A Letter From Depression

Read “A Letter to Depression” Here

Dear Paige,

It’s good to hear from you, and I’m glad you’re doing well and trying to help others. That’s always what I’m trying to do…

You are correct. I am always there. Most, if not all people, know me in some form or fashion at some point in their life. I feel good that some people want to hang out with me for so long, but I don’t always understand why. I may appear in a time of need, but after a while, I don’t choose to be with them, they choose to be with me.

Maybe it’s because I’m pretty reliable, I’m there more consistently than people. I’m better at reminding and remembering things you’d rather forget. People don’t show up or ask questions. People don’t ask about me or talk about me. People ignore me, deny me, tell me to go away, which never works. So, I stick around as long as necessary.

Sometimes I’m there to remind people of something that they forgot. People would rather be with me than the memory, whatever it is. It doesn’t matter to me what happened. I don’t judge. I don’t bring shame. I’m just something to focus on instead, and that’s cool with me.

But what makes me back off? That’s a good question. I mean, I know when I’m needed, and when I “go away” it’s more like melting. Or I’m like a force field that is no longer necessary. Most of the time, it does take some amount of time.

I feel like people want me to go away as quick as possible, they HATE me, which only makes me closer. If I wasn’t there, then people would never be able to be real. To deny me is to deny your realness and reality, and that’s why I can be so strong. Until that realness and reality is owned with other humans, I’m like slime or stuck like a barnacle. Imagine, people just walking around covered in slime, unable to talk or connect with one another… Or worse, a person yelling at a slimed person to get the slime off. “What? I can’t hear you.”

Hurricanes hit. Parents die. People hurt other people. Accidents happen.

And I’m there to help.

At least until you get a good hug. Or your pain is recognized by another. Or you tell your story. Or if you have a good cry, maybe even with another human. Of you have deep reflection. Or you’re caught in intense prayer. Or you figure something out. Or you forgive. Or there is gratitude. Or there is mercy.

I keep you safe and known until you’re ready for some of the above.

Hope this helps.

Depression

 

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A Letter to Depression

Hello Depression!

It’s been so long, I can hardly remember what you are like. I can’t even remember the times when you were unnamed. But I’m writing you now, because I need better understanding to help people.

My relationship with you has been better and been worse throughout time. I remember being ashamed of a recording I found of myself from kindergarten saying how stupid I am (to myself). I itched my legs raw in childhood, and it was probably a manifestation of you. I remember middle and early high school being angry and crying all the time, having nice teachers look at me like, “What in the world is wrong?” Not in a judgy way, but genuinely concerned way. And I would think to myself, “I have NO IDEA.” It was you.

Objectively, those pre-adolescent and adolescent days were amazing, I wish I paid more attention to them, than I did to you. Trying to figure you out. Trying to make you go away. Not understanding how I could get along with so many people, live in some of the most amazing places, laugh, play, worship, but still feel you, and want to die.

Over time, with growth and maturity (and plenty of attention and help and, of course, figuring you out), I was ok with you. I was with you, because when bad things (or even just normal annoying things) happened, I needed to be with you, but I did not need to be with you forever. Depression, you made sense for various events in my life, even if my body and emotions were a little more sensitive, and I was sadder longer than I wanted to be. I stopped beating myself for being with you, and let you wash over me like a wave. Even if I felt it, I was never in danger of drowning. I was safe.

This is all retrospective though. You haven’t been at your strongest in over a decade, but Depression, I know that things can happen, and you will be there again.

That’s enough trip down memory lane, what I’m trying understand now is how to help others. You manifest so different in every person, and “feeling better” is also extremely different and objective for every person. Most kids and adults that I know who have a relationship with you fight you so hard. They want you to go away forever, or avoid you with busyness and/or dissociation, blame others, or are waiting for someone very specific to help them fight you.

It’s depressing (pun intended) to be away from you, trying to help people get away from you. It seems all they really need is for someone to simply hold them with you and remind them that it doesn’t have to be forever.

“This won’t be forever, and if it is forever, I’ll be here forever with you.”

Maybe that’s what you are, or could be, Depression, a warm blanket in the dark traumatic or annoying parts of our lives. I think many people think that you are the dark, but the dark is whatever has happened, and you are the warm blanket. Some of us stay under the blanket, too afraid to see if the light has returned or too afraid the dark will come again. We need help coming out, enjoying the light when it’s there.

