Friday, August 14, 2009

Oh no, I've said too much - I haven't said enough

I'd like to clarify something - I own my inactivity, my stalemate with Heaven. It is "me" centered, and it is largely affected by the way I perceive things. Knowing it and owning it might just be the first step in conquering it. This is the anatomy of my inactivity.

Three years ago, I called and asked my husband to come home from work and take the kids somewhere, anywhere. I had been preparing for my second thyroid scan and it had really done a number on me. I did not have the mental or physical energy to think or care about another living soul, let alone me. When he arrived the house seemed oppressive to me. My soul suddenly became claustrophobic, and all I could think was that I needed to get out, to clear my head.

I remember telling my husband I just needed to leave. And then I added quietly, "I don't know if I'm coming back."

Such is the effect of no thyroid in your system. I loathe prepping for that scan more than anything because the effects seem to last forever. It takes 6 weeks of no meds before you can have your scan and then it takes the drugs another 6 weeks to build back up in your system. It is essentially three months of hell. For everyone.

Now you know why I'm waiting another 2 years before I subject us all to that special kind of torture again.

Back to that particular day, I grabbed my husband's keys (because hello! better gas mileage, and I'm nothing if not practical - even in depression) and my purse. As I backed out of the driveway watching my husband stand in the doorway, I heaved a sigh from my toes and put the car in drive not really knowing if I would come back.

I made it about a mile down the road before the dam burst and the sobs wracked out of me. At this time I was still on speaking terms with my Maker. I pulled over and leaning forward peering up to the heavens through the glass of my husband's windshield, I told Him, "I cannot do this. This, THIS is too hard! And I think I know hard." I collapsed against the steering wheel, my body trembling with the force of my admission. I sat there holding on that wheel for dear life and cried until the tears couldn't come any more. And then I drove aimlessly for another three hours.

Somehow depression tricks you into thinking that your problems are heavier than the heaviest burden, that no one in the history of time has ever felt the weight of your sadness to this magnitude, because how could they even begin to bear it if they had? We all have hard things in our life, at least I choose to believe we do - it's just that some people's hard things are more obvious than other's.

Some of our hard things during those dark days: I'd been through one bout of my own cancer, had a bonus baby, and my son had been through one major surgery a year over the past 4 years. Going through this cancer screening put me over the edge, emotionally and physically. And so, I told God that He had overestimated my abilities and that He couldn't possibly make me do this. It just wasn't fair, you see?

I don't think He bought it, because one week later my son underwent a critical operation and was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive tumor. One that had the potential to be life-threatening. I still had two more weeks of prepping for my scan and I badly wanted to back out so I'd have my wits about me. But somehow, I knew. I knew my cancer was back. The scan was just a formality that confirmed my suspicions.

These were the darkest days I've ever had. I couldn't help but feel I'd brought it all on by opening my big mouth, and bam! right there I added guilt to the avalanche of depression. And then Ty had two major infections that could've claimed him, taken him back home. And bam! right there I added fear.

That was the start of my decline. The fact that our neighborhood felt powerless to know what to do and so did not visit him (except for a few people) or feel comfortable interacting with him was just the icing on the cake. It was when my choice was made.

I was transported back to that day in the car, the day that I actually shook my fist at God and said, "I can't. I CAN'T! I cannot do this hard thing." And instead of being struck with the realization that - with God - I could, I really COULD! I chose to feel the full weight of my burden, to carry it myself, thankyouverymuch. So I turned inward, and let the anger come. And Anger was more than happy to show God the door.

Since then Ty has had two more major surgeries and is now facing a possible third or even fourth surgery. For now there doesn't seem to be an end in sight to visibility of our hard things. The bar has been raised, and the question remains - will I rise to meet it?

The ironic thing is, prior to this turn of events our family had been at our spiritual peak. We were closer than we'd ever been and the loving Spirit in our home was palpable. Then it was as if we were thrown a cosmic Pop Quiz and I was found wanting. I flunked it. Quite completely.

