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

Depression, Mental Health

And That, My Friends, Is The $64,000 Question…..

Do you remember when you were a child and did something that got you in trouble? Maybe you were chasing your sister through the house and hit a table and knocked off the lamp. As soon as you heard it hit the floor, you knew you were in trouble — big trouble. Your mom or dad would come after you and ask that ridiculous question — “So, young lady, just how many times do I need to tell you not to run in the house?” And they’d stand there and wait for you to answer them. Good gracious. How do you answer a question like that? Do you just stand there and say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to knock over the lamp.” (I tried that many times and it never went over well.) Or do you get brave like I remember getting one time when dad was raging and answer, “Seven times”?  Let me tell you now that that was not the answer he was wanting. Maybe I should have said, “More than a thousand times” because evidently that’s how many times he had said it to me already and I was still running in the house. I guess I was a slow learner.

Anyway, I finally made it to Macon to see my therapist this week after three long months of not seeing her. It wasn’t that I was staying away on purpose — I was sick and then I got busy with the class reunion stuff and then I spent a week of medical testing and appointments and I just couldn’t get over there. But, whatever the reason, I was finally there. And I was lamenting about the fact that I am still screwed up. I was talking about how I couldn’t forgive myself for being such a screw-up as a kid and then a screw-up as a wife and now I’m just a plain screw-up. Period. After a few minutes, she took a deep breath, looked at me, and said, “Betty, just how long are you going to let your father run your life? When are you going to take your life back? When are you going to forgive yourself and go live the life that you know you should be living?” Well, damn. What was I supposed to say? Do I (as I did) just look at her and say, “I know. I need to let it go.” Or do I look at her as I looked at dad all those years ago and say, “I’m going to do that next Thursday. Or next month. Or in three weeks. Or evidently, never.”

How do you answer that question? That question, to me, is what we used to call the “$64,000 Question.” It’s one of those questions that I have no clue how to answer. How do you decide when enough is enough? I’ve made that decision many times. I’ve decided that enough is enough. I’ve told myself that I didn’t deserve all the crap I got from him and that I was going to let it go. I’ve even said out loud, “This is enough, Betty. Let it go.” And maybe I would for a bit. And then, something else would happen or I’d have a nightmare and wake up remembering it all over again. And, Wham! It’s back! All the feelings of worthlessness. All the pain. All the anger. All the guilt. All the hatred. And I’d have to start over again.  I am so very, very tired of starting over.

