This is the second part of a two-part blog, the first being posted last week. If you haven’t read it, please flip back and do so (Of course, you can always go back and read any of my previous columns, too!) so that you can follow this week’s conclusion.
And so the battle against the Depression Dragon began. Many times it was difficult but generally, “He” was just out there, skulking around in the shadows, like the Bible says about the Devil himself, waiting for a soul to devour. I kept watch, glancing over my shoulder and that way, I could always be sure of where “He” was.
That was my survival technique for all the years from 1977 when my mother died to 1995, eighteen years later when Francesca graduated high school in 1994, and then it was her sister’s turn in the spring of 1995. Suddenly, as the old cowboys say, the wheels came off the wagon! I wasn’t watching “Him” close enough. “He” got free and came right for me. He had me in his clutches and it was just like 1977, I couldn’t breathe! We had 4 teenagers in the house, ages 16, 17, 18 and 19. The 16 year old ‘lost’ it and tried to jump out of our van as it was cruising down I-44, with Warren at the wheel, bringing him back from a counselor’s appointment in Springfield. It was determined his mental/emotional state was such he had to go to a residential care center. What we didn’t realize was that he and his sister, our youngest daughter had never been separated and just as she was about to graduate high school, she hit the ‘panic button’ and ran off with a boy we had never met. He was the older brother of a friend and the next we knew, she didn’t come home. She stayed with his parents and his sister for a time (After feeding them a line about us being abusive. If making your bed, taking care of your chores at home, insisting you talk with respect not only to us but to all in the family, is abusive then I guess we were guilty.) She quickly got into ‘couch surfing’ where young people crash on somebody’s couch for a couple days or weeks, until those who are rightfully in the house, throw them out and then they go on to the next couch. Suddenly, two of our four kids were gone to places I did not want my children to be and I was devastated.
The Depression Dragon was out of the shadows, headed for my jugular with those big nashing teeth and that very same summer, our pastor, Larry Snow introduced us to a program called Camino. It had all kinds of Spanish names with Jesus right smack in the middle of it. I went that first summer as what they now call a participant, a new-bee, somebody who had never been there before. I’ve been going back almost every time they hold a weekend since, to cook, wash dishes and serve food to all the ones who have come through since. Camino saved my marriage and my life but like I said, Jesus is and has always been at the center of Camino so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that this kind of Christian leadership program produces all sorts of miracles.
In 1995, the Dragon got away for a bit, wreaked havoc in my life, nearly took it from me again, but with Prozac and a good doctor, I made it through. (I was one of the lucky ones, a year on Prozac was an immense help.) We kicked that dragon back to the shadows and I made sure I got back on my guard. Watch him, watch him, watch him! If you don’t “He” will be back to capture your soul and take it to a dark and airless place.
Now fast forward another few years to the present. I’ve taken Celexa off and on over the years to help keep him under control. And it does work but drugs like Prozac and Celexa, they round off the ends of the spectrum. In other words, you don’t spend all day in the bed, not caring, hiding from the world. That’s the bad (negative) side and that’s good. But it also rounds off the tears that come when you are happy and proud, like when the oldest daughter marries her best friend 20 years ago this December or your youngest finally marries her long lost love, after they’d both foolishly married other people over the years. (They’ve only known each other since they were in the fourth or fifth grade together.) They got married—basically when their 6 year old son told ‘em they needed to get married. There are no happy tears when your first (of seven) grandsons is born or your daughter graduates from nursing school with honors, or when you hear your words coming out of your oldest son’s mouth as he speaks to his teenage son and tells him to straighten up, behave yourself, and don’t embarrass your family. And you realize he really was listening to you all those years back. My happy tears were gone but that was the price to be paid to keep the Depression Dragon in the shadows.
Now, one of the youngest grandsons has been diagnosed with Celiac disease, the one in which the child has no tolerance for gluten. It means his digestive system is a disaster and has no ability to pull the nutrition from his food. It is as if he eating cardboard every day and nothing more. To rebuild his system, the doctors recommended something called The Whole 30 diet, easily found on the Internet. It truly is an extreme diet, done for only 30 days. Only 6 items are allowed….meat, fish, seafood, veggies, fruits and eggs, basically Biblical foods. That means no sugar, no artificial sweeteners of any kind, no breads or gluten, no grains, including corn, no dairy, and NO PROCESSED FOODS OF ANY KIND. Through an MRI, the doctors has determined that this child no longer had the fibers in his gut that take his nutrition from his food but with this diet, they believe he can re-grow them. That’s all fine and good except that he has a 9 year old brother so his dad (a doctor) determined the only way this is going to work is if the whole family goes on it together. Warren and I were there visiting at the time and he says to me, why don’t we do this with Tyson, to be one more support? Come on. We need to straighten up our own eating anyway and it’s only 30 days, we can do it. And so we begin….
Now for some of us, if there is no sweetness to the coffee, there is no point. Black coffee or tea are allowed but not for this girl. I can do the tea but not the coffee, so there’s the first big loss. And no chocolate, OH MY! And no corn???? We live on corn, corn tortillas and so, it is the 3 Big C’s--Coffee, Chocolate and Corn that bother me….for the first 3 days which were difficult but then after a few more days, it got easier and at the end of 2 weeks, it was a breeze, already a habit.
I’m living on grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, grilled asparagus, red peppers, zucchini, and fresh pineapple spears (yum!) Strawberries, blueberries, big dark fresh cherries, scrambled eggs with homemade salsa, smoked salmon, tilapia sautéed in clarified butter…I mean, it’s tough, you know, eating all this good food and calling it a diet. I lost a few pounds but suddenly, “He” was gone. The Dragon was gone. I don’t know where “He” went but for the first time in 50 years, I am FREE! The only thing I can imagine is that it is the processed food.
For more than 30 days, I have had no soda or liquor nor have I eaten any potassium sorbate, calcium disodium EDTA, tert-Butylhydroquinone or tertiary butylhydroquinen, a derivative of hydroquinone, found in microwave popcorn, propyl gallate, potassium chloride or any of the other dozens of chemicals added to our foods every day and my head is spinning! Not from what I have ingested but from what I have not. Someone told me, Laura, you have so much energy, it’s like your “ON” something and I said, I know. It’s wild! I haven’t felt this good in years, maybe 50 years!
Think about it. It’s right out there for you today. On the net. It comes with a book for only $15 and my friends at Lebanon Books have it right here in Lebanon. Buy Local! It’s the best at $15 and it might turn out like me, the best $15 you’ve ever spent. I love the book’s opening line. Don’t Say This is Hard. Beating Cancer is Hard. This is only 30 days. It might just change your life, too. It certainly has mine! I know I sound like a brand new Christian…..YOU GOTTA GET JESUS IN YOUR LIFE! But this is incredible! I’m now past 30 days and we are adding foods back slowly. Very slowly and it is still so good. Because now God and I—not the sugar, not the chemicals—are in control and it is wonderful! God bless you. He certainly has me! And Tyson is doing better, too!
Laura L. Valenti, author
The Heart of the Spring,
The Heart of the Spring Lives On,
The Heart of the Spring Comes Home, and
The Heart of the Spring Everlasting
Between the Star and the Cross: The Choice and
Between the Star and the Cross: The Election
Ozark Meth: A Journey of Destruction and Deliverance with co-author Dick Dixon
We know that Jesus had 33 years Between the Star at his birth and the Cross at his death. We each have a time between our star and our cross. We just don't know how long that might be. The real question is 'what will you do with yours?' Blessings, LV