Okay, so you guys know, if you know ME or if you’ve read here much at all, that I am a “retired” homeschool mom of two twenty-something sons. Yeah, I’ve been “retired” for quite some time!
Homeschooling was the greatest, most best decision we ever made. Yes, even though I had plenty of days when I was quite certain it was the WORST decision we ever made. I think as a mom OR dad, wanting to do the very best for your children, we all have those doubts when trying to determine what’s best for our kids. Even though we were happy having the boys at home and I loved being a stay-at-home mom teaching my boys, there were still days that it seemed like a really baaaad choice! There are probably those moments in anything we pursue that is ultimately good.
I would never say I was a “great” homeschool mother. I wouldn’t even say I was “good” at it most days. But I tried my best to meet the needs of my children. I know families with 8+ children who have a whole posse of little virtuoso in a variety of areas. Music, mathematics, communication, entrepreneurship… you name it. Many of those kids are now doing extremely well in their adult lives. My boys are no exception to that. I feel like, at least for me, this is the litmus test as to whether homeschooling was a success.
While my youngest son chose not to finish high school, he is still doing well. He never attended any other type of school than at home. My boys have quite different personalities and while our eldest enjoyed learning at home, our youngest had a different bent. He wanted nothing to do with anything that came hard to him. If it wasn’t easy or something he was extremely interested in, he just didn’t want to do it at all. And he was several times more stubborn than his mother, so this made continuing his education at home very difficult.
I don’t want to rehash old problems or bring up too much from a really hard time in our family, but our baby became very rebellious, very hateful toward me specifically. I’m not sure if that was just because I was the “authority” figure for the large part of his life at that time (since I was also his ‘teacher’) or if it was more personally directed at me, but it was very obvious and it broke my heart.
By the time he was 14 or 15, he began to just refuse to do his lessons. He had a car by this time, one he had bought himself and was working on to have ready by the time he got his license, so of course, he spent a ton of time doing that. When he’d refuse to read anything else, no matter how hard I’d tried to find literature that would interest him, he would devour anything about his car without hesitation. And yes, I did try to allow as much as I could for the how-to car reading to count toward his school, but that wouldn’t fill all the requirements. But no matter what we threatened or how hard we explained why he needed to do the other work, he would just refuse. He wasn’t super-in-your-face with his refusal, but he’d sit for hours NOT doing the work you gave him.
Needless to say, I was frustrated beyond words and it became harder and harder to deal with. It didn’t make it any easier that the boys’ father wasn’t really a disciplinarian in that area. I’m trying NOT to sound disrespectful or like I am bashing Tommy, but he just wasn’t involved with schooling very much. He felt that was my job, my territory, and when I would come to him with concerns or problems, he just wasn’t very helpful in addressing them. I think he felt like he and Casey were more alike and Corey and I were alike so he usually seemed to “side” with Casey. I say “sided” because that’s how it felt. In hindsight, I think Tommy just didn’t know what to do, he wasn’t fully aware of how bad things had become and that’s what informed his actions. The way most things go in parenting, we always just do the best we know how at the time and I think that’s what happened here.
All these years later, we discovered that there were things happening in Casey’s life that we had absolutely no clue about. He shut himself off from us and seeing how he rebelled even more if we tried to approach him, we just gave him space. We had no clue he needed us to break through his walls, to be praying for him in specific ways, to help him navigate some horrible things. When I was made aware of this stuff, just a few years ago, it broke my heart all over again. What kind of mother am I to not know?? To not see how much my child needed his parents to intervene?? Even if he was pushing me away with all his might, how could I not know how much he was hurting? Those thoughts bring the tears, even now. Nothing is more heartbreaking as a mother than to realize you failed your child in such a huge way.
All of that to say, even with all this failure and heartbreak, I don’t regret homeschooling my boys. And to see them today, both successful in their jobs, both contributing, functional adults in spite of their “lack of socialization” (pshh!) is a balm to my mama-soul!
You may not know, but Corey, our eldest, recently moved with his wife to the Cincinnati area for a new job. The company found his profile on LinkedIn and sent a request for his application! Out of the blue. Realizing this, as a homeschool mom, was a real boost for me personally. I mean, after all the naysayers either aloud or privately saying my children would suffer from our choosing to teach them at home? I thank God for this affirmation that we did what we should have at the time.
Casey and Corey have always worked together in their grandpa’s business (my dad), which is a combination of various plumbing-related things. They’ve sort of grown up in the trade, working summers from the time they were barely teenagers to the year Corey put off his graduation in order to help my dad when his only other employee at the time (my father-in-law) had suffered a heart attack and dad sorely needed the help. Corey was not quite 17 when he made that decision and because we homeschooled, it was totally possible to do this.
