Depression, Mental Health, Uncategorized

I Truly Don’t Want You To Try to Fix Me

I ran across an excellent video on Depression with so many valid points.  As J.S. points out, there are so many people out there who just don’t understand depression and the leading “fixes” seem to be the God angle or the Be Positive angle.  Neither of these, by themselves, can fix depression.  It is vitally important for others to understand the many intricacies of this disease and how to help.  I totally agree that just allowing a depressed person to “be” is of utmost importance.

Dealing with Depression — A New Look at It.

Depression, Mental Health

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

Rise

I know.  I’ve said it a frillion times already.  But, I’m going to say it again — I am in absolute awe of song writers. They have the most magnificent minds.  How do they do it?  How do they know exactly what you are thinking and how you are feeling?  It’s almost as if they are living in your own mind.  And that, my friends, comes almost to the point of being spooky.

I’m sure that I’ve told you before how much I love music, right?  In order to feed that addiction, I discovered YouTube many years ago and I can honestly say that I could probably spend all day long watching YouTube videos — not only music videos, but videos on cooking, sewing, scrapping, how-to’s, just about anything. A few weeks ago while watching YouTube, one of the many ads that pop up every couple of minutes came on.  I thought it was an odd ad since it wasn’t really trying to sell anything, but was rather just showing the making of a music video.  There were parts of the video that for some reason, just kind of tugged at my heart, but since it just showed snippets from the video, I wasn’t sure what was so special about it.  Then, yesterday, I saw a post on my Facebook timeline for the completed video.  I watched it a couple of times, trying to figure out what it was about the video that totally had me enthralled.   Was it the words?  Was it the perspective that most of the video is shown from above, as though you are flying?  I couldn’t quite figure it out until I could put the actual words to it.  Since my hearing is so very, very bad, when I hear a new song I normally just go online and look up the lyrics so that I actually know what the singer is saying.  It is only once I know what words are being spoken that I can put things together.  (I sometimes wish that I had a “lyrics sheet” to Sunday sermons since my lack of hearing keeps me from actually hearing half of what the preacher says, but that’s another story.)  When I read the lyrics to Rise, I “got it”.  A couple of things about this video were speaking directly TO ME! 

Perspective — Looking down from above on the scene was all too familiar to me.  I think I’ve told y’all before about my ability to fly.  When things get too stressful for me, I have always had the ability to close my eyes, stretch out my arms, and just fly away.  I have seen much of the world while just flying around.  I have been doing this since my early childhood and feel as though I have spent much of my life looking down upon the actions of others from above, while I fly away from the situation.  If for some reason, I could not fly away, I’d disassociate by stretching out my arms and just float away on the waves of the sea. So, when this video showed things from a perspective of flying above it — it got me!  I was watching as the woman was freeing herself from all the troubles of the world.  How did the songwriter KNOW that I needed to see hear this?  How did the videographer know that his vision was what I needed to see?  That I would be able to relate?  What a blessing!

Words — There are parts of this song that speak directly to my heart. I know it was written for ME to hear and to absorb.  And absorb it, I have.  I immediately went to iTunes to download it to my computer and have it on repeat as I sit here.

I’ve been sleepin‘ in my mind
But now my heart is risin’
Risin’ with the tide
Floating on a wave
Buoyed by the sea
Carry me away ‘cause the world is not for me  

I have spent many years “sleepin’ in my mind”.  It has always been so much safer to “sleep” through the many stressful times of my life, rather than actually “live” them.  But, I have reached a point where my heart is learning how to deal with those times I’ve slept through.  My feelings are risin’ with the tide and I am being forced to deal with them.

If I could see through different eyes
From ten thousand foot skies
I’d navigate the lies
And never fear demise
Nor be timid of the rule
How can I grow wise
If never I’m a fool?

