Depression

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One year ago this week I started a journey with PiYo, 21-Day Fix and Shakeology that has brought me here. My story in video form is posted below and here is some photographic evidence of my transformation.

PiYo Transformation

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Fragile

I am feeling fragile today.

I feel like if someone were to touch me I would just shatter into a million pieces.

This is how depression feels sometimes.

Some people think that if you can get out of bed and function than you can’t possibly be depressed.

They are wrong.

Some of us have such strong personalities that we don’t want anyone to know we are struggling.

Some of us have such a strong sense of responsibility that even though we want to quit, we can’t.

Some of us have children to get to school and jobs to do, so we don’t have any other choice.

I can’t explain it. I don’t know why I can be fine one morning and by that evening the depression gets the upper hand. I don’t understand why I can’t just make it go away. I don’t get why my chest hurts and I can physically feel the heaviness settle in.

But I do understand that I am not the only one who feels this way. I know that those of us who struggle with this illness are often misunderstood by those who don’t. I know that we can feel isolated and alone when the bottom drops out.

And that is why I am writing this post: to let you know that you are not alone. You have comrades-in-arms to help you in the battle. You have friends who know how you feel. And even when it feels like it will never get better, you need to be reminded that depression lies. (Thank you Jenny The Bloggess for keeping that truth in front of me!) No matter what you feel in the moment, know that it will get better. It may take some time. You may need to take some time for yourself. You may need to seek counseling. You may need to get or tweak medication. But it will get better. Don’t let the lies of depression win. Keep fighting. Even if that means you need to stay in bed for a day and start over the next day. Keep fighting. You are worth it.

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Monday Musings

It’s Monday. And I am feeling a bit Garfield-like about today.

Garfield Monday

Not that anything bad has happened. I am just tired. And getting sick. And blah.

So instead of drowning in “I hate Monday” madness, I thought I would share a few random things that are going through my head today.

  • The laughter of my children is the most amazing sound in the entire world. And I was privileged to hear lots of it this weekend.
  • If you like fun apps, you need to download Relay. My friends and I have been sending funny gif messages back and forth since we discovered it and I may have spent too much time yesterday looking for funny ones to add to my collection for future messages.
  • If you like books about strong women paired with fantasy, you need to read Pennyroyal Academy. I just started it a few days ago and haven’t had a ton of time to read, but I am loving it and can’t wait for Anne to read it, too. Nothing like squelching the idea that princesses have to be of a royal bloodline and are just pretty faces with the fact that princesses are warriors for their kingdoms, just like knights.
  • When the weather turns cold, the depression sure comes on fast for me. I have had to fight to get my workouts in this past week, and I have not done very well with eating right, either. Here’s to a new day of doing what I know helps to keep the depression under control – exercise and eating right!
  • Singing at the top of my voice to some of my favorite music is one of my favorite things to do, ever. Thank you Trisha Yearwood for music that fills my soul!
  • A good cup of tea makes me smile this time of year when the cold is starting to seep into my bones. These are my three favorite varieties: Trader Joe’s Decaf Irish Breakfast Blend, Good Earth Decaf Sweet & Spicy, and Stash Decaf Chai Spice.
  • I have been working on a crochet project just because it is a pattern I have always wanted to try, but I have been looking for a new gift project and this week I was blessed with not only a person on my heart for whom to do a project, but the perfect project placed right into my hands. I found the perfect yarn yesterday and am looking forward to beginning on the project on Thursday. So excited to be able to bless someone!!
  • For the last few years, my family has done various forms of daily Thanksgiving. We have had a wall of Thanksgiving where we added post-it notes every day. We have had posters on each of our doors that we wrote reasons we were thankful for each other. This year, life has been a bit chaotic and I haven’t gotten anything organized to do daily, so I am thinking about other ideas. Right now, I am thinking of making family “Thanksgiving” trees on Thanksgiving day with all of our family that will be together. How are you practicing Thanksgiving with your family this month?

I warned you that this would be a random post! But just putting these things down in print has helped me move past my initial Garfield-esque response to Monday. If you are having a case of the Mondays, perhaps you should make a list, too!!

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Inspiration

Parenting is hard. It is constant work. You can’t let it slide. You can’t assume it is happening. You have to work to be on your toes and aware of what is happening with your kids.

