The Best Moments sometimes came too late.

I love my mother, heart and soul.

She was an alcoholic who left recovery after ten years of sobriety to return home and do it on her own. That was the biggest mistake she ever made in my opinion.She never took another drink, but I wouldn’t call what she lived, sobriety. 

Mom suffered from severe depression on and off for most of her life. This blog post is not intended to tarnish her memory. Nor is it intended to trash AA, it’s a wonderful program. Mom was an amazing women. A force to behold most days.

She is my beloved. The bravest women I know.  

I will always be thankful for her.

I spent three months with her before she passed and  as crazy hard as those days were, I am eternally grateful for that time.

Nothing was left unsaid.

Our last words to each other were “I love you.” and “I love you too.”

I have peace knowing that my mother loved me and knowing that she knew she was forgiven by me and that I loved her as well. Not many people have that. What a gift.

Mom was laid to rest on August 22, 2015 after a long 15 year battle with COPD and severe depression and anxiety.

May she finally be at peace.

I grieved for three years as she died piece by piece. And I grieve now, not so much always for what we had, but for what we missed.

When she was happy she was a screaming riot, full of life and humor. Manic almost in her pursuit of joy, gardening and art. She would work around the clock creating beauty. I loved those moments as a child, even if I couldn’t keep up. Those were the best moments really. Baking cookies in the middle of the night. Painting ornaments. Creating jelly. Mom on a manic was fun, if not exhausting.

In those moments she was wildly creative and wildly beautiful. 

But when she wasn’t happy, she was a force to be reckoned with, a storm with no warning and no chance of surviving. She was brutal, cutting, and fierce to anyone and every one.

She was, in those moments, my greatest source of pain. 

There was a lot of anger in her depression and those closest to her were her best targets; a sister, a daughter, a niece, a nephew, a friend, it really didn’t matter. She became cold, uncaring almost. Her body would clench up and her eyes would fill with tears as she spoke of those who had inflicted wounds in her life.

Were they real or perceived?

I’ll never know.

It was too much to bear really.

For me anyway.

The suicide attempts or threats.

The lies.

The threats of abandonment.

The manipulation.

The tears.

The anger.

There were countless times I’d speak to her on the phone or visit during one of her “moods” and I’d wind up in the hospital or back in therapy sifting for the truth.

One time, my doctor told me to either have her committed or walk away to save my own life.

I was willing to do neither and chose rather to weather the storm, come what may and find a way to love her in a way that she could recognize. I eventually did towards the end and I have no regrets.

Someone in AA told her that she could not take meds and be “sober.” They said Bipolar disorder was a “lie and an excuse.”

What a load of BS. AA itself does not have opinions on outside issues, but people do and she listened to the wrong ones.

That little pill would have changed both of our worlds for the better, but she wouldn’t take it because AA told her not to.

So who do I be mad at?

A 12 step program that saved my life and sanity through Alanon? That’s not fair.

Should I be mad at her? After all it was her choice not to take meds.

God?

The doctors who didn’t tell her the truth?

No one I guess.

I can’t afford it.

If I spend my days finding someone to be mad at, I’ll never heal.

I’ll spend my life like she did.

A victim.

Alone.

Afraid.

Angry.

Keeping score.

She’s at peace now.

It’s time for me to be the same.

Breathe Darlin’. It’s going to be okay. And if it’s not okay – hold my hand. Let’s walk this together. 

My Back Porch, A Blanket and a Fire to Keep me Warm

Cover of "Laughing in the Dark: A Comedia...
Cover via Amazon

I made a reference yesterday about the year I lost it. Those of you who’ve known me for a while know what I’m talking about, but for the rest let me fill you in a little. Life got crazy from 2003-2004 and while trying to handle everything on my own, I eventually snapped. You might say I went through an 18 month season of sifting, pruning, and deep grief. Some of it was my own making, and some of it was not. Whatever label you want to put on that season, the end result was the same, I was diagnosed with clinical depression in June of 2004. My depression was so deep that I spent the next 12 months in what I call an emotional black out. I functioned, but as my friends would say, “the lights were on, but ain’t nobody home.”