Oh, how I have wished to “see through different eyes”.  I have prayed many times in my life to be removed from the situation so that I would not have to experience it any longer.  Isn’t this what she’s saying in the song?  By seeing the situation from different eyes, we are able to see the lies that are taking place, but not have to live those lies ourselves or perhaps to just learn that they are actually lies.  And of course, if it’s not really us living it, it’s so much easier to not be afraid. But, as we know, we only become wise by seeing or living through a situation so that we can learn what not to do or how not to act.

Oh I must be quiet
Enough to hear the sound
The song inside my soul
As it echoes in the clouds

Therapy has helped me learn to be quiet enough to hear those sounds that scream from my soul.  It has been through therapy that I have learned to listen to my heart and deal with the many cruelties and the abuse I’ve lived with.  While I haven’t mastered it yet, before therapy, I never even realized that I was capable of hearing those hurtful sounds in my soul and might possibly learn to live with them.

Raindrops ripple as I breathe
I can feel the deep blue miles from my feet
Coming up for air, conscience coming clean
I have left the past at the bottom of the sea

Those raindrops are the whispers from God that constantly come to me, telling me that He loves me.  As I learn to listen to my soul, I can feel the old hurts float up from that deep blue sea (my hole that I live it).  Those hurts do gasp for air, trying to be freed.  I am learning to clear my conscience from the guilt I have felt my whole life — guilt for not being a better daughter, sister, wife, teacher, mother, friend, servant of God, or person.  I am struggling to leave my past somewhere — whether it be at the bottom of the sea, in a fire pit, or in the garbage — just anywhere except in my heart where it currently lives.

No matter where you land or how far you may fall
You have heart, you have hands
And the highest calling of our lives
Is to find the grace in the very place we stand
And rise

And this, my heart, is the important part.  No matter what my past.  No matter what I’ve suffered.  No matter what I’ve felt — my biggest calling is to find grace right here where I am today.  And to rise.

So, to the songwriter of Rise, whoever you are — thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing these words so that I, too, can Rise! To the videographer, thank you for your perspective.  I am enjoying this “flight” through Rise.  And to Caroline Jones, as I fly high above you watching you ride your horse through the beautiful countryside and listen to you beautifully sing these meaningful words, thank you.  I am trying my best to Rise along beside you.  Absolutely a beautiful video!  It has touched my heart. Thank you and God Bless You!

Rise (Sing it Loud)  by Caroline Jones

I’ve been sleepin‘ in my mind
But now my heart is risin’
Risin’ with the tide
Floating on a wave
Buoyed by the sea
Carry me away ‘cause the world is not for me
If I could see through different eyes
From ten thousand foot skies
I’d navigate the lies
And never fear demise
Nor be timid of the rule
How can I grow wise
If never I’m a fool?
And home, home is in my heart
So why do I get lost in the crowd
Trying to be proud
Oh I must be quiet
Enough to hear the sound
The song inside my soul
As it echoes in the clouds
I’m going to sing it
Loud
I’m going to sing it
Loud
Raindrops ripple as I breathe
I can feel the deep blue miles from my feet
Coming up for air, conscience coming clean
I have left the past at the bottom of the sea
‘Cause home, home is in my heart
Why I do get lost in the crowd?
Trying to be proud
Oh, I must be quiet enough to hear the sound
The song inside my soul
I’m gonna write it down
I’m gonna sing it
Loud
I’m gonna sing it
Loud
No matter where you land or how far you may fall
You have heart, you have hands
And the highest calling of our lives
Is to find the grace in the very place we stand
And rise
I’m gonna sing it
Rise
I’m gonna sing it
Rise
We will rise.

