Friday, March 28, 2008

The Name Says It All

WARNING! Please read blog description - note use of words "spout, rant" - proceed with caution, take 2 aspirin and call your doctor in the morning.

Seeing as how my blog's address is nochurchsignsallowed, and I've been blabbing around here for awhile, it's more than high time I explained why I went that route.

Bear with me and follow my train of thought. (good luck!)

What first sparked my general discontent with signage was an incident known to few people, until now anyway. Several years ago, I was under tremendous stress of the vice-grip variety: miscarriage, birthing 4 children in 5 years, metabolic disorder and Angelman Syndrome diagnosis for Gabe, discontent with our church and non-helpful pastor, moving, extended family issues, marriage issues, depression issues, financial issues, basically I was one big issue!

In the midst of all this mess, my doctor was attempting to help me with medication, but we were having a hard time (issue!) finding the right med/dose, blah blah. I had been referred to a specialist, but it would be months before I could get an appointment. After one particularly screwy day, facing the possibility of months more of the same old stuff, I admitted my problems were more than I was willing to handle and admitted my problem self to a stress unit.

There you have it folks - I've been in the looney bin. Should I ever decide to run for political office, please refer all interested parties to this website so that there will be no question as to the presence of skeletons in my closet - I reveal those dry bones with no reservations.

However, let me point out - I did not do this because I was suicidal. I wasn't. I actually kinda like myself, when I'm feeling good. I just knew I couldn't wait for months of guinea pig-edness just to find out that...nope, THAT medicine wasn't working either. The result was, I wound up seeing the doctor I had been referred to, but much quicker. He figured out what I needed, and after some quite helpful counseling, and a few experiences witnessing what...ok, I have to stop here and tell you about a few of those, simply because I find humor in most situations...

Unless you've been in the looney bin (and I use that term with great jocularity, at my own expense) you can't fully appreciate what happens in such places. Once I had been oriented to the stress unit (they let you keep your own clothes, ya know! You don't even have to wear a bum-revealing stained hospital gown! Who knew!) I was presented with my first meal. With plastic ware! Having worked in a hospital that sometimes placed patients on "suicide watch", I knew what the plastic fork really meant! Hello! If I'm going to kill myself, it won't be by stabbing myself with a fork!! As I haven't planned out my death, I don't actually know how I'd kill myself, but it sure enough wouldn't be with a fork, people! That much I can tell you! But since I was in new surroundings where people might misinterpret my sarcasm as "threatening behaviour" and create an instant lock-down situation complete with leather straps, Haldol IV drips, and electrical stimulation, and that's all before the standard lobotomy, I bit my tongue and dutifully used my Special Cutlery to eat my tasteless macaroni salad.

Something else I learned while I was there was that it's pretty standard for many patients to be there more than one time! There were 3 other women about my age that I spent time talking to, and each of them had been in-patients more than one time, and utilized out-patient services numerous times as well. Amazingly, they didn't seem to make the connection that maybe, just MAYBE, watching Lifetime Television might have something to do with their depression! Hello! Lifetime TV = Children being molested, women being abused, sons wanting to be daughters, and how all men are all evil. If you watch that channel, don't whine about being depressed! You should firmly attach a sledge hammer to the television screen if that's what it takes to eradicate your addiction! It just might save your marriage, and your life. (puts soap box away)
I told one of the other women "It's no wonder you're depressed! Quit watching that crap!" - she didn't even stab me with her fork!

ANYway, obviously I survived the 4 day stay in the hospital, and the ensuing month long outpatient follow-up counseling. During the drive to counseling one day, my trip took me past a church that had a sign in the front yard. You know the type - "try to preach using one liners cleverly disguised as well-meaning uplifting messages intended to point out a truth while making you feel good about yourself because after all you're special to everyone you just don't know it yet so we're going to point it out to you in the hopes that you'll believe us and come see what all the hullabaloo is about next Sunday". Now I should point out that this particular church was occasionally attended by a friend of mine, whose mother, a judgemental, critical person in general, was a regular attender and quite possibly responsible for this sign.

This sign's message:

"We're too blessed to be depressed".

ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!! You have NO idea how close I came to doing an instant illegal U turn and hunting down this woman to personally put my new found "you really shouldn't contemplate plucking people's eyebrows as torture" skills to the test. Do these people not refer to the Bible, the Holy Word of God, before they put their stupid signs on display? Have they never heard of Job? Jonah? Paul? Mary? David? Do they not know that people sometimes have problems they have to struggle through? Life happens? Blessings don't equal no bad times?

I am fully aware that we often create our own problems. I have plenty of my own making! I can also attest to the goodness of a gracious God who forgives my biggest sins as well as the seemingly insignificant mistakes I make on a daily basis. But to glibly spout off Christian-ease and imply that if I would just "let God handle it" all would be ok is stupid at best and downright wrong at worst! And trust me, I have had numerous mis-informed Christians tell me my "depression is just Satan speaking into my head". Give me a break! It isn't Satan! It's the lack of sleep, poor eating habits, the last disagreement with my husband, the argument with my mother, my sick child, the unbalanced checkbook, the latest electric bill, the nasty clerk, the price of gas...