I’m not sure when I snapped exactly. The downward spiral began in 2003. Within roughly 14 months from March of 2003 to May of 2004, I ruptured my ACL,  buried 10 of my closest friends, lost the only school my kids had ever known, among other more personal issues I won’t bore you with here, and I erroneously believed the “cure” for my grief was to take on more responsibility. Pretty arrogant hunh?

By the time my brain and denial collided, I had already spent months sitting on my back porch every night. I’ll never forget being wrapped in a blanket, chain-smoking, and staring into the blankness,  for hours at time. In the morning, I’d wake up, pull up my bootstraps and drive to work across town.  As soon as work ended, I would go back on the porch and shut down.

When I finally did see a doctor, I was pretty deep and he was ready to put me in the hospital. This is how depression lied to me, I was blaming someone for mine. A few someones actually and my response to my doctor was “I’ll be jacked if I’m going to give him the satisfaction of putting me in the nut house. I’m stronger than he is.” As if I was the center of some evil plot to drive me insane. Depression lies to us, big time. For some strange reason my doctor didn’t force the issue and we settled out-patient therapy instead.

My pride and ego got in the way from allowing myself to be hospitalized. I should have listened to my doctor — I would have recovered much more quickly.

The good news though, is I did recover. I spent three plus years in therapy, both group and private, and on medication. I learned how to be more authentic and honest with my thoughts and feelings and I learned what to watch for in case it happens again. In my case, I have not needed meds for roughly three years, but if I ever spiral again I’ll be on them for life.

Several of my friends and acquaintances have experienced depression in their lives.  I met Chonda Pierce during my downward spiral. She is a sweetheart and she writes about her own experiences in Laughing In The Dark.  There is a blogger on my page, Pastor Todd Peppercorn (You can see him listed under Pastor Blogs). He writes When I Trust My Dark Road and I read him from time to time.

I could rattle off a few more names of people I like who have been through depression, but I hope you get my point. While I was never suicidal, a lot of my friends who experienced depression were. I lost a friend to depression ten years ago, and that breaks my heart. Depression kills.

 It was during this dark season that I did in my old blogs and threw away a lot of my writings. I did that because I believed at the time that I’d never be a writer or speaker or of any worth to God or anyone else ever again.

Wow was I wrong.

I’m bringing this up today because a friend of mine posted a plea on her Facebook page — she said “You’re too blessed to be depressed is bs. Don’t say that to anyone. Ever. Please.” She’s right. It’s not true and it’s not helpful. Depression is real. It’s not self-pity. Depression hurts. It debilitates and it lies.

A local pastor and part-time mentor is seeking in patient treatment for his depression and burn out. While my heart hurts for him and his family, I admire his humility and his willingness to seek treatment. 

I do know that while I was depressed I sought God in the things of God, in myself, other people, and my work. In seeking him in the wrong places, I missed him along the way. It was only after I fell apart that I found his healing and his Grace. Today I know the hope and the healing that comes on the other side. I pray the same for for anyone else suffering today.

 I found my voice, my courage and my king in my dark night — getting help is not a sign of weakness, it’s sign of strength.

Thank you for letting me share.

Next.

Ready to Win Over Depression: Blog Tour with Thelma Wells

THELMA: Before I begin, let me first say, if you and/or a loved one are in a crisis situation and you need immediate assistance, please call your local emergency number or the mental health crisis hotline listed in your local phone book.

In your introduction, you state that you’ve been there – you’ve been depressed.  Tell us about that.

Yes, I have.  This story is told in detail in the book, however, I had surgery several years ago and within a few days the incision split open and my intestines were exposed. This was probably by far the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. After a quick trip back to the hospital to repair the damage, I spent over a year bed-ridden, disabled, and recovering. I’m not the kind of person to lie down and take things slow, especially when it’s forced on me. Yet, in this situation I had no choice but to stop and heal. It wasn’t easy and I faced a lot of fears and I experienced situational depressed during this time.

