Saturday, September 27, 2014

Finding ME !! NO.......???!!!!

I made a comment recently, that I lost myself over the years. After thinking about it and the persons reaction to my comment it made me aware that the comment put a negative light on my spouse. Maybe that is just how they reacted to my statement, but that wasn't  my point of making the comment.

I also had someone recently ask me what I was good at. This really got me thinking because I could not think of anything I was good at. I'm not saying this to fish for compliments. I am saying this because it is true and how I feel.

So saying I lost myself is not true . I believe I never really found myself. I allowed life circumstances to form me.

I met Bill when I was 14 years old and married at the age of 18. Became a mom at 19.  Bill and my children became my life. Bills goals and dreams became my goals and dreams. I didn't realize this either until I was talking to someone and told them I always wanted to move to Vernon BC. They asked me "WHY?" when I thought about it I realized it was because Bill wanted to move there. We both wanted to live in BC, BUT he thought Vernon was the most horse friendly spot in BC. THUS I always wanted to live there too.

My labels were always, Bill's wife, the "pastors wife", Ryan Stock's mom, Christine's Mom.

I am not blaming anyone here. I think a lot of this is normal for women and especially women from the early 80's and earlier. You get married and set goals together. You help your children find their interests and what they are good at and you put your own interests aside.

I am so proud of my daughter Christine who recently published her book. Proud that  she is stepping out and making her dreams a reality. Not allowing her role as a wife and mother totally define her and who she is.Not letting FEAR stop her.

Some of my interests I allowed FEAR to get in the way of doing them. I always wanted to be a nurse but I allowed fear to get in the way and didn't pursue my goal.

The only thing I have done for 35 consecutive years is be a wife and a mother. I believe I was a good wife and an ok mother. Lots of room for improvement as a mom. I am still working on that everyday.

I had this beautiful vision yesterday while contemplating all of this and having my life formed for me rather than taking an active role. . I thought of the Hoo Doo's in Drumheller and how their beauty was formed by water, wind, and frost. They are amazing to look at.

It made me think that I am not less of a person, but have beauty and significance still, but Now I am making point of finding out who KAREN is. What do I like? What am I good at? I am not letting only life and circumstances mold me.

I have discovered a few things. I realize I am strong! Like the hoo doo's , the weather, or in my situation, life has made me strong. I didn't know how strong I was until I found myself on my own. I am proud of my strength. I find that strength in Christ. Phil 4:13. I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.

I am generally a very happy and positive person. I find that JOY inside of me. It is not dependant on my circumstances or having someone in my life to make me happy.

Don't get me wrong, I do get very sad and long for the love of my husband. I long to share my life with someone. I long to be loved. But that does not take over my thoughts or life. I am still happy. I still know I am loved by many and especially by God.

I am discovering what I like. I belong to a book club and a wine club. I love reading, which I always knew. I am learning to like wine, but mostly have realized I love learning about the different wines. MOST of all I love people and like this social part of my life that is my own.

I am taking horseback riding lessons. I have always been around horses because of Bill's love for horses but realize I love them too.

I am thinking of so many things to try. Photography??? dance??? the possibilities are endless.

I have also made a decision to go to school. As  mentioned I always wanted to be a nurse but allowed fear to get in the way of my decision. I am too old to become a nurse, so I am going to take the health care aide course. Its short and conveniently located and who knows, maybe I might venture out farther. Its a step.

So here I am trying to find out who I really am. What I like and don't like. What I'm  good at. I am taking an active role in my search for myself. I am allowing God the potter to make me and mold me into his creation. Like the Hoo Doos ,life will continue to form me as well.

I am no longer the pastors wife. I am KAREN the daughter of a KING! I am LOVED!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


My adopted daughter Jayde came to me on her very first birthday. She was a big blue eyed little girl filled with so much energy . She instantly fell in love with Bill and she became "Daddy's GIRL" She would only sit on him. Would go to him when she needed comfort. It was an instant connection  for both of them.

Jayde had a traumatic start to life. But she was a tough little thing and nothing ever stopped her. She was admitted in the hospital at least twice a year with RSV, or collapsed lungs, or severe asthma attack until she was about 6 years old. In emergency monthly for many other things.  At 3 years old we discovered Jayde had epilepsy. At 4 years old Jayde was diagnosed with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and ADHD.
Things have been challenging to say the least but such a blessing as well. There is something so sweet and innocent about Jayde. When things are really bad she will come out with the most outrageous comments or with some of the most profound statements ever. I am always blown away by her.

