Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Melissa said, "Pain hurts!"

I know this tittle may seem redundant, but it is the only thing that sounded right as I have been contemplating this post.  Pain is real and it is a thief.  When succumbed to it can steal your happiness, joy, friends, family, job, and any number of other things.  It is physical and it is emotional, the latter sometimes the more difficult to deal with.  Pain has kept me from writing this blog for the last few weeks and really what prompted me to choose this as my current topic.

Physical pain is awful.  Whether it is a paper cut or a broken bone, pain can ruin your day.  Physical pain has become an intimate part of my life for the past 2 years.  I have dealt with mind numbing, screaming pain (my two spinal taps come to mind) and I have dealt with constant, just under the surface pain that you almost get used to.  For going on three weeks I have been dealing with a migraine that extends down into the left side of my neck.  I have not had a migraine like this is in probably 15 years.  Physical pain is like that, it can hit you like a ton of bricks, be on you and then knock you on your butt.  It has drained me physically and made me very unmotivated, thus the lack of blog posts.  I also have constant physical pain in my feet.  My neuropathy creates a tingling, prickling pain in my feet all the time.  There are times when it hurts more, sometimes it hurts less, but it is always there.  To be very plain, it just sucks.  It sucks to not have a single day that you don't feel some kind of pain. Like I said before, physical pain is a thief that steals your motivation, physical activity, and emotional well being.  While you might not be able to do anything about the pain your are feeling, you can choose how to respond to it.  Even if I have to be in bed, I can choose how I treat my family and friends as I am going through that pain.

Emotional pain is trickier.  It can hurt just as much or more than physical pain.  Often physical pain can be the precursor to emotional pain.  I remember being in so much physical pain that emotionally I thought things would never get better, that I would never walk or move my legs again, that my life was essentially over.  Emotional pain can't be seen by others and is often not understood by those around us.  Emotional pain is an especially vicious thief in our lives.  It definitely steals our peace of mind, our joy, our love of life, friends, family members, and our ability to forgive.  I have people I do still consider friends as well as family that have let emotional pain take over their lives.  They have let things that have happened in their lives devastate them to the point that they are bitter and unable to forgive others.  They have cut loved ones out of their lives because they think they just can't forgive.  The Bible teaches us that in order to receive forgiveness we must be willing to forgive as well.  These people that just can't seem to find forgiveness in their hearts seem to forget that they have probably done things that need to be forgiven as well.  They let whatever pain they have experienced rob them of the joy of forgiving and receiving forgiveness in their lives.  One thing I have realized is that when we think of having to forgive others, sometimes the person that we REALLY need to forgive is ourselves.  You have to forgive yourself for your past wrongs, and only then can you start to heal yourself of the pain you are feeling.

Definitely the way you CHOOSE to react to emotional pain can either reduce or enhance your pain level.  I have seen people that have gone through things that are the most emotionally painful things a person can go through and come out of it either totally wrecked, or have used it to make them stronger.  I know people that have lost children, but choose to still find joy, still have purpose, and still be strong because they know that is what their loved one would have wanted.  I have seen others use it as an excuse to check out of life totally.  I have seen people who had horribly abusive childhoods come out as great parents and determined to give their children what they never had and I have seen people use it as an excuse to be terrible parents.  What bothers me the MOST are people that because of their pain say that they simply CANNOT change.  That because of whatever circumstances they have gone through they can't forgive, or can't be happy, or can't find joy.  I hate to be this blunt, but that is a bunch of bull.  If I know anything about the way God made human beings is that he made the human heart malleable, able to turn from darkness to light, and able to CHANGE if we CHOOSE to.  The key is that we have to choose it, we have to choose not to give in to our pain.  People who choose to let the pain rule their hearts do it because they get some kind of pay off for doing it.  It can be because they get attention, or self satisfaction, or even self esteem from this persona of a damaged person.  What they don't realize is there is so much more peace front letting go of the pain and working through it.

