An Openly Honest Comment Upon My Condition

Dealing with depression and anxiety is no laughing matter, to be sure, especially when prescribed medications begin working against you. Not that medication alone is the answer, but when what has been prescribed no longer helps but, in fact, begins causing negative side-effects, then you are moved beyond frustration to the point of tears.

This has been, and continues to be, my own experience. Several weeks ago, it seems the antidepressant prescribed to me lost its effectiveness and then actually caused akathisia – that is, continual restlessness, agitation, sleeplessness and heightened anxiety. This has been enough to drive me to tears, as I am fighting on two fronts: depression and akathisia.

After numerous visits to the emergency room and three hospital stays, my psychiatrist wisely removed all antidepressants and even cut in half the dosage of the mood-stabilizer I have been taking. Alas, though, largely removing the culprits – that is, the psychotic medications – has only partially subdued my akathisia, for which I am now taking medication.

What am I to do? In many ways I believe I am actually taking too much medication, mostly to address side effects of other medication, but without the medication for akathisia I am caught up in a whirlwind of nervousness, agitation, restlessness, and high anxiety. Will I ever know freedom from all of the above? In other words, will I ever be free of depression, anxiety, and akathisia? Of course, this is my ongoing prayer.

But let me get to the point of sharing all of this: One who does not struggle with these internal problems, or ailments, should be very careful not to judge those who are experiencing this (or other physio-psychological difficulties.) Really, unless you have experienced this, or another condition, yourself then you really don’t know the awful reality of bearing this burden. You cannot understand just what devastating effect it all has on the victim.

However, you can show love and compassion, encourage and offer to help to the extent that you can help, and you certainly can pray for the person who suffers. This is a point well-worth stating, remembering, and putting into practice. Sufferers need kindness, sympathy, and help rather than suspicion and condemnation.

Moreover, it is really beneficial – potentially, at least – for family and friends to acquaint themselves with depression, anxiety, akathisia, and other conditions. Learning is the first step toward authentic sympathy as well as the ability to truly help the one suffering. As you begin to better understand the condition(s) then the better equipped you are to actually provide much-needed, genuine, and courteous benevolence.

Personally, as I suffer I realize that most people in my life just don’t have a clue. Depression and anxiety are largely “unseen” afflictions. The akathisia is more evident because it is more physiological, manifesting itself in constant, erratic motion – i.e. extremely jittery nerves, inability to concentrate or carry on a sustained conversation, etc. – but even still, people wonder why I just don’t settle myself down.

I feel a certain sense of hopelessness because I cannot adequately explain my depression, anxiety and akathisia, and I am worn to a frazzle anyway. As moment follows moment, and day slips into night, my whole person is seemingly at war with itself . . . and I seem to be losing! Thank the Lord God I have been able to hold on to hope born of faith that this too shall pass; otherwise, I would despair to the point of giving up altogether.

On the brighter side, though, there are those who do understand, either from personal experience or through a loved one (or close friend), and so they are able to relate. Of course, this only goes so far; after all, they are unable to alleviate my actual suffering. Still, it is an astounding blessing to know that I am not alone. Now if I could just find the cure for it all! (And I say this sincerely.)

Right now the war is thick and every battle has its own special aspect with which to deal. Right now I hardly know which end is up and which is down . . . but I do know the suffering and am well-acquainted with the wounds resulting from the fight. I also know how tremendously grateful I am to God, who has sustained me thus far and promises never to leave nor forsake me!

No, none of this is a laughing matter. It is serious and I would not wish any of this on my worst enemy. God help me! And God help those around me – those within my network of friends and family – to understand (to the greatest extent possible), and to be patient while encouraging and praying for me. Finally, may I learn to be even more empathetic toward those gripped by depression, anxiety, akathisia, and other difficult ailments while longing and waiting for my own redemption from this awful pit! Lord, have mercy!


An Unexpected Departure

Many days washed away during an unexpected stay
In a place secluded from the pace of ordinary ways
For the repair of mind to find fresh peace and solace
And a newer lease on life and serenity unfurled
In this world of painful woes and watery wishes
And now to see what may yet be in store for me
With hope … always anticipation in an emancipation
From baseless fear with God so near and angels dear
Yes, with this I have made the return
With hope that burns right brightly!
After days washed away during an unexpected stay

