Monday, October 10, 2016

World Mental Health Day 2016, or Why My Depression Is Not an Indicator of My Faith

Today is World Mental Health Day, and I am speaking up about my depression. I come from a subculture where depression and anxiety are considered spiritual problems, and the cure is more faith, or more Bible study, or more prayer. There is a stigma associated with mental health issues, and while my speaking up probably won't erase the stigma, I hope that being open about both my faith and my mental illness will help future generations.
My depression is a chemical imbalance in my brain. How do I know? Usually it takes some time for an antidepressant to work, but within one hour of taking the first dose, I was no longer depressed. Now, if I miss a dose or take one late, I'm a mess - sobbing and ready to die. That kind of sensitivity to the medication indicates a physiological problem, not a spiritual or emotional one.
For someone with depression like that, faith is no disincentive to suicide. I know where I'm going when I die. I have stood at the edge of that abyss, knowing that my choices are to end it and go straight to heaven, to be with my Lord forever, or turn away and face an unknown length of time on this earth suffering and full of pain.
I haven't leaped into the abyss because I've seen what suicide does to the survivors. I saw what it did to a former colleague when his pre-teen son ended his life. I saw what it did to my family when my uncle shot himself. I can't do that to the people I love.
My point is, my faith is strong. I have been immersed in the Bible since before I was born. I've studied and read it for over 40 years. Faith is part of my soul's construction and Jesus Christ is my constant companion. Yet I also have depression and anxiety.
Please don't tell a person with depression or anxiety that they don't have enough faith, or that they need to change their attitude, or worst of all, that they're sinning. The two are unrelated. Instead, ask how you can help. Ask specifically what the person wants you to pray for. Offer them unconditional, unwavering love.
Depression is more common than you think. Be kind, be supportive, and be loving.
OK, I'll climb off my soapbox now.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

St. Francis of Assissi

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
It is pardoning that we are pardoned
And it is dying that we are born to eternal life.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day

Two hundred forty years ago today, a group of men signed their names to a simple document. The Declaration of Independence was a response to tyranny, but the purpose of this post is not to review all the historical reasons for the Declaration or the war that followed.

No, today I am thinking about the tyranny we currently face: The tyranny of fear. No matter where you stand on the religious or political spectra, you face demagogues screaming about who or what you are supposed to fear. Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ people, those nonexistent transgender women sneaking into our public bathrooms to assault our girl children. Homeschoolers. Public schools. Christians. Pagans. Gun owners, gun control supporters. Pro-choice. Pro-life. Cops. Gang members. Immigrants. Refugees. The homeless. The insane. The religious right, the religious left. Right wing fanatics, left wing nut jobs ... You name it. Whoever you are, someone is telling you who to fear.

And where has it gotten us? The United States of America is no longer so united. We are fractured, splintered into factions in every direction. No one discusses important topics rationally - there is only screaming, incoherence, and name-calling. We are pitted against each other instead of those who actually do possess ill will toward us. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. We are bombarded with hate in our media, to the point where it's almost as if nothing good exists anymore.

Brothers, sisters, those who identify as both or neither, I invite you today to join me in declaring your independence from fear. No longer will I listen to the irrational messages of fear and hate. All the groups I named above? They're all just people. Most of them are trying to live as best they can. Why hate them? Isn't love a better answer?

Non-Christians, you may look away for a moment. I got something to say to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Shame on you. Shame on you for buying into the rhetoric, for forgetting that our Lord says "Love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you." The Bible says "do not be afraid" 70 times. SEVENTY.  Check out the verses. What gives you the right to be afraid? Is not God your refuge, a stronghold in the day of trouble? If not, you need to spend some time in the Scripture to remind yourself who you claim to serve.

OK. Is everybody paying attention again? Good. Now, I am not talking about the healthy fear that keeps you out of dangerous situations. I'm talking about the fear that underlies your interactions with people you don't agree with, or don't understand, or plain just don't like for whatever reason. I'm talking about the fear that makes you dangerous.

Here;s my promise to you: I will not live in fear. I will not give in to the hateful rhetoric being vomited by those who would be our leaders, in whatever arena. I invite you to join me in a new American Revolution - against fear, anger, and hate.

Remember that the United States of America was founded to be a haven for anyone who was oppressed. We are supposed to be a nation of hope and love and acceptance. Imagine what we could accomplish if enough of us chose to live that ideal in our personal lives. THAT is what will make America great again.

Happy Independence Day, y'all.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Kitchen Yumminess

You, too, can serve delicious homemade chicken quesadillas! Here's how I did it:

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
Italian salad dressing
Tortillas - flour or Udi's gluten-free
Shredded Mexican cheese blend
Lettuce, tomatoes, onion, avocado, salsa

Slice chicken breasts thinly and place in a shallow dish that has a lid. Cover with Italian dressing, put the lid on the dish and shake to ensure that all the pieces are exposed to the liquid. Marinate overnight.

Remove the chicken slices and cook in a skillet until brown. I washed the skillet and used it to cook the quesadillas. Butter a tortilla and place it butter-side down in the skillet. Place cheese all the way to the edge of the tortilla. Place cooked chicken slices on top of cheese and heat over medium-low heat. Put more cheese on the chicken, and then place another buttered tortilla on top, butter-side up. When the cheese on the bottom is melted, carefully flip over and brown the other side.

Serve with chopped lettuce, tomato, onion, and avocado. Top with your favorite salsa.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cogitating on a Conundrum

Sometimes I wonder if part of the reason I'm still single is a giant disconnect in my brain.

Because I genuinely am not acquainted with any straight single men who are potential mates, I have occasionally tried the online dating thing. It usually (and is in the process now) ends with a sigh of disgust because the only men who try to contact me are not appealing, and the appealing men ignore me.

Now, I do understand why this happens. Men see the fat middle-aged woman I am now:

I get that. It's fair. This is the body I inhabit now. I also understand that men are visual. They're just wired that way. 

But in my head ... oh, in my head I'm still the pretty girl. The one that guys in shops would race to serve. The one who didn't mind photographs. The one who, on a memorable occasion, a guy nearly wrecked his car because he was staring at her. (I'm not making this up. I have witnesses.)

And THAT girl isn't ready to settle for the men who are willing to settle for the fat woman.  That girl still thinks she can land a man who gets her motor revving.  A man with ambition and drive. A man who loves to laugh but knows how to be serious. A man who is young at heart, and, yes, is physically appealing. 

It's hard to accept reality when in my head I'm still the girl who stops traffic: