Saturday, June 11, 2016

Just Breathe...

Forgive me me, friends, for I have not blogged. It has been 4 weeks since my last post. You may have noticed the unintentional break, or not. I know that I am not the center of your universe, and I'm ok with that. But there has been a break, and I'm sorry if you missed me. 

First the backstory: I have a history of postponing my own emotional processes when difficulties come. I thrive on supporting others, and I am the first one in line to tell a friend (or all of blogdom) that there are no wrong feelings, and the key is to just let yourself feel it to get through the hard times, to just take a moment to breathe and feel. I get busy helping others feel their feelings while putting mine high up on a shelf, where I am not distracted by them. Later, when there is a lull in the things-to-be-done department, I retreat to a quiet place to feel...and I am pretty good at feeling both the highs and the lows. 

The highs are easy to feel right away. A new baby? Let's all celebrate together! Your last scan came back clean? Hoorayyyy! You got the house? won the lottery? became engaged? Let's have cake! and dance! and sing! Let's all share the happiness, wish each other well, hug and celebrate!!! Then we take time to breathe, and to figure out how much the baby (wedding/house/taxes) will cost in the long run. God has a plan for every life, and we are especially aware of this when we are in the high times. 

The lows are a different story. In the lows, we often don't know what to do or say, and we are prone to feel alone and perhaps abandoned by even God. Sometimes the feelings surprise us...especially when angry encroaches upon sad, which happens more often than one might expect. But it's ok to be angry as a part of the grieving process, and it's absolutely normal. Yet anger that overtakes sadness is commonly confusing. Why did he/she die now? I'm too young to have to deal with this! This is not fair, and I am angry! Where do I direct that anger? At God? At a dead person? At myself?

My defense, rather than dealing with my own low feelings right away, is to put them on that shelf and get busy doing the things that need to be done. I hand out the tissues, and I let others cry or yell, as their grief directs them...or I tackle that job that no one else can quite muster the energy for in their grief. Later, I find that quiet place, all by myself, and I weep and gnash my teeth. I cry out to God and beg him to bring back that person...that change the outcome somehow. I blame myself for things that are not my fault. I yell and I cry some more, and I pray. When my dad passed away suddenly, just after Christmas 1994, it took me about 4 months to get to that place. The process took some time, and it was not pretty. But when the season was over, I had felt the feelings. I was ready to move on. 

Jumping back into the present tense here, if you have noticed my absence recently around the internet, you probably know something about my current season. If not, you can look back through some of my past posts for an overview. In a nutshell, there has been much loss in my life (and in Sweetie's) over the past 18 months or so. Broken relationships, serious illnesses, deaths, family turmoil, job uncertainty, and just kept coming, fast and furious. Through it all, there were things to do, balls to keep juggling, and other people also dealing with hurt, frustration, sadness and anger. If I had a nickel for every time I said, "Just take a minute, and breathe. Feel it, it's ok to feel it," with a tissue at the ready and tears in my eyes, I would have a lot of nickels! 

But, in order to do that, I kept putting my own feelings on that shelf, waiting for a quiet time to breathe. When a co-worker left our office under less-than-perfect circumstances, I listened to many who couldn't understand what had happened. I took a deep breath and encouraged them to see that God has a plan, and this must be part of it. When the senior minister was diagnosed with cancer, I took a deep breath and coached many in the church to pray and to feel, and to help us all find God's plan through Tim's cancer. When he died, I took a deep breath and did my best to comfort members of the church and pray for members of his family, looking for God's plan and encouraging them to let themselves feel. When we welcomed new staff into our office, and people came to me with concerns about changes at the church, I took a deep breath and cheered for the change, assuring them that this was all part of God's plan. When my brother-in-law took the lives of two siblings, Sweetie and I took deep breaths and grieved with the family, as we as we took on some of the details that the official next of kin were unable to deal with immediately. We grieved, and we loved the family and friends of his brother and sister who were gone too soon, and struggled to make sense of the crime.

