Monday, December 31, 2012

You Still Need the Cough Suppressant

I was originally going to just e-mail this to my father but he has decided to go though the gift we gave in publicly on his blog.

So a little of back story. Depression is a terrible thing. I have struggled with bouts of it. Where I am tired, and apathetic and nothing seems to be important, or matter,or make me happy and the worst part of it for me is that I don't feel like this is a bad thing, because nothing really seems to matter. I just want to read and sleep. Reading takes me out of my world where nothing matters into a place where things do and people feel. The first time this hit me after we were married I did not realize how much it had altered my behavior until I saw how much it worried my husband. My depression is very manageable. Control stress, eat well, get enough sleep and I am usually fine.

My father has a much harder time managing what he calls his "profound sadness." Its hard to be the child of someone who rarely seem happy with you. I mean my dad did everything he could to let us know he loved us and he was proud of us. He never missed a single track meet. But there was the underlying current that none of this was enough to be happy. As an adult I understand this much better and as a child I don't think I was aware of it as it was pretty much a constant, but it makes my heart break for him. So I put together a little appointment style calendar with bible verses, questions, and random acts of kindness that I hoped would help him discover how to choose to be joyful even when sadness seems to be the only real option. You see it is my belief that joy is different than happiness. Joy is one of the fruit of the spirit according to the list in Galatians. This means Joy comes from God. It is something that is there despite, or perhaps regardless of circumstances something you can choose to have if you only reach out for it.

Corry Tenboom in her book "The Hiding Place" describes the conditions of the WWII concentration camp she and her sister found themselves in.  "Barracks 8 was in the quarantine compound. Next to us--perhaps as a deliberate warning to newcomers--were located the punishment barracks. From there, all day long and often into the night, came the sounds of hell itself. They were not the sounds of anger, or of any human emotion, but of a cruelty altogether detached: blows landing in regular rhythm, screams keeping pace. We would stand in our ten-deep ranks with our hands trembling at our sides, longing to jam them against our ears, to make the sounds stop."  But even here she and her sister found great joy she wrote about the crowded conditions and how they allowed for more people to hear the gospel, and the fleas which kept the guards out of the room giving them peace and keeping there tiny copy of the bible safe from searches. They learned to be grateful and to see the good in even the worst things.

So while Joy exists as the cure for sadness and pain and it should be pursued, happiness is a temporarily relief from sadness. But just as if you had bronchitis and were prescribed an antibiotic it is still important to take your cough suppressant to allow your body to rest as you recover.

Below is a video in which Ze Frank describes how he chases his Happy. It does have some Not Safe For Work or small children language so watch with discretion but I think his concept is good. Just because happiness or other feelings maybe ephemeral or fleeting does not mean we are passive participants in our universe.

So +Barry Smith What can you do to chase your happy? What about the rest of you? I find my Happy in learning new and exciting uses of science, in silly faces, cute owls, clean bed sheets, hanging upside down, dancing, don't tell him but I find my happy in my husband's silly puns, in old stories, and so many more little things. What makes you smile when you think about it what makes you laugh, like tears down your cheeks belly laugh? What makes you happy? Now go get it!

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