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 

Depression, Mental Health

Today’s My Anniversary

The following post comes from a Facebook posting of a year ago.  As I read it today, I stopped to think about how, and if, I have changed in the last year.  Sometimes I think that I am continuing to make progress in my mental health journey and other times, I see no progression at all.  As I read through the 80 comments that had been made, I saw a couple of recurring themes —  strength, courage, and determination.  I had to smile as I read some of the comments because I can’t help but think to myself that these people have no clue.  While many people call me strong, I see very little strength in me.  Most days I still feel like a blob of jello.  (And, I hate the word strong, by the way.)  While they talk of my courage, I tend to mostly agree, but only because I know that in order to talk about my illness, it most definitely takes courage. There were so many years when I never admitted to anyone that I struggled with self-loathing, guilt, and depression and I certainly never had the courage to tell them why.   Through my postings on Facebook and since I’ve started this blog, I have had a few people to message me to say that I shouldn’t be talking about these things because I’ll embarrass my family, or that these things should be kept private, or even that these things may make others feel badly. Some of those comments have struck a few nerves, some have made me wonder if I really shouldn’t talk about this, some have been really hurtful, and some have made me think that perhaps they are right, But, I had made the decision that I needed and wanted to talk about my mental illness and their comments are not going to stop me.  I can speak of this much more easily now and readily credit my ongoing therapy in the ability to speak openly now. Through my therapy, I have come to learn that I am not at fault. (Even though I know this in my head, there are still those times when I will claim the fault in my heart.)  And while others talk about my determination, I struggle.  I don’t feel as though I am “determined” as much as I am just “accepting”.  I have accepted the fact that I will most likely feel this way for the rest of my life. There will be times of happiness, however fleeting those times may be. But, there will also be times of not caring and just accepting that “this is the way it’s going to be.”

I don’t really mention in my post what the medical emergency had been.  I had over two dozen clots in my lungs as well as a “Saddleback clot” that had blocked over 80% of the oxygen going to my lungs.  My granddaughter had found me and notified her mother and a quick trip in the ambulance had landed me at our local hospital.  While I don’t remember this incident, nor do I remember the first 3 or 4 days in the hospital, I certainly remember what happened afterward.  Here’s my Facebook post.

August 6, 2016 — Well, today has been an interesting day. When I got up this morning and saw that it was August 6th, I couldn’t figure out why that day kept sticking in my mind. I went through the names of my friends to see whose birthday it was and still couldn’t figure out why today’s date kept twirling around in my brain It finally came to me — Seven years ago today (or was it six, I can’t remember), I was supposed to have died. At least that’s what the doctors told my children. “She shouldn’t have made it to the hospital. We are not sure she will make it Macon, but that’s where we’re sending her”, said the doctors. Someone also worked their magic and got Darrell home from Iraq in 3 days. Although I still don’t remember anything about the first several days, I do remember finally waking up and being told what had happened. And I was mad. Pure mad. I don’t think I’d ever been that mad before. I had struggled all summer being in the bottom of a deep, dark pit of depression and anger and self-loathing and I so wanted to leave this world. But, for some reason, I hadn’t. All I could think was, “God, you know what I have prayed for all summer. You had your chance, and dad-gum it, you didn’t let me go. Why in the world are you making me stay here when you know I don’t want to be here?” Garth Brooks’ song “Unanswered Prayers” kept running through my mind and Garth kept saying that they are good things. I could have, and would have, slapped Garth if he’d just shown up next to my hospital bed. What the heck did Garth know?

Once my children realized that I WAS going to make it, they decided it was time for what they called a Family Conference, but in reality it was an intervention (and Dr. Phil was nowhere to be found). After a long and painful discussion with a lot of crying and a lot of being treated as though I was the child and they were the parents, I was told that I was not going home. I was going to Atlanta to a Mental Health hospital to get my head screwed back on right. No choice. Period. That was the way it was going to be and I needed to just accept it. They had already made all the necessary preparations; we just needed to call and tell them when I was being dismissed. I was mad, discouraged, afraid, embarrassed, afraid, and had no idea how I was going to do that. Did I mention that I was afraid? I had spent my entire life wearing a series of masks so that no one would see the real Betty. How in the world could I strip off those masks? How in the world could I actually talk about how I felt about life, myself, my past, or my future? In my mind, the only good thing I had ever done was to have my three wonderful, loving, accomplished children and through them, I had been given six wonderful grandchildren. I could hide everything else by choosing a new mask for each day. It was only when I got home and was alone that the mask would come off. At that point, all the fear, self-hatred, and depression would be there full force. But, masks were no longer going to be allowed. Oh, Lord, I am so afraid. Why have you done this?

