If we’re not willing to be led through our fears and anxieties, we will never see or grow. We must always move from one level to a level we don’t completely understand yet. Every step in the ladder of moral development is taken in semi-darkness, by the light of faith. – Richard Rohr “Everything Belongs”
By me writing the following I am in no way suggesting that I am a different sheep from the flock, but I know that I am a sheep not afraid to stand up and reveal the wounds. By revealing my wounds, God willing it helps other people live with their own as well.
… I have spent different times in my life in depression (I think we all have). Some of those moments have been darker than others. It’s nice to be well on the other side of these points in life but when you are living them, it’s hell. Literally… hell. My first “bout” with all of this was when I started junior high (6th grade). Now, I don’t put a lot of stock into this particular reflection. I was a pubescent girl with hormones going every which direction and I believe I was just suffering from a chemical imbalance. Yet, imbalance or not, it was pretty dark. I don’t want to dwell on this nor reveal TOO much but it was bad enough that I was put on some medication. Even when the doctor prescribed the pills for me, no one knew the darkness I was carrying… I was too embarrassed to admit what was going on in my mind. I believe my family had an inclination because I wasn’t my “normal” self. I wasn’t happy, and I wasn’t really sad. I was just existing. Everything was muted. I felt out-of-place and just wanted a quick ticket to heaven… I believed only then would I be relieved of my pain.
Throughout the rest of my life I would, “battle” with some symptom of anxiety… fear. It wasn’t until I started facing the fears themselves (instead of just the symptoms) that the battles be efficient, no matter how long and arduous they were (still ARE in some cases).
I’ve been thinking about my spiritual and moral guides and how I’ve spent the majority of my life with them. Yes, I’ve written substantially about my girlfriends and my love for the sisterhood, but I’m now speaking about a guide (a person of the cloth, a therapist, a counselor, a “sponsor”… whatever you want to call your guide).
I recall someone telling me that, after being so frustrated in dealing with grief, they went to a psychologist. After a few sessions with the grief, the psychologist asked this person what her childhood was like. My friend closed up. She felt like the entire experience was a waste of time and money. I, personally, find the fact that some simple prodding into a person’s childhood would cause someone to close up like a vault rather revealing.
We ALL are products of our growing up. Our parents did the best they could, but they only learned how by way of their parents. Their parents learned from their parents before them and so forth. We have so many learned behaviors and neuroses that are not necessarily “good” and maybe should change for future generations. Richard Rohr takes it even a bit further:
I’m still carrying my grandfather’s genes and my mother’s unlived life and my grandmother’s sorrow and my grandfather’s pain. Their genes are in me. You see that on a little sparrow that knows how to carry its parent’s genes and build the exact kind of nest that mama sparrow built. If a sparrow carries that much, think how much information we carry.
Interesting concept, isn’t it? My anxieties, my fears, my worries, those are all inherited whether via some DNA imprint or otherwise. I come from a long line of anxious women. I know this as a fact. I am certain if you look at your line of people you will find some characteristics or traits that all of you carry. Some are good, some are not. It’s just a ball of cherries, there will be pits. .
And my worry for my children, and so many others, is when they arrive at those dark places because of the fear and anxiety. Even in one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!) that I read to the children it says,
And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.
How true is that? Un-slumping isn’t easily done but it IS possible.
Among other personal reasons why this is all heavy for me right now, I’ve learned that someone I knew has died… speculations are saying by way of suicide. A few weeks prior I learned of someone else who accidentally overdosed on medicine while drinking… it was a common ritual this person did to ease her mental anguish, but this time it was a deadly choice. If you go into any 12-step meeting for drug or alcohol addicts I know it’s common place to hear of their fallen brothers and sisters like this. And even with alcohol and chemical abusers who know what they are doing, they are slowly committing suicide themselves and they know it.
But the apparent suicide just broken my heart and brought a flood of feelings over me and I’ve felt called to write a little about mental health (I’ve written and ditched similar blog posts in the past because it’s a hard thing to write about).
Know that if you find yourself in a weird place, or a dark place, you are NOT alone. Other people have been there and you shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about it. I remember I went to lunch years ago with an old friend and we were sharing stories about how our marriages had changed after the birth of our kids and she talked about how horrible her postpartum depression had become. It was bad enough that she had to start taking antidepressants. … if you don’t share these stories, you will feel isolated and alone.
You are NOT weak or a traitor by seeking professional help. I’ve heard a person say it to me, actually, that only weak people need a counselor. I’ve also seen people sit on years of family dysfunction because they were afraid of talking about family skeletons. Think about things this way… say there was a child who was badly abused in some fashion. Until that adult child is able to work THROUGH the pain and suffering they endured so their past no longer has control over them (“control” meaning habits they’ve picked up or mindsets they’ve created to cope or what have you) that old abuse is still affecting them and their daily decisions.
Know that the therapist has seen and dealt with hundreds of people like you. While your story is unique to you, it isn’t to them. Your guide will not be “judging” you in that sense of the word. Analyzing you for the sake of “recovering” you yes, but judging no.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16
To you ladies, how would it feel to bawl your eyes out to the mother you never had? Or what about the big sister you wish you had? Men, how would it feel to finally feel like someone understood you and will stand by you as you work through your stuff? The best thing I can say about a therapist type is that you can just take your filter off and not worry about how they are going to handle it. When I tell my mom stuff, it’s filtered for my mom. When I tell a girlfriend stuff, it may not be filtered but she’s not going to have an objective opinion for me because she loves me and hates it when I’m hurting. And if you are hurting, all the people in your life may not know how to help you help yourself.
Friends, our life is so short. SO short. While I completely get and believe that yes, we have burdens we are to “bear,” it doesn’t mean we have to go it alone or without the proper tools to deal with them. If a kid’s dad dies when he is 10 we don’t just expect the kid to grow the correct coping skills and get on down the road as if nothing happened. Why do we expect more from ourselves?
National Suicide Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255 and their webpage: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/