Are You Like an Angel or Something?


 

 

I hope the answer is “yes” and at this time of year especially, you will consider with more understanding and patience those around you who appear to have difficulties.

Remember Psalm 55:22
Friends are God‘s way of taking care of us.”

The following story touched me so deeply when I read it.  And recently a friend of mine told me of a voice, or feeling, in her which absolutely gave her peace and comfort – something she had not known in a VERY long time.  I feel certain these are specific signs were directed to me.  So I’m passing on the good news and maybe you “Are like an Angel” and will feel the same peace within.

This following, are you like an angel or something, was written by a Metro Denver Hospice physician.

I just had one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and want to
share my story with my family and dearest friends.

I was driving home from a meeting this evening about 5, stuck in traffic on Colorado Blvd., and my car started to choke and splutter and die, I barely managed to coast, cursing, into a gas station, glad only that I would not be blocking traffic and would have a somewhat warm spot to wait for the tow truck. It wouldn’t even turn over. Before I could make the call, I saw a woman walking out of the “quickie mart” building, and it looked like she had perhaps slipped on some ice and fell, so I got out to see if she was okay.

When I got there, it looked more like she had been overcome by sobs than that she had fallen; she was a young woman who looked really haggard with dark circles under her eyes. She dropped something as I helped her up, I picked it up to give it to her… it was a nickel.

At that moment, everything came into focus for me: the crying woman, the ancient Suburban crammed full of stuff with 3 kids in the back (1 in a car seat), and the gas pump reading $4.95.

I asked her if she was okay and if she needed help, and she just kept
saying ” don’t want my kids to see me crying,” so we stood on the other side of the pump from her car. She said she was driving to California and things were very hard for her right now. So I asked, “And you were praying?” That made her back away from me a little, but I assured her I was not a crazy person and said, “He heard you, and He sent me.”

I took out my card and swiped it through the card reader on the pump so she could fill up her car completely, and while it was fueling, walked next door to a McDonald’s and bought 2 big bags of food, some gift certificates for more, and a big cup of coffee. She gave the food to the kids in the car, who attacked it like wolves, and we stood by the pump eating fries and talking a little.

She told me her name, and that she lived in Kansas City. Her boyfriend left 2 months ago and she had not been able to make ends meet. She knew she wouldn’t have money to pay rent Jan 1, and finally in desperation finally called her parents, with whom she had not spoken in about 5 years. They lived in California and they said she could come live with them and try to get on her feet there.

So she packed up everything she owned in the car. She told the kids they were going to California for Christmas, but not that they were going to live there.

I gave her my gloves, a little hug and said a quick prayer with her for safety on the road. As I was walking over to my car, she said, “So, are you like an angel or something?”

This definitely made me cry. I said, “Sweetie, at this time of year angels are really busy, so sometimes God uses regular people.”

It was so incredible to be a part of someone else’s divine intervention. And of course, you guessed it, when I got in my car it started right away and got me home with no problem. I’ll put it in the shop tomorrow to check, but I suspect the mechanic won’t find anything wrong.

Be an angel to someone else whenever you can, as a way of thanking God for the
help your angel has given you … pay forward those Random Acts of Kindness.

 

 

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Bet You don’t Know Who’s Depressed?


You may be surprised by who in your immediate realm of friends, neighbours and co-workers may suffer from depression.  In fact, your family could certainly suffer as well.  There are a few things which could help you with any of them and that’s why I’m writing about it here.  I’ve been asked fairly often enough questions of friends and acquaintances that I’ve decided to let folks know whatever I have learned in order to help them cope with others who either have this illness or help others dealing with family who have the illness.

Please realize you cannot cure someone else’s clinical depression.  It’s not just sadness which can be waved off with a few kind words.  And “no” you cannot “just get over it.”  It goes far deeper than that.  If you’re going into this with the heroic notion that you can somehow “fix” it for your friend, spouse or relative, then you need to disavow it immediately.  Operating on this assumption will only frustrate you and does no one any good.

There are ups and downs in depression recovery.  It is neither swift, nor steady.  Your friend or relative is going to go on the decline now and then.  Don’t think it’s because you are failing them or they are not trying hard enough.  The “roller-coaster” effect is just a part and parcel of depression.

Please don’t tell a depression patient that “you understand.”  Unless you yourself have experienced clinical depression, you don’t understand.  And your friend, spouse or relative knows it.  It’s not a bad thing as understanding depression means having it.  I’d rather no one, anywhere, understood it.  The point here is to be honest with your friend or relative and don’t profess things that aren’t so.  Sincerity will help him or her a great deal; it will engender trust, which every depression patient has a problem with, at one time or another.

No one wants to make your life miserable by being depressed.  Try not to view someone else’s depression as your own affliction.  Rather, be grateful you don’t have depression and try to realize what the other person is going through.  Don’t take the things your friend, spouse or relative says/does, personally.  They aren’t meant that way truly.

Recovery from depression is not just a matter of taking anti-depressant medication and going to therapy.  Both the depression and recovery from it can totally change a person’s life.  Treatment involves a lot of fundamental changes in a person.  At times, you’ll wonder if it’s the same person you’ve known for so long.  Believe me, it is–the depression probably hid the “real person” from your view, up to the point that he or she was diagnosed and began treatment.

At times, it may seem that the person is actually pushing you away.  This is very likely true.  Most depression patients believe that they unduly affect those around them and will do anything to prevent that from happening.  Thus they isolate themselves from others.  This kind of self-sabotage is actually a symptom of the illness itself.  Don’t let it overcome your relationship. Try to understand this is often involuntary and irrational, and act accordingly.

Can You Help Someone Who’s Depressed?  I cannot tell you precisely what is best for your friend, spouse or relative.  I can only give you some guidelines from what I’ve experienced and researched.  The rest is entirely up to you.

Don’t ask very general questions; you won’t get a meaningful answer.  As an example: Rather than asking “How are you?” ask “How are you today compared to yesterday or last week?” or something of this kind.  Make the question open-ended, so the person can say what he or she wants, but provide something specific for them to talk about.

Try to get the person out.  They will want to isolate themselves –hibernate, even– but this is exactly what should not happen.  Try to take walks with them, or go shopping or go to a movie, whatever you have to, to get the person out of their environment they’re trying to take shelter in.  You may get some resistance, and even complaints; be somewhat persistent but not unreasonable.  You don’t want to push them away.

Don’t be afraid to let your spouse, relative or friend talk about whatever they want to.  And this is important: Even if they mention self-injury, or they are suicidal, you are not endangering them by listening.  Actually, you are helping to protect them from those things; talking helps them deal with these feelings.

Keep an eye out for any changes in their behavior.  These can include loss of or heightened appetite, sleep habits such as insomnia or sleeping too much, over drinking of alcohol or drug abuse, anything at all.  Any major changes may be a sign of trouble.

Little things go a long way for someone with clinical depression.  Small gifts and favors seem much bigger to them than to you.  Don’t be afraid to (for example) leave the person a short note with a smiley face on it.  Even if it seems silly or hokey, small considerations will help.

 

Non-depressed people have a difficult time understanding depression; which is completely understandable.  Depression is not a weakness, a character flaw, a personality trait, or anything of that kind.  It’s not God‘s punishment for past sins either.  It’s not karma catching up with something the person did in a past life.  It’s not someone just being too sensitive, believe me.  It’s not laziness or even immaturity.  It’s exceedingly real and very terribly serious.  No one does anything to deserve it.  And you did nothing to cause someone in your life to become clinically depressed.

Depression is also not just the emotion of sadness.  In fact, many people suffering with depression experience numbness, or no emotion, rather than sadness.  It is called a “mood disorder” but this is a misnomer, in that it can go way beyond someone’s mood.  Depression can totally disrupt someone’s thinking, in every way.

Depression is also not an excuse.  Having this illness doesn’t absolve anyone of responsibility for themselves.  Don’t make the mistake of letting a depression patient “off the hook” because of his or her illness.  Point out any transgressions and explain what went wrong, and make sure the person understands it.  However, getting angry or vindictive does no good either. Keep criticism constructive.  And stick by your friend or relative; you will find that it pays off in the end.

It’s difficult accepting depression in someone else.  Just as any depression patient must learn to accept his or her illness, and work on overcoming it, so you must accept that they have a mood disorder.  Since recovering is really a matter of work on the patient’s part, it’s impossible to start doing this work until one accepts that one must do it.  By the same token, you will find it impossible to deal with someone else’s depression, unless you accept that he or she has an illness–a very real one.

From what I’ve seen, this is one of the hardest things for friends and family to do.  I will not kid you into thinking that this is easy.  It’s not.  Accepting an illness in someone else, that you don’t understand and never will (hopefully), is not a simple or trivial matter.  Above all, don’t blame yourself for it.  No one can “make” another person depressed, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you caused it.

This is just as important as anything else!   You offer nothing to someone else if you’re stressed out.  If you need to, take some time away from the depressed person.  It will give you a better perspective on things and unravel frustrations and tensions.  Just make sure that your friend or relative knows that you’re still committed to him or her, anyway.  You can even tell him/her that you’re taking “time out” for yourself, so you can better help. (It’s true.)

Depression Is Very Real


How To Help Someone Who’s Depressed

I’ve gotten lots of questions from friends and other folks of depression patients, as to how to handle it.  This article assumes that the depressed person has been diagnosed and is in treatment.

