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 Run Sometimes, 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 manI 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

It Was A Very Good Day

I was able to spend a good part of yesterday with my baby sister, Karen, known to me as KaKa.  It’s been a while since we spent a lot of time with each other and I don’t like that.  I promise to do better.  Anyway, she had to go out to my local hospital for some tests and I met her there.  When she was finished, we decided to go out to the lake for lunch at a Mexican restaurant.  We laughed for a while about what I was supposed to do with the lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream that they had put in a really neat little circle in the middle of my already-cut Quesadillas (I never know what you are supposed to do with that – it’s not a salad and you can’t open the Quesadillas up to put it in them, it’s hard to just pile it on top of the individual slices so, do you just eat it?  I never know how to treat that pile of stuff so I usually just move it around a bit so the server will think that I ate it.).  I know this is far from being politically correct, but I told KaKa I needed to watch one of the Mexicans who worked there eat some so I would understand what to do with it.  After KaKa “ate at” her Chimichangas, we just sat and talked — mostly about  our childhoods.

KaKa is eight years younger than I am and, unfortunately, she doesn’t remember a lot of her childhood.  I left home at the end of my junior year when I was only sixteen which means she was eight and was living an entirely different life than I was living.  She was still a kid, enjoying life and playing with her friends, while I was deep in a raging battle with my father.  I learned that she really had no clue what was going on with us, and for that I am glad.  In a way.  But, of course, I also wish that she could remember the terrible battles in order to validate my memories and my feelings.  For some reason, that validation is still important to me.  I was told so many times by Dad that I didn’t know what I was talking about so I sometimes wonder if he was right.  Did all that really happen to me?  Why did I let it happen?  Why did he let it happen?  Or, more importantly, why did he make it happen?  The more I think about those times, the more confused I become.

The most important thing that happened at that lunch was that KaKa did not judge me. She just listened to me.  And that was what I needed.  In looking at our lunch and the way KaKa just listened, I got a bit of deja-vu.  You see, early yesterday morning, my dear friend, Deanna, posted a poem on Facebook about listening and its importance.  I’m sure you’ve probably read it before, but it’s worth reading again.  Listening is something that is extremely important to all, but is vital to someone filled with doubt, guilt, and with that terrible thing called self-condemnation.

“When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem, you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.

Listen!
All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.
Advice is cheap – 20 cents will get you both
Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince you
and get about this business of understanding
what’s behind this irrational feeling.
And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious
and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense
when we understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works sometimes
for some people, because God is mute
and He doesn’t give advice or try to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.

So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk,
wait a minute for your turn,
and I will listen to you.”

“Listen.” ~~~Anonymous.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Listening to others.  Not telling them what to do.  Not telling them how to feel.  Not fixing their problems.  Just be there.  Listen to what they say.  Love them no matter how they feel or no matter what they say.  Just listen.

Kaka did an excellent job yesterday of just listening.  Thank you, little sister, for listening to me.  I love you.

~~~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  The lunch with KaKa was just what I needed.  And the fact that Deanna had posted that poem that very morning was another one of those “signs” that remind me I’m on the right track.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  I’m tired.  Go figure.  That’s nothing new.  Tired, but optimistic.  Looking forward to church tomorrow and to our local Memorial Day service on Monday.  A dear, dear friend of mine will be making an address and I’m so very proud of him.  We have many things to be thankful for in our country, and our military is right up there near the very top of my list.  Monday will be a day for us to remember those who gave their all.  May they Rest in Peace as we salute their service.

