Faith and “The Black Dog”

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At the worst point of my life, when I was falling apart from anxiety and depression, my eyes would often fly open at 3:00 a.m.  It was sudden, terrifying and I was instantly consumed with fear.  Going back to sleep was an impossibility as I was flung, head-on, into a massive anxiety attack.  Fear of death, fear of losing my family, fear of environmental destruction, fear of what happens after we die, fear that someone would come into my church on a Sunday and massacre everyone there — these images and ideas were racing through my mind.  I became so incapacitated by this physical fear that I couldn’t move.

DearGodpleasehelpme, DearGodpleasehelpme, DearGodpleasehelpme, DearGodpleasehelpme, again and again and again I’d say.  It was sometimes all I could come up with.  Then, I’d move onto the Lord’s Prayer and some Hail Marys.  I would try to concentrate on every.single.word so that my mind could focus on something other than a rollercoaster ride of darkness.  It wasn’t uncommon for my mother to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and find the lights blazing in my room and me, propped up in bed, reading through my Bible.  It was all I could do.

I’ve always had a particular devotion to Mary — a female archetype of love, compassion and humility.  However, it wasn’t until I walked through this barren, bleak land of depression that brought me so low that I felt her reassuring maternal presence, just as Jesus himself must have felt her love at his darkest hour.  I wasn’t alone.  I’m not alone.  There is an undercurrent to this tumultuous ocean that has kept me buoyant, that flows under me, through me, within me.

For that, I say….Amen

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Depression Buster Weekend, WV style!

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Ideas for your next winter doldrums.  Keep this handy for next year!

Where:    Thomas, WV / Canaan Valley area

What to do:

1.  Cross country ski at White Grass and enjoy the friendly people, amazing food and new-hippie vibe.  Take a 15 minute lesson for $6.00 and then get out on the trails!  Warm your gloves by the old pot-bellied stove when you come inside, have a glass of wine and a bowl of homemade chili and watch the other skiiers trek.  See if you can get a reservation for their weekend dinners.  http://www.whitegrass.com/

2.  Listen to bluegrass or whatever is shaking at the Purple Fiddle, a treasure of a place.  We were lucky enough to see the Chester River Runoff on a Friday night (picture below) and a wonderful band from Ohio called The Speedbumps on Saturday. Get the hummus platter with the warm pita while you listen. Enjoy the excellent beer selection!  http://www.purplefiddle.com/

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3.  Get a thin crust pizza at Gargantuan Emporium and ogle the cute young guys who make it!  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gargantuan-Emporium/530597573634034

4.  Go downhill skiing at Timberline.

5.  Stop and see Blackwater Falls where the lodge and cabins are open year-round.  Marvel at the amber colored water.    http://www.blackwaterfalls.com/

6. Do something kitschy and stop and see the World’s Smallest Church, Our Lady of the Pines!  Throw a penny in the wishing well and feel young again.

7.  Stop in at The White Room Art Gallery in Thomas.  It’s full of funny, quirky, beautiful things.  http://thewhiteroomofthomas.com/

8.  Stop in at the Mountaineer State Brewing Company and have a Cold Trail Ale, my new favorite brew.  Get warm next to the fire and guzzle it down.  You won’t be disappointed!  http://mountainstatebrewing.com/

Ski, hike, drive the curving roads, watch the sunsets.  Enjoy your time in the mountains.

Into the great wide open…

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I was having a bad case of winter blues last week.  Everything seemed as bleak and heavy as the weather.  The weather began to feel like a metaphor for my own life – is spring ever going to come?

Thankfully, I’d made plans with a friend to go to West Virginia and cross-country ski for the weekend.  Sunshine, cold air, exercise, the excitement of learning something new, bluegrass music at night – all of these ingredients combined to get me out of my nasty head space and into something a bit lighter.

As I skiied my way through the woods, I felt nothing but amazement and gratitude for being alive to have these moments.

I felt free.

The feeling won’t last forever and there will be more difficult roads to travel ahead Nothing– misery, joy, fear, love – lasts forever.  It will get bad, worse, then better — again and again and again.  But we walk (or ski!) on.

Love,

Brittany