When someone asks you how it feels to have a chronic illness, this is the perfect analogy!
The brain is an organ like any other, and therefore, can get a disease.
Being depressed, and having depression are two different things. Being depressed is a normal emotion that passes with time, and can be worked on (cheered up, if you will).
Depression, on the other hand, is a neurochemical transmitter disease. Because of a severe underproduction of serotonin, the receptors in the brain can not produce enough dopamine. Dopamine allows for emotional control, emotional stability, contributes to what ‘happy’ feels like.
That means a person with depression is simply not capable of getting past traumatic experiences, or in many cases of depression, unable to deal with the minor stresses of life even. The brain effectively shuts down. The body wants nothing more than to sleep, and basic day to day tasks become difficult. Things that once could have been shaken of as mere annoyances now become traumas. Our brain simply does not allow us to respond any other way because it doesn’t work correctly. It is not a personality issue. Sometimes the brain never works right in the first place, in many cases the emotional control centers of the brain stop functioning normally after either a single, deeply traumatic experience, or years of bullying/abuse/etc.
This can go on for days, weeks, months, sometimes even years before the brain picks back up on serotonin production. But this wears down over time, the brain recovering less and less each time. Eventually a person with depression will need serious help. I strongly believe that medications that aide the production of serotonin should be a central component of this care.
I know all of this so well because I live with it in my brain, and I have for most of my life.
The point of this post is that I have been seeing lots of comments here on FB in relation to Chester Bennington’s death; saying that they don’t understand how he could have been so depressed when he was a popular, world famous, multi-millionaire rock-star.
So I hope I have successfully educated some of you reading this, and hopefully you will now be able to star more effectively helping those that live with the disease of depression. Remember, telling us to ‘just get over it’, isn’t helpful at all; we’d love, but we can’t, our brains have a disease that prevent it from functioning properly.
written to me from my dear friend Audrey Straker
“Gentle squishes, positive light. As a fellow chronic disease sufferer I won’t tell you to feel better soon because it is not possible, I won’t say stay positive, not possible, I won’t say push through it all, not possible. I will say be gentle with yourself, I will say lose the guilty feelings, I will say take whatever is necessary to get through a day, I will say I am always your friend even in your absence because I live the same way you have to.”
This touched me so deeply, because those who are suffering from chronic illness are the only ones who can truly understand that our battle is never going to be over. There is no cure. Lots of surgeries, pain, fatigue and the list goes on and on. Some say that God only gives us what we can handle or it makes us stronger. The truth is that we weren’t chosen for any of this because of our strength, we just have to go on because there is no alternative. We are not heroes or special at all. For what ever reason life decided to serve us up a cart load of lemons and we have no choice in the matter.
We have days where we feel positive and want to interact and can do a little more than other days. But, we also have days where we cry, and ask “why me”. When our own bodies are attacking us internally, it makes for a very wicked brew emotionally. There are not enough pain pills to ever get rid of all the pain. And the ones we do take, wont work very well if taken for long periods of time. Still we manage to move forward. We keep our tears hidden for the most part. Nobody can see the emotional scars that we carry. We become an emotional broken mess inside, and yet we try to hide it all with a smile. We know that most people just do not know how to handle our struggles. It makes people uncomfortable, and I do understand that. It is hard to comfort someone when you truly can’t do anything to help.
So for all those who are suffering, please know that you are not alone. There are many of us who do understand and the only way we can help one another is to talk about it. Find groups or others who also have chronic illnesses. Please trust me when I say, it makes a huge difference having someone who understands what you are dealing with. When we have these ailments one of the things we all tend to do, is seclude ourselves and that can hurt us even more emotionally.
So in my dear friend Audrey Straker’s words….”Be gentle with yourself, loose the guilt and do whatever is necessary to get through the day”
Gentle hugs, Deborah
“Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankind’s capacity for empathy and for decent, honorable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they don’t; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us.”
— Matthew Scully fr ‘ Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy’
Why We Rescue
This is the best way to explain what we do everyday, what we see and what we feel while doing it.
For animal lovers like me, animal rescue is the most incredible, rewarding job… in the history of ever.
At the same time… it’s also the most heartbreaking…
The truth is…
You see a lot of things… you never thought you’d see.
You witness a level of cruelty… you didn’t think was possible.
You feel a degree of helplessness… you never thought you’d know.
You stare at painful images… soon burned into your memory… that will haunt your thoughts forever.
You try to pick up the pieces… so many pieces… of the damage you didn’t do.
You do everything in your power… but even still… you’ll never reach them all.
You’ll try to stay strong… but you’ll mostly feel weak.
You’ll build walls to protect your heart… but they’ll never keep you safe.
You’ll place barriers around your soul… but the pain will always reach you.
And no matter how hard you try to fight it… over time… here’s the truth about what happens in animal rescue…
The neglect changes you.
The abuse hardens you.
The suffering breaks you.
The ignorance angers you.
The indifference disturbs you.
The injustice destroys you.
On a daily basis… your faith will be tested.
Your heart will be wounded.
Your soul will be altered.
On a weekly basis… you’ll question yourself.
You’ll question your strength.
You’ll question the world.
On a monthly basis… you’ll fall down.
You’ll get up.
You’ll go on…
On a yearly basis… you’ll look back…
You’ll see faces…
You couldn’t save them.
You’ll learn to mourn.
You’ll learn to trust a little less.
To do a little more.
To fight a little harder.
You’ll learn to try.
You’ll learn to fail.
You’ll learn when to hold on.
When to give up.
When to let go.
You’ll learn who you are.
What you stand for.
Why that matters.
Then… at times… you’ll forget why you matter.
You’ll question what you’re doing.
You’ll wonder if it’s worth it.
But… here’s the good news…
When you forget…
When you question…
When you wonder…
All you have to do…
Is take a look around…
And you’ll see them.
You’ll see their faces.
You’ll see their smiles.
You’ll feel their love.
In their eyes, you’ll see their journeys…
You’ll remember their beginnings…
You’ll know how far they’ve come…
You’ll remember when they didn’t know you…
When they didn’t trust you…
When they’d given up.
You’ll remember how you healed them…
How you loved them…
How they loved you, too.
And as you look back…
You’ll want to move forward…
For them… and because of them.
In your darkest hours, you’ll look around…
To find the differences made… the hope given… and the lives saved…
Because you existed.
In those moments, when you look into their eyes… every doubt will be erased.
Every question will be answered.
Every worry will subside.
Because in that instant… in each of your hearts…
You both share the very same thought:
“Every bit of pain was worth it… for this moment here with you.”
And honestly… no matter what else happens…
Those moments hold all the strength you need…
To keep going.
Rescue is pain.
Rescue is joy.
Rescue is worth it… because they are worth it.
And that’s the honest truth.”
Geoff Wilkins Facebook Page
One of the things that hurts me more than the pain from RA, is that I say things that I never would have before all of this. Sometimes my words hurt those who I love the most. I would never intentionally hurt anyone, but especially those who I love. I have always been one to say my words carefully and make sure that what I do say comes out in a positive caring manner.
As my pain has increased, I have noticed that sometimes things come out of my mouth in a way never intended. I have hurt those who only care about me. I have been angry at those who do not deserve it at all. I immediately feel horrible about my words and wish I could take them back. This is why I have always chosen my words carefully, as you can never take them back. Hurtful words can be remembered forever. This is not how I want to be remembered.
RA not only affects the person living with it, but all those who are near to the person affected. By afternoon I have usually gotten my emotions under control and can put on my brave face, but mornings are still a demon I continue to battle and so far I am loosing that fight. It is not a good excuse but my pain is so severe in the mornings that I feel angry. Angry at what it has taken from me, Angry that I am not the same person, Angry that this will continue to get worse. Angry that my loved ones are having to deal with this other me, Angry that all my plans will have to be put aside or forgotten completely. Angry that my promises have all changed.
I see it in my children’s faces and I hear it in their words. So while I am the one with RA, they are suffering from the side affects of it as well. A mother always wants to protect her children, no matter their age. I can no longer hide what is happening to me and so I pile on more guilt for what they are having to deal with.
While I cannot fix or change what is happening to me, I pray that God gives me the strength to go through this in a graceful manner that will allow me to still be the kind and loving parent and friend that I have always been. And I must remember that those who love me, are suffering also. I am not alone in this journey and the ones around me need comforting as well.
