A pocket full

Ring around the rosy
A pocket full of posies
Ashes, Ashes
We all fall down!

How many times have I looked at another person, and thought that their problems and adversities in life are much easier when compared to my own? Then later discover the reality of their struggles, which before were unseen and unknown... and wonder how they ever endure such difficulties.

We all carry with us a pocket full of unique problems (versus a pocket full of posies). I firmly believe that God will never give us more than we can handle. He knows my weaknesses and strengths, and also my limits and potential. At the same time I often wonder if God simply believes I am strong enough to handle it - and where the heck did He ever get that idea from? Hahahaha!

What if everyone were able to lay all our problems out on a table - and I was given a choice of which person's pocket full of problems I would want to have? Think I would quickly pick up my own problems again, with gratitude in my heart for all the things I do not contend with. If we carefully look around someone will always have it worse than we do - worse health, worse relationships, worse living conditions, etc.

This thought does not make it easier to deal with my own problems and life tests - which can often be an overwhelming burden. But it does help me to look at them as being more of a long-term blessing than an insurmountable obstacle. Some problems come as a result of choices made (choices of our own, and/or those of others) - but all are there to teach and better prepare for what lies ahead in this life and in the next. I have been given, we all have been given, weaknesses so that God can turn them into strengths (Ether 12:27). It is my prayer that when we "all fall down" we will reach out, and help each other to get back up again. We are stronger than we think!

Into the battle

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd & thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

The Charge of the Light Brigade
~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1854)

In this mortal life I am doing daily battle with the front and center enemy... depression. It is physically, mentally and emotionally draining, accompanied by finite strength and motivation. Being responsible and strong all the time - all day, every day - with constant decisions about anything and everything is very heavy and wearing. I may be moving slow, yet still get up and prepare the best I can for the day’s fight. When there is not one ounce of energy or desire left - something inside keeps me going.

Yet there are times when I just want someone else to take the helm and make all the decisions for me - is that too much to ask?

     “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

A pronounced longing for the promised rest is often present - wondering where and why it seems to be hiding. Depression gives a very believable illusion that the heavens are sealed shut, where prayers bounce off a low hanging lead ceiling. But I hold tight to my faith that He is listening, and it isn’t just a one-sided conversation when I talk to Him through prayer many times a day, and always in my heart.

     Jesus, Savior, pilot me
     Over life’s tempestuous sea;
     Boist’rous waves obey thy will
     When thou say’st to them, “Be still!”
     Chart and compass came from thee;
     Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

     When at last I near the shore,

     And the fearful breakers roar
     ‘Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
     Then, while leaning on thy breast,
     May I hear thee say to me,
     “Fear not; I will pilot thee.”

Poem from the past

Okazaki Castle
The blog writing muse is apparently on vacation this week. So instead of posting the dribble I have barely been able to come up with... I shall leave words from another poem written around 25-years ago. Not always, but there are times when I can still so relate to these words from the past.

    The chains that bind cut off life’s sanity.
    Where did I come from?
    Why did I leave?
    Where am I going?
    All is black and grey.
    Somewhere, I don’t know yet

    Cries of pain ascend the heavens
    Step by lonely step I walk among the thorns.
    Clothed in red the sun bleeds its life in unnoticed anguish.
    Cloaked in black the earth turns slowly - stopping.
    Why did I come?
    When should I go?

    Long ago... perhaps.
    I don’t remember because no one listens.
    Clouds of fog blur my hearing.
    Gripping the wheel of life I slip and grow cold.
    Leave as silently as you came,
    and tell no one of your going.

Windows and doors

Nagoya Castle
I am lost
wondering why
crying inside
showing no one
holding a shield
hiding in dreams
grasping in midair
I fall
and weep
tears of salt
cleansing tears
tears of pain

Those words were written by me around 25 years ago in one of the very few journals I have ever kept. I was in my early 20’s and living in Japan at the time (not far from the castle pictured above). The other night I found that journal in a box, and started reading excerpts from it. Amazing how even though things change, they somehow manage to remain the same.

I didn’t know it then - but I had already been living with clinical depression for a number of years, at least since I was in my early to mid-teens. I say living with depression - but honestly there have been times when I was merely surviving and existing.

This is another poem I also discovered in that journal written so many years ago...

     I hold this shield firm before me.
     The shadow that it casts
     prevents others seeing my emotions.
     It is my brick curtain behind which I hide,
     and watch the world from the shadows.
     I am afraid of the dark.

     In my quiet refuge I sing off tune -

     finding sanctuary in the depths.
     Once I took this knife and parted my defense.
     I allowed torment in, now he is my constant companion.
     We will strengthen each other by holding my shield higher.

To some extent I still metaphorically attempt to hold a shield and build walls in an effort to protect myself... or perhaps to protect others from myself (not wanting to pull anyone into depression's darkness).

Walls are not necessarily bad - I live in a home that has walls and a roof. These are important features that offer protection from weather and unwanted intruders. But my home was also built with windows through which I can see out, and let light in... and there are doors providing the ability to leave, or even invite others inside.

Note to self:  when you recognize depression attempting the hoisting of shields or building of walls - do not forget the need for windows and doors. They can always be closed if necessary, but will provide a built-in alternative to isolating yourself in dark solitude.

I don’t seem to write poems anymore, I wonder why that is?
Hummmm... something to think about.

Staying within the lines

Color!! (ain't it purty?)
I color within the lines
living by the rules
doing what I have to do
doing what I must do
it is who I am
     ~ Messy Musings

Even as a child with coloring book and crayons in hand, I was compelled to color within the lines. Not using just any color in the box... it had to be the “correct” color! The sky was never purple or green - always blue. The sun was never pink - always golden, and the grass always green. Other crayons were carefully selected and color coordinated - no clashing colors next to each other allowed! It was an idyllic world in my coloring book where I had absolute control.

The last couple of weeks have been less than idyllic, and far from controlled. I was once again caught in the seemingly never ending mists of depression. And then this past Monday... surprise!! There was once again color and light in the world!!

Yesterday I met with my wonderful counselor, where we talked about what I did to pull out of the colorless world of depression. For some reason I seem to possess certain instincts which have been learned and developed over a period of many years. Actions that are innately known to help shield, protect, or literally step away from the precipice. Simply put, without these learned behaviors I would not be alive today and writing this blog.

It is a fact that many times exercise and physical movement can help with depression. I mentioned to my counselor that I started riding my bike again last week.
Because I was tired of walking, was my response.
     But how did I manage to get myself out of the house and on the bike?
I dunno, because I had to.

Please don’t think I am anything more than I am. Getting out and moving was sincerely not an immediate response on my part... it did take me a number of depression wallowing days to get to that point (along with timely sound wisdom from a dear friend - thanks Mel, I love you)!!

Why do I call myself a “semi-functional depressive”? Honestly I often function merely because I have to... there are no other options. The degree and level of functioning varies differently from day to day - hearkening back to the age-old debate of needs versus wants. When struggling with depression I may “want” to shut myself up separate and alone in a darkened house - but "need" to push myself to leave that confine and associate with others (even if it is only done virtually online through email or this blog). Every little bit can help, if I allow it into my life.


living in 2-dimensional space
height and width - but no depth
                      ~ Messy Musings

This year I had Lasik surgery on my eyes, and finally got rid of my bifocal glasses. I also started a diet/health plan that has worked quite well for me... have dropped 73 pounds so far (with 44 more until target is achieved). These are two positive things in my life - so why don’t I feel more positive or excited about either accomplishment?

Other people frequently ask me how I am doing, if I have enough energy on this diet plan, and congratulate me on the success - to which I politely say thank you. How do I begin to explain to them that the diet has not really affected me physically (except for losing the weight of course)... my energy levels are much more controlled by the exhaustion of living daily with depression.

Last week I had a 4-day weekend (thanks to a vacation day on Monday, followed by a State holiday on Tuesday). I ended up spending 50-plus-hours straight in my pajamas either in bed sleeping, or sitting in a recliner dorking around on my laptop. It was one of those bad kind of weekends... which I’m not certain I have recovered from yet.

Many years ago I lived in Japan for about 1.5 years. After the first few weeks - it began to feel normal, like I had always lived there. I had a lot more culture shock coming back home than I ever did in going to Japan. Similarly, right now I feel like I have always existed in a flat 2-dimensional fuzzy exhausting non-happy color lacking life. Vague memories of living in a different environment crop up now and then, almost like a dream incompletely remembered and quickly fading.