Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm here

a swing is for standing in of course !like a little lion, he's hunting for food and happily eats flowers, grass, and dirt.
this baby is finally outside after a long winter.
mama's thankful the long-awaited sun has come.
Knuckles' knuckles. Little lion paws. A happy mama and her cub with the South Island behind us.

I'm just hiding a little. A year of changes. A new child, a new church and new directions. I am writing, most days. Trying to build up the discipline. I am also spending time with people - praying and encouraging where I can. I have decluttered a lot of my home; and with the help of a good friend, created a budget. I have also been in physical therapy for a pregnancy-related injury. I also have the odd funny day where I have to put my head down and breathe slowly.

Today was like that. Having been immobile for much of this past year, now I just want to go, go, GO. So the weekend, I was busy but this morning I woke up drained and tired.

This past year, a compulsory time in 'stillness' has taught me something of wisdom and patience. These days when things are hard, I just sit still and wait for my peace and healing to come.

I have a few friends who are doing battle with depression. I suffered from depression for a few years after the birth of my first son. It was a tough time. I suffered, my marriage suffered and the quality of life for us during those early years was, if I'm honest, poor. I still had my faith and loved my family, but that ugliness hung over me for several looooong years.

Its easy to get blase about depression but its no laughing matter for the person who it's happening too. That feeling that there is just clouds descending from the moment one awakes. Like driving along a road with pot-holes, fog and cliffs on both side. Or being lost down a long dark tunnel.

In the beginning I just felt unhappy all the time. I then thought that everyone around me was at fault. I also picked myself apart. The critical voice in my head had a field day. I was toxic and couldn't for the life of me, pull up. At it's severest I was suicidal. I couldn't get past the feeling that all was doomed. I started medication and treatment and became a mental health patient.

I had several medications and finally Prozac seemed to help stabilise but I was far from feeling normal. Therapy was my next step. A great counsellor who helped me tip out my head and helped me find clarity in my emotional and mental messiness. What didn't help was a bunch of church people standing around me casting out demons. Or people who told me to go for a walk and just keep positive. What did help were friends who were able to handle me being unable to cope for a while and who kept on telling me what I was good at, what they loved about me (even if it wasn't evident) and who were able to stay strong for me and in spite of me. Unconditional love heals many wounds. People who believed in me and allowed me to heal in time.

Mostly I came to understand that depression in my case was anger turned inwards. A sense of powerlessness in my life and situation, an understanding that I couldn't control everything, an acceptance that life is unfair and crappy things do happen. I didn't have to smile and be strong all the time. Not coping is normal! I also got the chance to renarrate some of the stories that I had grown up believing about life and myself. I got the chance to be the Rachelle I believed I was rather than the lost girl I'd become.

During this time and as I started to head into my healing, I started training as a therapist myself. I was totally turned on to easing and relieving suffering however I could both in myself and for others too. I loved church ministry because I don't believe healing can come outside of God but it never opened up for me inside the church. Perhaps in hindsight that ended up being a good thing. I worked in community groups, at medical centres, at a counselling group practice and at a community service. Our home even today sees a steady stream of people needing friendship and some help in unravelling their dilemnas.

I do not have depression anymore and have been 'free' of it for several years now. I can remember a real turning point when a lady shared some scriptures with me over the phone and talked the promises of God straight into my situation. There are no quick fixes anymore than one can wish away a broken arm or leg. Healing can come, but it comes slowly because there are new lessons to be learned.

It is painful though and requires much support and understanding. I am free of the loads I was carrying that I wasn't even aware of. I am able to enjoy this third baby because of that time I walked in the clouds. Life isn't taken for granted. I enjoy the ability to enjoy. I delight in my family and the small daily blessings.

I make it sound relatively simple but it really isn't in the 'going through' phase. It is like running a marathon. A test of endurance when one is depleted and feels that each new step is too difficult. No one asks for this, no one would choose this willingly.

If you are suffering with depression, don't feel happy a lot of the time, weep easily and feel overwhelmed, get some help. It isn't easy because our own pride and the world at large rewards people for coping and despises weakness. There is no pride to be found though in dismantling one's family.

One thing I have to watch for is isolation. As soon as I feel like I can't talk is when I must talk. When I can't leave my home or be with people is when I call in my 'safe' people. People who are easy, who understand and don't judge and just allow me to not have a happy face for their sakes. Who can circumnavigate my emotions and don't need me to look after them.

William Glasser, a reknowned therapist and founder of Choice Therapy discussed the lack of social responsibility he saw in people he was treating. My bottom line, I need to give, share and be a blessing to others. I get a lot of personal satisfaction from seeing others breakthrough and succeed. It really is a blessing to give.

Scott-Peck also discusses it in his Road Less Travelled series. Society is so inward looking. Me me me! We become selfish and self-important.

Self Care is crucial. We need to care for others because its good exercise for our hearts. We need to care for ourselves because we are important and others need us. How can I help someone when I am empty myself.

I don't believe 'balance' exists. It's a myth. I make the best choices I can. If they're not working, then I change them. Nothing is unchangeable.

Having children is a great cure for selfishness. Suddenly my world didn't orbit around my needs, but theirs became paramount. My latest baby has an incredible effect on us. There are more smiles around here, everyone is softer and unashamedly in love with him.

So this today then is my post. It's been awhile. Yes I have been creating art and crafting too. But actually my life is full of the less write-able stuff of raising kids and staying sane and being a blessing. I hope you are well. I am looking forward to the books some of you are writing, some their second.

May you be well and blessed and of sound mind!


Pat said...

a lovely, intimate post. thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and feelings and experiences. i would like to share the title of a book with you that i think you might like. it is called Circle of Stones. written by a jungian who write eloquently about depression. it has at its core the question, 'how would my life have been different, if ......." i found this book so helpful on so many levels that i would buy it and pass it on to women friends; buy another and so on. everyone loved it and some continued my practice of buying the book and then sharing it as a gift with others.

ArtPropelled said...

I have been wondering how you are and now a new post which I thoroughly enjoyed. Your introspective writing style appeals to me. Thanks for sharing Rachelle. Dear little Knuckles is growing so fast and is absolutely charming. No wonder everyone is in love with him.
Stay well my friend.

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Jeana Marie said...

what a beautiful post - I very much appreciate how brave you are to share your experience. It sounds a familiar one and is truly encouraging to hear of your journey and how God has used your experience for his glory

Philippa said...

I've been in and read this post a few times over the last month or so. It really resonates with me as I have also had the walk down this particular byway of life. You have expressed it beautifully - it is awful but having got through it has also taught me many things about what is important in life. For that I'll always be grateful. Thanks so much for sharing Rochelle. Hope our paths cross again soon. Take care. Philippa