Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


A Complainer? Chronic Illness, Depression, and Faith

posted by Beyond Blue

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I absolutely loved what reader Elissa wrote on being what she calls a “complicated soul”: the perks and the permissions we, persons with chronic illnesses, get for routinely dealing with our massive piles of animal waste. I’ve combined what she wrote in her comment to my “Complaint-Free? Not!” post and a personal e-mail to me to share some of her wisdom with you:

I’ve always tended to be a “complainer”, about myself and others. It’s always the same complaint and whining: I’ve been an insomniac my entire life since I was a child. I’m not talking about a few nights, weeks or months of this debilitating malady. But every night, every year, for nearly 50 years.

I defy anybody who has had chronic insomnia to not complain. I have family and friends who are so irritable, grouchy and uncommunicative if they’ve just missed one miserable night of sleep!

All my life I’ve had to put on a happy face when I’ve been so tired. Now that I’m older, it’s even more debilitating than ever. I honestly don’t know how I lived to be 66. A doctor once told me, after I went three straight weeks without a wink of sleep, that I should be in a psychotic state.

I realize that, for whatever reason I have this nightmare, it’s most definitely a cross from God and one day He’ll tell me why.

It’s absolutely necessary to bare our souls, to tell the truth and not lie about our conditions, it’s called humility.

Without spirituality and prayers, few of us could ever get through this vale of tears. It’s one thing for people to say they’re optimists, but I believe that God loves and endears us complicated souls who, through suffering, become so much closer to him than the cockeyed optimists!

They certainly have their place, and, I for one, have always wished that I could be such a person. I admire those with even temperaments, but have found, through the years, that they don’t necessarily have the spirituality and connection to God and Jesus as do we who are considered pessimists.

Also, although I have been called “negative” by so many members of my family, I am not. I am “contrary.” There is a huge difference between the two. I don’t blindly accept the world as they do but struggle with the inequality of life and the true evil that surrounds us.

As St. Augustine said, “The world is too much with us,” and, yes, “Life is difficult.” That is the true reality.

The only thing that ever kept me going–I’m talking about working and playing like this–all these years is that somehow, someway, I never lost my sense of humor no matter how exhausted I was, and I’ve never passed by a person whom I thought needed help or someone to talk with.

I guess I finally realized that this was always going to be a part of my suffering and that I had to rise above it. I have helped many people in this state of exhaustion and I realize that I am a strong, compassionate woman who cares for others deeply. Perhaps I took on more worries because of who I am.

So, I say complain if it’s a legitimate complaint. I would not be living today if I had to keep this horror to myself. However, always find the funny things in life to balance out the suffering. It’s what keeps one sane.

I tell God and Jesus everyday that I’m sick of it all and ask them to help me. So far no resolutions, but it doesn’t stop me from praying everyday, not just for me, hardly, but for all those who suffer with so many ills and maladies. And they are legions!

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  • Wisdum

    Re -I tell God and Jesus everyday that I’m sick of it all and ask them to help me. So far no resolutions, but it doesn’t stop me from praying everyday, not just for me, hardly, but for all those who suffer with so many ills and maladies. And they are legions!
    ** I’ve found out that if I don’t listen very quitely and closely, I will not hear the “resolution”. God speaks to everybody, all the Time (especially all night), only most people choose to ignore it, or dismiss it. God does not speak in this gargantuan voice, but in a whisper, so as not to frighten you. (God needs your undivided attention. Speaks to me a lot of the time, while I’m on the porcelain throne…if you catch my drift ! Something about catching you with your pants down and a clear mind !)… (the only competition God has there is Reader’s Digest !)
    LUV 2 ALL
    Wisdum

  • Lynn

    My thinking and this is just me , but don’t we kind of get in our own way most of the time? All this action and thinking and solving of problems and trying to ( control) everything seems , to me , counterproductive. Perhaps being still, not thinking or solving or doing, is the answer. slowing down, getting quiet, even just feeling the bad stuff, not changing it. Like everything else in this life it passes away and leaves something else in its place. Complaining about anything defines it , but in the stillness it passes away. Let’s define it and then be still, listen , perhaps, most likely, it will pass. ???????????????? :) Acceptance??????????????

