In Your Language

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Today, I tell someone else's story...

My pastor has been very open about his family and his own struggles. It makes him a real person who faces the similar temptations and struggles as everyone else. There is no condescending speech coming from his mouth. The thing that really touches me about his story is the way he talks about his mother.

His mother was not a perfect woman. But he talked about her strength in her struggles. After her second child, she came down with severe depression. It was so bad that she was put in an institution and they treated her with electro-convulsive therapy. She was in the institution for six months before she decided that the only way she was going to "get better" and be able to be with her family is if she (with the help of her Christian faith) acted better and better. There was some clarity in her motherly brain that said that being away from her family was not excused by her mental condition especially if she was going to surrender to the depression. She decided to surrender to her faith to God instead.

It turns out she did turn herself around. She came home and went on to have 4 other children and a very long marriage. I just can't imagine having so much inner strength and strength of faith to battle depression (and perhaps psychosis) for the rest of her life and not being overtaken. I have so much admiration for this lady. I have no doubt that things never got any easier based on her decision to fight her mental demons but I admire that she fought her good fight. She died an old lady washing her car... she wasn't going to let anyone stop her. God bless that lady for leaving a story that would embolden other people...

There is another person that I can think of that really changed my mind about mental illness. I picked up this book, Prozac Nation, written by Elizabeth Wurtzel when I was 21 at the local Barnes and Noble (my favorite store!). The book was based on her real story about her battle with depression. She was no ordinary girl, she went to an Ivy League University (reminds me of me) and  her depression worsened. She was on Lithium and a bunch of other drugs to treat her malady. And it seemed like nothing worked.

Then one day she realized, that she was giving depression the power over her and making it a bigger monster than it had to be. And she also realized that it wasn't just her problem, but that many other people had the same struggle- many who were not going over the deep end like she was. Those two thoughts were enough to jar her out of her passive way of dealing with  her own mind. She was set free in a way. She came to the same conclusion as my pastor's mother. Thank the Lord!

I have to admit. I've "gone there" around the same time as Elizabeth. I was at the epitome of my life - studying at Cornell University - whole future ahead of me and I let my depression and my past just bring me down. And perhaps I had a lot more to learn because it took me a decade to get back to where I was (not even the same "place"). But the one thing that I can proudly say is: that for the most part- I put myself back together- ALL BY MYSELF. I didn't have family or mentors around to prop me up. A solo trip is so much longer than one supported by others. But one thing that also made my journey longer was that I failed to lean on God until the last leg.  Perhaps God was all I needed to prop me up and propel my journey a little fast.

I'm just saying... when we indulge in our mental baggage, we are stealing from another area in our life- be it relationships or a career. I'm speaking from my own mistakes. I'm saying, if your kids are going to see you depressed- let them see you fight it. If you're poor, let your kids see that you are busting your butt to get out of the poor house. If you are have an addiction, let your family see you struggle to loosen it's grip on your lives. I'm not saying that you need to feel ashamed- because like Elizabeth realized... we're a NATION of depressed, weighed down people! I'm saying that if you can, show others how to rise from the ashes. And if you can't do it by yourself, have the courage (that I never had) to ask for help. Lay down your ego and ask for help, even if you start with our Heavenly Father.

I see a future for you. Make a jog or even a run for it! May God propel you to a better life and healthy mind. God Bless!

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