Monthly Archives: August 2013

STIGMA

Has anyone ever heard of Max Lucado? If so, I’m sure you are aware of his unique style of writing. I would like to share something that he wrote back in 2003, that is how long I have held on to it! I have always compared<this short composition to the stigma of mental illness<. I do believe that people are more understanding than they were in years past as more and more people keep coming out of the closet with their mental conditions. What really hits home is the initial diagnosis; usually at a young age. Knowing, as Max writes: life would never be the same.

    The UpWords Weekly Devotional – www.MaxLucado.com 02/05/2003

In scripture the leper is symbolic of the ultimate outcast: infected by a condition he did not seek, rejected by those he knew, avoided by people he did not know, condemned to a future he could not bear. And in the memory of each outcast must have been the day he was forced to face the truth: life would never be the same.

The banishing of a leper seems harsh, unnecessary. The Ancient East hasn’t been the only culture to isolate their wounded, however. We may not build colonies or cover our mouths in their presence, but we certainly build walls and duck our eyes. And a person needn’t have leprosy to feel quarantined.

Disease Number Two

Want to know a secret? When my book is published it will no longer be a secret SO HERE GOES: Nancy’s disease #2. After suffering for years with the mania, the depression, the anxiety, the obsession…..I had finally become mentally stable….yes, even working a full time job, living on my own and “leaning on the promises” when disaster struck. Are you kidding me? Multiple Sclerosis? Yes. Now that I had my mind back, a new disease, not to take my mind – although I was warned of cognitive changes – but paralysis!!! I couldn’t bear the thought of it! There I was, at the Cleveland Clinic Mellon Center, giving my MRI x-rays to the Dr. after being told that I either had a brain tumor or MS….wearing an eye patch over one eye, because I was seeing double. The Dr. gave me the diagnosis stating that there were lesions on my brain stem. It was November of 1998 Thanksgiving Day. Everyone was hugging me, knowing that just the day before my life came to a abrupt halt. How was I to deal with this horrific diagnosis? Panic set in. I did not just have fear but I was paralyzed with it! (hummmmm) I was, again, unable to function….the fear of my body slowly going numb, or pain, or limping along with “drop foot” or -or -or dare I think about it? UNABLE TO GET OUT OF BED AT ALL? WHEELCHAIR BOUND?

I found my answer at North-Mar church. I went up to the altar and, as in the book of James, the Elders of the church anointed me with oil and fervently prayed for my healing. I felt a burning hot sensation on the back of my neck. I felt my eyesight, which had gone from double vision to tunnel vision correct itself. It was yet another supernatural touch from God! All symptoms were gone, in Jesus’s name!

I had forgotten all about the MS in 2001 and unknowingly was poisoning myself by lying in a tanning bed so I wasn’t as white as my wedding dress! My left hand and arm were tingling and, actually, my left hand began to hurt in a weird sort of way. I was foolishly soaking myself in heat. Did I forget? Or had I not yet known that heat is the worst for MS. Oh dear! I had done it to myself….my FREE WILL brought back a glimpse of the disease.

I went back to a neurologist. This time at the St. Elizabeth’s MS clinic. I brought the doctor my MRI. This doctor ordered another MRI of the brain stem to see if the illness had progressed. When the results came back, the doctor was dumbfounded!!! There were NO lesions on my brain stem, NO NOT A ONE!!! I was SO happy! But no, the doctor wasn’t satisfied. He ordered yet another MRI. This one was of my spinal cord. He called Gary (soon to be Garrett) and I into the x-ray room. He pointed at this almost miniscule dot on my spinal cord and said “There it is! There is a lesion!!!” Ok, alright. Here comes the FEAR……but I had already written down each and every scripture that said “STAND FIRM” and I believed I would and always will “STAND FIRM!” The doctor gave me two books. One was written by Squiggy from the TV show LAVERN & SHIRLEY. It was called “Falling Down Laughing”. I read the book, as Squiggy jokes his way through his diagnosis of MS. (I did not find it the least bit comical.) The other book was a medical book that started out talking about the amount of people who COMMIT SUICIDE because they know they have MS! I threw that book across the room and never went back to a neurologist again.

Today…..after 15 years…..my only MS symptom is numbness in my left hand and, occasionally I am bothered by heat. Here is my song FOR TODAY….”Because HE lives, I can face tomorrow, Because HE lives all fear is gone! Because I know HE holds the future and LIFE IS WORTH THE LIVING, JUST BECAUSE HE LIVES.”