  • Larry Parker

    Elissa:
    Beautiful post.
    Complaining has never been a problem for me, being from New Jersey ;-P Seriously, I agree that standing up for yourself and your needs, as long as you’re not stomping on someone else in the process, is hardly a sin.
    And I SO, SO agree on the “contrary” nature of those with depression — we’re not evil or wrong, we just are on a different wavelength. And if being different was all depression entailed, I would weep with joy and thank G-d routinely for being “different” in such a messed-up world.
    But of course, it’s not just being “different.” It’s suicidal thoughts and hospitalizations and medication allergies/reactions and lashing out at the people who love us and losing jobs and all of the other pain and agony that entails. And all that, despite our recent discussions here on BB, I have a much harder time being grateful for. (To say nothing of the stigma everyone else in the world, from one’s family to the media, piles on someone with depression …)
    It is not only difficult for me to pray for recovery knowing it will surely go unanswered (I know unanswered prayers can be for the best, I don’t claim to know everything as G-d does). It is especially difficult knowing I likely will not receive even a hint from the Universe WHY such prayers go unanswered.

  • Elissa

    Larry:
    Thank you for your “positive” post, I am most grateful and what you wrote rings so true to me. I realize you have gone through an incredible amount of “angst and suffering”, and that you are still “fighting” your battles and are so tired of doing so.
    Larry, if God doesn’t answer your prayers or mine the way we wish him to, then there is an “Almighty” reason which, of course, we are unable to know or understand. However, I truly believe that He does hear our prayers, that “no prayer” goes unanswered.
    If our lot in life is to suffer and no one escapes from this life without a great amount of suffering, some more than others, then that’s where “faith and spirituality” enters the picture.
    I have a sister who has been praying for me, only recently, to be relieved of my chronic insomnia. She called and told me she is “so frustrated” as she’s been praying so earnestly for a “cure” and just cannot understand why her prayers are not being answered. Well, you’d have to know my sister, she’s impatient, high-strung, and, I’m ashamed to say, lacks tact, especially in dealing with me and my sensitivity.
    I laughed when she expressed this to me and told her that God doesn’t work on the same time table as she does, that the idea of prayer is to be “patient and hopeful”, and she calls me “negative?”
    Oh, Larry, you are a “good soul”, honest with yourself with wonderful insights and the ability to express them so well. Please do not give up, continue to be “different” and a “warrior against those who give us labels.” God loves you, oh, so much, and he hasn’t forgotten you, it is a “cross” that you bear, as I and so many do and there is a “reason.”

  • Wisdum

    Just a tip on praying, if you ask God for something, and don’t seriously expect to get it, or at least get a response, that is “Do not take the name of the Lord, thy God in vain”
    If you truly believe that there is a God, you have every right to expect an answer. Of course if you don’t listen or discount the answer, that’s a whole different matter. God’s response is not alWays to our likeing.
    “Fear of God” is nonsense! Tell me one person that you fear, that you Love (I’ll settle for just one!) If we have a God of Uncompromising,Unconditional Love, then it would be stupid not to confront that God (or is that pro-front ?) If we don’t… this is just so much marlarky !
    To pray, means -to plead for, to beg for. If you don’t believe that you are wasting your (and God’s) time … Glory and Praise, is a whole different ball park.
    “Be careful, what you ask or pray for…You just might get it !”
    LUV 2 ALL
    Wisdum

  • Larry Parker

    Elissa:
    After your kind response, it struck me that perhaps I’ve answered at least one of my many dilemmas about faith and depression in the very post you responded to.
    Depression does give one certain insight (particularly having been, yes, gifted with an ability to express myself) in a broken world. But this is an imperfect world — gifts are never unalloyed, all good and no bad.
    I honestly try not to feel sorry for myself. It’s just very difficult right now because I’m going through some extraordinarily tough financial times, and I truly don’t know how I’m going to get out of it.
    Random suffering — in general, not just for myself — is incredibly confusing to my sense of faith. I don’t have the perspective that someone with an Eastern view might have, that it is karma from a previous life — or an Old Testament view that G-d is a harsh, unforgiving judge of all He surveys. (The G-d of the Book of Job, IMHO, is a monster.) I can comprehend suffering for one’s sins. I can’t understand suffering for one’s genes.
    Which is why (and a PS to Wisdum) the scripture I’ve been praying the most right now is the short but soul-baring Mark 9:24.