Main Problems for Friends and Family

Let me start by saying that I, for one, appreciate your wishing to understand someone else’s depression.  I commend you for taking an interest in a very difficult subject and for wishing to help.  In an indirect way, you’re a victim of depression too because this illness impinges on everyone around the people who have it.

Pardon my bluntness, but there are a few things you really need to know, before you get too far into this subject.

  1. You cannot cure someone else’s clinical depression.  It is not just sadness which can be waved off with a few kind words.  It goes far deeper than that.  If you are going into this with the heroic notion that you can somehow “fix” it for your friend, spouse or relative, then you need to disavow it immediately.  Operating on this assumption will only frustrate you and does no one any good.
  2. There are ups and downs in depression recovery. It is neither swift, nor steady. Your friend or relative is going to go on the decline, now and then. Don’t think it’s because you are failing them or they are not trying hard enough. The “roller-coaster” effect is just a part and parcel of depression.
  3. Please don’t tell a depression patient “you understand.”  Unless you, yourself, have experienced clinical depression, you don’t.  And your friend, spouse or relative knows it.  It’s not a bad thing since understanding depression means having it.  I’d rather that no one, anywhere, understood it.  The point here is to be honest with your friend or relative and don’t profess things that aren’t so.  Sincerity will help him or her a great deal; it will engender trust, which every depression patient has a problem with, at one time or another.
  4. No one wants to make your life miserable by being depressed.  Try not to view someone else’s depression as your own affliction.  Rather, be grateful that you don’t have clinical depression and try to realize what the other person is going through.  Don’t take the things your friend, spouse or relative says/does, personally.  They aren’t meant that way.
  5. Recovery from depression is not just a matter of taking anti-depressant medication and going to therapy.  Both the depression and recovery from it can totally change a person’s life.  Treatment involves a lot of fundamental changes in a person.  At times, you’ll wonder if it’s the same person you’ve known for so long.  Believe me, it is–the depression probably hid the “real person” from your view, up to the point that he or she was diagnosed and began treatment.
  6. At times, it may seem that the person is actually pushing you away.  This is very likely true.  Most depression patients believe that they unduly affect those around them and will do anything to prevent that from happening.  Thus, they isolate themselves from others.  This kind of self-sabotage is actually a symptom of the illness itself.  Don’t let it overcome your relationship.  Try to understand that this is often involuntary and irrational, and act accordingly.

 

How To Help Someone Who’s Depressed

What To Say or Do

  I cannot tell you precisely what is best for your friend, spouse or relative. I can only give you some guidelines. The rest is up to you.

  1. Don’t ask very general questions; you won’t get a meaningful answer. As an example:  Rather than asking “How are you?” ask “How are you today compared to yesterday?” or something of this kind.  Make the question open-ended, so the person can say what he or she wants, but provide something specific for them to talk about.
  2. Try to get the person out.  He or she will want to isolate themselves–hibernate, even–but this is exactly what should not happen.  Take walks, go shopping, go to a movie, whatever you have to, to get the person out of the environment they are trying to take shelter in.  You may get some resistance, and even complaints; be persistent but not unreasonable.
  3. Don’t be afraid to let your spouse, relative or friend talk about whatever they want to.  Even if they mention self-injury, or they are suicidal, you are not endangering them by listening.  Actually, you are helping to protect them from those things; talking helps them deal with these feelings.
  4. Keep an eye out for any changes in behavior.  These can include appetite, sleep habits, drinking or drug abuse, anything at all.  Any major changes may be a sign of trouble.
  5. Little things go a long way for someone with clinical depression. Small gifts and favors seem much bigger to them than to you. Don’t be afraid to (for example) leave the person a short note with a smiley face on it. Even if it seems silly or hokey, small considerations will help.

What Depression Is Not

Understanding Depression

Non-depressed people have a difficult time understanding depression; which is completely understandable.  I ‘ve discussed these things elsewhere, but I think this bears repeating here. Depression is not a weakness, character flaw, personality trait, or anything of that kind.  It’s not God’s punishment for past sins. It’s not karma catching up with something the person did in a past life.  It’s not someone just being too sensitive.  It’s not laziness or immaturity.  No one does anything to deserve it.  And you did nothing to cause someone in your life to become clinically depressed.

Depression is also not just the emotion of sadness.  In fact, many depression patients experience numbness, or no emotion, rather than sadness.  It is called a “mood disorder,” but this is a misnomer in that it can go way beyond someone’s mood.  Depression can totally disrupt someone’s thinking, in every way.

Depression is also not an excuse.  Having this illness doesn’t absolve anyone of responsibility for themselves.  Don’t make the mistake of letting a depression patient “off the hook” because of his or her illness.  Point out any transgressions and explain what went wrong, and make sure the person understands it.  However, getting angry or vindictive do no good, either. Keep criticism constructive. And stick by your friend or relative; you will find that it pays off in the end.