Sure I know I could change some of those things. IF I WAS PERFECT! Newsflash: I'M NOT!! I also know that while God gives us brains, He doesn't ignore us when we don't use them properly. So if I create a problem that was just plain dumb, God isn't going to say "Guess what, idiot? You can get yourself outta this one! Maybe you'll learn your lesson this time!" That's human tendency, not God's. I've had the BLESSING of learning much through being severely depressed, the biggest lesson being that God is with me always, and I can depend on Him when everyone fails me. I'd much rather just be able to believe that without the struggle, but God knows me better than I do, and apparently He sees things I don't.

So all this leads me to today - a church-sign dis-liker of great measure. Along the path of my resistance, I've seen some dandy lines:

EGO - Edging God Out
Have you downloaded Jesus to your heart-drive?
Join us to battle truth decay
This church is prayer-conditioned
God chooses what we go through - we choose how we go through it
God is madly in love with you
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it
Ch__rch What’s missing? UR
Don’t make me come down there - God
Download your worries - get online with God

I will not give my opinion of each of these, but I think we have a problem when we start reducing Christianity to mere T-shirt slogans and catchy one-liners. God is Holy, and to try to fit Him into our lifestyle via the current most popular technology lingo, romantic notion, or various household appliance debases what He did for us on the Cross.

Don't get me wrong, I've had my share of fairly tasteful Christian-esqe T-shirts, because I'm not ashamed to let people know I'm a Christ-follower. I just think the idea of a drive-by sermon is questionable, especially when I can get the follow-up in front of the Donut Shop and the 3rd in the series at the gas station!

As for your fears that perhaps I should have stayed medicated longer, rest assured: I'm as much of a sound mind as I'm ever gonna get. I'm now drug-free. My down days are generally weather-related. I have never experienced road rage. (Considered it several times, but the idea of prison isn't as appealing as entrance to the sanatorium) And while I believe church signs should serve the purpose of telling the public the times of Sunday services, if your church participates in producing witticism from afar, I won't hold it against you - unless you tell me it's all in my head!

8 comments:

dorothy said...

He, he he.....from one woman who has lost it another - thanks for being real here! I spent 4 hours yesterday encouraging a younger woman that she wasn't 'seriously mentally ill' just reacting in a perfectly normal human way to her life being absolutely horrible in this season. Guess what? We cannot make everything better, we can't make our problems just go away and we absolutely shouldn't put on a 'happy face' because it makes others feel more comfortable with us (that's when we should get really worried about our friends.) It's ok to be a mess, and still trust in the Lord, and cry out in despair, and at the same time let your friends do all the praying because you have run out of everything....positively everything that you thought was you in the past. I wont even get started on the HPV thing - I think I have had a little too much coffee to be safe on that topic- good to know things are leaking out about the truth now! Trusting that the snow will melt, Christ will return and that I absolutely don't have to use textbooks to teach my kiddos well at home.

Deanna said...

Thanks, Dorothy, I love it when people are just themselves! My husband says he married me 'cause I wasn't fake.
I live on coffee! Probably 98% of what I write is caffeine-fueled. (Is that a problem I should work on???!?)
Nah!
And I LOOOOOVE the no-textbook concept! We use it liberally, with a smattering of book-work thrown in for good measure. Especially for Algebra!

*~Tamara~* said...

If you haven't already seen it, you might have tons of fun at this site:

http://crummychurchsigns.blogspot.com/

And, also, I made this just for you, because I love you so much.

http://img403.imageshack.us/img403/7884/churchsigngs4.jpg

Deanna said...

Tam,
I can NOT believe you just contributed to my high blood pressure by pointing out the crummy church signs blog!!
And I LOVE the Deanna sign! I always knew God and I agreed on something!
*grin*

boomersgurl said...

i completely agree with you, i am a christian and i suffer from not one mental illness, but two and signs like that irritate me. they encourage the misconception in the church that mental illness is the fault of the sufferer. it also says in the the Bible that, as christians, we shouldn't trivialize christianity by making it a bumper sticker or a slogan. that kind of behavior angered Jesus in the temple and as children of God it should anger us as well

ShapeNoteSinger said...

Deanna--

I think you've been living my life! and from my point of view, too!

Thanks for a happy moment!
ShapeNoteSinger

lar said...

Deanna, I once heard a preacher give an entire sermon on how Christians have no business being depressed. I never did like that guy, but after that sermon I never listened to anything else he had to say.

I'm so glad you're better now, and thanks for your honesty!

lightening said...

Thanks for sharing. I too am a Christian who struggles with depression. I guess what people don't realise it that a church sign constitutes the use of the tongue and the warning about the tongue should be headed and applied.