  • Lisa

    I think we’re forgetting the biochemical aspects of our disorders. I’m bipolar, and at this moment my body will not quiet down. I am not hypomanic; I am simply, for the moment, off kilter. God is with me, but the advice is coming in kind of fuzzy right now. All I can do is wait, and be ever so thankful that I have nowhere to rush to come 8am.
    We do have a certain perspective our even-keeled counterparts do not have. This is something to celebrate in the midst of pain or overstimulation. I am trying very hard to be thankful for my disorder. Without it, I would’ve toiled away at a dysfunctional job that was eating away at me for goodness knows how many years. Our biochemistry tells us when we’re on the wrong path; our job is to listen and to act.
    My best to you all.

  • kevindrew

    Hi. I am new to this but someone helped me through a very dificult time in my life (without intending or knowing it) and I would very much like to meet him. This is my story. Years ago I was in a very bad state and I thought that I had no way out and like so many others before me contemplated suicide. Just by chance I had taped a programme on t.v which to my surprise had recorded the wrong channel. Instead of tapeing a particular programme I had taped 60 minutes. I was in a very strange state of mind a couple of bottle of pills in one hand and the remote in the other. For some reason I decided to watch the programme I had record by accident. There was a story on ‘Matt Page’ here is a summary of what he did. Mat was suffering from severe depression and ended up abducting two german tourists in the Northern Territory after a long and lenghty episode which involved abandoning his thoughts of hurting the German tourists and then releasing some social welfare workers he had also abducted he turned himself in. It saved him and me. I would very much like to meet him as we ended up penpals as we wrote to each other whilst he was in prison. I lost contact with him and moved on with my life. Reflecting now many years later I feel I need to thank him in person. If anybody knows how to get in contact with Matt please let me know. Let him know that his mate Kev would very much like to have a beer with him.
    Kev Drew

  • Larry Parker

    Lisa:
    Being on a hypomanic jag myself as I write this, I don’t think any of us in touch with this disease EVER forget the biochemical aspects.
    We just may choose to discuss the other aspects (and there are other aspects …) at different times.

  • Margaret Balyeat

    There’s a REASON that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture! So, Elissa, let me congratulate you on enduring fifty years of torture without caving! And, yes,Larry, I can buy into the belief that our common affliction “gifts” us with an extra dose of empathy; there has to be SOME silver lining to the cloud that hangs over our heads most of the days of our lives! I’m afraid I haven’t yet reached the place where I can actually give THANKS for the membership card ro this club, however; living on Lake michigan, i’d much prefer the yacht club given my druthers :-) I WOULDN’t, however, want to have to live without the compassion I have for other, so if depression is the price tag, I guess that’s just the way it is. EVERYthing( including “conditions”) has its price tag; sometimes they very clearly marked though. No retail store could get away with the blurred pricing we have to struggle to locate; there are laws. I also prefer to worship a God of love rather than one of judgment even though I think they’re probably two sides of the same coin. As a parent, I have loved beyond what I ever thought was my capacity, but I’ve also had to judge and assign consequences. Could it be any different for the “Supreme Parent” The loving is much more enjoyable for BOTH the lover and the one being loved, bt I shudder to think of the state my son would now be living in if I hadn’t been judgmental enouh to attempt to instill some understanding of choices and consequences into his character. (Sociopaths, anyone?)
    Another GREAT post, Therese & Elissa. But, T, don’t you EVER get tred of living inside the turbulent environs of my psyche? You always seem to be speaking directly to ME, so I’m CERTAIN that you’ve taken up residence there (Your rent is overdue, by the way,:-)
    Larry’s comments on answers to prayer was also right on the money; sometimes we’re so busy looking for the answer that we want that His “real” answer slips right past us in the passing lane! We need to take some time to sit beside the “still waters” of the 23rd Psalm with our “listening caps” on! It’s interesting to know that still waters are essential for sheep because roiling waters get their coats wet, drags them under and drowns them! they won’t drink from moving water (smart creatures) for exactly that reason.