I remember going to the appointment at the Glenrose with Jayde for her assessment and remember Dr. Andrew confirming what I already knew was true. That Jayde was FASD. Although I knew it in my heart, it made it real when I heard someone actually say the words. All the way home I cried. I was at first angry with her birth mom for drinking while she was pregnant with Jayde. That anger didn't last too long as I knew that she most likely didn't understand the damage she was doing to Jayde. I cried because I knew the challenges we had already had and was sad abut what the future held for her. I cried because I knew this was a life sentence and there was nothing that could make it better.  I cried because I thought wow God must really trust me a lot to place this little girl in our home.
I also had HOPE. Hope  to know that this is a spectrum and many kids do well and can function well with FASD. Hope because I was not alone in my struggles. I found an amazing support group on line. I have amazing family and friends and my wonderful Crossroads family. HOPE because if God brought her to me He would give us the strength to raise her.

When Jayde was  diagnosed they told us to bring her back when she is a teen to reassess her and see what her long term prognosis is and start to do some planning for her.

So on her 13th birthday Dec 18 2011 I called to make an appointment. The lady I spoke to said it will take a year and half to two years to get in. I thought to myself I will be able to assess her on my own in that time. Seriously in two years I will be able to tell you if she could live independently or not. .
We started the ball rolling filling out paperwork and setting up appointments with psychologists and doctors etc. We finally had an appointment set for May 15 and 16 2013.  1 year and 5 months later.

A week before the appointment the GLENROSE called and said that due to the results of her testing from the psychologist we will not need two days and will only need half a day to examine and assess. GREAT!

Well yesterday was that day. Dr. Andrew talked with Jayde they did an exam on her. they have a scale of measuring the face of an FASD person. starting at 1 being normal and 5 being full facial features. Jayde is at a 4. They looked at both of her hands. Jayde has the typical "hockey stick crease" that FASD kids have on one hand and a Simian crease on the other hand thats typical for Down syndrome children and FASD.

(See images below to see what those look like.) It was my understanding that it was not as typical to have both hands with both palmer creases.

SIDE NOTE I  realized I  have a SIMIAN Crease. I hid my hands from the doctor lol and ran home to search it. To my relief it is not only down syndrome and FASD kids that have it sociopaths do as well. LOL GOOD TO KNOW!  There are also some famous people who have simian creases. Tony Blair and Hilary Clinton do. So I guess its a mark for political people. Also Robert De Niro has one as well. So if you are looking and see you have one don't be afraid. LOL just go into politics. 
Back to my story....

As she was telling me this, it was information I already knew as it is all part of her having FASD. So I  guess it was just "confirming it once again" 

What I wasn't prepared for was the next discussion. We put Jayde in a playroom and Bill and I went into the room with Dr. Andrew and a social worker. Dr. Andrew said I cannot believe the change I see in this little girl from the little 4  year old girl I saw 10 years ago. I' m thinking WOOO HOOOO shes doing well. 

Dr. Andrew continued to speak "Normally FASD children will grow and develop and hit a plateau and stop. Jayde is regressing. she didn't really even grown, she crashed! Her IQ has dropped down to 62, not normal for that to happen. We believe something more is going on with Jayde for this to be happening. This is not the norm."

Part of me wants to say I was in shock but like the first diagnosis it was confirming what I already was suspecting. Both my mom and Christine had asked me if she was regressing  I thought so too but I said I didn't THINK so but would ask the doctors. Her pediatrician and her psychiatrist both assured me that NO she wasn't regressing . Chances are when we get her meds  stabilized we'll see improvements AND the fact that she is 14 now just shows a LARGER gap. At 5-6 and even 10 it wasn't as noticeable but now at 14 it is very noticeable. So I allowed myself to believe that. 

The million dollar question is "what is causing this?" We know she does have epilepsy so the thought that maybe she is having seizures that we are unaware of and they are causing brain damage. We can do an MRI to see if there is a tumor or something on her brain. Or look into other factors. 

We also are not aware of what her genetic background history is. Maybe there is something genetic. So we will go for genetic testing. Apparently they have state of the art testing her in Alberta (maybe Canada) anyway they take blood and send it for genetic testing. The downs side is it can take up to two years to get the results back! WHAT!????? once again I say someone can diagnose her with something in that time just by examining her. TRUE. But the good part is at least I will have the information at some point for the future. 

On top of all this information  I also learned that 94% of FASD children will end up with a mental illness. I knew it was high, but not that high. Who knew???

So once again I am sitting with a diagnosis and prognosis I knew in my heart to be true. Its validating in some ways because it says I'm not exaggerating or imagining things. It was validating too that they were surprised that I have gone this long without help. It wasn't until a little over a year ago Christine started doing respite for me and then this fall Bronte  became an in home aid for a short time  and now Victoria. Without these ANGELS I don't know what I would do. They are such a gift and blessing to me. 

On the way home I hold back the tears because its just Jayde and me in the car and I don't want her to know whats going on. I went out and spent a wonderful time having lunch and frozen yogurt with her. We went and bought her grade 8 grad dress. She asked for a dress that "PEOPLE WILL REMEMBER ME BY AND NEVER FORGET THE NIGHT" She could have asked me for the moon.  I would have done anything I could to make her happy and her life easier. 

I went to my Crossroads family and cried in my friend Emelyn's office. I cried for whats ahead. I cried because I am a single mom now having to deal with this. I cried because I'm scared and I'm sad. I cry again because once again I know that this is not a coincidence. She was placed here for a reason.

This is good for me too. I believe it will allow me to be freer with her. I am hoping it will let me be less frustrated with her. I know there will be days that her behaviors and such will bring me to a point of total and utter frustration. I also know that she CANNOT help it! She is NOT doing this on PURPOSE. I also found out her memory is at 1%. So virtually no working memory. So I can tell her a million trillion times not to do something and chances are she won't remember. I HOPE that I will PRAISE her and REJOICE when she does REMEMBER something! 

I get overwhelmed thinking of all the appointments and testing that we will be doing in the next little while. I am scared at what the results could be. I am overwhelmed at all the government hoops I will have to jump to get her into group care and get the help I need. But its all one day at a time. One BREATH at a time! 

 ONCE AGAIN I HAVE HOPE! I am not alone! GOD IS WITH ME! HE Brought me to this and HE will bring me through it! I can never say this enough . I am so blessed to have my family, my friends, my church family, my FASD support group, Crossroad's, my Victoria who knows a little of what it's like and my Christine and Brian who experiences it on weekends. 


Friday, March 22, 2013

a place where I never thought I would be

The last few times I blogged I shared how my husband was going through burnout and was on stress leave. How he quit his job in December and how I was in a situation trying to figure out where my husband went and who was this stranger that was living with me. .Its the weirdest thing to be experiencing. Its like a bad episode of the twilight zone or the body snatchers. The body snatchers was a show where aliens duplicated an identical person but the replica was devoid of any emotions. That's what this is like.
The man left here is a shell of the man I married. I married a man of integrity. My best friend, my confidante. The person who I could share anything with, who I could laugh with and work with. A man with an amazing sense of humor  A man of talent and intelligence a man with a gentle heart but also was strong and stood up for his beliefs and his family. A man who followed God and loved HIM with a passion. Who loved his family and was romantic and sweet. Who would do anything for anyone no matter what the cost. A man who thought of others first. An amazing man who I LOVED so deeply, who I admired , respected and put up on a pedestal .

 Sadly that Man  is GONE!  he left spiritually and emotionally in 2012. and in February of 2013 he physically moved out.
So here I am after almost 35 years of marriage, wondering what happened. I have no answers. He has no answers for me. I guess I can't expect him to answer because how would he know, its not my husband. Its some alien who has invaded his body. He is a stranger looking out into a world that is foreign to him.  looking at people he doesn't recognize anymore.

When I married I believed it was for life. I had no doubt that we would be together forever! and now??? I don't know whats next! Do I have hope?I have hope in an everlasting God , who is FAITHFUL  I trust in HIM! I trust that I will be ok no matter what happens.
I am so blessed to have the Friends and the family I have. People who support me and pray for me. People who won't judge me or our situation.

I am scared of the truth coming out, because I know some people will judge and not understand. Some will take this and run with it and gossip. Some might even question our faith.