~~~Betty

Depression, Mental Health

One of those nights……

It’s been one of those sleepless nights.  Tossing and turning.  I finally just said the heck with sleep and got up.  Cruised through Facebook, checked my email and nothing much going on.  Decided it was time to get back to the blog.  I did find several posts that I had drafted and for some reason had never published.  Wonder why I did that?  Hmmmmm………

I’ve been tied up for the past month and a half compiling a booklet to be given out in a week at my 50th high school reunion.  I had sent out questionnaires to all the classmates about their lives and put it all together in book form.  We have several pages of pictures that were sent to me and I was especially proud of the Dedication page.  All in all, I was pretty proud of the entire booklet the other day when I took it to the printers and hope that everyone will be pleased.  I know I got really emotional when they handed me a proofing copy to look over.  All that work, all the laughter, all the tears…….all the typing.  I felt like I was turning over one of my children as I walked out of the store.  I’m going to pick up the final copies tomorrow afternoon and am going to try not to open the box and look at them again until the night of the reunion.  I probably won’t be successful, but I’m going to try.

It’s been kind of an odd feeling planning this reunion.  First of all, how the heck has it been 50 years since we were in high school?  Gosh, where has the time gone?  Second, I wasn’t even there my senior year and did not actually graduate with my class, (long story and one of these days I will talk about that on the blog) so why in the world was I planning it?  I still haven’t figured that one out, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed most of the planning.  I think we’ve done a great job in contacting everyone. There is only a handful that seem to have vanished and a couple who have said they don’t plan to come.  Oh, well, I guess if they don’t want to be there, that’s their choice.  And I know they will miss a great time.  Third, compiling this book has totally enveloped my life for the last six weeks and did not allow me to wallow in my depression.  And that has been a good thing.  I guess when my therapist tells me to find something to keep me busy, she knows what she’s talking about, huh?  Now, I just need to get over the anxiety I am feeling about having to see everyone.

 

 

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

Why is There Always a Hole in My Sidewalk?

I sometimes believe that I live on a street that has been bombed, full of deep holes just waiting to gobble me up.  Have any of you ever lived on my street?  Have you ever been afraid to go outside because you know that those holes are out there and you know that you are bound to get too close to one and fall in again?

For years, I had heard people make statements about  a “hole in the sidewalk,” but had never really thought about what they meant.  Then, one day in therapy, Roz read me the short story,”There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk,” and it was as if it had been written about me. So many times in my life, I had fallen into those holes. I spent years in those holes, able to crawl out, only to fall right back in. It has been an ongoing cycle — fall in the hole, find a way out, fall in again, get back out, fall back in, get back out — over and over and over again.  After that session with Roz, I ordered a book that contained the short story.  (She ought to be getting a commission from Amazon; it seems as thought all she has to do is to show me a book, read one sentence out of it, and darn – I have to have it. My children will most likely be able to furnish a Mental Health section of a library with all these darn books when I die and they have to clean out my house.) I was looking through my bookcase today and ran upon this book and thought I’d share it with you all.  I think this is something that each of us should think about.

THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
by Portia Nelson

CHAPTER ONE

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost….I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

CHAPTER TWO

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

CHAPTER THREE

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately

CHAPTER FOUR

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

CHAPTER FIVE

I walk down another street.

Have you ever walked along this sidewalk?  Were you aware of the holes in your pathway? What did it take for you to get out of the hole?   Have you thought about WHY you keep falling in these darn holes? Have you found the new street to walk upon?

The following information was found at www.lessons4learning.com concerning the short story, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk.

Chapter One’s hole is a natural hole in the walk of life.  It is there for us all.  Life is always throwing unexpected things as us.  Losing a job, being in some type of accident, being a victim of some type of natural disaster,  losing a loved one – we don’t ask for any of these things, but they happen.

Any of these events can place you in a hole of darkness, despair, anger, loss, anxiety, worry, or grief. You did not have anything to do with creating the situation but you must live with it. The hole can indeed be deep and dark, and you have to struggle long and hard to climb out of it.

This is the nature of life. Some things are out of your control. Unexpected events happen. Change always occurs. The most that you can do is adapt to them the best you can. You must struggle out of the hole into which you were thrown and journey on. Hopefully, you grow from such an experience and become a more mature person who is better able to cope with other pitfalls of life.

My thoughts — These pitfalls and holes are certainly a part of life.  I don’t think that there is anyone who has not experienced something to lead them to a hole of grief, anger, anxiety, etc.  It’s just knowing how to handle these feelings that is so important so that we can live a happy, healthy life.