Now, after saying all of that, I know it is not easy.  It is not easy dealing with physical pain.  At this exact moment I am feeling some pretty intense pain, and it hurts, it wears me down, it is definitely not easy to deal with, but it can be done.  Emotional pain is even harder to get through.  I have deep seeded emotional issues that I still struggle with.  Some are always there, just under the surface like the pain in my feet and some things that I think I have licked then hit me like a ton of bricks like my migraine and I have to find a way to get through it.  It is hard, it is work, but it is worth it to free yourself of anger and bitterness, and unforgiveness.  In the end it is those things that will actually damage your soul, not the pain itself.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Melissa said, "Happy Mother's Day!

I have the best mama in the world.  I am sure (and hope) that most sons and daughters would say that about their mothers, but I really do. I do not know how I would have gotten through these past two years without my mother.  By this time in our lives I should be the one taking more care of her, not the other way around, but she has, and still is caring for me, and for Danny, and for anyone else who needs it for that matter.

My parents were born to be parents.  I have never met two people who are more in love with children than my mom and dad.  No doubt when the below picture was taken on their wedding day, they already had dreams of the family they would have.

Mom and Dad on their wedding Day

I will not go into details, but Mama did NOT have the best childhood at all.  Her mother married her stepfather when she was 8 years old.  They had 3 children very close together and my mom really was more of a mother to them as they grew up than their mother was a lot of the time.  Her stepfather was not a nice man and made my mother's childhood one that she does not like to remember.  I think because her childhood was so bad, she was that much more determined to make sure that her kids' childhoods would be loving, fun, and we would always feel safe.

Mama and her younger sister Theresa

Sadly, like myself, motherhood did not come easy for my mom.  She too struggled with infertility, but they decided to adopt instead, which is how my brother, David Lynn Hopkins Jr. came to be my mother's son.

Mom and David at 7 months old

Mom and David Now
Mom and Dad loved finally being parents, but as I said, they have an absolute love of children, and were not satisfied with just one child.  They waited awhile and thought that adoption would be the way they would again add to their family, however God had something else in mind and almost 9 years after they adopted David my mother found out she was pregnant with me, and BOY was she pregnant!  For such a little woman she got huge with me, I was an 8 pound, 9 ounce baby to boot.

Mom pregnant with me
It was when she was pregnant with me that my mother gained her nickname "Grumpy" because someone commented that to be that big and pregnant she MUST be Grumpy...but actually the opposite was true.  Mom tells me she loved being pregnant, she had little to no morning sickness and other than an intense craving for chocolate, she had a wonderful pregnancy.  My mother always told me that both her children were lucky.  David because when they could have no children, they got to PICK him to be their son. Me because when she thought she could never get pregnant, she got pregnant with me.  Because of our age difference both of us really got to be "only" children.  My brother got my mom all to himself for 9 years.  Once I was born he was starting to get to the age when having mom around all the time was not "cool" so then I got to have her mostly to myself for my younger years, and boy was I a Mama's girl.  My dad swears that my first words were "Mama do it!"  All run together like one word.  I always wanted my mom to hold me and do everything for me.

Mom holding me, a very frequent position for us to be in.

My Mama was and is awesome.  I was blessed to have her stay home with me, so anytime I was sick and needed to come home from school she was there.  She was there all summer.  She was there to go on every field trip, and be a room mom, and any other thing that would allow her to spend time with me.  I am SO grateful that I got to have this kind of childhood where my mom was there for everything.  My parents were always there for us and she was always available for a snuggle when I was scared, nothing ever said about having to get up for work the next day.

Snuggling in bed was always a fun activity.

As I grew up we remained close.  In fact, when Danny and I got married we lived with Mom and Dad for a few months.  We got along fine though, and I was grateful for Mom's company because Danny started our marriage working second shift.