So, after almost three weeks in Macon, I went to Atlanta. And I must say that those next five weeks were the best five weeks of my life. The first two weeks while I was in the actual hospital, (and no, it’s not like a mental hospital you see on tv — we didn’t shuffle around the halls in our bathrobes with stringy hair) things were pretty tough. Long sessions with the psychiatrist were so draining. And of course because of my recent health scare, I was seeing the medical doctor on a daily basis. We had group sessions in the hospital, but I was pretty quiet in most of them. I still could not figure out how to talk about my feelings. After all, I had kept them bottled up for 60 years and had to learn how to talk. The kids and Sandra had to come up for a family session and that was Hell — pure Hell. Once I moved to the group house, I pretty much didn’t have a choice to not talk. We stayed in group sessions, group therapy, and individual therapy sessions from 8 until 12 each day and then again from 1 – 5. Dinner at 6 and then from 7 – 9 each night we had to attend either an AA, NA, or an EA (Emotions Anonymous) meeting. Since they had AA meetings 5 times a day, I seemed to gravitate to them. Although at one meeting, I had to confess that I felt guilty feeling so at home there since I really didn’t drink nearly enough to qualify to attend. (I had finally gotten a bit of my humor back, I guess.) Although those were the hardest 5 weeks of my life — full of introspection — those five weeks literally saved me; they gave me a life worth living or at least a roadmap I could follow to find that life. Upon returning home, I was introduced to my miracle worker, Roz. I have spent all these years since leaving Atlanta going to Macon to meet with Roz, talking, crying, cussing, praying, crying some more, and talking some more. In the beginning, I saw her 3 days a week then weaned off and last summer I decided I didn’t need Roz any more. (BIG Mistake) I was able to deal with life and with Betty. Or so I thought. There had been many times during these years when I had fallen back in the hole, when I wanted nothing other than to isolate. Thankfully, Roz understood and talked me out of the hole each time. Sometimes, it took a while to do so, but I finally reached a point where I could see the hole for myself and could avoid it, but, if I wasn’t careful, I’d be looking the other way and fall back in it. I am now always aware that those holes are out there and they are ready to gobble me up if I’m not careful. Thankfully, God knew what he was doing when he made “my Roz”.

Sandra’s death on New Year’s Eve drove me back to Roz. While I guess we all expected it at some point, to me it was just so sudden. There were so many things I still wanted her to know and she was just GONE. How could that be? Losing my younger sister, Sonja, had been Hell, but her death was not drawn out like Sandra’s. I just couldn’t handle it. What in the world was I going to do without Sandra? I know I still have KaKa and am so thankful for that. But Sandra was here in Eatonton and when I’d get down, I knew she was just down the street. After her death, I once again retreated to my deep, dark hole for quite some time. I would try to venture out, only to have panic attacks and become an emotional wreck. Most of the time when I talked to my kids, I would grab that “everything is fine” mask. I didn’t want them to know that I was slipping back into that “I’m just tired of it all and really don’t want to be here” emotional roller-coaster again. I promised myself when I left Atlanta that I would never cause them that pain and embarrassment again and I never wanted to disappoint them again. I knew that if they knew the state I was in, they would be hurt and disappointed. Thank the good Lord for Ash. Not sure why, but she made it a point to come to Eatonton at least once a week for lunch. She was my lifeline and was my cover. I always made sure that I had on the “good Grams” mask so that she could report back to her mom that I was ok. There were several weeks that those lunch dates with Ash were the only times I left the house and pretty much the only time I had any verbal contact with anyone besides Roz. (Poor Roz has certainly earned her pay these first 6 months of 2016.) Of course I still had Bella and that poor little dog has pretty much heard it all. (I guess that’s why I spoil her with a weekly Zaxby’s salad.) I have always been extremely good at the art of isolation and I was isolating, big time. My sweet friends, Dru, Mary Helen, and Gail made sure I checked in with them daily on good old Facebook, but I had no desire to see or talk to anyone. Finally, after a killer session with Roz, I reached the top of the hole and could at least see out of it. It’s been hard, very hard, but I’m slowly digging my way out of the hole again and think that I finally see some sunshine.