How do you define depression?

Some of us are more prone to depression than others. The influences that bring us down in our spirits can come from many sources and directions. Depression can be a complex picture. But let’s face it. The main reason we get despondent is simply because life happens. And nobody’s life is a constant procession of uplifting, rejuvenating, invigorating experiences. Everybody’s life has downers. We easily get off-balance in so many ways, and this hurts. The TV commercial that says, “Depression hurts” is true.

Does your book focus on one type of depression?

For most of us, the depression we typically encounter isn’t the severe or clinical category, medically speaking. The typical depression is situational. This doesn’t mean they’re painless or less important or harmless.

Dr. Archibald D. Hart, a leading Christian psychologist and dean emeritus of the School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary writes, “While these depressions are not usually as serious as the biological ones, they can be much more difficult to cope with.”

In your first Chapter, you talk about “Who get’s depressed?”  Does depression affect certain groups of people more than others?

Every year depression strikes more than 35 million in the United States alone. We’re seeing depression with frightening regularity in ourselves, our relatives, and our friends. Dr. Harts states, “There is hardly a family today that is not touched by depression’s tentacles.” Depression affects people of all social classes, all races, and all cultures, but there’s one group that’s especially hard hit…women.  Also there is an alarming increase in children and the elderly.

What are the triggers and causes of depression?

Psychology Information Online, which includes content provided by the National Institute on Mental Health, notes that “a depressive episode” can be triggered by “a serious loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crisis, financial setback, or any unwelcome life change.” Sometimes depression is brought on by an underlying disease or biochemical disorder. Whatever the cause of our depression, it needs to be faced and understood realistically—and then accepted for what it truly is.

Does the Bible speak about depression?

It does in several places and we see it in the lives of David, Jeremiah, and Paul. Psalms 42 and 43 together represent the cry of a downcast soul—someone who is hurting and thirsting for God. Paul describes our loving Father as “God, who comforts the downcast” (2 Corinthians 7:6).

Christians do get depressed, but it’s a temporary state. God allows us to experience it as a means to attaining something better. Our hope and contentment are based on seeing our past and present difficulties as gifts from God to prepare us and enable us to do more for Him by sharing Christ, finding delight in God and what He ordains.

What are the steps you outline for “Doing something about it.”  And why are these important?

  • Get It All Out – talk to somebody about how you’re feeling. Emotionally and mentally, talking about your feelings is a healthy thing to do. Everybody needs somebody to confide in. That’s right. Everybody.
  • Take Care of Yourself Physically – How healthy we are physically always impacts our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
  • Don’t be Deceived – Your emotions can fool you into questioning or not knowing what’s real or not real. Depression can cause some strange symptoms.
  • You’re Your Own Captive Audience – People talk to themselves. We all do it. When we talk to ourselves, we need to watch what we’re saying. You see, when we talk to ourselves, we invoke our consciousness. And in our conscious awareness, we truly hear what we say. Our subconscious hearts it—and believes it! Then our creative self-conscious gets busy working it out…whether or not it’s true, real, positive, negative, or healthy.

Hope is a key word used throughout the book, but especially in the last chapter.  What does the mystery of hope mean?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” (Proverbs 13:12).  Hope and prayer always go together. In fact, prayer is the voice of hope. When there’s hopelessness, prayer dries up and blows ways. Real hope is huge! To have a biblical hope found in Ephesians 4:1-16 is to possess “living hope.”

From page 99 to page 109, I discuss the facets of hope that we can attain when we refocus our attention from us to God.  Our living hope is not in things, people’s opinions, positions, status, or any tangible findings of life.  No, it rests upon the spiritual and emotional stability of our minds on the only wise God, our Father, who can help us in our depressed states every day.  This living hope is in Jesus, the Anointed One, whose job it is to redeem us for all things that oppress us.  The only hope for the world is Jesus.  The only help for the world is a touch from God.