  • Wisdum

    Re – Larry Parker | October 18, 2007 11:51 PM
    Which is why (and a PS to Wisdum) the scripture I’ve been praying the most right now is the short but soul-baring Mark 9:24.
    ** I not sure about the rest of you, but I wrestle a lot of the night with A. Frenda Meine (who I like to think/hope is the Holy spirit, and a big time sports fan, especialy wrestling and kick boxing…if you catch my drift !)… (I call Him that because I don’t want to get locked up in the looney bin…again!) I don’t have too many problems anymore, in fact I don’t have any, in spite of the fact that the whole world is going through the biblical Armageddon/Har Meggiddo, which should erupt into WWIII any day now ! ! “How is that ?”, you say… I cheated, I gave up, I surrendered, I’m dead, it’s over and done. (well maybe not done !) I didn’t give up to this world, only myself, which pissed everybody off, especially my wife. I literally said to my Father/God “That’s it, I had enough of this crap, I surrender to You, lock stock and barrel” (A lot of people do that when they reach the bottom of the barrel, but I don’t like standing on long lines, ever since the Army, so I gave up early, you get right up front that Way) I love telling everybody “I don’t care, I’m dead”, and they all come back with “You can’t do that! That’s a cop-out!” and I respond “Too bad, I did ! What are you gonna do about it !”
    I don’t recommend that to anybody, because now you have no Life, only what God dictates for you to do (I can take my Life back at any time, but then I got nobody to blame all this crap in my Life on…except myself!) If God doesn’t give me any thing to do I can just lie back put my feet up on the sofa or table and listen to music, or good movies. (so far that hasn’t happened, but there are days, that I can smell the roses, watch the clouds go by, dangle my feet in a cool stream, or romp in the ocean, walk up the mountains, splash in a mud puddle, and all kind of goofy stuff like that, but there are other days that are a challenge, but I can’t lose…I work for my Father, and He can’t fire me !, hah !)
    There are certain advantages to being dead (maybe I should clarify that with “Grateful Dead”) I have nothing to gain, nothing to lose, nothing to prove to anybody, not even myself, not even to God (except the ability to obey, and that’s a very hard thing to prove ! … yeah right !)
    There was a man named Norman Vincent Peale, who wrote “The Power of Positive Thinking” …You think somebody should write “The Power of Negative Thinking” … uhhhhh, like it could contain stuff like
    1- Look around what do you see ?
    2- Look in the mirror, what do you see ?
    3- Look at the world, what do you see ?
    4- Look at your relationships, what do you see ?
    5- Look at your Faith, what do you see ?
    6- Look at you Love Life, what do you see ?
    (How many chapters does there have to be … before we see?)
    “Let those with eyes . . .see !” … “Let those with ears … hear” (Yeshuah)
    Let me leave you with this, the most famous guy who surrendered to His Father, was abused, tortured, and crucified . . . and says to you “Pick up your cross, and follow Me” … That may not be your cup of tea (if you catch my drift !), on the other hand it will show that “One man or woman, can change the world “ … How many of you would really like to change the world ? The ball’s in your court ! (right, He’s a tennis fan too !)
    Life is 90% Bullshit, and 10% Love. The 10% Love makes the 90% BS bearable. Even at 9%, Life becomes unbearable. Don’t let anybody cheat you out of your 10%. Strive for more than 10% (here’s the trick “It is in the giving that you receive” …and your Father is desperately trying to hold on to His and your 10% …together you got 20%, that’s a cake-walk!)
    LUV 2 U /LUV 2 ALL
    Wisdum

  • Wisdum

    Re – Margaret Balyeat | October 19, 2007 6:05 AM
    Brilliant post ! . . and sure Rock hard enLightenment
    It seems we are ALL here to bear witness the the Truth, the Light and the Way !
    Thanks Margaret
    LUV 2 U /LUV 2 ALL
    Wisdum

