Being of Service for NAMI? Sharing My Story! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, September 4, 2015

I am giving my readers a two-for-one deal today. I will put a bit of my post from Wed., Sept. 3 last year in this space. And then, I will repost the post from Thurs., Sept. 4, 2014 in its entirety. I hope this is an encouragement to those of you who know someone who now has or has had mental challenges, or has been diagnosed with mental illness. Maybe even some of us.

(Excerpt from my post “Being Helpful? Re-Tweeting about NAMI!” Originally posted Wednesday, September 3, 2014)

I don’t often willingly think or talk about this, but I had a bout of severe postpartum depression after the birth of my second daughter, 28 years ago. Talk about a Slough of Despond . . .

I can dimly remember feeling barely able to get out of bed. Crawling around the apartment like a snail or slug, barely able to go from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen. It’s a good thing that my daughter was breastfeeding, since I can hardly remember feeding myself and my older daughter, much less her. (My mother-in-law was living in the upstairs apartment at the time. She would often bring her older granddaughter, who was the light of her life, upstairs to visit.)

The depression lasted for about six months. I had absolutely no idea I was in depression until it lifted. I have no idea how or why it ended, either. I just thank God that it did.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 4, 2014

heart - heart held in pink gloves

Being of Service for NAMI? Sharing My Story!

Surprised. Humbled. Gratified. And then, I guess, yes. Okay. Wow!

Those were some of the emotions I felt today as I went to my blog statistics, and checked the retweets and shares. The blog post I wrote yesterday apparently touched a chord with many people. At least, it sure looks like it from the response I received on the stats page, Twitter and Facebook.

I wasn’t thinking about that at all when I wrote that post. I was truly moved by another post (Joani Peacock’s recent blog post at Unorthodox & Unhinged, at wordpress dot com), and I sat down and wrote from my heart. I figured I had kept the information about my postpartum depression inside long enough. I feel stable and whole, now. I’ve decided to share more of this intensely personal, private story, now.

There is dysfunction in just about any family: it just depends on how much (too much!), how often (way too often), and what gives? (No answer, usually.) If those responses fit your family of origin and your growing-up experiences, you’ve got a lot of company!

Being the youngest of six by a number of years, my parents were pretty much done with child-raising by the time I hit the middle grades. A lonely, awkward, chubby kid, I turned into a lonely, awkward chunky adolescent. Sure, there was the on-and-off, general depression (more on than off), extreme loneliness, complicated by some other, medical-related difficulties in my high school years. Yeah, it could be written off to teenage angst. Yeah, it was partly that. But it was more. It was complicated.

Somehow, I find I can sometimes relate when I hear about other teens having difficulties right now—in the present. I find I can relate when people talk about depression—chronic, clinical, or whatever other kind they call it.

The awesome people at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) can help. They really, truly can. Or, they can steer you (or someone you love and are concerned about) to people who can help. There are people at NAMI who understand. I can walk with you a little way. God can help. Having a whole team of people helps so much more! We all can journey together on the road to better mental, emotional, spiritual health. (Often, physical health can be a concern, too. Check on it, please!)

Today is September 4, 2014, the day that NAMI’s annual conference in Washington DC is marching on Capitol Hill and launching an outreach on social media, including Twitter and Facebook. (#Act4MentalHealth) Thus, I am encouraged to open up, writing about my difficulties with depression. I am speaking out with my message of walking through the dark places, and coming out the other side. God willing, many people will speak out. Not be ashamed.

For more information, here’s NAMI’s website: http://www.nami.org/

NAMI’s contact information: NAMI, 3803 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 100, Arlington, Va 22203

NAMI’s telephone numbers: Main: (703) 524-7600, Fax: (703) 524-9094, Member Services: (888) 999-6264, Helpline: (800) 950-6264

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com  

To Be, or Not To Be—Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, September 10, 2014

LOVE love yourself

To Be, or Not To Be—Kind

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Therefore, I was helpful and of service. I reposted a meme—with a toll-free telephone number and several websites underneath.

The words on the photos read as follows: “Every 40 seconds someone across the world dies from suicide. Every 41 seconds someone is left to make sense of it.”

The words beneath the photos: “Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or a loved one are dealing with thoughts of suicide, please know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

“National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (United States & Canada)
Lifeline www.lifeline.org.au (Australia)
Samaritans http://www.samaritans.org/ (United Kingdom)”

Life is precious. Life is given by God. Life is an opportunity to be of service, to be helpful and kind. But, sometimes, some people can lose hope. Hope in humanity, in society, in worthwhile activities, in meaningful employment. Feelings can be fleeting, and deceitful, and hidden. Situations can be upended in a big hurry. Other people can be detrimental, fickle, and wayward. This leaves certain individuals with what they perceive as little reason to live, to continue, much less to thrive.

