Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Isaac

Thirteen years ago today, I gave birth to a strapping 8 lb. 14 oz. baby boy! What an exciting day for our family. It had taken a long six and one-half years from the birth of my first son to bring another baby into this world. We were more than ready for this new little guy and welcomed him warmly. What a tremendous blessing he is to us and what entertainment he brings to our lives. Aaah – the memories of that day...if I could bottle that feeling, I could make a million.

3:00 a.m. September 30, 1996…

I am dreaming and in my dream, there is a lot of pain.
Suddenly, I wake up and there is still a lot of pain.
I am not dreaming; I am in labor!

No need to panic, it took me three days to get my firstborn into this world. I will not wake MDH up until I think I should go to the hospital. I will time my contractions for a bit. I go into the den and turn on Turner Classic Movies.

Contraction. Breathe.

I find the 1957 version of Peyton Place just coming on. I have never seen this movie, maybe I will watch for a bit.

Contraction. Breathe.

The movie is good and I wonder why the 1950’s are traditionally considered a chaste decade. Lana Turner is beautiful. Why do they not make bras like that anymore?

Contraction. Breathe.

I am hungry. Maybe I should eat something. NO! The last time I gave birth, I ate something and vomited during a hard contraction. Never mind, I will just finish this movie.

Contraction. Breathe.

Gee, four minutes apart. These things are coming fast. Maybe I should put on my makeup and shave my legs. I looked terrible the last time I gave birth. I want my makeup on this time. Off to the bathroom.

Contraction. Breathe.

Thirty minutes and four contractions later I look somewhat better. Let’s see what Lana is up to now, the tramp.

Contraction. Breathe. Contraction. Breathe.
Maybe I should wake MDH up. Naaaaah!
I want to see the end of this movie.
Only, about thirty more minutes.

Contraction. Contraction. Contraction. Pant. Pant. Pant.

I crawl to the bedroom.
WAKE UP!!!!!
Get your clothes on and take me to the hospital because I am in labor!!!

How long have you been in labor?

About four hours.

How far apart are the contractions?

About a minute.

Contraction. Pant.

Why didn’t you wake me sooner?

I was watching the 1957 version of Peyton Place.
I have never seen it before and I wanted to see what happened to trampy Lana Turner.

Contraction. Pant. Pant.

We find ourselves speeding to the hospital. After I am checked in and situated in my room, I am attached to fifteen different monitors. By this time, I am almost dilated to six.

Where is my epidural! Please bring that large needle and shove it into my spine!

Aaah – that feels much better. No more pain. I actually sleep a few hours.

It is time to push. I hate this part. Push! Push!

3:55 p.m. September 30, 1996…

I push twice and am handed a gorgeous baby boy!

Easy as pie!

Can anyone tell me what happened on Peyton Place?

Just kidding, I read the book.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Battle With Wal-Mart

I do not own a flash drive! I realize this statement is hard for some of you to comprehend. I do not need one or want one. My knowledge of flash drives is non-existent.

Well…was non-existent until four weeks ago.

Big C had to have a flash drive for the computer class he is taking this semester in college. How hard could it be for two ignorant consumers to pick out and purchase a simple flash drive? It has turned in to the biggest, ugliest mess I have encountered since I bounced a check at Target in January. (I still have nightmares over that and I am too embarrassed to tell you all the details.)

The story you are about to read is true. The names have not been changed to protect the guilty. On Friday evening of August 29, 2008, Big C and I walked smiling and laughing into the electronics department of the local Wal-Mart. We sauntered up and down every aisle until we spotted the flash drives. Looking at the flash drives is like looking in the toothpaste aisle --- way too many choices! We settled on what seemed to be a good choice, an 8GB SanDisk Cruzer Micro with a Retractable USB 2.0 Connector. It was silver and in a clear plastic case, so we could actually see it. These were expensive and locked on the sales rack. We had to get a salesclerk to unlock one and take it to the register. I checked to make sure it was not a returned item secured with tape. How ironic. It looked fine; we purchased it for $60.19. We took it home and Big C laid it on his desk in his bedroom where it stayed until he opened it two weeks later.

Please fast-forward sixteen days later to the night of Sunday, September 14, 2008, 9:00 p.m. Big C takes the flash drive out of the packaging, turns the little contraption over and low and behold, it says written in big bold letters “Cruzer mini 1.0 GB” and has neither retractable USB connector nor a lid to cover the USB connector. Let it be documented that the side with the writing was face down and could not be seen in the package.

