Depression Lies

Standard

​[Warning: Mentions of suicide and depression.]

I’ve been struggling to write this for several days now, and it’s kept me from my regular postings that I’d planned for last week. The truth is this topic has been on my mind ever since I was shocked by a text from my sister telling me about Robin Williams’ death. His was one of the no, you can’t be serious exclamations and that despite my MSNBC hiatus at the time, I immediately turned on cable news to find out the latest.

I wouldn’t say that I was a true fan of Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain, although I knew at some point I’d introduce them to my children. My daughter loves designing her own outfits, has made pocketbooks out of t-shirts, and has her own wonderful style. My son, while not keen on cooking as a chore, he does love to try new foods, and made a chicken stir-fry with ramen as well as helping his sister with her vision of chicken alfredo.

For myself, I didn’t pay close attention to their careers, even though Anthony Bourdain gave me the knowledge to avoid restaurants on a Monday night, and when not to order certain foods. That stood out in my mind, no time more so than when I was eating out on a Monday night, whispering to my husband, we really shouldn’t be here today. It was less admonishment, and more asserting my knowledge as Jeopardy contestant.

As someone with clinical depression who continues to take medication and see a therapist, I am always struck with the equivalent of an emotional lightning bolt when someone loses their battle with depression. There but for the grace of G-d, and all that.

The first thing that people who have no understanding of depression say is Kate and Anthony have children. How could they do that to their children? Why didn’t they think of their children? When I was deep in suicidal thoughts, I thought deeply of my children. I thought about what they could do with my life insurance money. I thought that they’d be happier without my mood swings and lethargy. Even today, I try to make up for the moments lost with my daughter as a very young child because of the interference of the depression. At the time, the only thing that kept me here was the thought that they wouldn’t have the money to replace the one car we had.

But it was still a struggle.

For anyone who reads me here, I liken my depression to a recovery process. Kind of like twelve steps, but twelve steps in different orders, and directions, and each series of twelve steps is interrupted by other steps that no one tells you about until you trip over them, and then one day you wake up, and get to start again, but you don’t realize it until you’ve already completed two steps that didn’t need to be completed or that needed to wait until after this new step, oh, and by the way, have I showered today?

There were dozens of news reports and articles detailing what not to say to someone with depression as well as an equal number of what to say to someone with depression. Be ready when they reach out. Reach out if they don’t. Don’t be too pushy, but don’t be too complacent. Don’t talk about how their death will affect you, but tell them how much they mean to you. Don’t tell them to feel better, don’t give them advice, don’t ask what you can do to help, but do all of these things. You’ll know what to do.

Well, guess what?

You won’t know what to do.

I live with depression, and I don’t know what to do for others.

Like many of you, I posted the Suicide Prevention Hotline number and a variety of websites and chat lines, and I hope that whoever needs them will use them. As pollyannaish as those memes and graphics saying how much you are loved, and if you’re looking for a sign not to kill yourself, this is it, sound, they actually worked for me in that moment when I saw them. They were a sign, that I needed, and heeded, and appreciated. So I continue to post them as well.

It’s easy to think if this celebrity or that celebrity that has seemingly everything going their way can’t handle it, how can I? Well, you can because your low moments are different from theirs. They may have looked at you and thought what a great life that person has. Perspective is something that we all need, but we all see different things from our side of the fence.

I have my religion and my writing. I have my mantra – it will be okay. I have Julian of Norwich and Mary Magdalene, LIn-Manuel Miranda, Misha Collins, and others that reach out in their own public ways and isnpire me, mostly to simply take a deep breath, and then take another, and try again. Take one step and then another.

You have yours.

Share them here in the comments. You never know when someone is looking for another coping tool, and yours may be the one they need.

Before I go, I will leave you with something that writer/actor Wil Wheaton says about depression: Depression lies. Whatever it’s telling you is a lie. Don’t listen.

So, come into the light, just for a moment, and see things differently. Talk to a friend. Talk to a chat line. Talk to a professional. They are here to help.

I’m here to help as well.

Suicide Prevention Resources

It’s the Last Sunday Before Holy Week

Standard

G-d is the G-d of second chances—or third or fourth or as many as we need.