My wedding, April 25, 1998.
As adults the close relationship we had when I was a child blossomed into a wonderful friendship.  I really do love spending time with my mom, and when I started breeding and showing cats she was my frequent traveling partner.  Danny would stay at home to care for the other cats and Mama would go with me to the cat shows and help me by marking the book or even chatting with spectators.  

Mama, me, and Smokey at On Safari in Portland, Oregon.

As much as she loves me, she adores her grandchildren.  My brother has given her two awesome grandkids, that are hardly kids anymore.  Keith and Kamryn were both born premature and she was on a plane to see them as soon as they were born.  Sadly, my brother lives in Oregon so as Keith and Kami have grown up (Keith is 20 and Kami is 17) she has missed so much more than she would like, but she lives to see pictures and stories on facebook and visits when she can.  I know one of her greatest sadnesses is that she missed so much with them as they grew up because we lived so far apart.  She was definitely born to be a mom, but her definite calling is being a grandma, no grandmother could adore their grandchildren like my mom does Keith and Kami.

Mom, Keith, and Kamryn.
Kamryn, Mom, and Keith.

Since I have been sick and have been living with Mom and Dad I do not know what I would have done without her.  She came everyday to the hospital to see me, did the work the nurses needed to be doing most of the time, never complained, hugged me when I cried, and is ALWAYS. here for me when I need her.  She is my best friend and I never tire of spending time with her.  I hope that one day I will overcome my own infertility so that I can give her grandchildren that she will be able to really watch grow up.  I want her to see first steps, hear first words, and be there for all the other firsts that will come along.  I pray everyday I will be able to give her this gift because NO children could have a better grandma, because no daughter could have a better mom.

Happy Mother's Day Mama!  I love you so much, thank you for everything you have done for me.  God could not have given me a better mother or a better friend.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Melissa said, "Happy anniversary baby....I've got you on my mind!"

Today is my 15th anniversary...I cannot believe it sometimes.  I feel like I just got married and 15 years has past.  I think it is no coincidence that the traditional gift for the 15th anniversary is a watch or a clock.  I think this is the first anniversary that really feels like a long time, 15 years, that is knocking on 20 and is definitely an accomplishment.  Look at the picture of us on our wedding day...

I was but a child bride at the age of 18 and Danny had just turned 22 the day before.  By today's standards we never should have made it, but we have, and we will continue to because we have a deep commitment to each other and to making it work no matter what.

I can tell you our marriage has not been easy.  When we got married I was in college, Danny had just started a new job and we were very, very young.  Although chronologically I was quite young, I have always "felt" older than I was and the idea of waiting until I graduated college to get married was just not an option.  I can remember going to class and listening to my classmates talk about the party they were going to that weekend, or where they would spend Spring Break, and there I was going home to cook dinner and do the laundry.  I do not feel as though I missed out though, I felt like I had so much more than my peers.  I had a supportive husband, I did not have to worry about dating and breaking up and wondering if "he liked me" or any such drama.  I loved the feeling of being settled.  Also, when I walked across that stage to get my college degree, it felt like so much more an an accomplishment than that of my fellow graduates.  I had stayed married, worked almost full time, AND finished my degree.  We definitely had some really tough times in the beginning.  Year 5 was especially hard and we had some big time arguments and many other couples would have probably gotten divorced, but when you go into the marriage knowing divorce is NOT an option, you either work it out, or you spend your life not speaking to each other and what kind of life is that?

We went through (and continue to go through) infertility.  We actually started trying to get pregnant two years into our marriage. I spoke about my infertility at length in a previous post so I won't go into it detail again, but I will speak about what it has taught me specifically about marriage.  Children are added TO a marriage, they are not the REASON TO get married.  I see so many marriages that solely revolve around the kids, spouses come second.  My friends think I am crazy when I say that your spouse should come before your kids.  Somehow they think that means that you love your kids less, I think putting your spouse first shows MORE love toward your children.  I KNEW I came second in my household, but I felt SO safe and secure in my home knowing how much my parents loved each other.  I see infertility ruin so many marriages and it just makes me think those couples got married just to procreate.  I married Danny 15 years ago because I wanted to spend my life with him.  Whether or not we have children is of no consequence.  Of course I will be disappointed if we never have kids, but I will not let it ruin my happiness or ruin my marriage.

