A long time ago, I loved to write.
As a child and teen, I had no outlet except for the blank page, and I filled many hundreds of pages with scribblings. Letters. A story now and again. Pain. Trauma. Loneliness. Desperation. Longing.
For a period of time, every single day, I wrote
God, give me patience!
in big letters on every single page, many times on each page.
I also wrote it in small letters, backhand letters, right slant letters, drunk-like scribbles, chicken scratch, beautiful swirly letters, block letters, angry letters, desperate letters. Broken letters.
I was going through some of the most difficult days I’d ever had.
God, grant me the serenity….
Ah, serenity. I could use some of that.
To accept the things I cannot change….
To accept… everything?
Courage to change the things I can….
Is there really anything I can change?
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Is there a difference?
When I got to be about 17 years old, my life was a mess. I don’t remember much from that time, except that I delivered newspapers twice a week and I made my first attempt at writing, editing and publishing. Those things were the…. happy times.
There were dark times. Many, many dark times. Times when I was paralyzed by fear. Anxiety rolled me up into a little ball and I’d spend most of my time curled up on the floor behind my bed or just laying on my bed, thinking. Depression gripped me. The two — anxiety and depression — gathered me up in their icy fingers and pulled me behind a translucent curtain that allowed me to see only grey shadows of all the wonderful things everybody else was experiencing while the voices of desperation and panic and fear eerily whispered in my ear.
That was then.
I didn’t know how bad it could get.
As days turned to weeks and weeks into years, experience piled on top of experience. Pain upon pain. Sadness upon pain and worry and loneliness. Desperation on top of sadness and depression on top of disappointment.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
Every hope was deferred.
Tears upon tears, wounds wound with bandages that served only to keep the pain in and the outside out.
A decade turned into two.
Heart-sick and broken.
Words came no more.
What had once been delightful ideas, hopeful thoughts and beautiful pictures turned into two word sentences, repeated over and over again.
Help me, in backhand. Help me! in curly-qs and swirly letters. Help me! in desperation, in brokenness, in pain. Help me! because there were no other words that my brain could put together.
It makes the heart sick.
It makes the mind sick.
It makes the body sick.
I have a mental illness.
Looking at my history, it makes sense that I would.
My other grandma was crazy enough that I was scared of her.Childhood trauma often leads to mental illness of one kind or another.
And, of course, hope deferred makes the heart sick.
Five years ago, I had it all together. I worked. I paid my bills. I budgeted and paid off thousands in loans. I went to church. I was involved in ministry at church. I sang, I prayed, I served, I loved.
And then my world collapsed.
When my world collapsed, my already fragile psyche teetered one more time before one by one, the support beams came crashing down.
I was so “down” that I was down and out.
I was down in the dumps and out of commission.
But I tried. Oh, how I tried.
I did well enough that only two people suspected that something was off. One was a man I knew very briefly and the other was my best friend. The man was the first one to confront me. He told me to go get help. I saw a psychologist who referred me to a medical doctor for a prescription.
I was terrified to take it. Because demons. Because spiritual sickness. Because it was all my fault. Because addiction? Because unknowns.
The day I filled the prescription, I prayed that it would work. I took the first capsule, drifted off to sleep and the next morning, I woke up and noticed that the sun was shining and the fact that the sun was shining made me happy.
I couldn’t remember the last time something actually made me happy.
I lay in bed for several minutes with a goofy grin on my face, then I got up and went about my day like being happy and having a peaceful mind were something I did every day.
It worked for a while.
Then stress. Then desperation. Then pain.
Everything I had experienced before was magnified by 10.
Then more stress. More pain. More unknowns.
(Another magnification by 10)
Medication change, additional medication, an as needed medication added.
Every change helped — for a while. But eventually, I’d revert back to where I had been before. Many times, I’d hit an uncontrollable downward spiral.
That is where I am right now.
I had the most recent medication change in April, and by August, it isn’t working so well anymore.
True, I can at least put words together again. That’s a comfort. It means that in some ways I’m better.
But- the sadness and fear linger.
I worry that no man will ever want to love me.
Should I even entertain the idea of hoping for romance?
I worry that something will happen at work and I won’t know what to do.
Should I even be a nurse at all?
I worry that I won’t be able to pay my bills.
I should never have bought a house.
I worry that if by some fluke I get married and get pregnant, I’ll go off the deep end.
Maybe I could just give up that idea.
I worry that people will hate me because I’m scared.
Is isolation a better choice?
I worry that my car will break down, my food will make me sick, I won’t be able to afford lunch, my doctor won’t know how to help me, pastors might exploit my willing and generous spirit. I worry about the kids I love, about bird flu and cancer and the possibility of having a horrendous winter.
Oh, how I worry.
This is my life. This is what mental illness is like. It’s hard. It’s awful. It’s terrifying.
The past few days, I’ve been thinking specifically about romance and babies and laughter and happiness.
It all seems so elusive to me.
It’s really not fair to ask a man to love me. Not with all the cray-cray in my brain.
It’s not fair to ask him to choose between living with an unstable and moody woman for 9-10 months while she gestates a baby or giving up the possibility of having biological children. How would you even make that decision?
It wouldn’t be fair to the child if I were to take medication while pregnant — because birth defects.
Who would even want to love somebody like that????
I stewed over this for a couple of days. I thought about possibilities for alternative treatments. I thought about lots of things. I studied gene mutations to see if maybe that could be “it.”
Because I want to be better.
Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have a peaceful mind!
After work today, I sat down to read a few scriptures before going on to the next task. I thought about all the things I’ve looked into and all the problems and issues I have and how happiness is so far out of my league. I thought about a lot of things.
And then I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me….
But you try.
You know what it is and you are learning what your triggers are.
I hope so!
You are always trying to find answers and you’re willing to do whatever it talks to get better.
Yes! I don’t want to be another version of the other grandma!
You aren’t simply giving in to it like so many others do.
Gosh, I hope not!
Oh, how I hope so!
Grace covers even this.