Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Archive for the tag “depression”

Mental Health – mine, yours, the other persons

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Let’s all be the light!

In the Christian church today we remember Candlemas – the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. It is also the day when we here in the northern hemisphere recognize that we are half way between winter solstice and the spring equinox. Where I live you can definitely tell that the days are getting longer. I happen to love Candlemas and the coming of more light. It reminds me to be light whenever and wherever I can.

A year ago today the dear one went away on clergy retreat (it’s where he is at the moment as well). A week before he left I had just been diagnosed with depression as a result of having cancer – still dealing with that by the way – and I had just started my medication. For those of you who have dealt with that you will know that it takes at least  3 weeks to begin feeling the least bit better. We both thought when he left that I would be okay. Well I wasn’t. I was in tears, I was afraid, I was anxious (the twin sister to depression), I was not okay. I wouldn’t be seeing my therapist for another week and I was not okay.

It meant that on the second full day of his retreat, that I texted him and asked him to call me as soon as he could. We had agreed before he left that he would check his phone regularly to see how I was doing. He phoned me and I was in tears, so many tears, ugly tears, tears that just wouldn’t stop. He spoke to our bishop and the retreat leader and they prayed with him and sent him home. I look back at that episode and realize that I was the lowest emotionally I have ever been. I couldn’t take care of myself. The competent, independent, thoughtful, caring for others woman could not take care of herself. It was awful and I hope I never go back there again.

In my family, both immediate and extended, we talk a fair bit about mental health and how we are all doing. We have all been touched by someone who is struggling, who is on the road to recovery, who seems to be coping well. We have had honest conversations with each other about how we are doing. We have leaned on each other and continue to do so. I have friends who have had similar conversations with me about my mental health and about theirs. Mental health issues has touched everyone I know. It probably has touched you as well dear reader.

You may ask why the connection between Candlemas and mental health. The Feast of the Presentation is about an old faithful man named Simeon who took Jesus in his arms  when his family had brought him to the temple and said this:

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
    according to your word;
    for my eyes have seen your salvation,
     which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
    a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

As Anglicans many of us are familiar with that prayer being used during the service of Evening Prayer. It is about God’s light coming for the whole world, a light that cannot be overcome. I think of my mental health in this way, if I am not healthy emotionally, mentally, spiritually then I can’t be that God light for others. I am called to be that God light, you are called to be that God light and so is everyone that we know.

Today I am doing better, I am trying to get enough sleep, eat healthy and take the medication I need to help in that process. I have not so good days, but they are nothing compared to the dark days a year ago. I am thankful for that. I am thankful for the good care I have received from medical professionals, from my therapist, from family and friends, and most of all from the dear one. I am one of the lucky ones, I didn’t slip through any cracks and got the help I needed. My hope and prayer is that others can be taken care of in the same way.

Let’s all be the light for each other and when we can’t let others be that light for us. To that end here are some pictures I have taken recently that capture the light. Enjoy.

 

 

P.S. I promised way back at the beginning of the year, that I would try to do two posts a month, here’s hoping that this month is better than the last one.

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Time to get over the Stigma #BellLetsTalk

Here in Canada it is Bell Let’s Talk Day to talk about, think about, write about and to de-stigmatize mental illness and those living with it daily. Bell Canada is paying 5 cents for every tweet and share of the Facebook image. (By the way, I am not promoting Bell Canada, just the great work they are doing raising money for their mental health initiative.) I have written about this before and I will probably write about it again because I know from my own family’s struggles that mental health is so important to all of us. So I am doing my bit to share the news with you my readers.

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I know family, friends and others who have lost their jobs, been told they weren’t good enough, shunned by those that they thought would support them, had their church community turn their backs on them all because they shared about their mental illness. When I share about my chronic illness I do not expect people to do any of those things. In fact, I expect all of those that I share that with to be at the least sympathetic and if I am lucky to be empathetic.

I think it is time for us all to change our attitudes about mental illness and mental health. In fact, I think we would be all healthier mentally if we took the time to share with those we love, those we work with, those we play with, those we worship with our mental health struggles. I know that I do better when I take the time to meet with health professionals and sort out how to deal with my rheumatoid arthritis and when I meet with health professionals when I am struggling with my mental health.

We all need the support that we can get to make our lives better. I am standing up to the stigma and saying enough is enough! Will you?

Depression, Stigma, and Clergy Families

WARNING THIS IS A BIT OF A RANT. SO IF YOU NEED SOMETHING GENTLER TO READ I WON’T BE OFFENDED.

I am not even sure how to start this post – I am so full of anger, disappointment, despair and sorrow.

The dear one is a clergy person. He loves being a priest, sharing the good news, celebrating the sacraments, being with people on their faith and life journeys.  Almost two years ago he was placed on medical leave by his bishop. This was not a mutual decision, this was a decision that was handed to him, to us. The dear one had coped with and managed his depression with a lot of support from his family  and medical team for almost 15 years before being placed on medical leave. Now here we are stuck.

Every parish that he has applied to has not even put him on the short list for an interview. Every bishop he has spoken to has been discouraging of him applying for parishes. As soon as they see the words ‘medical leave’ or ‘depression’ they put his application at the bottom of the pile.

Here comes the rant part. This is STIGMA pure and simple.

The bishops in our church are not being honest about how many clergy regularly  cope with depression or about  how many of them are dealing with depression on a daily basis. Just by the grace of God they are not in the situation that we are in. At the moment I am not even sure that it is grace. In fact I think it has more to do with lying and subterfuge and fear than it does with grace.

No one is being honest with the dear one about why he cannot get past the front door and at least get asked to interview for a parish. No one will come out and say it is because your depression got out of control and you burned out. They won’t say that because that would put them into legal difficulties.

There are also no resources within the church to help clergy and their families in this situation. You are told you are on your own. Keep applying for parishes and hopefully a parish will be willing to take you on. There is no encouragement there at all.

What I want to know is where the gospel in all of this?  Where is the love of God in all of this? Is it right to abandon a good priest and his family because he has been honest about his mental health situation?

We are trying to figure out what is next for us. My job is ending soon. The future is seeming bleak at the moment. I never thought that in our middle years we would be facing such an emotional, financial, and mental crisis.

I wish that I could end this with a positive note but I cannot at this time.  My heart just can’t find a positive place to be at the moment.

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