Saturday Stats

"[Depression] is second only to cancer in terms of economic impact, approximately the same as the cost of heart disease and AIDS — and the number of deaths from suicide each year is approximately the same as the number of deaths from AIDS." – Dr. Richard O’Connor, Undoing Depression

Elisabeth Elliot devotional

'Tis true. None of our problems are unique; someone else has experienced them in some way.

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

Elisabeth Elliot, A Lamp For My Feet
Hebrews 4:15-16
When we begin to imagine that our own problems are so deep, so insoluble, or so unusual that no one really understands us, we delude ourselves. It is one of the many delusions of pride, for Scripture tells us not only that our High Priest, Christ, has been tempted in every way as we are, but that no temptation has ever come our way that is not common to man. There are no more new temptations than there are new sins. Our story, whatever it is, is an old one, and He who has walked the human road has entered fully into our experiences of sorrow and pain and has overcome them. He has comforted others in our situation, gone with them into the same furnaces and lions' dens, has brought them out without smell of fire or mark of tooth.

It is a bad thing to take refuge in difficulties, thus excusing ourselves from responsibility to others because we think our situation is unique. If we are willing to receive help, our Helper is standing by–sometimes in the form of another human being sent by Him, qualified by Him to help us. It may be a case of our not receiving help because we were too proud to receive the kind God sent. Sometimes we really prefer to wallow.

"Ours is not a high priest unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who, because of his likeness to us, has been tested every way, only without sin. Let us therefore boldly approach the throne of our gracious God, where we may receive mercy and in his grace find timely help" (Heb 4:15, 16 NEB).

People pleaser and worrywart

I’m very bad at keeping up with my own blog schedule. I pay for it; I should be better at updating it. Thing is, I update only at work and pay for the mere convenience of not having a terrible hassle like I had with the free blog hosting site, blogger.com.

* * *

"You can please people some of the time,
but you can't please all people all of the time." – Anonymous

I should really do the whole “don’t fear man, fear God” thing. I’m trying. I’ve been throwing suggestions and ideas out at my manager with a “What’s the worst that can happen?” I swear, that needs to be my new motto or approach for life. People can say “no.” “Too bad.” I’ll disappoint or people will disappoint me. People can be rude and snippy to me, but in the end, what does it matter? I need to stop trying to curry everyone’s favor because not everyone is going to like me.

I’ve really been evaluating what I consider to be “pretty.” Really, what does “pretty” mean to me? Merriam-Webster aside, what is pretty? How would my dictionary define it?

To be honest, I’m not sure. I can’t look at myself because I don’t like what I see. Much of it comes from what society deems “pretty.” i.e. flat abdomen; slim, slender body; clear skin; non-bushy eyebrows; well-manicured nails; no excess weight.

When I look at myself, I see a black (derogatory reference in every sense of the word) female who has these crazy, ungroomed eyebrows, fat cheeks, big nose, excess weight, blotchy skin, unruly hair, fat all over my midsection, flabby upper arms, stretch marks — a big, overwhelming mass of cocoa-skinned blob.

I don’t like seeing “blob.”

I’ve never cared for my looks when I was younger (and skinnier) but never hated them so badly. Not like I do with this excess weight. And so I wonder — will 130 lbs. be enough? Will I ever exercise enough and control my portions enough that I’ll live to see that day once again?

* * *

I go around in circles when it comes to my thinking. I think about the people who have immense power over me during my personal time. People who teased me in high school, my micromanaging boss, people I wish I had in my life, people whose lives I wish I could change, my mother, my father — who isn’t even alive. The perceptions I’ve created in my head, paparazzi, tabloids — things that don’t even affect me!

A major future goal: Trying out for American Idol. Believe it or not, not for the superstardom. In fact, I doubt I’d make it past the first round (I’m a decent singer but I’m no Christina Aguilera) — but I need to get over my fear of making a fool of myself in front of people I don’t know. And even if I did make it all the way to the infamous Randy, Simon and Paula, technically, worrying about those who teased me in grade school should be the least of my worries.

Fear

"I fear / I have nothing to give / I have so much to lose / Here in this lonely place / Tangled up in our embrace / There's nothing I'd like better than to fall / But I fear / I have nothing to give." ~ Sarah McLachlan "Fear"

I've been thinking much on the concept of fear. I fear people, I fear my family, I fear my friends, I fear change, I fear airplanes, I fear those who teased me in grade school, I fear my hairdresser, I fear my boss, I fear saying no. My life is overrun with fear.

