God won’t give you more than you can handle
by Julie Anderson
God won’t give you more than you can handle.
Who said that?
“Ok,” I tell myself just when I am about to snap like a dried up twig.
“I can handle this. I can do it.”
Bring it on. I am invincible!
The cracks started to show in the summer of 2015. I began to seep venom and bile. My words came out in a hateful rush. They sliced away at those near and dear. It was time.
I upped my regular psychologist sessions and added a psychiatrist.
I played music loud.
I worked out for two hours every day.
I took photographs.
I fought hard.
Seams about to pop. Uh-ho.
“Well, let’s try this. Take two of these in the morning and one of those by midday. They should help your mood and your depression.” said my Psychiatrist.
Music played – even louder.
Nights filled with vivid dreams.
I don’t remember when the last time I dreamt was.
It was a welcome visual spectacle – even if those dreams were nightmares.
Then in December of 2015, to be precise, the dial of what I could handle was turned to max. I caught the first flight home, one of my parents was diagnosed with stage four cancer.
Landed. Rented a car, and pushed that little plastic box on wheels to 100 mph. Drove fast and furious after no sleep, straight to the hospital. Straight into the ER. That was the beginning of our 30-day visit. We celebrated Christmas, well not really, in ICU. Thirty days of brown water labeled coffee. Freezing temperatures. Broken hearts and tears.That was how 2015 waved goodbye, and that was how 2016 started. We were the lucky ones who still had our family member, who still was bedridden in the hospital. Thirty days. Funny how time drags when you are exhausted and scared.
It has become a ritual. Back and forth for me between east and west coast. Back and forth for my parents (and myself -when I am there) between Doctor appointments, chemo, MRI scans, blood work. Doctors and more Doctors, for them.
During the months that followed, I cried into the phone to my psychologist once a week and found my way to my psychiatrist office twice a month.
Not to worry, God only gives you what you can handle, right?
While on one of my kamikaze visits East during 2016, I picked up a return passenger. My oldest son. Brilliant, beautiful, funny, loving son. Who happens to be addicted to heroin. He asked for help. So he came home.
I finally had all three of my children with me. They are my life, well and truly.
All three are damaged in one way or another. Because of me, their father, society and of course the mental illness issues that they inherited. The nasty teeth of depression have sunk deep into my babies fragile souls.
AA, Narconon, family therapy … hey hey, we can do this!!
“Nothing is stopping us from healing, except ourselves,” I preached.
Cheering along my eldest, trying to hang onto my middle child before self-destruction was complete and holding close my youngest. Who am I kidding? Ours is a very dysfunctional home.
What a laugh. Really.
God only gives you what you can handle.
Onward. Ever onward.
Back and forth between east and west…
I go home every two months, to check in. Making sure the parents are behaving, taking care of themselves. Making sure I soak up more time with them.
Holding tight…my mother’s hand.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
Back on the couch with the psychologist.
“Look at you, be proud of yourself you are not falling apart. You are a different woman. Last year you were barely hanging on. In fact, I thought for sure. I would be visiting you in the psych ward!”
I started laughing. Hysterically. There is nothing left to do but laugh.
God only gives you what you can handle.
HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAA!!!!!
Shuffling behind my psychiatrist, I comment on her shoes. I am always chirpy and polite like that. Her door closes.
“How have you been?”
Straight shooter, I lay it all out in front of her. Each and every stinking turd that has been delivered.
“Hey, it’s just life you know?”
Then we get cracking on the real stuff. PTSD. Major Depressive Disorder. OCD. Cyclothymia.
“That is funny you should mention that.” I say.
“I don’t listen to music anymore. Food does nothing for me. My interest in anything other than sleep is MEH.”
God gives you what you can handle.
Once again there was a family emergency. West coast this time. For now, this development is finally all I can handle.
I have not left my house since. Well actually I have, but in disguise. Quickly doing the bare minimum, maybe every other day. My main focus is drop off and pick up, from the school bus. And to buy cat food and human food. It is torture. I can’t seem to bring myself to do any more than that, out in the world.
Sorry if I don’t return your phone calls. Sorry if my email replies arrive three weeks late.
No, I can’t join you for dinner, drinks or girl time. Sorry.
I have nothing to say.
I nothing to offer.
I am overwhelmed with emotion.
God gave me too much to handle, and now I have to take care of myself.
I hope that music returns, I used to love listening to it.
I hope that I smile again, I know that makes my children feel safe.
I wish that soon I will be able to go out into the world without crying.
I wish I could sleep without memories flashing behind my eyes like an episode of American Horror story.
In the meantime, I am walking slowly. Cement blocks strapped to my feet.
I am breathing shallow breaths of amber oil, the only thing that I like anymore.
I am giving the finger to water restrictions and taking one sometimes two bubble baths a day.
I have to wash it all off, all of it.
I use a rough Korean washcloth, sloughing off dead skin, and years of depression, its a two for one…. a bogo!
But the hysterics, the laughter, all gone.
It is not funny anymore.
God gave me too much to handle.
Doesn’t he know that I am a delicate person who feels too deeply, for too long and carries the world on my shoulders?
A friend once mentioned that the project she was working on left her feeling as if she were used. Her exact words:
“Too much effort, with little or no return.”
During these dark days, I feel the same way. Too much effort, with little or no return.
It is as if everything that I have done, invested time in, sacrificed – has blown up right in my face. That is what major depression does, it colors your world BLACK.
Sometimes, my gut tells me to walk away. Walk right out the front door of my life and thumb it straight to Alaska. There amongst the towering trees, exposed to the elements, the searing physical pain would finally come from the outside, instead of within.
All is not lost. I know that. It is the new year!
Time to be a NEW ME! Time to be the NEW US!
My son, the addict, is currently thriving in a dual diagnosis center that offers sober living. I hope it beats heroin. With all my being I pray that he does.
My self-destructing middle child finally has the help that was desperately needed. Maybe the desire to cut will become a distant memory.
My youngest child is working on expressing emotions and identifying needs. Instead of self-medicating, the mode is to learn to self-regulate.
It sucks to be a teenager. It sucks to be a young adult. It sucks to be an adult, who happens to be a parent in this crazy world. (Especially, if you are a little bit crazy yourself.)
By the way, take another look at the picture accompanying this piece. See that? You can not tell that I am somebody with mental health issues, can you? If you saw my children you would not be able to see their demons either.
You never know what someone is going through.
Never underestimate emotions and the mind.
They can and do bite back.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
– Khalil Gibran
Julie is the creator and publisher of Feminine Collective. Formerly known as the “face” for countless luxury brands, during her reign as a 90’s Supermodel, she has lived and worked on every continent and has always been eager to learn more about the lives of all the individuals that she encounters. After all those years on the road, she considers herself extremely lucky to have found her “voice.” A reluctant wordsmith, avid amateur photographer, editor and creative director, she is also a proud mother of three.
She is a mental health advocate and is the managing director of the LifeAfter Project Inc., a non profit organization that provides educational content designed to inspire and spread awareness for suicide prevention, substance abuse and domestic abuse on a global scale.
Her latest Feminine Collective poetry collection, Love Notes From Humanity: The Lust, Love & Loss Collection, is available now. 15% of all proceeds go to the LifeAfterProject and is available now on Amazon (including some of Rachel’s new poetry!). Read more here.