The reason I am telling it is so that you will know the truth and it won't be just rumors and hear say. And as far as our faith, my faith in my GOD has grown even stronger. His love for me is poured out each and every day in so many ways.

This should not lessen the messages my husband shared because his messages never were that he was perfect but was always based on the word of the LORD. Which is the truth!

This is a place I never thought I would be, but  I have learned so much. I know how much I can love! i know how much I can hurt! I know how strong I am ! I know how weak I am! I know how much I can do! I know how to ask for help! I know how to trust in God . I know how much I am loved by my family and friends. I know how much I am loved by my heavenly Father.
This wasn't Gods plan, or my plan, but God knew it would happen and he knows what the end result will be.
To quote one of my favorite songs I know not all HIS plans, but I know I'm in His hands.

Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.

And for me God said it I believe it and that settles it for me

Sunday, December 30, 2012

DANGER THIN ICE! A look back at 2012

As I was sitting this morning reflecting on the past year looking towards the upcoming year I had this image of New Years gone by. Typically I love New Years. Not the celebration but the excitement of a new year. It’s like starting with a clean slate. I am not one to set up resolutions but I do have plans in my mind of things I would like to do, personally, spiritually etc.
I related my New Year’s trek in my mind as a huge outdoor lake in the winter. There have been years that I run without caution, free, onto the lake, not a care in the world. Other times I go skating and twirling with excitement and looking forward to the possibilities of what I can do. A few years I have tiptoed onto the ice unsure of what and if it will hold and not break. This year I am on my belly trying to distribute the weight under what I feel is very thin and unstable ice. I feel as if I am on a rescue mission there are some areas in my life that have broken through the ice and I need to save them.
This year has brought us to our knees in all senses of the word.
If someone told me a few years ago the trials and situations I would be experiencing in 2012 I would never believe them. I am not a betting person, but I would have bet that some of these things would not have happened. NO WAY! But here I am, experiencing them
The most difficult part of my year started at the end 2011, when my husband went on stress leave. I wrote about that in a previous blog. Having him go through burnout has been one of the most challenging situations I have been through in my life. I feel as if I am living with a stranger. This is not the man I have been with since the age of 14.  So I have struggled trying to figure this out.
It has also been a good learning experience as I now can relate to what others go through when they speak of living with someone with depression or even if they are the one struggling with depression, I have a new understanding of it. It is difficult and affects everyone in the family, not just the person experiencing it.
Towards the end of the year God dropped a perfect opportunity into Bill’s lap. He was offered a job with Hope Mission, in a ministry called “horses of HOPE”

 IT is a brand new ministry still in the beginning stages. Basically what it is, is working with children in need, and working with horses. Children who have a difficult time trusting, or loving or feeling safe or just not able to afford the luxury of having a horse,  and giving them a horse to learn those very important traits with.
There are so many other “PLANS” in this ministry but this is the basis of it at this point. According to Bill, only GOD could have designed this job for him.