All days start the same, the moment I awake and hesitate moving for fear of the pain. By now I should know that it is always there waiting. Slowly I move my legs and try to sit up. This takes a few tries and then finally I am in a sitting position. After a few moments then I try to stand up, this again takes a few attempts. Then I stagger my way down the hallway, praying I make it to the bathroom in time. Then my coffee, cup full of pills and my insulin. I sit thinking what my day will be like, moving my legs and arms a bit to see if they have loosened up at all. Holding my cup of coffee with both hands for fear I will drop it. Also taking check on my emotions and if today will be a happy day or one that grief, despair and depression will rule. I always have high hopes the night before and make my To-Do list for the following day. In the mornings as I look at my list, I automatically start checking things off that I know will not get done today.
I finally make myself get up and start moving, dressing and preparing to feed and clean the birds. So I gather bowls for washing, and begin to prepare all the fresh foods. I fill all the bowls the night before with their dry foods to help save time in the mornings. Some days just doing birdie breakfast can take me a couple of hours. This may or may not include changing some of their papers as I go along. Once their breakfast/brunch is complete, I have to sit and rest my joints for a bit. During this time I am now fully aware of where my body is for the day and so I can then check my To-Do list again to see what I will truly be able to accomplish. If it is a bad day then there are tears, tears for what I have lost and tears for who I was.
My greatest fear is for what is to come. Not for myself but for my precious angels. I already know that I will not be able to continue caring for them as long as I had originally planned for. I will have to say goodbyes to them sooner than I ever expected. Just the thought of this brings me so much sadness. My human children are grown but I also worry how much of a burden I might become for them. I look at my precious grandson and so wish I could run and play with him. He and I have a special bond that I feel so blessed to have, but I know the older he gets the more I will become the old Nana that can’t play and have fun with him.
No matter if it is a good morning or an extremely painful one, these are the thoughts that run through my mind each morning. I am glad that my mornings are alone, so that I can get most of these tears and thoughts out of my head before I have to see or talk to anyone. I call them mornings, but this whole process takes me until noon or 1pm to finally just get the morning things done for the birds and my mental and physical checklists done.
Then I move forward with the rest of my day. I use to have my house cleaned, birds all taken care of and dinner planned out and prepped by noon. Now I am happy to just have the birds taken care of by noon. The rest of my day is still many disappointments of all the things I cannot do. I try to be positive and happy with the things I can accomplish….but that other person I use to be is always there lurking in the quiet corners of my yesterdays. I miss her very much.
It was a warm and sunny afternoon, a lovely breeze blew through open windows and the tinkling of wind chimes faintly played their lullaby. Her little eyes began to shut as the warm summer air ruffled her feathers ever so slightly. All the sounds of her home began to fade as she drifted into a little summer nap. She was so warm and cozy and began to feel a memory of something….maybe from long ago. Maybe this was just another dream or a memory that was not hers. It came from a place so very far away and while it seemed so familiar, she knew she had never seen this place before. The air had such wonderful aromas and she could almost remember tasting the tropical plants and berries that she saw. She watched as many birds were playing in a nearby pool of water, while others seem to play a game of tag flying up and down and above the trees. It was so beautiful here and the birds flew so high, there were no ceilings to stop them or doors too keep them in. She had never flown so high before herself, and that thought of doing so, made her a little frightened. How would they get back down, who would be there to help them. But as she watched these other birds flying, she saw how very happy they were, they had no fear as they flew and manipulated their way between the trees, it was as though it was something they had done all their lives.
She began to wonder where the humans were, Could it be that these birds were all by themselves. There were no cages for them to go back into. There were no food bowls, swings or perches. She became frightened for a minute, who would bring her food and make sure she was safe, how could she survive out here with no humans to care for her in this wild place. As she watched on though, she saw that none of the birds were afraid. She could feel their happiness and that this was their home. They were allowed to live freely and fly about as much as they wanted. That brought on another thought, she wondered who chose? Who decided, who would remain free and who would be in cages? The thought was perplexing and a bit sad. Why had it been decided she would live in a humans home, was she too weak to live in this wonderful place? Was she not like these other birds in some way. The thought only made her more sad and confused.
Another little breeze blew through her open window and she wakened from her little sleepy nap. She was once again in her safe home with her loving human, who took such good care of her. She loved this person, they gave her good food and loving little snuggles and scritches. They made sure she was safe and healthy. They gave her everything she needed. However the memory of that other place lingered for a few minutes longer….. what a wonderful place that had been, she wished she could visit there again. She secretly wished she could live in such a place and fly as free and high as all those other birds.
Feathered Angels 2017