Looking back, I realize my mistake was to call Wal-Mart on a Sunday evening at 9:00 p.m. when I was tired and getting ready to begin a new week.

Here is the gist of the conversation with my end of the conversation being in italics:


Wal-Mart may I hep ya?

Yes, I would like to speak with someone in electronics.

Hold----Wait…Wait…Wait

Lectronics!

Yes, I purchased what I thought was a SanDisk Cruzer Micro 8GB Flash Drive with a retractable USB connector. When I opened it, the product in the package was a Cruzer Mini 1.0 GB without a retractable connector or protective cap. What do I need to do? Can I bring the item back to the store and exchange it?

Hold------Wait…Wait…Wait

I done spoke with the manager and he said you had to return it unopened within 15 days.

Fifteen days? It doesn’t say that on the receipt anywhere and it has only been sixteen, plus I would not have known it was the wrong item in the package if I had not opened it.

Hold….Wait…Wait…Wait.

Manager.

Hello. Yes, I purchased what I thought was a SanDisk Cruzer Micro 8GB Flash Drive with a retractable USB connector. When I opened it, the product in the package was a Cruzer Mini 1.0 GB without a retractable connector or protective cap. What do I need to do? Can I bring the item back to the store and exchange it?

How come you have waited so long to ask about this?

Well, I just opened the package.

It does not make sense that you are just now discovering it.

I could not tell it was the wrong item until I opened it tonight.

You have had the item for two weeks and you are just now opening it?

Well, yes. We did not need it right away, so we just laid it aside until today.

That just does not sound right that you are only now figuring out it is the wrong item.

I just opened it!

You have had it for two weeks and are just now opening it?

Yes!

That does not sound right.

I am sorry that it does not sound right to you, but we did not need to use it until tonight! Haven't you ever purchase something and laid it aside until you need it and open it later?

Sometimes. What color is it?

Silver.

We only carry black in our store.

Apparently not because I purchased this item from your store! I have the receipt in my hand and the items bar code on the receipt is the same as what is on the package! (My voice is very high pitch squeal at this point.)

So you are saying the wrong item is in the package.

Yes!

You will need to contact the manufacturer and discuss that with them.

Why should I have to contact the manufacturer when I purchased the item in your store? Are you not responsible for the items you stock in your store?

Yes, but we do not stock that item.

Maybe you have just misunderstood what I am trying to say. I came into your store on the night of August 29th and purchased what I thought to be a SanDisk Cruzer Micro 8GB Flash Drive with a retractable USB connector. When I opened it, the product in the package was a Cruzer Mini 1.0 GB without a retractable connector or protective cap. I could not see these words until I took the item out of the package!

I understand what you are saying, what I do not understand is how you are just now figuring out it was not the right thing.

I just opened it!

That sounds very suspicious to me.

You do realize you are implying that I am lying? What is your name?

Chris M. We do not carry that item.

Are you the manager in the electronics department?

I am assistant manager over the store.

What is your boss’s name?

Jerry S.

What are his hours?

Monday-Friday 7:00-6:00.

Thank you.



You know you always think of many things you could have said and I wish I had asked if this policy applies to any electronic I purchase at Wal-Mart. For example, if I were to purchase an Xbox 360 now to give as a gift at Christmas and when it is opened three months from now and found to be a plain Xbox I cannot return it? That is essentially what he was saying.

What you need to understand is that I would never, not in a million, gazillion years, ever purchase an item and switch the item and try to get my money back. It would never even cross my mind. I am the one who drags screaming, hungry children back into Wal-Mart after I have unloaded my mess of purchases and find I did not pay for a small tube of mascara and want to make amends. I am the one who places her cart in the cart rack instead on parking lot islands. I am the one who, when my child spilled a container of bubbles got down on my hands and knees to clean up their mess because I am responsible for my child’s actions. I am the one who smiles and speaks to the tired check out girl who has encountered one hundred angry, in a rush customers and tries to give her an encouraging word. I am a lot of things – good and bad – but I am not a liar or thief! So when the Assistant-Manager of Wal-Mart implied that I switched products, it made me more than a little mad. You do not tell an anxiety ridden, obsessive-compulsive woman that she is a liar and thief without her going completely over the edge of reason! I did not sleep at all that night and was determined the first person through the door to Wal-Mart at sunrise would be me! And brother was I ever going to give it to them good!