You spend a whole chapter on “Looking Outward.”  Why is this important?

At the risk of bursting someone’s bubble…the world doesn’t revolve around you. I know you might have thought it did. I used to think the same thing about me. One of the best ways to deal with depression is to do something for somebody without expecting anything in return.

Search for a volunteer organization, mentor a child or young person, or find someone who needs help with something and help them. Do something.  That’s the key.

I have several activities available via my ministry that offer opportunities to people to connect with others.  Join me on excursions across the country and to Israel studying the Word, relaxing, rejuvenating and enjoying the life God has given us. We are also launching the Ready to Win Web Cast University with a variety of experts to offer you the best in Christian instruction, study, and education. I have hand selected several outstanding speakers that will enable you to be READY TO WIN in every situation.  Both of these and more are available on my web site at www.ThelmaWells.com.

How is the book different from others?

This book is different from others because it gives the reader a non-threatening opportunity to ask themselves questions and answer those questions in the book as they are reading it.  It is not a course of study; it is a means of helping them “get it out.”  It allows them to analyze their state of being and work through it alone so that it is there personal and confidential analysis and directives for healing.

 What results do you see that can come from reading this book?

The results I see from reading this book are:

  • People have a handy reference at their fingertips for calling their attention to what they are facing in terms of situational depression.
  • People have at their fingertips information that they can share with others who may be experienced the same kind of depression.
  • There are reminders in the book that are encouraging and inspiring that can be used as a devotional.
  • There are stories that people can relate to and realize that they are not alone and there is always help.

How do you see individuals, small groups and even churches using this book?

Not only is the book appropriate for individuals, it is designed for group work for small and large study sessions.  Because it is a simple lay-out and intentionally open-ended, it  can be used as a guide for therapists with their clients, ladies groups of any kind, church groups, Sunday School classes, Bible studies, or references for children’s groups that are concerned about situational depression in our children.

Where connect with you further on this topic? Or, purchase a copy of this book?

I would love for them to visit my web site at www.ThelmaWells.com, browse through the various events and other resources available, as well as sign up for my mailing list.

READY TO WIN OVER DEPRESSION is also available online and at local bookstores such as, Family Christian Stores, Lifeway Christian Stores, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble Book Stores, Mardel’s, Anchor Distributors, Christianbook.com, and many other stores and vendors throughout American and the United Kingdom.

I would also like to connect with people on the new Facebook page we set up specifically for this topic at www.facebook.com/readytowinoverdepression. Or they can find me on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Thelmaw.

Again, let me say…if you or someone you know is dealing with depression, you are not crazy. God knows you’re not crazy. And He also has a perfect antidote for your depression. Nothing escapes Him, and he knows you far better than you know yourself. Isn’t that a relief and comfort?

A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by the author in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

Blog Tour Coming up: Ready to Win Over Depression by Thelma Wells

 
 

Me and "Mama T" at E-Women Tulsa Spring of 2008

I had the amazing privilege of being a hostess for nationally known speaker Thelma Wells at an E-Women conference not that long ago. Having seen Thelma speak at Women of Faith for years, I have to admit I was little intimidated. Something interesting happened the weekend I met Thelma – her mothering spirit met my daughter’s heart and it took everything I had to remember I was there to serve and not be served and not just crawl into her lap for the weekend like I wanted.

 

 

Thelma is warm, kind, inspiring and insightful. Hosting Thelma for this blog tour, is an honor and a  privilege. I will post her interview on Saturday, June 12, but for now I’d like you to know a little bit about her newest book and about her.

Enjoy…

  

Ready to Win Over Depression by Thelma Wells

(Harvest House Publishers)

Every year depression strikes more than 35 million in the United States alone. Popular speaker and author Thelma Wells knows firsthand how difficult depression can be. She provides powerful tools readers can use to successfully battle depression. With her trademark action-based, faith living, Thelma offers powerful real-life stories, medical facts, and biblical truths. She helps readers evaluate where they are (clinical depression, situational depression, “the blues”) and implement four steps to counter life’s negatives:

  •  
    • change the way they talk
    • share their feelings with someone
    • take care of their health—physical and mental
    • get outside themselves by helping others

Using interactive self-evaluations, readers tackle depression at the source by applying God’s promises and principles. Thelma says, “Most of all, they’ll see how they can become winners over the effects of depression. Don’t give in—God wants you to win in every situation!”