We went to the Georgia Renaissance Festival last weekend to celebrate our anniversary.  First, if you have never been and are anywhere close to the Atlanta, Georgia area, I highly recommend you go, it is a great time! Friday night we went to the indoor pool and hot tub at the hotel and were so relaxed.  We laid down in bed and turned on the TV to see that the Boston bomber had been captured.  We sat for an hour and watched as the crowd applauded the law enforcement officials as they left Watertown.  We talked about how the victims' lives were going to change.  I can empathize the victims who had limbs amputated and are going to have to learn how to walk again, or how to dress themselves, eat, drive a car, and any number of other daily activities.  I wondered aloud how the families would deal with it.  I was lucky in that when I came home from the hospital I was able to come live with my parents so they could take care of me.  This took some of the burden off of Danny and he could continue to work and take care of the cats at home.  What if these families do not have people that can help take care of these victims.  What if the spouses have to stop working to care for their loved one...what happens with the kids?  What will they do for money if no one is working?  These things probably would have never gone through my mind before my situation happened to me, but it did now.  These marriages will either thrive, or they will crumble, I hope it is the former.

I know that Danny and I will continue to have hard times and I especially look forward to being back home and everything being "normal" again, no matter what happens I know we will make it through it.  He is my best friend, the one person I want to talk to more than anyone else, the person I have the most fun with, the person I miss the most, and the person with whom I can most be myself.  15 years is just a short amount of time really in the life of our marriage.  I hope we have 35 more and I know we have the stuff to get to 50 years, Lord willing.   We may or may not have children, and that is okay.  I may walk with a limp forever and need him to help me more than I would have before, and that is okay too.  The point is we know it is one man and one wife for life, there is no debating that so whatever comes our way we will get through it, and not just because we HAVE to, but because we WANT to.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Melissa said, "Why me....well, why not me?"

I have been pondering for the past few days on what I wanted to write about next and then I was inspired by  the sermon I heard on Sunday.  It was on endurance, enduring both bad times and good times.  When I was listening I really thought Brother Tim had designed this lesson specifically for me, it was something that I really did need to hear.  The past two years have definitely been a lesson in endurance.  I have asked many times, as most any human would when bad things happen...why me?  Why did this have to happen to me?  It seems that the past few years have been a series of disappointments and heartaches.  I have struggled with infertility, losing my dream teaching job, not being able to find a new teaching job, financial woes, and then my health issues.  When I broke my ankle as I lay there on the floor I cried out over and over, why, why, why.  I had just gotten to where I could walk pretty good on my own and then this happened, why did this have to happen to me now?  What I realized later is...why not me?

Matthew 5:45 says "For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Good things happen to both good and evil people...bad things happen to both good and evil people.  I have seen terrible tragedies happen to some of the best people I know.  Children dying, terrible diseases...things far worse than what has happened to me, but even though in your head you know that is true, you are still human, and what is happening to you is happening to YOU.  Even though you know things could be worse what you are going through feels pretty darn bad.  No matter what the situation is you have to endure it.  The lesson I have learned however is even though you cannot choose the circumstances you are going to have to endure you can choose how you will endure them.