She says we are going to work on that question at our next session. That ought to be a fun time, huh? If any of you have any answers for me, please clue me in. How do I let it go? How do I convince my heart that what my head knows (I don’t deserve the pain; it wasn’t my fault; It’s nothing that I did to make him not love me) is correct? How do I make it stick? How do I really and truly forgive — not only him, but myself, also? If any of you have the working answer to that question, I’ll scrounge up the $64,000 for you. You will deserve it!
~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I so wish I could just go buy a book from Amazon that has the answer to my question.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Been a pretty good day.  Talked to my friend, Dennis, tonight and he said I sounded like I was in a better place.  I had to admit that I just had some new, better drugs.  Ain’t that a kick in the rear?

~~~ Betty 

Depression, Mental Health

Was It Easier Back Then?

A couple of my friends and I were chatting a while back about all the sickness in the world today.  I do believe that it’s been here all along, but back then it just wasn’t spoken of.  Now, with social media, we know everything about everybody (sometimes almost before they know it themselves).  But, I do remember when I was growing up that people in my home town would die and I never even wondered why or how they died – it was just a given that old people died, right?  Was it that way for you, too?  Now, my friends and I are the age that many of those people were back then and we don’t think that WE are as old as we thought THEY were back then.   So, if we are now that age, is it time for us to die?  Will the upcoming generation wonder about how and why we died or will they, too, just think that we were old people and that it was our time?

Death is such a hard thing and it seems as though it sometimes just takes forever to happen, if you know what I mean.  I told MH that I sometimes think it would have been easier to live back in covered wagon days like Ma and Pa Ingals.

We would have crossed the Mississippi in our covered wagons, fought the Indians, and suffered through winter with only a possum or raccoon coat.  We would have watched as the men in our settlement cut down trees, drag them to a clearing, and build us a house.  To those back then, this house was their castle; to us now, we realize that it was a shack.

We would have spent Sundays at the village church worshiping God and thanking Him for all we had, which many times was almost nothing.  We would have welcomed the spring, plowed the field with our horse (if we were lucky and old Buckeye had not been killed in the Indian raid or had not starved to death during the long cold winter), and planted our seeds until daylight was gone.  At harvest time, we would harvest our crops and pray that we would have a bit of profit to buy more seeds for next spring.

We would birth our babies and pray that they would make it through the winter and someday have an easier life than that which we were living. At the end of the day, we would cut a chunk of venison off the carcass hanging from the rafter on the front porch or make rabbit stew from the rabbits that our old men had gone out and hunted.  We would thank the Lord for His many blessings and eat our rabbit stew with day old beans. Once a week we would wash up in the river and nightly we would sleep on a lumpy hay mattress, dreaming of a better life.

Then we would get up and do it all over again the next day. After many moons of this hard life, we would just drop dead from heart failure at the ripe old age of 36. Sometimes, that seems much easier than this crap we are dealing with today.

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I need to find something else to think about besides why old people (my age) die.  Maybe it’s because I had to go out last week to have an ultrasound of both legs checking for more clots. Today I had to go have a Echocardiogram and tomorrow morning I’m scheduled for a Brain MRI.  I need a day at the pool.  Or a shot of Fireball.  Or a night at the movies.  Or a lunch with my Hens.  Getting old is for the birds.

~~~ Betty

 

Depression, Mental Health

Wishes and Hopes

I wish I had.

I wish I could have.

I think I should have.

I don’t know if I would have.

I hope I can.

We shall see if I will.

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  Lots of thoughts rumbling around in this old brain today.  I haven’t seen my therapist in a couple of months.  I wonder if this is good.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Glad it’s not raining today.  Rainy days always get me down.

~~~ Betty

 

Depression, Family, Mental Health

A Better Man……..A Better Woman

I’m got up this morning already down.  I woke up during the night with an awful, awful headache, finally gave up and got out of bed.  Sat around in a stupor for a while and then I forgot what today was and opened Facebook to a frillion Father’s Day wishes and tributes to all the good fathers out there and dove even deeper into that dreaded hole.  I always feel this way on Father’s Day. I search my heart and try to find a reason to post my own tribute to my father and no matter how hard I try, there just is no reason that I can find. And I always feel guilty for not being able to find a reason.

As I sat here scrolling through the posts, I turned on iTunes and the first song that came up was “A Better Man” by Little Big Town.  While that song is a love song, I find much of it relates to my feelings about my father.  Oh, how I wish he had been a better man.  I wish he had been a man who had not had an addiction to alcohol.  I wish he had been a man who had had the ability to love unconditionally.  I wish he had been a man who had not had the propensity to hit and yell and demean and make me feel as though everything had been my fault.  I wish he had been a man who had realized that all I wanted out of life was for him to love me.  But, he wasn’t that man.

And then, my thoughts turn to my ex.  Although I know that this is a dangerous subject to breach, my thoughts go there anyway.  Oh, how I wish he had been a better man.  I wish he had been a man who had had the ability to love unconditionally.  I wish he had been a man who had not had the propensity to hit and yell and demean and make me feel as though everything had been my fault.  I wish he had been a man who had realized that all I wanted out of life was for him to love me and love all of our children and all of our grandchildren. But, he wasn’t that man.

I know I’m probably better off on my own
Than loving a man who
Didn’t know what he had when he had it
And I see the permanent damage you did to me
Never again, I just
Wish I could forget when it was magic
I wish it wasn’t 4 AM, standing in the mirror
Saying to myself, you know you had to do it
I know, the bravest thing I ever did was RunSometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again
But I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
And I know why we had to say goodbye like the back of my hand
And I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
A better man

I know I’m probably better off all alone
Than needing a man who could
Change his mind at any given minute
And it’s always on your terms
I’m hanging on every careless word
Hoping it might turn sweet again
Like it was in the beginning

I hold onto this pride because these days it’s all I have
And I gave to you my best and we both know you can’t say that
You can’t say that

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again
And I just miss you when I just wish you were a better man
And I know why we had to say goodbye like the back of my hand
And I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man

And I wish these things knowing full well that I should have been a better daughter and a better wife.  I was far from perfect in both instances.  My thoughts in both instances had been angry, debilitating thoughts which became angry, debilitating actions.  I wanted so much out of both relationships and worked very hard for many years to make those things come true, but always knew in the back of my mind that both were toxic and finally gave up.  Maybe I should have fought harder in both instances. Maybe I was wrong for giving up on each.  But, maybe I was right in giving up.  Maybe I was right in running from both.

So, for my father and for my ex — Since I know that there is nothing I could have done to have made either of you better men, I must work on making myself a better woman — a woman who always loves unconditionally, a woman who always speaks with love in her tone and in her heart, a woman who never purposefully tries to hurt anyone, a woman who always makes sure that you know how much I love you.  If I can do that, I will be a better woman.  Maybe then, it won’t matter that neither of you were better men.

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I despise Father’s Day.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Yuk.  Hurry up and get here tomorrow.