About the Author

From times of singing in a dark closet to the founding of a national women’s mentoring ministry, Thelma Wells’ life has been a courageous journey of faith. The name on her birth certificate read simply: Baby Girl Morris. Thelma’s mother was a severely deformed teenager with no husband and no place to go, since her own abusive mother insisted that she take the baby and leave the house. So when the baby was born, her unwed teenage mother found work as a maid cleaning “the big house” while living with her baby daughter in servants’ quarters. Eventually, the baby went to live with her great-grandparents, who called her Thelma Louise Smith and loved her dearly. They took little Thelma to church, where she learned to love the hymns and praise songs.

Thelma “Mama T” Wells

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On those occasions when Thelma was taken to her grandparents’ home, her grandmother abused her, just as she had tormented Thelma’s mother. She was locked in a dark, smelly, insect-infested closet until just before her grandfather came home when her grandmother would bring her out of the closet, clean her up, and act as if all was well. In spite of her deep fear, little Thelma spent her time in the closet singing every hymn and praise song she could remember. She would sing herself to sleep in that closet, and the Lord received this little girl’s innocent praise and rewarded it with an abundant life of joy, protecting her from feelings of anger or bitterness.

Thelma grew up to become a trailblazer for black women, a prominent international speaker and author, and a wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. As a student at North Texas State University in Denton, Texas (now the University of North Texas), she was a member of the first group of girls to integrate the school’s dormitories. She earned her Bachelor’s degree there and eventually received a Master’s of Ministry from Master’s International School of Divinity in Evansville, Indiana. In 2002 she became the school’s first black female professor.

In 1980 Thelma became the first black woman in the South to organize her own international speaking and consulting corporation. Her natural talent for public speaking and storytelling attracted the attention of the Women of Faith Tour, and in 1996 she became the first black core speaker for the organization. She has authored several books, including her latest God Is Not Through With Me Yet, an inspiring examination of her own life experiences in which she encourages readers to “sing in the closets of their lives.” She serves as the president of The Daughters of Zion Leadership Mentoring Program, an organization she founded in 2000 (another first for a black woman). Through this ministry, “Mama T,” as she is affectionately called, has mentored over 100 spiritual daughters, received an honorary doctorate degree and was ordained into the Christian Ministry on December 16, 2008, from St. Thomas Christian College and Theological Seminary and the Association of Christian Churches in Jacksonville, Florida. She was also was named Extraordinary Woman of the Year 2008 by Mrs. Julie Clinton, Host of the Extraordinary Women Conferences an affiliate of the American Association of Christian Counselors.

Thelma has been married to George Wells, her best friend, supporter, and encourager, for over 45 years. The couple lives in Dallas, Texas, and has three children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

A Simple Note Really, it seems I’m ADD

I’m always fascinated by the tucks and turns of life. Mine especially. I’ve struggled with a lot of things lately and written them off as “Well, you do have a lot on your plate, of course it’s hard.” but secretly, in some deep down quiet place, I really do think it’s harder for me that it should be.

Does that speak to anyone? Or just me.

My mother tells me that I never met a stranger. I was very smart but always lived below expectations. An underachiever – who worked very very hard to stay afloat mind you. Grade school was a nightmare. Sometime in high school, I was able to pull myself up enough to get A’s and B’s. But it was hard work. And you can forget about college. I was lucky to get my associates degree in computers. I had a 2.89 gpa as I recall.

Pastor calls me his “social butterfly” and always points me in the direction of new comers in the church.

