Monday, September 12, 2016

I'm good . . . How are you?

“I’m good” falls out of our mouths so quickly when asked, “How are you?” Sometimes it’s said and then we think to ourselves, “No, I’m not good. Why don’t I just say I’m not good?”

Why do we do that? Why do we tell others we are good when we really are not? I have been asked that question more times than I can count. My reaction is usually “I’m good” or “I’m okay”. However, lately my answer has changed a bit. If you have been one of the lucky ones to ask me how I was and got my answer of “Tired”, well, that is very much the truth. Yet, the real truth is still hidden in there. But it pacifies the asker and we move on to another topic of discussion. Well, I’m here to truthfully answer that question now. I’m not fine, I’m not okay, and I’M NOT GOOD!

I am no longer going to hide behind myself. I am tired beyond what words can describe. The rush of emotions overwhelms me on a regular basis. It’s time to give voice to this quiet killer. Strap in because it’s about to get bumpy.

Life for me, as for most everyone, has not been an easy one. I’ve struggled with many things in my life. It started at a very young age when my parents split up. My parents did not get along and fought a lot. I don’t remember much of that, but enough to know it was pretty heavy. They decided it was better to live apart than together. I was left with my mother and my two siblings went to live with my father. I loved my life with my mother and her girlfriend, Sam, who spoiled me greatly. I never wanted for anything. It was a truly amazing life for a little girl. My dad got remarried when I was 5 and I still lived with my mother at that time. However, my father was trying desperately to obtain custody of me. One day, he received a call from my mother while at work. She told him to pick up all my belongings and get me from school. She was giving me to him. He picked me up from school that day and I never said goodbye to my mother. I had no clue this was going to happen. All I knew was mom and Sam were breaking up and I wanted to go with Sam because she took great care of me and I loved her. I thought I was given up because I wasn’t good enough for my mother and she just didn’t want me anymore. After a few years passed, she got pregnant again and had a little girl. That solidified more in my mind what I felt before, that I wasn’t good enough so she gave me up and had another baby. She kept that one because the new baby was better. I buried those feelings deep down.

I was excited to have a new mom and family. I was the youngest of 5 now. I had 2 older brothers and 2 older sisters. They kinda hung out with each other and I got left out a lot of the time because they were closer in age. I learned to play by myself a lot. My brother would go fishing and work on bikes with me. I have to give him props because he would even play Barbie with me from time to time. I’m sure it’s not something he wants to admit though. Living in the country was a great place for a little girl like me to grow up. I wish it had stayed innocent and carefree. Unfortunately, darkness found its way into my young life. Beginning in my single digits and continuing into my double digits I was sexually molested. It occurred many times over many years. It shook me to my inner core and that’s where I went to hide. I found it safe, so I stayed there for many years. I reached out for help, but none was given. So, those feelings were buried deep down.

I was a very troubled teen. I was always searching for something but could never find it. I didn’t know what exactly it was I was searching for but it didn’t stop me from looking. I tried God, but I wasn’t a big fan. I went to alcohol, smoking, partying, and caring less about school and friends. I was not popular with the guys and I guess the girls didn’t care too much for me either. So I kept my distance.  I found myself in a very dark place. Tried to kill myself but I wasn’t smart enough to figure out I was taking the wrong kind of pills for such a thing to happen. Just got really sick and passed it off to my parents as the flu. I tried to find comfort but none could be found. So I buried those feelings deep down.

Got married at a very young age, but was the happiest I’d ever been. He loved me for who I was and didn’t expect me to be something I wasn’t. We attended a church that was not very Spirit-led. It was more law-driven than anything else. I was scolded many times for several different things. I was literally called into the pastor’s office and called hard-hearted and if I didn’t change my ways I was going to hell. I wasn’t a good Christian no matter how hard I tried. I reached out for help but that didn’t come for many years. So I buried those feelings deep down.

As an adult, I have suffered from many unexplained issues. I’m seriously a walking medical mystery in so many ways. I’m used to hearing “Hmm, I’ve never seen that before” or “I don’t know what to do” from a doctor. It doesn’t matter what kind of doctor it is. I’ve heard it from just about all kinds. I’m the patient who gets all the fine print on those documents you have to sign. You know, the ones talking about the slight possibilities of things that never happen but we have to tell you just to cover ourselves in case they do. Yep, that’s me. All the drug side effects, yep again! So many things weighing on me that keep picking away at my physical and mental well-being. I developed severe pain that occurred all the time over many years. Nothing I did would bring relief. No amount of strong pain meds even did. My reality was becoming dark and I was slipping into a cold, lonely abyss. I went to this place many times and decided to stay for a while. On one of these occasions, I lost the will to live. Every day my husband was scared he would find me dead when he walked through the door after work. The numbness overwhelmed me and I hid in the dark and buried myself there.

