What we’ve lost

lisaupclosecropvertblinds25

There are days when I am no match for social media. Today would be one of those days. I have un-followed en masse and trimmed my news feed down to a skeletal list of family and even fewer friends and the smattering of news outlets that have survived the cuts, and yet everywhere I turn the posts and headlines pelt me like sharp rocks to the temple.

Famous Christian artist admits Bible not trustworthy!

Pastor has pornographic visions, gets ousted by foundation he created!

ISIS beheading Christians {Video–Graphic content!}

Economy lowest since Great Depression!

President’s approval rating lowest in history!

Military cuts hundreds of soldiers while on active duty!

America being overrun by illegals!

Beloved actor takes own life!

The anger, the grief, the misunderstanding, the accusations, the judgment. The deep, discouraging, disappointing loss.

It’s enough to bury the sturdiest among us, so it can really do a number on someone juggling mid-life hormone flux. Today has become a day when I needed to walk away from my computer and pour myself into housework or textbook reading or planning dinner. Or pouring all the anguish into a blog post.

Life can be pretty overwhelmingly depressing lately. Which brings me to depression and how wildly misunderstood it (still) is.

I see the reactions to a beloved actor’s death, words flying back and forth, from “Didn’t he know how this would affect his family?” to “You’re finally free!” to “It was a decision! He CHOSE this!” and quite honestly I sit here at my little desk and cringe at how blindly judgmental folks can be.

At risk of oversimplifying, please allow me to state the apparently-not-so-obvious: The person in clinical, chemically-altered depression is not thinking with his/her own mind.

This person is not weighing everything out, determining the massive damage suicide will do to those s/he loves, deciding s/he doesn’t give a rip about that damage, and then in full cognizance of all this, pushing the End button. It just isn’t as clear-cut as that.

I remember clinical depression well. It scared me to death. The sky looked dark in the middle of the day. I’m talking, like almost-night dark. I remember asking my husband if that was what it felt like to go insane. It felt like I was literally losing my ability to think clearly. And the truth, I discovered later as I researched it all, is that in a sense I really was losing it.

And today, what I fear we’ve lost is the ability to consider that we might just not know everything about everybody and what’s going on in the mind of another. And because of that, it might be best to hold opinion-forming until we know a bit more.

What people in depression do not need is blame. They need help. They need a shoulder, a hand, a listening ear. They need hope, not harassment. They need compassion, not condemnation. Believe me, there’s far more than enough condemnation coming from within.

So maybe instead of condemning an actor for selfishly taking his own life and leaving everyone in pain, it would be a better use of our time and energy to reach out to that person we work with, go to school with, live near, see at church/the grocery store/the post office and show a little love. Be a friend. Make a difference that might keep that person around long enough to get the help that is so desperately needed.

Less finger-pointing and more friendship. Because haven’t we lost enough?

 

 

 

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Dreams Revisited

mrseteacherapple

It’s been a while since I wrote here. At first I was reeling from a rough April, then June came and I made a decision to go back and pick up a dream that was woven into my heart as a little girl.

I decided to go to college to become an elementary school teacher.

The week after I made that decision, which already just felt “right”, I found out a local college is just starting a new program this fall for incoming elementary education students. I immediately dove into the to-do list for the program, first applying, then testing, then checking one after another task off the list right down to the personal interview. I found out on July 27th that I was accepted.

And so it is that I find myself 50 years old and eight days away from starting college to become a teacher. I am a giddy schoolgirl again.

It’s raining today, and I watch it pour out my office window and I marvel at the timing of all this. Homeschooling was over for us a year ago, but I didn’t yet feel the nudge to return to this dream. I did follow another one, and wrote two books within six months. Whatever happens (or doesn’t happen) with the books, I can rest knowing I did what I’ve always wanted to do as a writer.

And now I turn my thoughts, my focus, my energies, to becoming certified to do what I’ve wanted to do since first grade. Mrs. McBrayer was my first grade teacher, and in the short time I was in her classroom before they moved me on to second grade, I made up my mind that I wanted to be her when I grew up. I called her on the phone the day after I found out I’d been accepted into the Elite Educators program, and I thanked her for inspiring me through 25 years of homeschooling and still how as I embark on this adventure of college and educator certification. She said I made her day. She is 82 and stays right here in my heart.

I am grateful beyond words for this opportunity. I get teary when I think about it. I’m 50 and I am blessed to have a whole new adventure ahead of me.

What dream have you laid down? Is it time to pick it back up again, dust it off and remember what the little girl in you always wanted to do? Dream-chasing is much more fun with company along the journey.

Let’s do this.