Welcome to the
International Women's Day Blog Party
(Turn up the sound: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuB3_HLcFfk)
International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. To this end, this party is a way to honor those special ladies who have inspired us and made us better than we ever thought we could be. It is with gratitude and pride I welcome you to my blog. I'm anxious to hear your stories and celebrate your choices.
this post is for you.
My struggle with clinical depression began when I was a teenager. At least that was the first time the darkness that seemed to be a part of me was given a name. Since that time I have been on a lifelong journey to squash those demons. As Oprah might say, this one thing I know for sure: depression is not just an emotional disease. It affects the body and the spirit as well. Like the commercials say, depression hurts. And, like a tornado, it can turn everything in its path upside down not just the person who has it.
Here's the good news. Depression, like diabetes, can be managed and kept at bay. I found that the fight needs to be a three-pronged attack - physically, spiritually and emotionally. My saving grace was that along the way I found therapists to walk with me on my journey. Sometimes they led the way, sometimes they followed. I think there were even a few times when they encouraged me to STOP so we could both catch our breath and determine which road we were going to take. I wouldn't be here today if not for their wisdom and understanding.
I cannot narrow down my IWD choice to one person. Instead I pick the ladies who have been with me when I was curled up in a fetal position or standing on the top of a mountain top saying "Hurrah for me!"
I know it seems a little weird that there are so many. I've come to believe that each of these women was put in my life at just the right time by Divine providence. Each lady appeared exactly when I needed the special gift she had to offer. I have been blessed.
When I was 15 I had my first emotional breakdown. That episode brought with it a lot of firsts. First time in a hospital psychiatric ward. First (and only, thank God) time I was tied to my bed to keep me from throwing a temper tantrum. First time on anti-depressant medications. First time I felt safe enough to give my feelings a voice. First time I learned what it was like to have some one listen to me.
The psychaitrist I began seeing, Dr. Margaret Winn, was a bit of a character. She was quite tall, always wore high heeled shoes which accented her height. Her bleached blond hair was teased and sprayed into a bouffant do that wouldn't have moved in a cyclone. She wore bright red lipstick and chain smoked filtered cigarettes. She took copious notes as I rambled on about whatever. She might have been a little cold, she wasn't a hugging type of therapist. But I grew to trust her and I grew to understand how important it was to have a voice.
I got married, had children, suffered some emotional setbacks but kept myself together - sort of - until my second break down in 1981. I had a complete separation of who I was inside and who I was trying to be on the outside. Basically I was lost. I began the long way back to myself when my husband went on a 6 month deployment. I liken this part of my life to a re-birth experience. I was so fragile, it was like the therapist I was seeing (a man) had to care for me like I was an infant. Even looking back on it now I wonder how I did it. It's like I was 2 different people. One who was put together and functioning like an adult for all the world to see and another who barely felt alive in the privacy of her own room.
Enter Lisa Smith. Lisa was tall and thin with long blond hair. Her office was tiny but dressed artfully. I felt safe with her. If Dr. Greff got the reborn infant, Lisa had to deal with the toddling youngster trying to learn how to walk through a minefield of unaddressed emotions. Then Lisa, like the man before her, told me she was moving out of state and we had to end our relationship. I was in a safe place, but I don't know for sure if I was in a growing place. I wouldn't have ever said it was time to move on. She cut the strings for me.
Remember that stubborn streak I mentioned in another post? I decided I was going to lick depression on my own, no meds, no shrinks, no rules. I started acting out - kind of like the rebellious teenager I never got to be. This option didn't really work for me. I called Christine and began growing up in earnest. Two steps forward and several backward, but Chris never left me. She listened. She encouraged. She pointed me in the direction of 12-step meetings. She called a spade a spade. It was Chris who said to me with a precise mixture of firmness and gentleness that the situation called for, "Mary don't ever tell me again you don't do anger."
Huh? Me angry? Never. Yeh, well maybe she was right. And every time I feel my blood start to boil, I have to say to myself, she was right. I still don't like it. But hopefully I've learned how to tame it.
When I made the decision to move back to Florida to help take care of my mom, Christine sent me on my way promising that I'd be okay. It's been 13 years. I still have dreams where I'm trying to call her and can't remember the phone number. When I wake up, I check the number to make sure I still have it if I need it. Every once in a while I dial it just to hear her voice on the answering machine.
Before I left I asked Chris about a poster she had on her wall that I saw every time I walked into her office. The picture is of an Amish quilt. In small print near the bottom there is a quote by Sue Bender, "Miracles happen after a lot of hard work." That pretty much summed up my experience with Christine. Hard work and miracles.
Since I've been home depression, my nemesis, has returned a few times. I knew I needed to be on medication. For me clinical depression is very clearly a chemical imbalance that needs to be controlled by pharmaceuticals. I've stopped fighting it. I've learned to read my body and my moods and know when things are getting a little out of whack. I am followed by a psychiatrist which, in my opinion, is the best way to handle these types of meds.
Through Dr. Joseph I worked with not one but two ladies. I've learned talk therapy is as necessary as Prozac to keep my moods in check. With Ginny Boney I've done some pretty intensive inner child work. In the end, after all the crying, all the talking, all the journaling a lot of my problems boil down to a need to re-parent the little girl inside of me who gets so easily scared and upset. When I'm sitting in Ginny's office, clutching a couch pillow like a teddy bear, Ginny's soft, gentle voice speaks to that child. She helps me to listen to that little one who cries out, "Hey, what about me!!!" By hugging me like a mother and a friend, Ginny has taught me how to hug myself.
Mmmmmmmmm. I'm sitting here all alone but feeling kind of embraced in a circle of love. Again I have to say I am blessed. Thanks for reading this really long post. I hope I've conveyed how special these ladies have been to me. I know the onus is now on me. To give back some of what I've received. To reach out, to listen, to be gentle, and to hug the people I come in contact with. For it is in the giving that we all receive.
I close with this prayer: Let us go forth then, O Living and Loving God. Let us go forth in the power of Your Presence deep in our hearts, and the power of your presence overflowing in our communities. Let us go forth confirmed and strengthened in our vision. Let us go forth named in Hope and Love, and sustained in these challenging times. Let us go forth as valiant women of justice and peace.*
God bless you all, Merry ME