Go here for a more in-depth look at depression and supporting a depressed person.

Accepting Depression In Someone Else

Just as any depression patient must learn to accept his or her illness, and work on overcoming it, so you must accept that they have a mood disorder.  Since recovering is really a matter of work on the patient’s part, it’s impossible to start doing this work until one accepts that one must do it.  By the same token, you will find it impossible to deal with someone else’s depression, unless you accept that he or she has an illness–a very real one.

From what I’ve seen, this is one of the hardest things for friends and family to do.  I will not kid you into thinking that this is easy.  It’s not.  Accepting an illness in someone else, that you don’t understand and never will (hopefully), is not a simple or trivial matter.  Above all, don’t blame yourself for it.  No one can “make” another person depressed, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you caused it.

 

For Caregivers of Depression Patients

This is just as important as anything else!  You offer nothing to someone else if you’re stressed out.  If you need to, take some time away from the depressed person. It will give you a better perspective on things and unravel frustrations and tensions.  Just make sure your friend or relative knows you’re still committed to him or her, anyway.  You can even tell him/her that you’re taking “time out” for yourself, so you can better help. (It’s true.)

Just A Dog? You Decide


For whomever believes in God, you must also believe that those who save the loving creatures we call dogs from shelters are doing His work.  After all, we were taught, most of us, that God loves us and wants us to love our neighbor and other living creatures.  St. John wrote in the Bible of God saying, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Well now, are dogs not our best friends?  I should think so.  They have often been known to lay down their lives to protect us.  Dogs teach us the greatest lesson of unconditional love.  Unless they’ve been trained otherwise and suffered abuse in some way, dogs are the most loyal and loving creatures on earth.  I’ve even been fortunate enough to have my girls (a/k/a dogs) know their healing powers.  Nine months after the tragic death of my late husband by suicide, I rescued two dogs from a No Kill Sanctuary.  Their soulful eyes empathize when we are in pain; their playful antics lift our spirits when nothing else can, and their fierce loyalty provides the safety, security and dependability that no human can.

Dogs teach us unconditional love in a myriad of ways.  They even teach us to love ourselves again unconditionally when our four-legged friends bounce back to self-love even after being scolded for misbehaving.  They don’t carry shame and embarrassment for chasing the cat, chewing a favorite shoe or pooping in the neighbor’s yard.

And dogs don’t hold grudges when we arrive home late and offer their dinner even later, or miss a scheduled walk.  They run up to us with wagging tails, nudging us playfully for affection and give those puppy dog stares so lovingly.  No need for forgiveness there as they haven’t judged us in the first place.  And they certainly don’t care that we as humans come with our specific flaws.  They forgive us.

They serve to teach us again what we learned as children, that being the importance of amusement, fun and play.  And they taught me specifically how to forget my anger, feelings of guilt and despair.

Scientists have discovered that animals have healing powers.  When you stroke a cat or pet a dog, you experience a surge of healing hormones and chemicals that produce feelings of peace and serenity.  [Edward T. Creagan, M.D. – a Mayo Clinic oncologist.]

In a feature article on WebMD, Jeanie Lerche Davis writes that playing with a pet may elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, lower cholesterol levels and increase immune function.

It has also been found that just petting and stroking an animal can help lower blood pressure and calm the heart rate.  This is because simply petting a dog, you can lower the stress and worries of the world.  And all that dog wants in return is love.

   A short while ago, I had a bad night for some reason.  Often my tears just begin on their own and I’ve no way of stopping those waterworks.  My little baby as I call her, Casey, is deaf so she could not hear me and had been fast asleep at my feet as were my other two girls.  She rose up suddenly, I imagine sensing my drastic mood change, and stared into my eyes for the longest time and watched those tears stream down my cheeks.  Then she brought her face close to mine and began softly licking the tears.  So softly she did this as though she were dabbing with a tissue.  And she didn’t stop until I was able to stop my crying.  As abruptly as she stopped, she stared at me again for a while and then brought her face up against mine.  She knew just how I was feeling and wanted me to know, it was going to be okay.  And she was right.

Words cannot express the love, peace and joy that my three girls have brought to my life.  In losing my husband tragically, I was given precious blessings in the form of three little white dogs who have been instrumental in decreasing my depression and PTSD.

If you’re suffering from depression or PTSD or other emotional problem, I urge you to give it a try.  Granted it’s an important responsibility and I suggest beginning with one dog.  (I have three dogs for reasons I’ll explain another time.)  You get love, affection, companionship, as well as a sense of worth and purpose, all wrapped up in a sweet furry little package.  What more could you ask for?