Black Dog Called Depression.

Day 35 -Lent Challenge – Lead

This blog is acknowledging my life living with the Black dog called depression. The Black dog is not mine, it’s attached its self to my husband. It lives with us and is part of us. It’s real. That’s why it’s included in my 40 blogs.
I have written two stories, both true. For those that have not lived or cared for someone with depression, I hope this helps gives you some understanding as to what life can be like.

Recently some friends brought a puppy. It was a very much loved new member of their family. This golden ball of fluff arrived in their lives looking and acting like the perfect family pet.
He’s such a funny little character loved and enjoyed by everyone that visits them. When the family are at home he’s a joy. As soon they all get ready to leave him at home on his own things start to take a turn for the worse.
He gets anxious paces and makes funny noises. As the getting ready in the morning intensifies so does his levels of anxiety increase. Tension starts to rise between dog and owner.
When eventually they leave him in the quietness of the house he does what all young dogs do.
He’s chewed what he can. Pooed where he should not, and generally gets into terrible trouble.
The owners soon realise the dog’s behaviour cannot continue.They see their short-sightedness in buying a puppy and working full time. They love this dog and want to do all they can to relive its stress and anxiety. They arrange a dog sitter, friends and family help when they can. Dog sitting on evenings and on weekends so everyone had a good quality of life including the puppy. They consult an animal behaviourist. Learn signs of anxiety and take steps to eliminate them.They add routine to their day. Giving the puppy space to explore and play.
They no longer fear coming home. They no longer dread opening the front door.
They never blamed the dog for its behaviour they understood the reasons behind the behaviour and addressed them.

Reading the above story nothing surprises us. We know and understand that leaving a puppy alone for long periods of time is not good for dog or owner. With love time and patience they grow up and become the family pet we hoped and dreamed of.

I am going to tell you the story of the Black dog ( depression ) that lives with us.

24 years ago I feel deeply in love and married my husband. I walked down the aisle a young bride looking forward to married life. We looked the perfect couple. Young happy and in love.
The Black dog ( depression ) joined our family- it becomes attached to my husband. To start with it was more of a nuisance than a problem. With a few simple changes, it was manageable.
We learned to live with it. As we got older the dog grew up and got bigger. It would become a nuisance, causing embarrassment and upset.
It becomes so big that it forgets its manners, being rude, snapping and growling at all those who came near him/ us.
The tension in the house caused more snapping and growling. Going out without the dog become harder and harder.
We seek professional help. The Black dog refuses to go. The more tension I put on its lead. The more it bites and refuses to do even the basic tasks. The Black dog has imprisoned us in our own home. It refuses help. When the dog finally shows weakness, the help that we receive is difficult. The services are busy and overworked. They don’t have time to see past the growling. Each appointment we see someone new. This causes defence behaviour that looks aggressive.
Our friends stop visiting us. Why would they want to spend time with a dog that does not want to engage with them? A dog that does not wag it’s tail. A dog that does not play.
The hardest part for me is leaving the Black dog home alone with my husband. I fear what it will do. I fear it will take away my husband, that it will totally consume him to the point of no return. I fear its greed will be to much for my husband to cope with.
I fear opening the door. I dread coming home to the quietness of the house not knowing what it’s done when I am out.

The trouble with the Black dog it’s invisible. It’s not an imaginary dog it’s real. Because people don’t see it they fail to understand. I don’t blame them, but many blame and judge my husband. They see the behaviours but lack understanding.

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So how do I cope?
Pray
Prayer is my biggest way of coping. I pray when the Black dog is sleeping. I hold my husband first thing in the morning and pray. When it’s bedtime again I hold my husband and pray until God holds my exhausted words until sleep takes me too .
I pray that we can put a “lead” on the Black Dog. That it can be managed, disciplined and controlled.

Gratitude.
It’s being grateful for the little things and thanking God. It’s the littlest things that give hope; a hug, a smile, positive conversations.

Love .
Being honest and open to those that love us. That honesty also has to be respectful to my husband. I have friends that know and understand that life is hard. It’s so important for me to have a couple of special friends that I can trust. These friends are good listeners, they don’t judge. They love us and pray for us.

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Life built on a foundation of fear .

Day 27 – Lent Challenge – Fear.