~~~ Betty 

 

 

Depression, Mental Health

The Biology of Depression and Its Psychology

I ran into a very interesting video today on A Broken Blue Sky.  While it is rather long, it does a good job of explaining the biology of depression and its psychology.  Dr. Daniel Sapolsky from Stanford University covers some symptoms of major depression such as Anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure), Grief, Guilt, Self-Injury, Psychomotor Retardation (everything becomes exhausting and is just impossible to do), and Vegetative Symptoms such as sleeping, appetite, and stress hormones. According to Dr. Sapolsky, these symptoms all bolster the idea that major depression is biology-driven and is not just the type of “Oh, come on now, pull it together” depression that most people deal with occasionally.

I’ll admit that I got totally lost when he was talking about how the brain actually works in a depressed person and will have to watch this portion a few more times (and do some personal research) to understand this part. However, the parts that I did understand make sense in bolstering the idea that depression is a medical problem, just as diabetes is.

I also found it extremely interesting when he talks about the sleep cycles of “normal” people versus the sleep cycles of those with major depression. This is probably because one of my main concerns is my sleeping problem. His explanation almost makes me want to go have another sleep study done so that I can ask to see the chart of my brain while asleep.

I also found his comments about hypo-thyroid problems to be very enlightening because I was just diagnosed with this a couple of months ago.  I will definitely have to do some more research on this.  Dr. Sapolsky stated that the best estimates are that 20% of major depressions are, in fact, undiagnosed thyroid problems.  Wow!  I know that Roz has asked me about my thyroid levels before, but I’ve never expressed that concern to my medical doctor.  I can’t wait to see Roz again to tell her about this.  I also can’t wait to see if these medications do, in fact, make a difference in my depression.  I’m going to be mighty hacked off (in a way) if this turns into the magic-pill that I’ve been looking for.  Wouldn’t that be something?  We shall just have to see.

Anyway, if you have the time and the inclination, check out this video by Dr. Sapolsky and see what you think.  It can never hurt to learn more about depression.

So many people in today’s world still do not understand depression.  Until we all understand how depression affects someone and about its origin, the stigma will continue.

