When Depression Makes Landfall

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By: Jana Greene

Hi, Dear Readers.

Can I keep it real today?

I was going to title this piece, “When it’s too much,” but then I asked myself to be more specific….WHAT is “too much?” What exactly is it that is TOO MUCH for me to handle right now? The answer is simply YES.

Everything.

I’m feeling so defeated and sad today. I was doing pretty well with water aerobics, which I’ve been enjoying since February – it’s the only exercise my joints can handle. A week ago in class, I tore a muscle in my right hip doing underwater side kicks.

By the way, not one single 80 + year old woman in the whole class had trouble with that maneuver. Yet such a simple movement took me down. I’m looking at yet MORE physical therapy now and I can’t do the class for the foreseeable future.

This injury is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, er….hip.

I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, along with a half dozen other debilitating, exhausting, painful conditions. And it’s driving my depression into this hurricane-force thing that is spiraling in my spirit. The outer bands are making landfall today, and I can feel the intensity whipping up.

EDS is a progressive thing, meaning all of the cells in my body have mutated collagen, and I’m not going to get better.I do not – can not – take narcotics for my chronic pain because I’m an alcoholic in recovery 18 years and I still don’t trust myself to go that route.

I am literally wearing out. It’s getting to where I can hardly move my body some days, and when I do, each movement sounds like a bone cracking. In addition to being annoying, it’s painful. And embarrasing.

It’s TOO MUCH.

Yes, I know by the Stripes of Jesus, I am healed. I have had every deliverance ministry method prayed over me. People have told me that if I ‘just believe more’, I’d be healed.

To which I say, STOP TELLING SICK PEOPLE THESE THINGS. When they don’t get healed Binny Hinn-style, it adds insult to injury. Not only are you in sick and experiencing chronic pain, but NOW you doubt your faith and feel inferior and less-than a “good Christian.”

My genes are still mutated. God knows about it. He and I are square, after many years of me being bitter and angry. He knew my joints would held together with bubble gum instead of gorilla glue, so to speak. He isn’t angry with me. He isn’t punishing me. It just falls under the header of “shit happens,” and it happens to everyone in one capacity or another.

Better to just encourage and love on the chronically ill. That’s what we need.

Because I have anxiety and depression under normal circumstances, but there have been several times in my life when I couldn’t push through it…when I went from being sad and low-grade anxious, to I CANNOT GET OUT OF BED.

Not “I really FEEL like staying in bed” … no. I literally – as the Millennials say – I CAN NOT EVEN.

Can not even laugh.

Can not even cry.

Can not even do the things I love – like create art, and even just BLOG.

But I know if I don’t get it out in writing and share it with others who might be able to relate, it will only gather strength. So here is a blog post. The one thing I have gotten done today.

I’m tired. I am so tired. There are too many things going on in my home life and (lack of) professional life. Too much change. Too much pain. Just too much.

Most days, I try to be positive, and some days I can even find the humor in things, but when every joint in my body is hurting – and the hip is almost unbearable – it makes it difficult. This is approximately the tenth injury in the last few months. From small rib subluxations to finger dislocations, a sprained wrist, to all the crappy, debilitating POTs symptoms, and constant illness from having a horrible immune system….

I’m TOAST. Ever feel that way?

I know Jesus walks with me. I know he crouches down with me in the dark places. And yes, I know “this too will pass.” But it’s sure as hell not yet in the process of passing right now.

It’s the most frustrating thing in the world to realize all of your blessings, but still not be able to pull yourself up out of the sadness.

Hey, thanks for reading my work, ya’ll. In joviality and in sorrow. In celebration and in grieving. Knowing I have so many precious readers who take the time to read my innermost thoughts is both mind-blowing and comforting. We are never, NEVER alone in what we go through!

I hope when this blows over, I can get back to business being snarky and ultra-spiritual (that’s a joke, ha.) But I’m of the mind that when we are in low places, it doesn’t mean we are less-than spiritual. It just means our spirits need a little more help.

