Five Minute Friday (Was Three Days Ago): Change

Gentle Reader,

Playing a little catch-up today. Kate asked us all to write about change last week. Linking up is better late than never!

Go.

The big change for me this summer has, of course, been coming off of Cymbalta. (You can read all about that here). I knew that it would be really difficult to battle anxiety each day without the help of that blue-and-green pill, so I hoped to be able to use St. John’s Wort to assist in balancing out those pesky brain chemicals. Then I found out that’s a tricky thing to use when you’ve got liver damage and it seemed best to avoid it altogether. (I am not at all an expect, but I’ve found that many herbal supplements and essential oils are tricky to use when liver damage is present. For example, I can no longer use valerian root to help with sleep, as it’s poisonous to an unhealthy liver. It’s best to approach this area with caution, do some research and definitely talk with your doctor).

I can watch what I eat. I can go for walks and do other exercise stuff. But that only goes so far. When I wake up in the middle of the night (and it happens every night now) and my heart is pounding and I’m sweating, there’s no snack healthy enough or trail long enough that will take the pain away.

My only answer is God.

I’m glad of that. I really am. This illness has forced me to my knees. I have nowhere else to go but to the Throne of Grace. I don’t know what awaits me at the specialist, a visit still a month away. But it doesn’t really matter. The medicine he might give me, the therapy he might try, the procedures I may undergo will not alter the fact that my only choice is God. I have nothing else.

I don’t like what got me here, but I’m inexpressibly grateful for this change.

Stop.

Grace and peace along the way.

Five Minute Friday: Tell

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Gentle Reader,

Partying with the Five Minute Friday crowd tonight. The gracious Kate invites us to: tell.

Go.

“Sharper Edge”

My heart with sharper edge does beat

Soothed no longer with medicine’s treat;

I bleed these aches onto the page,

Hoping for the end of -

Something.

Undefined and ever-present longing.

Joy and despair, despair and joy,

Treating my mind as plaything, toy.

Stretching, burning, turning,

Depths and heights and all between.

Needing help for every step.

My Lord, my God, be by my side,

Catch each tear – shed and uncried

I don’t often share my poetry. For some reason, I find it a more vulnerable form of writing. Rawer, somehow. But given all the discussion about mental illness this week, this is what I have to tell. Brightness and darkness exist in the same day – in the same person. It hurts. It’s confusing. It feels like walking through thick molasses.

Yet God is there. He gives me exactly what I need, often before I even know I need it. He collects my tears (Psalm 56:8). He teaches me how to live (John 10:10). He is the steady, sure and unchanging One.

That is enough.

Stop.

Grace and peace along the way.

Speaking with Compassion

 

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Gentle Reader,

Along with unnumbered scores of others, I was saddened by yesterday’s news of Robin Williams suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy, but this particular death has people talking. It is shocking to think that someone who brought us so much laughter experienced the kind of despair that leads to such a decision. Such a thing drives home the point that mental illness does not discriminate. Men, women, children, old, young, rich, poor. Anyone can find themselves in the midst of deep pain and confusion.

In this Internet age, anyone can post any opinion with the brush of a few keys, and I think that’s perfectly fine. Every one of us has the right to our own thoughts. I believe in free speech. But I also believe in compassion. Too many articles touching on this subject lack it, whether from the ignorance of “he’s free now,” something that belittles the entire topic of suicide and all those who have been impacted by it, to those who hone in only on the personal responsibility of Mr. Williams, to still others who speak of “just choos[ing] joy.” Mental illness is far too complex an issue to be reduced in such a way.

Honestly, I wish that the discussion of these things could be limited to those who have walked through the shadows and those who are trained to walk with them. But, again, anyone can say anything. So let me simply request this of you: Speak with compassion. Try to imagine the deep, tortuous pain and agonizing sorrow that would move someone to take his own life. Try to understand that this is not “just” a spiritual issue, nor is it “just” a physical issue. Mental illness takes over the totality of a person. The vision is clouded over – the vision of the eyes and the vision of the soul. 

You would not speak to a cancer patient and tell her to “just get over it.” You would not tell an man with a broken leg to walk normally. No. You would come alongside and do what you could to help. This is exactly what the mentally ill need. We need your encouragement, your prayers, your friendship and your attempt at understanding. We need your grace and your hugs. 

We do not need your condemnation, your attempts at neat classification or your ill-informed and lofty opinions spouted as fact. 

Think about Jesus. Think about how He would speak to someone in despair.

Go and do likewise.

Grace and peace along the way.