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  Really, really enjoyed this video and it has certainly given me many things to research.  I love reading about the how’s and the why’s of depression.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Slept late this morning (but then, I didn’t go to bed until about 3:30 and it was probably an hour or so before I actually fell asleep).  Lazy afternoon.

~~~ Betty

 

Depression, Mental Health

This is So-o-o Me

I love reading other people’s blogs to see what they think and how they work.  Today, while reading Death, Anxiety and Popcorn by Elizabeth Goh, I saw this picture and realized that it was drawn just for me — kind of like how all those stomp-your-heart-out country songs were written about or for me.

I think the picture says it all.  No other words needed.  (For now, anyway.)

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  Funny (and sad) how this picture spoke to me so vividly.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Kind of blah, no energy.  Ugh!

~~~Betty

Depression, Mental Health

50th High School Reunion and Oh, What a Week It Has Been!

It has been a week of rest and recovery.  Lots and lots of sleep.  And lots of thinking.  And remembering.  And pride.  Lots of pride.  You see, at this time one week ago, I was attending my 50th high school reunion — something I had been looking forward to and dreading at the same time. The mighty Putnam County High School Blue Devils were together again, something that had not happened for many, many a year.

This reunion was very important for many reasons to me.  Of course, the first reason is that I’m still here to even attend my 50th reunion.  Long story, but seven years ago, I had a health scare.  Two dozen blood clots ended up in my lungs along with a saddleblock clot that was cutting off over 80% of the oxygen going to my lungs.  When the ambulance got me to the hospital, the doctors told my children that they were amazed I was still alive.  They said that I really shouldn’t be.  Living in a small town, they decided to transfer me to a larger city with a more specialized hospital.  The only problem was that they said it was extremely likely that I would not make it the forty miles to the hospital. But, off we went, and since I’m typing this, I evidently made it there.  After spending several days in ICU, I was transferred to a regular floor and spent another 10 days there before being released.  So, you see, I have to think of the fact that I almost didn’t make it to any reunions, much less my fiftieth.

Another reason that this reunion was so important was the amount of work that had gone into it.  As we started planning for it, there were many suggestions, but no one was really taking charge of doing the things that needed to be done.  Since I am not known for being overly patient, I somehow ended up taking over a lot of the tasks and before I knew it, I was pretty much in charge of the majority of the planning.  I had a wonderful group of three other gals who pitched it and took over many of the chores, thank goodness.  Thank you so much, Shirley, Linda, and Joyce.  But, for the past six weeks, it’s be constant work.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining.  Just stating facts.  Of course, as each task was completed, it brought forth a huge burst of pride. One more thing checked off.  Yippee!

The largest task was a class information booklet that I had decided would be great to do.  I sent out questionnaires to all classmates and began the reminding, begging, calling, and pleading to get them returned.  Finally, I had almost all of them and sent out a last call email and decided I would have to go with those I had had returned.  In actuality, it really was pretty complete, only about six or seven just wouldn’t or couldn’t return theirs.  Then came the task of putting the booklet together.  As I worked on it, I kept deciding to some something else, and then something else, and then another something else.  Finally, I had it the way I wanted it and off to the printers I went.  I was so proud of the booklet and when they printed a draft copy for me, I actually stood there in the store and cried.  I was beyond proud.  Forty-two pages of contact information, questions about some of our “favorite memories from school”, candid pictures that had been sent in by classmates, and a very special Dedication Page for one of our favorite elementary school teachers.  If I say so myself, it was a job well done, one of which I will always be proud. Upon handing them out at the reunion, I had every reason to have been proud. Everyone loved them. Betty had done good, as we say in the South.

The reunion itself was beyond marvelous.  One of our classmates and his wife acted as hosts for us in their beautiful antebellum home.  Thank you so much, Joe and Melody. The caterer outdid herself with some incredible food.  There was much laughter, many old stories told, and just all-around love for former classmates. Many classmates gathered around the Memorabilia table looking through old yearbooks and a fabulous poster that had prom tickets, the graduation program, signature cards, and other items that related to our lives back in the 60’s.  And of course, many of us had not seen other classmates since high school and it was so much fun to catch up on each other’s lives and to meet each other’s spouses.  It was such a wonderful night. A night I will always remember.