When Corey left to take this job, it left Casey with a role he hadn’t ever filled before. And let me say, this was a job too good for Corey to pass. It was higher pay with commissions and bonuses, less stress of being responsible for both office work and keeping track of and working on jobs and less being resented because to others, it seemed Corey was doing less because of his time doing office work. There’s also benefits like retirement and 401k plans that aren’t available with my dad’s business and room to advance. There’s also a respect that Corey didn’t get here at home. No one who knows the situation could possibly fault him for taking the job. As much as it pained me to see him move, I can’t deny that in so many other areas, he’s a lot better off than he was here.
It really took him leaving for my dad and Casey to realize how much Corey was actually doing. So as far as the resentment shown when Corey informed them he was leaving, there’s now a respect that had never been shown before. It always hurt me so much to know that the boys, both of them, were dealing with so much stress and tension from my dad, who seemed to not understand or be willing to admit that doing things the same old way weren’t working. Any new idea the boys came up with was met with scorn and most times, ridicule so they had to continue doing things a more difficult way while bearing the weight of their grandfather’s disapproval.
I love my dad, don’t get me wrong. But he can be impossibly bullheaded sometimes. Like most of us, I guess, only… well, more so! I think now that these changes have been made, he’s beginning to see that there need to be new ways of doing things than he’s done all his adult life with his various businesses. I just hope Casey can continue to urge him to make the changes. Casey is much better at communicating or at least confronting my dad than Corey was. Casey will get in his face and tell him when he’s being irrational or stubborn where Corey would just bite his tongue and let Pap carry on his own path. Overall, I think Corey’s leaving has been a positive thing all around. I had been very worried that it would be only negative here at home, with the business. but it seems to have ushered in some new realizations so I’m hopeful things will be better here as well.
Casey is now having to step us as more of the salesman for the company, the “people-person”, which had been Corey’s role most of the time. And granted, I think both the boys would agree that Corey has an easier time with that than Casey most of the time. Although Casey is learning and he does very well most of the time anyway, it doesn’t come as naturally to him as it does Corey. It’s been good to see Casey maturing in the way he sees the business now that he doesn’t have his brother to leave all that to. Maybe I’m a little biased since I am the eldest in my family, but I think it’s just easy for the younger to leave things up to the elder. It’s like a natural role so when there’s never an opportunity for the younger to take the lead, they will continue to let the older sibling tend to those things. It’s not that Casey is unable, it’s just that he’d never really had to before, so in all, it’s a good thing, I believe.
In case you’re wondering about that title, it was intended to refer to how things just fell into place with Corey moving and getting this job. He has all this time he never had before and he’s figuring out what to do with himself. That’s a good problem to have. Granted, some of that no-time-for-himself thing was because he was also serving as youth pastor at his church here. Not only was he dealing with all the stuff from the business, he had kids calling on him at all hours with various issues plus all the activities that were most of the time scheduled by someone else without consulting Corey first. It was just a lot on his plate.
But the whole thing with this new job just sort of happened all at once. They contacted him, he sent a resume, then went up for an interview, the next week he went for another interview and then the offer letter came. All that happened in less than a month beginning around the first week of November and then they wanted him to start in January! They had to settle their house, pack it up and get rid of what they weren’t keeping, deal with settling Corey’s part of the business, find an apartment and figure out how to get moved up there all at once! It was crazy times, let me tell ya!
And this poor mom had like ZERO time to adjust to all this. I mean, like I’ve said, I never dreamed either of my boys would move out of town, let alone out of state! And even if I thought one of them might move, I always figured that would be Casey, not Corey. It was like total shock!
Thankfully, I got to spend time with them after Tommy and I helped the kids find an apartment, so we had first-hand knowledge of where they were and what kind of place they had, what type of area they lived in and all that. I think they really appreciated our help. It all went so smoothly, with only 4 of them (Melissa’s uncle and cousin came to help) unloading the UHaul and getting done right ahead of the snowy rain? That was just God, y’all. He was just working through the entire thing.
They went from a 1400 square foot home with a full finished basement to a 1000 square foot apartment with a small storage room about the size of a closet! Needless to say, they got rid of a ton of stuff. Their apartment is nice, cozy but roomy enough for them. It’s also roomy enough to house a few guests for a few days (or a week.. I stayed with them almost a week at the end of January). Ha. Their dog, Timber the Australian Shepherd, has adjusted extremely well. Even with the company changing start dates on Corey and having him start a couple days before he even had his work van organized, he’s done really well and has been noticed by the management and owners.