A Godly Grandmother

Substance Abuse. This is a problem that seems to go hand and hand with mental illness and I can’t blame anyone for trying to self-medicate……but…..when I meet a man who has had depression for what he told me “Thirty years of deep suicidal depression without any professional help…” I wonder how he survived. So, I asked him just that. “Alcohol and street drugs…” was his immediate answer. Oh! My heart breaks for this guy!!! How did he keep going? He barely did. His life was harsh filled with abandonment by his family, feeling unloved….running to and fro in relationships and out of relationships and living homeless at times. In jail sometimes. His face shows the lines of a man who has seen too much. What I had seen in him was nothing more than a broken spirit. I say a quick prayer for him under my breath, or do I really? Not long after he then disappears from my sight and I, unfortunately, forget about this man…..finding new people in similar situations.

In time, this man goes into a deep hole with no way out, it seems. But then – when he was at his worst moment – ready to give up. Feeling Doomed. SOON to be a just another statistic. He called out to the only person he had fully ignored. GOD. Then the God of the universe revealed himself to this man. Showing him the way, the truth, and the life though God’s son “they called HIM Jesus” (that’s from a song, sorry) and He gave him an idea to get some real help and another idea about where to live and who to seek for assistance. Finding peace of mind!

Now, years later, this man is back. I take a good look at his face and stand in awe for a moment. Gone are the eyes haunted with anguish. His clothes are freshly laundered. He tells me how long he has been clean from alcohol and street drugs. He not only holds a beautiful smile but there’s something else! He now has a guitar. This man who society would have wanted to “throw away” has a guitar in his hands. He stammers a little bit apologizing for his LACK of talent. The group in front of him waiting patiently to hear what he has to share. The man tears up for a second. He explains that his grandmother used to sing this when he was a little boy otherwise he knows no other songs. He begins strumming his guitar and then something really beautiful happens. He starts out hesitantly, looking around nervously at the small group singing in a low voice “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now I’m found. Twas blind but Now I see.”

The Many Faces of Depression

August 11, 2013
How is your mood today? Every person on earth goes through good times and, well, not so good times….but what constitutes a true depressed mood? It doesn’t just go away!!! In fact, you could win money, be invited to meet a celebrity you like, or have some wonderful person give you a brand new car. Still depressed. The mind is a very interesting part of who we are and, unfortunately, where a lot of negativity can brew due to depression. What causes depression? Hummmm, there is Postpartum Depression which usually strikes within four weeks of having a baby. The guilt of not wanting to take care of your baby can be overwhelming!!! There is also S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder) which “follows the sun” so to speak. Here in Northeastern Ohio where the “the sky can be cloudy all day……everyday” many people suffer from this S.A.D. mood disorder. Are you so depressed that you have trouble moving your body? Like sitting in a chair looking straight ahead, hands folded, eyes open, thinking of getting up but staying in that position for hours? That’s called having Catatonic Features. (not to be mistaken with giving your cat a gin and tonic….which, come to think of it may do the same thing for your cat!) What about depression with Psychotic Features? Psychotic? What does that mean? Being out of touch with reality. i.e. “I hear a voice telling me I should be punished.” These are only a few types of depression. If you have had or are having depression GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK!!! Simply put: You are a survivor, an overcomer, and a HERO to make it though the most painful illness known to man: Depression. SHALOM NJM

August 10

Today- August 10, 2013 is an important day. My niece, Paige Stevenson was born. Happy 22nd Birthday to Paige! Now, to talk a little bit about this book I wrote. It is not easy to go back in time and bring up some of the most painful events in a persons life as the memories are there, but the feelings that go back to that time are all gone….mostly, and that is a good thing. I no longer am the woman who suffered so terribly with depression. On August 15, 1991, the old Nancy left that sinful nature and I became a new person. A person who held on tight to that flickering candle of hope, of truth, and of love. I thank God for everything He has done in my life, especially finding my solemate Gary — soon to be named Garrett — when the book is published, if you read it, you will understand. I want every person who has suffered with this most debilitating illness, they call it “mental illness” by the way, to know that I love them. You are my brothers and sisters. We need to stick together like a family because we have a unique understanding of eachother. Good night and SHALOM. NJM