From a class of fifty-eight, eleven are no longer with us. And they were missed.  Each and every single one of them.  Two classmates were not interested in attending.  Six could not be found – anywhere – by anybody.  And one lived too far away to come.  Six had planned on attending, but due to illnesses or other circumstances were not able to attend.  But, to me, the most amazing thing about the class of fifty-eight classmates is that it was supposed to have been a class of fifty-nine classmates.  There was one person there who had not even actually graduated with the rest.  And it was ME. I had left after the eleventh grade and moved to Atlanta, so while I was there at the reunion, and had done a lot of the planning and work, I was not really a member of the Class of ’67.  And I was welcomed with open arms by all my former classmates.  One of the most special moments was that right after we had asked the blessing, one of my former classmates announced to all that he would like to offer me my own special honorary diploma for the Class of ’67 since I had not been there on Graduation night.  It was a grand night in oh, so many ways.

Putnam County Class of 1967

~~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS: This was a post I was actually proud to post. It was a feel-good post.  Yippee for me!

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  I have found that this old dog can’t hang like she could in the past.  It has taken me an entire week to recover from too much partying.

~~~ Betty

Depression, Mental Health

Am I Still Who I Said I Was?

I went back today and reread what I had posted about myself when I began my blog.  It is kind of funny how I really don’t remember writing this.  Rereading it made me stop and think.  Am I still this person?  Have I grown any since then?  Do I still believe what I said back then?  The answer to those questions is yes.  But, I am more than that; I am so much more than that.

Writing these posts has been hard.  It’s been much harder than I ever thought it would be and I knew that all along that it was going to be hard as hell. There have been periods of time when I find it impossible to write. The thoughts are there, but the courage to do so is not.  I have spent so many years NEVER talking to anyone about myself and I never thought I would be brave enough to share many of my innermost thoughts and secrets. I’m still unable to talk about much of my life.  I’m not sure if it’s because I think those things will be hurtful to others, hurtful to me, shameful to my family, too revealing, or just none of anyone else’s business.  I do know, however, that being able to finally talk about my life has been healing to me.  I think that actually writing those thoughts down and hitting that “Publish” button is a means of release for me.  For those things that I have written about, it has been a way to let them go, a way to lift them from my heart and to admit to myself that I was not the cause of the hurt.

I will admit one thing, though.  The one thing that worries me (and it goes back to that feeling of fear or distrust or just uncomfort I have when people are nice to me) is that I fear that when my friends see the posts, they feel obligated to tell me that I’m a great person or a strong person or that “whatever it is they say to me”.  I never want any of my friends to feel obligated to try to make me feel better about myself.  Please know that I am not posting these thoughts in order to garner any sympathy.  I don’t do it to have others feel sorry for me.  I don’t do it to have someone post something positive that may boost my ego.  I would love for all who read my posts to reply on the blog itself and let me know their thoughts about what I write. I want to know that they are beginning to understand how depression lives and what it does to a person.  The more replies made, the more my blog goes out to others.  And that is one of my goals.  But my main goal is for these posts to become a means of release for me and a means of learning for others. Each post is a type of education, in a way.  I do it so that others may see that someone who struggles with depression is still a real person.  I do it so that others may somehow understand that depression is not something shameful.  (Although I really think that I am probably still trying to convince myself that I am a real person and that my depression is not shameful.)  I do it so that it becomes easier to actually talk about my depression to others.  Talking about it is helpful.  I do it so that others may learn how helpful it is to finally be able to talk about their own depression. I do it so that others might realize that when they see me out in public and I seem to be happy or funny or normal — I have dug back into my chest of masks and have put one of them on to hide my true feelings.  Those masks are always there when others are around. Very seldom — and with very few people — am I ever without a mask.   I would LOVE to be able to put away this chest of masks and just be myself. I just don’t know who that person without a mask is.

