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A Lecture from Dorothy Before Sleep - to Kristie

Posted by Dorothy on 8/22/03 at 02:43 (127621)

Kristi ~ Dr. Davis' advice is sound advice. One of the biggest contributors to depression is a feeling of helplessness but taking action is one of the best ways to fight depression. His advice to you to read (or read again) the heelspurs book is a good place to start.
In addition to the people here who are speaking to you out of loving kindness and personal experience, I would also urge you to get your hands on books and any other material you can that will tell you the stories of other people who have faced terrible things in their lives that, while they were in the middle of them, looked and felt like they could never go on. Maybe they overcame them or maybe they didn't overcome them but they learned how to live in new ways. Have you read Lance Armstrong's book? It is not fiction - it is true and it was painful and it was dire and not only did it seem like an absolute sure thing that he would never do the things that he loves and lives for, riding his bike, having children, but it looked like a certainty that he would not be alive. He is very much alive! Have you ever read about Helen Keller? How about that young man recently who was hiking out west and had a gigantic boulder fall on him. He was in the wilderness, all alone, with a gigantic boulder on him. He could have said, 'Well, that's it. This hurts a lot. I give up.' But he didn't. He freed his arm in the most unbelievable way, but even then, he couldn't say, 'Ok, well, I've done all I can do. That's it.' No, he then had to hike and rappel and struggle and fight to get out. He lost an arm and he has pain, but he's still living on and smiling and keeping on - he's alive. Someone very dear to me has had terrible seizures all of her adult life, and you know what, she also recently learned that she has cancer, too. She's facing all of it, face forward, chin up. She gets down sometimes; of course, she does, but she keeps on going with whatever the new day brings, and she's had plenty of new days where the surprises weren't very pleasant. She doesn't assume that somehow she got a waiver from having anything bad happen to her. Or that, because she has had a helluva time of life with epilepsy, she would never have another bad thing happen to her. No, she's had a whole lot of bad things happen to her and she keeps on plugging away. Being a human being includes having bad things happen and includes having pain - sometimes it is occasional, intermittent pain; sometimes it is temporary such as with childbirth; sometimes it is always present. It is part of being a human being. Are you familiar with the boy who writes poetry and essays (I am blocking on his name at the moment, and I regret that very much; when it comes to me, I will print it here I think it is Manny Stepanovich, but I may be wrong I'll look it up later Ok, I looked it up: Manny Stepanek) but his entire life has been full of pain and trauma - yet he lives in the fullest and most joyful way that a person can - even with the pain. His mother also lives with pain, physical and emotional, because she has the same disease that her boy has and she has already lost several children to the disease and she will lose this boy, as well. They keep living fully and keep trying to help others in pain. Another person dear to me developed rheumatoid arthritis as a relatively young woman. The very name of her daily existence was excruciating pain. Her body was twisted and distorted and she lived in physical agony, for years, over her ENTIRE body - but that was not her attitude. She was so very brave. We don't come into life with guarantees that we will be exempt from pain or from disability or from physical changes. When you think about it, it is pretty arrogant to assume that others may suffer horribly, but we should somehow be exempt from any suffering. I can't even IMAGINE living as Helen Keller did, but she didn't ever give up. And you know, it is entirely possible that not only could she not see, not hear, and not be able to speak - but she may have had very painful feet in her life, or back pain, or migraines, too. There are no pain quotas and there are no guarantees. These are the times that you get to find your courage and your strength - Life's easy, when it's easy. I don't know where these people get that kind of 'guts', but I love it and I want it myself because I admire it so profoundly. Read the stories of the people on this message board and know that what they are telling you is the truth and that they are giving you an important piece of themselves by reaching out to you and telling you they understand and telling you what they have been through and that it gets better or they are still working on it getting better. Read Dr. Ed's so sensible words about treatment and Sharon's and Aly's and John's and Brian's and Judy's and others really remarkable words - they know what they're talking about. I can't add one single thing of importance to what they have already said except to say that you can learn from others and you can really learn about yourself when things are hard and painful. There is nothing unique about being a human being in pain. What is unique is how you face it. Think about this Buddhist statement: Give thanks. In all circumstances, give thanks.
I have often been fascinated and curious about men in battle. It is hard for me to imagine the kind of grit, courage, spirit that it must take to keep going - when someone is shooting at you day and night, when there are no 'breaks', no vacations from it, it is relentless and there is no end in sight to it, day after day - and it might be easier and tempting to just give in, give up - yet men keep going and keep trying and they were hurting and exhausted and filthy and hot or cold and missing their families but they kept going - they do what needs to be done. Think about John McCain, a POW for YEARS, with no reason to think that his captivity would ever end.Do you know his story? Think about people who survived concentration camps in WWII - what more 'rational' time to just give up. They didn't. I love to read stories about people in these situations because I want to know what that 'thing' is, where it comes from, why some people have it and others don't - can we learn to have it.... things like that.
Here's a more trivial example, but I always thought about it when it happened: you knew who was a champion and who was not when you would be watching a basketball game and it was down to the last few seconds and it looked like all was lost for your team it was the champion who kept on driving and shooting until the buzzer. Not governed by a defeated attitude, but only by the buzzer. It was always evident in Michael Jordan because he always played full-tilt until the buzzer, even when it looked like the game was lost. He won a lot of games in the last seconds. It's all in the attitude. Find your attitude of drive and effort and will. If you are paying attention to your darkest thoughts, don't. Pay attention to people who have also had dark thoughts, but they looked for courage and 'grit' in themselves and outside of themselves and turned away from dark thoughts. Marie told a story here recently about a student who thought about joining the Marines, encountered a negative attitude in a school counselor and had second thoughts about herself - Marie's advice was that she needed to toughen up if she was going to be a Marine did you read that story? Well, you need to toughen up to be a human being because whoever led you to believe that there would be no pain and no hard times was lying to you, but, my dear, you have it in you to deal with what comes your way. You can't know what you're made of when everything is easy and painless; it's only when living gets so dang hard that you have the opportunity to become a champion. You don't have to stay down. You are discouraged and that is understandable because you have tried a number of avenues for getting better, but you haven't hit on the one or two or combination that work for you - yet. Read the book here, read what the experienced voices tell you, calm yourself and then think about what you can do today to help yourself. Maybe start with the yoga stretches that so many people use on this site right now while you are sitting there. I know everybody is different in the way they deal with things and we all know that what works for one may not work for another - but here is something I learned when I was having severe back pain and problems. At some point, rather than being angry and fighting the pain, I began to think of my back as I might think of a friend in great pain and I would think of my back that way and even have (silent) conversations with it that were kind and gentle. Like the feet, my back has been a faithful friend all my life, doing yeoman work without notice and suddenly it was in great distress - it was one of several turning points in attitude for me. I stopped fighting what was hurting and tried to think of it differently. It might be useful for feet that are hurting. It's not something that is being 'done TO you' - they are your faithful, hard-working friends and they're having a bit of trouble right now.
Maybe think of them with love as you would a loved one who was suddenly very sick. One last thing I have no idea where you are with regard to any kind of faith, but many people find great help and comfort and strength in prayer. Best wishes to you ~