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I cannot get this video off my mind. I have listened to the song at least 50 times as I’ve been at my computer in the last 24 hours and am absorbing the hurt, the love, and the grace.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Slept terribly last night.  Finally got up around 3 and took half of a sleeping pill.  Was finally able to sleep, but awoke later to the realization that I’d been dreaming about Sandra.  She had been here with me.  Lord, I miss her so much!

~~~ Betty

Depression, Mental Health

Depression, the Secret We Share

If you have not discovered TED Talks on YouTube, you are missing some extremely valuable resources.  With TED Talks, just about everything you have wondered about can be found and investigated.  While looking today, I found an EXCELLENT video by Andrew Solomon on Depression, the Secret We Share.  While watching this, my heart was tugged at — it so describes my feelings about life and the way I experience my own life.

Says Solomon, the opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality.  What a remarkable statement! His remarks about this are so gripping and I can so relate.  There are many times in my life when something takes place — something that normally makes people happy — but for me, like many of those with depression, they only mean that you are once again going to have to “do” something or “feel” something, and that thought is just so overwhelming.  He speaks of coming home to see his message machine blinking with four messages and for most people the thought that four people had been thinking about them and were reaching out to them is a pleasant thought.  But for him, it just meant that he was going to have to listen to those messages and then perhaps respond to them and that thought made him sad.  He also talked about how most people, when hungry, can just go into the kitchen and make a sandwich, but because of his depression, he has to think about the fact that doing so would mean that he’d have to actually go through the many steps of making that sandwich — getting out a plate, getting the ingredients together, actually making the sandwich, then sitting down to eat it and swallow the ingredients — and to him, that was just too overwhelming.  I can relate to that thought, also.

Andrew Solomon states that one of the important messages about depression is that we know it’s ridiculous to feel this way, even as it is taking place, but we find ourselves in its grip and we cannot figure out any way around it.  Oh, how I relate to this thought.  I tell my therapist every single time I see her that “in my head, I KNOW that my thoughts and guilt and feelings are not justified”, but I feel them anyway.  And I don’t know how to NOT feel them.

His remarks about medication certainly made me stop and think.  I grapple with the idea that I will be on medication for the rest of my life and I must admit, I’ve tried a few times to not take it.  After a couple of days, I always realize that not taking it was not a good idea and I would start back.  But, I’d always be disappointed in myself because there was such a need for me to take the meds.  Solomon wondered if his taking medication was making him more fully “himself” or whether it was making him “someone else”.  That’s something I wonder about.  Who is the “real” Betty?  It is the medicated Betty who can deal with the world or is it the Betty without medication who lives (and is many times satisfied to live) in the deep dark hole where she doesn’t have to feel or deal with others? Solomon wonders if he needs a chemical cure or a psychological cure from depression and  I completely understand that question — is it my brain chemicals that are so out of whack or it is my heart’s feelings and emotions?   He believes that we do not yet know about either enough to make that decision and I agree.

One of the more powerful ideas in Solomon’s TED Talk, is that depressed people reach the point that we no longer believe that our thoughts are lies; we begin to believe that those lying thoughts are the truth.  We no longer believe that someone is wrong when they tell us that we don’t count; we begin to believe that we truly don’t count.  We may not always believe that, but there are times when we are at our lowest points where I think it is just easier for us to believe that we don’t count.  It can become quite exhausting to continuously fight those demons in our heads who are always talking to us.  We try to fight them; we tell them they are wrong, but they just don’t give up.  So, since they won’t give up, we do.  We decide that they are right and believe them, just so we don’t have to fight with them any longer.  I think that’s the point I have reached many times.  I just get so darn tired of fighting those thoughts and I finally say to myself, “Just screw it.  He was right.  You are not lovable. You are not worthy.”  And I quit fighting the thoughts.  A person just cannot fight forever.

What I did find very interesting about the take medication/do not take medication question was his summary at the end.  Solomon stated that he had found that with medication, it didn’t mean that he was no longer sad about things, but that he now could be sad about those things that warranted sadness.  He said that he was no longer sad when he saw his message machine blinking, but he was able to be sad about the bigger things in life — damaged relationships, professional disappointments, and global problems.  I think that is what I am looking for — the ability to be sad about the right things in life rather than being sad about “being”.

If you have a chance, please watch this video.  I think it can open one’s eyes to depression in a way that has not been experienced before.

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I am going to have to send this link to my therapist and have her watch this.  I think I’d rather talk about these concepts next session instead of having to answer her “when are you going to…..?” session she has planned for me.

TODAY’S FEELING BAROMETER:  Still experiencing these awful headaches and am trying a new med for it.  I can’t really tell that it’s working, but maybe that’s because taking this med is making me super aware that I have the headache and am now expecting it to be gone.  Sometimes you just can’t win for losing.