And we all fall short of that ideal. Often.

Some days we are lucky if we get them out of bed and off to school, never mind making sure homework is done, they have had a healthy breakfast and they remembered to brush their teeth.

But the purpose in me blogging for 31 Days this month isn’t to make it seem like I have it all together when it comes to parenting. It isn’t that I have all the answers. It isn’t that I think I am doing a fabulous job in every possible area. It is really that I want to share my experiences and hopefully inspire someone to take that extra step, put in that extra work, and in the process, that I will also be inspired to be better and do better.

This is how it is in every area of my life that I put out there on my blog.

I talk about depression in hopes that someone else can get the help that they need.

I talk about health and fitness so others can find encouragement to get healthy.

I talk about giving to others, so that someone might be inspired to give of themselves.

I talk about music because of its ability to lift us up and move us forward.

I talk about faith because it is the ultimate inspiration in my life.

I truly want to inspire YOU to be the best YOU, the one created and loved by God.

Put in the work, be inspired by others, and be the best parent you can possibly be to the children that God has given to you.

You can do it. I believe in you.

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THINGS I LOVE

One thing I have learned about life is when things aren’t going my way or I am feeling down, I have to change my focus and start choosing joy and thankfulness.

The weather the last few days has been dark, rainy, and dreary and I don’t do well in those conditions.

I would rather stay in bed, not exercise, not cook, eat junk, and sink deeper and deeper into my couch and the depression that pulls on me.

So, today, I am choosing to change my focus to things I love about being a mom!

Why don’t you join me and add things you love about being a parent in the comments below!

  • I love snuggling up with my kids on the couch to watch a movie or one of the television shows we watch.
  • I love when Ty gets to giggling at himself.
  • I love when Anne tries to be annoyed with Ty and I as we sing “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift, but she can’t help but smile as she rolls her eyes.
  • I love tucking my children in to bed.
  • I love watching my children “get it” when it comes to the things of God, the things of life, and more.
  • I love taking them to school every day, dropping them off and telling them that I love them.
  • I love picking them up from school and hearing about their day.
  • I love seeing Ty’s mind at work.
  • I love watching Anne cheer.
  • I love playing games with my children.
  • I love sitting on the deck watching them play outside.
  • I love sitting on the trampoline and having fun with them.
  • I love doing new things with my kids.
  • I love doing the same old, same old with them.
  • I love just being with my kids.
  • I love the people who my children are growing up to be.
  • I love teaching my children.
  • I love the ways that my children teach me.
  • I love Anne’s creativity – drawing, rainbow loom bracelets, crocheting, and so much more.
  • I love Ty’s spontaneity.
  • I love that our family has its own language (lots of sarcasm), inside jokes (crapplesauce in the hillbilly briefcase, anyone?), and so much more!
  • I love that my children love their family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – and want to spend time with them.
  • I love how my children love their friends.
  • I love that my kids can have conversations with adults.
  • I love that my kids love Jesus and His church.

I could go on and on. The point isn’t to number the list, but rather to make the list so that I can see all the good things I have in my life. And this is just about my children! When you make a list like this, you can’t help but smile and be joyful. In fact, now all I want to do is go hang out with my kids and have some fun!

On those days when the kids are acting up, I can come back to this list.

On those days when I am questioning my ability as a parent, I can come back to this list.

On those days that just downright are terrible, I can come back to this list.

Thank you, Lord, for my children, and for the joy that the bring into my life.

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With all the talk about Robin Williams suicide this week that has turned into talk of depression and mental illness, I feel like I need to repost something I wrote a while back about my struggle with depression. There seems to be two very strong opinions on this issue of suicide and mental illness and I personally feel that the people who think it is solely a spiritual issue have probably never experienced the depth of depression or the tight grasp of mental illness. While there are absolutely spiritual reasons (attacks) that can bring on depression, that is not the only cause. Mental illness is a disease that requires treatment and understanding.

Here is my story.

(Today’s post is very personal. I have struggled with whether or not to post it, as it was originally written for an audience of people who I don’t know on another blog. But after sitting with it for some time, I am convinced that there are others out there who are in the midst of this struggle and need to hear that there is help and hope. Please feel free to forward this post to anyone you know who may be struggling with depression.)

Life is a collection of short stories all tied together in a long biography.

In my life, some of the short story titles might look like:

  • Three Sisters and their Lower Middle-Class Christian Upbringing
  • Living Life on My Terms
  • Infertility Woes and God’s Blessings
  • The Call to Pastor, Complete with Roadblocks
  • My Relationship with Food and Fitness

These are all good stories to tell, and there are more as well, but this is the story I need to tell today.

  • Depression: Hiding in Plain Sight

For years I noticed that by February, I was in trouble. Life was hard. I was tired. I was cranky. I could barely get out of bed, much less face life in the way I was used to – taking it by the horns and going hard.

There were other things; a huge slump after a big weekend with friends, getting quickly frustrated with something I shouldn’t be frustrated about at all, that pointed to the fact that something just wasn’t right.

I assumed I had some kind of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but really I just thought I needed to buck up and deal with life.

When I got pregnant with my son, it was a total shock. We had tried so hard to have our daughter, going through infertility tests and treatments, we assumed we couldn’t get pregnant on our own and would be a one child family. Not that we didn’t want another baby, but we had grown used to the idea of not having anymore. And the pregnancy, although healthy, wasn’t easy. He was huge and caused me all kinds of pain to just carry him. And then he was late. I was miserable. I just wanted him out.

Once he was born, the stress of working full-time, having a three-year-old, nursing a baby, and trying to keep order was significant. I remember just crying night after night while I fed him.

Fast-forward a few years. I was determined I was not going to be a mom who yelled. My mom could be a yeller at times and I didn’t want to do that. That would not be me.

One day I saw it. I was a yeller. It didn’t take much for me to lose it. You know how you aren’t supposed to cry over spilled milk? Well, I yelled over it and made my kids cry. It wasn’t all the time, but it was enough that I saw it and didn’t like it.

In the meantime, I was again struggling to get out of bed. I was always tired. I could lie down at any point and fall asleep.

I talked to my doctor. She asked if I thought I was depressed. I assured her I wasn’t, but in the back of my mind I wondered. We ran tests. Nothing showed up.

Time marched on.

I started exercising more regularly. I lost some weight. I ran my first half-marathon.

But nothing changed.

My husband bore the brunt of my frustration with life. I yelled at him. I fought with him. I tried to tell him all the things that he was doing wrong that were contributing to my meltdowns. And then I would cry for hours.

One day I even threw a good old-fashioned hissy fit at work in the presence of one of my co-workers because I was so upset about something that had happened. I jumped up and down in anger and frustration.

In the midst of a particularly bad day, I was sitting in my bathroom and noticed that I had some pain-killers and muscle relaxers sitting on my sink from a neck injury earlier in the year, and in that moment I thought, “I wonder how many it would take…” I wouldn’t finish the sentence. I knew I meant to finish it with “to end my life,” but I was sure I wasn’t suicidal.

That was enough to scare me and scare me good.

I told my husband what I had experienced. He told me that I hadn’t been the same since our son was born, eight years prior, and that every year it just got worse and worse.

I knew I needed to talk to someone, but I was so scared.

I am called to be a Pastor. I should have my stuff together. I am supposed to lead people. I can’t tell my doctor – she goes to my church. I will never be ordained now. These are just a few of the excuses I had for not admitting I had a problem.

I put out a fleece. If I was supposed to talk to my doctor (and friend), then she would be by herself while we were at Family Camp.

One morning, there she was. And I walked on by. I got back to my cabin and felt so strongly that the Lord was telling me that was my chance so I went back out and sat by her.

As we talked she eased my fears. She reminded me of the many times that she had asked if I was depressed, but I was determined I was not. She asked if I was truly ready to try something. I was.

For over two years now I have been regularly taking an anti-depressant. We have tried different kinds. I even went off of them for a month at one point after making a change that didn’t work (which resulted in thinking one day that I understood why someone would drive their car into a lake– so I immediately called my doctor.) We finally have a medication and supplement plan that is working well enough that I am level.

It’s not gone. There are days that the old familiar heaviness covers my chest.

But it is better.

And it wouldn’t be better if I hadn’t said something and asked for help.