Psalm 139 tells us that God knew us even before we were born. God loves us, and cares for us. God wants the best for us. Sure, we are not promised an easy road through life. Some people have a more difficult time than others. But, that doesn’t mean that God hides from us, or just leaves us all alone with no one to help us out.

Some of my thinking behind A Year of Being Kind fits in, here. The verse for September is applicable, too: Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” I wanted to come alongside of people, trying to do 365 Days of Service. I wanted to ease some people’s difficulties, and be of service. (Even more than I usually am, that is.) I find today, World Suicide Prevention Day, to be immensely significant. If you or someone you know are hurting today—or tomorrow, or next week, please consider calling the number above, or going to the websites listed above. Please.

God loves you. I do, too. God holds all of us in the hollow of God’s hand. And, we are all held close in the loving, caring embrace of the Lord.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

LOVE you are loved

Being of Service for NAMI? Sharing My Story!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 4, 2014

HOPE look to this day

Being of Service for NAMI? Sharing My Story!

Surprised. Humbled. Gratified. And then, I guess, yes. Okay. Wow!

Those were some of the emotions I felt today as I went to my blog statistics, and checked the retweets and shares. The blog post I wrote yesterday apparently touched a chord with many people. At least, it sure looks like it from the response I received on the stats page, Twitter and Facebook.

I wasn’t thinking about that at all when I wrote that post. I was truly moved by another post (Joani’s recent blog post at Unorthodox & Unhinged, at wordpress dot com), and I sat down and wrote from my heart. I figured I had kept the information about my postpartum depression inside long enough. I feel stable and whole, now. I’ve decided to share more of this intensely personal, private story, now.

There is dysfunction in just about any family: it just depends on how much (too much!), how often (way too often), and what gives? (No answer, usually.) If those responses fit your family of origin and your growing-up experiences, you’ve got a lot of company!

Being the youngest of six by a number of years, my parents were pretty much done with child-raising by the time I hit the middle grades. A lonely, awkward, chubby kid, I turned into a lonely, awkward chunky adolescent. Sure, there was the on-and-off, general depression (more on than off), extreme loneliness, complicated by some other, medical-related difficulties in my high school years. Yeah, it could be written off to teenage angst. Yeah, it was partly that. But it was more. It was complicated.

Somehow, I find I can sometimes relate when I hear about other teens having difficulties right now—in the present. I find I can relate when people talk about depression—chronic, clinical, or whatever other kind they call it.

The awesome people at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) can help. They really, truly can. Or, they can steer you (or someone you love and are concerned about) to people who can help. There are people at NAMI who understand. I can walk with you a little way. God can help. Having a whole team of people helps so much more! We all can journey together on the road to better mental, emotional, spiritual health. (Often, physical health can be a concern, too. Check on it.)

Today is September 4, 2014, the day that NAMI’s annual conference in Washington DC is marching on Capitol Hill and launching an outreach on social media, including Twitter and Facebook. (#Act4MentalHealth) Thus, I am encouraged to open up, writing about my difficulties with depression. I am speaking out with my message of walking through the dark places, and coming out the other side. God willing, many people will speak out. Not be ashamed.

For more information, here’s NAMI’s website: http://www.nami.org/

NAMI’s contact information: NAMI, 3803 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 100, Arlington, Va 22203

NAMI’s telephone numbers: Main: (703) 524-7600, Fax: (703) 524-9094, Member Services: (888) 999-6264, Helpline: (800) 950-6264

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Opening Up, Confiding, and—That’s It.

A Year of Being Kind blog –Sunday, June 15, 2014

SERVE love serve Gal 5-13

Opening Up, Confiding, and—That’s It.

Ever have someone open up to you? And, tell you some stuff that is either really private, or particularly personal? Or really important?

From time to time, that happens to me. Sometimes, out of the clear blue sky. I can be minding my own business, standing in line at the grocery store, and someone will turn to me. That person will tell me intimate details of their lives, their emotions, their resentment or disgruntlement or surprise. Or pleasure or pride or caring.

Tonight was no exception. Tonight, after going to a coffee place to meet some friends, I decided to swing by a large, cut-rate department store that had a sizable food component. I needed to pick up a few things before I went home. I got almost everything I needed. (When I got home, I realized I had forgotten two things I’d intended to get. Aw, shucks! I did not have two items I particularly wanted . . . but that is fodder for another blog post.)

As I got in the check out line, I patiently waited my turn. (I particularly don’t like those self-check out lanes, since by using them the stores eliminate checkers and cashiers. Cashiers actually want lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, and they can get sick. Even want time off. Imagine! The nerve of those silly human beings!)

