First, let me say that I think that if you don't already have a psychologist, I think you should run right out and get one. Go on. I'll wait....
After you read this then? Okay, I can live with that. My own psychologist went on vacation last week, and I kind of have to admit that last week was slightly like the beginning of What About Bob? with the separation anxiety and the baby steps and the following him to his vacation home to teach his son how to swim. Okay, I didn't follow him to his vacation home. But if I were only slightly crazier, I think I would have.
Let's just say, I was glad he was back. And you guys, we had what the Brain Trainers call "a breakthrough." No, for real. Let me explain.
So for fifty minutes of our scheduled time, we ended up talking about The Holocaust. Wha? The Holocaust. Stay with me.
Whenever I get down, I think of it as this terrible thing I'm doing. "My depression is a hinderance." "My depression hurts other people." "My depression is a mistake my body is making." So then Doc looks at me, and poses this question: What makes you think you shouldn't be depressed? And my mind splattered all over the laydown couch.
When I thought about it, I couldn't come up with an answer. Everybody gets depressed, he explained. Everybody has bad things happen, and everybody has good things happen, and there is no reason I should believe that every time I get depressed, I should feel worse because of what that depression might "mean." And then he told me about a book called Man's Search for Meaning, and I'm just going to recommend that we all buy it and read it, but because I don't want to wait for you to do that, I'll sum it up. It's about a man's experience in Auschwitz, and why he decided to continue living throughout his time there. And the point is not to make you feel bad and go, "Well geez, I guess I don't have it all that bad, and I should feel dumb for complaining" (although I'm certain that wouldn't be the worst side effect of reading this book). The point is to ask yourself questions like "Why should I continue living?" And then answer those questions.
I was talking to Eric in the car on the way home from my appointment and I had another Oprah-patented A-Ha moment. I said something to the effect of "It gets me down when bad things happen to good people." And my husband, because he's my favorite person ever, said, "What ever makes you think they won't?" And I slapped my forehead to remind my mind not to explode again.
I answered the question though. I always believed that when you do good things, good things happen to you. If I studied hard, I'd get good grades. If I treated people with kindness, they'd treat me with kindness in return. If I didn't let boys put their tongues in my mouth, I wouldn't get pregnant. And if you think the one about the tongue pregnancy was naive, reread the second one.
Truth is, bad things do happen to good people. Ask Job. Good things also happen to bad people. How else did King Herod become king?? And for me to believe that somehow, I am exempt from this fact of life is really sort of... misguided.
So there we were, sitting in the car, having this A-ha moment, and thinking about dying cows and evil kings, and my brain synapses were firing, and I was actually learning something. And now I'm going to make some changes.
The first one is going to be to step outside of myself more often. What I mean is, I think if I focus on acts of service, I can at least start to see firsthand where my previous logic was flawed. Bad things do happen to good people, and I should help these good people in any way I can now, because with the way the world works, I could, at any moment, no matter how "good" I am, be in need of help too.
I'm starting small, with donations of my time. I'm going to be volunteering my time towards this because it's something I can do from home, and I also think it will help me get perspective.
I'm also going to work in service toward the St. Mary's Food Bank. Eric gave a Report Night presentation on it, and so I know he'd be up for volunteering there as well. I think I am going to start with a canned food drive with my kids. I'm still working out the logistics. I'll let you know if there's some way you can get involved.
So that's where we're at today. Renee, patching up her exploded mind. Renee, not being a total butthead.