Good question. One that made my teenagers groan in frustration.
Teen: I’m hungry.
Me: What would you like to do about that?
Teen: Make me a snack.
Me: Well, I’m busy with work and it’s not suppertime yet. The kitchen is all yours. Knock yourself out.
Teen: Sometimes it’s nice for your mom to make you a snack.
Me: It’s even nicer for your mom to teach you how to feed yourself. After all, one day you will be a hungry adult and I won’t be there to feed you.
Teen: I’m never moving out.
Me: I’m still not making you a snack.
3,2,1… And there’s the stomping up the stairs to the bedroom. I guess she wasn’t that hungry after all.
Here’s what I discovered. Sometimes I ask God to give me shortcuts. Do something for me that I know He has equipped me to do for myself. It’s so nice when God does stuff for me! But sometimes, He asks the question — What would you like to do about that?
Me: I just want you to fix it! I’m tired of feeling this way. I just want it to go away and I know you have the power to do that. Sometimes it’s nice for You to do something for me because You love me.
God: Yes I do love you, completely and eternally. And because I love you I am going to let you learn that hard things make you grow closer to me, and grow stronger in your faith. Isn’t that what you really want?
Me: Yes, that’s what I really want. But I don’t want to do the work. Maybe I just won’t grow closer to You or stronger in my faith.
God: I’m still not going to let you do this the easy way.
Me: Stomp stomp stomp.
Lots of hard things have happened in my life. Some hard things happened to me. I was witness to hard things that happened to others. John 16:33 guarantees that in this world we will have trouble. There’s no escaping it. And God is still asking us what we would like to do about it. We do have a choice. I would even dare to say we have a responsibility to take ownership of how we choose to respond.
It has become clear to me in recent days that, as well as having clinical depression, I am also on the PTSD spectrum. There are triggers in my psyche that, when activated, bring on uncontrollable physical and emotional reactions. “God help me! I don’t want to live like this anymore!”
“I have given you knowledge and resources and courage. What would you like to do about this situation?”
I can choose to sit in my PTSD puddle of hurt and yuck. But my illness doesn’t just affect me. It affects everyone around me, and it’s not right to hold them hostage in my chaos because I don’t want to do the work required to overcome my illness and engage in a healing process.
I choose to take responsibility for a positive outcome and seek help. I want to take control of these triggers instead of them controlling me. I made an appointment with my doctor. Tomorrow I will submit to an initial assessment. Then my doctor will refer me to the appropriate specialist, where I will submit to further assessment and tests. I may or may not receive a diagnosis. I will cooperate with a treatment plan designed for me in order to move forward toward healing.
To be honest, this is overdue. My last mental health assessment was in 1996. Would I wait that long to see a dentist? No, that’s ridiculous. Would I wait that long to see an optometrist? Of course not. Why have I waited this long to get a check up on my brain? That doesn’t make much sense to me.
When was the last time you saw your doctor? How about your teeth? Have you gone for a cleaning in the last year? No? Chewing matters — go to the dentist already!!
What about your brain? How’s that doing lately? (crickets chirping…) That’s ok. Maybe today is a good day to call your doctor and make an appointment for a mental health assessment. Let’s take responsibility for our overall health, including our brains. And let’s learn how to control those triggers instead of the triggers controlling us.
I’m here if you want to talk about it.