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  

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Being of Service? Carrying the Message—for NAMI (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 9, 2014

NAMI mental anguish, mental illness

Being of Service? Carrying the Message—for NAMI (Feature Friday!)

This week, October 5th through 11th, is Mental Health Awareness Week. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is working to inspire others through sharing stories. Experiences of those brave people who face struggles with mental illness every day. This week, especially, NAMI and others all across the nation are working hard to highlight struggles—and victories!—with various kinds of mental illness.

Some weeks ago in a Feature Friday post, I shared my struggle with an especially difficult time in my life. After my second pregnancy, I developed severe postpartum depression. I did not even realize it until it was over. I was swimming through that desperate, gray, mucky water for some six months. And I cannot remember whether I came out of it slowly, quickly, or something in between. I just remember the sun seeming brighter one day, and my general attitude towards life being positive. And, the desperate grayness was gone.

For the most part, that is. Mild depression still returns, on occasion, but never like it was in postpartum depression! Looking back, it was horrific. Heartbreaking. And—I did not even know until it was over.

I want to talk a bit about my friend T. He bravely told his personal story this week, in order that other people with mental illness might not feel so alone. I am going summarize, and quote excerpts.

T used to be a church leader at a large church in the suburbs. Married, active group leader, deeply involved in several ministries. He continues, “And I was also a fraud. I had developed a pretty serious mental illness (bi-polar) and was an asshole husband.” T also developed several addictions to manage his increasingly erratic emotions.

The descent was rapid. T lost almost everything. “Separation [from his wife], restraining order, hospital, jail, long term mental hospital, GPS ankle monitor, halfway house, living with sibling, and basically hell on earth. And I couldn’t stop acting out…it was my one and only ‘tool’ for coping with life and loss.” He hit bottom. Or, the bottom hit him.

In the last two years he has gotten clean and sober and in a recovery program.

Recently, T met with several leaders to confess his shortcomings and make amends. He worked with them to be restored. He said, “I felt received, loved, and that they were ‘for me.’” Maybe Jesus does—as T says—indeed have a heart for messed up people. Thank God for grace, love, and mercy. Thank God that some people care, and listen, and welcome with open arms. And, thanks for sharing, T. There is a solution. One day at a time.

For more information, go to http://www.nami.org, http://www.aa.org, or http://www.na.org.

@chaplaineliza

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

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 19, 2014

fearfully wonderfully made Psa 139

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

Ever have a line from a song play over and over in your head, almost like it was on an endless loop? Yeah. That happened to me the other day. It usually bothers me a lot, but not necessarily this time. The particular line was from the gospel song “Something Special” written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. “God made you something special/You’re the only one of your kind.” It’s hard to get mad at a song if it has lyrics like that.

What triggered it was a blog post I saw earlier this week from a blogging friend of mine from New Zealand, Barry Pearman. In his blog Turning The Page on September 16th, he talked about how God had each one of us in mind when God created us. Formed us inside of our mothers, and crafted each part of us. Barry says, “Often I think about . . . the fact that God knows every one of us on a deeply intimate level. We are not a commodity product, a resource to managed, a number on a spreadsheet. You as an individual are of incredible value to God.”

Wow. I’ll say it again—wow! How many people today do not think they are valuable? Do not think they matter? And, do not think God cares about them? I would say that many people are in this sad, lonely situation. Barry mentioned the “internal bully” that tries to interfere and intimidate people into accepting their negative, internal self-monologue. Oh, do I connect with that!

Barry’s inspirational blog has the uplifting theme of assisting people with mental health. “Your own or others,” as the synopsis says. Plus, near the top of the blog—in the right side margin—Barry is featuring a post called “6 Keys to Helping Someone Who is Suicidal.” In this month of September, where mental health, suicide prevention and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) are highlighted in so many places, I also wanted to lift up Barry, his wonderful work, and his positive, nurturing blog post featuring Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 12:6-7.

I remember the prophet Jeremiah, and the good and gracious words God spoke to him in Chapter 1: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” So, we come back to the idea that each of us—every one of us—is special. Valued. Yes, Jeremiah had problems in life, but he knew that God was walking right beside him.

It doesn’t matter whether you or I walk beside each other on the path each day, or journey alongside of someone who is hurting—mentally as well as physically or spiritually. We can still help each other to carry burdens. My 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.” Yes, I want to come alongside of people. Yes, we can ease each other’s burdens. And yes, I want to communicate God’s love, encouragement and support.

– See more at Barry’s blog: http://turningthepage.info/mind/#sthash.rORNc5Dx.dpuf

@chaplaineliza

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

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.

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 wordpress.com.

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: http://celticjlp.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/lost-in-space-maybe-lost-to-god-never/ )

@chaplaineliza

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