So now that you know how I've come down this path, know that I'm considering doing a little retracing of my steps. I'm not quite sure I'm up to the task or that I'm humble enough to be successful but sharing my experience is my way of owning up to it. Here's to giving it a shot.

I truly admire those who face life-changing adversity with grace (especially Nie). They give me perspective and fill me with hope that it can be done.

29 comments:

sue-donym said...

"Somehow depression tricks you into thinking that your problems are heavier than the heaviest burden, that no one in the history of time has ever felt the weight of your sadness to this magnitude, because how could they even begin to bear it if they had? We all have hard things in our life, at least I choose to believe we do - it's just that some people's hard things are more obvious than other's."

You have just summed up what I have been thinking and feeling for months now.

My heart is with you, my friend.

b. said...

(sue...I did not know...and I'm sorry)

Mrs. O....once again, I get you. So much.
We'll talk soon.

YOU, my dear friend, are one who also faces life-changing adversity with grace.
In my line of work, I know what a hero looks like...
YOU are one of my heroes.

Mrs. Organic said...

Sue - my heart is with you, too. Depression is a sneaky bastard (pardon my french).

b. - I just heart you to pieces.

Elizabeth-W said...

Wish I could give you a big hug.
You can do this. You are doing it, you have been doing it, and you will keep doing it.

Mrs. Organic said...

EW - thank you.

La Yen said...

That is depression exactly. And then it hits you with the bonus weapon of making you too tired to do anything about it at all.

I love you.

And Sue.

Anonymous said...

Wow that was really good, or should I say sad, but I am glad you shared it. It seems like you have some good friends from their responses. I am always there for you if you need anything at all just let me know. As far as heros go I think you are a super one. You are also a great sister and example to the rest of us. I love you. Kel

Lilac A. Rugg said...

I'm so sorry. :( How I wish I could share your burdens with you and lighten them a bit...

Even so, this was inspiring and a great reminder.

(((( Mrs. O ))))

Emma J said...

I checked in on your blog to tell you again how much I love this quilt-top and to pick your brain for some ideas on how a quilting novice like me could hand-quilt it (like maybe with a big hoopy-thing? and what kind of pattern would you suggest?) because the more I thought about the beautifully quilted one you showed me, the less I wanted to just run this through the machine - BUT as is so usual, my self-involved concerns are slight and silly -

my dear, dear Mrs. O, you owe it to the world and to your ward to let them know you. They (we) are in a poverty of soul and need your richness.

What everyone said above about grace and courage. I don't think you flubbed any pop-quiz. God's not that kind of teacher, is He? I can't think but that He is watching you with tender eyes, filled with tears, truly marvelling at your grace and grit - His own little daughter, doing so well with such a tough hill and heavy burdens. But you are so much more than your burdens. I read your blog faithfully because you exude such stubborn joy in the face of what life throws.

I am so in awe of you - your humor and real-deal attitude and what looks like omni-competence - it made me disgustingly nervous to stop by and see you in person (talking 25 words/sec and trodding on the heels of your sentences - that was nervousness and feeling the weight of my own laziness, stupidity, etc. Also, it is weird-making to make surface conversation when we've been talking on blogs about the inner secret stuff.)

This comment is already too long. I hope your California weekend was renewing and relaxing and that you know how lovable and admirable you really are.

Hewett Gardeners said...

thank you for sharing. i know my trials are not so visible, and yet i feel like i'm in the same place. even though it is so hard. . .oh i don't know, i want to say something encouraging, or inspirational, but i'm not on that "higher ground". i'm in the rut and not getting out anytime soon. it sucks when each day is a battle.
and so you are, once again, an inspiration. thanks.

myimaginaryblog said...

