Thursday, August 14, 2014

Just My Thoughts

By Laura Holzbach
August 14, 2014

This week, as a result of the loss of Robin Williams I am sure, I have read more than a few posts about depression and suicide. I am saddened to see how easily the judgmental comments fly. Comments like "most selfish thing you could do" and "you have a choice" and "just get over it" are just a few that I read. What you are reading here are my thoughts on the subject....I am not a doctor or anything. I  am just compelled to write what's on my mind in hopes of making a difference or to bring about some understanding.

My first thought is, unless you have personally been in that dark place where unimaginable thoughts seem like real options, then please do not comment on someone suffering with depression. It doesn't count if you "know" someone or have a friend or family member who.....The only ones who really, really know, and I feel have a right to describe it, have unfortunately been there. Those are the ones who have endured the crushing pressure depression brings.  It completely changes who you are.

Secondly, I wholeheartedly agree that it is a spiritual problem. It is also a disease of the mind. Depression takes you places you don't want to go and it requires unbelievable effort to dig out. Well-meaning advice and preaching only sounds like blah, blah, blah. Sincere help is required, preferably someone who has lived it. Demonstrating a know-it-all spirit or criticizing just creates a stronger barrier between help and the depressed.

Something that you must realize is that depressed people are far from selfish. They usually are excessive givers of all they have: time, money, and love without question or limits. Depressed people measure how much you value them by how accepted they feel, whether they are giving or not. Being accepted no matter what will build a bridge, whereas pointing out areas where they could change builds walls.

Also, depression is not a choice. Just like you don't choose cancer, one does not choose depression. It's exactly like the commercial for the anti-depressant where the heavy coat puts itself on the person and won't leave. It is a weight you cannot shake. It wraps itself around you and takes hold, zipping up tight for the long haul. Depression is not invited and when it shows up, it acts like it owns the place. It sets up shop and begins roughing up the most tender places, running like a bull in the china closet causing destruction every step of the way. No....sufferers of depression do not choose this life. Accordingly, they deserve help, respect, and support as they wage war against this unwanted disease.

When a depressed person gets deep and dark enough that they consider, or God forbid, take their own is because they absolutely think it is the very best decision for the problem they are facing. It makes sense to them. It's not a selfish choice. It is one that a depressed person believes is based on rational thinking. It doesn't matter that "ending it" means forever. It's just the way to get relief from the constant battle in the mind.

In closing, being judgmental, critical or preachy is the worst thing you can do. It would be better if you said nothing. Because as you judge, ridicule, and speak poorly of someone caught up in depression, they are hearing every word you say and even ones you don't. And they believe it. Every. Single. Word. They readily believe themselves to be selfish, ungodly, and deserving of this painful walk through life.

I am one of those people who has walked this road. Yes, me. The girl who believes the glass is half full, runs on optimism and a belief that prizes are always appropriate. Nearly twenty years ago I emptied every pill bottle in my house into a ziploc sandwich bag. I put the bulging bag in the top drawer of my dresser thinking I would use them one day. Thank God, I did not and I am far from that girl today. The short version of a long story is that I needed the medical help (anti-depressant) so I could seek the spiritual help and life changes necessary to fight this deadly battle. God blessed me and has proved Himself in miraculous ways and I am grateful that He is on my side to face everyday.  God is merciful.

But please hear what I am really saying...Don't try to give advice if you haven't been there, 'cause you just don't understand. Only those who have walked the walk can truly say "I know how you feel."

I pray if you read this that you will consider these words when you witness a depressed person struggling. Don't condemn them. You haven't walked in their shoes.

Encouragement....give some.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

I Know My Song and I Am Singing

It seems like forever-ago when I started walking this road to being a Real Gurl.  I was searching and asking and hoping to find the key to change.  I had committed to living life differently but I did not know how to do that.  After several ground-zero moments in my life, I was ready to learn the lesson and I was desperate to figure out the secret. The thunderous dark cloud that followed me everywhere kept me off balance.  I was willing to try anything.  I asked just about everyone around me:  Do you know what is wrong with me?  Answers were elusive and my strength was ebbing.  

Sometime during the middle of the past nine years, a woman I was counseling, who was on her own desperate search for peace and truth, asked me if it was going to take her as long as it was taking me.  Honestly, there is no set timeline.  Each woman's journey is unique to them alone.  I think that is what makes it such a treasure.  When you begin to see the light of day, your story belongs to you and you only.  No one has the same story.

A few weeks ago I attended an event that really gave me perspective on how far I have come.  In all honesty, I did not want to go to this event that promised to be full of people from the past....a few awkward relationships, a few uncomfortable embraces, and facing a few people that I would have been just fine never seeing again. I was dreading facing reminders of all the what-ifs and maybe-sos and why-oh-whys.  Looking the past straight in the eye is a daunting task sometimes.  I wouldn't have even attended this event except, suffice it to say, my family needed me there.  We planned to get there right on time and planned a real quick escape just in case the need to leave presented itself.  Minimal face-to-face contact seemed to be the best approach.

Thank the Maker that He always knows what is best for us.

Attending that event brought clarity to who I am now.  I was getting dressed to go and was contemplating how to handle myself.  I felt like God wanted me to just be who He made me: a Real Gurl that is an encourager, who has survived and found courage to go to college, recently landed a great job, and is blessed with the acceptance, love, and friendship of some very quality people.  I have realized that instead of fearing the event, I should know that some of those people were actually going to be glad to see me, to have a chance to say hello and catch up after shared memories long ago.  I think I began to walk a bit taller and smiled with pure joy at being able to do so.

As I walked the room, it seemed that people appeared out of nowhere to greet me with genuine smiles, sincere conversations, and meaningful glad-to-see-yas.  There was not one awkward moment or flash of pain in my heart...just God reminding me that life works best when I am a Real Gurl.

As I sat and visited with one of my peeps last night and reflected on this experience, I began to see clearly that I have come out of the dark.  I realized that the thunderous dark cloud that was always right behind me, the cloud that was heavy with shame and guilt and ready to pour buckets at any was gone.  I no longer suffer the flashes of searing pain and grief.  I have come out of the dark.  This is not to say the journey is over.  I am the first one to admit that the work is in progress.

I am rejoicing that God proved me wrong.  I was sure that life would NEVER be good again, that no one would EVER love me, that I would ALWAYS feel the agony of my bad choices. Look out for NEVER, EVER, ALWAYS.  They are are not your friends.  They are liars.

What have I learned?  

I have learned that as trite as it may sound, one must be true to who they are, who God created them to be.  How do you know who God created you to be?  You have gotten in the habit of ignoring you and nurturing everyone else.  The start of learning the answer is to begin looking for Him to show you.  It comes in a breeze, a phrase, a song, a scripture, a friend, a prayer, a book, your heart.  Be on the lookout for those brief but meaningful moments.  Write them down.

I also have learned that it doesn't work to do things that look good, to meet others expectations or to receive approval, because that is just a phony life and it won't last. The fall is hard.  The only approval you need comes from God.  It comes in the confidence you have when you are who He created you to be.  

I have learned that being a Real Gurl brings lasting hope and joy that doesn't leave when you are broke, lose a loved one, the kids don't call often enough, or the loneliness of being single strikes.  

I have learned that being a Real Gurl brings a confidence that walks with you through every situation and you learn it can sustain you through anything you have yet to face. The miracle comes when you can willingly admit that you would go through everything again to become a Real Gurl today.

Why is Real Gurl spelled incorrectly?  A Real Gurl is real, authentic, sincere, genuine but is sometimes messy, mixed up, and goofy.  A Real Gurl.

Celebrating the journey since August 9, 2005.