The rest of the story will be hard to understand unless you have experienced Grace.

During my restless night, after I had calmed down a little, I heard His familiar whisper and our conversation went something like this with His Words in italics:

Don’t go to Wal-Mart tomorrow.

Why not?

You are too mad and you will say something that is not a reflection of Me.

Father you know I am not in the wrong here. I am being cheated.

Don’t go to Wal-Mart tomorrow. Do all things in Love. You won’t be able to Love tomorrow.

You got that right!

I know. I’m God.

I am being treated unfairly. I have done nothing wrong.

I know. My Son was treated the same way.

So am I supposed let this pass?

Love your enemies and pray for those who do you wrong.

I don’t want to.

I know but you are going to have to trust Me on this one.

I trust You, I just don’t always understand Your ways.

My ways are above your ways.

You remind me of that often.

Because you keep forgetting.

Yes Father.

I am not telling you this story to tell you how great I am. I wanted to rip the man’s tongue out his head! I am telling you this to tell you how Great He is. Without the Holy Spirit’s control, I would have gone into Wal-Mart and attacked him like a chicken on a bug. Fox News headlines would have read “Crazed Middle Aged Hormonal Woman Attacks Wal-Mart Assistant Store Manager and Is Charged With Pre-meditated Bodily Harm” or worse “Local Blogging Mom Dragged By the Ankles From Wal-Mart Store Screaming.”

That was nearly two weeks ago and I now have peace about the incident. I have not gone back in Wal-Mart demanding justice be served. I cannot explain why. I am praying for that man and I truly believe we will have one of those chance encounters sometime where God leads me to share Love with him. Only Jesus could make that difference.

Thanks for reading this looooooog post, Rosie.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Creative Writing

I am teaching a creative writing class to Little I this school year. It is so fun to read his journal entries on assigned topics. I thought I would share today's entry with you. The following is from "The Journal of Little I" and I am typing it just as he wrote it. Please do not judge the cleanliness of my house based on this entry!

9-23-08
My Bedroom

My Bedroom is pretty big, not huge, but normal sized. I love it except for one thing, it smells like dog pee. (don't ask.) It's normally very cozy. It sometimes gets hot and sometimes its cold depending on the weather. It has sort of a low roof especially if you're sitting on the top bunk. My beds are very comfortable and are "T" shaped because the upper bunk is a loft which is not connected. My closet is very big and holds tons of clothes but the strange thing is that on the right side there is a white square little stump. I don't know about you but that just blows my mind. The grand prize of all is that my furniture is all cedar and in my cedar locker there are lots of toy guns and two BB guns. One last thing, if you ever come to my house, watch out. I have a pair of bedroom slippers that have a mind of their own so you better "Watch were you step or else you will trip."

Sadly, his room does smell a bit like dog pee. I clean all the time, but it does no good. The white stump in his closet is the central air conditioning's air return. It actually makes a nice little shelf. His room temperature is never just right. It is either hot or cold. I don't know why. Yes, I do allow him to play with toy guns and he does have a couple of BB guns and target shoots in our back yard. The rule at our house is not to point the gun at any living thing. He is a twelve year old boy and that is what they do. If he didn't have a toy gun, he would use a stick and say "Bang! Bang! Bang!" all the time. It is a male testosterone phenomena. Those elusive bedroom slippers are every where I seem to be and I trip over them often. My evil twin sister has been known to throw them. He does not own a "ton" of clothes. He owns a "ton" of Legos and Star Wars action figures. His furniture is cedar and the locker he talks about is actually a chifferobe. There is nothing quite like a child's perspective.

Thanks for reading, Rosie.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

They Sure Can Paint

My much older brother and my sister-in-love are artistically gifted; around these parts we would say "they sure can paint." My brother uses canvas and oil, while sis dabbles in water color. They each have their own unique style. My brother has been commissioned to do a few pieces, but mostly he paints because this is his way of expressing himself. He is very quiet. He is very smart. Sis on the other hand loves to talk; therefore, she expresses herself more verbally, painting is just a hobby but she is extremely talented. I thought you might like to see some of their work. Can you guess who the artist is of each picture? BTW, my photography skills do not give justice to their gorgeous work.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mothers, Pantyhose and Quilts

I attended a Women’s Conference on Saturday in Duffield, Virginia. My precious gray haired mother insists that we attend this event every year and being the good obedient daughter I am, I take her; but only because she is almost 80 years old mind you. Truthfully, I am not a good obedient daughter, but a grouchy rebellious daughter, I just know when to keep my mouth shut, bite my tongue and smile about certain things. I did threaten to wear jeans, which caused a gasp from her (I like messing with her tradition), and I was reprimanded severely about taking pride in myself and wearing appropriate clothing when going to a church function. I did finally put on a skirt and wrestled into a pair of pantyhose so I would not cause her to have a stroke. Modest southern women do not go without pantyhose under a dress even in 103-degree weather. I told mother we might be the only crazy women to attend since Tennessee decided to announce Friday that there was a “gas shortage” due to Hurricane Ike blowing through Texas. Gas or no gas, my mother was going to Duffield, Virginia, Saturday if she had to walk.

Just so you know my world is not completely boring, it was madness and mayhem in my little town on Friday with cars lined down Main Street at the local Amoco station. The citizens in this fair city acted as if Mr. Ike was en route for the mountains of Northeast Tennessee. Everyone decided to go on a milk and bread run except Unleaded Fuel Only was the hot item. It was crazy! Rumors were running rampant about men and women out on the streets punching each other in the nose for a tank of gas. I tell you the truth nothing this exciting has happened here since the local family diner sold out to Wal-Greens.

Despite the fuel shortage, almost 300 other crazy women joined us on Saturday, and I pointed out to my mother that several women had indeed worn jeans and the church was not struck by lightening. She gave me that “shame on you” look that only a daughter could recognize from their mother’s eyebrows.

I dreaded this event so much that my stomach churned unmercifully. I found myself gulping straight from the Pepto Bismol bottle. Besides that, I am not a morning person. Duffield, Virginia, is approximately one hour from our house. Taking into account we had to be there at 9:00, this put us leaving at 8:00, which put me getting up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning. MDH got up and made coffee for me while I stumbled around in the shower. He likes me to believe he was gravely concerned about my welfare and wanted me to have plenty of caffeine in my system before I got on the road, but bless his heart, secretly, I knew he was happy to see me leave. The University of Tennessee was playing football and I have no use for football. Even though he whispered, “I’ll miss you,” in my sleepy ear as he gently shoved me out the door, I knew he was really thinking inside, “YES! I can scream, stomp, and chew out the refs without her rolling her eyes!” I love him anyway.

Despite my bad attitude, I did enjoy the program. This year’s conference theme was “God’s Grace – Day by Day, Stitch by Stitch.” The analogy of God being the Master Quilter is one of my favorite ways to think about how God can work in a seemingly “useless” life. The speaker and the music lifted my spirit, but the details that the women of this church put into decorating the place was what captured my heart. What a lovely reminder of God’s handiwork. He is so capable of taking the scraps and creating a work of art. The sanctuary of the church was decorated with colorful quilts, detailed needlework pictures, and lovely sewing projects women had painstakingly made. Old, new, quaint, and tacky - just like individuals. Thrown together and used, but loved despite their appearance. Worn out, ragged, tired and faded - no wonder I can relate! Simple - yet profound. That is the message of Grace. I am glad I made the effort.
Thanks for reading, Rosie.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Homeschooling Little I - Chapter One


Have I mentioned the fact that I homeschool (HS) Little I? I think I have, but only in passing. School (more precisely sixth grade) is in full session at our house, so this is the perfect time to explain our decision regarding homeschooling. Hang on this might get a bit bumpy!

When Little I was attending second grade at the private school where Big C was enrolled he became a very unhappy little boy, so unhappy in fact that we began experiencing many tears in our home. Where Little I had once been carefree, exuberant and comical, he became, worried, withdrawn and serious. Teachers, counselors and other educated folks began telling me that it was perfectly normal for a second grader to begin having separation anxiety. “Ignore him and the stage will pass with time. Let him cry and make him stay at school. He will be fine,” they all said. Let me just say that those kind words of advice went against every maternal instinct that had been created within me! Now I ask you, what good can come from leaving a little seven-year-old boy standing in his classroom crying? How could it not hurt him and cause him not to grow up to be a serial killer? While I appreciated all the reassuring words, I had no peace in my heart.

Alert! Alert! I am going to stop here for a moment, gather my emotions, and give you a short back-story, because they do that on TV. I warned you this would get bumpy!