SOUNDS PERFECT you say! WHATS THE BIG DEAL? You say. Well after 17 years of working in a church that we love, one that was started with just the two of us, he has resigned  with  December 24th as his last service.
If you belong to a church and have worked in ministry you will know that it’s different than a job or a “club”. It's family. You grow so close to those in the congregation. We love them so much. How do you say goodbye to family. How do you leave something you have put 17 years of blood sweat and tears into? A place where you have been with people through the lowest points of their lives, to celebrating those momentous occasions with them it’s not an easy task. Its bitter sweet!
I believe for Bill this new job will be a time for healing. It is something that he needs in order to be restored back to the man he was, or into the man God created him to be, Even better than he was!
I know it’s difficult to for him to say goodbye. This was his baby, something he started from conception and grew, but as with our babies there comes a time to let go and so he is. We believe this is from God and that God has a bigger plan for Harvest church and for US!
For me this brings the unknown. I had a role in the church. Part of who I am the “pastor’s wife”. And though I struggled with that title, I still had that label on me. Now there is no label. I have no role. When a church hires a pastor they also “hire” a spouse. TWO for the price of ONE.  There are expectations etc. placed on the wife. There is a role she must fill etc. Sometimes that’s a good thing other times it is not. I think as the church evolves they try to get out of that role casting, but it still happens.
So now I am without a role! Where do I fit?? What will I do? A million questions. I know my identity is found in Christ ALONE but I still struggle. It feels weird.
We feel God is not moving us at this point and we will remain part of the congregation.  I still have the areas in the church that I am involved in such as prayer coordinator, running ladies bible study etc. But that will change when they hire a new pastor.
We will remain part of the church unless or until it becomes a hindrance to the growth of others and the church and until GOD moves us on.
There is much that has happened that I am not sharing but only suffice as to say we are broken.  So I go into the New Year unsure of where I am stepping. I have faith that the areas in our lives that have been shattered will be restored. God’s word promises that He will restore all that was lost and broken over the year and I trust that.
On top of all the struggles we had with Bills stress leave etc., we also experienced a few other trials. It took us almost a year to sell our other home, so financially we were stressed. We journeyed with my mom as she lost her apartment to a devastating fire, helping her find a new place, having her live with us, moving her, and just recently experiencing health issues. . We also had to say goodbye to two of our girls after having them for 3 years.  
We have also been blessed this year with some wonderful experiences. HAITI for me was life changing. I have to remember that although I am struggling it is nothing in comparison to what people in Haiti experience on a daily basis. It doesn’t make my problems any less, but can often put them into perspective.
I am reminded of how blessed I am with my friends and family. My best friend, Sherry who I have been able to pour my heart out to. Who has been with me through all the tears and brokenness who prayed with me when I didn’t even have the strength to pray. Words cannot express how much I love you and what a God send you were to me and still are.
My kids and grandkids , who keep me going from day to day. They give me a reason to get up each morning.
My brother Ray and sister in law Kim were a life saver when helping move my mom this time around and for that I am so grateful
My other friends and church family, who love me and accept me for who I am. I won’t’ mention names but you know who you are. Those on FB , my exercise buddies, my FASD group you have all blessed me in one way or another over this last year and brought light into my life. And so I thank you!
So going into 2013 I am going in unsure of what it has to offer new job for Bill, new life for me, new children  that will come . I am a little anxious, but I am also glad to get 2012 out of the way I am looking forward to being restored and healed. I am looking forward to experiencing GOD in HIS fullness and FAITHFULNESS.
I am going in with HOPE and TRUST and FAITH. I feel like I am on thin Ice but I know that GOD is on the ice with me. He is laying out with His arms stretched out waiting for me to grab on. Throwing me a rope if I can’t reach. Using a human chain of people he has placed in my path to help me hang on.

 I am reminded of Psalms 121 MTV (my translated version)
I look up to the hills , and wonder where does my help come from?? My help comes from the LORD maker of heaven and earth. He will not let my foot slip. He does not sleep because he is watching over ME. BELIEVE and have FAITH that HE who watches over me does not even close his eyes for a moment. For God is the shade at my right hand, the sun will not harm me by day nor will I be harmed at night. The Lord will keep me from all harm He will watch over my life. He will watch over my coming and going not just TODAY but  FOREVER
Also Psalm 18:2
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

And my favorite verse of all
Jer 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you!


Friday, February 24, 2012


It’s been a long time since I wrote on my blog.  There is so much going on in my life, much is too personal to share on a blog. I will share how I am feeling though, in regards to what is happening.

Today at the gym I had a good analogy of how I was feeling. I was on the elliptical and was looking out into the swimming pool area and watching the life guards walking around the pool. There were a couple of people in the pool and one lady in particular caught my eye. She had her hands up and was treading water. I thought to myself "that’s how I feel right now! I am treading water" I also thought that I am in this body of water and could picture the people in my life in this pool with me. Some of the people in my life were needing help swimming and I helped them get life jackets on and helped them keep afloat. Some of the people are strong swimmers and are in the pool swimming and helping and participating. And then there are some people who have a death grip on me and I feel like they are dragging me under. I know they are drowning and I want to help them but I also know that I am getting tired of treading water here and am going under with them. Do I let them go and they might float away, or drown or hope that they might make it on their own? Or that someone else will help them out?  I have watched others recently in my life who I felt I helped.  I put that life jacket on them I helped keep them afloat and helped them learn to swim and they just swam away leaving me bewildered and hurt. I was hoping that they would become one of the strong swimmers and help out, but they moved on.

I am getting weary. I feel like I can continue treading but I can’t continue to help those who are struggling to float.  They have the death grip on me. I don’t’ want to lose them but don’t’ want to drown either.

Feels a little overwhelming!