With Chapter Two,  the question to consider is, “Have you ever found yourself in exactly the same hole more than once?”

  • Are you in exactly the same bad relationship (but with a different person) for the twentieth time? Are you starting to wonder how all of these jerks find you?
  • How is it that you always get into the same type of conflict with the boss? She is so negative and critical and always expects so much. She makes you feel miserable.
  • Maybe you are in the midst of the exact “word for word” argument with your spouse for the ten thousandth time. He says this and you say that just like you always do and you fall into the hole once again.
  • Your son, mother, sister, or brother does that thing that they always do. It pushes your buttons and you respond as you always do. The cycle of conflict begins once again.

You cannot believe that it has happened one more time. You wonder, “Why does this always happen to me? Why do they always do this to me? When will they ever stop? Why can’t they understand what they make me do?” If other people would just “act right” life would go better. You begin to work harder and harder to get others to change.

My thoughts — Wow!  Don’t we all do this at some point?  “If we could just get s0-and-so to see things my way”, life would be so much easier.  I think that habits fall into place here.  Even if things dont change by our actions, they are what we know and what we tend to do.  Breaking these habits are tough.

Chapter Three challenges us to wake up. Fall into the same hole often enough and you may come to a realization. With the frequent occurrence of the same or similar events you sense that these things do not happen by chance. Maybe this repetition is a pattern that is not just inflicted on you solely by others. Such a reoccurrence of events must mean that you are playing a role in creating them.

As we go along the sidewalk of life we all fall into holes of psychological and spiritual distress. Sometimes it seems that we were shoved. Initially, it appears that it is not our fault to be in such a situation once again. However, as we continue in the journey of life we often find ourselves falling into the same hole more than once. When we do so we are given the opportunity of recognizing that there is actually a pattern in our lives. Patterns do not exist until an event happens more than once. A pattern cannot be recognized until we have encountered a situation (in all its various forms) several times. Only with repetition is it possible to see the pattern or cycle. Once the pattern is seen then the possibility of new insight arises.

The next time you find yourself once again in one of life’s familiar holes, and are busy saying:

  • “It is not my fault,”
  • “Don’t blame me.”
  • “Who is responsible for this?”
  • “They are doing it to me again.”

Call for a time-out. Now, look to see how you might be responsible for your situation. Ask yourself, “What did I do to get here? What role did I play in creating the circumstances that placed me in this hole?” The terrible truth is that if you are not responsible for being in this hole once again then you are in real trouble. This is because if you are not responsible, it must mean that someone is. Maybe, it is not just one person but a group of people like your coworkers or your family. It is even possible that the entire world has decided to conspire against you. If you are truly not responsible for your current situation, and you do not like being in these recurring holes then you face a dilemma. What you have to do is find out who is making you miserable. Next, you have to change that person, or group, or the entire world to make it or them be exactly the way you want them to be so that you can be okay. Your strategy becomes to change others.

This is the trap of playing, “Let’s fix you.” Husbands and wives and parents and children often play this game. One spouse shows up at the counselor’s office claiming that their mate is the problem. Parents bring in the child saying the child’s behavior needs to change. Children say that their parents make them act this way. Employees blame the insensitive boss. The overworked boss criticizes the inefficient employees. No one is responsible for anything. (How many times have we heard this or said it ourselves?)

Playing “Let’s fix you” doesn’t work. Have you ever tried to change someone? Of course you have. Maybe just change a small child making them just a little more the way you want. Perhaps you have tried to make a few minor adjustments in another person’s personality. It seems that if you just gave this person a little bit of a “tune up” then you might be able to live with them. Did you succeed? The answer is, “No!” Changing others is an extremely difficult, if not impossible task. The other person may actually try to cooperate but often cannot make or sustain the change. Your effort is directed in the wrong direction.

Fall into the same hole enough times and you might awaken to the true nature of the problem. You are responsible for being there. You played some role in the process. You must change. Learning this is good news. If you can find out what you are doing and stop then you can avoid these holes into which you keep falling. Having some responsibility for your problems means that you have control. All you have to do is to change yourself and the situation can improve. While this task is very hard, it is at least possible. Changing others is not.