I am reminded of two men that were in the hospital at the same time I was.  We were on the physical rehabilitation floor of the hospital.  Patients on this floor have many different types of physical issues and both these men had one of there legs amputated.  One gentleman had a wonderful attitude.  He was one of my favorite people to chat with while doing our occupational therapy.  We would sit there putting pegs in holes or squeezing hand exercisers and chat about all kinds of things.  He had a wonderful smile and a jolly laugh.  I remember watching him get up on the crutches for the first time and it did not take him long to start flying around the therapy room on those crutches.  The second man never spoke to the other patients, and hardly ever had a kind thing to say to the therapists.  When he would arrive in therapy he would often complain of being hungry and demand something to eat or he would simply fall asleep instead of doing his prescribed exercises. You could see the therapists strain to keep a neutral face when they were told that he would be the patient they would be working with that day.  Who do you think was the first man to leave the hospital?  That is right, the first man.  I do not think the second man ever got out of his wheelchair while there and went home in that wheelchair.  I made a vow that I would never have such a bad attitude, no matter how bad I felt, I chose to endure my circumstances with a positive outlook.

For the most part I have stayed true on my course of having a good attitude, but I have had times of weakness.  I had a bad fall in my driveway while trying to get into the car from my wheelchair without using my sliding board.  That little incident really spooked me and my physical therapist had to have a little come to Jesus meeting with me.  I had some days when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself at home and just wanting to stay in bed and not make an effort to do anything and my mom had to get a little ghetto with me.  If you know my mom you know it takes a lot to get her fired up, so you know I was being particularly full of self pity.  We all have our moments when we just want to wallow a little, when we want to feel sorry for ourselves, but we cannot let those feelings rule our lives.  When Paul and Silas were in prison they sang songs of praise and even in our own darkest hours we can have good attitudes.  How we feel just doesn't happen to us, we choose it. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 says "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."  Whatever trial you are enduring, there will be a way out and let that knowledge be a comfort to you.  In the meantime, there is no reason to make everyone around you miserable.  Keep a good attitude, trust me, wallowing in self pity makes things much harder to get through and think about the impact you may have one someone else's life.  Remember gentleman number one?  He definitely had an impact on me, and I hope I have been able to make a positive impact on someone else's life in some way.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Melissa said, "I love St. Patrick's Day!"

Since St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow I decided to  compose a more light-hearted post and explain a little bit about why I love St. Patrick's Day and more specifically all things Irish, Scottish, or generally Celtic in nature.

Celticism is defined as a fondness for Celtic culture and I definitely have a lot of celticism!  I guess it all started with where I was born, or more correctly, where my parents lived when I was born.  They lived in a tiny town in North Central Tennessee called Erin.  This is taken from the Houston County Chamber of Commerce's website:

Cradled in the heart of Tennessee’s natural wonder and magical charm, 200 jewel-like acres of Houston County are nestled quietly in a range of hills and valleys, unequalled in beauty by any part of the highland rim portion of the state. According to legend, Irish railroad workers who were reminded of the valleys, hills, hollows, and meadows of their homeland, Ireland, gave the name Erin to this small community. One night, the workers took a “wee drip too much” and let out the ancient rallying cry, “Erin Go Braugh.” The name stuck and a celebration of Irish heritage and blessings takes place annually during the third week in March when everyone is “Irish in Erin.”

Erin literally means Ireland in Gaelic and "Erin go Braugh" means Ireland forever. While I only lived three years of my life in this small town, my parents lived there for a total of 15 years.  I went back a few times as an older child, but I garnered most of my knowledge of the town through curiosity.  My initial curiosity was not piqued just because that is where I was born, or that my parents lived there for so long, but because all throughout my family Irish names kept cropping up.  My mother's maiden name is McDonald and her grandmother was a Montgomery, both Irish names.  My father's mother was a Ferguson.  We have a book on the Ferguson family history that is almost 3 inches thick and inside the book's cover is the tartan pattern of the Ferguson clan.
This is the Ferguson tartan pattern

If my family background was not enough to start my love of the Irish, once I started doing some research I really fell in love with the symbolism, music, jewelry, and sheer beauty of the land. On this St. Patrick's Day Eve I would like to share some of the particular Irish symbols and legends that we hold particularly dear.  

