Saturday, November 13, 2010

Depression, a great novel, and the weekly Psalm

I'm a bit behind on my end of the week, beginning of the weekend Psalm.  I came home after school yesterday, went over and visited with my neighbor.   Then I came here, fed the cats, gave George his insulin shot, put them to bed, and  went to bed myself..  I slept well and woke up early.

 But I ended up finishing an excellent book by Jon Katz called Rose in a Storm.  I had read Izzy & Lenore by him and was deeply touched by it.   Katz in that book addresses the therapeutic help of animals with a human's depression.  He firmly believes that particular help saved him at one point.  

After my dad died,  the fibromyalgia attacked where severe osteo-arthritis had settled in my knees, putting me temporarily in a wheelchair at worst and using a cane at best.   At one point I questioned my usefulness to anyone. 

It was then that Scruffy took over.  She crawled up on me huddled in the recliner, nestled up by my neck and licked my tears.   Then she lay still with one of her paws on my face as the sobs broke through.

 At that point, I surrendered the grief, the illness, the excruciating pain, and the separation: to God.  My husband was in Cinci and unaware that I had reached such a desperate point.  Weather and work had kept us apart and I had managed to keep the worst of my emotions from emerging over the phone. 

God did answer with a friend who warily reached out over the Internet with a complete change in diet,  a massage therapist who understood fibromyalgia, and a course for me to take that would change my style of living.  She was afraid of offending me, but knew that she was supposed to risk it.  I answered immediately with a resounding, "Yes!"    My body and soul  eventually mended with the help of all she offered.

 My husband, alarmed when I revealed to him how low I had gotten, became especially attuned to my tone of voice over the phone, and knew when I needed more from him.   Considering he almost despises talking on the phone, that says a lot! 

But it was Scruffy who sensed the pit I'd fallen into, and she was the one who first figured out a way to reach me.   I have never felt as deeply about an animal as I do her.

That was more than 3 years ago.  I was changed for the good and have a completely different perspective.
I do still struggle with depression--it's a part of my genetic code.  There are some periods when I know I need to just acknowledge I am depressed and allow myself to cry.  I then can work through it and emerge from the pit much more quickly, having only slid slightly into it. 

At those times, if I try to ignore it, I slide a lot further and it's tougher to emerge.  I have always emerged,  but sometimes 'my hands are bleeding from the digging' (figuratively), and that's really not necessary.  Just like grief, depression affects everyone differently, and an important key, to not letting it overcome you, is to figure out what works for you. 

(I did not expect to go in this direction, today.  If this helps someone, I'd appreciate hearing from you or else I'm going to wonder if I'm a little wacky this morning.  I am not depressed at the present time.)

In this latest book, Katz tells the story of a farm in crisis when a winter storm of unimaginable magnitude hits.  He tells it mostly from Rose's perspective. Rose is the dog.  "He consulted with animal behavior scientists to create his unique and convincing vision of the world as seen through the eyes of a dog." (from the book's flap).

 Sam, the farmer, is already reeling from the death of his wife to cancer when the storm hits.  At one point, Rose literally saves his life by digging him out of the snow.  But she saves him in another way also.
I recommend the book to animal lovers.  But be prepared to not want to put it down once the accident occurs.

Now, I must attend to other tasks: the first one being the Psalm for the week.

I have a book titled The Mother's Topical Bible. I have had it for almost 20 years.  It was originally published by Honor Books. It is divided into categories with the first half dealing with children and family situations.  The second half deals with various emotions and needs that we all experience at some time in our life.  I carry it in my big "school and everything else" bag, so it goes everywhere with me.

Today I will write excerpts from the "Your Personal Needs" section.

When You Need Strength:

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my god, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and high tower.  Psalm 18:2

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
  Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. 
                                    Psalm 27:1,14

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.  Psalm 31:24

Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou has given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.  Psalm 71:3

My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.    Psalm 138:3

                                            Blessings to you  all for a wonderful weekend.

            And since this blog is partly about Scruffy, I thought I'd end with more pictures of her.

                                Her collar is that weird pink 'thing' peeking through her skin.
     She stayed with me as I sat at the computer relentlessly working against a deadline
     for renewing the certification of my teacher's license this past summer. 
      She was lot more comfortable in this recliner than I was in the desk chair.
                    She can't resist containers especially if they are empty,
                     but she will lay on top of anything that's in them too.


  1. You are so right on with how it goes with me:

    I do still struggle with depression--it's a part of my genetic code. There are some periods when I know I need to just acknowledge I am depressed and allow myself to cry. I then can work through it and emerge from the pit much more quickly, having only slid slightly into it.

    So much of this is the absolute truth when it comes to my struggle with depression that hits over and over again... and so many folks just say that I should fight harder or trust the Lord more. I don't fight much... just move along.

    Also your Pss. vss. are some of my very favorite... especially Pss. 18 and 27. I'm a real Psalms-oriented gal.

    I'm going to try to fit blog checking into my schedule [again]... I have good intentions, but stuff keeps kicking my tail and I fall behind. But, you are special and I sure don't want to not keep up with you.

    BTW, I love your blog "lane" photo. You're good!

  2. i have experienced a gentle knowing and understanding from kat before, and it really is a blessing. most of the time she is mainly concerned about being fed, so it came as a welcome surprise.

    i loved hearing the story about you and scruffy.

  3. I just finished reading a blog post written by a young woman whose baby died of heart disease just a few weeks after his birth. She carried and birthed him in the knowledge that he would be born with this devastating disease. Now she is grieving, and she wrote that she finds the most meaning and help in the books where people tell their dark times and feelings. The grief, the tears, the raging against circumstances. Then they offer the light they found to go through and forward. Your writing here is important. Others need to see the reality in us. The struggles we have, the real emotions we experience. Only then can we offer them the light. Because then they know we have been where they are now.

    As for animals helping us through difficult times - you know I agree one hundred percent.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story about depression, Beth... I have never had that problem until I had my knee surgery this past summer. I never did realize that I was 'depressed' --but I was WAY DOWN.. I cried alot and just wasn't myself. Later---I found out that all it was was that darn powerful pain medication I was on for my knee. It just made me sick as a dog --both physically and especially mentally... ONCE I realized it and got off of the pain meds---I started to get well and was myself again... It was scary though and my sweet hubby was really worried about his 'joyful' wife --who was anything but joyful..

    I don't have a pet now --but had a cocker spaniel for about 15 years.. She was fabulous--and when she died, I grieved for a long time.

    Thanks for sharing --and for the Psalms.

  5. Thanks for sharing your heart, Beth. I still miss my little dog that was a source of the most unconditional love a human can experience apart from the Lord.

  6. I think it's so true that we need to acknowledge our feelings - not try to hide them or deny them. Only then can we move on. I'm so thankful that God understands us - even more than we understand ourselves - and He's never surprised by our feelings! Not a tear - or the mask we wear to hide them - goes unnoticed by Him!

    I like the Psalms for many reasons, but I'm especially thankful that David honestly and openly expressed a wide range of emotions.

    Have a restful Sunday!


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