No one wants to deal with you this way or be with you even when they need you. They want behavior modification. They want to do do do, or “Here’s this pill, it might work.” Medically, there’s this annoying thing that as long as a person is functioning, then you are not a problem. Depression, you are only a problem if we turn to self harm or self neglect or lack of productivity–which is pretty extreme–where a person literally can’t function for months at a time. Meanwhile, millions function with you, Depression, and still see you as a problem.

Even with this letter, I’m trying to find a way to grab a hold of you and throw you away, to save myself and others from a relationship with you. It’s like trying to save people from the inconvenience of breathing or eating or sleeping.

So, how do we get you to back off? I know that it’s possible. I know you’ve backed off quite a bit from me, but what about others?

Is it time? Is it busyness? Is it just replacement strategies? Is it a close social network, good family and friends? Is it self-awareness? Is it Jesus? Is it a lot of things or just a couple? Is it sudden or gradual? Can it be any, all, or combo? Why can’t you just make it easy?

Any insight would be helpful.

Peace,

Paige

Read “A Letter From Depression” next. 

5 Biblical Reasons NOT to Get Married

Warning: Hyperbole about to ensue.

Whenever people get their panties in a bunch over marriage, divorce, same-sex marriage, and gender identity issues, I can’t help but want to go back to the Bible, which is very anti-family and anti-marriage all together.

Usually when the Bible does talk about marriage, it’s not in a ritualistic sense, like, “This is how Christians get married…” but more in a, “Welp, you’re married, so this is how it’s going to work now that there are married Christians, and Christian families.” Marriage in culture existed before Christianity did, so Christians had to figure out how to appropriate it into their culture, instead of listening to what the Bible says and just not get married.

Here are 5 Biblical reasons not to get married

  1. Adam and Eve.

Let’s just start from the beginning. Adam and Eve are not good examples of a couple or as parents. People quote Genesis and refer to Adam and Eve like they are some kind of model of perfection, but they are responsible for the fall of mankind AND the oldest son MURDERS the younger. I don’t know what made people decide it was a good idea to get together and procreate after this. It’s as if our relationships were doomed from the very get go.

2. Pretty much every relationship and family in the Old Testament AFTER Adam and Eve.

Does anyone actually read the Bible? Multiple wives. Murder. Rape. Adultery. Incest. Manipulation. It’s like people were considered property or something.

3. The Cost of Discipleship: Luke 14:25-27

Large crowds were now traveling with Jesus, and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.

And there’s more…

Matthew 10:37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

And more…

John 12:25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

It seems pretty clear to me that Jesus is not for family. It’s not something that he talks about a ton. We don’t even hear much of his own relationship with family. He wasn’t married as far as we know.

Basically, every Christian needs to be prepared to give up everything AKA person at any moment, and being married and having children does not lend itself very well to that.

Christians don’t want to be married because Jesus said that it’s good to be married, they want to be married because they want it. It’s as if people and relationships are things. And Jesus is definitely not for wanting, getting, or keeping things.

4. Jesus says to GIVE UP EVERYTHING.

I have never understood how Christians do mental gymnastics to get around this.

Luke 14:33 “…those of you who do not give up everything they have cannot be my disciples.”

Matthew 19:21 “If you want to be perfect, go, sell all of your possessions and give to the poor. And you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

And there’s more… Luke 18:22, Acts 2:45. Acts 2:45 is compelling because it is the example of the first Christians doing this command. If you are married and you have children, you are much less likely to share because it’s all about your family before anyone else.

Putting your family before the needy and poor in your Christian community is anti-Christian. How do you get around this? Don’t get married or have a family.

5. Paul on Marriage: 1 Corinthians 7

This is a treasure trove. In the first verse, it appears that the Corinthians assumed that they couldn’t have sex (with anyone), and it was complicating the community. Paul clears this up by letting them know they can get with their spouses–BUT NOT TOO MUCH.

Paul also highly recommends that widows not remarry, and that the unmarried remain unmarried.

1 Corinthians 7:28 “But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”

Paul is LITERALLY reassuring the community that marriage isn’t a sin, but probably isn’t worth going through if you’re a Christian.

Why do we do it? And why do we care how other people do it?

Probably because sex is the biggest competitor with religion.

So, Christian, if you’re not married, don’t fret! You’re probably closer to Christ and more Christian than the rest of us who put a ring on it.

Baptized by Story and Stages of Healing White Privilege Edition

Lately, I’ve been baptized by the stories of people who are very different than me. I understand that the privileges that I haven’t earned and have enjoyed, many people of color have not. Their lived bodily experience is radically different from mine. Sure, I have my issues, but very few of them have to do with me just being me in my body, and other’s reaction to that. Continue reading “Baptized by Story and Stages of Healing White Privilege Edition”

Coffee Interlude: Cake, Jasmine, and Bourbon

This is what I’m roasting and drinking. Four coffees from Sweet Maria’s, and I really like all of them.