The amazing thing to me is when I started talking about it, so many people came out of the woodwork who struggle with the same thing. I found friends, articles, and bloggers who have told their stories that have helped me and continue to encourage me through this thing called depression.

If you find yourself struggling with depression, find someone to talk to about it. Send me a message. Don’t let your life spin out of control like mine did before I was willing to ask for help, because there is help.

Depression is stubborn. Depression is dark. Depression doesn’t let up just because you try to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Ask for help. Don’t try to go it alone.

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So it’s a Tuesday Music post instead of Monday Music, but that’s ok!

I just watched one of the most amazing videos that goes with one of the most amazing set of song lyrics that I have heard in a while. And the reason it is so good? Because it hits the nail right on the head.

You might have seen it because it has been blowing up my Facebook feed for about a week now.

Take a look:

Every young woman (and man) needs to get this message. Living life to get other people to like you is not only never-ending, but it will never bring you fulfillment.

You are loved by the God of the universe. He created you just the way you are. Let people love you for you, not for some persona for which you want to be loved.

Embrace your curls or bone strait locks.

Embrace the freckles on your body (Natasha Bedingfield sings a song about those that my freckle-covered-self loves).

Learn to leave the house sometimes without the makeup.

Have an opinion that differs from those around you (just don’t be a jerk).

Learn that it is ok to stand out from the crowd instead of disappearing into it.

Love who you have been created to be!

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This is a phrase I have been using in excess for the last few weeks.

Stupid knee!

On March 8, I went for a run. It was great.

On March 9, I did yoga. It felt wonderful.

On March 10, I did a full-body workout, followed by a run that turned into a walk because my quads were so tight from the workout.

On March 11, I did an upper body workout and felt good.

On March 11 in the evening, my knee was so swollen I couldn’t walk.

I haven’t worked out since.

I am in the midst of trying to diagnose and treat the knee with the help of medical professionals (and with the hindrance of our insurance company – grrr), but as of yet, I still am not able to exercise because nearly everything I could do requires the use of my knee.

Again, stupid knee!

As I have told you before, everything in my life is tied together – particularly eating well, exercise, and emotional health.

When I can’t exercise, I eventually fall into eating like crap, which makes me fall into a depression funk, which makes me want to eat terribly, which makes me feel even worse…you get the idea.

The last couple of days have been HORRIBLE!

It doesn’t help that there are a few other things going on in my life that are pulling at my emotions, but my eating and lack of activity are a huge culprit to my declining emotional health.

And the worst part is, I know it and I feel unable to do anything to stop it.

All I want to do is RUN! Running is my lifeline. Running is cheaper than therapy – and more effective in my case. Running is what I do. Running has become who I am.

And I can’t do it.

I walked into True Runner yesterday and just about cried.

I am sitting here typing this nearly in tears.

I am not sure what to do or where to go. I just want the MRI I need to have to diagnose the torn meniscus so they can send me to a surgeon so I can have the surgery I need so I can get on with the six weeks of recovery so I can run again.

But in the meantime, something is going to have to give. And by putting this out there, I am hopeful that this will be the impetus for me to do something different, even if it is finding a Pilates workout that doesn’t tax my knee and throwing out all the Easter candy in my house.

So here’s hoping for progress, because I have come too far on my health journey to fall into old habits now!

Anyone else out there struggling with similar issues? Anyone who has struggled with these issues have any advice or encouragement? I am all ears!

Update 5/8/14: Stupid knee is getting fixed next week and they say I could be up and literally running again within 3-4 weeks after! Here’s hoping and praying!

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(This is a talk I gave at the Highland Business Women’s Club on April 14, 2014. While targeted to women, I am sure that men can learn from this as well.)

Picture this. My dining room table, filled with a collection of cups, glasses, and mugs, each with varying amounts of liquid: some three-quarters full of water, some nearly empty of milk from breakfast, some with the dried remains of the morning’s hot chocolate.

This is not a fictional picture I have drawn for you. This is my life. My two children would use so many cups in one day, and never quite finish what was in them, and never put them in the sink, much less the dishwasher, I literally had to assign cups to them and tell them they are only allowed one drinking glass and one hot drink holder. And if theirs is dirty, they have to wash it. Such is the life with a ten and thirteen year old.

