Question: How is it with Jen’s soul? (Nobody guessed the origin, so nobody got the 50 mythical points. The answer was John Wesley. Are some of ye not Methodists that read this blog????)
I’ve gotten out of the house in the last few days — Monday to fill out job apps, Tuesday to go grocery shopping and ogle household/sports/camping stuff at Walmart, and today to get a vaccum cleaner at Walmart ($48 for a decent vaccum cleaner is nothing to sneeze at) — and this has made a huge difference in my mood and all. I think that I am getting cabin fever and I look forward to being able to get my bike fixed so I can go on long rides and get some exercise. I don’t have to be as afraid of dogs when I bike (and the people here think that dogs should roam the neighborhoods which is why my babies stay indoors) and I can run errands or even bike to work if I find a job that is close enough.
For some reason, I go through phases where I am die hard into household stuff. I really wasn’t when I got married and then I was walking through the Hudson Bay Company in Toronto and started ogling bedsheets. It was strange and now, I *LOOOOOOOOOVE* walking through the household section of Walmart or Target for some reason — maybe because I’m excited to move again and be in a place where we can buy more permanent stuff or something. I’m looking forward to being a housewife in a house that we can decorate ourselves and where I (hopefully) have a laundry room on the ground floor. (I have a strange and probably unfounded fear of finding a snake in our basement, so Jon does the laundry in the house.) One of the reasons I started Domesticated was to indulge my girlie/feminine side a bit with others who were like-minded. I actually don’t mind being a housewife and cooking and dusting — just not when I’m sick. I’m also in the process of cleaning my study, which means that there will be quite a few nights of paper-organizing merriment at Casa K-M.
I know that I really should post more about my felines (and that I should post more pics — if you’re not on my list for kitty pictures and want to be, leave me a note in the comments), so here’s “the state of the felines”.
The boys are growing. It is so crazy to look at pictures of them nursing on Jon’s stuffed fox and then to look at them now that they are the same size as Jon’s stuffed fox. Finian is my office assistant. He is too big to fit in either of my desk drawers, but he *loves* the camping chair in my study. I’ll be working on the computer and I’ll hear a mew from the doorway or my feet and I’ll just pat the chair. He will come bounding up and leap gracefully on to it and allow himself to be petted while he purrs lustily and lashes his beautiful, plumey tail. He will then occasionally attack my right hand, causing me to have to type lefthanded (and make instant message conversations a little more difficult); but he always cleans my wounds when done. He is a wonderful stressball and is content with me reaching down and petting him occasionally.
Cullen is still the smaller of the two but is an adorable cat. He is a total Daddy’s Boy and will not let Jon leave his sight if Jon is at the vicarage. His stripes and yin yang are still bold and his Mary mark (the little M that tabbies have on their heads) looks like someone painted it with henna. He is still the more skittish of the two but he is a definite attention monger and loves to “explore” my study and bat hangars out of my closet. He keeps me company at night and is very good at attacking anything that moves on the bed. He considers himself to be a mighty cougar (or puma) and enjoys bringing his “prey” (a pair of ski socks that he has completely unrolled or a skein of yarn that he has claimed from my crocheting basket) onto the bed and kills it before my eyes. Currently, he is being a homicidal, jungle cat in the forest of paper bags we have scattered in the living room. He still loves to “help” us make the bed by pouncing on lumps. He is a very useful cat.
One of my candidacy committee’s reasons for denying me candidacy was that they felt that I was not spiritually mature enough as a Lutheran. Their suggestions were really not ones that I could use because of age restrictions, finances, timing, or whatever; but they did say that I needed a heart knowledge of Lutheranism, which they didn’t feel I had.
As much as I hate to say this, they are right — I don’t inherently express myself in Lutheran terms, so I’ve decided to blog my way through the Small Catechism. All *good Lutheran children* learn it during Confirmation and a professor friend of my father-in-law insists that his students memorize it to help them in their pastoral ministry. As I didn’t go through Confirmation, I’m working on it now. Once I’ve gotten through it, I’ll tackle other writings of Luther and maybe some stuff from the BCP as I am also trying to figure out if I shouldn’t just go back to being Episcopalian (as I feel totally at home in Episcopal worship and have been wondering about if I belong in the church for awhile).
For those who want to read my reflections or would like to respond to what I write, the blog is at http://www.peacefulwaters.org/wildgoose. It is called “Lessons of the Wild Goose” because the early Celtic Christians envisioned the Holy Spirit as a wild goose. (I am a Celtic Lutheran. Hear me roar.) All I ask is that you don’t argue theology of other churches with me in the blog because that isn’t the point of why it exists. I need to learn to express myself as a Lutheran and arguing about the sovereignity of God according to [insert Reformed theologian] is not going to help me.
I was a bit harsh toward the person I was quoting in my last post and I thank those who pointed this out. However, those kinds of posts still incense me because it shows a lack of understanding for what I deal with daily and have dealt with in my past.
As far as medication is concerned, I would agree that anti-depressants are definitely over-prescribed. People take them as happy pills and ignore the fact that the meds would be most effective when coupled with therapy and other forms of treatment. I don’t know a single person on Paxil or Zoloft that hasn’t also benefitted in some way (however small) from therapy. In my case, it took the edge off of the extreme mood swings and depressive episodes so that I could deal with some issues (self-esteem, deaths of people I knew in high school, the sexual harassment,…) in psychotherapy. I was blessed to have a wonderful Christian woman as a psychotherapist and I remember praying with her on occasion. It *does* take two to three weeks for the meds to work; but it is a marked change when they do.
