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My wife reads good stuff, too

My wife wanted me to read this chapter because it made her think of me because it’s about a preacher who decides to be a counselor.

One significant quote that most preachers can relate to:

“How many religious leaders go into ministry with the idea that they’re going to be really great administrators?” -Rick Rittmaster

He had gone through depression and burnout as a preacher.

After getting his Masters in Counseling, he became a chaplain the US Army. He says, “There’s great sadness in the world, and being a chaplain, my role, my journey, is no to deny it or to resist it, but to accept it and to mourn with those who mourn.”

I like that statement.

 

Taken from Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of your Life by Jane Pauley

 

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Featured

National Mental Health Awareness Week

Well, even though I am in school to be a Mental Health Professional some day, I am also in grad school and busy, so I neglected the calendar.

And as someone who is occasionally mental, well, that would also explain why I forgot….

I have written about my personal experiences and shared some resources on this blog over the last few years, here are some if you are interested or need them. Let’s not wait for a family member or a celebrity death to make us aware of this problem.

My Depression

My Depression, part 2

Last Time About my Depression

Afraid of Bad News

State of the Brian Address

Book Recommendations:

Unholy Ghost

Lincoln’s Melancholy

What I been Reading

 

 

 

Unholy Ghost: writers on depression

I just finished this amazing collection of personal stories of depression by professional writers. Some were siblings or spouses of those suffering, but most of the writings were by people who have suffered a great deal.

When you are depressed, you don’t write. But these people, after the fact, sometimes with help from family and journals, recount their lowest points and what they learned.

One chapter is a woman in her thirties who talks about being pregnant while on medication. An African-American woman talks about how depression is viewed by the black community. A man survives overdosing on 65 pills then finds another pill in a jacket pocket and wonders if that would have finished him off.

They write about suicide attempts, long hospitalizations, and many more sad events. Grab a used copy at McKays or Amazon.

Unholy Ghost: writers on depression edited by Nell Casey, includes excerpt from Styron’s Darkness Visible; Styron’s wife, Rose; Larry McMurtry (western author, Brokeback Mountain); Susanna Keyson (Girl,Interrupted); Jane Kenyon’s Husband; Nell and Maud Casey, sisters, both giving an account of Maud’s struggle.

I highly recommend reading it. It provides a great balance to some of the textbooks I have for school.

Here are some of the quotes that struck me:

“I think depression and despair are reasonable reactions to the nature of life.”   -Susanan Kaysen

“The raw nub of my soul bobbed up to the surface, ugly and ungainly, and I was suddenly pierced with panicky malaise.” -Darcy Steinke

“my own view….is that depression arises out of an enormously complicated, constantly shifting, elusive concatenation of circumstance, temperament, and biochemistry.”   -David Karp

“You do not cheer up depressives; the worst thing you can do is to count their blessings for them.”  -Donald Hall (husband of Jane Kenyon)

“My failure was not in perceiving reality; I perceived it full well, and despised it.”  “I was nearly paralyzed by dread of my inadequacy.”  -Nancy Mairs

“My heart pumped dread. It was an actual substance I could feel coursing through my bloodstream–some days a barely-there awareness, other days a carbonated liquid that seemed to have replaced my blood.” -Lesley Dormen

“Depression is a place that teems with nightmarish activity. It’s a one-industry town, a psychic megalopolis devoted to a single twenty-four-hour-we-never-close product. You work misery as a teeth-grinding muscle-straining job (is that why it’s so physically exhausting?), proving your shameful failures to yourself over and over again.”  -Lesley Dormen

“I don’t know where depression comes from or where it goes. I do know that it was the crucible, the rite of passage, that allowed me to create my life.”  -Lesley Dormen

“…one thing people always say about depression is that stubborn, consistent support helps even when it seems like it doesn’t..” -Nell Casey

“…to be depressed is not to have words to describe it, is not to have words at all, but to live in the gray world of the inarticulate, where nothing takes shape, nothing has edges or clarity.”   “Being depressed felt like living in a corpse, so being dead seemed like ‘a better place to live.'”  -Maud Casey

Dark Emotions have Value

“We have lost our connection to the dark side of the sacred. We prize status, power, consumerism, and distraction, and there is no room for darkness in any of that. Americans tend to have a naivete about life, always expecting it to be rosy. When something painful happens, we feel that we are no good, that we have failed at achieving a good life. We have no myths to guide us through the painful and perilous journeys of the dark emotions, and yet we all suffer these journeys at some point. We have high rates of depression, anxiety and addiction in this country, but we have no sense of the sacred possibilities of our so-called illnesses. Instead we have a medical culture. Suffering is considered pathology, and the answer to suffering is pharmacology.”

Miriam Greenspan, author of Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair, in an interview

can’t wait to get this book! Could the “American Idol” of optimism be a source of some of our problems?

38 Years–Keep Your Heart Young

State of the Brian Address

Another year. Another Birthday. A lot has changed. A lot has remained. Been a roller coaster!

My back-to-school-life-change has gone well.  Though my wife considers it a mid-life crisis. You really can’t be too young for mid-life crisis, because who really knows how long you will live. I don’t know if I am concerned about inching closer to a milestone like 40; but I am very aware that by the end of this calender year I will have lived longer than my biological mother. Not creepy. Not interesting. Just there…lingering.

I love school. I feel just as at peace and content with the decision to pursue this degree/career path as I did a year ago. I have enjoyed the teachers, books, concepts, people, etc.

Working and “working a real job” have been challenging. Very challenging. It’s not so much the work, I stayed busy as a minister with many emotionally draining weeks. But having zero flexibility and not seeing my family often enough has been hard. Waking at 4:30 most days and no longer using my snooze button has been………

I just started a new, less crazy job closer to the house and Marisa got a job for the Summer at Kohl’s so we are grateful.

Somewhere in the past year, I lost my filter. I have reverted a little to “Brian, circa 1995-1996” (my Freed friends might remember that well). My personality has shifted a little. I chat up waitresses and clerks, joke with strangers, and make a general fool of myself for laughs at work and school. I have more confidence and feel mostly comfortable in my own skin. Trying to be myself without being too much of an idiot. But on some days those two overlap.

After taking a break of a few months away from “head meds,” I felt the need to start up again. I “fell on black days” back in the Winter but am doing better now. I am glad I started again. Life has been stressful balancing work, family, school, church.

Life is good, though. School rocks. Work is work. We have a wonderful church family (Hermitage Church of Christ) that has blessed us in many ways. I am giving a devo tonight outdoors after some lemonade and cookies. Family is adjusting well to life in TN. School and scouts going well for the kids.

Trying to stay young at heart. I really think I want to work with kids and young people. Humans from elementary schoolers to college students will hopefully be the focus of my career as a therapist/counselor.

A great blessing in the past year has been my young friends at school (the older ones, too). They sometimes make me feel old. But mostly make me feel young. My cohort/classmates are an amazing and talented group. I am grateful for them. S/O to Lipscomb peeps!

For my birthday, I just want you to listen to this Brandi Carlile song. It’s cool.

“Don’t go growing old before your time has come…..”