Casey seems to have adjusted to the new role he has and although he’s working a lot, he’s doing well, too. I would honestly be tickled if he would move up there and take a job with this company too. They recruited Corey because of his experience in plumbing and the fact that he has his Master Plumber license and they have just started expanding their business into plumbing and need licensed plumbers! But Casey doesn’t seem interested and that may have more to do with his wife, I don’t know. Shoot, if Tommy wasn’t less than five years from retirement, I would be pushing him to move up there and apply with this company. It’s been voted one of the top businesses in Cincinnati several years in a row and anyone who knows about it says it is an awesome company. They really have a stellar reputation and they do business in such a no-nonsense way that seeks to accommodate customers while also taking great care of their employees. They have an open-door policy among management, which in this company means there are NO doors in their offices! How cool is that? You won’t find many companies that think this way!
Anyway, I guess all this is just to give God ALL the credit for working things out so well. For helping me deal with my anxiety over the sudden move, for making things smooth out here at home as well as for Corey in his new home and job. Now, if the boys would just allow God to move and work in repairing their relationship, I’d be super-thrilled! Over the last few years, the boys have seemed to get this growing tension in their relationship. I think it’s been partially due to dealing with dad and the stress of working with him and each other and the changes that came with their marriages and adding new family members. Casey and Mel were almost like brother and sister when Corey first got married. It was good to see him be so at ease with her and watch them have fun being around each other.
I think after Casey moved into the basement of my parents’ old house (where Corey and Mel lived–the three of them bought the house together for some reason I’ll never understand–my dad arranged the whole thing) things seemed to change and I don’t know why. Maybe it was the dynamics or maybe the proximity? I just don’t know.
Things just change over time, and I know that. I just never dreamed they would drift so far apart or that one would push the other away. Growing up, they were each other’s best friend. As they began to get a little older, into double digits I guess, they spent more time with other people, had the chance to make other friends. Corey, like I said, is just generally more outgoing and quick to extend himself to make a friend. Not that he tried to leave Casey behind. It wasn’t like that at all. Most of the time, Casey was included in whatever Corey did, whoever Corey hung out with. I guess maybe as time went on, Casey began to feel like he was in Corey’s shadow? I don’t know why. At least, I never saw Corey treat Casey with anything other than patience. Maybe I didn’t see everything. I don’t know.
I mean, obviously with the things that Casey got into when he hit the teens without me even having a clue, how would I know what was really happening? Did I miss things between them, right under my nose too? I tried so hard to do everything I could to help them learn and have fun and do the things they wanted. How did I mess it up so bad?
How could I fail so bad? So big? Our one son barely acknowledges us most of the time and has many times brought his brother to tears the way he’s shut him out, shoved him away in the past 3-4 years. Why did I not know he was struggling with something dark and evil? He was a teenager. He was surly and aloof. We thought he needed his space. We gave him his space and apparently the space for this evil to get an even tighter grip. He grew more and more hateful toward me. He seemed to just despise me and I didn’t know why. I thought it had to do with school, but apparently the evil had given him more fuel to just add to his resentment toward me. I have been so hurt, so heartbroken over the way he’s treated me.
My response to hurt, after it goes on for awhile, is to just shut down. To just shut myself off from the hurt by avoiding it, the person causing it, to steel myself to it. So I just tried to keep from losing it. After trying to reach out to him, trying to show him how much I cared and having him push me away, I just quit trying. I avoided him or shut my emotions off when it came to talking to him. Maybe he saw that as proof that whatever horrible thing he thought of me was true? I don’t know. It was just the only way I knew to deal with it. So yeah, I guess I just allowed my heart to harden, to turn to stone a little bit.
If you read about The Dark Secret, the really depressing, maddening thing that was going on in our marriage for almost 20 years at the time all this was happening, you might realize, I was hardly hanging on to reality sometimes. It was all I could do to keep from losing it most days. Add to that the awful state our finance tend to stay in.. more so now than when the kids were at home. I guess it’s because the both of us have so many stupid medical bills, take so much medicine now, but for some reason, we seem to never have enough money. We really don’t splurge on anything, but still we always have to juggle the bills trying to keep from going under.
All of that is a lot for my brain. I have a really hard time not being dismally depressed. I have to constantly tell myself I am blessed. I have a lot to be thankful for. Then I get a notice that the bank balance is dismal, or a reminder that my youngest son doesn’t like me or a bad blood sugar or I run out of a medicine knowing I have to wait for the next paycheck to get my refill… that’s all it takes for me to just slide down into the pit a little further.
Soooo…after explaining my title and now sorta obliterating it with my random bout of ‘the dumps’, let me say that I still cling to the fact that God loves me. He has my best interests at heart in everything He leads me to and leads me through. I don’t know why I tend so heavily toward depression. I don’t know why my relationship with my youngest son is such a mess or why we didn’t know he needed us to rescue him from himself when he was a kid. I don’t know why we have to constantly struggle to make ends meet. Why we can’t ever rest because we can’t seem to keep our bills paid. I don’t know why we had to endure all those years, those decades with our marriage in shambles. I don’t know why He kept us together through all that other than to receive the healing we did. To show us that it’s never too late.