This week has been a roller coaster week. I have had some people chose to walk out of my life! I am hurt and struggling.

I look to God as my LIFE GUARD! HE knows I am getting tired, He is watching me and will save me and direct me and I have to TRUST HIM!

I hate to let go of those who I perceive are drowning but will trust that GOD is watching them as well and it’s not my job to save them. It is HIS!

Monday, January 2, 2012


AHHHHHH the New Year! It compels us all to make a clean start, replace bad habits with good, and add new healthy steps into our lives. Normally I am up late into the night planning and getting excited about all the possibilities that 2012 can be.
This year….NOT so much! Am I pessimistic because I have seen that not much has transpired in those plans over the years? NO I think I am tired this year and all the changes just seemed like work to me. As I lay in bed pondering this I thought even if I did the basics of what “THEY’ say we should do daily, my 24 hours days were running short.
They say we need to floss every day, okay I can do that, it’s only minutes added to my regular tooth brushing routine. CHECK  
I need to meditate and spend more time in prayer with God and reading my bible etc. It’s a good plan and one I really strive to do , so in my mind I think an hour a day at least…..CHECK
They say…well more like OPRAH says we should write a gratitude journal daily. I like this idea and at one time was great at journaling and writing. At least an hour a day CHECK
We need to exercise daily…an hour a day, again I have been pretty consistent with 4-5 times a week….an hour a day….. CHECK
We need to spend more time with our family and children. Quality time, not just driving them to events. Okay games night or chatting or something fun an hour a day CHECK
We need to spend time with our friends and adults. We need physical touch and socialization.  CHECK
We need to eat 8-10 fruits and vegetables a day. Okay I should make a chart to CHECK all of this off ! CHECK
We need to drink 8 glasses of water a day, add this to the chart to check off. CHECK
Vitamins, we need to take vitamins to keep us healthy. CHECK
We need at least 8 hours of sleep a night. CHECK…..okay this makes my day a little shorter now…HMMM
We need to take the stairs and park farther from doors for EXTRA physical activity! CHECK
These are daily things that should be a MUST. Then weekly we need bible study, date nights, etc.
We need to take time for ourselves. Pamper ourselves! Massages, pedicures! I like this! CHECK! DOUBLE CHECK
We need regular doctor’s appointments dental appointments, mammograms, etc… CHECK
 We need to become more organized! purge and organize closets, office, drawers, our lives. OKAY CHECK
We need to learn more, read more, take classes. GOT IT! CHECK

In between all of this is working, cooking, shopping, homework with kids, driving kids to their events, reading everyday with children, laundry, appointments, etc. etc.
Do you see what I mean? The list is endless!  It became exhausting when I started planning just basics into my already busy routine. I know I can multi task some of these. Get my socialization while I exercise, etc.  But still it appears overwhelming.  I became tired and gave up before I could even start. The thought of making charts to keep track of my fruits and veggies and water, SIGH.
DON’T get me wrong, I will make changes. I need to make changes. THEY say we need to do these things and so I will. BUT first I will increase my 8 hours of sleep to 10. That’s a good start. I am going back to bed now and maybe tomorrow I will not be as exhausted as I think about all I SHOULD do and all I am doing!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

When one family member struggles , the rest of the family does too

This is not totally my story to tell , but I will share with you how this has affected me .
I can tell you that now that we have told the church this is public knowledge.We are in a situation in our home where the REV has had to take a medical leave of absence from work for 3 months. Its been a long time coming and he has pushed it off for a long time. Pride has made him go on, the love of preaching keeps him going and the people in our church whom we love so much kept him trying to forge through , but unfortunately that can only take you so far when you are dealing with stress/depression/burnout. He has hit the wall and is struggling.

He was able to hide it for a long time with others and still does, but it is harder to hide at home. I am reminded of our retriever Tanner who passed away this past October. My friend Pam said that Tanner had been sick a long time but was trying so hard to make us happy that he hid it. But he could only do it for so long before it catches up. The Rev is like our old retriever.