I had known several families who homeschooled. Some were actually extended family and some were friends. They were perfectly normal people who were not in cults. I admired their moxie and self-discipline and it had crossed my mind (very quickly) well before Little I began Kindergarten that I could homeschool him. A tiny spark had been lit but it would take almost four years before it blazed and I realized that God was actually calling me to this task.

Okay, fast-forward to Little I standing in his second grade classroom crying. Picture his depressed and anxiety prone mother weeping in the car. Visualize MDH telling me I am more than capable of homeschooling this unhappy little boy. Hear Big C saying, “Mom do something!” Imagine us as we trudged through the entire second grade year in sheer misery. It was not a Michelangelo portrait. It looked more like Picasso. Get the picture?

This is the thing; God gently whispered to me for four years. He is a gentleman that way. He used everyday experiences to prepare me to homeschool Little I. He knew that Little I was going to go through a tough time emotionally when he was seven years old and He knew that Little I and myself had a very special connection. He knew I did not have a Masters Degree in Education but He had given me the gift of teaching. He knew that being a Mom and teaching Little I would be my priority and He gave me time to adjust to that fact and then He brought our entire family to a point where there was no question about what He wanted me to do. He placed people in my path to answer my questions. I simply trusted and obeyed. I do not believe in happenstance, fate, luck or karma. I believe in purpose and I believe God gives everyone a purpose. Are you listening for yours?

I have more to say on the homeschool topic. This is only Chapter One of Two-Hundred and Twenty-Five Chapters. Just kidding! Almost.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Same or Different? That is the Question

This has just been a crappy week for me health wise. I am so thankful to have been healthy all spring and summer, not even a cold, but I guess it was about time for me to remember the, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything” rule. After wrestling a panic attack last Monday, and finally feeling “normal” on Wednesday, my back decided to teach me a lesson in humility and put me flat out on Saturday. I have never experienced the kind of pain I experienced on Saturday, not even during childbirth. A heating pad and strong painkillers were my best friends although they did very little good. I missed Church on Sunday which I dislike doing especially since I am responsible for teaching a great group of Middle School girls. I prepared my lesson, had it all ready to go for Sunday morning, but couldn’t stand up. I am feeling some better this evening and hope with another nights sleep and rest, I will once again speak without moaning or slurring my words in a drug induced stupor. So there you go, enough about my ailments. Don’t you just want to say, “shut up” to those people who talk about their aches and pains all the time? For you youngsters under forty – just wait, your time is coming!

I’ve read three books in the past two weeks and am working on a forth. I get in a Non-Fiction kick occasionally and want to read what is really happening in the world rather than what is imagined. To feed my curious appetite for world events, Joel Rosenberg’s Epicenter closed some gaps I had in my understanding of the happenings in Israel, Iraq, and Iran. Although this author has written mostly fiction material, some of his theories in his fiction work have eerily come true. His book Epicenter explains his conclusions of these theories and I believe it is because he is truly tuned in to the happenings in the Middle East. I become very tired of the bias national news so it is refreshing to read a different perspective from someone who has a heart for the nation of Israel. I think he is worth reading, so I also read his blog. You might check him out if you are interested in this topic.

I also read Mistaken Identity, which is the true story of the look-alike girls who were switched after a tragic accident a couple of years ago. This is an incredible story of two families who rejoiced and grieved over the loss of a daughter. If you missed this story in the headlines when it happened, then you are especially in for a real shocker if you read the book. Without giving the story away, let me just say, it is totally unthinkable that this could happen. God has a plan; only through Him can great good be brought from such tragedy. Have some tissue handy.

Occasionally an amazing book will slip under the radar from me, thus is the case of Same Kind of Different As Me. This was recommended to me by a childhood friend who had read my review of The Shack. Since I work in a library, I don’t usually purchase books. If our library does not have a book, I can usually do an Inter Library Loan (ILL) from across the state and find any book I am interested in reading. However, since this book was recommended from a friend whom I highly regard, I bought the book for our library collection. Thanks “A” for the tip.

My goal here is not to tell you all about the book, but to inspire you to read the book. With that in mind, I can honestly say Same Kind of Different As Me is one of the best Non-Fiction books I’ve read in a long time. Of course that is my humble little opinion and everyone has a different idea of “best”, so when I use this term, I use it in the context of what makes a book “best” to me.