Children who have experienced instability, frightening events, or inconsistent care build foundations of fear.
Beliefs which come from a foundation of fear tend to be negative, such as:
• I can’t trust adults to take care of me
• I have to be in control to stay safe
• It’s not safe to love or be vulnerable

Children with such negative core beliefs often have concerning behaviours such as stealing, lying, defiance, etc.
As a foster carer it’s our job to understand these behaviours. We look beyond the fear to the child that is hurt, confused sad and afraid.

They are afraid to love. This blog is for one young person who’s fear of love turned my world upside down.
God prepared me for this. In that preparation I understood this child acted out if fear. It was not personal, they were not to blame.
I understood that fear and love could not co exist. I knew the only way forward for me was to trust God and stay with love.
Love came with understanding and forgiveness. I felt so loved. In the darkness it was love that removed doubt, gave hope and purpose.

The fear this young person felt was contagious. It spread to others they pulled away.
Logic and reason was replaced by fear. The fear of making a bad error of judgement.
Those that came alongside us and walked us through our pain held and loved us. Their love came from God not fear. They listened with love. They prayed for us and with us,
held and surrounded by love.
Love does not take away the pain that fear causes. Love does not stop fear trying to destroy your life. Love does not have the answers.
Gods love gave us a future and hope. Gods love stopped the pain becoming fear. Gods love gave us focus through the blur and numbness.Gods love was supporting and always their.
I have learnt to put my trust in God. That trust gave me the strength to cope with the devastation left by fear.

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Comforting powerful words.

Day 16 -Lent challenge 2018 – Stillness.

One of the things that has really helped me find my faith is all the little seeds of faith planted by the wonderful community and family that surrounded me as I grew up.
Today’s blog is a thank you to our next door neighbour for teaching me Psalm 23.
I don’t have many memories of her. But I do remember her dark brown doors with high handles that I could reach but my younger sister could not.
Being in the garden while my mum and next door where both hanging out the washing. They Stopped to chat over the fence,the excited conversation about the pope visiting England. I had never next door so excited before.
But most of all I remember my visits to her house, when she would take down Psalm 23 and recite it to me and my sister.

When my life became full of pain it was Psalm 23 that gave me such hope and strength. The words that where once forgotten became alive. Comforting powerful words backed up by a strong healing message wrapped in Gods unconditional love.
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Psalm 23 King James Version (KJV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Despair – The Compelte Loss Or Absent Of Hope.

Day Eleven – Lent Challenge 2018 – Despair

I feel called to be along side those that have complete loss and absent of hope. Reaching into the forgotten corners of our communities.
Dysfunctional families where poverty and hunger is real. Being a voice for them, fighting for justice. That the love of God may be made visible to them.

Writing the above one powerful image comes to mind.
A father sat rocking in grief unable to look up from the floor. Numb and muted by pain, he rocked slowly in some hopeless attempt to self calm. A father that had his 3 children removed by social services the day before. A father that was expected to partake in a meeting with no support.
He sat alongside his wife holding her hand. Not once did they break contact, not once did they look at each other.
I attended that meeting and did nothing. A cried deeply inside, I prayed that someone would go to them and stop this cruelty.
I am ashamed with myself for not doing something. I never had the confidence to help. I never had the words to say to them.
When I experienced terrible pain and grief myself some 18 months later, I found myself wrapped in love. Held in grief, prayed for and supported in my pain.
I can’t imagine going through so much pain without love. Going through grief without someone to hold you. Crying thinking no one cares.

The father and mother in my story will never know the impact they made on my life.
My journey is just beginning. Giving people space and opportunities to explore what it means to be loved by God.
I feel so full of energy and need some way of putting that energy down . God is changing me and giving me a voice; a voice that I have never really used much before.

My confidence is growing and so is my knowledge. I am hungry to learn, excited to see where God will send me and the path this might take.
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Psalm 88 The Message

1-9 God, you’re my last chance of the day.
I spend the night on my knees before you.
Put me on your salvation agenda;
take notes on the trouble I’m in.
I’ve had my fill of trouble;
I’m camped on the edge of hell.
I’m written off as a lost cause,
one more statistic, a hopeless case.
Abandoned as already dead,
one more body in a stack of corpses,
And not so much as a gravestone—
I’m a black hole in oblivion.
You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit,
sunk me in a pitch-black abyss.
I’m battered senseless by your rage,
relentlessly pounded by your waves of anger.
You turned my friends against me,
made me horrible to them.
I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out,
blinded by tears of pain and frustration.

