The Light

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At some point in the past year or so, I shared the above quotation on my Facebook page.  At the time I posted it, I completely believed it to be true.  You see, I had this gratitude thing down pat.  If I just focused on all the things in my life I have to be thankful for, it didn’t leave space or energy to be bothered by the negative.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When depression hits it is relentless.  It doesn’t care about the rose-colored glasses you have on.  It completely ignores the shift in mindset that you worked so hard to create.  It couldn’t care less about the cute lists you made of all the things you are thankful for.  It comes in like a monster from a dark sci-fi novel and with one fell swoop, knocks you to the bottom of a deep, dark, rocky cavern.  It laughs at you as you attempt to climb towards the light, only to be smacked down again.  You learn that it’s just easier to exist in the darkness and so that’s what you do.

If you are one of the lucky ones, you go about your daily life like nothing is wrong.  Somehow you manage to get out of bed every morning and fool everyone into believing that you are okay.  Life goes on around you but you are stuck in a repetitive rut and no matter how hard you try, you can’t climb out of that dark cavern.  Sadly, no one around you can tell that there is something wrong.

If you aren’t so lucky, you become paralyzed down in that cavern.  Life goes on around you and no one can figure out why you are standing still.  Maybe the whispers are true; you’re just lazy or scared or weak.  Maybe you’ve just given up.  It certainly feels that way, so maybe it’s true.

Clinical depression is completely different from the feeling of depression you had when you were 16 and the love of your life cheats on you.  Clinical depression is an illness that can’t be cured simply by focusing on positive things.  If anything in the post sounds familiar to you, if you or someone you know is in the bottom of that deep, dark, rocky cavern, it’s time to get help.  It’s time to find the light.

This was written in response to today’s blog prompt, “Hopeful”.

 

Roll back prices

​After learning that my candidate for our local Board of Commissioners lost, I went to court to represent a woman who is seriously strung out on heroin. As she sat talking to me, she was peeling the skin off of her fingers.  She was wearing flip-flops and her toes looked she spent a lot of time peeling her skin there too.  She didn’t want to go to jail and blamed me and everyone else in the courtroom when she was sentenced.  Heroin is an awful, awful drug.

The sky opened up several times today, soaking me every time, even though I had an umbrella.

When I left court, I split the seat of my pants while getting into the car. Damn that prednisone weight!

The bright spot in my day; Walmart rolled back the price on their spring water. It’s normally 88 cents per gallon, but today it was 58 cents.

I bought eight gallons. (The eighth is in the fridge.)

Thanks, Walmart. 

Perks

Yesterday, I had surgery. Today, I feel like a donkey kicked me in my stomach.

In the days leading up to the surgery, my Dad started to freak out a bit. Sometimes fear can sound like anger when communicated in an email. He was worried about the effects the anesthesia might have on my adrenal gland since I had been on prednisone for such a long time. I had talked to all my doctors about it and had no concerns, but that didn’t calm his nerves at all.

He and my stepmom left their home in the middle of the night and got here about six hour before surgery.

Dad was worried but I was pretty calm about the whole thing. I had completely underestimated how I might feel afterwards, thinking that I might be back to work the next day. This was just another thing I had to deal with as far as I was concerned.

The surgery went well and the whole thing was relatively uneventful. Today, before my Dad left to go back home, he took me out to get something to eat. He asked me where I wanted to go and I told him that I really didn’t care. He responded with “One of the perks of coming out of anesthesia is getting to pick where we eat. That’s one for ‘Thank You Daily’. You should write one called ‘Perks’.”

One of the perks of being me is knowing that whatever decision I make, I know my Dad will always be there to support me. Thanks, Dad.

Escape

I love the hustle and bustle of the airport. It heightens my senses and ignites a sense of excitement in me. In just a couple hours, I can be in a brand new world; somewhere that I can explore, somewhere that has a different sound and rhythm, somewhere I can be the me I want to be and not the me I have to be.

As I write this, I am on a plane headed to Alabama. A friend of mine asked me If I was going for work or vacation. I told her that this was vacation, but now that I think about it, that’s not quite accurate. This trip is not what I would consider a vacation. This is more of an escape. I have been in dire need to get away from my life for awhile, even if that “awhile” was just a couple days. This summer has been pretty hellacious for me. Lupus took ahold of me like it had something to prove and wouldn’t let go. It was absolutely horrible. Then my body decided to present me with new challenges that left me thinking that there was something wrong with my lady parts and that I might have yet another autoimmune disease.

My dog, Matilda, had a few health crises of her own. She’s battled, correction, I’ve battled with her incontinence for a few years now. She goes through spurts where she just can’t hold it for more than a couple of hours. We went through a couple of those times this summer. She also came down with a terrible urinary tract infection that just wouldn’t go away. There was a stretch that we were both taking prednisone. It was a truly crazy summer, not easily forgotten, but I’m trying to leave it all behind me as this plane ascends.

I’m off to be the truest me I can be for a few days. I’ve already caught myself flirting with a very handsome member of the flight crew. That’s not something I would normally do, so I
guess the escape has already begun.

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Socks

Yesterday on the FB page, we focused on the little things in life that we tend to take for granted. I posted this quote.
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One person found it funny and I guess in comparison to the other quotes I post, it probably was a bit giggle-inducing, but for me it is quite the serious matter.

People with lupus usually have a number of maladies that are either associated with or caused by lupus. I have a few, but the one that really causes me issues this time of year is Raynaud’s Disease. It causes my hands and feet to be cold all the time. In the winter, my toes go numb and turn all sorts of interesting colors. 