  • When you find yourself once again in that same bad relationship, but with a different person, you need to realize that it is you who is making the same mistake over and over. Maybe it is time to ask yourself, “What am I doing?” “How did I get here once again?”
  • When you are in that same tired old argument, ask what did you do to get there? When you wake up with a hangover once again, ask what went wrong with my resolve to never drink again?

When you discover what you are doing, or why you are doing it, then change is possible. You can begin taking responsibility for yourself.

If you change yourself, your experience of the situation will change. Surprisingly, if you do this, the other people you were wanting to change may change as well. You cannot change others by directly trying to influence them, but if you change yourself, then they may be forced to change as well. Once you are different and can maintain that difference, then others around you are given the opportunity to change in relation to you. By effectively changing ourselves, we may actually change another person, a group, and perhaps, the world. But we must start with ourselves. When you start with yourself a good place to begin is with your attitude.

My thoughts — Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!  Seven years of therapy is helping me to change myself (I hope).  My problem with this is that at one point, I did change myself, thinking it would help my marriage.  I thought that being a better wife would somehow make him a better husband.  But, I guess this goes to prove the idea that one should not change themself FOR someone else.  Change yourself for YOU and then if they change, GREAT.  If not, that’s on them, not on you.  

Chapter Four is indeed a new chapter in your life. Once your responsibility is seen you can change. You can begin avoiding the holes on that street of life. You are now able to see what is coming, because you know your pattern. This knowledge gives you control and you can intentionally respond to life in a different manner. A different response gives new possibilities.

When someone invites you into a familiar hole, you do not automatically enter. Your friend, who has been awaiting your arrival to leave for a party, sarcastically says, “Well, you are late again!” Your typical response is to defensively say, “Must you always complain?” Now when you see that familiar hole of an argument and a bad evening looming, you make a different choice. You realize that your friend has had the legitimate frustration of waiting and has also been worried about you. You speak to these issues and say, “I am sorry to be late. Traffic was terrible. I couldn’t get to a phone. I know that you were wondering what happened to me.” Your choice allows your friend to acknowledge the concern and apprehension rather than just voice the frustration of waiting. The hole of another repetitive fight is avoided, and the evening goes well.

My thoughts — My favorite line here is “When someone invites you into a familiar hole, you do not automatically enter.”  I am working very hard to learn to take a deep breath and think before I react.  I’m not always successful, but when I am, I can certainly tell a difference in the outcome.

Chapter Five is a new day. Finally, you change streets. You change your inner dialogue and behavior so completely that the old pattern no longer occurs. Once on the new street, you must be careful because, unfortunately, this street will have its own holes. It will have holes that you have never seen before. But you now know the rules about the “holes” in the sidewalk. The first time that you encounter one you should ask, “How am I responsible?” It may be that you are not responsible, but the sooner you ask this question, the sooner you can take charge of your life.

This process is like a spiral that leads us upward towards psychological and spiritual wholeness. The sidewalks of life do not go in a straight line. They may not be flat. They may be like a trail that winds round and round a mountain until it reaches the top. Each time you break out of an old pattern of thinking and living, you begin a new switchback that leads you ever upwards to the fundamental goal of life.

Fall into enough of the holes in the sidewalks of life and you may become whole. Through the lessons of the holes of life, you approach wholeness. Becoming whole means striving to be all that you can be. All potentialities are explored. You know what you do, and why you do it. Choices are made, and you are responsible for these choices. The holes in the sidewalk are actually invitations to grow. Are you open to the invitation?