So as I sit here, in tears, hurting and wishing I understood, wishing things weren’t the way they are but having no clue how to change it. Worrying how we’ll pay for things, if I’ll ever not hurt when I’m with my baby son, if I’ll ever be able to have all my kids together, daughters-in-law included, and not have to worry that they’re trading barbs or if what they’re saying carries a double meaning, worrying that we will have spent our entire marriage scrapping, struggling to have enough money to pay bills and buy medicine. Feeling SO tired of worrying. So guilty that I worry when I am supposed to trust God. Feeling like such a failure in so many, many ways…. just know that later, maybe not tomorrow, but later, soon… I will be better. I’ll realize things aren’t as dismal as they seem, that God’s still got me.
God always has me. This I know. <3
Have you heard that before? Maybe you heard something like this: “Don’t look back at your past, you’re not going that way” or “You can’t have a brighter future if you keep living in the past.”
That’s not just an inspirational thought some dude had to use in motivational speeches. It’s biblical. Isaiah wrote this jewel that God said to Jacob, the father of the nation of Israel:
Remember not the former things,nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?~Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV
I can understand that, actually. I used to be that way. Now, most of the time, I feel as if I over-share. Ha. Or as if I have entrusted the wrong person with my very private, inner struggles. Actually, I’m quite certain I’ve done that on more occasions that I care to think about, but once it’s done, you can’t undo it, so I try not to fret about that.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.~2 Corinthians 5:17He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.~Colossians 1:13-14…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.~Philippians 3:13-14
Hey y’all. I’m working so hard, trying to increase traffic here…build an audience, a subscription list, whatever else a successful blogger does. Most of the time, I feel like I’m just flopping around, splashing water into the floor, making a mess.
I see some steadiness in the amount of traffic, so I suspect some of you are just awesomely loyal readers and probably close friends who stop by often to see what crazy thing I’ve posted. I am so thankful for you!
I know I’ve said it before, but this blogging thing is a big deal to me. I started it after months and months of stewing and praying about whether I should even try. I’ve blogged off and on for about 16 years, so it seemed like the natural thing for me to do…try to monetize the thing I am so passionate about. I felt (and still feel, btw) that God was really nudging me in this direction and so, even though I didn’t feel completely ready, I took the plunge. I plopped down what little was left from our tax refund and started this site.
Looking back, a month later now, I see many mistakes. I think most of them are easily overcome though and not the kind that will break me or the blog. I still don’t understand stupid AdSense or why my husband can get an account with them like snap that and me, with my two (now three!) google accounts, can’t get any of them approved. I’m not sure I’m missing much though. I’m learning that AdSense isn’t the end-all-be-all it has been purported to be, so I have pursued other means of generating income through my blog.
Some of them I am pleased about, and some I will be glad when I can be done with. And no, for the record, I haven’t made a single cent so far. That really concerns me, but I have to remind myself how new it all is. I can’t do it all at once and I need to be patient.
But BOY, is that hard!!
Today, when I went to look at a “blogging schedule” thingie I got from the web, for today it says to post about relaxing. BAHAHAHA!! What is that even?!? I don’t have time right now to relax, and certainly not about the state of my blog. Some of these ‘blog helps’ aren’t really geared toward me, ya know? Many of the blogs in these groups are about how to create a successful website, how to find a niche to build, how to monetize and market whatever you are selling.
I just wanna share life with my readers. I want to encourage and inspire. I want my readers to leave feeling better than they did when they pulled up my site. I want them to find the courage to go on, the determination to stick it out. The comfort of knowing they are not alone, the peace of knowing someone else out here has been where they are. I want the person with t1d to find a friend, someone to commiserate with and rejoice in whatever victories we accomplish as PWD’s. (persons with diabetes)
I want the homeschooling mom to know she can do it and I know she can because I did it. I want her to know that the great mistake she feels she’s made is not the end. That she and her children are far better off just because she tried to teach them at home, whether she continues or not. And no matter what, as long as she is trying to do her very best for her kids, she is a winner!
I want that couple who is struggling with some sexual incompatibility or physical problem to know they are not alone. I want them to realize it’s okay to talk about it and that there are people out here who can help, both professionals and people like me who have been there, done that. I want that woman to know she’s not the first or only one to be facing what she is, and that she need not bury herself in depression and self-hatred or guilt because there is hope. I want to keep her and her husband from living the hell that we did for 30 years and to find healing and hope!
More than all this, I want people to know there is hope, no matter what the situation is, there is hope. There is peace to be had, no matter how big the mess or how damaged their soul, Peace is there for the asking in the person of Jesus Christ. I want them to know that it is because of Jesus that I am alive today. That I’m able to share and talk about the issues, struggles and problems in my life. Ultimately, I believe this is the reason God has been urging me to write.
I haven’t touched my book in over 6 months, but perhaps soon I’ll dig back into it. I still feel He is calling me to write it, but I’m at another crossroad about which direction to take with it. (ANY feedback would be appreciated on this, folks!!) The book has lived in my head for many years as a sort-of memoir, a story of my life and how I have dealt with diabetes, the depression and all the other physical and emotional side effects of having a chronic disease for so long. However, as we have come to this place of healing in our marriage, I feel THAT is also a topic that needs to be shared. It, of course, is much more personal, deeply painful but ultimately hopeful since our long journey through this has ended with our beginning the healing process. My conundrum is should these be separate or combined?
You probably didn’t know this, but I have a problem with compartmentalizing. ha ha! Meaning, I can’t do it. You may have noticed I began this post talking about the blog and now, here I am asking for input and suggestions for a direction of a book! I need help with my wandering mind, my rambling style of writing.
I know there are some writers out there who read here occasionally. I also know there are lots of readers who come here too. I want to hear from you! What appeals to you in a book? What topics are you most interested in? What are you most interested in learning more about? Help me out!
I look forward to a great discussion and some awesome feedback and suggestions! Let’s help each other!
I can’t believe how fast this year has flown by! It won’t be long til “D Day” and some of the kids are already asking me what I want to do for it.
As usual, I say that I’d rather just pretend it’s not here, but that never flies with them.
I dunno why getting older is such a thorn in my side. I mean, I know we all hate that feeling of getting older, not looking or feeling as good as we used to, seeing our children grow up before our eyes. Maybe it’s hard-wired into our natures to regret the passing of time?
But then again, I’m not totally against it. As I’ve gathered more years to myself, I have realized that all the time I spent wishing I was older, “I can’t wait”-ing for my first-born to walk/talk/whatever…what a foolish endeavor!
How awesome would it be to actually be able to go back in time to our younger selves and give them a head’s up?
First, I’d tell Younger Me to learn patience. Don’t be so eager or insistent. Just let things happen, be prepared for whatever that is and enjoy each moment.
Then I’d tell Her to take better care of her health. Don’t see the diabetes as a curse or an enemy. Just accept it as part of the plan God has for you, then do all you can to be healthy. Don’t fall into that rebelliousness that makes you say, “Who cares?! I’m going to eat what I want, I’m going to ignore my blood sugars.” I’d try to impress upon Her how mad she will be once she’s older and realizes she could have done so much better. I’d tell her despite the non-athletic nature of her parents and family to be active. To learn the benefits of exercise and how to do it regularly. Oh, Younger Me, it sure would have made these days and our future feel a lot better if only you had learned that.
Get into the habit of reading your Bible. Maybe then we won’t have such a sporadic study time. Learn to pray. Yes, I know. You weren’t really taught that nor will you find a really good resource for this in your church or family. Dig into scripture yourself. Ask people who seem to have a great prayer life. Maybe they don’t know you need to be taught.
Granted, since I was able to make it to the altar with my virginity intact (yes, I’m serious) obviously we did a fair job of guarding our purity. But trust me, there will be opportunities when you can still let things go too far. Don’t think only “the home plate” is sex. All those other bases count, too. Let me tell you that years down the road, IF you attempt to “home base” now, the aftermath could be catastrophic. Even though you waited for marriage, there will be a long, rough road ahead for you sexually, but don’t give up. Trust me…it will be worth it. Don’t give up.
Don’t give up. Nope. Do NOT give up. Put that on a loop in your head. You will need to hear it OFTEN.
Don’t buy the fairy tale that everything will be better once you’re married. Your life is tough at home, I know, you feel ignored and discounted. You feel like your opinions don’t matter, your preferences are wrong, your ideas are stupid. But getting married won’t change that. Even though that boy you finally marry will be your biggest supporter in the years ahead, it won’t change the fact that your family makes you feel worthless. Learn to find your own self worth. Find it not only in Jesus, but in your abilities and strengths. Don’t throw those away just because they are not affirmed by your parents.
And then, when That Boy comes along who will fall for you immediately, don’t expect him to cure all your ills. Don’t expect that he can mend all the wounds you’ve accumulated to your heart over the years. Just love him better.
As for me, I regret the wasted time being mad at him for not “fixing” it all. You won’t realize that’s what you’re expecting, but it is. Your self worth will get so damaged growing up the way we did. Try and learn to lean on Jesus during those times. Don’t let the devil tell you lies about yourself. I know, I KNOW. It’s hard to do this as a child on your own, but try. Try harder than I did. Present Me is still fighting to deal with all the scars left by never feeling worthy.