I’ll never forget three summers ago, I was at meeting that took place in a hotel. It was really hot outside, but the rooms were frigid, at least to me. I got to the room early so I could stake out my spot and get comfortable. Before a lot of people came in, I slipped off my shoes and put on my warm fuzzy socks. They were purple with white dots. I remember because it’s the pair that I kept in my car for just such emergencies. After the room filled up and I had done all the hand-shaking I was going to do, I put on my gloves. I know I looked crazy, but even with my socks and gloves, my feet were still freezing and my fingers were tingling.

For the past few years, my mom has given me these really thick hunting socks that she found at a sporting goods store. I have four or five pair, but I’m going to have to replace two pair because I wore a hole in them. There’s a hole in a green one and a hole in a gray one. I’ve thrown those out and now I have a mixed-matched pair. So when I tripped across the quote, it made me think about that pair of socks and how important socks are to me.

Socks can also be very important for our homeless neighbors. Can you imagine living on the street and having wet socks or no socks at all? This year, Kid President made the month of October “Socktober” and did a sock drive. I found out about this initiative late, but I plan on taking part next year. I hope you’ll consider joining in the effort too.

I am thankful for warm socks.
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Radioactive Eggs

I’ve been having trouble with my stomach for the past couple months.  Yesterday, I went to the hospital to have a final test done to see if they can determine what the problem is.  It was called…well, the layman’s term for it was a stomach emptying test.  I had to eat a scrambled egg that had been laced with some radioactive stuff, two pieces of toast and I had to drink a cup of water.  Then they took a picture of my stomach every hour to determine how long it takes for food to move through my stomach.  There was just one hitch.  I HATE EGGS.

I’ve never liked eggs.  I remember my mom trying to get me to eat them as a child.  She would douse them in ketchup and even that wasn’t enough for me to eat them.  A few years ago, I was going through a series of infusions and the recommendation was to have a high protein breakfast before the infusions, so I had to start eating eggs.  I figured out a way to prepare them so that I could tolerate them; scrambled hard with lots of cheese.  The eggs I was served yesterday were barely scrambled and there was no cheese.  I’m not even sure they were real eggs.  The smell was horrible and the texture was unlike anything my tongue has ever experienced.  I gagged with every other bite, but I ate it all and was able to keep it down, mainly because I didn’t want to have to go through that experience ever again.

After spending the entire morning in the hospital, I went straight home and went to bed.  My stomach gurgled all day long, but I’m thankful for the radioactive eggs because hopefully, they will lead to an answer about what ails me.

“Changing Your Focus” Day Eight – Bad Turned Good

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Day Eight Bad Turned Good

Alexandra Elle

We’ve all encountered rough patches in our lives; those times that if felt like every open door was quickly and violently being slammed in our faces; when our best just didn’t seem good enough; when you felt like you were struggling to tread water but you were still sinking.  But thankfully, you made it through and in the process, you found out exactly what you are made of.

Or maybe you didn’t.

Maybe you still see those times as negative.  Maybe you didn’t find the lesson in the hardship.  Maybe you can’t find a thing to be thankful for in the struggle.  This exercise is designed to help you see what you’ve missed.

Think of three incredibly rough times in your life.  Go back as far as you need to find them.  Having trouble?  Let me help.  Here are my three rough times.

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The year my parents split, I was 15 or 16.  Some days, I’m not sure that I learned anything from that situation, and then there are other days I feel like I learned all I ever needed to know about life from that situation.  What I know for sure is that there was a lot of good that (eventually) came from that situation.  For one thing, my Mom discovered who she is and what she’s really capable of in life.  That was an invaluable gift.

The year I lived in New Jersey was the loneliest year of my life.  I was there the for the first anniversary of 9/11 and the train from Jersey City to Manhattan hadn’t been reopened yet. I worked in NYC and all of the people that I knew lived in NYC, but I couldn’t stay to hang out after work because I had to catch the last ferry to Jersey because I didn’t have a car.  I was living in an illegal apartment in the attic of a brownstone.  It had bugs.  Really big bugs that seemed immune to Raid.  I was consistently broke, so broke that all I could afford to do was go to work and eat, and I could barely do that.  I got sick that year and I wasn’t sure what was wrong.  The doctors I saw didn’t know what the problem was either and instead of saying so, they all made me feel like I was crazy and making the whole thing up. That year taught me that I’m a lot tougher than I ever thought I was.  Having endured that year, I am pretty sure that I can get through almost anything.

My first year of law school was tough in a lot of ways.  I was living in Alexandria, VA with my sister and going to school in Baltimore, MD.  It was a 46 mile trip each way, which took an hour or more with traffic, and I was driving a tired 1982 Mercedes diesel station wagon.  On its best days, it would go from zero to 60 in about two minutes.  On its worst days, I felt like I was pushing the car with my sheer will.  Early one Tuesday morning, I picked the car up from the shop after a very expensive repair.  You see, that car loved to leak oil from every possible (and sometimes impossible) opening.  I was on my way Contracts class in the pouring down rain when the car completely gave out on me, not 10 miles from the auto shop.  I was stuck on the side of 495 in the pouring rain and all I could do was cry while I watched oil stream from my car and run down the road like a small river.  I don’t remember how I got to school that day, but I remember the Dean of our school saw me crying about the situation and he called me into his office.  He told me that I was in school because it was part of a bigger plan.  He said that God would handle the details and I shouldn’t worry about the car situation.  I heard what he was saying but I didn’t know how to stop worrying about it.  Not having a car could mean having to drop out of school in my mind.  But of course, my Dean was right.  My Dad was able to put me in a rental until we could scrape together enough money for a used car.  That experience solidified my faith and I look back on it as the beginning of a shift in my thinking.

So what are your three rough patches in life and how did they turn out to be something for which you should be thankful?