  • Nancy

    Elissa – this is a wonderful post. Larry – you are so correct in addressing the the fact that while we suffer mentally and physically wihin our illnesses, we do speak (or actually read and write) about other aspects life and coping along with the illnesses. I value what is shared here; Therese’s posts and videos (love those videos) and what each person comments on and is living with, day by day.
    As for me, I don’t forget the biochemical part. It never lets me forget. At times, it barely lets me function. Now, doesn’t that sound like someone talking in “victim mode”; however, the beauty is here – you “get” it. It’s doing push-ups at night, strengtening itself to pounce on my brain the minute I open my eyes.
    I suffered with insomnia for 10 + years. I slept an hour, here and there. It’s not fun. These days my clinical depression is coupled with the illness of FM/CFS/ME. It affects the entire central and autonomic nervous system. So another “cross” to pick up and drag along with me each day. That’s if it allows me to get out of the bed.
    Some things are just downright brutal, and yes, Elissa, I dare anyone to walk in your shoes and not complain. With my illnesses, I get – “Well you look okay” UGH. Live my life – 24/7 and we’ll see what you say after just one week is what I want to respond with.
    I’ve had people tell me, “Well I get tired, too”. Another UGH. How to explain 15 different characterics that incorporate this illness is a little different.
    If I didn’t talk about it and oh, how I know about putting on a happy face, (probably most of us do here), I’d be self- destructing. Another component that you mentioned of prayer is vital for me. Thank you Margaret for pointing out that the sheep only drink from still waters. I have been reading Psalm 23 often these days, and I never thought about the “why” of “still waters”.
    There are those days where I hope for the relief and reprieve of the “suffering” and have Isa. 40:31 on my bulletin board above my desk. In the meantime. I am grateful that God brought me to this Beyond Blue Blog one messy day. It’s a gift along with journey. Therese’s contribution and hard work is priceless, and I value it as much if not more than most gifts.
    Thank you to all each day for your input and honesty. We’re all coming together from different places and experiences, while helping and holding each other up and along. The encouragement I see here is so helpful. Being mostly housebound these days, it’s a vital part of my connection to an arena of sharing that has been otherwise greatly diminished in my life.
    Having said all of this, yes to the “sense of humor”. Friends and some customers tell me how funny I am. My mother has said that I could do stand-up. Funny – most days I can’t even stand up. This humor is actually a compilation of many dark days and the ironies of life itself.
    “It’s absolutely necessary to bare our souls, to tell the truth and not lie about our conditions, it’s called humility.” – Elissa, this may be my favorite line of all in your writing. It is essential.

  • Babs

    Those of us who suffer from depression in its many forms have much in common with those who live with chronic physical pain. Chronic pain sufferers are often seen as complainers by those around them. Depending upon the severity of their condition, they can end up unable to hold a job or enjoy normal activities. The persistance of the stimulus of pain makes it difficult to focus on anything else. Everyone seems to have suggestions on how to deal with it.
    Having gone through a several year period of chronic pain myself (thankfully, no longer), the free “gift” that accompanied it, was increased understanding toward those who live with it every day. I used to be critical of older people who were, it seemed to me, needlessly crabby and irritable.
    I learned how chronic pain easily reshapes one’s personality, and how helpless you can feel when nothing seems to improve the situation. I also learned how misplaced my judgement was. Only by experiencing it myself, could I begin to understand.
    I applaud anyone who can maintain a sense of humor when dealing with a chronic disability. Humor is possibly the best medicine God has given us to deal with the inexplicable.

  • Samantha Rhodes

    I have been suffering for a long time with depression and anxiety. I am 26 and have two kids. My daughter is nine and has been diagnosed with emotional disability and mood disorder. I don’t even know what do for myself much less my daughter. We just hang on day to day taking the medication that our doctor says we should take. That is a crazy process b/c you can have so many side effects from medication. Some days I feel like how does god expect us to take so much and keep going. I have anxiety attacks to the point I have to stop everything and take one of my emergencey meds to make me calm down. I feel crazy. All in all I feel crazy most of the time b/c even with meds you never know how your going to feel. Some days it takes all the energy I have just to make it throught the eight hours at work. My poor daughter has no idea what is ahead of her. It takes so long to really figure out what you are dealing with. My doctors think I’m bipolar and add. Who knows???????????????????

  • Larry Parker

    In this combox, I’ve just found a perfect example of Therese’s mission in BB to link the spiritual to the psychological for the sake of improving our mutual mental health.
    Here I am, an ex-altar boy and guy who went to a Jesuit university and took Bib lit classes, and until this discussion tonight I never made the connection between the “still waters” of Psalm 23 and “still waters run deep” — perhaps the ultimate description of those who are shy/introverted in general and those with depression in particular.
    Just as I always say my inner child has progeria, likewise, my still waters are in Lake Baikal in Siberia. (The world’s deepest lake, of course …)