Re: A Lecture from Dorothy Before Sleep - to Kristie

marie on 8/22/03 at 16:29 (127706)


That was wonderful and certainly brought a tear to my eye. I have saved it to my desktop so the next time I start to feel like it's just to hard I am going to read your lecture.

Thank you, marie

Re: A Lecture from Dorothy Before Sleep - to Kristie

Kristie R. on 8/24/03 at 11:40 (127817)

Thank you so much Dorothy. You and everyones else on this great web sight has giving me a lot to think about. Thank you so much for your thoughtful insight and your time. Hopefully, I will make you all proud.

Re: A Lecture from Dorothy Before Sleep - to Kristie

Dorothy on 9/05/03 at 16:46 (128884)

In a state of great embarrassment, I need to make a correction to something I wrote. I attributed the expression, 'Give thanks in all circumstances' to Buddhist philosophy because I have read it in Buddhist writings and because it is compatible with same. However - ahem, it has come to my attention, ahem - this is actually from the Bible, in Thessalonians, to be exact. My face is red. My embarrassment does not deter me, however, from pointing fingers of blame at others - why didn't somebody with greater Biblical knowledge (or other knowledge) than I correct me?! OK, so it's YOUR fault - and you know who you are!

Well, actually, clearly it is MY fault and I regret the error muchly.
All that said, it is an expression that I am very fond of - and now I know from whence it cometh. My apologies.

Best to you all ~