Sunday, March 9, 2014

For Libba Bray

Dear Libba,

On Friday night, I cried when I read your blog post,

And it's taken me a little while but I've decided to write you and the world.

You see, I have been there.

My demons hit me in 1996, but I tried to deal with them for the next two years by myself.  The treadmill was my outlet, as was my journal.  I wrote constantly, especially after, when I had run so hard and fast on the treadmill I was panting and gasping for air, and the tears where flowing hard, the words poured out of me.  Usually they made no sense, just pleas for help and understanding from a God I wasn't sure was there any more and the universe as a whole-as if the universe could help!

In 1998, I worked with a wonderful woman who was a physical education/health teacher suffering from lupus who had been dealing with depression, too, even though I didn't know about the depression.  She was at my home and listening to me talk for awhile, trying to explain how I was feeling and after telling me about her depression, she arrived at my classroom Monday morning with a checklist.  She went through it with me, looked me in the eyes and said, "You need help."  It was clear and calm and friendly, but matter of fact.  Thank the heavens for my friend, because I didn't seek help until it was almost too late.

You see, I was married with 2 kids and the car was my enemy.  Before my teacher friend went through this simple check list with me, whenever I was in the car, the telephone and electric poles looked like my friends.  The friends that, if I would just run my car into them, they would take me away from my sadness, the deep hole I couldn't get out of now matter how hard I ran or how much I cried into my pillow.  They would relieve my pain.

Of course, no one understood.  No one.  Not my hubby, not my parents, no one.  No one could understand because I did not understand it myself.  I could not verbalize what IT was.

But my boys were, and will always be, my saving grace.  They were young.  They were in the car with me a lot during that time.  Running them to after school activities, picking them up from the sitters, plus working full time as a third grade classroom teacher.  There was a lot of stress in my life.  Other matters weighed on my mind as well.  The stress of building our own home, the debt, the daily marriage aches and pains, that feeling of being lost, always having to say, "Yes, I can do that"' when someone needed something, the changes in the classroom that were being pushed at me with no support or specialized training, the feeling of being burned out.

So, when those deadly friends of mine stood at the side of the road calling my name to ram the car into them for relief, they seemed like the answer to that lost feeling, but they did not know the power of my two young sons!  My boys saved me.  I would look at the poles, each one as I passed, on the way home from school, running errands after school with the boys in tow, anytime out on the road, and then, miraculously, my eyes would move to the rearview mirror and I would see my boys.  Their eyes.  Their smiles. Their faces.  They saved me.  They saved me!

I remember making the call to the mental health phone number on the back of my health card-thank our lucky stars those numbers are being moved to the front of the insurance cards now-and speaking to a soft voiced woman who asked me my name and how I was feeling before popping the big question:  "Have you thought about hurting yourself?"  I began to cry and softly sobbed into the phone, "Yes".   Immediately, this bodiless voice, my best friend at the moment, made me an appointment for help.  My boys saved me, but they could not help me.  I needed experts.

I went to talk therapy, Libba, and I went on medicine.  Had to.  First meds, ever, that I decided I would have to take the REST of my life.  There is no magic pill, though, you know.  I had to talk, and talk I did. Two times a week with a psychologist and one time a week with a psychiatrist, since he was the one able to prescribe the medicine.  All of my demons came out of my mouth.  Things were said that I never thought I would say to anyone, let alone a stranger; but the words poured and that is what I needed.

There is more to the story, Libba, but as you know, first hand, I am exhausted.  Cleansing the soul takes a lot out of  you.

I want to thank you, Libba.  Thank you for pushing me to tell my story.  I have always wanted people to know this about me.  I have only told those I feel most comfortable with and people at work that I felt needed to know.  You, my friend, have opened me up.  Sometimes, that is all we need to overcome depression.  To open up and let IT out.  It is freeing.  Although, IT will never go away.  IT will rear it's ugly head, sometimes at the most simple event or act in your immediate world or in the world at large.  Sometimes at the most horrible gruesome act that you face in some way, whether personally or through the media.  I can be pushed over the brink into depression at a sad story on the news.  I have had to come home from school because I woke up crying for no reason I could find, thought it would stop by the time I walked into the building, but found that just the act of sitting down at my desk and turning on my computer was too much to bear.  I cry all the way home and cry and sleep the rest of the day.  It happens.

Needless to say, I've been crying on and off as I wrote this.  Reliving my beginning days with this illness is good for me once in awhile.  Life is too short to forget who you are, where you came from, what makes you you.  We need to embrace ourselves and love ourselves.  We need to say No when we want to, we need to NOT feel guilty for not being able to do it all, all the time, or perfectly.  We need to forgive ourselves and others.

My psychologist told me something and I still find a way to do this when I need it:

Stop.  Just stop.  Leave everything and stop.  Do something for you.

An example:

Don't clear the table after dinner.  Take a cup of tea and sit outside to enjoy the quiet or the breeze or your tea.  DO SOMETHING FOR YOU!

So, thank you, Libba.  Thanks for helping me take time to stop and do something just for me.

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