  • Marquos

    Thank you, a beautiful post. I latched onto the part about truth, telling it like it is. Truth is so important for us. To be real, no illusions, hopefully no delusions. We need this to tap our inner strength, given by the Holy Spirit. Any form of denial is dangerous as it feeds suppresssed anger and resentment which feeds depression. We need to be honest with each other, to be willing to be open, vulnerable to each other in order to connect and connection is what we desperately need. If we cannot be real and vulnerable to each other, I see no reason for life, for us being the creatures we are, broken and needy. Love thrives in vulnerability, in being open and real, however difficult it may be. If you cannot lay bare your heart you may not be hurt by anyone but neither shall you be helped, loved.
    Marquos

  • cathy

    I was very touched by your words, Elissa, and I’m grateful to Therese for sharing them with us.
    I can very well imagine the weight of the cross you carry with your insomnia. Two-and-a-half years after my daughter was born, I still suffer from lack of sleep, and it has seriously changed my life. Things have improved, and I am “better,” but it’s still a tightrope upon which my psyche dances.
    I also appreciate the extra-sensitivity you’ve grown on your journey. Yes, that is a gift, but it’s poorly appreciated by “civilians,” me thinks, and it can make our lives pretty difficult sometimes. “The world is too much with us,” indeed. Thank you, St Augustine, Elissa, and Therese and the wonderful conversation here in the comments. I feel uplifted after listening to you all.

  • Larry Parker

    One of the enormous frustrations of this disease is that even its “gifts” are considered curses by many segments of society (who aren’t afraid to say it).
    I mean, empathy, sensitivity, support — who wants THAT in today’s cruel world?
    (Larry rolls his eyes at the uncomfortable truth of this sarcastic statement …)

  • Sarah

    Has anyone ever suggested the practices of yoga and meditation to you ?
    I would try it if I were you. It has helped me and many others I know in dealing with a variety of physical, emotional, and spiritual ills.
    Good Luck !

  • Lynne

    Larry, sometimes the answer to our prayers is “NO”. We can’t see into the future and he can. I have to be content with trusting God to make the right decisions for the really important questions. The rest of it I had better be able to handle on my own. Otherwise I’d be throwing down a heck of a lot of fleeces, you know? I do however whole-heartedly agree with you that one of the “perks?” of depression is a profound empathy for the rest of the human race. Something good should come out of something terrible, otherwise it’s hard to make sense of it all.

  • Larry Parker

    Lynne:
    Well, then the issue is trusting G-d, then, isn’t it?
    It’s not a matter of thinking I have all the answers — I’m not sure I have any of the answers. It’s a matter of thinking that G-d is neutral or even antagonistic rather than loving.
    Yes, of course sometimes the answer to our prayers is no. In my case, though, the “sometimes” seems to get removed.
    (Sigh.)

  • Margaret

    Larry –
    Your use of G-d reminds me of the famous quote “me thinks you must protest too much”.
    meg

  • Larry Parker

    No, it’s just in deference to our Orthodox Jewish readers — nothing more, nothing less.

  • Wisdum

    Some of these topics can go on forever, just like an all night AA meeting. Reminds of the motto “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” A lot of pain in this Life can by controlled by mental discipline (Sarah did mention yoga and meditation) I remember one of my favorite programs, Kung Fu, where David Caradine and another were locked in a metal solitary confinement box, in the desert and heat of the day (temperatures over 200 degrees or more) When the box was opened they both were just sitting there meditating. The “Grassshoppa” told the other person, to focus on making yourself smaller and smaller and the pain larger, until you are within the pain and the pain not within you. Sounds crazy, but I do know the power of positive thinking works, and those people dance over hot coals and lay on beds of nails.
    As far as God is concerned, He is in Absolute Control…of Himself ! You can’t be giving freewill to everybody and then keep interfering ! What kind of BS freedom would that be! As Einstein said “I don’t know if there is a God, but if it were me, I wouldn’t have done it quite this Way” Freewill may be a blessing, but for sure it can also be One Royal pain in the ass !
    LUV 2 ALL
    Wisdum

  • Nancy

    Actually it does not remind me of an AA meeting at all. There is no cross talk (at AA meetings – at least the ones I have attended for 15 years), people generally “share” once on the topic or off the topic if they have a “burning desire” where they feel that their sobriety is in jeopardy. I have never been to an AA meeting throughout the country and also in the seas (on a cruise) and overseas in England, where this type of venue would take place. Even at the International AA Conference held in San Diego back in the 90’s that I attended followed guidelines and traditions.
    Good or bad – we don’t have poor Therese in person to “lead the meeting” or to not cross talk and save it for after the meeting. This is more of what could occur after a meeting outside of the “rooms”. At times it’s very productive; other times – yikes!