This Lent, stop kicking yourself. Move on and make the best of today.

 Lord, I make no excuses for my past, but I don’t want to be bound by it either. Lord, set me free to move on.

(Connery, Fr. Thomas (2012-12-09). Traveling Light – Spirited Reflections and Prayers for the Days of Lent (Kindle Locations 656-657). Creative Communications for the Parish. Kindle Edition.)

John 8:11 – Neither do I condemn you.

Communion Antiphon

Has no one condemned you, woman? No one, Lord.

Neither shall I condemn you. From now on, sin no more.

(John 8:101-11)

In the meditation (from The Word Among Us publication for March 17, 2013), we are reminded, “Jesus knows our sins far better than anyone else, even better than we know them. Still, he refuses to condemn us. It doesn’t move him one bit when others try to remind him (or us) of our failings.”

As most of you know, this is my first Lent. Since it is my first time, I’ve gone to several people in order to both do it right and make it meaningful for me. I was told that the act of giving something up isn’t simply to suffer, but to trade something that we enjoy and think we can’t live without for G-d and Faith and what is really important to us.

For me, I’ve been talking about writing and writing since I was a little kid. Some of it is bad. Some of it is so good I can’t believe I write it. One of the things the Internet has given me is a platform. A platform to share, to get feedback, to meet people and to share my thoughts, my feelings and to thank the people who help me on a daily basis. I try to do that, and in the last year, I am a better person and I am grateful for that, to G-d, to the friends who’ve stood with me and supported me and shown me what true friendship is as I now find my true faith.

What I had decided to do in addition to giving something meaningful up, I added a few things into my life. I was asked the other day about how giving up my diet soda and favorite scone treat was going, and I admitted rather reluctantly that it was going surprisingly easy; easier than I expected. I’ve missed neither except for a couple of times that I wanted a soda and then reminded myself why I wasn’t drinking them, and I was fine.

I did go from 5-6 12oz. cans of diet Coke a day to ZERO. Cold turkey. I replaced it with green tea in the morning and water throughout the day with very occasional visits to Starbucks.

I attend the daily Mass three days a week and I’ve been trying to attend Sunday Mass (which I will continue for the next two Sundays).

I had a chance with Lent to remind myself of my New Year’s resolutions, one of which was to increase and be more consistent in my writings of all subjects: fan fiction, non-fiction, memoir, my spiritual journey of the last year and anything else that springs to my mind. I’ve certainly been better than last year, but I still need work, and so for Lent, one of the things that I promised myself was to do more writing, ideally on a daily basis: one faith based writing and one writing about anything else.

Unfortunately that hasn’t happened as easily as I would have liked and last week brought my second bout of a deeper depression than I’ve experienced since I’ve been on the medication. I know it’s a recovery process and there will be times like this, but it’s not easy and I’m still not out of last week’s; there is a mound to climb over and with my friend’s birthday looming (I’ll write more about her on Tuesday), it is just not an easy week.

They’re not for everyone, but I stick to my rituals and they help. I get up in the morning and I have my ‘kindle things’. I check the free app of the day because Free is Good. I check the overnight onslaught of Tumblr, which is usually good for a few smiles. I check my Facebook. Even if I don’t do anything else in the daily routine, I do those and I read two things: the day’s Scripture/Mass from The Word Among Us and the day’s entry in Traveling Light by Father Thomas Connery, which is a book of reflections and prayers to be read during Lent. My church gave these out with a small cross at the beginning of the Lenten season.

These five things are an always for me. They set my day. Some days, the scripture readings are just readings, the next day in a succession in the life and teachings of Jesus, and a reminder to stay on your path, but some days (remarkably more often than not), they speak very specifically to something I’ve been dealing with, something I’ve been praying on, something I need counsel for, and somehow, despite all of the belief and the comfort, I am still surprised when G-d knows exactly what I need and when I need to hear it.

Today was one of those mornings.

My Journey Towards Faith

Standard

I’ve spent a lot of time on Tumblr writing about my new found obsession, Supernatural. This show really has everything – good music, complex characters, a cast that loves their jobs and more pop culture references than you could possibly name, not to mention the puns.