The application of this to our lives as women is easy: we don’t get multiple cups to fill up; we just get one. And if you are like me, that one often runs on empty.

As women, we are constantly in pouring-out mode. We are trying to be good wives. We are parenting children and running around for them. We are working, whether at home or away from home. We are trying to be there for our extended families. We are attempting to cultivate friendships and care for those in need. If we are grandparents, we are trying to help our children and grandchildren as much as we can. Our “ought to” list is long, and our “want to” and “need to” lists get put on hold. Indefinitely.

The problem is, with the busyness of our lives, we have forgotten how to refill, how to rest, how to be rejuvenated. And because of that we tend to refill in unhealthy ways or in ways that may themselves be neutral, but turn unhealthy because we do them in excess. We may gorge ourselves on food, electronics, shopping, television, alcohol, Facebook, more commitments, staying busy and more. And when we try to refill with these things, instead of filling our cups, we are simply depleting them even more.

And what happens when we are running on empty

It is never good. One of the most prevalent consequences of running on empty is depression. That is obviously not the only reason that people suffer from depression, but I think it is a big player in our culture today.

I recently finished a book entitled Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons and in it she says:

“Depression and anxiety have many faces. Happy one moment, sobbing the next. Refined, then frayed. More than 57.7 million American adults suffer from some form of mental illness, including 18.1 million who have been diagnosed with depression. The epidemic continues to spiral as we try to somehow manage the stress of modern life with its constant demands…if you’ve ever been close to it—really close…—you know it’s real. Scary real.

“Even more shocking is the number of women suffering depression…we as women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression. One in four women will suffer some form of depression in her lifetime. From anxiety attacks…to mood disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and so on, women are under siege. And the majority of women who are wrestling with depression fit nicely into the twenty-five to forty-year-old age bracket.

“We aren’t depressed because we are getting old. We are depressed in the prime of our lives.

“During the years when we ought to be making some of our greatest contributions to others and to the world, we are stuck. Caught in a quagmire of confusion, hardly able to put one foot in front of the other.”

These are frightening statistics. And I fall squarely into this category. After years and years of giving and giving, I finally broke. It wasn’t all at once; it was a slow decline. What started as what I would have called a seasonal issue, turned into a constant one. I was turning into the angry and yelling parent I didn’t want to be. I was picking fights with my husband. I was unhappy and burnt out in my work. I would cry in my bed for hours at a time. I had finally hit the bottom of my glass.

In addition to depression and as a result of depression, other consequences of running on empty include physical health issues, and relationships that suffer – from our spouses, to our kids, to our friends.

You don’t have to raise your hand, but can any of you see yourselves either here or headed here? Or have you been here before?

It’s not a pretty place to be. In fact, it is a scary place to be. Scary because we haven’t been here before. Scary because we have. Scary because we don’t really know how we got here and scary because we don’t know how to get out.

For those of you there now, there is hope. For those of you who are headed in that direction, there is hope. For those of you who may find yourself there in the future, there is hope. Our cups can be refilled. We can reverse the damage of running on empty.

There comes a moment when we have a decision to make. A decision not to allow our cups to be emptied any further. A decision to purposefully refill our cups.

For us as women, it is not an easy decision, but it is a necessary one. It isn’t easy because it means that we have to say no to something or many things so we can say yes to what is needed and necessary.

The decision is this one. To rest.

Since creation, there has been a rhythm that was established by God: a rhythm of work and rest. According to Genesis after six days of work, God rested on the seventh day. In Exodus and other books of the Bible, He commanded the Israelites to work six days and rest on the seventh. He said that the fields should be worked for six years and then left to rest in the seventh year. This rhythm of life is necessary in order to continue on the path that we are on.

But rest doesn’t come easy for us, as women. Our lists are long. We fear we will drop the ball on something. We have errands to run. Kids to care for. Families to feed.

But the truth of the matter is this, if we don’t stop to rest, none of the things on our to-do list will be done well. Remember what they tell you on a plane? If you are traveling with those who need assistance and the need for oxygen masks arises, you are to put yours on first, and then place them on those in need. You know why? Because we are no good to anyone when we have passed out from lack of oxygen. In the same way, we are no good to anyone when we are running on empty.

