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2nd of February

Some Scenes of the Seen


She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

Genesis 16:13-14

 

SCENE ONE:

It goes like this . . .

Years ago I sat on the kitchen floor in front of an empty dishwasher and pressed the button. I turned my back and felt the warmth, the vibration of the motor. I wanted to hear the motor—the steady hum—to feel the warm swoosh of water inside. I wanted comfort in my deep distress. I wanted to shut out the noise of the world—and my brain.

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And I prayed like I’d never prayed before . . .

Jesus, HELP me!

Hours later, I was in my doctor’s office asking her to write a prescription for an antidepressant.

Back then, my husband didn’t think I needed medication. Back then, he thought I could just pull myself out of it. Back then, he didn’t know a thing about clinical depression or anxiety.

I understood his reasoning. But I had reason for needing something beyond plenty of prayer, positive thinking, regular exercise, healthy diet and supportive relationships—all which had always helped me bounce back in the past to my usual, vivacious self.

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That morning, I felt defeated. I couldn’t keep myself together. Sort of like Humpty Dumpty, feeling that no one could put me back together again.

But I knew what I needed.

I’m a clinical psychologist. I’d helped people for years. Now, I was in such bad shape that I no longer cared about the opinions of others. I was suffering like I’d never suffered before. And this I learned the hard way . . .

Suffering is holy when it kills your pride.

Because pride gets in the way of healing—of freeing.

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I told my husband I was sick. I told him that if he wouldn’t drive me to the doctor RIGHT NOW so I could get an antidepressant, I was going to admit myself to the psych ward of the hospital and our two children we adopted from Russia three months before, ages 6 and 4, would be without a mommy—again.

Stress had worn me thin.

I was too fragile to function.

But I had to.

We had two dear children who needed a daddy AND a mommy.

So, he drove me, my dear husband.

I told my doctor I was a clinical psychologist experiencing my first major depressive episode and asked her to write me a prescription for a particular antidepressant. She did.

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Within two weeks, I felt remarkably better. Not high. Not “drugged”. Better. Healthy. Able to function normally.

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Over the years, thinking I had licked the brain dis-ease of too few neurotransmitters, I tried to stop taking the antidepressant, doing so in a safe manner with my doctor’s knowledge.

Hasn’t worked.

THREE ATTEMPTS.

Over nineteen years.

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I’ve been MAD.

I’ve been UNGRATEFUL.

I have HATED this “cross”.

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Because, truth is, people who have never experienced clinical depression and anxiety having NO idea what the suffering is like. We throw the word “depressed” and “stressed” and “anxious” around these days like a beach ball in a pool.

We all touch it, right?  Ever so lightly.  And we all bounce back, right?

Wrong.

And so I write.  Because most of us with depression and anxiety feel misunderstood, stigmatized, lonely and in need of empathy and support in our dark times.

I write and make myself vulnerable because it’s time to tell the truth—to help others.

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SCENE TWO:

It goes like this . . .

Since my blog post last week where I shared of my brief relapse with depression and anxiety, I’ve received kind-hearted.  I was told to just pray and God would take it all away.  Like I haven’t prayed.  For God to take it away.  But he hasn’t.  So what?  I’m deficient?  No.  I’ve been left with a “thorn” and I’m convinced it’s because I’m to speak for those who can’t speak— to stand for those who can’t stand.

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So here’s the truth . . .

We who suffer from depression or anxiety or bipolar are not necessarily immature Christians and we’re not crazy.

A part of our body is broken. (Last time I checked, the brain is still considered part of the body.)

Would people tell us not to take medication if we had cancer or diabetes or any other physical illness except depression and anxiety?

Would people tell us to just pray more if we had cancer or diabetes or any other physical illness except depression and anxiety?

Would people tell us to have more faith if we had cancer or diabetes or any other physical illness except depression or anxiety?

The most important question is this, I think . . .

WHAT GLORIFIES GOD?

Maybe, carrying a cross by the grace of God is what glorifies?

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SCENE THREE:

It goes like this . . .

My daughter, now 24, with developmental challenges AND bipolar illness, sits next to me on a ski chair lift a couple weekends ago. We’re ascending the mountain. We pass a tree—the “bra” tree where people fling the most outrageous sizes and designs.

We laugh.