When I first came home from Atlanta and started seeing Roz, I was still embarrassed about having been in a mental hospital (that just has such a negative sound and we must do something about that) and for all the suffering I had caused myself and my family. I didn’t know what to say to people when they asked where I’d been — it was so hard to admit that I had some real problems. There were some people who knew where I’d been and they were quick to tell me to keep it a secret. I tried that for a while, but finally reached the point where it was important to me to be truthful about where I’d been and why I’d been there. Through my therapy, I have learned that there is no need to be embarrassed. You know that old saying that people are quick to throw out there — if you had a physical disease, you wouldn’t be ashamed to get medical treatment for it, would you? I’m sick of that saying, but I guess it’s true. I have even become proud of the fact that I have “fixed” myself (even though I had not begun the fix willingly and I really wasn’t “fixed”.) But, I reached a point where I could somewhat talk about what an absolute living Hell depression causes and how dangerous self-loathing is and can proudly say that I am truly a work in progress. Hopefully, this post will help others see that there is a light at the top of the hole and it’s worth the effort to get to the light.

Moving back home to Eatonton was a huge part of my recovery. I had spent 25 years or longer scared to death of Eatonton and all the terrible memories that hid behind every tree here. I had been told by someone close to me that I would never be welcomed back in Eatonton and I believed it. I believed it with every fiber of my being. Moving here was the most frightening thing I had ever done. But, you know what? Eatonton is not that scary. I was welcomed with open arms and have reconnected with friends, made new friends, and have been happy here for the most part. There are still days when I go digging through my closet for my old trusty masks — I feel so safe hiding behind them. “Hello. My name is Betty and I am addicted to masks.” But, I know those masks are not good for me. Some people are addicted to drugs or alcohol. I am addicted to my masks and have become so proficient at wearing them, I can fool people so that they have no idea that the mask is on. Sometimes it’s torture to take it off, but I know I must. I cannot go back to that life of hiding behind them.

Now, I’m sure that some of you are saying, “But, Betty, why didn’t you just trust God? Why didn’t you turn to Him when things got tough?” Believe me, I tried. I tried so many times. But, just as many people claim that they had been let down by the “church”, I used that as an excuse also. I spent many years being scared of God. I had trusted Him and had still lived a life of Hell. Why did He let me live that life? I don’t know the answer to that. But my sweet friend, Luann, sat me down one day and told me to trust her if I couldn’t trust God. “Come to bible study with me, Betty. I won’t let anyone hurt you.” It was hard. Oh, Lord was it hard! But, I slowly began to hear the whispers of God telling me to trust Him. Then, Elaine C. and Rudy H. invited me to come to Liberty Chapel. I remember telling Rudy one time that I didn’t know if I could actually go back into a church and his response was, “Betty, you will receive nothing except LOVE at Liberty Chapel.” And Elaine wouldn’t give up. She constantly texted me, inviting me to come to church. I am so thankful that I finally listened to them and gave it a try. And they were right. I have never received anything except Love. And that has been such a blessing. It is good to have God back in my life and I realize that the hurt I received in the past from the church was their problem, not mine.

One of my biggest problems has always been that I don’t know how to handle it when people are “nice” to me. I’ve never felt that I deserved anyone’s kindness. Isn’t that silly? But, I had spent the first 18 years of my life being told that I was not worthy and I believed it. (I won’t tell you what Roz says to me when I say something like that, but some of you are probably saying the same thing.) I won’t talk about my marriage out of respect for my children, but those 25 years did nothing to break the spell that Dad had cast upon me. Most people yearn for niceness and I try my best to steer clear of it. I’m scared to death of it, to be truthful. I become an emotional wreck and have no idea what to do at that point. I’ve always felt that if someone is nice, they are just faking it until they can figure out how to hurt me. And, yes, I know in my head that all people are not like that, but knowing something in my head and feeling it in my heart don’t always jive. I am trying to overcome those feelings and most of the time, I can talk myself out of the distrust. Hopefully, I will soon reach a point where I can give love and also receive it.

I think my biggest desire is to be able to freely GIVE love without being afraid that I will have to pay the price for it. To me, being able to give love is more important that actually receiving it. I know that even at my lowest point, when I couldn’t even stand myself, there were people out there who loved me. I have loving children and grandchildren who think that the sun rises and sets in their Grams. I have dear, dear friends who have loved me through the bad times. I have a church family who, I believe with all my heart, loves me. The problem is that I don’t love me and because of that, I find it hard to believe that the love I give to others is accepted by them. Maybe once I learn how to give it, I will also receive it with gratitude. I pray for that constantly. I so want to be the real Betty. But, in reality, after all these years, there may not even be a real Betty. I may have to build a new Betty.

