Category Archives: family

Uneasy Priest – Change Your Mind

From Uneasy Priest – Change Your Mind:

For those of you on Facebook: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUaXFlANojQ

If you don’t know the truth about mental illness, change your mind and learn about it today.

My name is Dave Juhl. I was diagnosed with clinical depression in the summer of 2008. It was a life changing diagnosis…for the positive.

For those of you who do not know, I blog about my struggles with mental illness here. It’s the first time ever I have admitted that I am the author of this blog. This campaign about not being afraid of speaking and admitting about mental illness changed my mind about my anonymity….

This is from my dear friend and fellow brother-in-office, Pastor David Juhl. If you don’t follow his blog(s), I would encourage you to do so. I always learn from him, and pray that he continues to receive the healing that he needs.

-DMR

His name is Emannuel

This has been a more eventful Advent and Christmastide than usual in the Peperkorn household. As you may have heard, we were (surprised and) overjoyed at the end of October to discover that Kathryn was pregnant. Our joy was turned to sorrow in mid-December as we learned that she had lost the baby.

It’s really hard to even describe this experience. The span of emotions, the sorrow, guilt, anger, frustration, and strange relief all rush together in one big glob of pain that is almost overwhelming. Miscarriages are so odd in our culture, because there is a sense where A) We shouldn’t talk about it; B) If we do talk about it, to try and minimize it; or C) To OVER engage the whole process, as though this is an opportunity to make some religious or political statement about abortion.

Kathryn and I lost a child (Nadia) four years ago, and so I thought this would ease the pain, or at least our understanding of the pain. But that is just not the case. Each grief is its own. Just as each child is different, so the loss of each child is different, even a child only eight weeks old.

Part of Kathryn’s fear I think is that I will fall into another depression. Nadia’s death was the beginning of a long downward slope for me last time, so that’s a pretty reasonable fear on her part. It is so easy in this life to take one tragic event and allow it to escalate into a holocaust.

But it does not have to be so. Past history does not guarantee future events. While it may be a decent predictor sometimes, it can also serve to create self-fulfilling prophecies. There are a lot of things different from four years ago for us:

1. We are much more aware of God’s mercy in taking are of our family. He has seen us through this and more.

2. We are both more aware of our medical needs, moods, and the “signs” when things aren’t going quite right.

3. Our support group(s) of family, friends, church, etc., has been wonderful. They were all good last time, too, but I think everyone is a little more aware of what’s happening now.

So be at peace, friends! The Lord is with you. I will be back in the swing of writing again soon.

-DMR

The Cause of Happiness

Susan Gehlbach has a great observation in the post below about happiness:

Susan’s Pendulum: Happiness

Depression in my view is the extreme inward turning of the personality and the soul. It has physical, medical and spiritual causes. But one thing that I certainly know from my experience is that when I am depressed, it is very hard to see outside myself. When I am least depressed, it is because I am finding (being given?) contentment in the vocations God has given me. So Susan and her pastor are right. We sons and daughters of Adam and Eve are at our best when we are in service to our neighbor.

So how does one get outside of oneself to serving the neighbor, thus finding the contentment and happiness which only God can give. First, the Gospel. Only the Gospel can pull out outside of ourselves and into the lives our our neighbors from a spiritual perspective. Second, addressing whatever the medical or physiological aspects that are going on. This may happen via medication (traditional or non-traditional), therapy, exercise, diet, and a host of other elements that all come into play with our bodies.

That’s the way I see it. What do you see?

-DMR

2009 is going

The year has begun. Happy new year, friends. I pray this is a good one. Personally, I have high hopes for this year. I think my book will get published one way or another, and I hope to move on to other projects related to mental illness/depression and the theology of the cross.

But to start with, I want to enjoy my family this year. That seems a good thing.

Peace,
-DMR

Not understood

I’m visiting with a parishoner the other day, I was struck once again by how completely misunderstood clinical depression is, in all of its various forms.  This parishoner felt terribly guilty because he couldn’t spend any time with his family.  He felt selfish that he had to spend so much of his time nad energy just on being able to function in a normal way.  Two hours with the kids might mean 10 hours of time alone wiht quiet and no stress.

Was this person being selfish?  No!  They are sick.  When you are sick there are certain things you need to do in order to get well.  If you are talking about chronic sickness, there are certain things you can do, and others that you simply can’t.  It isn’t a sign of moral failure.  It is a sign of the fallenness and general sickness of our world and our own bodies.  I urged this person to remember that they are doing what they do in order to get better.  They are doing it so that they can fulfill their vocations as husband and father and worker.  They aren’t being selfish.  Far from it. They are being selfless.

It is easy when you are in the midst of the darkenss to think that you are coddling yourself by having to spend so much time alone and in little or no stress situations.  When I was on disability, I played 157 rounds of golf.  It took a lot of time, it cost a fortune, and I absolutely needed it. Why?  Quiet.  No family, no church, no email, no outside distractions, no stimulation beyond what was right in from of me.  I’m sure there were more economical ways to do it.  But this was my way.  It worked.

So if you are in the midst of the darkness, don’t feel guilty about doing what you need to do to get better.  You are doing them so that you will be able to be with your family and friends again.  You are doing them so that you can serve you neighbor as best as you are able.  And God is with you, will cover up your weaknesses, and use you to His glory and for the welfare of many.  Including your family and friends.

