Being Helpful? Re-Tweeting about NAMI!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, September 3, 2014

LOVE heart candle flower

Being Helpful? Re-Tweeting about NAMI!

I read a heartbreaking blog post today. It was about space, and television, and that alien from the planet Ork, Robin Williams. And yes, it was about depression. And other mood disorders. I also made a new blogging friend today in Joani, Episcopal priest and blogger at Unorthodox & Unhinged (Tales of a Manic Christian) at

Initially, I found a link to this post on Facebook, in a large group where both Joani and I are members. I followed the link, read this post, and I was so moved that I retweeted it on Twitter, at my handle @chaplaineliza. What Joani also mentioned was that NAMI began their annual conference today in Washington D.C. What is NAMI, you ask? The National Alliance on Mental Illness. And, tomorrow is ‪#‎Act4MentalHealth: Thursday, September 4th. The day that mental health advocates are going to march on Capitol Hill, as well as take action online, to push for comprehensive mental health care, nationwide.

The brilliantly funny Robin Williams (or, Mork) had the disorder chronic depression. Joani’s description of it in her blog post was so poignant. I quote: “Depression and its companion mania are commonly misunderstood. Happiness and sadness are ordinary human emotions. They ebb and flow with the ups and downs of everyday life and they ebb and flow in us all. But different in kind are the moods that manifest themselves in the heights of mania and in the depths of depression.”

Her description seemed achingly familiar, in a distant way. 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.

In retrospect, I thank God for my mother-in-law and for my mother. I also am thankful for my (now, former) husband, for managing one day at a time through these dark days. I never spoke to him about the depression, not until a very long time afterwards.

Joani’s post ended on a hopeful, positive note. God loves us so much. So much more than any of us can comprehend. As she closed her post, “That the whole world would taste and see that God is good.  Be they Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Mormon, Scientologist, Wiccan, Agnostic, Atheist, Romulan, Vulcan, Klingon, Earthling, or none of the above — . We may be lost in life, bereft in death. We may be lost in this place and in this time, but lost to God — NEVER.”

(If anyone would like to read Joani’s post in its entirety, you may find it here: )


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Helping A Friend In Need

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 15, 2014

God making a way

Helping A Friend In Need

Today was a day to be helpful. And caring. I went to visit a good friend of one of my relatives, in the hospital. He had had a procedure recently, and I said I would go to see him. Wouldn’t you know, when I got there, he had just checked out of the hospital.

But wait—that’s not the end of it! I then called one of his relatives while I was standing there in the hospital lobby. In considerable distress, the relative told me about a serious concern she had. Immediately, I felt my chaplain skills swing into action. Of course I tried to help her to calm down, to try to be less frantic and more relaxed. I asked her for possible choices she might make, and helped her see that she could take some action in the specific situation. And even though she felt weak, she was neither helpless nor powerless.

After traveling back from downtown Chicago, I swung by the friend’s house to check on him. See how he was doing. I didn’t stay very long at all, but I was relieved to see he was resting. Thank goodness, especially since he had just been released from the hospital!

Afterwards, I reflected that I haven’t been coming alongside of people as much, as when I was a chaplain. Then, of course, I helped people in the hospital on a regular basis. Assisted them when they had concerns, facilitated getting answers, prayed for them and their loved ones when they asked, journeyed with them when they needed someone by their sides. Sure, sometimes I do this here at my new job, too! However, my current job is just not as intense a position as the one where I was working in a high-needs, intensive trauma situation.

God knows that I am facing new challenges and new joys in this new position, at the church! But, I really appreciated coming back to the familiar ground of a hospital. And as is often the case, I find that people are people. Their serious concerns still touch me deeply, and it doesn’t matter whether I hear of these concerns by email, over the telephone, on the street, or next to a hospital bed.

I pray that God will be with my friend, his relative, and with all those I know who are suffering and in pain today. Please, God, touch them in a special way today.


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