YOU DO YOU

By Lisa Huddleston

Suicide is not the solution. Seek help!

Suicide is not the solution. Seek help!

On Monday evening I received a text message from a good friend telling me that my dentist had killed himself. His body had been found in his car parked behind a large car dealership near a line of woods. Curiously, my mother (who lives with us), Chuck, and I had been talking about this man during our dinner that very night. I had received a postcard reminder of my upcoming appointment for a cleaning, and we were extolling his virtues as a kind and caring man. And then this news.

It was shocking to us and also to the rest of our small town! Rumors began to fly almost immediately blaming such things as finances, affairs, business troubles, and so on. I still have no idea why he took his life, but I can say I have spent the week pondering the terrible affect suicide has upon those it leaves behind, and everyone I have spoken with in my hometown has brought it up everyday since. What will his employees do? Will the business close? Will his family still receive insurance money? Where will we go if we have a dental emergency? Is suicide an unforgivable sin? These are just a few of the many questions I have heard asked. Many of the gossipy questions being asked were none of our business, others were just practical (and selfish?) on our part, and still others showed genuine concern. In my defense, it took me years to find this particular dentist, and I trusted him—no small feat. I hate the idea of going anywhere else. I confess that was my second thought after I heard the news—after the shock and gasp of sorrow. Selfish, yes. I’m only human.

But I wonder what happened? How could this smiling, congenial, and very kind man we knew end up taking his own life? Mom had seen him two weeks earlier. Chuck had chatted about our children and his less than a week before. All seemed fine and ordinary and mundane. But it’s clear that was not the truth.

I have to confess I’ve thought a lot about suicide—what else would you expect from a depressive person?—so I can understand the urge. But to actually do it? It makes my soul ache. If he could have seen what a hole he would leave, you know, have a “Wonderful Life” moment, would he still have done it? If we who only knew him professionally feel so affected by his death how much more so are those who loved him as a friend or family member? It hurts my heart to imagine their pain.

But I hope we all will imagine that pain. Suicide is increasing. I know of three people who have attempted it this year alone, and I really don’t get out much. So think! You fill a hole in the world that only you fit. Only you can sing off-key in just that odd and quirky way. Only you water the porch plants or teach that ESL class or sleep on the left side of that special person or have the same blue eyes as your daughter. Only you are you. And if you don’t care about you then, please, care about those students or friends or loved ones who will never be the same without you in their lives.

It may sound odd, but I will miss my dentist, and I will never forget how he left us. I pray I will also never forget the value of every life including my own. You do you, and I’ll do me. And let’s all keep on doing or being us for as long as life allows. And, please, SEEK HELP IF YOU NEED IT! People really do care.

 

P.S. I do not believe this kind, Christian man will be eternally condemned for his lapse of judgment. Jesus died for all our sins. Thank you, Lord! 

SURVIVING THE DOG DAYS

By Lisa Huddleston

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, I’ll bet you could have guessed this post was coming. Yes, I’m writing about our new rescue dog, Rosemary or Rosie for short. To my discredit I fear, I’m way too fond of the sarcastic saying—no good deed goes unpunished—but this time I think I’ve been rewarded. Rosie is an amazing dog!

The stand off

The initial standoff

Now, if you’d asked me how I felt about this “reward” on Thursday evening, the day I picked her up from Country K9 Rescue, I would have moaned, “What was I thinking? How could I have done something so stupid as to get another dog??” Dottie Pigbody was living up to her name in a brand new way. She was being piggishly selfish and attacking poor Rosie every time the startled dog got near to “Dottie’s people.” It was terrible, and I truly expected to see a bloodbath at any moment.

Dottie Pigbody or a.k.a. Dorothy Parker

Dottie Pigbody, a.k.a. Dorothy Parker

But now, over 48 hours into this adventure, I watched as Rosie tried to coax Dottie to play a bit in the yard, and although Dottie didn’t exactly join in—she at least didn’t try to eat Rosie’s face off. I was able to play fetch with both dogs although I still had to make sure they each had their own ball. That’s an enormous improvement in Dottie’s behavior. No attacks so far today, and it is 4:15 p.m. I wouldn’t have thought it possible two days ago!

And naturally, I see a lesson in this experience, a living reminder of one of my life mottos—A long obedience in the same direction. That is an abbreviated quotation, but what it says to me is that nothing worth getting happens without perseverance. Not physical nor educational nor spiritual achievement. Not even a great fur sister for Dottie like Rosie. And I know both Dottie and I will be better for the experience.

Rosie, a.k.a. Rosemary

Rosie, a.k.a. Rosemary

If you’ve ever considered adopting a rescue for your family, let me encourage you to take the plunge. After 4 rescue cats and 4 rescue dogs (2 currently), I can definitely testify that it’s a rewarding experience for both the animals and their people!

PROMISES TO KEEP AND MILES TO GO BEFORE I SLEEP

By Lisa Huddleston

vanderbilt-football-610x406Incredibly, it’s already September and football season is here AGAIN. Last night began the next few months of angst and woe over all the plays that should have gone one way but sadly went another. It’s hard to be a Vandy fan—and a Titans fan and even a Bears fan. My poor husband suffers, and in empathy with him, so do I. But in some ways, it just seems to be a part of the cycling seasons of the year. A routine that we’ve grown accustomed to. (Although I really wish we could win once in a while so the poor guy could celebrate a little!)

And with the arrival of football also comes—soon and very soon—the exhilarating weather and colors of fall. Oh, how I am looking forward to that! Beauty galore!

Then come the holiday season and winter and gray skies and my inevitable, predictable downward spiral in mood which unaccountably lasted far into summer this year … oy.

As a part of sharing my journey through the dark woods of depression, I realized this week that it would not be fair nor right to leave you with the impression that once you find a good therapist, a good psychopharmacologist, and the right mixture of medication and lifestyle adjustments that all will be roses and honey from then on. What reminded me to remind you that depression can be a chronic illness was a sudden crash in energy on Tuesday afternoon. I was working at my volunteer tutoring job (a job I love) when with about 45 minutes to go, I realized that I was sinking fast. Gladly I was able to stick it out—hate to be a bad example—but when I arrived home, I immediately crawled under a blanket and slept for two hours only waking then because I had a Spanish class to attend.

Nap time!

Nap time!

And therein lies yet another danger of life with chronic depression. When you begin to feel better it is so tempting to dive headlong into the hyper-activity that is common to our culture. And even when you begin to feel the undertow, to fight against it in order to show that you are not weak or lazy or defective. This desire is counterproductive to recovery, but the temptation is very hard to resist.

It was in my counseling session this week that I recognized what I have been doing and how it is working against me. I realized that it is important for me most of all, but also for the people around me, to know and acknowledge that I am still in recovery and that skirmishes in my battle with depression can arise at anytime. I have to give myself permission to rest when I need to, to schedule my days with my sketchy energy level in mind, and to expect understanding from those who love me. After all they really do love me.

And that is really all I have to say this morning. Remember that life with depression needs to be managed—just as life with diabetes or cancer or arthritis must be managed. It’s not a one time fix and then back into the race.

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My plans for today are to mow the grass (a two-hour job) and to begin a new weaving project on my recently purchased loom. If need be, I will give myself permission to nap. It’s been a full week, and it’s likely I will need it.

TGIF!