I haven't decided how I want to respond but didn't want to leave this unresponded to. Maybe I could just say "I believe you can do this." Also, remember that the people in the position of welcoming you back are human and foibled, and try to cut them some slack if they don't do so in the best way (I mean, as awful as a sign-up sheet for someone to sit by you in RS would be (not that I'm saying that would ever happen,) if it did happen, there would be good, if misguided, motivations behind it, right? Anyway just remember that just because they haven't stopped going to church means they know the best way to treat people--they could be devout but socially clueless.

Also, although on first reading I didn't necessarily relate to this since right now I'm in a pretty good place vis a vis my faith, when I thought about it I could think of lots of past times or current ways that I could relate to a lot of the things you were saying. Particularly at times when my thyroid's been messed up, I really haven't had the energy/mental capicity/emotional wherewithal to be very spiritually in tune. But I agree with others that Heavenly Father just takes us from where we're coming from now and is always always eager to welcome us.

(I guess I did have a lot to say, it's just not particularly well-thought-out or gracefully put.)

myimaginaryblog said...

I saw the capacity typo right after I clicked "publish" (but it's probably not the only one there.)

myimaginaryblog said...

Yeah, like it should say "just because they haven't stopped going to church DOESN'T mean"

Mrs. Organic said...

Currently I'm not depressed (although my hormones are all over the place), but I am nervous about going back. I fell out of activity on purpose and as a matter of choice, but I've stayed inactive as a matter of physics - the old "an object at rest tends to remain at rest" thing.

I think it's become more of a social anxiety problem where I worry what people will think or say (likely, they won't do either, but that's the crazy part about anxiety - you worry anyway). Not that I normally care what others think, but with church it's different.

myimaginaryblog said...

I think part of the reason I felt a little empathy for possibly-clueless people at church is that I have a neighbor who's been absent from church a long time (three or four years) and at first she simply couldn't come because of serious health problems, but now she could sometimes come but (word is) it's very hard for her for social reasons--she's become extremely reclusive and apparently has hardly any confidants left outside of her family, and she doesn't want a fanfare made when she returns. I'm not at all the type to intrude but I wish I knew how to help. But she pretty much rejects most people's efforts, from what I've heard. I'm making myself feel guilty describing how passive I've been, but I really don't have much of a connection (other than being her neighbor, and that her daughter used to babysit for us,) on which to try to reach out to her. (By the way I'm only comparing her situation to yours in the sense of my feeling empathy for your ward members not knowing what to do or possibly behaving stupidly; I don't mean that your personality reminds me of hers at all.)

Do remember that the Church is true but it's made up of ordinary people in their own stages of progression, and includes people who at least on the surface of it are jerks, dorks, losers, and misfits. Also, you just as surely have something to offer them as they do you. And although it's much easier to tell one's self this than to really feel it, at least try to remind yourself that if anyone thinks or says rude or hurtful things, they're the ones with the problem--and that even at church it really doesn't matter what other people think. (Like I said, it's easier said than done.)

I really do talk too much. :)

Mrs. Organic said...

Z- no, you don't (talk too much). I know church is made up of regular people, after all I'd be one of them and I'm very human. It sort of feels like the first day of school, but I'll get over my nerves.

Emma J - Thank you, my weekend was lovely and just the thing I needed. Most definitely you could hand quilt it. I use safety pins to hold everything in place (about every 4-5 inches) and use a large embroidery hoop. Use a strong cotton thread in a compimentary color. And there are some really neat sticker/stick-on thimbles you can use that will prevent your fingers from getting chewed up.

Clear as mud? Let me know if I can clear anything up. And really, thank you for your lovely comment.

Kimberly said...

I hardly know you, but I just wanted to express my gratitude for your courage, and your willingness to share your story. I have a friend in the process of coming back, having lost two children and her ability to walk in a horrific car accident several years ago. While I can't understand the way I wish I could, reading of your own struggles and feelings has helped inexpressibly.

Someone once told me that it's not that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle, it's that he doesn't give us anything we can't handle without his help. Glancing at the comments on your last two posts, it seems you've been blessed with some amazing friends to help you through. I hope your very understandable anxiety is quickly calmed.

Marne said...