I have always yearned for love and acceptance and realize now that one of the reasons that God did not let me die all those years ago was because He wanted me to actually experience it. I can now thank Him for that. I’m not mad at you anymore, God.

Back to the present — I have finally reached a point where I can get back out there again, but it’s hard.  It’s really hard.  There are more times of sunshine and happiness, but they don’t last.  There are times of real clarity when I can see the weaknesses and can see the solutions.  But, those times don’t last either.  I know I told Roz once that it seems as though the bad times are much worse now but I think it’s because I can see how good the good times are.  Back in the day when there was nothing but depression, I was no longer aware of “good” so it fooled me into believing that the “bad” wasn’t really that bad.  That probably makes no sense to any of you, but it makes perfect sense to me.  If I could show it in a graph, you would see many “good” spikes way up there in the 70% – 90% range and then comes along a “bad” dip way down at the 10% – 40% range.  The way down to that dip is just so damn far and it’s so hard to make that climb back up to the good spike.  If you live in either place — the spike or the dip — after a while, it just becomes natural and it is only when you fall again into the bottom of the dip that you realize how absolutely terrible that dip is.  Thankfully, I haven’t hit that 10% dip in many a year, but I always know it’s there and I’m always afraid of it.  I also don’t think I’ve made it above the 90% range either because I’ve never learned to fully trust — be it life, or people, or myself.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited with my Pastor and had a long talk.  I must say that he and his sweet wife were able to set my heart at ease about some of the things that have truly bothered me for so many years.  I don’t think that I’m fully at peace with myself yet, but I do know that my past is not my fault and that God loves me, no matter what.  And that knowledge brings me peace.

So, while it’s been 7 years since I was supposed to have died, I’m still here. I’m aware of the progress that has been made.  I’m aware of the fact that the hole is still there.  I’ve visited the hole several times, but I’ve climbed out each of those times.  I’ve learned a lot. I’ve loved a lot.  I’ve been loved a lot.  I’ve trusted some.  I’ve learned what not to trust.  I’ve still been hurt by others and I’ve been hurt by me.  But, I’m here.  I’m still learning and I’m still trying.  I guess, in the end, that’s what’s important. So, Happy Anniversary to ME.

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I dread this day each year because I know it is a day of introspection and that’s always tough.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Still dealing with a terrible ear infection or something, but will be seeing my doctor tomorrow so am looking forward to some relief.  The biggest problem (besides the bleeding and the pain) is that I can hear almost nothing.  The roaring and clashing and banging in that ear is driving me pure mad.

~~~ 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

A Video That Totally Blew Me Away

Let me first say that I LOVE YouTube.  You can find anything and everything on YouTube.  It started out where I just watched music videos.  Then I moved on to videos about sewing and crocheting.  And then, cooking (as if I still did that –haha).  Then I got hooked on watching court trials — man, there are some good ones on there!  Then, last week a couple of friends and I got to talking about those folded football things that kids used to use in school to write notes on.  I asked them if they remembered how to fold them and nobody did.  Then, it hit me — I was sure that I could find a video on YouTube that showed you how to do it and sure enough, I can now fold paper into those football things.  My life is complete.  HaHa

As I was browsing around one of the channels of a lady, Darlene, who I love to watch sew, I found one of her videos about the anger she had felt when reading some posts about her videos and in receiving mail.  I thought, “What the heck” and began watching.  The beginning of the video was pretty much what I expected, and then — wham, she was talking about ME! Not that I had left a response to her videos, but her feelings about life pretty much were my own feelings.  By the time the video was over, my heart was breaking for her.  I was so sad that she felt the way she does and then I began to wonder why I felt so badly for her, but just thought it was a way of life for me.  That really got me to thinking.

In her video, which is rather long, but so worth watching, she talks about how it’s hard for her to accept the fact that people are nice to her.  Oh boy, did that hit a nerve.  One of the hardest things for me to accept is people being nice to me.  I’ve tried to explain it before to some people and they just look at me like I’m crazy.  I think I’m always waiting for the next shoe to drop and the mean come out.  I usually never see the mean, but I expect it, just the same.  Darlene also talks about how she has been led to believe her entire life that she’s not good enough, that she doesn’t try hard enough, and that her feelings are not real.  Each of those feelings hit home with me, also.  As I’ve said before, I know in my heart that I am good enough, but in my head, there is always that feeling that I’m not.  And my head NEVER turns off.  After years and years of being told that I was not good enough, I sadly came to believe it.

It would take forever for me to explain all the parts of her video that touched me so I won’t try.  Just watch it when you have some time and perhaps it will help you understand why some people are the way they are.  Or at least why I am the way I am.

There are many of us out there who want nothing more than to be accepted just as we are.