Don’t let the betrayals of those you think are your real friends keep you from ever reaching out again. Maybe I should instead tell you to not expect everyone to be as deeply invested in the relationship as you are. Don’t toss your whole self into a friendship without measuring the other person’s dedication. Then, just be as good a friend as you can without expecting anything in return. That way, when they do hurt you, and they will, you won’t be quite as crushed. You won’t decide to lock everyone out and never find that ‘best friend’ you have always wanted.
I don’t think I’d have to say “Don’t worry about pleasing people.” because I don’t think we have a problem with that. I really need to ask one of my friends and see if that’s accurate. I mean, I don’t like letting people down once I’ve committed to something, but jumping through hoops just to make someone like me? I just don’t do that. But I think I will ask (and if any of the few who would be considered my friends are reading here, shoot, even if you THINK I’m your friend, chime in. send me a message or comment on this post!) …just to see if I’m anywhere close to right. I’m pretty sure that we don’t have to worry about being people pleasers.
Good job, Younger Me. You got one right!!
So what other things would I tell my younger self, the Younger Me? I dunno… but it’s something to ponder.
What would you tell YOUR younger self if you could?
Ecclesiastes 4:13 – “Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice.”
I’ve had a couple of discussions about it in the past couple days. I saw several posts and vlogs about it lately. I know many people who suffer with, from and through it. Heaven knows I have dealt with it enough myself.
So let’s just discuss it. I feel like maybe I’m supposed to speak about it.
Maybe you’ve figured out by now I’m talking about depression. Sadly, even in the 21st century, it’s still a taboo subject. It’s still cause for shame or at least embarrassment in America.
I’ve shared here and other places online about my own struggles with depression. I have had discussions publicly and via private message with people about it.
[DISCLAIMER: I’m not dispensing clinical advice to you or recommending you do a particular thing. I am just sharing MY experiences, MY “what works for me”, MY findings while researching the problem. You do what’s best for you, seek professional advice first and BE WELL!]
My motives are pretty simple and very straightforward. I think it’s important for people to be aware of depression…of the signs and symptoms, of the treatments, of the facts that there are many of us who suffer with it and how it would surprise you to find out how many of your friends, family and acquaintances are living with it right now.
First let’s look at what depression actually is and what it isn’t. What I have is referred to as “clinical depression” and it’s what many of the folks who have reached out to me also deal with.
[NOTE: Please make use of the many links I have put in this post. (the first one is in the previous paragraph!) If you don’t live with depression yourself, at least be educated enough to understand and help those around you who are living with it. I guarantee you there are more than you’d think.]
Clinical depression is that “black cloud” that sticks with you. It’s a “sadness” that you can’t explain or shake. I find that the best way to explain it to those who don’t understand is that I KNOW without a doubt I have MUCH to be thankful for,
I K-N-O-W it. But I can’t make myself be happy. And it’s not that I’m overtly sad or anxious. It’s just an indescribable inertness, if you will. A complete lack of energy, or perhaps an inability, to feel joy.
If you read all through the link for clinical (or major) depression (and I urge you to!) then you’ll see it lists the symptoms and then states “when it’s not caused by a medical condition or medication” and that’s where I depart from the medical book, as I usually do. (ha) I DO have medical conditions that can cause those symptoms. I even have a chronic disease which makes me much more susceptible to being depressed. (diabetes, to name just one) so I don’t fit “neatly” into a particular diagnosis. Lots of us don’t and that’s okay as long as you have a medical professional who can deal with that.
There are currently several types of depression recognized by the medical community. Some of these you’ve probably heard of, like “clinical depression”, “major depression”, “postpartum depression”, even PMS has its own depression called “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder”! That last link will take you to webmd.com’s list of these with links to more info on each of them. I’m not sure how valid some of these are, but perhaps medicine is just trying to give a name to the things we deal with all the time but never know what to call it. (for instance, on the list is “situational depression”…who on this earth hasn’t experienced that before? I’m not sure the emotions tied to various temporary events deserves a medical diagnosis, but that’s fodder for another post, right?–HA!)
Let me say that I don’t want to “push” depression and make it like so many things these days, cool or in any way desirable or something to be envied. That doesn’t make much sense I guess, but stick with me while I try to explain… Like so many things in our society, people try to put labels on various people and behaviors. Sometimes to make them ‘hip’ or whatever, sometimes to make them seem acceptable. (first thing that comes to mind is how ADD became a buzz-diagnosis so quickly and then, even though it can be a genuine problem for some people, it soon became the go-to excuse for not doing your work, not being dependable or responsible, etc., etc.) I don’t want to do that here. Depression is serious. It can be life-threatening at its worst, debilitating or at its very best, it can make living feel like a burden. So it’s not something to be trifled with in any way. I guess I just don’t want to come across as if I’m just tossing the word around and diminish the real significance of the disease.