I am so sorry. I feel your pain. I really do. I have been diagnosed with depression myself, and was on Lexapro for more than a year trying to get my life back together. It's tough. Like the first poster said, depression tricks you into thinking you can never make it back. But YOU CAN. You go to church! Get there! Take it one step at a time. You can do it.

Mrs. Organic said...

Kimberly - that's a great reminder, and I will try to stop being so darned independent.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

In our old ward there was an older gentleman who showed up to church one day. Some of the older members knew who he was, the rest of us didn't. He had become inactive and struggled with wanting to come back but not wanting to make a scene or be a "project" etc. One of my dear friends who I look up to (she's as old as my mom so I think of her in that type of role) said something I'll never forget.

It was during Sunday School and the teacher was kind of making a big deal about this gentleman being at church, making him feel more self-conscious and embarrassed. She stood right up and told everyone, "You know all of us have trials and troubles. Some are visible to everyone else while some of us have trials that others can't see. Bro. So-and-So is here at church today, and yes, you can smell the trial of cigarette smoke on him, so many of you are unsure of what to say, or make a face when he draws near to you. But what would this room smell like if pride, jealousy, adultery, not reading scriptures faithfully, swearing, etc. all had a unique smell? How many of you would dare to even show your face knowing that others would be able to tell right away what you were struggling with? I dare say there would be a very, very few at church.Our place here is to help one another not judge one another."

Those words have stuck with me. And helped when I've had my own struggles. I think all of us will be judged not only on how we've handled our trials but also on how we've helped others with theirs. I think too many forget the "bearing one another's burdens" part of the baptismal covenant on both sides of it, the receiving end and the giving end.

Start with Sacrament Meeting. You can arrive a little late and slip out a little early as needed. Yes, there will the jerks like the Sunday School teacher I sited, but there will also be those like my friend who will not judge, just love.

Love ya!

Mrs. Organic said...

ComC - those words will stay with me, now. What an interesting perspective. I believe I'll take your advice. Baby steps, right?

angela michelle said...

I respect your courage and humility and strength for doing what you feel is right even though it will be awkward/difficult/whatever. I feel for you. And I get what myimaginaryblog says about the poor schmucks at church who are trying to do the right thing but don't want to step on anyone's toes...I think you can't go to church with specific expectations of what the people around you will do. Instead you should focus on what you will feel or what the Spirit will say to you.
Love and peace to you!

Mrs. Organic said...

Angella - thanks you fgor your encouragement. In regards to expectations, I know I need to lower the bar. I think I'm just imagining worst-case scenarios to steel myself.

Kalli Ko said...

Corrie, I think you're wonderful. Hang in there.

You can do it!

Sister Pottymouth said...

Depression sucks. You described it perfectly. And until you've experienced it for yourself, it's not something you can truly comprehend. For me, it is the "mist of darkness" that tries to pull me off the path. It prevents me from feeling the Spirit, from feeling God's love for me, from feeling hope. And so I cling desperately to the iron rod, because it's the only thing that will lead me through. Thankfully, the mist occasionally clears enough for me to see that I'm okay.

I'm so glad to know you. And I'm glad that you're so open about your experiences. We need more openness, more honesty about the shittiness of life (pardon the language) and what it's like to work with it. What better way to move back into the light than baby steps? Hugs to you (and Sue).

Mrs. Organic said...

Kalli - thanks

Sis. Pottymouth - that's it exactly, the mist.

andrea said...

You are awesome. I really am so not eloquent, and really don't feel like I can add anything to what others have said above. Your description of depression was so dead-on. As you can see, there are MANY that understand exactly where you are coming from, me included.

You are right, with baby steps, you can do this. And if there is someone that is well-meaning, but comes across as ignorant on your way back, chalk it up to the foibles of humanity....if that made any sense!

I'll be thinking of you. I wish it was my ward you were coming back to! :)

Summer said...

Your description of depression is spot on. It's a horrible nasty thing that we often can't face unless we have God to help us.

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