Buckle Up Baby….

My career with antidepressants started in the spring of 1996. We had just moved here in 1994, I was lonely, horribly homesick for California with 4 young children and a very painful marriage.

We had made the move to help build a church and had high hopes of some kind of wonderful community, hopes that what we were sacrificing to support someone else’s vision would be worth it. It would be worth leaving our families, worth leaving our friends, worth letting go of everything to build something new and wonderful……..We were leaving everything behind to build a dream. A year and a half later I felt completely enveloped in the disappointment of that dream.

It got to the point that every day I would sit on the edge of my bed and cry because I didn’t know how I was going to make it through another day. I spent most days alternately crying or screaming at my children and the saddest thing was that I knew I was a little crazy and had no idea what to do about it. I knew I was wrong but I didn’t know how I was wrong.

Eventually the Lord got my attention through three different people who told me I was depressed and needed drugs. At their urging I went to my doctor and explained everything. He very kindly told me that I was experiencing depression. When he left the room to go write me a prescription for an antidepressant I cried my eyes out, then I cried my eyes out all the way home and then I sobbed as I told my husband I was depressed. I was depressed that I was depressed! I look back on that morning now with a kind humor for myself because as real as it was it also felt like some kind of comedy.

Zoloft saved my life and I will ever be grateful for it. But it presented some of it’s own issues. At the time I was already really fat. I was the fattest I had ever been the zoloft made me not only gain more weight but I didn’t care, but at the same time it made me more depressed to be even fatter. It also caused plenty of problems in the intimacy department and that was pretty depressing. Which didn’t really help in the unhealthy self-image department either.

But all in all about 3 weeks in I felt this incredible sense of relief as peace finally descended on my brain. My brain hadn’t shut up in I don’t know how many years. It was always telling me “NOT GOOD ENOUGH”, you are too loud, too fat, to stupid, to ugly, you are a pig, you are a horrible mother, you are a horrible wife, If you would just ________ you would be so much better. NAG NAG NAG!

With the zoloft that constant nagging in my brain began to finally get quieter, I even experienced……. wait for it…….. PLEASURE! I COULD be happy again! It was wonderful!! I told anyone who would listen how great the stuff was, I was ecstatic to finally have some peace, those were beautiful days. I would never trade those moments for anything.

At some point about 3.5 years in I felt as if the Lord told me that my depression was healed and that joy was my portion. I gladly let go of the zoloft because no real christian gets depressed. If I was experiencing depression then I must have hidden sin or I need deliverance. I did the deliverance thing, did the cleansing streams, did the books and the prayer thing but i guess I just wasn’t a mature enough christian to not be depressed. Hogwash! Not every body functions the way that God created it too. If someone is born with no hands are you really going to ask what hidden sin they have? And then if they confess that sin and get delivered their arms are going to grow back? Or my depression will poof go away? anyway….

Fast forward quite a few years and life ( as it has a tendency to do ) jumped up and bit me in the butt pretty hard. I fight a lot of things on a daily basis. I fight fatigue, day in day out mind numbing fatigue. It is present from the moment I begin to wake up in the morning until I go to bed at night. I have chronic pain. Day in and day out, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. It is just there. It always will be and there is not a thing I can do about it. I can do some things to make both of those better, but they will never go away.

So I made the decision to go back to my doctor. I was tired of fighting fatigue, pain, teens, husband…..I was tired of fighting life. I could not continue to fight all of those things and my depression too. I got a new even more wonderful drug this time. Wellbutrin.

Again that life saving peace. That moment I knew I was going to be alright. I love drugs. I really do. I love that the Lord gave man enough wisdom to help make our bodies work the way He created them. I love that God knew our bodies are fallen bodies and they need help. I love that in Him there is no condemnation for those of us who need a boost. I love that most of His prophets were as depressed as I was. Read Jeremiah, read the psalms, for crying out loud read Lamentations. God knew and He provided. Through prayer and drugs He saved my family and I am grateful for that.

It has been just over 7 years since I started taking the wellbutrin and all of a sudden last month I thought, I don’t want to take this anymore. So I stopped. Cold turkey.

I am trying to go a healthier route. Trying to go gluten free, more whole foods less processed. I was never a processed food kind of person to begin with and we didn’t have all the junk that most Americans have in their cupboards but I still manage to have too much. I want to get the chemicals out of my life. and I want to see if in doing that it will help with my bent towards depression.

I want to give my body the chance and the tools to work how God created it. I don’t know if it can be done. There are hundreds of thousands of people who deal with death and disease and brokenness in their bodies regardless of how “healthy” they live. And there are the 600 lb people who drink and smoke who have no health problems.

So I don’t know. I don’t believe it makes me a better christian to stop taking the meds, either way with or without them I have to have some form of faith be it in God inspired medication or in God miraculously curing me. Both take faith in a God that I love and adore.

So for right now I kind of feel like when I drive the car without my seat belt, FREE! and surprisingly kind of happy. I will be watchful though. I am not willing to put my family through the hell I was in the middle of my depression and I will go back on it without condemnation and without hesitation. But I am kind of excited to see what God can do with me through this journey.

Praise Him in the Hallway…..

Today a friend on facebook posted one of those pics with a little saying underneath. Things like that get posted more times than I can keep up with most days. I catch most of them though ( which tells you a lot about my days ) Sometimes they are funny, sometimes stupid and sometimes they say something that snags the corner of your spirit in a big way. This was one of them.

It was a black and white photo with two doors. One was open and one was shut. It said “Until Gods opens the next door praise Him in the hallway”. Immediately I felt that corner of my spirit being tugged on. I had the urge to just open the picture huge in my browser and stare at it. I wanted to just sit there and look because that is where I am in my life, in a hallway. One long, bright white and sterile hallway.

