sometimes, though, we hear her clucking like crazy which means for us to “Carry On, Cause Some Ruckus.”   We chat daily and try to get together for lunch or supper as often as possible.  Three of us attend the same church, so it’s always interesting when we are all there. Interesting for us, that is. Maybe not so much for others.  We’ve been known to take over a bakery for the afternoon, crash Mexican birthday parties, park in a field and turn the radio to an oldies station and dance in the field, become entertainment at our local favorite restaurant, and even spend time in hardware stores. And I’m sure that we also give our pastor something to pray about on those days where he may be searching for a couple of more prayers he can add to his list.  Occasionally, we get to go on a road trip and that is always an adventure. On those road trips, we tend to get lost, find our way again, talk about everyone we know, rehash old love problems, solve the world’s problems, see some amazing sights, and mainly just enjoy each others’ company.  I don’t know what I’d do without my Hens. They all understand my struggles with depression and are always there to lend a loving ear to my rants and raves.  They sincerely listen to me, although I know that they probably wish that I’d just shut the hell up.  But they listen and they still love me.  Sometimes they may offer a bit of advice, but it’s never in the “You ought to do this or You need to think this way or Why don’t you act this way?” form of advice that can be so hurtful and not useful at all. Their advice normally comes in a sarcastic, smart-butt tone that immediately brings me back to earth. One of them actually helped me do an online search for a contraption we could use as an “Vaporizer” when I had someone who was being quite troublesome to me.  Sadly, we did not find one that would actually do the job. But she was there to lend a helping hand and I thank her for that.

Anyway, the Hens had plans to get together tonight for supper and a bit of mischief.  I was so looking forward to it, but had to back out this afternoon due to a nagging ear problem that has just about incapacitated me for right now.  I am so disappointed, but know that I’ll survive this and we will get into some mischief in the near future.  The comment from one of my Hens about this is the reason for my post today.  Her comment has made me smile all afternoon and is one of the sweetest things that has been said to me in a while.  I knew I had to share it on my blog to show others how important a core group of friends can be to someone who is down, for whatever reason.  This is what MH said to me when I apologized for spoiling the fun. (And I love the way she has always called me “Bet”. No one else has ever done that.)

“Bet.  Look.  We travel as a pack.  As in wolves.  She wolves.”

Now, that comment might mean nothing to most of you. I wouldn’t expect it to.  And many of you may feel that it was a silly comment or just not get it at all.  (However, some of you who know us get it.  I know you do.)  But, I got it.  I felt the love.  And, I am still smiling — throbbing ear and all. This afternoon, while feeling like crap, I am filled with love.  I am thrilled to think that my friend considers me to be a part of her “pack of She Wolves.”   She Wolves are ferocious beasts who can fight back all the dangerous things that may come their way.  They will let nothing harm the other members of their pack.  They stick together and protect each other and their young.  I can think of nothing more scary to meet up with than a pack of She Wolves.  Can you?

Do you have a “pack”?  If not, find you one.  Make that bond.  No telling what a difference it will make in your life!  I have got to pat myself on the back when I think that in a short eight years I have evolved from a blubbering fool, scared of everything and everyone, to a Twisted Chick, and then to a Hen, and am now a She Wolf.  Way to go, Bet. You have come so far!  Hear me Howl.

For now, I’m going to heat up my compress, hold to it to my ear, and smile some more thinking about being a She Wolf.  I may even sharpen my claws while I’m at it.  Just in case.   Y’all enjoy your day and think about who can get to join your pack.  You won’t regret it.  I hope to hear you all Howl!

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I can’t help but smile and think of the things that my pack and I can do.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Crap, but still smiling.

~~~Betty