Friday, October 2, 2009

More Wisdom from Gump

My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Forrest Gump

Sorry I have not given you much to read. Life in the face-to-face world has been very demanding. Since the grandson's mommy decided to go back to school -- a very good thing -- my husband and I have been alternating babysitting duty during the week. I believe that since I give so much attention and care to the children at work, my grandson deserves my fullest attention at home. Actually, that would be the case even if I did not work with kids. So, anyway, I have little time for reading and responding to email and Facebook, let alone stringing together complete thoughts for a blog entry.

This is a rare quiet time in our household. Papa (my husband) is napping, stepdaughter J is reading, and grandson S has finally succumbed to a nap. That gives me -- Nana -- a chance to blog today.

So back to the quote -- life is such a mixed bag. Joy and sorrow tumbling together.

This Sunday is the anniversary of a most joyous day -- the birth of grandson S. He will be 2, and is learning to proudly say so when asked, "How old are you?" He is a delightful playmate, inviting me to see once again through childlike eyes the joys of playdough, coloring, and blocks. My husband has returned from a business trip safe and sound. J is doing very well in school.

There are sorrows too. I heard about friends who have lost someone close to them. I heard about a friend who is dealing with depression and alcoholism. People, myself included, are still dealing with the uncertainties of the economy. I still carry the scars from a pastoral relationship/friendship gone sour.

Since it's Mental Health Awareness month, I'll share a little about my own experience with mental illness. I've dealt with depression for as long as I could remember. There was a time, several years ago, when I thought that living was quite overrated. My thinking was beyond clouded and I said and did things that hurt those I cared about. I spoke with the priest who was my pastor at the time, expressing my sorrow and regret over those hurtful deeds.

His response was not the warm, fuzzy response I expected. He said: "True repentance is doing everything in your power to get well."

These words have been my guide in recovery ever since (Thank you, Father D!). It wasn't enough to be sorrowful. I needed to change course, to do the things my treatment professionals recommended, to get rid of things and attitudes that kept me ill. I needed to be patient, as some changes took time.

Recovery is an ongoing process, and I am constantly on the lookout for signs that I'm drifting into depression. Recently, I experienced a depressive episode caused by a painkiller I was prescribed. Because I was vigilant, I was able to stop that episode before it became more serious.

When you hit bottom, there's nothing else to do but reach up to God. During my most severe depression, I began to pray more regularly. Today I pray each morning as I drive to work. For me, it works because at home there are so many distractions. Ideally, I'd like to go to church and pray. That only works now when I'm able to go to choir practice early and sit in the quiet of the empty church. When I was a Catholic, I'd go to Eucharistic Adoration in the chapel and sit quietly in the presence of Christ in the form of the Eucharist. I need to find/create a quiet space, besides my car, to pray. Any thoughts?

For all those dealing with mental illness, whether personally or as friends or family members, I offer this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:

May God the Father bless you, God the Son heal you, God the Holy Spirit give you strength. May God the holy and undivided Trinity guard your body, save your soul, and bring you safely to his heavenly country; where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

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