~~~~~~~~

Thoughts about my thoughts: I knew as soon as I saw this video that I wanted to share it.  Darlene does an excellent job in explaining how hard it is for some of us to “do” things.

~~~Betty

Depression, Mental Health

I Am So Tired of Myself

I look at people all the time and wonder if they like themselves.  It seems as though they must because they are out having fun, interacting with others, living their lives.  Why can they do that and I can’t?  Why is it that I have to FORCE myself to  interact?  I have friends.  I have GOOD friends. And those times that I do happen to make myself get out there, I enjoy the interactions – up to a point.  But, it’s just so dad-gum hard to make myself get out there.  It shouldn’t be that way.  I know it shouldn’t be that way. But, knowing and doing are two different things in my mind.

A couple of months ago, I thought I had made a breakthrough in therapy. I thought I had it figured out.  But, I’ve thought that before.  Sometimes after a torturous session, that well-known light bulb will seem to go off and things make sense.  I understand how and why I do the things I do and I think that I will be able to pick up and carry on.  And sometimes, it works for a while. But, it seems as though after a bit of time, those same old doubts, fears, recriminations, and dislike of myself creep back into my thoughts and I’m back in the same old hole.  Oh, how I hate those times.  I get so disappointed in myself that I can’t seem to maintain the positive outlook that I thought I had grasped.

I’ve had an excuse this time, though.  For the past six weeks or so, I’ve been just plain sick.  Not sure if it was the flu (I guess I would have known if I had gone to the doctor), but whatever it was — it had me good.  For the first week, I just felt bad — headaches, achy, yucky.  Then, it jumped on me BAD.  I spent three solid weeks of high temps, aching, feeling like crap and just not being able to function.  Sleeping and just burrowing in my bed was all I wanted to do, and I did it well.  The next week, I thought I might live and then it hit again for another 10 days of fever.  Still didn’t go to doctor because by that point, I just didn’t care.  (Plus the fact that if I had gone to the doctor I would have had to have gone in my nightgown because I didn’t have the energy to put clothes on.)  After those 10 days, the fevers stopped and I still felt drained, but it was evident that I was not going to die.  I did learn one thing through the sickness, though.  And that is this — it ought to be against the law or be a sin for God to allow a depressed person to get that sick.  Depression + high fevers just don’t mix well.  It is so easy to reach the point where you just don’t give a flying flip if you live or die.  I almost felt like Jerry Clower in that routine of his where he’s up in a tree with a coon and he hollers, “Just shoot up here amongst us.  One of us has got to have some relief.”  That’s exactly how I felt.

I’m finally feeling a bit better and I did finally go to the doctor for my regular 4-month follow-up.  And, yes, I did get chewed out — big time. And I have found out that I kinda, sorta have a reason to not feel so good. Seems like internal body parts are just plain wearing out.  But, with new meds, I’m hoping some of this crap will get better.  We shall see.

Depression, Mental Health, Motivational Mondays

Motivational Mondays – 2/13/2017

Well, it’s Monday again.  Time to get motivated.

In all honesty, it’s been time for me to get motivated for the last month.  It’s been a tough month.  That old Devil has been working on me.  Nightmares, living in the pit of depression, anxiety, isolation, not sleeping, feeling like crap, not liking anyone or anything, terribly tough therapy sessions, finding it exceedingly hard to pray, and just not caring about anything — all of these things have been wreaking havoc with my mind and my soul.

I wake up many mornings with high expectations and almost immediately those feelings change.  I’m not sure what happens.  Living alone, I can’t blame it on anyone else.  It has to be me.  I can’t blame anyone except myself.

Today has not been any better.  Had a tough night last night.  Kept waking up with feelings that my heart was racing and with a feeling of doom.  Seemed like each time I’d drift off, I’d start dreaming again and would immediately awaken with those same feelings.  I hate, hate, hate nights like that.  They just ought not to happen.  But, they do.  And I don’t know how to change them.

Just as I was about to sign off of Facebook this evening, I saw a post made by my Pastor’s wife.  It was a link to her granddaughter’s Facebook page, TruePurpose,  and it has truly touched me.  Thank you, Joyce Drawdy, for sharing with all.  And thank you, Ashton Drawdy, for being such an inspiration to me and to others.  May God continue to bless you.

The following comes from Ashton’s FB page.

God is not looking for your ability, He’s looking for your availability! – First5

Are you feeding yourself with the lies of the enemy? Do you agree with the lies that you are not good enough, qualified enough, or smart enough to do the things the Lord has called you to do? You see God doesn’t look at what man sees. God is looking for someone who is willing to give themselves to Him so He can equip them! Through God you are good enough, qualified enough, and smart enough!! Make yourself available to the Lord and watch Him do the most amazing things in your life!!

Hebrews 13:21- may He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ,every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever!

As I read this, I was reminded of something a friend said to me in church a few weeks ago. As usual, I was crying and wasn’t sure of the reason.  Elaine told me to just trust God and to let him lead me in what He wanted me to do.  Of course, I immediately began telling her how unqualified I was to do anything for God (my usual response when I have any thoughts of doing anything worthwhile) and began putting myself down.  I’m very good at that!   Of course, Elaine tried to support me and convince me that I was worthy of anything I attempted.  As I walked away from her, my thoughts were, “Oh, she just doesn’t understand how unqualified I am!”

As I watched the video that Joyce linked to on Ashton’s page, I was again reminded that I am unqualified.  As the video ended, I scrolled down her page and stopped at Ashton’s post from February 10th and Wham!  The first thing I saw was her line — “You see, God doesn’t look at what man sees.  God is looking for someone who is willing to give themselves to Him so He can equip them!”  That line — that reminder — that promise — that is what has gotten me motivated.  I don’t have to know what I’m doing.  I don’t have to be the best.  I don’t have to do anything except  BE WILLING.  My willingness is what can lead to better things!

I am Willing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thoughts About My Thoughts:  I had no intention of posting today.  Even though I said a month ago that I was ready to get back to blogging, I haven’t been able to do it.  No motivation, no desire, no reason.  But upon seeing the post by Joyce and finding the TruePurpose page and seeing Ashton’s post, I knew that I had to get back to the computer — I had something to say.

Today’s Feelings Barometer:  Started out bad, but am feeling much more motivated now.