Finally, when it became apparent that my job at the church was changing, and that I was having difficulty changing with it, I took a deep breath and accepted a job offer with a lot of promise at a new company. Unfortunately, somewhere in the first few weeks of the new job, all that inhaling ran out of places to go, and my shelf collapsed. I had failed to exhale, to find that quiet place to finally cope and deal with my growing depression. One Saturday, I started crying...and I didn't stop. I kept going to work, and I could keep it together at my desk for an hour or two before I went to the ladies' room to vent a few tears (as quietly as possible) wash my face and try again. I went to the doctor, and to a psychologist, and to the pharmacy, and I took a few days off. I set up an appointment with a therapist, and I tried to go back to work. 

Two Saturdays later, I started crying again...and I didn't stop, again. I quit my shiny, new job on May 17 with no plan. I cried on the sofa for three weeks, while binge watching Downton Abbey...I took my meds...I went to therapy...I practiced breathing techniques for relaxation and relief from the constant anxiety. In short, I let myself feel it. I recognized that I needed help to let myself feel it, and I sought out that help...then I just felt it.

About two weeks into the process, I started to feel a little more like myself. I was three seasons into Downton, I had seen the therapist twice and made plans for a day with my daughter at the zoo. As the fog of depression started to lift, I was finally able to start looking for God's plan in it all. I really cried out to him, and sought answers from his Word. I started putting pants on again, every day even, and I was happy to finally be starting the process of recovery. I am far from finished with the process, but I am glad to be starting the journey to wellness, and it feels like the time to come back to the blog. 

I am also glad for friends who have been so supportive, inviting me to lunch, to go for walks in the neighborhood, to talk, even sending small gifts of encouragement to "just keep swimming":

And I am thankful to one friend in particular, who offered me a new, new job this week. His office gal is leaving to have a baby, so it may be a temporary gig, but it feels like God has given me a little stepping stone to get back up again. I took the job, I started on Tuesday, and it is good. God is good. God has had a plan all along, even when I felt alone and abandoned, unable to reach out to anyone. I knew that he did, and I am glad that I can see a little more of the plan now. 

Thank you, friends, for your support. Thank you for walks, talks, lunches, dinners, kindness, encouragement, new jobs and for letting God use you to help me. Thank you for helping me to start feeling like Pretty again...and for your continued understanding. Recovery from depression is a process, just like recovery from the flu, or a hip replacement. I have lots of work to do still, and I will do what I need to do...I am so very grateful to know that you are there to cheer me on. 

If you ever find yourself stuck in the pit of despair, the fog of depression, please get help. Please call or email me. I promise to never tell you to "get over it" or "just deal with it," because I know it is not that easy. Depression stinks...but recovery is entirely possible. Don't do anything un-doable if you are an 800 number if you don't have a friend or pastor to call. Go to the doctor, or call 911 before you act out of desperation. Make a plan for your recovery. You can recover, just like I can, and I will help you if you want me to.

One more thing. Seek God. I know that some of you may think that's hooey, but "I sought the Lord and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34:4) That's from the Bible, and it's also from my life. Seek Him. He is always there. That is His promise, and He is always faithful to His promises. 

Thanks for stopping by. I should be around more often now, and I am getting back to the knitting, too. I hope that your day is good, and that you will Knit in Good (mental and physical) Health!


  1. Loved reading this for many reasons, the least of which is that you're an excellent writer. You express yourself in a way that so many benefit from your experiences and wise advice. Love you Pam and was glad to see that you're back!!

  2. Sending continued love to you, my friend.

  3. This made my heart happy! Praying for you.

  4. Always praying for you and Sweetie!

  5. Oh my dear, depression is a horrible beast and I am so glad that you are climbing out of that pit and seeing beautiful light again. Praying for you and sending you love.

  6. Sending love and hugs! Just keep swimming❤❤❤

  7. Thank you, friends, for all the love!

  8. Pam, you have had way more than your share to deal with. I know the pit of despair you speak of. And truthfully, I'm better at shoving the anger back down in its place than just sitting and feeling it. I was told this isn't a good thing! I'm glad you were finally able to process your grief and start recovering. I don't know about God's plans for us in this life, but I do know that ultimately, all shall be well. Take care and know you are loved.