Okay, so here, I want to share with you a video by a pastor I’ve met a time or two that I really admire. For one, he’s now an avid cyclist. (Seriously, the man’s a beast on a bike!) For two, he’s an honest-to-goodness Bible-believing man of God who isn’t afraid to speak truth. For three, he’s a loving husband and father and he also suffers from depression. I already like him, but after he posted this video on Facebook, I admired him even more. See for yourself as someone with a position of leadership and somewhat notoriety goes very public with how he struggled with and then overcame the monster that is depression: Pastor Greg Locke on Overcoming Depression
As you might guess, one of the reasons I so love this video is that he says cycling helped with his depression. Of course, not everyone can jump into this the way he did. Since I’ve been watching him for years now, I can tell you that he first got “into” bike riding when he went to the Goodwill and got a bike to ride in a charity ride. From there, apparently, he was hooked. He has since done a 3,000+ mile ride (IN TEN, that’s 10, one-zero, T-E-N DAYS!!) to the Pacific shore and also the Tour Divide, an unsupported mountain bike ride from Canada to Mexico! He’s a beast, I tell you!
I don’t foresee myself ever doing such amazing bike rides, and that’s okay. I have impressed myself enough with the longer rides I have been able to do. I’m just happy to be getting out and being active because before cycling, I was pretty much a couch potato. A long day of errands was about as much activity as this ol’ gal ever got! So, praise God that I have this activity to get me moving and inching toward better health!
Okay, back to the topic at hand. I hope you watched Greg’s video. Part of what was SO encouraging to me was the discovery that someone who seemed so alive, so interactive, so “with it” would have a problem with depression. It was like LIFE-GIVING to realize that he KNEW what it felt like, knew how it felt when someone says to you, “Just snap out of it. Just trust the Lord. Just read your Bible more.” When it was all you could do just to get out of bed in the morning, IF you even did that!
And I guess that’s the most important thing I want to do with this post. I want YOU to know that *I* KNOW. If you never meet another soul who understands depression, know this… you’ve stumbled across this minuscule spot on the web, this unknown web address to this post because God wanted you to know that you are not alone. Let’s face it, that’s the only way you’d have ended up here! Ha!
Maybe, if you happen to know me in real-life or you’ve read other posts here, maybe you never imagined that I have depression. Once you start being open about it, researching and talking to others, you will find that many of us who suffer from chronic clinical depression can be the funniest, goofiest, seemingly-up-beatest (Ha!) people you know. Here’s the thing.. it’s easy to fake it for a few hours. At least most of the time. So don’t assume that someone who’s always cracking jokes and smiling could never understand depression. Often, it’s a way to cope. That doesn’t mean we’re not genuinely funny or goofy, it’s just that that part of us isn’t the strongest during the dark-cloud times and so we relish our time of being able to laugh and make others laugh, because once that’s over, the cloud is back. At least that’s how depression is for me.
Y’know, you’d think that for those of us who cope that way, since it does feel so much better to be with a few people laughing it up we would seek that out, but in reality it finally becomes too hard. It gets to be too much effort to drag myself out to be with people, to even want to be with people. The devil and my own dark place will start to tell me no one really wants to be with me. They will just wonder what’s wrong with me…why am I so pale, why don’t I have any makeup on, why am I not talking as much, etc. Then there’s the whole monologue that goes, “You’d need to shower and fix your hair. You don’t have the energy for that. It’ll be too hard to smile enough or to ‘be your usual self’ and they’ll know something’s wrong. They will think you’re weird or sick or they’ll just wish you hadn’t come. What if it gets too hard to try and you burst out in tears. You can’t let them see you cry, and you’ll probably cry. No, just stay home. It’s easier that way.”
Only a few short months ago, that conversation played routinely in my head. I stopped going to the get-togethers with some of the most dear friends I have. I’m sure they knew something was up, but I couldn’t bring myself to just say, “Hey guys? I’m hurting. I’m in a bad spot. Nothing physical, no one in my family is terminal or has died, I just feel like crud and I can’t smile anymore. Pray for me. Tolerate me if I come around– encourage me to come around because it’s entirely too easy to convince myself not to!!”
I finally just had to come clean with them. Some of the reasons were deeply personal, so it was hard to even speak them out loud. Secrets in my marriage that were decades old, but they had contributed hugely to the massive black hole I was in and at that time, I had decided to confront and seek help for that and it had stirred up all kinds of ugly. It was HARD to tell my closest friends where I was and how bad I was hurting. They still probably don’t entirely understand, but at least they have an idea now and when I say that I’m feeling “dark” and need some prayer, they are on it. They don’t hesitate to check on me and encourage me, to ask questions which are not comfortable, not convenient to ask.