Once I began to climb out of my hiding place, I was smacked back down with the resurfacing of an old ugly wound. The sexual molestation I lived through many years ago had decided it was going to remind me of the pain I endured for so long. My life became completely unbearable. With physical pain and emotional torment, I was doomed. I finally took a huge step and decided to seek professional help. Unfortunately, it was not successful and I once again found myself burying it all and trying to move on.

Life has moved on and I have tried to find where I fit in this world. Time has moved forward. Our lives have changed. Where we live, how many live at home, more added to the family, the loss and addition of friends, and even a College graduation under my belt. However, all the things I have buried over the years decided they wanted to be unearthed. I wish I could say I found a healthy way to deal with all of it. Unfortunately, I did not. Since I reached out so many times through the years and I found no help, I have learned it doesn’t matter if I do, help won’t come. I keep to myself and have become a very private individual. I keep most everything to myself or to only a select few. I’m nobody special to anyone to have them care about me. I’ve had some pretty major things happen to me that I have told very few. One of those things was major surgery a couple years ago. I did not want anyone to know. My husband even took his vacation days to spend with me in the hospital so he wouldn’t have to tell anyone. It was supposed to be a one night stay but turned into a week. I went through a difficult recovery and I did it alone with the support of my husband. I conditioned myself to believe nobody needs to know because nobody will care. The truth is, I don’t want to face the hurt of being rejected yet again. So I just don’t. I bury everything deep down.

So, I’m brought to the state of replying “tired” when asked how I am. Depression knocks on my door often. I’m tired of fighting. Anxiety is a new one in the last 4 years that has been thrown in the mix. Oh that’s such an ugly thing. It is truly a debilitating disease along with the depression. It renders me useless. I cannot function, think, or form a sentence when I have an anxiety attack. Between depression and having anxiety, my brain is mush most days. I struggle to get out of my house. I would much rather stay in my “safe zone.” Let me tell you, having an anxiety attack in the middle of a store is no fun at all. Going to the store used to be an easy task for me, but it no longer is. If I don’t have a detailed list, I get overwhelmed. My heart pounds like a hammer, head throbs, stomach churns, brain can’t form a logical thought, and I want to run as fast as I can out the door. I hate these things. I don’t want to have them. I try so hard to not let them take over. I wish I could say I have overcome them. Sadly, I can’t. These two diseases have a mind of their own and they are being told to attack at full force. I die a little every day when I’m dealing with them. They tear away at my ability to live a happy and productive life. It’s the silent killer.

Why have I told you all this? I did not tell you all of this to receive sympathy or to make anyone feel bad for me. I simply can no longer sit by and let this silent killer not only kill me physically, but mentally. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH! This has taken me a long time to get out but I feel it is something I’m supposed to do. By looking at me, you would not know I suffer daily from something that cannot be seen. Depression and anxiety have taught me how to create a sturdy mask. I’m taking the mask off. I’m taking it off for all those who suffer from these diseases. Don’t be ashamed or discouraged. Our silence is killing us. It does not mean we are weak because we have these ugly diseases. On the contrary, I truly believe because we have suffered for so long and still breathe means we are pretty tough. I’m begging you, when someone is bold enough to come out of the shadows and share their pain with you that you do not just say “I’m so sorry” and then go about your business as if you were never told. When someone suffers from an illness whose symptoms you can see, don’t you inquire on a regular basis how they are doing? When they respond, don’t you listen patiently to what they are saying? Do you offer your love and kindness even if you do not understand what they are going through? I’m asking you to do the same thing when a courageous person suffering with depression and/or anxiety finally opens up and gives you a glimpse of what they are going through.

“Are you strong because you belong to Christ? Does His love comfort you? Do you have joy by being as one in sharing the Holy Spirit? Do you have loving-kindness and pity for each other? Then give me true joy by thinking the same thoughts. Keep having the same love. Be as one in thoughts and actions. Nothing should be done because of pride or thinking about yourself. Think of other people as more important than yourself. Do not always be thinking about your own plans only. Be happy to know what other people are doing.” Philippians 2:1-4 (NLT)

Update: September 25, 2016 I read and spoke at my church. I did read this but also interjected a few things along with a short talk after. You might want to check it out. There is a lot of feelings and emotions behind my words!