-DMR

Not understood

I’m visiting with a parishoner the other day, I was struck once again by how completely misunderstood clinical depression is, in all of its various forms.  This parishoner felt terribly guilty because he couldn’t spend any time with his family.  He felt selfish that he had to spend so much of his time nad energy just on being able to function in a normal way.  Two hours with the kids might mean 10 hours of time alone wiht quiet and no stress.

Was this person being selfish?  No!  They are sick.  When you are sick there are certain things you need to do in order to get well.  If you are talking about chronic sickness, there are certain things you can do, and others that you simply can’t.  It isn’t a sign of moral failure.  It is a sign of the fallenness and general sickness of our world and our own bodies.  I urged this person to remember that they are doing what they do in order to get better.  They are doing it so that they can fulfill their vocations as husband and father and worker.  They aren’t being selfish.  Far from it. They are being selfless.

It is easy when you are in the midst of the darkenss to think that you are coddling yourself by having to spend so much time alone and in little or no stress situations.  When I was on disability, I played 157 rounds of golf.  It took a lot of time, it cost a fortune, and I absolutely needed it. Why?  Quiet.  No family, no church, no email, no outside distractions, no stimulation beyond what was right in from of me.  I’m sure there were more economical ways to do it.  But this was my way.  It worked.

So if you are in the midst of the darkness, don’t feel guilty about doing what you need to do to get better.  You are doing them so that you will be able to be with your family and friends again.  You are doing them so that you can serve you neighbor as best as you are able.  And God is with you, will cover up your weaknesses, and use you to His glory and for the welfare of many.  Including your family and friends.

-DMR

Watching the Kids

I told my wife a few weeks ago that I thought watching and taking care of children was way harder than being a pastor.  She then told me it was the nicest thing I had ever said to her.

I wasn’t actually trying to get points mit my frau.  I really think that’s true.  Certainly some of the time, maybe even most of the time.

When I was at the height (depth?) of my sickness, it was our children that I couldn’t handle more than anything else.  I’ve blogged a few times about my travails with shut-ins, but really it is children that require a lot more emotional energy, I think.

I bring this up because today I watched our kids.  All of them, for about 4 hours.  I know, that doesn’t sound like much.  Some of them were napping for part of the time, and they were all there and full bore for a little more than an hour.  The thing is, I’m not certain I have watched all of our kids on my own since I came off of disability.  Maybe I have.  But I was glad to be able to do it and not have a complete meltdown in the process.

I love our children.  That isn’t the issue.  The issue is one of responsibility, stimulation, and the ability to process and do on-the-spot problem solving.  None of these things really go well with sufferers of depression.  So I counted today a great victory.  Yes, it was just four hours.  Yes, my saintly wife does it for about 20 hours a day every day.  I don’t know how she does it.  But today, I’ll rejoice in what healing God grants, and prays that it may continue.

Mothers of the world, I salute you.

-DMR

Watching the Kids

I told my wife a few weeks ago that I thought watching and taking care of children was way harder than being a pastor.  She then told me it was the nicest thing I had ever said to her.

I wasn’t actually trying to get points mit my frau.  I really think that’s true.  Certainly some of the time, maybe even most of the time.

When I was at the height (depth?) of my sickness, it was our children that I couldn’t handle more than anything else.  I’ve blogged a few times about my travails with shut-ins, but really it is children that require a lot more emotional energy, I think.

I bring this up because today I watched our kids.  All of them, for about 4 hours.  I know, that doesn’t sound like much.  Some of them were napping for part of the time, and they were all there and full bore for a little more than an hour.  The thing is, I’m not certain I have watched all of our kids on my own since I came off of disability.  Maybe I have.  But I was glad to be able to do it and not have a complete meltdown in the process.

I love our children.  That isn’t the issue.  The issue is one of responsibility, stimulation, and the ability to process and do on-the-spot problem solving.  None of these things really go well with sufferers of depression.  So I counted today a great victory.  Yes, it was just four hours.  Yes, my saintly wife does it for about 20 hours a day every day.  I don’t know how she does it.  But today, I’ll rejoice in what healing God grants, and prays that it may continue.

Mothers of the world, I salute you.

-DMR

Fathers, Children and Depression

I ran across THIS LINK in my morning reads.  The study concludes that depression in fathers has an adverse affect on a child’s language development, because they spend less time with newborn children.

i haven’t found that to be the case (yet) in our family.  I suppose time will tell.

And for those who monitor my posting, I haven’t posted for a month.  I’m doing okay.  Just crazy busy right now.  I’ll get in the swing of things here soon.

-DMR

Mental Retardation and Mental Illness: Who are we?

 

Yesterday I went to the local gym/family center type place with my wife and the kids. There isn’t anything really unusual about that, except the fact that I couldn’t have done it a year ago. But what struck me this time was that there was a group of mentally retarded young people (teens and twenties) there at the same time.Like most people, I am basically afraid of the mentally retarded. I see them, and while I may sympathize with them on a theoretical level, the absolute last thing I want is to interact with them. They are loud (or quiet), they say and behave in unpredictable ways (like children), and they look strange (like most of us in one way or another).

What was different this time was that one young man had his fingers stuck in his ears the whole time. he walked around the pool, looking, obviously uncomfortable or even afraid of the noise that went on around him. I am no expert, but I believe that one of the many common traits that often go with various forms of mental retardation is difficulty processing sights and sounds.

But this time I knew how he felt. Continue reading Mental Retardation and Mental Illness: Who are we?