What Happened to the Rose Garden?
edited: Friday, January 11, 2008
By Peg M Salmon
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Friday, January 11, 2008
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During bouts of depression and anxiety, made me change the way I looked at these issues.
What Happened to the Rose Garden?
How many of us remember the song "I never promised you a rose garden, along with the sunshine, there's got to be a little rain sometime…?" How long did it take you to recognize that life wasn't free of trouble? I remember the first time it really dawned on me was when my dad died at the early age of 48. What a blow to think that things would never be the same. But time does heal and seven months later my wounds started to heal with a beautiful, dark haired baby girl named Shanna. It was life over death that did the healing.
An old Indian saying goes something like this, "don't criticize others until you walk in their moccasins." In other words, how can you know what is really going on till you have actually experienced what they are experiencing.
I used to think I knew it all. Ever think that? Unwanted advice was thrown in the trash, unheeded and not knowing that life might be a mite bit easier if we had listened to our elders. But most of us have to learn the hard way. My dad used to say that he graduated from "The School of Hard Knocks!" Now I know what he meant. Sometimes it takes a whack on the head with a 2x4 before we get it! Why is it so hard to learn the easy way? We're human and we are a stubborn lot.
My story isn't a very exciting one, but one that needs to be shared. We can always learn from others and most of the time if we clean the wax out our ears, we learn very useful things. Walking in other's shoes is very important in life to learn what life is really all about. Life is not ‘cut and dry', ‘clear and simple,' ‘calm and serene,' ‘fun and frivolous,' no matter what you have deduced. If you have never suffered, you have no business making deductions about what someone else should or shouldn't do or have done. People who haven't figured that out, are proud of all the ‘so-called' knowledge about living the life they possess. Most of these people learn the hard way and when it comes, it is a huge crash! Sometimes it takes two or three crashes before they get the message.
I am one of these people who thought when something went wrong, it had to be my fault. I felt like a very faulty person. It never occurred to me that the walk through life wasn't going to be smooth and free of problems. I don't know where I got my preconceived ideas, but I had them nonetheless. I also thought I was to be the caregiver of all and make everyone happy. Again, where did that come from? I had to learn that, even though I continued to try. (I still have that problem today, but am more aware of it now and can sometimes smother it.) Many of us, I on the top of the list, decided that it was my job to carry everyone's burdens. A person cannot do that for long without collapsing under the load. And then if we don't learn it the first time, it happens again and again.
Are there people who just seem to learn lessons in life the first time, or just know them from the beginning? Sometimes it seems that way, but I doubt if it is. We're all made of the same faulty material and have to learn in the same manner. Some just learn easier than others.
Where did the darkness come from?
Early in my adulthood, I learned what depression felt like, but I probably didn't know what it was. This was during the death of my dad.
To those who know nothing of depression, I am not talking about being sad, having a moody day, being down in the dumps. I am talking about downright dark, pit-living, and seemingly no ladder to climb out of, depression. I have heard people use the expression, "pull yourself up by the bootstraps." That is a "pat" answer from someone who has never experienced any aspect of depression. Depression comes from numerous places and for numerous reasons. I consider myself an expert (but knew nothing) as I continued with numerous bouts of depression and anxiety over the years.
As I became more depressed and walked in a hospital, there was a lady prepared to meet me. She was eager, it seemed, to show me what was expected. "Hand over your belongings, please." So obediently I hand over my overnight bag and purse. As she eagerly emptied everything, she started confiscating mirrors, fingernail clippers, hairspray, etc. anything she said I might use to hurt myself. My thought was, "I wasn't planning on hurting myself, I came to get over my hurt."
It seems to me, at least in my experience, that CHANGE can be a big issue in depression. Again, I entered that deep, dark pit and thought I would never climb out. I cried out to God saying, "You're the Great Physician. Why won't you just reach down and heal me?" I had a doctor tell me that I had to go "through the river" before I could "get to the other side." I hadn't known anyone who had experienced such a thing and seems no one in our families had ever either. So I was the different, weak one in the family. Everyone seemed to have their thoughts on what was wrong with me.
My mother was diagnosed with cancer at 80 and we cared for her for two years. (WOW, was that one of those changes!) I handled this without incident, which made me contemplate why other stressful times, I didn't handle things. My conclusion was that we had two years to prepare, time to restore and make wrongs, right. And of course, the grace of our Lord. We shared our deepest thoughts and were bonded. I would lie in bed with her singing…she thought I sang like an angel. Poor Momma! She never knew I couldn't 'carry a tune in a bucket.' (one of her favorite sayings) The angels must have intervened! But it comforted her and in her weak state, she would direct me with her directing finger!
I had a loving husband who was by my side and was my "rock" through all these times. I was blessed.
And I also learned that there were people just like me. Normal, run of the mill people, who had things go wrong in the emotional arena of their mind. People told me I was a fighter and I would make it. In my confused state, I had to believe that as I had fought my way out of that dark pit many times before. I learned to live in the moment.
Yes, I have wondered many times why I am made this way. I have spent time looking over the past, contemplating things that happened, gotten angry and then realized it didn't matter. It is now and I am only concerned with living now with as much gusto as I can.
I told a friend that I have lost all the pride I had and today I am not ashamed that I have a weakness. I feel a tenderness towards people who hurt, and I try not to figure out why they do what they do or why they handle things a certain way. My concern is only to help them walk their walk with as little pain as possible.
My God is unique in that he doesn't need a particular place, with a particular name, to show up. He shows up in the oddest places, even "mental" hospitals. Let's get our BIG God 'out of the box' we keep putting Him in and let Him be who He is!
Speaking of mental hospitals, I despise that name. I don't know why for sure, but being labeled mentally ill or being in a mental hospital grates on my nerves. I guess I need to ponder that a little more. I confess to being very "mental" sometimes, but I am a sane person who had something go wrong with a part of my body. We all become "mental" at one time or another. :-) No, I don't want the dark pit to return. And, hopefully, with what we have learned this time around, we will reallize the necessity to stay on meds and work with the doctors. I have learned that it's not wrong to take medication, be nice to myself and take care of my body; these are essential. I have now given myself the permission to rest when I need to, not work out of the home, not always get my housework done and even the permission to struggle with my illness.
My admonition to you are that people who have emotional breakdowns are not crazy, they are not pretending. And think about this my friend, "who would ever want to feel that way?" They are ill just like anyone else with cancer, high blood pressure, etc. and have to be treated. Yes, you might not understand. I believe everyone should either have to (no I wouldn't want you to be in that dark pit) or know someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety. It is a VERY hard thing to understand unless you have experienced it one way or another. You don't have to be knowledgeable, but you can be caring and supportive. And if you see there is need for intervention, then make sure you support them in taking the steps they need.