And that is why I wrote the following about myself.

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.

The goal I had when I began this blog was to educate others about depression. To those with depression, this is not necessary, they know all too well what it is.  While I am certainly not an expert about depression, I can speak of it first-hand.  I have lived with it for most of these 67 years. I have hidden from life because of it.  I have hidden from my friends, from my family, and I have hidden from myself.  My desire is to stop hiding and because of this blog, I am slowly learning to do so.

But there are still many people out there in this great big world who truly don’t understand.  They still believe that depression is when a person is sad.  They believe that depression is a cop-out.  They believe that a person with depression is weak, that they should be able to just “snap out of it”. They believe that a person with depression should just “turn it over to God” and He will fix it.  They believe that a person with depression should just exercise more and it will go away.  Oh, if it were only that simple. Wouldn’t life be grand?

But to answer the question — Am I Still Who I Said I Was? — the answer is “Yes”.  I am still Me, Betty O,  with all my flaws and imperfections.  I am still someone who longs to love and be loved –someone who just wants to be understood.  I have learned some things about myself and about my depression, although there is still much to be learned.  I am still someone who hopes that I have helped another person in a small way to understand that those of us who struggle daily with depression are not people who should be shunned or ignored.  We are just people, just like you, who want to be understood and loved.  It’s that simple.

Depression, Family, Mental Health

Preparing Myself

Next Friday night, June 2, 2017, Putnam County High School Class of 1967 will be holding its 50th Reunion.  From a class of 58, there were 6 classmates we could not find and 11 classmates who have passed away.  We are scheduled to have 73 people — classmates and spouses or significant others — in attendance.  And this “scares me to death”.

You see, while I attended school with these classmates beginning in grade 1 when we moved to Eatonton through grade 11 and have memories and experiences with them throughout each of the years, I was not there for my senior year, nor for graduation.  I had left Eatonton at the end of my junior year.  I remember the night that I should have graduated — I remember wishing  I was there with my classmates — and I remember wondering how many of them thought about the fact that I was not there.  And I continued to wonder that for four decades — did they even realize I had not been there?

I’ve spoken of my dear friend, Dennis, before.  I remember the day that we had met for lunch and sat at a table outside the restaurant, watching life go on in Eatonton, for hours. We reminisced about life in Eatonton when we were kids and then as teenagers.  We had talked about the people who had owned businesses and who had been married to whom, who had divorced, and who had fooled around on their spouses as well as we could remember.  I remember asking him that day if he had even missed me during 66-67.  Did he realize that I was not at school for our senior year?  Did he wonder where I was? And, bless his heart, true to Dennis, he was brutally honest with me and said, “No, Betty.  I was too busy living the life of a teenage boy to recognize that you were not there.”  (I cleaned that up a bit from the actual words that he said to me.)  In a way, I was devastated, but then, it was the answer I had expected.

Since moving back to Eatonton, I had spoken to many people who had never realized that I had not been there for my senior year.  And I had spent decades believing or hoping that, at least to my classmates, I had been missed.   I do remember that one classmate, Brenda, had told me when we had reconnected a few years ago, that at the beginning of our senior year, she had asked several people where I was and nobody could  or would give her an answer.  She said that she had even asked one of our teachers — several times — where Betty was.  She said that she was finally told by that teacher to stop asking and to let the fact that I was not there drop.  So, life without Betty in the class went on.  As it should have.  The fact that I was not there was of utmost importance to me, but was really no big deal to my classmates.  And I’m not saying that in a critical way — it was as life should have been.  Students finishing up high school are all about themselves and their futures.  If someone suddenly is not there, they just aren’t there.  It’s not going to change the way they live.  But it had certainly changed the way I lived.