I may eventually share those essays here if there is a want for it, but my friend, who encourages me in all things, and especially writing knows exactly which buttons to push to get me off my ass and before I knew it, I had over 5000 words in three essays about the show, the characters and my predictions for the future of the all of the above.

In addition to that taking up much of my time, I kind of had a relapse with my depression. I wasn’t more depressed or down, but I could feel that I fell off the wagon. I think I’m back on as long as I stick to my routines that I have really grown accustomed to, and more than that, comforted by.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned here what’s been happening in my religious life. A quick overview would be that I was raised Jewish, and followed all of the holidays, more so when I was a kid, but I’ve tried to give my kids the feel for the traditions that I grew up with. As far as faith, I’ve never been very religious in that way, although I knew most of the Bible stories, and believe in them.

Last year around this time, I kind of fell apart. It was about two months after an official diagnosis of severe depression and other things were happening in my life that would be inappropriate to discuss on a public blog, but I found myself at our local Roman Catholic Church. I knew I would be welcome, and so I wandered in to pray by myself and catch my breath so to speak. I did this several times whenever I was ‘sent’ there through the various signs (truly neon) that were sent to me on certain days and I followed those feelings.

Eventually, I began to attend the daily Mass three days a week, and I am still doing that today. Over the course of this last year, I discovered the Scriptures and the Word of G-d, and the role Jesus Christ has played in religious mythos and history of the Catholic Church (and all of Christianity, of course). At some point, I understood what was meant by ‘coming to Jesus’ and being ‘saved’. It was so clear in so many things that I was witnessing, both emotionally and physically. My head took a bit longer, but my heart knew what was to come in my life. I was lucky to have a very strong, supportive friend as well as a very supportive priest, regardless of any decisions I made in regard to remaining Jewish or converting to Catholicism.

At the very end of last year, New Year’s Eve in fact, I sat down with my priest to discuss my desire to be baptized. This will happen next Easter (2014), and while there will be bumps on that road that I will have to deal with, I know it is the right one.

The one question that has come up (from a family member) is whether or not I believe in the Resurrection. I don’t always have to see things to believe them, although I am extremely cynical in my ways. I do believe in ghosts, however, and if those manifestations are real, there is no logical reason that the Resurrection is not. So, yes, I do believe.

The reason I bring this up is that Lent begins on Wednesday, and since this is my first year attending church, for myself, I have decided to observe Lent, even though technically I’m not required to, and I will also follow the Jewish holidays that I would have normally celebrated including Passover next month. I don’t expect any of this to be easy. The point actually is for it to be a challenge – a kind of pilgrimage as part of the new path that I’m on.

In addition to giving up a couple of things, I will be adding writing and meditation to my Lenten journey, which will both focus me creatively and bring me closer to G-d.

I drink a lot of Diet Coke. It’s practically the only thing I drink, so I’ve decided that soda is what I will be giving up. I drink non-caffeinated, so there shouldn’t be any kind of physical withdrawal, only a psychological one, but because of the negative effects of the aspartame (I was told twice this week about them, both from my best friend and my brother), I will be adding green tea as well as regular tea and water. I am also giving up my favorite bakery scones, which is good both for diet and pocketbook.

However, Lent isn’t just about giving up things; it’s about adding G-d and Faith into your life and that is my intent, not only adding Faith, but adding my Dreams to this reflective time.

I’m going to cut back on some of my social media and prioritize things because last year at this time I checked out of my life. I wasn’t there for my friends; not for my kids; not for my husband, and to give credit where credit is due, he took on a lot more than he should have been expected to and with less complaint than he was entitled to. All of our problems aren’t gone, but I’m physically better; I’m mentally better, and the support system I have seems to be working for me. We still need work, but that is also part of my Lenten pilgrimage.

Thank you for giving me such great encouragement to this writing experiment. I’m happy that you will join me as I (hopefully) increase my writing output with quality, timely and entertaining posts. I’m enjoying hearing from many of you. Any of your suggestions on format and topics/prompts are always welcome.