Honduras Ocetepeque El Jutal.

I bought 5lbs from Honduras. I liked what the flavor profile looked like: cinnamon, buttery, walnut, and good all the way into Vienna roast. This one I like to refer to as “Coffee Cake”, though it is subtle. I imagined that the bean would show well and be versatile in the levels of roast, the way it is brewed, and if I happen to infuse it with whiskey (which I did, and haven’t tasted yet). Crowd-pleasing coffee.

Ethiopia and Rwanda

I also wanted to venture out into some African Coffees, and I bought beans from Ethiopia (Ethiopia Shakiso 2lbs) and Rwanda (Rwanda Karongi Gitesi 2lbs) that are nicer in the lighter roasts. Most people I don’t think are used to a good African coffee. They tend to be a bit more acidic (citrusy), and don’t lend themselves as well to darker roasts. At the same time they can be very complex with spicy, fruity, and floral notes. I haven’t been able to get a good test on the Ethiopian that I bought, but it is definitely more tea-like with hints of jasmine coming through, it is sweeter, and if you’re paying attention you might think of cherry cola while you drink. It’s an interesting cup, and I can’t decide how I feel about it.

The Rwanda, I think, is my favorite right now. It starts out a bit caramely, honey, tea, and finishes lemony, but in a muted way–like a custard. The roasted beans even have a less classic coffee smell, it’s way more complex, kind of bready sweet flowers. There is a lot you could imagine with this coffee. But it’s not exactly the classic nutty chocolate flavors most people like.

Donkey Decaf Espresso

Donkey espresso decaf (2lbs). This stuff is what I use for my afternoon latte. It’s made to be roasted a bit darker, and with a decaf bean, it looks darker than it was actually roasted. Even with my mediocre (at best) espresso pulls, this bean gets good crema, and taste very strong: bitter, chocolate, nutty, dying to be mixed with milk. SM recommends mixing it with another bean, but I think it’s pretty great the way it is. It’s the closest thing to rocket fuel I’ve drank in a while, and that’s saying a lot from a decaf.

Booze-infused coffee

Booze-infused coffee. I’ve been experimenting with small batches of booze-infused coffee. I’ll let you in on the 6 step process.

  1. Look in liquor cabinet.
  2. “Oh, this is almost empty.”
  3. Look in coffee cabinet.
  4. “Oh, I’m running out of this bean.”
  5. Mix booze and coffee
  6. Soak and stir for a week (1oz/1lb)
  7. Roast
  8. Morning smells like I’m an alcoholic.

I’ve done rum+guatemala (FAV-think bananas foster), rum+el salvador, scotch+guatemala, bourbon+costa rica, bourbon+guatemala, maple whiskey+costa rica, and maple whiskey+honduras. The next infusion will be 3-5lbs with Knob Creek Maple Bourbon turned into a nitro cold brew. It’s a serious experiment.  

I’m already picking out my next beans. I’m still a little shy of the Indonesian region, but I’ll work my way there. I’ll probably pick out a 5lb bag of central/south and 5lb from Africa. Every time Sweet Maria’s sends out their newsletter with the list of new beans, I’m tempted, but I have to get through what I have.

Buy some.

If you’re in Tampa 8oz coffee + dozen eggs $10. Everyone else $8 plus shipping. Venmo (@Paige-Cargioli) or Facebook is great for orders and/or payment. First come first serve. 

If I Were God… on making humans, free will, the afterlife, sin, evil, and punishment.

In my prayer the other day, I decided to play the game “If I were God.” A popular “If I were God” thought, is about the idea of hell. Because, if I were God, I don’t think any short life of evil deserves eternal conscious punishment. Yes, I know, I am not God. I cannot understand these weird God things, but allow a little room for some human brain gymnastics. After all, the Truth can handle it, and if I were God, I’d give humans brains so that they can use them.