~~~ 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

The Nitty-Gritty of Finding your Mental Health Providers

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What factors should you consider?

 Consider these factors when choosing among the various types of mental health providers:
  • Your concern or condition. Most mental health providers treat a range of conditions, but one with a specialized focus may be more suited to your needs. For example, if you have an eating disorder, you may need to see a psychologist who specializes in that area. If you’re having marital problems, you may want to consult a licensed marriage and family therapist. In general, the more severe your symptoms or complex your diagnosis, the more expertise and training you need to look for in a mental health provider.
  • Whether you need medications, counseling or both. Some mental health providers are not licensed to prescribe medications. So your choice may depend, in part, on your concern and the severity of your symptoms. You may need to see more than one mental health provider. For example, you may need to see a psychiatrist to manage your medications and a psychologist or another mental health provider for counseling.
  • Your health insurance coverage. Your insurance policy may have a list of specific mental health providers that are covered or only cover certain types of mental health providers. Check ahead of time with your insurance company, Medicare or Medicaid to find out what types of mental health services are covered and what your benefit limits are.

How can you find a mental health provider?

 To find a mental health provider, you have several options:
  • Ask your health insurance company for a list of covered providers.
  • Seek a referral or recommendation from your primary care provider.
  • Ask trusted friends, family or clergy.
  • Check to see whether your company’s employee assistance program (EAP) or student health center offers mental health services, or ask for a referral.
  • Contact a local or national mental health organization by phone or on the Internet, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
  • Search websites for professional associations that have directories of mental health providers. For example, the American Medical Association includes psychiatrists, and the American Psychiatric Association includes several different types of therapists. Many other professional associations have listings of mental health providers, such as the American Psychological Association and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
  • Check phone book listings or search the Internet under categories such as community service numbers, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists or social service organizations.

 What should you look for in a mental health provider?

 When choosing a mental health provider, consider these issues:
  • Education, training, licensing and years in practice — licensing requirements vary widely by state
  • Areas they specialize in and specific services they offer
  • Treatment approaches and philosophy
  • Which insurance providers they work with
  • Office hours, fees and length of sessions

Don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions. Finding the right match is crucial to establishing a good relationship and getting the most out of your treatment.

 Information from:  Mayo Clinic
~~~~~
THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I must admit that I totally lucked up with both my Psychiatrist and my Therapist.  My Psychiatrist is a personal friend of my Family Physician.  Dr. P. was very familiar with my problems (as much as I allowed her to be) and she knew that I was going to have to have someone special if I was going to be able to open up to her.  She knew that Dr. F. was just the type of doctor that I would feel comfortable with and would be able to work with her.  She also knew that it would be a total waste of time to send me to a male Psychiatrist.  I never, ever would have opened up to a male.
I had mentioned yesterday that I had not made it to my second appointment with Dr. F. That is because two days after my initial appointment (before I had even told my children that I had gone to see a Psychiatrist), I had a major health problem.  I had developed several  (over 2 dozen) Pulmonary Emboli and was rushed to the hospital.  My local hospital told my children that I should not have made it to the hospital because of the severity of the emboli and it was decided to move me to a larger hospital.  They were told that there was a huge possibility that I would not make it the 40 miles to the larger hospital.  I was in ICU for several days before waking up enough to realize what had taken place.  It was during this time that my second appointment was to have taken place. One of my daughters took the phone call from Dr. F’s office in which they merely said that I had missed an appointment.  My daughter, the ace investigator that she is, went into power mode to find out what type of medical appointment I had missed and found out I had an appointment with a Psychiatrist.  At this point, she and her sister and brother contacted Dr. F. and after several conversations, a decision was made that when I was released from the hospital, I would go straight to Atlanta to a Mental Health facility. I will talk later about the intervention that took place.
Upon my release from the hospital in Atlanta, I went back to see Dr. F. and she gave me the names of a couple of therapists to contact.  I went in for an initial meeting with my magnificent R and absolutely fell in love with her, so much so that  I never even called the second therapist.  I have been so blessed to have found R.  She totally “gets” me.  At times, she kind of lets me slide, but has a way of bringing me around to what needs to be discussed.  And I love the fact that she can say the word “damn” without getting all flustered.  Sometimes, in therapy, words like that are necessary — from both sides of the couch.
TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:   I am worn out.  Spent the morning at ENT’s office, then met my granddaughter for lunch.  Came home, took a seat in recliner and zoned out for about four hours.
~~~ Betty
Depression, Mental Health