I talk about the big cups and the little cups and how ALL the cups support us, whatever our need.

We laugh again.

And then . . .

I talk about how grateful I am that God provides us all the support we need, sometimes in mysterious, wondrous ways.

So this woman-child, all 100 pounds and 60 inches of her, she turns to me, this miracle from Russia, orphaned at six months of age, and she says . . .

“I’m so thankful you’re my mom. God knew I would need you. I mean, with my disabilities and all, but most because you understand my bipolar. Because you have depression too. You understand me. Isn’t God wonderful? He knew!”

She smiles BIG with those thin lips, the only part of her face exposed with fleece pulled up over her chin and eyes protected by kid-sized goggles. I feel that familiar lump in my throat as we both sit there being carried, ascending the mountain we could not climb on our own, and we thank God together for our broken.

She goes on . . .

“God knew I was going to get sick. God knew I was going to need a mom who understands. I’m so glad you understand. And I’m so glad for medication. It saved my life.”

Indeed.

I cried tears of thanks.

Right there under my goggles while bitter wind whipped us both. Right there on the chair. Right there, ascending the mountain neither of us could climb on our own. Right there. We said a prayer of thanks to our GREAT GOD who SEES us—who meets us in places few others understand.

PRAISE YOU, JESUS! We both shouted out loud, after passing the bras—those worldly supports.

And we were perfectly content.

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EPILOGUE:

Nearly daily, I hear from people suffering from depression and/or anxiety or bipolar disorder. Often, I hear from their loved ones who are concerned and don’t know what to do. I thank God for my training in clinical psychology but mostly for my personal experience. God has given me the ability to empathize, to normalize, to fight stigma, to help people find comfort.

Is this not the work of GOD?

I have sat with people in doctor’s offices, advocating, helping them get proper medication, seeing them get well. I have held hands of mothers sick with worry over their children and then, seeing their children come to life as never before, rejoicing and thanking God.

I want no credit.

I’m only a servant who carries a “cross” by the grace of my God.

And I want to tell you this . . .

There is no greater JOY than serving the suffering with the LOVE and POWER of JESUS who grieves with the grieving, who raises the “dead”, who watches them walk free, who rejoices with them and their loved ones.

NO GREATER JOY!

So, for you or your loved one who suffers from depression or anxiety or bipolar . . .

He is the GOD who sees you.

He sees your loved one.

He cares. More than you know.

He knows your need.

Because He suffered.

Our Jesus.

He knows every bit of your suffering.

He will provide for you perfectly, even if he doesn’t completely remove your “thorn”.

And He wastes nothing.

He will take every crumb of you and your loved one use it for YOUR good and the good of ALL—for YOUR joy and the joy of ALL.

And we will GLORIFY HIM alone who is worthy to receive all honor and glory and praise for making the impossible possible.

We need not walk our fearsome paths alone.

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We can ascend our mountains side-by-side.

And sometimes, for some people, God’s perfect provision includes something that comes in the shape of a pill. Sometimes the “pill” is a person. Sometimes the “pill” is a medication.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be like me, who God has allowed to experience remissions and relapses so I can KNOW CHRIST in his sufferings and help EASE the sufferings of others. If you could be so blessed!

Oh, how he loves you and me—and our daughter—and all in the world who suffer, no matter the cause.

Praise you, Jesus! PRAISE YOU!

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With You, Jesus, and those who love you, we need wear no masks.  It’s a joy to be seen.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

THANK YOU, my gracious GOD, for NOT removing the “thorn” of depression and anxiety from me! THANK YOU for granting me this cross to bear that I might empathize with others in their pain, giving thanks to YOU for your great and wondrous LOVE that sustains me in the dark and helps hold others who suffer similarly.

THANK YOU, to all my dear “pilgrims progressing” who know that the types and sources of pain don’t matter. What matters is having the heart of God to comfort and encourage each other so we all can keep going on this journey until we reach our final destination—Jesus—to whom all honor, and glory and praise is due. You, my dear “sisters” and “brothers” in Christ, are my most precious jewels.  And THANK YOU, for those of you who care for me with prayer and listening.  I’m feeling fine again now that my medication is at the proper level for me.

 

 

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

 

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

                                                                                                                                       

 

                                                                                                                                            

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