Most peoplewho struggle with stress/burnout/depression try their best to hide it, but stress left alone becomes dangerous and life threatening.
Since sharing this with the church,  I feel like a weight has lifted for me. I don’t have to “hide” how I am feeling. I don’t have to put on my “happy face” all the time. I can now say I am sad, or I am struggling and people will know why.
We have all felt stressed in our lives especially at this time of year trying to get things done for Christmas. This stress and the stress that has people go on medical leave are vastly different. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, an end in sight with Christmas stress or moving etc. With the stress the Rev is going through there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for him. It appears dark and dismal and tiring. There appears to be little hope and everything appears to be caving in all around. It’s a difficult time not just for him but for those who love him.
Not everything I share from this point on is what is exactly what is going on in our home, but is typical of what happens with stress/depression.
 Here are some of the symptoms that one might  go through

  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness
Physical Symptoms
Behavioral Symptoms
  • Aches and pains
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

So for someone who doesn’t struggle with any of these issues and all of a sudden does, it causes huge changes in relationships. The person you love has now become someone you barely recognize, especially when they are exhibiting symptoms that have never been part of their personality or an extreme opposite of who they once were.
As a wife I struggle with what to do. I go from being supportive and understanding , to being frustrated and angry. I think “enoughs,  enough lets get going”. But its not as easy as that. Its not something you can just snap out of. And its difficult for someone who has never experienced depression or burnout to understand.
This is going to take time to heal and the reality is we might never get back to where we were. That’s a scary thought for me. I don't know how long this will take before he is feeling better. I don’t’ know what the future holds The good thing is I know who holds the future and I trust HIM!!
The Sunday before telling our congregation that Bill was not well, I was an emotional mess. In the evening there was a healing service here in town and so I went. I went up for prayer and prayed for healing for my husband , for our marriage and for our family and church. The men praying for me prayed that Bill would not have to take a leave of absence and that he would be healed. Did God heal Bill??? Not instantly? and Not specifically what was asked.  Will He heal Bill? I believe He will! BUT GOD did heal that night. He healed me !   As I said I went in an emotional mess. I felt beaten and discouraged. I was angry and hurt!  I left there filled with PEACE! My anger was gone, my hurt was gone my heart felt healed. I had hope! No matter what happens I KNOW that God is in control!
I know I will have days that will be a roller coaster ride. Today is one of those days. I feel overwhelmed with all I have to do for Christmas. The majority of the work in our home is on my shoulders.  As well as keeping my foot in the door for church. I have to remind myself if I don’t’ get it all done it’s not going to be the end of the world.
Here are some things I am learning through this:
A support system is a MUST! I started counselling last year which helped a lot. I finished just before summer. My counsellor and I thought it was time and I was doing well. My one mistake is I SHOULD have gone back in September when things were coming to a head here. I needed someone to talk to and felt alone. I couldn’t talk to anyone from church I felt like I would be betraying Bill if I did. I am thankful for my daughter Christine who I shared  some of my issues with. That kind of took the edge off. If I had a do over I would have run back to my counsellor right away. I also didn't realize that Bill was going through burnout. I just thought he had changed and I didn't understand it. Talking to a professional would have helped me understand.
So my advice to anyone going through this is get help and support. Don’t hold it in and try and do it on your own. Its impossible to do. We are called to carry one another’s burdens. There are people that can help you.
SEPARATE the behaviour from the person. I say this, but have a hard time following it. I have mentioned this fault with Jayde and her FASD. It is so hard to do but it is necessary.
Look after yourself!  It is a good thing I love to exercise. I know my body doesnt’ show it, but my stress levels do. Going to the gym is so good for more than just physical reasons. It releases endorphins which are happy hormones. It alleviates stress. I am thankful to my friend Marcella who meets me twice a week which makes me pumped to continue on the rest of the week.
I also LOVE hot YOGA! It gives me time to breathe! Deep breathing also helps alleviate stress. I am also able to pray while I am there and just focus on me and GOD!
Pamper yourself, go for massages for pedicures. Look after you. That’s the only way you will be able to look after others.
REMEMBER that you don’t have to do EVERYTHING!! Its ok to say no and it’s ok that not everything will get done. Its okay to ask for help. (another tough one for me, but I am learning)
GO TO GOD! PRAY! If you are not a spiritual person , try praying ! you have nothing to lose and everything to gain! My testimony of the healing service is proof that prayer works. If you still doubt than again I urge you to try it for yourself!
As much as I don't like going through this with my husband and family I  know that one day  I will be able to share and relate to those who struggle with this It  is giving me a new perspective and understanding of depression/mental illness. . One day I will be able to share how God brought us through it as well.