  • Wisdum

    Re – Nancy | October 24, 2007 12:09 PM
    Actually it does not remind me of an AA meeting at all. There is no cross talk (at AA meetings – at least the ones I have attended for 15 years), people generally “share” once on the topic or off the topic if they have a “burning desire” where they feel that their sobriety is in jeopardy.
    ** I think you are somewhat right here. There is somebody in control of those meetings. Bear in mind that there is not only AA/sobriety meetings, there is also the opside called Alanon, and all kinds of 12 steppers dealing with all kinds of paranoia, like co-dependancy, drugs, sex (I would like to go to some of them, even at 66, but I guess I’m just a dirty old man, like my wife says !) I’m a recovering work-a-holic, and would still be at it, except God stopped me dead in my tracks (well, almost dead !) Now I just have fun with ALL of you everyday !
    I have never been to an AA meeting throughout the country and also in the seas (on a cruise) and overseas in England, where this type of venue would take place.
    ** I don’t know if you’ve noticed, that there is somebody in control here … it’s Therese … and she’s in control of herself, just like God is over us … to let it slide ! It is the same over at Conversations With God Blog. And of course there is the ever watchful, Rules of Conduct enforcers.
    Good or bad – we don’t have poor Therese in person to “lead the meeting” or to not cross talk and save it for after the meeting.
    ** Kinda like God/Father/Mom sitting there knitting or whittling, saying every now and then “Be good children. Dont fight !” (or you will have to go stand in the corner and Time out !)
    This is more of what could occur after a meeting outside of the “rooms”. At times it’s very productive; other times – yikes!
    ** The “yikes!” is the best part ! (although, we do walk aWay bruised a lot !)
    LUV 2 U /LUV 2 ALL
    Wisdum

  • Julie

    There is a God and when I can finally surrender my stress, anxiety and depression to him I will finally be better. I see a therapist, a psychiatrist and am on meds and nothing is helping. I need everyday prayer, faith and sustance that I know there is a God who loves me, He created Creation and we are Creation. John 3:16

  • Larry Parker

    Faith is wonderful. But doubt is endemic to depression.
    I feel my disease is like the thorn in Paul’s side in Second Corinthians — only I lack his confidence that such evil is being used by G-d for good.

  • Honora

    My goodness – where to start? There are people who truly have chronic debilitating diseases, then there are borderlines who like being the center of attention. Therese must be very young to be impressed with/taken in by that reader’s comment. It is physically impossible to go 3 weeks w/out sleeping at all. Period. She’s napping whether she calls it that or not. I used to have insomnia since childhood too – but I would eventually pass out. Then I had children of my own, and never haad insomnia again. I was too exhausted! And as far as God’s “control” over our lives – we are like the blind men describing the elephant, each describing only what part is near to them & they can feel. There is a higher power I believe, but I think our human minds are too tiny to wrap themselves around the concept in full. I’ll leave you with 2 bits of wisdom from my grandfather, an acerbic New Yorker English Protestant who married into a family of Irish Catholics. Standing at the back of the auditorium at one of his children’s performances, the nun who had rehearsed them bent her head towards his ear and said “Pray, Mr. Twyford.” He replied “If you did your job we won’t have to pray.” He also was fond of saying “God helps those who helps themselves,” a saying that seems to have been forgotten in these times of offering up to God’s will every stray bunion we acquire. There was a great Sat. Night Live bit with the late Phil Hartmann as Jesus, who appeared to a woman (Jan Hooks) who with great sincerity prayed to Him constantly throughout her day. She fell to her knees, crying and kissing the hem of His robe and saying “Oh, Jesus, I just love You so much!” He kindly said “I know, I know, I love you too my child,” helping her to her feet, and said “but do you think you could maybe cut back on the Jesus-be-with-me-as-I-vacuum-these-stairs kind of prayers? I mean it’s exhausting, and I do have so much to do.” It was great.

