Monday, October 30, 2006

Children's Musical

I do want to report on my elementary-age children's choir musical, which we presented on October 15. The children were absolutely wonderful, as were the adults and youth who helped make things happen so that I merely had to direct. The subject was the book of Esther, retold with lots of literary license. Our young Queen Esther, who had the only solo of the musical, sang beautifully. The maidens' cute solo lines during the first number--a rap!--were spoken clearly, with appropriate humor, and loudly enough that most of the congregation understood them--and laughed! Our narrator (in the role of a news reporter) hammed it up delightfully. King "A" was regal, the cameraman was fabulous, and it all came together far better than I could have hoped. And yes, I managed to get all the costumes finished in time.

Oh, and I got all but one of my pledged embroidery projects done for the Lord's Acre (fall festival), and substituted a different purchased item for the one I didn't make. All told, my items sold for over $200 total in the live auction. Not bad for someone in my condition at the time.

I'm Back (I think)

Hello to all. First, let me again thank those of you who've been praying for me. I'm feeling much better now, though I've made some significant changes in my life that mean I'm spending less time online. I do want blogging to be a priority, though. So we shall see how that goes.

Secondly, I want to come clean with you. My illness is chronic clinical depression. It's likely that I've suffered from it all my life, except for the approximately 1.5 years that I've been sufficiently diagnosed and treated with an anti-depressant. The drug that works for me is, unfortunately, outrageously expensive, even in the "generic" form that recently came out. But I'm still working at getting into the VA system, I hope before I run out of the prescription that I was miraculously able to get.

ANYway, the analytical part of me that can now look at this latest crisis, now that the "fog" has largely lifted, is finding the process of digging out of it quite fascinating. (Were I dark-haired and pointy-eared, you'd think I was Spock of Star Trek fame!) But it IS fascinating. Things got very, very bad. Had it not been for God's constant presence--experienced through the gift of faith--I might have attempted suicide. There...I said it. The "S" word. It scares me that it got so bad. It reminds me how fragile we human beings can be, despite our bravado displayed to the outside world and even to our loved ones. It's been a long time since I believed the lie that "real" Christians do not get depressed. That's no more true than saying "real" Christians don't get diabetes, or high cholesterol, or breast cancer, or Alzheimer's disease. But my head still kept trying to convince my heart that I just wasn't praying hard enough, or thinking the right things, or reading the Bible enough...all the "Job's Friends" kinds of lines we tend to give people when they're suffering but which God says are "not speaking rightly" of either the sufferer or the Suffering God. (I am VERY glad my pastor preached on Job this past Sunday. It was timely for a lot of us in this church.) I suppose it helps to keep alive the illusion that there ought to have been SOME way to control my condition myself, without drugs, without God, without nuthin' 'cept my own self. The truth, however, is that depression HAPPENS (to us chronically depressed folks). Whatever is wrong with the delicate balance of brain chemistry in us--and it's too little understood at present--we need pharmaceutical help in the form of SSRIs or MSRIs to get back on track. That is a valid way for God to choose to heal us. The wonder is how we would dare to dictate to the Almighty that our drug-free faith alone must be the treatment of choice. (And how often do well-meaning Christians "preach" exactly that message? And how many suffering people never get well because of that message?)

So, praise God, I'm getting well now. It may be a while longer before I feel the full effects of the drug, but it's remarkable how much better I feel...better than at any time since I had to stop taking meds over three years ago because I lost my health insurance. At least this time I knew what drug would help. (For the blessedly uninformed, depression is treated by starting a prescription, and if the depression gets worse or no better, discontinuing it and trying another...and if necessary, another and another until the right one does the trick. Definitely NOT an exact science!)

While I don't have a big slew of readers, a majority of you are ministers, thanks to my participation in the RevGalBlogPals blogring. To you ministerial sisters and brothers, I issue a plea: encourage your depressed parishioners/church participants to seek medical help and accept drug therapy as the most likely means of getting well. I think you all probably know that, but do please make a point of it. And don't think you're immune from depression. I've read (but cannot quote exactly) that ministry statistically has one of the highest rates of depression among the professions. Know yourself well enough to recognize if you're depressed, and get help. Take it from someone who tried far too long to tough it out without the meds that can make such a night-and-day difference in her life. I would not wish that kind of miserable existing on anyone. And that's the best way I know to describe deep depression. It's terribly painful, and it's sure as anything not living. You deserve better than that, and those you serve deserve a better minister than who they will have when he or she is depressed.

I suspect that the biblical psalmist(s) from whom I take my blogging nickname was sometimes depressed. A number of the Psalms' descriptions of suffering ring true for me. In addition to Psalms 13 and 130, I commend these words from Psalm 30 to you:

O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit. (v. 3)

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever. (vs. 11-12; quotes from NRSV)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Many thanks to you all

Hello again. I am very touched and grateful to those who've read and commented. Things are getting better. Through nothing short of a miracle, I got enough quantity of the correct meds that I will be able to take it until the VA can kick in. It will be awhile before I've ramped up to the correct dose and really feel the full effects, but I'm already feeling a little better.

Meanwhile, it's crazy time at both jobs. My children's choir is the sermon, choir, and Scripture lesson all combined this Sunday with our Esther musical. This is the day after our all-day Fall Festival, for which I'm still scrambling to complete the items I pledged to do (hand embroidery--can't really be rushed). There are still costumes to complete for the children. All the other usual tasks are still there as well, though I did give the adult choir tonight off. And day job stuff will be better after today. I got so behind on things, it's a wonder I still have that job. I guess it doesn't hurt to work for a healthcare provider who treats people with my illness. He was the picture of patience and understanding when I was just too sick to work. So now I'm paying the piper!

Ongoing prayers would be wonderful. And thank you again for your comments and promises of prayer. I have felt them. I thank God for all my supportive friends--including you, my online friends.

More soon.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Update for friends

Hello to my friends. Just a short update. I had a disastrous trial with a medication that I thought would help with a condition I mentioned a couple of entries back. I finally seem to have it out of my system, which means I'm back to the not-so-good place I was almost two weeks ago when I got the prescription sample. Still don't have the form I need in order to receive VA care.

The good news is, I'm better than I was a week ago. I missed too much work, though, at a critical time. I'd appreciate your prayers.

More when I feel better.