Monday, April 9, 2012

Why I'm here

As I was running yesterday, I was listening to my iPod and reflected on this past week. It was a rough one. As usual, it was busy with the kids' activities and daily responsibilities. But unusual and quite shocking was finding out about two untimely deaths of parents of young children.

Last Monday, I heard about a runner who had started the Brew to Brew race, not sure if he was doing it solo or as a relay, and was taken to the hospital after suffering a stroke on the road. I followed his Caring Bridge site that was posted on Facebook and saw the decline of his health over several days. Doctors couldn't control the swelling in his brain and he did not make it. He was only 35 and left behind a wife and young daughter. I was saddened to hear about their loss. Although I never knew him, I've done Brew to Brew many times and can't imagine facing such tragedy from doing something I love.

On Tuesday, I learned about my college Scholarship Hall Director (like a RA for my small dorm) who died when a train hit her car on Monday at 2:30 a.m. My college roommate called to deliver the news. I was in shock. The news reports didn't give many details, but they said it appeared the crossing arms were down and she went around them. I couldn't figure out what to think about her death.

I didn't keep up with my SHD much after graduating, but reconnected through Facebook a couple years ago. We had an initial greeting and after that I would see her occasional posts. I saw a recent picture of her where she had the same pretty smile and kind eyes I remember from college. I saw that she had pursued her career in counseling and was a high school guidance counselor. She seemed like a grown up version of the caring, fun woman I knew many years ago and I was happy to see she had gotten married and had three beautiful children. I wrestled with trying to understand how someone who had always seemed so full of life and had so much going for her could take her own life.

I went to the funeral on Thursday and it was there that I learned that Aimee was suffering from postpartum depression (she has a four month old). That explains why she did what she did, a little, but it doesn't make her death any easier. I feel for her husband and for her boys who will have to carry on without their mother. I feel for her students who she counseled and coached and looked up to her. How are they going to understand?

In some ways, I can understand what drove Aimee to her death. I, too, had postpartum depression with both kids. Actually, I've suffered from depression most of my life and especially the times right after having my kids, it would just sometimes take over. I didn't want to hurt myself or the kids, but I would fly into a rage and then it would end with me feeling badly for what I had done and thinking that everyone would be better off without me. That latter feeling would stay with me for days, and I fear even longer if I hadn't sought help. Because of my history with depression, I got on medication right away which helped settle my crazy thoughts, controlled my raging hormones, and got me through the sleep deprivation and babies' crying spells.

Even after the postpartum time frame, I would slip into periods of depression that got me thinking about my purpose here and if the world would be better off without me. I never got so far as to create a real plan for leaving, but I could see how someone could get to that point if they didn't have some intervention. I'm so thankful I've been given many opportunities to step off the ledge. My greatest intervention has been my God who keeps coming back to save me. At just the right moment, God has provided me with just the right person, words, songs, or medical assistance to help me think clearly and face reality again. I know it's His Grace, His Love, His Purpose for me that has kept me here and kept me from going too far. I've done nothing special and don't feel deserving of all He has given me, but I'm so thankful He has. God has given me my faith that allows me to trust in Him completely. It's this faith, it's God's great love and provision, that gets me through the storms of life.

I'm so sad for Aimee and her family. I don't claim to know her whole situation. I don't know if she reached out to loved ones or if she sought medical treatment. Even in this modern day, I think depression is still viewed as a shameful illness and is something people try to hide and get through on their own. I want to help bring depression to light as a problem that many of us face and that true healing requires more than just a pill. For those afflicted, we need unlimited patience, understanding, and unconditional love. We don't always find this in our families and friends, but we can find this in Jesus, Our Savior and Friend. I pray that more people will turn to Him, will stop hiding in shame and reach out to family and friends. It could save your life.

I love this song and video! Such a beautiful message...

"Remind me who I am" by Jason Gray