  • DMD

    Therese is right. This is beautiful. You are a person of strength and wisdom. It’s very easy for the rest of the world to call those of us who suffer with chronic conditions as “complainers” or “whiners” when really, if they had to endure the things we do, they might well collapse under the pressure. Your strength and endurance is amazing. And your ability to keep faith and perspective throughout all of it is quite impressive. Thank you for sharing & for being so honest.

  • DC

    There’s a difference between acknowledging your fears and anxieties to yourself and your therapist and complaining to others. While it can be comforting and validating to share your complaints on occasion with close friends and family it can also perpetuate self-pity and self-absorption and drive away those to whom we most want to feel close. I believe that in forcing myself to think and speak in positive ways has helped me to literally and physically rewire my neural pathways. And neurological studies show that cognitive work can change our brain chemistry. Yes, be honest with yourself about your troubles but a little faking it before making it is just as important.

  • Debra Marek, MSW, LSW

    This was GREAT TO HEAR. I suffer from Psoriatic Arthritis and I’m 38 years old. I’ve had it since I was 22 years-old. I feel as though I complain a lot because I’m in SO much pain….that no one wants to hear me anymore. I am doing infusion therapy at the hospital for my condition…but, it’s not getting much better. So, now the MD is going to change the medication. BUT…thank you for writing this.
    Debbie, North Brunswick, NJ

  • Bev M

    interesting perspective.
    One thing I know – nobody REALLY goes without sleep for years! I am an insomniac myself (trouble getting to sleep) and I have gone years without MUCH sleep – but I get so exhausted that I sleep in spite of myself. So I think this person needs to get 100% HONEST.
    I had a Muslim friend years ago who told me one sign of a great person was that they did not dump their problems on to other people. I get that. And I also get “to everything there is a season”. There is a time and place for complaining – to the therapist, journaling, maybe a support group, but, seriously, it is not right to dump one’s problems on others. Others have their own problems and don’t need yours!
    I believe 100% in being HONEST and not whitewashing or minimizing (or exaggerating) anything. dishonesty can not lead to healing or recovery. and if I remember right, the Good Book says you-know-who is the master of LIES. But not everyone needs to know your truth – because not everyone can help.
    Lastly, I think God helps those who help themselves. Endless complaining is like being in a rut – one must move from IDENTIFYING the problem to searching for the SOLUTION. God gave us brains and communication to use.
    I once had a sponsor in a 12 step program who advised that I was in a “rut – and decorated it”. After I got over the initial insult, I saw that she was right. I stopped thinking about moving forward.
    Life is meant to be challenging – and I bet God helps us find solutions – once we are moving in that direction. If we simply wait for someone else (even God) to fix us or our world – we have decorated the rut!

  • JLLB

    On top of my bipolar, I have been diagnosed with many physical ailments (all chronic). While I have no friends, I used to have one who would ALWAYS put the positive spin on everything I said. It got incredibly annoying. Sometimes things get really bad. Just let them be bad and have some compassion. Life is not all rainbows and unicorns. After the initial diagnosis or the crisis is over, yes, learn to deal with something, find a way to work through it, get help. But let things be as bad as they are!

  • MRC, Philadelphia, PA

    This is a wonderful article.
    There are several references that are deeply true (Quote: It is absolutely necessary to be our souls, to tell the truth about our condition. It is called humility).
    St. Augustine was a Romanized North African (a man of color who identified with some of the early conquers of Africa) who wrote the City of God. That book was written before Colombus sailed to the Americas.
    I was ashamed of that part of my African ancestral history. We all have dark shadows lurking in the corners of our lives, histories and experiences. It had disasterous and long lasting effects on the descendants of people of color all over the world since the Colombus/New World institutional establishment.
    Gun, drug and sex violence runs rampant through poverty and preventable disases running at epidemic rates. I’ve witnessed, seen or have experienced one or more calamity in my life.
    No matter the walk of life, HIV/AIDS as affected someone even if they are HIV-. The pain is real.
    My reaction: know my history and that of the world. I am an anthropologist. Turning my academic and cultural experiences into a pursuit for a better life has given me courage when I missed out on believing I was loveable enough to have a more honest and humble relationship in the past.
    I may not get back who I lost, but I will gain a world of others as I travel abroad to help others in need in Africa this summer for a year.

  • Connie MArie

    WOW. That really touched my heart. Living with a chronic Disease for me is very difficult. You are right to say,”funny things in life to balance out the suffering. It’s what keeps one sane”. I love it. Thank you!

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