Living small, loving big.

Day Eight – Lent Challenge 2018 – Faith

Today we celebrate the extremes of life—people who do big, bold stunts and make a visible difference in society. Yet we can often ignore the small, meek, everyday people who are making a difference – we just can’t see it so clearly.

The person I want to say thank you to today is my 2nd cousin. She allowed me to change my entire perspective on what it means to make a difference. A very quiet and private lady that in the last 5 years I have had the privilege of her sharing her faith with me.
We all show our faith in different ways. It’s these different ways that I find exciting. Gods love changes us from inside out. These changes take different shapes and grow in different ways. All uniquely different, all serving the God who loves us all just as we are.
This wonderful lady belongs and is part of our community. She feels part of and is part of our church family.
As a church, we pray for her. Read her name in out in intercessional prayers.
But she is only known by name, not in person.
She does not attend the church she belongs to. Her life is painful and behind closed doors. Sharing her pain with God is how she remains so positive.
A devoted wife; incredibly proud mother of her adopted son.
Her life has been full of frustrations, illness and pain.
The strength she shows each day comes from God.

Her faith is so quietly lived. It touches the lives of her family and close friends.
Jesus spent times of his life living quietly, with no public attention whatsoever. Only a handful of people knew what he was capable of. Jesus worked in the background. He laboured with his hands, made connections with people, and set the groundwork for his ministry to flourish later on in life.

When we’re living loud, extreme lives, theirs a danger our attention will be spread to thinly.
A quiet life lived, sees the need to love the people closest to you, not just the crowds. It’s living small loving big.
Walking with her is always a privilege, I always leave smiling and with something to think about.

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Psalm 62:5
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

 

Sharing Pain.

Day Five – Lent Challenge 2018 – Receive.

Today’s Lent challenge word is “receive and I chose to share and say thank you a wonderful person  that has helped me in many ways. This Person helped me realise it’s ok to receive/ask for help.
When life gets tough it’s easy to pretend everything is fine. Pull away from those that we love and quietly fall apart.
I used to think “ I can do this on my on my own”. Why would burden and expose others to my pain? Why share the pain? It seemed selfish to offload my pain onto others.

The reality has God created us with a need for help. Asking for help isn’t admitting failure or a sign of weakness. It’s recognising the way God made us.
This means our need for help is not shameful, or equal to failure. God built into us a need for help from the very beginning.
Learning to reach out to others has given me the strength.  It’s ok to receive help and admit the truth that I cannot do this alone. I can turn to my friends. I can cry out to God.
I can ask for help and prayers. In doing so I have formed friendships and realised their is strength is asking for help.
We are week unable to survive alone. God is strong and with his grace and help, we can do what might seem impossible.
So Thank You for helping me break the isolation of thinking I can do this on my own.

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Galatians 6:2 Good News Translation (GNT)

 Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.

Viewing life through the eyes of others.

Day Four – Lent Challenge 2018 – Hospitality.

Today’s Lent challenge prompt is “hospitality ” and I chose to share and say thank you, to one family that are very gifted in hospitality.
Its their total acceptance of who we are. Just as God excepts and love us so do they.
Viewing life through the eyes of others is never easy. It’s so easy to criticise those that do not think the way we do.
It’s so easy to think someone that is loud is rude.
It’s often just their way of hiding the true person. The person they are to afraid to show the world.
It’s only when we take time it get to know people do we discover the true them.
Many of my friends can’t see beyond my husband’s negative comments.

The phrases that comes from his mouth can be blunt and seem rude, but that’s not really him. He would be devastated to hurt someone’s feeling. But he also can seem rude, condescending, or downright mean. Making terrible mother in law jokes that are not funny, laughing at another person’s mis-fortune, or cracking inappropriate jokes.
We have found ourselves as a couple on the edge.
Church family has broken the cycle of us feeling rejected. It has broken the cycle of us not socialising.
Hospitality really is God given. It has only been through the church that we have felt this expectance and love.
So thank you to this wonderful family for inviting us into your lives, for sharing food together and laughing with us.

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Romans 12 The Message (MSG)

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.