Sunday, August 22, 2010

Where I Stand

It occurred to me this AM that not everyone who knows me knows of the life transforming event that took place several years ago.  What made me begin to ruminate on this was a casual comment by an internet friend in response to my comment that "God is good" and "Prayer is powerful".  I realized that her comment was not meant to inflame, nor to critisize, but it did cause me to discern a need to explain my faith, at least a little.

This is my story, in part.  Go back with me to springtime, 1994.

It was the Saturday before Easter and Raymond's parents and siblings, their spouses and children were gathering at his parent's home in Conneaut Lake, PA. Due to having no dogsitter available for Jake and Blue, the plan was for me to drive Raymond up and return home for a quiet weekend alone with the dogs. Raymond would get a ride home on Sunday afternoon from his brother. For loads of reasons, I was thrilled by this plan. Looking forward to quiet time and planning to attend an Easter sunrise service in the local park, I throughly enjoyed the ride home, singing along with the radio and anticipating peace and quiet.

On my way down Mairdale, a street that runs along a local park, I stopped to watch a herd of deer browsing and felt thankful to have happened upon the sight in the city! Maybe I could get used to living on the North Side. 

I spent an uneventful evening reading and playing with the dogs, who had lots of energy after being in the car for over 3 hours for the drive up to and back from the lake. I ate what I felt like eating, watched TV, and was generally thrilled with my plans for peace and quiet. 

During this period in my life, I was also searching. I 'knew' there had to be more to life than working, paying bills and living in a place I hated, even though I wasn't sure what 'it' was. Part of my search was the need for something deeper, and I thought, something spiritual. Since I was a fallen away Catholic, I thought that perhaps, attending a sunrise service, out in nature, on Easter Sunday morning might be a place to begin.  So, I went to bed, full of anticipation, setting my alarm for 5:30AM.

When I arose the next morning, I was no longer filled with anticipation. Rather, I was deep in despair, for no apparent reason.  I do not remember coming downstairs to the living room, but I do remember that I had begun to cry.  Actually, I began to sob uncontrollably. Did I feed the dogs? Did I make coffee? I do not remember. I do remember, at one point, looking at the clock and realizing I had been crying for hours!  The thought formed in my head that this was how my life would be...tears, sobbing, emotional pain that I couldn't escape from.  There seemed, in my mind, to be but one solution. I should kill myself. No drama in making the decision, it just seemed like the next logical thing. Can't stop hurting, then simply end your life. It all seemed so matter of fact.

Then, I looked down at Jake and Blue who were laying at my feet. These were dogs I loved like they were my children. They went everywhere we went.  Plus, I was their caregiver. Not that Raymond didn't love them, too. He did. But, I was home with them since leaving my job at a nursing home. Raymond loved them, but he never remembered to fill the water bowl. I was the one who fed them and made sure Jake got his thyroid meds twice daily and they both got their heartworm preventative and gave Blue her Bendryl when her allergies kicked in in late September.  Raymond would never remember everything! My dogs would suffer if I wasn't there to care for them.  

OK, the answer came to me in a flash, a micro-second! "I'll kill the dogs, too." Again, no drama. Simple, Matter-of-fact. Like it was the next logical step. 

Even as the thought occurred to me, I heard a voice say, "YOU"LL DO WHAT????!!!!!"

Those simple words were enough to snap me back to the moment and make me realize how deep into the depths of despair I had fallen. How could I even think such a thought? 

I have no memory of exactly what I did next, but in the morning, I called my PCP and made an appointment for that afternoon.

As I sat on the exam table, telling my story, sobbing, yet again, the pain of actually thinking how  close I had come to ending not just my own life, but that of innocent creatures who loved me and depended on me was overwhelming.  My doctor, a kind, gentle man looked me in the eye and said, " I want to put you on Prozac."  There must've been a look of horror on my face, because he quickly added, "Please, let's try it for a month. If it doesn't help by a month's time, we'll try something else."  My look of horror must not have been subsiding, because his next question to me was, " Would it make you feel any better if I told you I've taken it and it helped me?"

I started the medication that day.

About three weeks later, Raymond commented on how I seem to have "changed".  I remember that my reply to him was, "This must be how normal people feel all the time." He asked me what I meant by that. The only way I could explain it was by comparing then and now, before Prozac and after. Before, I felt like I was at the bottom of a well. I knew there was light somewhere in the distance above me, but it was so far away, I couldn't even really see it. And the wells sides were so slick, that I couldn't climb out. I was stuck at the bottom, unable to climb, even if I tried.  But, now, three weeks later, I was in the light! The medication had somehow managed to lift me from the depths of that slick sided well where I had periodically found myself trapped. 

In thinking about that day of dark despair, I am convinced that there really was a voice that day. I think there was a spiritual battle going on in my living room. I think the voice I heard was that of my creator.  I had become so entwined in my emotional pain that the enemy used that to his advantage. My Lord and Savior knew me so well, that he knew exactly how to shock me back to reality, simply by saying, "YOU'LL DO WHAT?????!!!!!!"

I wish I could tell you that's when I came to faith in Christ. But it wasn't. For several more years, I searched. But I know that the voice was the beginning. And I am forever grateful for a God who loves us each where we are, but, as Max Lucado says, "Loves us too much to let us stay there."

So, my dear internet friend, yes, I know that drugs are good, but believe me when I tell you, so is God! 


  1. I love reading about your life JeanMarie- and you write so beautifully, too!

    Depression can hit anyone at any time, and recognizing when to get help before it's too late is indeed not level that everyone reaches. I'm glad you tried the meds and even more glad that you "heard the voice" that pushed you to that path.

    We all have our stories, our beliefs and ways of interpreting things that happen to us. I say to each their own, what matters is being alive and grateful for each and every moment and also the people in our lives!

    love you! xoxo

  2. TD, You are so good for me! *G* Thank you for your support, as well as your kindness.
    love you, too!