First, setup is an important structure to me, especially in a non-fiction work. To pull a reader into a story, the book should have a good setup. The authors of the book alternate chapters in their own voice in an open and candid way. Since the authors are a homeless black man (Denver Moore) and a wealthy white art dealer (Ron Hall), the books tone is different from chapter to chapter.

Secondly, how relevant is the story and why should it be read? If the author can persuade me in the first few pages the importance of the book, then he has me hooked. Since the story is about racism, a controversial topic in this country at the very least, the bait had to be tasty to catch me. The bait turned out to be Ron Hall’s feisty wife Debbie. There is no “catch and release” in this story.

Thirdly, will the story cause me to think outside my comfort zone? It is a comfortable place indeed to read a book that confirms all my traditional ideas, but truthfully, I do not like to read books where I always agree with everything the author writes. I like the challenge of critically thinking about a subject and developing my own ideas and then I like my ideas to be challenged by an author to the point where I begin to think differently about the topic. I find that in my safe little conservative world my ideas need to be challenged occasionally to remind me how to relate to broken, lonely, confused and searching people. Believe me when I say I run into these broken, lonely, confused folks often and sometimes it is easy to brush them off and ignore their need. Calluses around my heart and their heart are easily formed from the continual brush-off received from others and myself.

This book reminded me that this world is all about relationships. How does my relationship with Jesus Christ change the way I develop relationships with the discarded people in our world? Am I forming relationships with the people God wants me to or am I playing it safe by keeping my relationships with people in my comfort zone?

I sometimes read a very liberal blog I’ve found. Even though I do not agree with the bloggers ideas, her thoughts keep me relevant as to what a large majority of our world thinks. Recently she wrote:

“Any time I engage with one of my conservative friends or family members, or sometimes the conservative commenters on this website, it usually devolves into them screaming about WELFARE! and TAXES! and THE GOVERNMENT IS TAKING MY MONEY AND GIVING IT TO PEOPLE WHO DON'T WORK! And what they don't understand is that this is not the issue at all. What I and many of my more liberal friends want is to HELP people, not give them a free ride, but also not to ignore those who would benefit from us tossing them a life jacket……..But what about the family who cannot afford insurance for their child? The family who can barely make rent, and if they stretch the budget they can eat three meals a day all week, let's hope nothing bad happens to their kids because then they're screwed. Kids, go hug your father, he's off to one of his three jobs, none of which provide him insurance. And it's not because he's lazy or unwilling to work, it's that his family couldn't afford to send him to college, or he came from a family that didn't know they should encourage him to go to college because they were busy trying to survive. If giving up more of my paycheck could help get this family adequate healthcare, then PLEASE. TAKE MY @#$&* MONEY.”

This made me so mad (actually I fumed for a few hours) especially since I had just finished Same Kind Of Different As Me only hours before. After I calmed down, I realized that the majority of people think the very same way. Let’s just toss some money in the offering plate, or hand them a few bucks on the street corner or give them some good advice about getting their lives straightened out or hand them a Bible and walk away. Truly, I find that is what most ministries do. It is safe and it doesn’t really cost us anything personal. Not until we begin to form relationships with those of a different race or economic class will this world be different. “Relationship” means more than saying hello at the grocery story or inviting someone to church. A relationship means becoming emotionally involved with someone. That is an easy challenge when the person looks, thinks, smells, lives, eats, and sleeps as I do. But what if they do not?

So now what do I do? I’ve been handed a challenge and so I hand one to you as well. I challenge you to read “Same Kind Of Different Than Me” and not be changed. Then your challenge, along with mine, will be to take what you learned and apply it to your world.

Thanks for reading Rosie.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I Was In The Freak Out Zone Yesterday

Have I told you that I am afflicted with depression and anxiety? Well it is true. A few years ago, I would have never admitted that to anyone much less announce it to the world. I was the woman who had it all together. Everything appeared perfect in my world. I am really just a big cliche all wrapped up in sparkly Christmas paper with bows and ribbons in place sitting picture perfect under your Christmas tree ready to be opened yet inside lies a great big mess of dirty, coffee stained refuse. Yep, that is me! Sorry if I have ruined your image of me but I figure you would find out the truth soon enough and then be mad at me for not telling you to begin with. Therefore, I am coming clean with you. Why am I telling you this today? Because I had an “episode” yesterday. I call it ‘freaking out”, others may call it “going over the edge”, but whatever you call it, it is real and it is scary.