First, Danny and I decided to name our Bengal Cattery Fianna.  Some information on the Fianna:

The Fianna lived many hundreds of years ago. Every man of the Fianna was chosen for his strength and bravery and was specially trained in warfare and was made a champion among warriors.
Usually before any man could officially become a Fianna warrior he had to undergo some tests:
  • While standing in a hole as deep as his waist he had to be able to defend himself against nine warriors using only a shield and a hazel rod.
  • He had to escape from nine warriors by running through the forest without breaking a twig under his feet or tearing his clothes on bramble.
  • He had to be able to jump over a branch as high as himself and run under another as low as his knee.
  • While running at top speed through the forest he had to be able to pick a thorn from his foot without stopping.
  • He had to learn twelve books of poetry by heart and also know many of the old legends and stories.
  • Not to take a dowry with a wife.

The Fianna were warrior poets and beautiful and unique among men.  I just thought this was a fitting name for my cattery that represented a breed of cat that were equally beautiful and unique among cats.

While many of our cats had Irish names, the one that is most precious to me is my girl Fianna Connemara.  She was one of my first keeper kittens and she was just beautiful.  She has a gorgeous, contrasted, rufoused red marble coat.  She had gorgeous green eyes and I knew that Connemara had to be her name.  Connemara marble is gorgeous green marble that can only be found in a certain area in western Ireland.  Since I only bred marble Bengals I thought it a fitting name for one of my most stunning marble girls.

Legend has it that St. Patrick used the commonly found shamrock to teach the Irish people about the holy trinity and that is why the Shamrock has become synonymous with St. Patrick's Day.  I personally just love them.

I also really love Claddaghs.  I wear a Claddagh ring on my right hand, as a married woman not really the place where I should wear it, but that is okay.  I just love the symbolism on these rings and think they are really beautiful.

How To Wear The Claddagh Ring

Claddagh rings were originally worn in the village of The Claddagh in Galway, Ireland and their traditional purpose at that time was to show marital status.

If one was courting, the claddagh ring would be worn on the right hand with the heart facing outwards to show your heart had not yet been taken.

Once a betrothal had been decided the claddagh ring would be worn on the right hand but turned in so the heart faced inwards and this was to show that your heart had now been taken.

Upon marriage, the claddagh ring was then transferred to the left hand with the heart still turned inwards as a sign of the commitment and love between the two people and this was their wedding band.

This is the actual claddagh ring that I wear on my right hand (again I know its wrong, but I have a wedding band on my left hand.)  Danny got it for me for Valentine's Day last year.

I also really love Trinity knots...for my anniversary last year Danny got me a gorgeous Trinity Knot necklace.  Trinity knots were also used to represent the holy trinity.  I wear this necklace every day.

It came from an awesome website called Gaelsong.  They have tons of celtic jewelry, clothes, home decor, and more.  I highly recommend checking it out.

Finally, I have a certain penchant for celtic crosses.  I think they are beautiful and love the meaning behind them.  You can find some great information about the symbolism of celtic crosses here: Celtic Crosses

Anyway, I just wanted to share some of the things I love about Ireland and celtic culture. I absolutely love St. Patrick's Day and look forward to decking out in my green every year.  It is my dream to go and visit Scotland and Ireland one day.  I hope I get to make that trip.  

Happy St. Patrick's Day and Erin Go Braugh!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Melissa said, "Depression hurts...yeah no kidding."

I have struggled for a few days on how to write this post because this is probably one of the most personal things that I will write struggle with depression.  This is not something that came about just because of my surgery complications, this is something that I have dealt with since I was a child.  Depression is more than just being sad for a few days.  It's more than wanting to stay in bed after a bad break-up, it's more than just grief after the loss of a loved one.  People can get "depressed," but real depression is more than just grief, sadness, or loneliness.  It is all of that and so much more.  When I am having a bout of depression nothing makes me feel better.  I feel as though I am trying to move through water.  Everything is heavy, hard, and painful.  Nothing brings me joy, there is nothing to look forward to, there is only emptiness, darkness, and especially pain.  One of the hardest things about depression is that some people think you are not depressed because you may be smiling and not seem like anything is wrong.  What you may not realize is that it is taking all my strength to put on that smile and that as soon as I am alone, the smile will be gone.

I remember being a little girl and being teased relentlessly about my weight, or being sad and confused over moving to a different town or different state.  I remember crying inconsolably.  I know kids go through things and get sad and a little down, but I believe mine was different, I definitely think these were the beginning stages of my depression.  It was then that my pain began.  You know those Cymbalta commercials that say "Depression hurts, Cymbalta can help."  Well depression most definitely hurts, and mine has always manifested itself as pain.  I started getting my first migraine headaches as a child and I believe they were related to my depression.  When I discovered my infertility issues I also had lost of a job at that time.  I remember staying in bed and just feeling like my whole body ached. As an adult my headaches continued as well and I also suffer with neck and shoulder pain.  Since my surgery complications my legs and feet have hurt constantly to varying degrees.  I know that part of this is due to my neuropathy, but I believe that part of this is due to the depression as well.

One of the hardest things about my depression is that I also feel extremely guilty about being depressed.  As a Christian I know I should be full of joy.  The Bible teaches me that I am to learn to be content with whatever circumstances I am given.  I have so much to be grateful for and I know that things could be much worse, but yet I still feel sad.  This is so frustrating and I constantly think that I am letting people down.  I have mentioned in a previous post that I am afraid of being alone.  This is partially due to being afraid that I will fall or something else happening to me, but the other is that when I am alone I have more time to think and dwell on what has happened to me.  When I am by myself I cannot help but think about what I perceive I have lost.  I have lost time with my husband, I have lost the ability to possibly get a teaching job, I have lost independence, I have lost time I could be trying to get pregnant, and the list goes on and on.  When I think about this I slowly start to feel that blanket of hurt and sadness come over me.  Not being along helps me not think about this stuff so much and I dread how I will feel when I have to spend day after day by myself.

While it is a continuous struggle, there are some things that do help.  While in the hospital the doctors started me on the above mentioned drug, Cymbalta.  It is an antidepressant that also helps with body pain.  Over the course of my battle with depression I have been on several different drugs off and on and they have helped to varying degrees.  The Cymbalta has been one of the best ones.  When I came home from the hospital I had a few days when I did not have my Cymbalta because I needed a special code from the insurance company to get it due to its expense.  Those few days I cried almost all day.  My mother said then and there they would do whatever it took to make sure I got my meds because she did not want to have to go through seeing me like that again.  My animals help, having my cat Khole over here at Mom and Dad's with me has done my heart good.  Having my Mom here to cry to and listen to me has been a great help.  I love my husband, but there is just something about having your mom when your heart is really hurting. Writing this blog helps, journaling helps, and always prayer.

What I really want people to get from this post is to remember that just because people are smiling and look like everything is okay does not mean that it is.  Depression is real, it hurts, literally, and is very hard to explain to those that have never experienced it.  I want to be happy, I want to feel light and joyful, but something in my brain just will not let me sometimes.  If you know someone that suffers from depression please be patient and know that a kind word or a hug really goes a long me. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Melissa said, "Fear sucks!"

I know my title for this post is not very eloquent, but really, that is what kept coming to mind when I was thinking about what I would write about.  Fear is something I have struggled with my whole life.  I have always been somewhat anxious and fearful even as a kid.  When I was as young as five or six I remember having a plan for what I would grab if our house caught on fire.  I also hated when my parents would leave because I was constantly scared something would happen to them.  I never spent the night anywhere because I had intense homesickness and was always terrified to be away from home. I don't know about other moms about there, but when I would cry over something trivial Mom would say "I will give you something to cry about." Well, I think God said, "so, you have been fearful your whole life over trivial things, now I am going to really give you something to fear."  This whole experience has brought about a lot of fears and I continue to struggle with them.

