Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rx for Depression

 Our world is so focused on achievement that it is difficult to allow  much-needed respite time. I often hear myself moaning, "I just didn't get anything accomplished today!"  But I have learned that when depression threatens, it is important to treat the extra time I need to spend outdoors as therapy. This respite is as necessary to my health as rehabilitation that aids healing from a physical injury.  It isn't just "taking time for myself,"  but is like medicine I must take in order to have strength to continue to walk the path the Lord has placed before me.

I learned about the restorative power of beauty years ago, when I first began taking care of my mother:  

"...taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation refreshes the soul..." 

"Scripture reveals the reason that beauty in nature grants such peace. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20). Our God is invisible, but He has revealed much of himself to us in creation. During stress-filled days it is especially important to take time to appreciate the beauty of nature. Just as viewing an artist’s work reveals something to us of the artist’s character, creation reveals the Creator." My Mom Has Alzheimer's: Inspiration and Help for Caregivers, pp. 15-16 
 Caregiver depression can be a difficult-to-cope-with side effect of taking care of someone you love. Today, at another of my blogs, I've written a post about my favorite depression therapy you might find helpfulKansas Beauty: Depression's Cure (please feel free to insert your own country/province/state's name for "Kansas").  

Caregivers' Prayer:  Lord, please banish depression from me today.  Help me not only to be fruitful and productive with my day, but also to take the time to absorb the restorative blessings of nature, beauty that You've provided for respite.  In Jesus' Name, Amen 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Anger Justified? Nope. Not Even at 1:00 A.M.

During my devotion time this evening I felt the Lord's nudge to ask forgiveness for how I responded to my mother when she used her special one-touch phone to call my cell phone at 1:00 this morning.  She has a way of summoning me into her room to take me to task for not meeting her needs adequately, and this was one of those times.  She was not feeling sick; she had no physical need.  

I was angry with her and didn't allow her to voice any grievances.  She saw my upset, and succumbed without much comment to my order that she return to bed.  As she shuffled off toward her bedroom she said, sounding so much like my mother of old that it just made me madder:  "I can see you are angry and I suppose you are right not to give me compassion, it would probably just make me worse."  

But then in an aside (evidently to the cat) she muttered, "...but a little compassion would sure be nice."  

I took her robe, gently helped her to bed, but did not speak to her again except to bid her a detached but pleasant goodnight.  I then returned to my own bed and lay awake for two hours.  This heart-stopping response to being awakened from a sound sleep by the phone is even more acute of late, probably because in the past three months we have received three middle-of-the-night calls from other family members that were legitimate emergencies. Something about that phone jarring me from a sound sleep sent adrenaline through my system that lingered, and when I finally did fall asleep I tossed and turned for the few short remaining hours of the night.  

I was angrier still when tonight I felt the Lord telling me to ask forgiveness for my lack of compassion.  I listed my legitimate grievances toward my mother, many dating back years before Alzheimer's shaded her thinking and actions, but to no avail.  I felt led to the following Scripture passages:
"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves....Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse...Live in harmony with one another...Do not repay anyone evil for evil...do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him;  if he is thirsty, give him something to drink'...Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good"  (Romans 12:14, 16a, 17a, 18, 19-21 The Voice). 
My mother doesn't appreciate (or know) how much I have done for her the past ten years since her diagnosis.  Alzheimer's has caused her to become self-focused, and the resentment she holds toward me for wrongs real and imagined only becomes more bitingly apparent as her disease progresses.  She still expresses love and gratitude, but I never know when dark thoughts will gain control of her reasoning; many times now the triggers are internal rather than from any real time event.  And so Mom is sometimes what I call a beloved enemy; someone I love and who loves me but treats me badly. But this does not justify my responding to her harshly.  

So ok, Lord, please forgive me for barking out angrily at Mom at 1:00 a.m.  I forgive her because You've forgiven me.  I entrust my rights into Your hands.