God bless us, every one.

Franken-Ankle

By:  Jana Greene              

             Several weeks ago, I wrote in my journal about the experience of breaking my right ankle.  It was a deep and angsty piece  ruminating on the inconvenient timing of the accident, why God would allow it to happen two days after I quit my job (didn’t He know it was supposed to be a happy time?) and why it happened before I had other health issues resolved.  “Why?” I asked God as I typed.  “Why?”

                Surely God knew I needed to find another job, at least part-time.

                Surely He knew we didn’t need any more medical bills.                

                Like so many other things, it seemed a random misfortune, especially considering the manner in which it happened.  I didn’t injure it skydiving or bungee jumping, or even by participating in that fitness staple of the forty-plus-year-old woman, “Zumba”.

                I broke it by stepping out of bed because I needed to use the bathroom.  It made a horrible crunch and I felt searing pain….stepping onto the floor.

                I know….reckless, wanton behavior.  What can I say?  I live on the edge.

                For eleven days after the injury, I didn’t seek medical help, believing that it was a bad sprain.  I’ll just walk it out….I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, and frankly….I had other plans for that time.  The swelling and pain got to be too much, and I finally relented, going to the doctor.  The result of my top-notch stubbornness was a referral to an orthopedic specialist that quickly became a pre-op appointment and within days, surgery to rebuild my ankle.  Clearly, denial was not a good strategy.  When will I learn?  Denial never works out for me.

                The surgery went well, and I rested as directed for several days afterward.  Still, I was frustrated about the whole thing, and though it seems silly in retrospect, I’ve always kind of liked my ankles the way they were.  I know it sounds odd, but I could find fault with nearly every feature on my person, except for my ankles.   And although they are disproportionally small, they really do a good job of helping my feet get me where I need to be. 

I’m not a big fan of pain, either, and there was plenty of that involved.

                The first time I had a good look at my leg after surgery, my husband was sitting with me.  He makes it a point to be by my side when I need him most; he is just cool that way.  I took off the boot, and unwrapped the dressings.  Then the gauze pad.

On the outside of my leg, an angry-looking five inch scar ran from the lower calve to the top of my foot.  Stitches poked out at random intervals like little weeds in a garden row.  And where did the bone go?  The little round anklebone that should jut out a bit?  GONE. 

“It’s…it’s…” I sniffed “It looks like Franken-ankle!”  That’s what it looked like to me.

To which my Beloved, a man who lives with three grown daughters and a very emotionally- driven wife replied, “It looks great!”  He knows a thing or two about smoothing over hysteria.  Less is more. He gave me the tightest hug and smiled, and I felt better. 

                Days later, when I did the writing, I felt better still.  Bad things happen all of the time to each of us, much worse things than a broken leg.  Maybe God allowed it to happen now so that I would slow down enough to actually do some writing, which I’d been threatening to do for years.  I don’t really know, because the Almighty doesn’t let me in on the Master Plan, even when I ask real nice.  Or ask repeatedly.  The whole incident seemed overwhelming when it was happening, and as I heal, it sometimes still feels that way.  But it’s better every day.

                “Why” is a big thing with me;  I wish it wasn’t.  I am God’s oldest four-year-old, following him around and tugging on the hem of his garment, asking “WHY?”  Writing about things always helps me work through the pesky stages of acceptance (including denial), and reminds me what REALLY holds me together in all of the ways that matter, the grace of God.  Sticks and stones (and midnight bathroom trips) may break my bones, but His plans will never hurt me.  He knows my needs, far better than I do. 

                As for what now holds my leg together?  One titanium plate, six screws and one pin.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal.  I am learning to reach for the hem of Jesus’ garment for His healing, and His will, instead of reaching out to ask Him “why”.

                It’s a process.   

“I don’t think the way you think.
   The way you work isn’t the way I work.” – Isaiah 55:10