I love to teach.
I’m great at making people laugh.
I lose – everything I touch.
My house? I prefer not to discuss it. 😉

I’m not dealing with rocket science here. Just life. I’m a stay at home mom with two boys. My husband travels. I lose papers, car keys, glasses, I forget to pay bills, my finances are a jumbled mess most of the time – we have the money, I just forget to click “PAY”.

My youngest is ADHD, but I missed the signs for the hyperactivity. I’m not hyper, much, more impulsive than anything else.

An impulsive mess, actually.

When Dillon was first diagnosed with being ADHD, his ped offered to work with me as well. I wrote that off as a money hungry sales pitch and found a new doctor. His second ped said the same, as did his neurologist. ADHD is heriditary Mom, he got it from someone, are you sure it’s not you?

No. It isn’t me. Yes, I’m scattered, but that’s only because I was never taught how to take care of a home. There can’t be anything wrong with me a little hard work and better organizational skills won’t fix.

I asked my doctor about it, and we thought “maybe I’m just depressed. Maybe that’s why I’m so overwhelmed by the simplicity of my life.” and so we tried Prozac. All that did was make me fall in love with the color yellow and I painted my oldest son’s room a bright mustard color.

My career in telecom was a great success when I knew what my job was. Some positions were great, I had a worksheet of orders to follow and my day was totally scheduled and I did well. Other positions like finance? Well, not so well. Those were opened ended planning positions and numbers just weren’t my thing, so they put me back on the floor as a trainer. I did great at that. I taught new engineers about telephony. I walked them through a long distance phone call. Teaching them every piece of equipment calls traveled through and the cost per piece. I got scattered in my presentations some times, and was usually told, “You’ve obviously worked very hard at this Deana, let’s just focus it in a little bit.”

Then there were the part time office jobs. Those were fun most of the time. Until I took one that I was over qualified for. I was bored to tears, and picked up admin stuff for the Senior Pastor. Even then? I started losing things. Things like his outlines, or his re-imbursement requests for the new Vicar. And when the food pantry needs went from eight a week, to eight a day? I just couldn’t keep track or stay focused.

I finally really DID get depressed. In 12 months I lost ten friends (death), the only school my kids had ever known, was bad at my $8/hr cake job, Dillon’s seizures got worse and other life issues aroze.

My husbands always says “Deana hates surprises as much as she hates change.” Too many surprises and too much change. Everything overwhelmed me to the point of my becoming almost comotose. Sitting wrapped in a blanket on my back porch for hours at a time was all I could handle then. This time the meds did more than change my likes in color. This time they were necessary. I stayed on them and in therapy, for two and a half years.

I haven’t needed depression meds for over a year now. I’m no longer depressed. I’ve eliminated EVERYTHING from my calender except my house and my boys. And I’m still behind, I’m still overwhelmed and it’s still harder than I think it should be.

Last month we had Dillon re-evaluated for his ADHD, and this time the doctor gave us a survey to fill out for ourselves. Jeff answered yes to four, I answered yes to 17 out of 20. He strongly suggested I see my Dr. and just try ADD meds and see if they don’t help.

So today, I went to see Dr Laura. The women who has seen me through my ups and downs over the past five years. The women – who it turns out – is also ADD. It took some walking through conversations and explaining exactly which survey I’d filled out, and Dillon’s doctors requests over the years.

No it wasn’t some internet survey by Eli Lilly.
No, I’m not here to get drugs to lose weight.
No, I’m not depressed – just still unable to keep up with life.
Yes, I’ve emptied my day runner – I do nothing but be a mom.
No, my laundry is not caught up, my house is not clean, I have unfinished projects from two years back at least and I cannot balance a checkbook.
Is life supposed to be this hard?
Why can other women do all that? And more. I don’t get it.
I can’t even work outside the home anymore. It’s all too hard to juggle.

So, starting today, I am on Concerta 27 mg. I’m curious to see how it works. Or if it works.

My ADHD son thinks this is hilarious. My husband is, well, “Staying out of it.” 😉
My other son – the only sane person in the house some days is expectantly hopefull.