Depression: Hope and Believe

When you’re trapped inside your head, strapped to your bed,
Churning inside and you can’t abide the sunlight
Streaming through the window, but you forgot to draw the curtain,
And you’re certain this day will flow in the worst way,
Like one poisoned stream in another hellish dream,
And you want to scream but you can’t find your voice,
And you feel like you’ve got no choice but to stay in the bay
Of depression with repression of all your tumultuous emotions
Because you don’t want to cause commotion,
So you reside in the prison of self with no one in whom to confide,
And you feel the hole in your soul . . . I know, I know;
I’ve careened thru the valley of shadows where many others have been,
And you are not alone even now, for we bow in service as your servants;
We know, we know, and we will walk with you and show you the way
To brighter days and lighter ways with love and compassion
In passionate determination to see you through, strong and true!
Just peer through the keyhole of your heart and make the start:
Unlock the door, open and fill the floor of your spirit
With an unimaginable company of compatriots,
Hand in hand as a band of friendly warriors to fight the blight
That soils your psyche and spoils your days! Do not dismay,
And don’t fret for fear of abandonment . . . We’ll be here to stay!
Hope and Believe
Hope and Believe
Hope and Believe

Joy in the Hospital, Contemplating

JoyTrouble3She arrived at the newly renovated hospital just before 2 a.m. Everything from potted artificial plants to paintings and wall designs to well-polished, comfortable furnishings was intended to make the house of sickness, suffering and death feel cozy, like home. For the beautiful, lucid and very able Joy Brighterday, however, it simply failed and even struck her as a bit of a mockery, an institutionalized attempt at warmness that never seemed to affect the cold personalities actually working there.

She made her way down one of the halls on the second floor but slowed her pace as the magnitude of what was about to happen dawned on her. Joy hadn’t really stopped to think until now that she was about to enter into the life of another – one very abused and broken Effete Sloughheart – in a very powerful way. Maybe she already had, but not quite like this; not to this extent, at this depth. Now she was about to enter the life of a woman who was not only physically battered but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually beaten down and exhausted, too.

Joy side-stepped into one of the artificially pleasant waiting areas interspersed throughout the hospital. She sat down and ran fingers through her uncombed hair, contemplating the enormity of responsibility she now carried. She would walk into more than a room with bed, blinking lights and medical equipment. She would walk into a soul. She would speak, and whatever she spoke could never be unsaid. And saying anything would be reaching out and touching – touching the real woman inside the body.

Effete would be weak and vulnerable; she would also be open to Joy. Effete had asked for Joy specifically, claiming Joy as her pastor … her shepherd. Effete wanted Joy with her, by her side, and even if she didn’t realize it herself, she wanted Joy inside of her, too.  Her very heart would be open – raw, wounded, fragile – and that heart would be desperate.  And Joy knew that this frail heart was about to be placed in her hands; that this woman was about to lay her life at her feet. Every word spoken would impact. Every hand and hug and kiss would leave its mark.

Joy thought of the silly, childhood rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” How ridiculous! An insidious lie! Words often hurt worse than sticks and stones, sometimes even with the best intentions, and this frightened Joy. Just then she realized that so much of who and what we are is the result of someone saying whatever it is they said. Product of our environment? Maybe, to a certain extent, but perhaps even more a product of our hearing.

How many people are imprisoned by what was said? she wondered.  And how many of us imprison others simply by saying? Saying whatever it is we say? Dear God,  I don’t want to do that!  Joy leaned forward and cupped her face.  Please, if nothing else, let my saying be liberating, or at least not imprisoning! Let me build up, but if I can’t do that, at least don’t let me tear down…  Or, if I do … please, please let it only be what needs to be torn down! Abuse torn down! Lies torn down! Fear torn down! But in every other way, let me build up and liberate!

Joy stood up again and stretched. She looked down the hall and spied the nurses’ station.  I wonder if they know just what a profound affect their words have on patients in their care; just how healing can actually come from the heart through their mouth as well as the needles they poke in people’s arms.  She started walking again. Words flew through her mind as she frantically tried to piece together something to say before she walked into the room. Joy didn’t even know quite what to expect, but it was bound to be dreadful.

“Excuse me.” An overweight, haggard looking nurse glanced up, obviously annoyed. Clearly she didn’t appreciate being interrupted. She was about halfway through her crossword puzzle, and didn’t bother putting down her pencil, a silent indication to Joy that she meant to get on with it as soon as possible. “Could you please tell me the room number for Effete Sloughheart? I’m Joy Brighterday … her pastor. She had the hospital…”

“203,” the nurse interrupted. “But she’s probably not awake, so you might of wasted a trip.” The heavyset woman looked back down at her puzzle.

“Oh no,” Joy answered in her best, sweet-cutting tone. “I’ll make sure of that…” The nurse looked back up and Joy smiled a razor-edged smile. “If she’s asleep, I’ll just come back here and talk to you. You certainly look like you could use some good company … especially since you quite obviously have nothing better to do.” And with that she turned and paced defiantly toward room 203.  And what the hell was that about words?  Joy asked herself. And about tearing down? Humph!  O.k. but I think I’ll have to wait to repent for that one, Lord!