This person also commented on the fact that most of these drugs are tested on animals (as most research is — there are some similarities in physiological chemistry and there is at least some similarity in anatomy with mammals) and we go on the basis that it works in the brains of those animals. As we can’t do experiments on humans for many of these drugs, we’re having to trust that there is a connection. There’s also the fact that some medications may work better for some people than they do for others and there are quite a few new drugs on the market these days, so many doctors have a choice of what they use or what combination they use.
As far as the assertion that the drugs really only treat symptoms, that’s really what most medications do anyway. Colds are viruses so taking a Coridicin tablet isn’t going to make the cold go away but it lessens the impact of the symptoms so that people feel functional again. In the case of depression, the symptoms of it can be so debilitating that people can’t get out of bed. I know that my Xanax wasn’t a cure — it treated my insomnia, which enabled me to get more sleep and get into a better sleep pattern, which in turn helped my body to start regulating my seretonin levels again. Serzone *is* seretonin and norepinephrine (a neurotransmitter) and the extra seretonin as well as a delivery system for it helped to correct the imbalance that they perceived me to have. Medicine is not an exact science in the least and there is quite a bit of guesswork involved in much of it. You have to go on what has been proven to work in the past, which is why doctors tend to prescribe certain antibiotics for certain infections — they’ve seen enough cases where it has worked positively in other people. I *know* that I’m not cured of my depression — I *still* have some hard times and some hard days; but another part of my treatment was learning some coping skills for dealing with those days. Making sure I’m eating, sleeping, and getting exercise are all things I do to control the depressive episodes and I’ve only had one really awful one in the last two years. I also do *try* to maintain constant spiritual disciplines because those help immensely — prayer is calming and does much good when I am in a depressive state.
Lastly, this person claims to have “spent many hours reading case studies, pouring over counseling books, examining secular teachings on depression and sputtering over the nonsense that many popular Christian psychologists are teaching” which is all well and good; but they haven’t dealt with it in the same way that I have and they don’t mention having watched anyone in their family suffer with it. You don’t know how bad it can be until you’ve lived with it yourself or with someone who has it. Scholarly research only goes so far and there is also a need to read work by secular psychologists in addition to the Christian ones because they do some worthy research as well and deserve an ear.
I am not saying that prayer shouldn’t be part of the treatment and that Scripture doesn’t have a place in counselling. I’m saying that there are times when more than the simple Word of God is needed and other forms of treatment would be more effective. There *are* spiritual and emotional causes to depression as well as some physical ones (such as thyroid problems) in addition to the simple chemical imbalances; and I think that we need to look at each situation holistically and treat it as such.
Warning: Jen is venting. Take my words in light of this last sentence. Thank you!
People like this irritate me. It’s nice that depression doesn’t happen to Christians in their little sterile fundamentalist college world; but in the real world, it does and it irritates me every time I get to listen to someone tell me that if I only had hope in God, my depression would magically disappear. Ahem… King David suffered from depression and he had hope — read the Psalms. At least 1/3 of them are not happy in the least.
The five years before I was formally diagnosed were incredibly difficult. I was suicidal, had problems dealing with stress, had times when I couldn’t stop crying, and got diagnosed only because my threshold for stress had broken and it was affecting my life. Fall 1999 was one of the toughest times in my life and I remember times when I couldn’t stop crying and nights when I tossed and turned, keeping my roommate awake. The meds helped to take the edge off so that I could eventually start dealing with things in therapy; but I still had occasional weeks where I couldn’t stop crying. It’s been almost two years since I ceased medication and therapy and I’ve been fine; but it was during that time that I learned the necessary coping skills to deal with living with depression and PTSD daily.
The thing that aggravates me the most is that this person talks about all of my suffering as a consequence of responding unbiblically. Uh yeah… so I’m basically supposed to lie and pretend to be all happy when inwardly I want to crawl into a hole and die??? I believe that acting that way is sinful because we’re attempting to deceive God, ourselves, and others by making it appear that we are doing well when we aren’t. *THAT* is unbiblical and it denies God the chance to grow us. I found that my tears were a better (and more healing) witness than pretending all waa good and I found that the Lord worked more strongly through the times when I admitted my pain than He did during the times before my diagnosis when I was trying to pretend that everything was all right.
I will admit that I think doctors overprescribe anti-depressants and people use them as happy pills. Depression is something that many people live with daily; but some don’t really need the medication and use it to escape their problems. This is why I think treatment should be a holistic thing: treat the mind, the body, and the spirit. Medication, perhaps a change in diet or exercise, counselling, and (if it is appropriate) something devotional would be a thought. I’m not currently on meds or in therapy; but I also do things to control my depression such as pray, meditate, keep my stress level down (or at least try), blog, go for walks, make sure I get enough sleep, make sure my diet is balanced, and pet my cats. (The last one lowers my blood pressure and is calming. It works. Trust me.)
OK… Jen is getting off her soapbox and curling up with her fluffball now…