When I came up to the young cashier, I could tell she was frazzled. Even though she still greeted me, I could see she was distracted. So, I tried to be especially friendly and kind. I started—humorously—asking whether the computerized check out system was working properly. (I had heard that it was not, yesterday. And this computer snafu was nationwide!)

The cashier and I had a laugh about it. She immediately engaged with me, telling me the all-kind-of troubles she had and has with the computer. And the difficulties she has with her nose-in-the-air, fancy pants family. I listened, nodding my head and making encouraging words and noises.

And then—as suddenly as the cashier had begun? She stopped.

I’m used to people unburdening themselves to me by now. I was just amused that this young lady started and stopped so quickly. Like turning a faucet on and off. But was I kind? Helpful? Did I try to be of service? I think so, God. In fact, I know so. Thanks for putting me in the place of service tonight.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

What About Someone Who Doesn’t Feel Legit?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 10, 2014

hugs, hearts

What About Someone Who Doesn’t Feel Legit?

The time was later in the day. A grey, cold day for June, and had been raining most of the afternoon. At the tail end of some writing work, I needed to get everything finished before I left for the day. The preschool down the hall continued to empty—I heard the cars stopping and starting again with half an ear. As I sat at the desk and pounded the computer keys, the doorbell outside the front door rang. Hmm?

I went through the outer office and peered around the corner. A tall, sort of scruffy-looking man walked back towards his pick-up. Nice, newer model truck, I thought. I opened the door. “Hello!” I called, in my best friendly voice. The man stopped, turned around. Walked toward me. Older, rather than younger. Hair mostly grey, baseball-style cap with a few faint stains. Smaller handlebar mustache, even.

“Hello, ma’am.” He extended his hand. I introduced myself as the interim pastor. “Do you mind if I talk to you for a few minutes?” I smiled and made a welcoming gesture with my hand. “Certainly. Why don’t you have a seat?” As he passed by on the way to the pew against the wall, I got a clear whiff of alcohol. Coming out of his pores. He looked clear-eyed enough, but he must have been drinking quite a large amount recently to be in that kind of situation. I could smell the booze from five or six feet away.

Then the sad story came out. I must admit, he told it well. A contractor and carpenter for most of his life, doing some roofing more recently. With little touches like, breaking his back, both arms and a bunch of ribs by falling off a roof about two years ago. His aged parents had nursed him back to health. Then a long, almost fanciful description about his parents’ home in a small town—sounded almost idyllic. Except that there was hardly a job to be had in that area. So, because of back problems, and health issues, and herniated something-or-other, he had packed the truck and come back to the big city.

Now, here I intuited that he was telling the truth, amidst the fanciful fabrications. He made mention of a specific hospital where he was being treated. A ways from the church, but that did sound legit.

I interrupted him, and asked him in a kind voice, “I’ve been listening to your long, involved story for some time. What is the most important thing for you to ask me, right now?” He took a deep breath, looked at me with an assessing eye. Then made his pitch for money. “If you could see your way to giving me a little money for gas. That’s all I need.”

“I don’t have any money available right now, I’m afraid. But you mentioned that you were really hungry. You have lost lots of weight in the past weeks, you said, because you didn’t have food,” was my response, still in a kind voice. See, I had been listening. “And what you mentioned in your story? Sounds a lot like you did Step 4 and Step 5 with that priest. Making amends? Sounds like you were working Steps 8 and 9.” His eyes narrowed. The corner of his mouth twitched—not favorably. “Yeah, I heard about that stuff . . . “ he replied, slowly. “I guess.”

I stood up and walked down the hall to the other side of the narthex. He followed. On the table stood two boxes with the collection for the local food pantry. “I’m sorry I don’t have any money, but you are welcome to any of this food.” He cast an eye over the gathered food and grabbed some cans of vegetables. He thanked me, but his bright story-telling persona had gone away. I had a suspicion it might. On the way out the door, he asked me whether I knew of any other churches nearby. Sure, I mentioned a large Catholic church about seven or eight blocks away. Right down the street. “Oh.” Again the twitch with his mouth, and he mentioned something about already going there, before.

As I sent him on his way with the cans of vegetables and an encouraging smile, I felt a twinge of sadness. I knew about the solution for some of his difficulties, at least. Since I have a certification as Alcohol and Drug Counselor, I know about the help that comes from the 12 Steps and from the recovery program. But he did not seem open to hearing about that, at all. God, I listened to him. I provided him with some food, and gave him encouraging smiles. But God, I didn’t give him what he most wanted, perhaps what he most needed. Money for alcohol. I pray for him. I pray that he can find the solution for his problems. And find You, God, in the process.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.