~~~ Betty

 

 

Mental Health, Motivational Mondays

Motivational Mondays

2017 has begun.  A whole new year in which I am responsible for all choices in my life.  I can make decisions that will either make me feel better or make me feel worse.  I can dwell on my past or look forward to my future.  I can feel sorry for myself or be proud of myself.  I can encourage others or bring them down.  I can live my life or I can merely exist.  I can be a friend, an acquaintance, or a deterrent.  I can be a teacher or I can be a student.  I can be a motivator or a discourager.  These decisions are totally my choice.

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Each Monday on my blog, I will choose to be a motivator.  I will do my best to forget that I struggle with depression.  I will strive to turn off all negative thoughts each Monday.  I will try to fill your world (and my world) with encouragement, laughter, love, and life.  I will begin with Mondays and pray that by the end of 2017, each day of the week will be a day of inspiration to each of us.  Come along with me and let’s make 2017 the year in which we changed not only our own lives, but those of others.

As we start this journey of motivating ourselves and others in 2017, I invite you to watch the following video from 2016 on Self-Motivation.  I found it to be quite enlightening.  What do you think about it?  Possible?  Attainable?  Worth it?

Self-Motivation Video — A Must See

Ready?  Set.  Let’s Go!  Let’s make 2017 a fantastic year.

Depression, Mental Health

So, What’s my Problem? Take A Pick

  • Neck is beyond killing me.  Hurts to even hold head up.  Waiting for Nerve Test and MRI on 21st.
  • Right Shoulder killing me.  Hoping it is from neck.
  • Shooting pain straight up the back of my head.  Assuming it’s from neck.
  • Ring finger and pinky on right hand totally numb.
  • Left ear whistling and I can feel every heart beat in it. Meds for it.
  • Right ear has “Swimmer’s Ear” and I haven’t been swimming in ages.  Doc says it’s because ear canal (which is the size of half a ping-pong ball)  was filled with fluids.  Throbbing.  Different meds for right ear.
  • All these new meds have my stomach in an uproar.  Third day.  Ugh!
  • All I want to do is sleep, but can’t do so because of stomach problems.
  • Sick and tired of living alone.  (But cannot imagine being around anyone else.)
  • Sick and tired of being sick and tired.
  • And, besides all that, I am just in a crappy mood.  Super crappy.  Mega-crappy.

