Archive for December, 2014

The Holidays & Depression

Posted: December 23, 2014 in Christmas, Depression, God
Tags: ,

This has beeDay 12n a tough year. Well, actually a tough couple of years. After pushing through two Christmases, I hit this year and asked my husband if I could cancel Christmas. I think he thought I was joking. He gave me a hug because he knows how depressed I am, and has mostly taken over the Christmas duties. We’ve done very little past our advent calendar with daily Bible devotion and the tree is sparsely decorated. I put on the lights and moved a few ornaments, that’s it.

Last year, I baked. I don’t know how I had the motivation, but I did and so there were Christmas treats sent out.

This year, my parents canceled their visit to us (I’ve cried repeatedly about this). I’ve had terrible side effects as we’ve tried to find proper medication (Paxil made me intensely suicidal, to the point hospitalization was whispered around me, thankfully we figured out it was the medication), and so, I’m worn out.

Dealing with the severe depression I do leaves me with very little emotional energy to begin with. To have it sucked out of me… well all I want to do is crawl into bed and wait until spring when at least I can escape with my iPod and a long walk and get some sunshine.

In all of that though, perhaps the part that leaves me the most discouraged is that I want to celebrate Christ. I’ve had Christmases where I feel a little something inside reading about the host of angels filling the sky, singing. I’ve felt deep sadness at the deaths of those that Herod killed because of his pride and fear. I’ve read the story in wonder and in awe.

This year… I don’t even know what to write.

Not even E’s effusive excitement makes me feel anything at all.

From John Piper’s talk on Charles Spurgeon:

“Causeless depression cannot be reasoned with, nor can David’s harp charm it away by sweet discoursings. As well fight with the mist as with this shapeless, undefinable, yet all-beclouding hopelessness … The iron bolt which so mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison, needs a heavenly hand to push it back.”

And I wonder at times why God does not push it back? I know the intellectual answer and my heart hurts all the same.

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“Oh look, she’s writing about vaccines again,” they said.

Recently, the FDA announced that it has approved Gardasil 9, a vaccine that protects against nine strains of HPV (the one currently on the schedule protects against four). HPV, Human Papillomavirus to get technical, causes genital warts and is linked to several types of cancer, the most common being cervical cancer. It is, frankly, a pretty awesome vaccine. In the words of my doctor, “It prevents cancer!”

Lies

via RtAVM

That being said, the HPV vaccine has been a hard sell to parents. There are a number of theories why and most come down to a parental reluctance to deal with their children and sexuality. HPV is sexually transmitted and it’s estimated that most will be exposed at some point in their lives. Because of the nature of the vaccine, it’s a popular one for vaccine deniers to lampoon through false rumors and misinformation. Couple that with parental fears and Facebook, and it starts to look like an uphill battle.

So, for the sake of brevity, let me dispel some of that misinformation – No, Diane Harper was not a lead researcher and no she didn’t say what you think she said. Also, no, the HPV vaccine isn’t killing anyone, it’s actually an incredibly safe vaccine. And finally, no, it’s not making kids more promiscuous.

Putting aside the blatant misinformation passed around, if I can even get someone to admit that it’s misinformation, the most common argument I hear from parents is either, “I’m going to teach them safe sex” (which doesn’t really protect them) or, “We believe that sex is for marriage and so if our kid isn’t having sex until marriage, they don’t need this vaccine.”

I’m theologically conservative, which probably doesn’t mean what most of you think it means, but for this particular post, it does mean that I believe that sex is for marriage. It’s part of a greater system of belief so if you think that’s absurd, that’s fine, move along because I’m not talking to you (or stay and figure out how to talk with your conservative friend(s)). My hope, in writing this post, is to explain why I intend to vaccinate my children per the CDC schedule and why I think it’s important that others who believe like me do so as well.

Here are the reasons I plan on vaccinating my kids (currently I only have boys):

1. Not all sex is consensual.

If I had a single silver bullet to the “no sex before marriage” it’s this one. Man or woman, rape and sexual assault happen. I’ll go ahead and pre-empt this thought that might be half-forming in some people’s minds – would you tell your son or daughter that they were “asking” for it if they got raped, no matter the circumstances? Rape is a horrendous act. One with many lasting consequences, some longer than others. HPV can cause cancer in both men and women and it usually happens years later. If I can protect my child against one more painful experience with a simple, safe series of shots that I don’t even have to pay for, count me in.

2. Children make poor choices.

Maybe you’re the rare bird that didn’t make a single bad choice, like ever, and certainly didn’t struggle in waiting until marriage for sex. Newsflash, the rest of us were very eager to get married because waiting is hard even if you really, really, really believe it. Some wait and are successful. Others slip up. Are abnormal pap smears, discomfort from genital warts, or death from cancer all something you would wish on a child because of a bad choice? Call me crazy if you will, but I think cancer is a little over the top when it comes to punishment for slipping up.

3. Children don’t always follow their parents.

I hate this one. The idea that my children might reject what I believe is scary. I don’t believe what I do just because I’m trying to be cool (kickin’ it Puritan style). What I believe is vital to who I am and my life. I pray for my children. I love them. I want them to believe.

I also know I can’t make them believe. God regenerates the heart, not me. Homeschooling them, taking them to church, family Bible studies… these don’t change hearts. Certainly I pray that God will honor the work and love I have poured into them and at the same time, I’m not God.

So, if they choose a different path, I want them protected. I want there to be as much time as possible for God to work in them. I don’t want them passing along something to their future spouse. I don’t want them getting sick themselves.

I could never say to my child, “Good riddance, you totally deserve the agony you’re going through right now.” I’m pretty sure most of the people I know would say the same.

4. I know one shot doesn’t undo years of discipleship and training.

Maybe this shot daunts some parents because what do we say? I plan on being honest. I still have a few years to work it out and I also know that I have a thoughtful kid. I’m raising my children in a world that doesn’t believe like we do, that things happen sometimes that we can’t control, that this is one more way for me to protect him.

That being said, sometimes we don’t give ourselves or our kids enough credit. We live with all sorts of experiences and beliefs that on the surface look contradictory, but when we dig down are connected together in a way that is incredibly complex. Part of growing up is realizing that not everything is black and white and learning how to navigate the gray. Our kids are often more intuitive than we realize.

5. You don’t know what their future spouse has gone through.

I don’t know the road my children’s spouses will walk. Maybe they grew up believing the same things I teach my children. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe their parents read one too many Facebook posts and didn’t vaccinate them against HPV. Maybe my child goes wayward and then marries someone who didn’t go wayward. Just like what I wrote above – I don’t want anyone getting sick, my child or his future wife.

6. I’ve seen what cervical cancer can do.

I won’t elaborate on this because it still hurts my heart. There is nothing like watching a friend die. I’ll be honest, if my head wasn’t in this, having seen the agony firsthand, my heart jumped in with both feet. I never want to see this happen to my children or their spouses.

So here I am at the end.

Maybe at this point you think I’m a liberal heathen (even though I said that I thought sex was for marriage and I think the Reformation is awesome and most of my liberal friends try to pretend I don’t believe half of what I do). Or maybe you sat through my post for some reason but still think I’m just a vaccine nut (or a religious one; Calvinists are a little crazy, I won’t lie). Maybe, though, you still have doubts. If it’s the last one on that list, I’m happy to answer questions, soothe fears, assuage doubts. I care about kids. All kids. Including yours :)