Archive for December, 2012

By choice there is no television in my home. And even though there is no television in my home I am sickened with the barrage of blaming that’s happening online, on the radio and elsewhere.

I’m sick and tired of anyone who struggles with mental health issues being labelled “psychotic” and deemed to be too sick to fend for themselves or make conscious decisions. I have struggled with depression, at times severe depression, for all of my adult life.

My mother had severe post-partum depression when I was born but it was not diagnosed until she had a severe mental breakdown when I was just 2. She still struggles with flashbacks from her time in hospital, and so do I. Trying to look after my sick mother as a young child was not an easy thing to do. But we got through it. And she’s better now.

I’m struggling now, more than ever. But I have not had the desire to harm anyone, but, on occasion, myself. Those who choose violence are not evil people. They are sick people who may or may not have received help.

Mental health is still one of the least funded illness, regardless of which country you live in. I think the debate about gun control in the United States needs to happen, only after we have had an honest discussion about mental health treatment and the massive cracks in the system.

Many people with mental health issues can integrate seamlessly into society. Many cannot. To put everyone with mental health issues into one category is like saying all diabetics are the same. Or everyone who has cancer is the same. It’s not true. And it’s hurtful.

It is time, dear God, to finally get mental health issues out in the open. It is time to stop being afraid of “what people will think”. Yes, I have chronic depression. But it does not define who I am. I don’t begin every sentence with “as a depressive” but there are times when that is necessary.

I’m one of the fortunate ones that I have a support system around me. But the hardest part of the work has to be done by me, and sometimes that sucks, because I just don’t want to do it.

I am a person who lives in the public eye, in my small town in Southwestern Ontario. Sometimes it overwhelms me. But most of the time I cope with it quite well. I’m not ashamed of my illnesses, nor to do I hide behind them, nor to I parade them as a badge of courage.

Like everyone else in the word, I’m simply trying to get by. Some days are easier than others.

But I have to say, that when I read hateful articles and responses about “locking the psycho up” and things like that, my stomach falls and I grieve. Because there was a time when I was the psycho who was locked up. And it could happen again.

There but for the grace of God go I.

Let us, please, stop with the broad brushstrokes. Those children who were shot, and the adults who were shot in Connecticut did not deserve to die. The young man who took his own life did not deserve to die. He needed help. I am angry with the path he chose, but we need to remember that he has a family that mourns his death, but can’t do so publicly because he’s been labelled a monster.

I don’t condone what he did. I cry and shout and rage at what he did because it was so senseless, and so unnecessary. But we don’t know the whole story. And we never will.

We need to mourn all those who died. We need to take the time to sit in the silence and reflect on how this affects each and every one of us. Nobody knows our story like we know our story. And nobody knows the stories of those families, like they do.

We weep, we rage, we mourn. And with time we heal, we begin to trust, to love and to hope again. The sun will rise tomorrow. And soon, very soon, we will love again.

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I sit, numbed by the tragedies that are taking place, both in the United States and in China. Senseless tragedies involving children.

Now is not the time to rant and rave about Gun Control laws. Now is not the time to challenge those in authority to “do something” about these senseless crimes.

There will be time for that.

But first, we need to sit in the silence of our grief.

We need to pray. For those who have died.

We need to pray. For those families whose children were killed.

We need to pray. For peace to cover the world and to end the violence.

We need to pray. For those who hate us, and those who don’t understand us.

We live in a world of violence. And that violence needs to end.

But today, right now, we need to pray. For others and for ourselves. To help us survive this tragedy and learn to love one another.

In silence let us pray to the one who created us and loves us…

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As I gaze out my office window it is overcast and raining.  The kind of day when I really don’t want to do anything.  I want to perhaps have a warm bath, a cup of tea, wear snuggly pyjamas and stay home.  The reality is that I can’t do that, there’s simply too much that needs to be done.

Twice a year the Wardens and I send pastoral letters to the congregation.  We met this morning and the Wardens have written a lovely goodbye letter, as they have reached the end of their five year mandate and are stepping down.  They listed the Church’s accomplishments and wished everyone Christmas blessings.

I need to write my letter.  And I’m struggling with what to write.  I’m not feeling anything close to “Christmas Spirit” or even Holy Spirit these days.  These dark days are making me feel melancholy and really, really missing my dad.  Usually by now I’m excited about baking cookies and preparing the house for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.  As of right now I’ve not done any of it and truly don’t feel like doing any of it.

And that would be okay if it was only me living there, but there’s also my 11 year old daughter-by-marriage to think about.  She gets excited this time of year.  So maybe what I need to do is to get the house cleaned and let her decorate?  What’s the worst that could happen? 

This Sunday, at 3:00 p.m., is our Community Christmas service for those who struggle with this time of year.  It’s the third year we are offering this to the community.  I’m looking forward to the service as I suspect it will be very moving and meaningful to those of us who struggle with the commercialism and the false-gaity of the holiday season.

I know it’s okay for me to feel melancholy.  I suspect it’s part of my ever-present depression.  I keep hoping that every day I wake up will be a better day.  And yet right now, it’s not.  So I get up, wash my face, brush my teeth, get dressed and get on with the day.  Some days feel insurmountable, and yet I get through them, one task at a time.

I feel God’s love surrounding me, I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit whispering in my ear.  And the reason I know it’s the Holy Spirit is because the words are loving and not critical.  My inner narrator is always critical, especially of me.  The words I hear are promise, joy, hope, peace and love.  They are sacred, spiritual, silence, comfort and safety.

So even if I don’t get the house cleaned, the baking done and the presents bought, at least I will have the knowledge that I am loved.  The sun will rise tomorrow, even if it rains all day.  And it will be alright.

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I am, by nature, a tidy person. I live with an adult, a tween and a dog. And between them they generate a LOT of mess. I’ve tried to leave it until they decide to clean it up themselves. I’ve tried gentle reminders. I’ve tried written notes and “to do” lists. And then I throw my hands up and do it myself.

Perhaps it’s not the best way to deal with the situation, but I can’t function in chaos.

So I’ve decided to take our spare bedroom and transform it into my own space. There is already a floor lamp in there, and a couple of comfy chairs. My elliptical machine is in there, as well as a set of shelves and some boxes. The plan is to rearrange the room into functional space, put my yoga mat near the elliptical, move the shelves and fill with books and whatnot that are meaningful to me. There will be candles, there will be quiet and it will become a room of my own.

No people or pets allowed, unless by invitation. It will be a place that stays tidy and clean, and anything that is put in there is by me. I don’t know how long this transformation will take place, but I am hopeful it will be a place where I find peace and focus on my breathing. It will be a place of health and holiness. And best of all, it will be a place just for me.

Selfish? Perhaps, but my mental health is worth something, right?

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