Friday, January 4, 2008

Push Through

Most people that know me would never know that I have struggled with depression for many, many years now. I would say from early adolescence. My own Grandmother was shocked to hear this a few years ago when I discussed my depression and feelings of inadequacy that have plagued my life. She told me that I never really let that side of me show and I always appear to have everything together. Maybe so, but sometimes appearances can fool you. Isn't what they are intended to do? I mean, I can't show the world how I really feel inside. Because if I feel that poorly about myself then how will they feel about me?

Now that I have been formally diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a lot of my struggles make more sense to me. I truly believe that this odd ailment began early in my life and began to take its toll on me way before the symptoms were obvious. What causes this weird reaction of inflammation in my body I don't think I will ever understand. But it does not just effect the body; one of the most common symptoms among fibro patients is depression. The pain and tenderness of the muscles can run a wide variety, but most patients suffer from depression or anxiety disorder.

Part of the reason why I have to get back on track and need to take better care of my body is because it helps so much with my mood. I always feel better when I have been exercising regularly. My rheumatologist told me two years ago that it was the single most important thing I could do for both physical and mental health. Easier said than done, though, especially when your muscles ache to the touch and you feel like you can't catch your breath because the cartilage in your chest cavity is so inflamed. And I have to maintain the proper balance with it as well. Not enough exercise and i won't reap the benefits. Too much exercise and it sends my body into stress, triggering more inflammation and depression. So I have to find that delicate balance of just enough but not too much.

I first remember feeling depressed when I was twelve or thirteen and we lived in Florida. We moved to Florida after living in Louisiana for four years. My father was the preacher of a very small town Church of Christ in Zachary, Louisiana. Things happened - nasty, churchy, political things - and the church split. A group of people rallied around my father, and we broke off to start our own church. I don't remember the exact details of why we left, but our family left Louisiana broken and battered. Empty. I had witnessed the most tragic thing in my life. People I looked up to and trusted became bitter and ugly and definitely not Christ-like. My very own Sunday school teacher called my father a liar right in front of me. When I heard the words, I remember screaming, "No! My daddy is not a liar!" and running outside to the parking lot. I can still see it just like it was yesterday - the parking lot, the church, the front doors, everything. Her name was Delores, and she chased me out the door tyring to apologize or console me. She didn't realize I was there. She didn't realize that I would hear her.

That was probably the beginning of my depression. That's when I began to take things on that were just greater than me. I was to young to process all of that. But no one really knew how much it all effected me. And my parents were so busy trying to figure out just what we would do and dealing with their own pain that no one ever stopped to see this broken girl who was so confused and so hurt and felt so abandoned by an entire group of people she had grown to know and love. I just kept pushing through my little life. That's what I learned to do as early as that. Just push through it. It will get better.

And it does get better. I don't need anyone to feel sorry for the things I have been through. Because even the worst thing I have experienced, something I have discussed with very few people in the world, is pale in comparison to what some kids have to go through every day. I don't think I have told anyone except my mom and my husband that before Christmas, I went to have lunch with David at school and a little girl in his class sat down at the table and pulled something out of her lunch box, nibbled on it a bit, and then just put her head down. Two of her friends went to the teacher and she came to the table and began to question the little girl. She had no lunch. When the teacher asked her why, she began to cry and told the teacher that they didn't have any money right now. Just take a moment and try to make sense of that. A six year old girl, at the lunch table with all her classmates, crying because her family has no money for food. Because we live right behind the school, I rushed home and made her a lunch and took it back to the school so that she wouldn't have to hungry for the day. And I have made arrangements with the teacher to keep an eye on her lunch account and let me know when it falls low and we will find a way to fill it up for her. I don't ever want that little girl to go without lunch again. I don't know what her family story is, but no child should have to take on adult burdens.

I don't know what all this rambling is today. Perhaps free therapy. I guess sometimes it just feels good to get a little of your story out there, you know. Like, this is who I am and why I am that way. I have a difficult time becoming involved at church. Because there are internal politics in every church of varying degrees. Most people don't see it. That's the way I'd like to keep it for me and my family. I don't want my kids to see how childish adults can truly be, how cruel the world really is, how much hurt and pain is really out there. I want to shelter them from that blueness that has hovered over me from such an early age. I know I won't succeed forever. But I'll try as hard as I can for now.


carrie said...

I ,too, have been burnt by church politics. It caused me a lot of pain and questioning. I guess the biggest difference was that I was 25 years old. I pray that Todd doesn't encounter church politics. It is a sad reminder that we are all human and require God's grace to amke it through this life! Thanks for your honesty and generous heart to help the little girl. You may have saved her life!

Erika said...

My heart aches for that little girl. How sad. I love you!