So, hope your day is better than mine.

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  Better not say.  R told me to think positively and I’m trying to not talk ugly on here.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Crap

Depression, Mental Health

Negative Thoughts Demolish My Self-Worth

As I read through other blogs, my own notes and research material, as well as talking to others who battle depression, I realize that 99% of us all deal with a common problem – seeing our own self-worth.  I wonder why that is.  I’ve known people before who acted as though they were the best thing since Oreo cookies, but I guess the key word there is “acted”, isn’t it?  Did they really think that, or were they wearing a mask?  Was it confidence or arrogance that they were full of?  Do they ever doubt themselves?  Just how did they garner all of that confidence?  Was it something they had to work at, or did it just come to them naturally?  Or maybe they were just that dad-gum smart and could actually Do Anything.  Whatever the reason, the cause, or the acquired skill, I wish I had some of it.  I am constantly questioning myself.  I constantly doubt my abilities. I know that I have accomplished much in my life and I know that I worked hard for it.  I know that I can “do” things, but can I honestly “be” those things?  Most of all, I constantly question whether or not I even “deserve” it – whatever “it” may be.  And I think that’s the biggest problem – believing that I “deserve” to have the good stuff.  I know it’s out there.  I see others enjoying it.  I envy those who have it.  I’m probably smart enough to obtain it.  But do I deserve it?   And, why can’t I keep it?  That’s the $64,000 question.

All the books, all the therapy, all the videos, all the blogs – they all give hints on how to reclaim your value or self-worth, whichever you choose to call it.  When reading through the lists, they all seem so easy.  You tell yourself, “Well, of course I can do that.”  And you set out to reclaim all those things that others have and that you have somehow lost.  At some point, you think you have it figured out.  But then – wham! – something happens and that nasty voice in your head says, “Of course you can’t have that.  Why should you have it?  What have you done to deserve it?  You aren’t good like they are.  You aren’t smart like they are.  You aren’t beautiful like they are.  You aren’t…..You aren’t…..You aren’t…..”  I am so tired of constantly thinking of all the things that I am not.  I have GOT to remember all the things that I am.

I am: 

  1. Intelligent
  2. Hardworking
  3. Loyal
  4. Humorous
  5. Creative
  6. Loving
  7. Punctual
  8. Thorough
  9. Respectful
  10. Passionate
  11. Honest
  12. Genuine
  13. Compassionate
  14. Wise
  15. Well-read
  16. Protective
  17. Romantic
  18. Self-sufficient
  19. Sentimental
  20. Faithful
  21. Kind

 I am also:

  1.  Authoritative
  2. Businesslike
  3. Complex
  4. Moralistic
  5. Questioning
  6. Reserved
  7. Skeptical
  8. Stubborn
  9. Angry
  10. Anxious
  11. Calculating
  12. Critical
  13. Discontented
  14. Easily Discouraged
  15. Envious
  16. Gloomy
  17. Indecisive
  18. Petty
  19. Reactive
  20. Resentful
  21. Disobedient
  22. Fatalistic
  23. Hesitant
  24. Vulnerable
  25. Weak
  26. Unrealistic
  27. Negative
  28. Impatient
  29. Unworthy

It’s funny how so many of those seem quite the opposite of each other, isn’t it?  I guess that’s because I have such a hard time in figuring out what my head thinks and what my heart feels.  I know many things in my head, but for some reason, there seems to be some type of electrical short between my head and my heart.  Sometimes the feelings make it to my heart and sometimes they don’t.  Perhaps I need to be seeing a Neurologist instead of a Psychiatrist.  It would be great if there was just some switch that could be flipped so that my head and my heart could be in sync.

So, understanding these confusing traits that I claim, what should I do with them?  How do I use these attributes to become whole again (as if I ever was whole) and to finally feel as though I deserve the good things in life?  The first thing to be done is to stop the Negative Thoughts that swirl through my brain.

bombsaway

When these negative thoughts barge into my brain, I must learn to:

  1. Stop those thoughts immediately
    1. The easiest way for me to do this is to stop and say a short prayer asking God to lead me in my thoughts.
    2. By speaking a verse from the Bible out loud is a wonderful way to stop the negative thoughts. Once cannot speak and think negative thoughts at the same time.
  2. Change my thoughts
    1. Once the negative thoughts have momentarily stopped, I can choose to change my thoughts. I can go in two directions – the past or the future.
    2. The Past: I can think back to a time when things were good and remember an event that took place when I was happy or content.
    3. The Future: If I choose the path to the future, I can think of those things that I am working toward.  I won’t think of HOW I’ll accomplish these because I know that if I do that, those negative thoughts of not being able to accomplish them will return.  Instead, I will merely think of the destination, not the trip itself.
  3. Make sure I am not thinking in Extremes
    1. Most of life is not lived in Black and White. Things are not “all or nothing”.  There are many “in-betweens” in life.
    2. Learn to live in the “shades of gray”. Accept that while things may not always be good, they will also not always be bad.  There will be ups and downs in life.  Accept those in-betweens.
  4. Don’t Minimize the Positive
    1. Learn to look for the positive and acknowledge that it happens. (I really have to work on this. The negatives come so easily for me.)
    2. If in the habit of magnifying the setbacks in life, we will also learn to minimize those successes that happen.
    3. When we think of a negative about a person or event, make sure that I also think of at least one positive about that person or event. If I always make sure to find a positive, it will become easier to look at the positive BEFORE I look at the negative.
  5. Don’t Take All the Responsibility
    1. When bad things happen, do not take the blame or responsibility for it. (THIS is a biggy for me. My children claim that I tend to accept guilt for anything that goes wrong within a 7-county area.)
    2. Example: A friend fails a test and you had been studying with them – do not assume that it was your fault that you had not gone over a particular item with the friend that ended up being on the test.  OR, A friend leaves your house and is later stopped for speeding – it’s not my fault that they did not leave in time to make curfew.  People do not speed because of something you did or did not do.
  6. Release my Negative Thoughts and Keep them Moving Along
    1. Fighting against something usually takes a lot more energy than avoiding a fight in the first place. (I have found this to be so very true.  I can wear myself out with fighting a thought or holding a grudge.)
    2. Acknowledge those negative thoughts while I calmly tell them to keep moving along.
    3. Instead of pushing and prying those negative thoughts out, I am simply acknowledging them and releasing them.
    4. If those thoughts return, (and they usually do) acknowledge that they are still coming and release them again. Don’t fight them – simply release them and let them go away again.
    5. As I release a Negative Thought, think of something positive that has happened because I was able to send that thought on. Example:  The Negative thought took place because I was in a group of people I did not know (let’s say a sewing group) and I was thinking that these are all strangers and I know that I don’t do well in a group of strangers.  As I release this Negative Thought, think of something positive that may happen because of this:  I may just meet someone who can teach me how to do something that I have not been able to figure out on my own.  My problem has now become an opportunity.
    6. Negative thoughts may still come at me, but maybe not so frequently or with as much power.
    7. They become easier to replace because my feelings are now being driven by more positive thoughts.
    8. Just as negative thoughts can build and feed on themselves, positive thoughts can do the same.

As I get familiar with this process, it gets easier over time. Nothing is going to stop the negative thoughts in total, but letting go and replacing those negative thoughts can help with the danger of being overcome by them.  Negativity does not have to be in charge of my life.

Letting go of Negative Thoughts is something huge that I must work on daily — I have been programmed for 60+ years to look at the negative aspects of my life.  I learned while in the mental hospital that negative thoughts have pretty much ruled my life and began at that point in learning to let them go.  Sadly, I still struggle with this.  While I can, and do, acknowledge the positive things that are present or that take place in my life, it seems as though my brain immediately goes to the Negative side to tell me that I don’t deserve those good things.  I truly need to master the art of letting go.

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  Letting go of Negative Thoughts is draining to me.  This was one of the first things I was told while in the hospital in Atlanta — “Betty, we need to work on these negative thoughts.  They are consuming you.”  Duh, no joke.  But, it seems as thought I just can’t find the method that works for me.  Everything I’ve read makes sense and I think to myself that it ought to be easy — that is until the next negative thought comes along and I justify it.  Maybe, one day, I will stop fighting and let them go.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Been a bit down the past week or so.  Headaches back and terrible problems with my neck.  Cannot get comfortable no matter what I try, so very little sleep.  I am going to have to break down and take care of that.  I did call yesterday to get an appointment to see Neurologist, but only got voice mail — hopefully they will call today to set up appointment.  Also went to Audiologist yesterday to see about getting Hearing Aids and they can’t even do the hearing tests until I see my ENT (again) about one of my ears.  Lord, getting old is not for the weak of heart. So — Headaches, Neck Aches, and Ear Problems equate to yuck.  However, I did go to church Sunday so that helped my spirits.  Yay, for church!!!!!!!