If I were God making humans, my first idea would be for everything to be good! I think I’m on the right track here, but what does that mean? I would want life to be great! No sadness, or suffering, everyone is living in the present moment, everyone makes the right choices, and we all love each other, and get along, and we don’t worry about death or dying or do anything terrible to each other, and there is really no other option.
Eeek. Paige God, what about that whole “free will” thing? Sound like you’re losing it in this perfect world of snuggly nice humans without a worry in the world. These humans sound like spoiled well-loved puppies. They do right, they stay in the present, they give love, receive love, and that’s about it. Deep and meaningful conversations might be challenging.
If I was God, I don’t think I would actually like a world where my closest companions were only dogs. I think I would like someone I could talk to, I could experience with–someone who gets me and I get them… That may come with some drawbacks. If humans can think like God, like me, like they are in the image of me, God, we got some tough stuff to deal with.
Do I even want this universe? Yes. I def do. But these conscious beings, how are they going to work without killing themselves? They probably will. Is it worth it? I mean, I’m God, so I can do what I want. They might destroy themselves, but they might also do great things, and I could get along with them and help them, and they could talk with me, and I could talk with them, and ultimately in the end, we’d all be one. Right? I’m God. I can make that happen.
So, I’m going to give these beings that are like me a short life, so that they don’t have to endure the torture of universal questions they’ll never really understand for eternity. But I will give them hopes and dreams and talents and abilities, and they’ll all fit together so perfectly, even if they don’t really get that either. And they can go after their dreams with reckless abandon because this life is all they have before I consume them.

NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM

See, that was fun. But really, it kind of made me realize how much I think of life as going after some reward or expecting some sort of punishment. It’s more difficult to get out of this kind of thinking than I think we realize. And, if I were God, I wouldn’t want the end of everything to just be a giant reward or punishment like The Good Place.
I was asked a long time ago, “What would you do if there was no reward or punishment?” Or phrased a more true way, “What would you do, if your only reward or punishment was in the present time (not eternal)?” There are always reward for doing good things, and there are consequences for doing selfish things.
This is Paige trying to figure out “WHY EVIL!?” I will end with two ideas that I’m still sitting with regarding all of this…
  1. “We are not punished for our sins, so much as we are punished by our sins.” Like I said, there are consequences for what we do, and we might think that those consequences only affect ourselves or whoever (like if you punch someone). We don’t think of our personal sin as affecting others that we love, like our children or friends. So, choosing not to do something bad/selfish, is less about our own reward, and more about loving and protecting others from our insanity. Or something like this.
  2. “If we could somehow understand the gift we’ve been given, and be genuinely grateful, how could we possibly sin?” How could we be entitled and do anything selfishly in gratitude? And maybe that is what the all-consuming God, in the end, does–makes us capable of all-consuming gratitude, where the option of evil is like an old well-rehabed addiction.

I don’t know. I’m not God…

Further reflection on my protestant catholicism.

I was reflecting on a post I wrote about the Incarnation and being both Protestant and Catholic and how that it is like the Incarnation…

The Incarnation is about God being a paradox, because God cannot be both God and human. If God can’t do something, then how is God, God? Theoretically, I cannot be both Protestant and Catholic. I can’t preach at CoC in the morning and take Eucharist at night. But I am, and they are both Christian. How can I be a Christian and not be both? They are both my community: a part of what makes me who I am.

That was 3 years ago, and I don’t feel all that different presently. I’m not entirely sure when I decided to pause on the Church of Christ. Well, I didn’t decide. I didn’t have any goals, it wasn’t really well thought out, I was seeking. My inconsistency in attending a CoC began in my senior year of college, though I have always attended some church or multiple churches at a time. It was in this year that I was doing RCIA and preaching that I committed to attending a CoC. And since, I still haven’t.

What’s interesting to my mind now is that even without the attendance, I still feel connected to the CoC community. I know who the people are. Many know who I am or who my family is. Even where I live now, there are a few CoC’s I know I could walk in to and I’d find a family connection–some okay some not so okay. There is even a CoC within walking distance of my house right now, and I am reasonably sure that women preachers are not something that they want.

I think something that Protestants don’t realize about the Catholic church is how different each church is. The pastor of the church, the architecture, music, demographics, country, state, all make for a totally different feel. There are at least 5 Catholic churches within 5 miles of my house, and they are all very different. There is a historically black (Haitian Creole) Catholic church very close to another downtown church. There are the rich and well educated towards the airport and stadiums and in the south, the Koreans out east, and the Latinx in the west. Then further out into the suburbs you usually have a mega Catholic church, and then the smaller more rural conservative sister nearby (if mega isn’t your cup of tea). Don’t even get me started on how the Catholic schools are made up and influence the parishes.

What’s cool is that they are all still Catholic, they don’t bad mouth each other, and they help each other out. Incarnation. Trinity. Different and the same. Two and three but one. Human and Divine.

I still don’t know how my very Protestant roots will influence my present and future as a confirmed Catholic. Or Perhaps, I simply haven’t found the words to rightly describe the influence or how I want to make use of it.

[Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.]