The most obvious fear that I first encountered was whether I would walk again.  When you start trying to take a step and your legs just crumple underneath you, you begin to doubt whether you will ever walk normally again.  The doctors kept telling me that I would walk again, but they could not tell me how long it would take.  Even though they kept reassuring me, I was still scared that I wouldn't.  I remember laying in my hospital bed and trying with all my might to move my feet to no avail.  When you can't control a part of your body, the doubts cannot help but creep in.

When I started actually getting up and taking some steps while in the hospital a whole new level of fear crept in, the fear of falling.  I would take some steps and my legs would just shake, I felt like I could not hold my weight.  During this time I could not imagine that I would ever be able to do this on my own.  I really wish I could properly articulate the feeling of your body betraying you, of your brain working so hard to move a part of your body, and the body just not cooperating.  Those days in the hospital were also so lonely.  My mom came every single day, but the nights were long and pain filled.  When you are stuck by yourself in a bed it is so easy to let every single worry and fear you have fill your mind.

I also had another fear that nagged at me, the fear of being forgotten.  I have continually struggled with this feeling of standing still while the rest of the world around me goes on.  During my time in the hospital and in the months after, friends from work moved out of state, changed positions, or quit and moved on.  Some of these changes happened without me even knowing about it until some time later.  Cat shows came and went without me being there.  Dear friends got married.  So many things just went by without me being a part of it.  I started to feel invisible.  I feared that I was just going to disappear from what used to be my life.  Some time later I went to a cat show and met some new Bengal breeders, there was a time when I knew personally or at least knew OF most of the Bengal breeders and most knew of me.  These breeders did not know who I was.  Wow, that hit me like a ton of bricks.  I feared my contribution to the breed I loved was gone.

Another fear that I struggled with, and still do to some some extent is the fear of being alone.  This was one of the oddest fears that cropped up because I have never minded being alone.  Since I was a little girl I have spent most of my time playing, reading, or doing some other activity alone  I have never had a lot of friends and my brother is so much older than me, so it was inevitable that I spent a lot of time by myself.  Something happened to me though when I was in the hospital.  Being alone was terrifying.  As I said, my mom came every day, but most days I sobbed when she left.  I hated laying in that room alone all night.  I made friends with a lot of my nurses and a couple of them would just come hang out in my room with me sometimes, but most nights were lonely. Being alone and in great pain is also not the best combination.  Those days I was in pain constantly.  The neuropathy in my legs was extremely painful and physical therapy also contributed to my pain.  I have never been so lonely in my entire life.  When I came home from the hospital and to my parents' house I couldn't really be alone much because I could not do much for myself.  When I got a bit more mobile being alone in the house scared me to death.  I was so afraid of falling, a fear that was compounded when I DID fall and break my ankle.  That event seemed to confirm all my fears that something bad would happen to me if I was alone.  My poor mother, I think she hated leaving to go anywhere then, and when she did leave me she would call to check on me constantly to make sure I was okay.

I still struggle with fear today.  The fear that I will will never have a "normal" life again plagues me.  I can walk now, but I still have pain.  The neuropathy is pretty much confined to my feet now, but it still bothers me and affects my ability to walk like a "normal" person.  I still really don't like to be alone.  I still live with my parents and the thought of how I will feel when I go home scares me.  While I long to be back with my husband, the thought of being in my house alone all day every day is so scary.  I fear that I will not be able to find a teaching job and get back to doing what I love.  I had trouble finding a job before, I feel like it is going to be that much harder now.  I feel like I have so much to share with my students now and I am scared that I will not get the chance.

I am working toward trying to overcome my fears.  2nd Timothy 1:7 says, "for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,"  so I know that I can have a "sound mind" and not be so afraid all the time, but it is definitely a work in progress.