So I guess my next suggestion or bit of advice for you is this…get, find or make yourself some good friends. At least one. They don’t have to be people you talk to every day or even every week. It doesn’t have to be the person you do everything with (when you DO go do something)… It just needs to be someone you can count on to see through your hiding, your coping methods. Someone who will confront you when you have slipped into dark mode.
One last thing, there’s something even more taboo than depression and that’s suicide and having suicidal thoughts during a deeply depressed cycle. I won’t lie to you. I have been there. I’ve said before, I’m thankful to have my faith in God because I truly believe that’s the only thing that kept me from attempting to end myself years ago when the idea came to me often.
I now know that a permanent solution to a temporary problem is never the answer. It took growing in my faith and becoming solidly convinced that I am worth something to God and even when I feel I’m not worth anything to anyone, not even myself, I have to trust that God’s got a purpose for me being here. A lot of the lies I tell myself are that my family would be better off, my husband could find someone without my problems, who he wouldn’t have to worry about or care for, take to countless doctors or wake from a dead sleep to feed through a low blood sugar, who wasn’t so self-doubting that I paralyze myself and need him to make the simplest decisions… I think my kids could live without wondering if their mother is crazy, without her words that come out so carelessly unintentionally causing pain to them and the ones they love. Even when those quite loud thoughts are going through my mind every single day repeatedly, I can remind myself that God has a purpose. I don’t have to know what it is because He does. I just have to trust Him.
That kinda takes the pressure off me. *ha* So if you don’t know Jesus, I urge you to learn about Him and trust Him with your life. He will keep you safe if you will just trust Him. He’s the best friend and ally against depression I can recommend to you. He may not choose to deliver you out of the dark hole, but He will be with you in it and make you strong enough to endure it.
Hebrews 13:5 – “…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””
I went back to the pelvic health therapist again yesterday. We did the biofeedback, which was very informative and surprising. I was honestly expecting to find that my muscles were super-tight, perpetually stressed.
Turns out, according to the results, my “stuff” isn’t extremely tight after all. I do seem to have weak muscles, as a matter of fact. Which either created or resulted from poor muscle control. It was, like I said, informative and surprising, but also strange/weird. Ha ha… She had me tense my pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds, up to a minute, then relax. The biofeedback showed that my contractions were pretty weak, but that, contrary to what we expected, the muscles actually do relax after instead of steadily increasing in tension.
That’s so totally opposite of what my symptoms seem to point to… that my muscles were overly tight and unable to relax. I guess that leads to realizing that the problem is more due to the scar tissue and the trauma of the pain and conditioning over the years to tighten in response.
*sigh* I was kinda hoping this would be more physical than that, and be something we could “exercise” (HAHA!) out of me instead of having to retrain my mind. Muscles, I believe, are much MUCH easier to retrain than a brain.
Hubby was able to go with me this time, which was good. I wasn’t feeling really great about driving up there by myself. He ordered himself some shoes last week and we had hoped they would be there for us to pick up yesterday. But of course, they weren’t in and we are leaving for Nashville after church Sunday. He really wanted to have them in time to wear at his conference. If they come in before Sunday, we may end up driving up there (in the opposite direction of our destination) to get them, THEN drive down to Nashville, which is a 3 1/2-hour drive anyway! Ugh.
I’m working on getting laundry done and attempting to get the house in a teeny bit better shape before we go. I swear, it’s so horrible now. Just stuff… papers and little things scattered all over. I made a stab at it Sunday afternoon and cleared, or at least organized, all the papers piled up on the bar. It’s still a mess since when Hubby got up from napping, he insisted we go out and get some landscaping done. He had picked up a truckload of gravel for the three trees in the back yard, so he pulled all the weeds out, pulled up the filter fabric and de-rooted it then we replaced the fabric and shoveled the rocks around the trees. That was encouraging, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to do. He had done a great service/tune-up job on our old (a 1976 model!) John Deere lawn tractor, replacing the blades, belts and changing oil and other fluids. When he mowed last week, it was SO evident all the work he’d done on it because the yard looked better than it has in ages! Even and smooth. Now with some of the landscaping refreshed in the back, I am getting encouraged to keep it going, get the house in shape, get the rest of the landscaping cleaned up (the areas right next to the house are a mess!) and get busy with some cookouts and get-togethers with lots of fun, friends and family.
I’ll close this post out before I ramble into yet another topic. But I’ll add this… it is extremely evident that the worst of the depression has been dealt with. Whether it’s the higher dose of Wellbutrin or just that I’m beginning to get healthier, but although I won’t say I’m “great”, I am definitely better. A lot better.
For that, I am extremely, immensely grateful.
Proverbs 3:5-8 –
“5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.”