I'm trying to approach life a little differently. I've lately been asking myself "Why am I so afraid? Really, what's the worst that can happen?" And realistically, I analyze the potential worst-case scenarios. It usually follows with: "Will I get yelled at ?" (Answer: Probably not.) "Will this person be mad?" (Answer: Maybe but unlikely.) "Will I get shot?" (Answer: Highly unlikely.) "Will I disappoint?" (Answer: It's possible, but people will deal.) "Will I upset?" (Answer: That's possible too but it's not the end of the world.)

Talking through worst-case scenarios has helped me come out of my shell a bit more. I have a long way to go but I've been more assertive with what I need over the phone (I'm not afraid to sound nasty anymore – what do I care what people I never will meet think of me?) and I'm no longer as apprehensive to change an appointment or cause disappointment. Disappointment is a part of life – something that can't always be avoided so I do what I need to do and try not to think about it.

I had to let down one of the ladies that's trying to sell me Mary Kay. I agreed to a facial on Tuesday but realized I don't have the money and I don't really want a facial. She's a pretty good salesperson so I got talked into rescheduling and really – I really wanted the "try it before you buy it" facial at the time – but now that I'm at home thinking about it, I'm wondering again if I really need it and am wasting my time. And I'd feel terrible for her to drive a half-hour all the way out here to my home and me not buy anything. And I don't know what I'd do if I felt pressure to buy. I usually end up doing something because I'm afraid to say "no." Again – fear. I need to see if my new approach will work. Unless Mary Kay's products are so likable – as she says they speak for themselves – that I actually want to buy it. The challenge will be if I don't. Then I'm faced with saying no and feeling bad that this poor woman drove 35 minutes out of her and wasted gas for no sale.

I need to remind myself that people will feel bad and even though I may cause it – the way other people feel is NOT my responsibility.

Applying the fear factor with loved ones tends to be a little trickier. As such, because they're loved ones, we care more about what they think. I don't want to upset my mother in law sometimes so I agree to something that I'm not necessarily fond of, I don't want to upset my mother when she I disagree so I agree to whatever it is to avoid a fight (which usually ends up with me unhappy in some way), or I don't want to upset my husband so I either don't express my true feelings or I agree even though I feel differently. Some of it is superficial, but for the most part, it's harder because since these are the people I love – and will see again – what they think about me holds more weight in my mind.

[NOTE: Do not mistake my saying that "I am not responsible for the way he feels" as "I am not responsible for my actions toward him." I am completely responsible for any inappropriate or hurtful actions toward him. But in a situation where two people who are talking and a person takes the truth of a matter very hard, the person speaking the truth cannot be responsible for the way the other person feels. Especially if it was not said in a hurtful or injurious manner.]

"There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear,
because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is
not made perfect in love." ~ I John 4:18 (The Bible)

If the above is true then the opposite of fear is love. O, that I may be filled with more love for those around me and my fellow man so that I may do what is right, pure and honest – both for them and for me.

Letting go of fear releases the demons of depression and opens up paths to true joy and happiness.

Failure = Suicide; where's success?

Last week, I felt extremely suicidal. The feeling began about Thursday or Friday of early August and lasted through the 10th. It came to a head on the 10th when I finally decided that I’d end my misery in the same token way as “Ryan.” I wanted to fall down brain dead by “huffing.”

I tried to evaluate my thinking: I had a wonderful husband, a good-paying job with great benefits, lovely in-laws, a beautiful new apartment and wonderful opportunities for me on every corner. So why was it that for the first time, my external circumstances being great, I was internally shaken?

The pain in my heart had gotten too unbearable. Nothing externally was wrong, but internally, I was depressed, suicidal, hopeless and worthless.

A friend pointed out that Ryan and I were no different. This revelation which should have propelled me to see the severity of my condition and turn my view around for the better, backfired and propelled me into depts. of despair, wanting to rival Ryan’s demise.

In the end, I took a “mental health” day — this day for me, is no particular joke — and my husband and I went to a Christian counseling center just north of Philadelphia. I received a new counselor but talked at length about my history with depression. (The bad thing about finding new counselors is that you must rehash your entire life story for the first session.)

My new counselor, Julie, pointed out a few interesting things, one of them namely being that the people from my past — no longer in my life — hold more control over me than the people who matter: the people who love me.

Such a revelation is disturbing to say the least. I knew I hadn’t been able to get past the traumatizing years of high school and grade school but the idea that they still kept me captive was crushing. My tormentors probably haven’t given me a second though yet I think about them in some way, every day. I am so afraid of that I will give them another opportunity to laugh at me that I keep myself from things I’d like to pursue — mainstream singing, acting, entrepreneurship, etc. My life revolves around being able to say or feel “told ya so” toward them. Why? Why can’t it just be enough that I tell myself so?

And why I am so afraid of failure? If I fail at something, it only means I can succeed at something else.