My thoughts — As I read this, I realize that many times I don’t change streets because of some purposeful thought; I do so because I have chosen to isolate.  I tell myself that if I don’t put myself out there, the temptation to stay off the holey street is less.  This is a pretty ridiculous choice, isn’t it?   I know that I have to learn to live among the holey streets and avoid those streets, not stay out of town.  

~~~

Thoughts about my thoughts: I love this short story.  Not sure why I had never heard it before Roz read it to me, but I’m certainly glad she did.  I think that each of us probably wonder why things happen to us and this story certainly gives us a bit of insight. This short story is appropriate for everyone to read and think about.

Todays Feelings’ Barometer:  Made myself get up this morning, take a shower, wash my hair, put on makeup and go to town.  I haven’t been doing this lately and I know (in my head) that I have a better day when I make myself do that, but I’m terrible about actually doing it.  When will I learn?

~~ Betty

 

 

Depression, Mental Health

Unexpected Blessings

There are friends you have in high school that you think will always be just that — a friend. Little do you know that many, many years later, they may become more than just a friend. They may become a lifeline, a confidant, an inspiration, or a person who truly understands struggles that you have. They do not put you down, do not consider you to be weak, do not think that you are inferior because you are in therapy. That person may do something that you totally do not expect. You have absolutely no idea that you are in their heart and their mind. You are totally blown away by a simple thing such as a phone call.

Today, I received one of those FB messenger calls and of course I didn’t have my microphone turned on so by the time I got it fixed, I had missed the call. I started to just not pay attention to it, thinking it had been one of those “clicked the wrong button” things, but ended up sending a message giving my cell number and saying to give me a call if there was something needed. A couple of minutes later, my phone rang and my heart was touched.

This friend said that he had read a while back that I was in therapy. During our coversation, I told him that I was at a point where I just didn’t see any “point” in anything. Bless his heart — he said that there was definitely a “point” and that I just couldn’t see it right now, but that I was to hang on until I saw it. He said that he had run across a book that he thought I might enjoy reading and wanted to drop it by my house.

I’m not one to open a book to page one to begin.  I always begin magazines at the end and read to the front. Don’t know why I do that, but it’s what I do. I think it’s because I’m afraid of beginnings.  To me, “Beginnings” always end with “The End.” I’ve had enough “ends” in my life and try to avoid them at all costs. Well, I opened this book and the page I began reading was Chapter 40, titled “Do You Know Your Worth?” I think that God leads me to the page that is most needed and this was proved to me today. Let me share this short message with you.

Do You Know Your Worth?

Feelings of adequacy or inadequacy indicate how one emotionally evaluates their worth as a person. Thus, feelings of inadequacy occur when you devalue your worth and abilities. What you believe about yourself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can be sucessful according to this culture’s standards and still have a very low and debilitating view of yourself. The ripple effect of this is significant. Feelings of inadequacy can negatively affect your relationships, cripple your creative and professional pursuits, and can have a devastating impact on your health. If this applies to you, consider journaling about your value and worth, ask others what they value about you, and/or consider going to therapy. Everyone has value. You have value even if you don’t recognize it right now.

I found this passage to be quite enlightening. At my last therapy session, Roz talked to me about how I valued myself and suggested that I choose 7 people and ask them to describe me in one word. And of course, I did not do it. (Maybe that’s why I’m still in therapy.) I spent my childhood, my teen years, and much of my married life being told and believing that I was not worthy, not a good person, not deserving.  After all those years, I believed those words each time I was told them and each time I thought about them. Believing those words became my truth and no matter how many times Roz or anyone else tells me differently, I cannot get past “My Truth”. I know that I have a good heart. I do know that. I know that I love people and want to be loved. I know that I’m a loyal friend and will do anything to help someone else. I know that I have a HUGE problem with trust. Once that trust is broken, it is over. I can forgive, but I will never trust you again. And to me, love cannot happen without trust. I know that God loves me and is there at all times for me. I know these things in my heart. It’s just my head that does not believe that. Or maybe it’s my head that knows these things and it’s my heart that won’t accept it.

Whatever it is, I know that receiving this phone call today and being given this book, “Choose You – Reignite Your Passion for Life” by Dr. Rachel Mitchum Elahee, means something. Out of the blue, with no reason at all, this person reached out to me to let me know he was thinking of me and cared. Thank you, Rudy Hicks. I love you.