Thursday, October 12, 2006

Living with Depression -- Lesson #2

Lesson #2 -- Learn, learn, learn.

The Internet is a wonderful tool. I can recall back when we first got hooked up to the world wide web -- one of the things I researched was depression. It was so helpful to me to read the experiences of others and to learn about common symptoms, expressions and manifestations, if you will, of depression. One thing that I read stood out to me ... You never say to a depressed person, "Snap out of it!" Whenever I hear that phrase I think of Cher in the movie "Moonstruck"! When I learned about the illness, I started to understand the behaviour a little bit and I was able to recognize the signs when Eric was starting to "crash".

In our second year of marriage I also took a course at the seminary where Eric worked. Since Eric had his degree in Biblical counselling, I took what was known as Core I, which taught the basic principles of counselling. My purpose in taking the course wasn't to become a counsellor, but to understand better where Eric was coming from and some of the terminology that he was using! I know it has been a valuable tool for me to use to challenge Eric and to listen beneath his words.

To reiterate lesson #2 ... learn, learn, learn!

Living with Depression -- Lesson #1

Hello. My name is Lisa. My husband suffers from Major Depressive Disorder. I know there's Al-Anon, but is there a support group out there for spouses and family members who live with people suffering from depression? I have thought for a number of years that perhaps other people could benefit from my experience and what I have learned living with a depressed person. Perhaps it's time I started sharing those things here.

I'll start at the beginning. Eric and I were married on June 17, 1989 -- on Eric's 30th birthday! I don't think I realized at the time the extent of Eric's depression. But I knew without a doubt that I was to marry this man. I believe that God placed Eric in my heart even before that first blind date we had. Eric would likely say that he has battled depression since his late teens. It's been a long road for him.

The first couple of years of marriage were typical -- sorting out the workings of a marriage. Eric was working at a Christian college and seminary as the athletic director and was also teaching counselling labs, so obviously his hours varied from my standard office hours. There were days that he just couldn't get out of bed and that was my first experience with him when he was depressed. I didn't quite know what to do with him -- I had little or no understanding of his depression and how best I could love him. I often tried to talk to my mother about Eric when he was depressed, but she had no understanding of the illness and her response ("What do you mean, he can't get out of bed? You just get up and go to work!") wasn't really helpful to me. I loved my mother dearly, but at one point I made a decision that I couldn't talk to her about Eric's depression because it negatively affected my response to Eric. I have to say this about my mother ... She passed away just over four years ago and in the last years of her life, she made a real effort to understand the illness of depression. She was so committed to praying for Eric because she realized that was about the only thing she could do. One of the last things she told Eric was that she would pray for him until she had no more breath -- and that was about a week before she went home to be with Jesus.

So lesson No. 1, if there is a series of lessons here, is that it is actually helpful to talk to somebody, to share about the difficulties, and to pray together with someone. But it is important to choose someone who will really listen to you, someone who has an understanding of what depression is about, and someone who can give you wise counsel.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Friends

So our oldest son, aged 14, is out again with his buddies. They discovered that if they were at Little Caesar's at exactly 12:00 noon, they could get free day-old cold pizza. I'm not sure how many of his buddies he went with -- there's a crew of about 5 of them that get together to hang out.

Years ago I prayed long and hard that Corey would have good friends. He had a best friend from Kindergarten to Grade 2 and then his friend Joel moved to Alberta. Corey changed schools mid-way through Grade 5 and had a tough time fitting in at the new school. But since moving on to junior high, he has really come into his own and gained new confidence. He has made wise decisions as far as his choice of friends goes, and I am so thankful for that.

It is not our standard and expectation that our boys only have friends who also are "Christians". I think it's great if they do have friends who share their faith and love for Jesus, but it's not the sole criteria I want the boys to have for choosing their friends. My desire and prayer for my boys is that they will each make wise decisions as far as choosing their friends; that in their relationships with their buddies they can be the light that shines in the darkness. I'm here to teach and encourage them in their faith and to help them understand why they believe what they believe. They have a tremendous opportunity to live out their faith and be the hands and feet of Jesus to their friends.

Its all in the Name

Today Zackery Benjamin is doing some homework about what his name means and why his parents picked his name. We discussed this topic at the kitchen table with Lisa and Brendan puzzling and Eric eating cereal. There is no special reason for why we picked "Zackery Benjamin", we chose that name because we liked it. Zackery just walked into the office and was very excited about Zackery coming from Zechariah. It is a Hebrew name. He also had a list of Zackery names in different languages. In Finnish Zackery is Saku, as in Saku Koivu of the Montreal Canadians.

Only Nathan Joel got a name with meaning because we thought he would be different from the rest of us. Nathan Joel received two names of prophets because we thought that he would be able to hear God better than the rest of the family. He is now busy creating a complex "scenario" in the computer game "Age of Conquerors". His difference is God given and easy to see. He sometimes struggles with this difference, but to us he is very special.

Brendan Joshua was another name that was discussed at the table. I said that I liked the name Joshua because Joshua in the Bible was strong and courageous. Brendan asked if he was strong and courageous and I said yes. I see him being strong and courageous and think that one day he would be an excellent fireman or paramedic.

Corey Jonathan is still in bed sleeping. He is a teenager so I am not sure if his “pond-dwelling, friend of the king” activities (or lack thereof) comes from his name or his chronological measurement. We love him

Monday, October 02, 2006

Music to my ears

We now have two boys who are in junior high (grades 7 and 9) and both are in the band program. When Corey was in grade 7, he started playing clarinet and actually has a natural aptitude for that instrument. Of course he had his moments when he was starting out ... moments of squeaking and squawking ... but it actually sounds melodic when he practices now.

BJ has just started grade 7 and so has begun to learn to play the trumpet. Considering he's only had the instrument for just under a month, I have to admit he's actually not doing too badly. Thankfully he practices in the basement. He was practicing after school today (in the basement) and for the most part it sounded OK. But then I heard a long sustained note that didn't sound very good at all. And then I realized that it wasn't BJ and his trumpet, but rather a low-flying plane overhead heard clearly through the open window. Oops.