Things had been beyond bad at home between Dad and me. They had reached a point where he no longer allowed me to live there and I was “taken” to Atlanta to live.  Upon checking my school records, it was determined that in order to graduate, I only needed a senior English class and a geography class, so I took those two classes and graduated on December 16, 1966 from an Atlanta high school.  It certainly was not the type of graduation that I had always dreamed of — they mailed me my diploma.  But, I did have a high school diploma and I was out of my house.  I was not being abused any longer.  And I did not have to fight with my dad every day.  That was a good thing.  But, it was not the life I was supposed to live.  It was not the life that I had deserved to live.  I was “allowed” to come to Eatonton for Christmas, but received the silent treatment from Dad the whole time I was there.  Shortly after the beginning of January, I began attending Massey Business College in Atlanta and actually enjoyed my life, living in a dorm right off 14th Street.  When leaving the dorm, all we saw were the long-haired hippies and I was fascinated by them.   I met and made new friends, but still missed my friends from Eatonton.  I asked if I could come home and attend my classmates’ graduation service, but was told no by dad and of course he had to add that “Nobody in Eatonton wants you here.  Stay in Atlanta.”  So, I did.  The following September, I moved to Valdosta, Georgia, and began attending Valdosta State College.  And here is where things went wrong again. (More to come on this aspect at a later date.)

A couple of years after moving back to Eatonton in 2010, I attended a class reunion and was petrified.  I had not seen the majority of these classmates since I left in 1966 and I had no idea as to how I would be welcomed, or, if I would be welcomed at all.  But, it was a good night and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone.  Five years ago, I attended another reunion and we had a blast.  And now, for our 50th!  What I haven’t figured out yet is how I pretty much came to be in charge of planning this, seeing as how I may have attended school with these folks for 11 years, but, in reality, I did not graduate with them. I am not a graduate of the Class of ’67, yet I was in charge of planning it.  Somehow, this just doesn’t make sense.  But, it’s done.  We are ready for all 73 people to invade Joe and Melody’s on Friday night.  All the planning that can be planned has been planned and I am not planning to plan anything else.  (I just thought that sentence kind of summed up how drained I am right now.  LOL)  We have the food arranged; we have the name tags made; we have the class booklets finished and printed; we have a photographer coming; we have the frames done for use when we take pictures; we have the Memorial table items ready; I HOPE we have the Memorabilia tablescape ready; and I hope we have the carpooling arranged.  All that is left to do is to show up and have fun.

And, that, my blogging friends, is why I am filled with anxiety.  Although at the two reunions I have attended, everyone has been wonderful.  But, at this reunion, it is going to be evident that I did not graduate.  We have name tags with everyone’s senior picture on them; each of the gals are in their senior drapes and the guys are in suits.  But, not me. It is evident when viewing my picture that I am NOT in a senior drape.  I worry that there will be questions and whispers and that they will remember that I am not actually a member of the Class of ’67.  All those old fears are coming back and the memories as to WHY I’m not in a senior drape are flooding my mind.   I’m trying to think that it doesn’t really matter, that being there for 11 years ought to be enough to count.  I’m going to take that leap of faith that everyone speaks about and just GO and have FUN and not WORRY. Yep, that’s what I’m gonna do.  Right, Betty.  You just keep on thinking that.  Anyway, by this time next week, it will be a done deal.  I will most likely find out that I have worried for no reason and that all my trepidation was unwarranted.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the rest of the week, just in case.

I’ll let you know how things went.

~~~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I have dreaded speaking about this period in my life.  There is so much more to the story, but so far, I am not brave enough to talk about the rest.  The goal when I started this blog was to be able to be open and honest and real about all of the things in my life that have haunted me for so many years.  Since this period of time is one of the “biggies”, it’s stressful.  My hopes are that at some point, I will be able to speak the truth.  Not that what I’ve written today is not the truth.  It is.  It’s just that it’s such a small portion.  So much is left out.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  I still need to figure out how to do this sleeping thing.  I’m trying to eliminate the need for sleeping pills, but without them, I just flat don’t sleep.  Period.  But, with them, I seem to sleep for 12 hours.  It’s either no sleep or 12 hours of sleep.  It is just so hard to plan things that take place in the mornings.  I missed church again this morning.  Darn it.

~~~ Betty