Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Going for Help

I had a weekend of DRAMA and I guess I need or want to share some of it with you. I know some will think it's inappropriate, but it's my blog and I'm super open and I don't think any of the offending parties will ever see this.

I went to see my bishop after church on Sunday for 3 things: 1. I needed a food order, 2. I need to go to counseling and to have the ward help with that either through LDS social services or another company. 3. I needed help to pay for my medication. I heard through the grapevine that the church has to pay for medicine if you can't afford it. I still have no idea if it is true or not. When Jason lost his unemployment we went yo our bishop and got 3 things: rent paid, food orders, and our electricity/water bill paid. We only asked for 2 of those things.

The evening I moved in the bishop was there and I was telling him why I moved and what was going on in my life. Either he asked what I needed or I just plain out told him I needed counseling. He gave me this strange little look and nothing much was said.

I had been paying for Corba and it looked like I couldn't pay anymore. If not, then no insurance and my medication would be more expensive.

So here I am in the bishop's office with him behind his desk and me in front (not an intimate, I care about you, we are equals setting). I told him what I needed. The food order was no problem. But the counseling- Why? - it was just a divorce, right? We'll I would have to help with that. Almost the tears started to come- I can't. I have no money to even pay ANY bills at all. Then the medication thing. Hold on, he said- I'm on anti-depressants??? He doesn't get it. He never takes anything for a headache. When things were hard as a kid he was told to buck up and deal with it and he did. I proceed to tell him that I have been on anti-depressants since I was 19! (I'll be 39 this summer). That really set him off. Questions such as when are you going to get off of them? Have the doctors said anything about that? I was shocked at even the thought. I had never considered it. I just assumed it would be life long. NO doctor has ever said anything about getting off of them.

Then he starts to tell me this story about this man he knows who was suicidal and went up into the mountains to kill himself. Once up there he realized he did value his life, however he got lost for days. In the time of being lost he realized that he needed to go off of his anti-depressants and deal with it himself. Since then he has been fine, has worked through things and so that's what I need to do, which is rely on the Lord, pull myself up from my boot straps and deal with life which had more hardships than good times. During this lecture, he's getting more passionate about it and i'm listening, but also trying to explain:
  1. It's a genetic thing- I have a brother and sisters on medication. I have nieces and nephews on medication.
  2. It's also a chemical thing- The brain is an organ and when it doesn't work right there are things that help and often fix it. We would never say to some one with diabetes- sorry, no meds for you, just turn to the Lord, or someone with a broken bone- sorry- it will heal on it's own, just wait. It will be painful, but you can deal with it with prayer. I even tried to explain neurotransmitters.
  3. I explained that it was my "infirmity" that I was given. He didn't believe a word I said. Not a word.I even told him that had I had meds during HS it would of been completely different. That in the 5th grade I knew something just wasn't right with me. He asked me who told you that? No one!
He wanted me to explore the idea of getting off the meds! I told him not now, but i would look in to it. I mean here I am: going through a divorce at 38 years old, after finally getting married and being single in this married family and church, then I move to a new area completely, have no work and can't pay any bills. That in and of itself would say COUNSELING! He tells me about a talk by Ezra Taft Benson before he was prophet about 12 things to do to be happy- you know that Sunday school answer- read, pray, etc. I tell him I've done those things since I was 16! He says, yes but do you feel the spirit? What kind of a question is that? Just before I went in I was standing next to him and his counselor. I told his counselor that I enjoyed his talk 2 Sunday's ago and that I really felt the spirit! The bishop knows I've been a seminary teacher, an ordinance worker, he's heard my comments in gospel doctrine. I found that question offensive.

So what does he do? He goes to one of the clerks that is a pharmacist and proceeds to tell me where and how I can get free meds, and where I can get free mental health help. I'm in shock! So the basic message is the church won't help you- go to the community. By this I'm in tears and am walking out. I came for understanding, compassion and help. I got none of that, but a lecture and at best him trying to convince me of his opinion.

I go home in tears. I call my counselor in Bellevue who has been wonderful enough to call me every week, to give me support and suggestions of what to do, IE- get counseling there, find a divorce support group, find a book on grieving, etc. Then I call my brother-in-law Mike, who is a family doctor, and has been a bishop. He himself suffers from SAD: seasonal affect disorder. I tell him I want to find all these articles on line that explain things. He says that I could go to the Ensign to find articles. He suggests I have my old bishop call him. I want a blessing from him and my brother. They come, but while I'm waiting, I call Scott Bowen who was my bishop, and a member of my Stake Presidency is also a doctor/radiologist. He tells me the bishop is just naive, that I'm doing the absolute right thing in not going back to my marriage, and to go see the Stake President. My brother Karl suggests the same thing. I tell them this story:

The Sunday previous I bear my testimony about Joseph Smith, The book of Mormon, the Savior, the importance of keeping the commandments and sticking with the gospel regardless of what happens in your life because it's all still true! Then at the end I get emotional and tell them that I'm going through the hardest time in my life and I really need their help to get through, that I'm a firm believer in bearing one another's burdens, that I'm usually not a charity case, but now I am. The Stake President is there, on the stand not even cracking a smile once- seriously not even once! After the mtg is over he walks right by me, right by me and says absolutely nothing. Here's the main shepherd and after a testimony like that you'd think he'd want to meet me, to find out more about me, to offer me his support. Both Scott and Karl think this is strange.

I get a blessing about being able to take some advice and leaving others behind. I feel better. I already know that he was not speaking as a bishop, but as his regular self. I go to a dinner with some fun women. We eat, we play games and then I head home and the RS pres. comes to do the order. I go off on her, am rude, etc. She wants to leave, doesn't want to be treated like that. OK. I'm a jerk. How can she support me? Ever heard of validation. Janea thinks that's weird, RS presidents should be used to dealing with people in crisis! And that is what I am, in CRISIS. I apologize through email the next day. I have 5 talks for the bishop to read from the church magazines and pictures of brains that are depressed and brains that are not, plus a note telling him how the meeting felt to me. It has yet to go out.

I'd really just like to keep my distance. I'm sure they both think the worst of me. The RS president asked if I was on my meds now. Did Jason come? For crying out loud, can anyone see high stress levels for what they are?

I don't mean to speak evil of the Lord's anointed, but really... Where is the compassion?


Christy Jones said...

Just remember that they are people and people make mistakes. I am sorry that you are having a hard time finding people who are understanding. I hope you find some support soon.

Carmell said...

I'm sorry that you aren't getting the support that you need. Hopefully it will come soon. It really stinks that your bishop doesn't understand more. I'm glad that you are able to recognize that he was speaking only from his own human imperfect understanding. I had a similar experience with a bishop when I was going through the most difficult time of my life. He really didn't understand beyond some funny ideas he had. It was so hard for me because I didn't have anyone else to turn to and I so wanted to have someone just understand. I finally had to recognize that he was just a man who didn't know everything about everything. I just hoped he learned a little from my experience so the next person with something similar would be better off. Maybe your bishop will learn from you.
You'll get through this! The Lord understands and he will send someone to help bear your burdens. Stay strong! You are loved!!