Letting My Light Shine

My therapist asked today what made me decide to start this blog.  In my explanation, I tried to make it clear that I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I think I have any of the answers for them and that I know my limitations.  But, my hope is that by walking beside me through my journey of freeing myself, others might possibly be inspired to begin their own journey.  It is the act of starting and completing your own journey that will free you.   After explaining for several minutes how I am not qualified, (I am always good at explaining how I am NOT ……..) she pulled up the following quote from the internet and read it to me.

 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne WilliamsonA Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

I love quotes.  I love seeing how someone, who doesn’t know me,  so deftly reaches into my soul, digs out my feelings, and then, using these stolen feelings, puts them together to form a wonderfully brilliant quote.   Sometimes these quotes just put into words the way I feel.  Sometimes they answer questions that I have not been able to find the answer for.  Sometimes they show me how I am wrong.  Marianne Williamson did all of these in her quote.  I know now that I should not fear my own inadequacies.  There are things that I cannot do.  But, there are also things that I can do.  I should be proud of what I CAN do and I should let my light shine.  This thought is big.  It is foreign to me.  It will take me a while to absorb its true meaning.

I think of my blog in this way – you have two friends, both with bum shoulders.  Let’s call them Sue and Darla.  For eight weeks, Darla drives Sue to physical therapy and sits in a chair and watches Sue go through all the therapeutic exercises.  For eight long weeks, Darla watches Sue get stronger and stronger each week.  At the end of the eight weeks, they are still friends.  But, at this point, Sue is now able to use her shoulder with no pain and Darla still cannot lift a bag of sugar without pain and she complains constantly.  Darla says to Sue, “This is not fair.  We both had bad shoulders.  I’ve gone with you for eight weeks and I’ve watched you do all the exercises necessary to get better.  I know I could do them; they’re not hard.  But my shoulder still hurts.”  “Ahhhh,” says Sue (with the good shoulder), “you have watched me do the exercises, but, have you done the work?  You may have watched me get better, but have you done anything yourself to get better?  Darla, until you do the work yourself, you’ll never get better.”

I’m Sue.  I’m doing the work to get better and you are walking beside me on my journey.  Don’t be like Darla; don’t just watch me.  Dive in.  Open your soul.  Talk to someone.  Do the work.  In the end, we will BOTH be better.  Won’t that be great?

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS: I am more and more amazed at how many things seem to be building in my life.  One thing happens.  It leads to something else. And that leads to something else again.  A few days ago, I posted a picture to our local county’s Facebook prayer group showing a little girl with a candle.  The inscription on the picture was “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”  At the time, I had debated posting it to the group, but something told me that it had some meaning.  I see now that it lead me here.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  This date has always a pretty tough day for me.  While it has been a day of reflection and memories, today has really not been bad.  I feel much more accepting and more forgiving of myself for the past. Does this mean I’m getting better?  This is GREAT!

~~~ Betty