Most of the time my medication keeps the symptoms under control. Occasionally, when I am stressed, or miss a dose of my meds as far back as two weeks, symptoms can appear from out of the blue. I think that is what happened over the weekend. I can feel the darkness coming, but by the time I feel the weight of black hole over me, it is too late and my thought process begins telling me --- “I am worthless.” “If I disappeared no one would notice.” “I am not a good mother or wife.” These thoughts start circulating through my obsessive-compulsive brain and soon, even though they are lies, I start listening to them. I try to reason them away, but you cannot reason depression away. It is a medical condition and has to be dealt with accordingly. At this point, the anxiety of being in social situations begins. For me this is the worst part. How do you explain to friends and family that you cannot leave the house because the fear of being in a social situation has you completely paralyzed? Well, it is not explainable and unless you have experienced the irrational panic, you cannot understand.

Anyway, I got hot on Sunday before worship service. I mean suffocating hot! The hot where you turn red and cannot breathe and feel like someone has a plastic bag over your head hot. I told MDH, “I think I am about to panic and if I plow out over the pew and down the isle, you will know what is going on. My heart was racing, I was fanning, the crowd closed in, but I eventually calmed down. Sometimes I can breathe through it and it will pass. I felt jittery and had a headache Sunday afternoon. Monday we were invited to MDH’s brother’s home for a Labor Day cookout with family. I already had that “feeling” in the pit of my stomach but thought I could get through the event OK. I was dragging my butt getting ready and the guys were ready well before me, so I told them to go on and I would catch up. By the time I got out of the shower a wave of anxiety washed over me, caught me in its grip and held on. I thought, “if I don’t show up surely they will call and check on me,” (because I hated to call them), then I thought “I’ll text Big C and ask MDH to call me,” but Big C’s cell phone was on his desk and so was Little I’s and so was MDH’s. I wonder why we even have the freakin’ things! So, I broke down and called the landline trying to get my voice under control to speak with whoever answered. “Please let me speak to MDH,” quickly I said to my sister-in-law. MDH answered and I fell to pieces. Of course he came home immediately, wrapped me up in his big strong arms and held me there until I was calm enough to talk with him. We then took a nap together and I felt somewhat better, but still jittery and anxious. I feel like I have been drugged this morning and have a fog surrounding me not to mention swollen eyes and cheeks that feel sunburned from all the sobbing, but I have doubled up on my meds for a few days and this should pass quickly.

I share all this with you because anxiety and depression is not openly discussed in public. There is a certain disgrace associated with this topic and for anyone to admit having problems of this nature is to admit weakness. Well, I am here to admit weakness. Also for some highbrow spiritual people, anxiety and depression is considered a spiritual disorder caused by sin and lack of faith. I want loudly to proclaim that perpetual sin in your life may contribute to depression, but it is NOT the underlying factor in most cases. I thought I could pray myself out of the dark hole I found myself in several years ago. About what did I have to be depressed? Absolutely nothing! All the praying in the world could not get me out of that hole. In fact, it dug the hole deeper because it perpetuated my shame. When MDH finally dragged me kicking and screaming to my doctor, who is a Believer, it took him a long time to convince me to take meds for this problem. He explained to me that depression and anxiety are real medical conditions. I was not crazy. Like with many other medical conditions, medicine would help. My wires had disconnected in my mind and meds would help them reconnect, so to say. To make a long story short, the medication did help and I have continued to take it for several years. Occasionally I will get feisty, think skipping a couple of days will not hurt anything, and before I know it, I have a freak out episode exactly like yesterday. Is it embarrassing? Yes! Is it humbling? Yes! Do I wish it would go away? Yes! But the fact is, I will probably live with this condition for the rest of my life and since that is the case I want to share with others what I have been through and by God’s grace I am living one day at a time with depression and anxiety. Most days are great but every once in a while I “turn to the dark side.” Wonderfully, God’s Grace is sufficient even on the dark days. God is good. All the time. Sometimes he answers our prayers by His healing grace, sometimes He answers our prayers through doctors, sometimes He answers our prayers gently by telling us we have to live with "the thorn" we are given because of reasons we cannot see and valuable lessons we need to learn through our suffering. But he always answers in His time and His way and for His glory. Our job is to simply trust Him in all circumstances.

Despite yesterday, I finished a great book last night and hope to get a review written soon. I will share more of my heart later. Thanks for reading and feel free to share this post with a friend.