I’m not sure if any of the rest of you have an issue with this, but whoever owned our house prior (yes, I will blame them for the current grossness) did not properly caulk the sink. This means that sometimes, stuff builds up. Gross, black, crumbly stuff.
I was cleaning the kitchen and I noticed something in the mess.
I have an herbaceous oasis on my counter, above the sink. It makes me feel like I am in a jungle. Although most of the herbs have died, my orchids are still living, which is a miracle, because my track record of keeping them alive has been about two months, tops.
These guys have lived for over a year now. I like to imagine the orchids in their natural habitat, clung to the side of some sort of jungle tree (as my brother, the wildlife ecology major shared with me once), and, in my musing, I walk back to my jungle treehouse, climb the rope ladder, and ease onto the fluffy white bed, full of books and coffee. Then someone screams or needs food or a bandaid, so I am back in the truth of my humble kitchen.
Today though friends…today…I found a friend. A buddy, as my friend Gina would say, was growing. A tiny little buddy plant shoot had started to grow in the muck of the thin line between the sink and where the counter ascends up to my herbaceous oasis. But this plant is not of the same species of it’s upstairs neighbors. It could be an apple tree? A pear tree? I have no idea. All I know is that it is totally disgusting, and yet, in my embarrassment over things literally growing in the dirt of my kitchen filth, I grew a buddy. I didn’t even mean to.
My mess grew something. Something living came out of something repulsive. See where I’m going here?
As terrible and as dead as things may feel, there is life that will grow out of your kitchen scum.
Now, I suppose I will have to go beyond dirt stories to make my point. Hang in there. It gets rough.
My dirt was depression and anxiety and pain. Funny how those three all intertwine sometimes.
I want to be clear that anything I share about my struggle is not written to induce pity or your apologies or any sort of “attention”. I remember right after my diagnosis, I was accused of trying to get attention. That sucked. Don’t say that to someone with chronic pain. The last thing they want is to be where they are. They need your love, not your judgement.
Anyway, please know that what I am about to share is in no way trying to pull any sort of response from you to me. I am simply sharing my dirt so that I can hopefully help someone else lost in their own.
So there I was, in pain, trying to care for my family and faking it until I was flipping making it. But I wasn’t making anything but more dirt.
However, I needed the depression, for a while, to absorb it all – something I talk a lot more about in my manuscript (which will maybe, possibly, one day be published!! Please God!!!).
The blog version is that the pain grew so great, the doubt so vast, that I knew no way of ending it other than entertaining the idea of ending IT… Yes my friends, your Christian, stay-at-home mom of three, psychologist, encouraging meme posting Facebook Friend was suicidal.
In most of my suicidal ideations, I imagined jumping.
The first time, I was in Minnesota, at the Mall of America with my sweet family, holding my baby daughter, and with every step I took, I could feel my bladder burning in my belly. It told me “you’re not ok, you’re not ok, this will not end, this will not end”.
The pain convinced me that I had nothing to hope for.
The pain was the voice of the enemy and it was defeating me. The voice told me that I had no reason to hope for healing, because it had been months and I had made no improvement.
The pain told me I was a lost cause, because look at all of the people on the ICN (Interstitial Cystitis Network – a wonderful and yet terrible source of social support after receiving an IC diagnosis – If you have received a chronic disease diagnosis, please beware of these forums. I met some of my biggest sources of hope through this forum, but I also met some of my biggest voices of fear. Many are on there because they are NOT getting better. A thousand more are NOT on there because they ARE better)
Anyway, I imagined myself jumping. Looking back I realize how absolutely terrible this was, well, because I was considering jumping off of a balcony in front of my family, and also because I would have landed in front of the Lego store. Can you imagine the trauma I would have inflicted on not only my own family, but on every child that had been begging their parents to go get the Death Star?
“Oh mommy mommy, let’s go, let’s go! Oh wait, mommy, why is that lady spread all over the Transformers’ exhibit”?
“Well, Johnny, that Mommy had Interstitial Cystitis and she couldn’t flipping take it anymore. Let’s go get your Death Star.”
I see I am getting insensitive, even if it was about my own previous, potential suicide.
My point is, I thought I was in the dirt for good. I had been praying for months, on my face, in tears, begging for a relief, and relief never seemed to come.
I had poured it all out until there was nothing left.
Fast forward a few months later, in April of 2016. I met a group of girls through that same network of fear, the ICN, and they brought me into a group on Facebook. One of the women was in complete remission. Another, so well that she could basically eat anything she wanted.
After having been exiled from all delicious food, due to IC diet restrictions, the proposition of one day being able to drink coffee once again was reason enough to hold off on the jumping. More than the hope of a cup of coffee, was HOPE. These girls did it. Why couldn’t I?
I wish I could say that I went into remission the next day. Oh how sweet that would have been! Although the physical pain did take a much longer time to resolve itself, my soul found hope.
I stopped listening to the lies of the enemy and started embracing the promises of a God who not only beat disease, but overcame death itself.
I listened to voices of hope and I told the voices of despair that while I needed to acknowledge my pain and my fear and my sadness, there was no room for them anymore. Pain and sorrow are not conducive to healing.
So let’s go back to the kitchen. Guess what happened next?
I wandered over to the sink, and I noticed something growing – something living was making its way out of the muck.
I realized that there was a place inside that my disease could not reach and it was my spirit… my soul.
My friends in pain, please do not listen to the voice that tells you that you can’t do this, that the pain is too great, the sadness too thick and the prospects too bleak.
I have hope for you! So many have hope for you!! My bladder has been a quiet little angel for over a month now!! I have had no pain for much longer than that.
I just re-downloaded my Starbucks app, after I deleted it over a year ago, thinking I would never have coffee again. Friends, I drink it every morning, by the grace of God’s healing! But I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that it started to get better when I believed that it could!
Believe that you can heal!
Fall into what makes you come alive.
I started feeding my spirit with books and music and writing, and it’s like the part inside all of the flesh and bones absolutely insisted that it had more to do here than be bossed around by a disease.
Friends, please don’t jump.
Please believe that a shoot can grow from your mess, whatever it may be: chronic pain, depression, addiction.
We all will experience the filth at some point. Someone will die. Someone will cheat. Someone will get sick. Something awaits us all, but I do not say that to bring fear, but rather to empower you for when that day does come.
It is not the end of you. Your disease is not the end of you. My disease has become just the beginning of my story. And maybe you say, “sure – you say this because you are in remission”. Well, here’s the thing. I’m not! My body still fails me from time to time and there are new hurdles I am dealing with now, but I rejoice because I know my soul can NOT be touched. It will never be compromised.
There is SO much. hope. in. that. So believe it and maybe you will wander into your own disgusting kitchen one afternoon, and there, out of the dirt will be the shoot of hope for you.
If you are considering suicide, I encourage you to seek help. Please consult a trusted friend or call this hotline 1-800-273-8255.
Chronic disease takes away a lot of who we are. It will be a journey if you have just been diagnosed. It will be hard. You will be sad. You should be sad. But please do not give up.
I wish I could go back to the defeated Mom at the Mall of America and tell her “Don’t jump. It will get better”. I can’t tell her, but I can tell you:
It will get better, my sweet friend! Pain can be treated, but many chronic diseases are misunderstood. I promised to write more, so I will be sharing all I can about what has helped me on my own “healing journey”, but in the mean time, the biggest message I want to give you is that you are still you.
Heal your spirit, and the body will follow.