I feel kind of lost and without purpose in my life. At least the measurable purpose. It seems as if the last 4 years or so have been a lot of hallway time. Go in one door, out the other and sit in the hall for a while longer. Then do it again, and then again.

You see I am not so talented or passionate about any one thing to know that THIS one thing is what I should be doing. I have friends who have been gifted in teaching or singing or the arts. So much so that they know whatever other things in their lives are occurring or they are doing their giftings are woven into the fabric of everything they do. They have purpose and they have their gifting it leads them, it guides them, it drives them. They are the ones that do their day job and sing in the church choir. They are the ones who go to their bank job and then teach women’s groups on wednesday nights. Whatever they do, they are walking in their purpose.

But for the middle of the roader like me, no real career or even a job, nothing that I can say “this is what I was designed for”, I spend a lot of time in the hall waiting to figure out what to do and where to go next. ugh.

And I hate it because like everyone in my generation I’ve been told that I am extraordinary. I am “special”….I can be whatever I want to be. Just dig deep, find that fire in you, go out and BE GREAT FOR GOD……If you believe all of that you will have the most fulfilled life ever, you will be a superstar and you will never falter in your calling, you will never question your existence because you are a child of the most high!!!!

To that end there is every test that can be done for you to find out who you are and what you should be doing, how you should be doing it and why you can’t be the best without the test. Only problem is that I score middle of the road almost everywhere I test. Except that I am ordinary, I am middle of the road. Not everyone loves me, not everyone hates me. Not everyone hangs on my every word and not everyone ignores me. I am not enigmatic, nor am I charismatic but I couldn’t be characterized as a wallflower either. I am me. Normal, ordinary, not special.

I am just a girl who sits and waits for what God says is next, because it is never clear to me. What I would really love is if someone would just say the hallway is o.k. . That God not only meets me on the mountain top or the valley, but also in that in between space. That for every extraordinary person there is someone who’s life and giftings run in the ordinary not the extraordinary.

So sometimes because of my lack of giftings I end up in the hallway, but didn’t God make that place also? He made the mountaintops and the valleys. He created the storms as well as the calm breeze, couldn’t he have created this waiting place also? I think so.

So until I figure out where the doors are and which ones He wants me to go through maybe I will just sit in the hallway and praise Him for a while. I think if I can praise Him in the storm praising Him in the hallway shouldn’t be all that difficult. I just hope that someone who’s gifting is singing joins me soon. My middle of the road voice ( actually my very bad voice ) isn’t so awesome to listen too.

The Living Years….

Every so often I find myself writing about a grief that has never healed. His name was Sam. He was an amazing man and had an amazing impact on my life. I credit him with being the only man up until I met my husband who had ever loved me unconditionally. I am sure that he was also quite flawed and human, but those things didn’t matter. What mattered was that I mattered to him.

Last night we watched the Glee episode that dealt with the death of one of it’s central characters. The saddest thing of course is that in real life the actor who had played the part had overdosed and died young. It was hard to watch the show without tears because I knew that what was being displayed was true grief. It was hard to hear the very words of my heart coming out of an actor on t.v. .

Then today on youtube I found an an old song by Mike and the Mechanics called the Living Years. It is a song about loving now, forgiving now, in the living years, “say it loud, say it now, say it clear, it’s to late when we die to admit we don’t see eye to eye”.

While watching the show I said out loud that it had been 26 years since Sam had died. Then my daughter said “and 26 years since your dad died”. He had died the same year, they had actually died within a few months of each other. My reply to that was “oh well”.

Sam was everything to me. He still is and I miss him more every year. It is a grief that never heals. Honestly sometimes I don’t want it to though because I can still feel him in that place of grief. It is the only proof I have of his life. Sounds sad doesn’t it? and maybe it is a little bit.

I went to my dad shortly before he died and said all the things I needed to say to him. I told him that I loved him, I told him that I wanted him in my life, I told him I wanted him in my wedding which was only a few months away. I wanted to have him over for dinner and that i wanted him to know his grandchildren.

He left the state a week later without telling me he was going. He had no intention of ever coming back and had never planned on being at my wedding. Two weeks before my wedding he was shot and killed during a burglary in the home of a friend he had been staying with.

There were no more living years for us. No more chances, no more…..anything. Death is final and it is brutal. It snatches the very breath out of the words you wanted to speak, should have spoken, wished you had spoken. It leaves your arms empty and your heart broken. Death steals your hopes and dreams in one agonizing second that feels more like eternity. Death leaves the landscape of your heart feeling like a giant sunami has just come and decimated you. It leaves you littered with memories and feelings broken into piles of matchsticks.

I didn’t know it at the time but God in His incredible grace allowed me to say goodbye to both Sam and my dad. With Sam it was a day trip with him and my kids. A whole incredible day riding horses and loving him. On the way home that day I looked at him after he told me how much I meant to him and how much he loved me, and said that he better not die before me, I couldn’t live without him in my life. Those were the last words we spoke. a week later he had drowned himself. He was supposed to have walked me down the aisle at my wedding.

I realized life is to short to not fight for healing in relationship during that time. I learned that pride and bitterness make you nothing but lonely and alone. That is when i went to my dad. It didn’t change anything and he still left and he still was killed. But it changed me to know that he had not died knowing his daughter hated him. Whether he accepted my love or forgiveness was his deal, but I didn’t have to live with the guilt and regret of not saying it.

In the end Sam knew I loved him. In the end my dad knew that I loved him, or at least that I wanted to try to love him. I have no regrets. I said it in the living years.