For me, this looks different on different days. Some days rest is sitting on my porch swing with music. Some days rest is sitting on my porch swing surrounded by friends. Some days rest is taking a nap on my couch. Some days rest is taking my kids to the zoo. Some days rest is vegging in my bed with an episode of Lost or Castle. Some days rest is reading a book. Some days rest is dinner with my husband or a friend. Some days rest is getting drinks with some friends. Most days rest is exercising and eating well. Every night before bed rest is reading my devotionals, my Bible, and journaling.

Rest doesn’t have to look the same every time. But it does have to be something that fills your cup. And it does have to be scheduled.

One thing I have learned is to look at my calendar each week and figure out when I can schedule some down-time. Some of you may have to actually write it in on the calendar. And you may not even know exactly what that rest time will look like until the time comes, but you have to create it. It won’t just magically appear. I know that I have to go upstairs at a certain time each evening so I have time to sit with my Bible and my journal. I know I have to go to bed at a certain time so that I can get up and exercise. I have learned these things about myself and about what I need in order to make sure I am not running on empty. This is hard for me. I am by nature a night owl and would love to fall asleep to the TV playing Friends re-runs every night. But when I let myself fall into that kind of rut, I start fading again.

I have been reading a book with my Bible study group recently that is written by Jen Hatmaker entitled 7. Each week for the last seven weeks, we have been fasting from something: food, clothing, possessions, waste, spending and this week we are fasting from stress.

Impossible, right? But what that looks like for me is six alarms set on my phone. Six a.m., nine a.m., noon, three p.m., six p.m., and nine p.m. These alarms remind me to stop and take a moment to whisper a prayer. To rest for a moment. To read a scripture. To take a break from the “urgent” things I am working on.

I am bad at this. But I think it is a good rhythm for me. One that may just continue past this week. Because it is an alarm on my phone, which I always have with me, and may just be the cause of some of the stress and emptiness of my cup, it forces me to listen and be attentive to the call to rest.

Rest is imperative for us if we want to keep our cups full. But, there is also a second thing that is necessary for keeping our cups full. God fills us up when we rest but not so we can stay full. He fills us so that we can give more of ourselves. “Jesus is the source of a spring of living water that is always bubbling up, an unfailing source, ever fresh.” The well of Christ never runs dry – we will always have what we need when we receive His filling. And as a result of that, if we are filling ourselves up with Christ and the rest that we have been called to, the more we give away, the more we will get.

“In John 7:38, Jesus says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” Again and again Jesus invites us to come to Him because He is the fountain of life. He knows that life is difficult and [He] offers us strength. Not only does He delight in filling our cup with His everlasting love and perfect peace, He will fill it to the fullest measure. The best part is that it will actually overflow onto all that we meet. And no one is more pleasant to be around than someone who has had her cup filled with the living God…This will free her up to love others unconditionally…” (Quoted from this blog.)

When we take the time to rest, to fill our cups, we will actually be able to complete those to-do lists better, with more energy, with more love, with more compassion, with more hope, than we ever could have when our cups were empty.

When the depression hit me hard, I had to seek help from medical professionals, and it is good that I did, but I also had to reorient my life and allow time for rest and rejuvenation. And I don’t do a great job of this all the time. In fact, it took God removing me from a job I had for over 13 years and placing me in a different area of ministry to really reinforce some of these principles of rest. But I always know when I stop planning for rest: my pace becomes hectic, I begin feeling burnt out, the depression ramps up, and I crash. When that happens, I have to stop; I have to choose to re-commit and make time for rest in my schedule, because I want to be able to give of myself to my family, to my friends, and to my God.

I encourage you to go home and open your calendars tonight, while this message is fresh, and start scheduling time for rest, so you, too, can be filled to overflowing and give of yourselves in new and fresh ways.

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(Today’s post is very personal. I have struggled with whether or not to post it, as it was originally written for an audience of people who I don’t know on another blog. But after sitting with it for some time, I am convinced that there are others out there who are in the midst of this struggle and need to hear that there is help and hope. Please feel free to forward this post to anyone you know who may be struggling with depression.)

Life is a collection of short stories all tied together in a long biography.

In my life, some of the short story titles might look like:

  • Three Sisters and their Lower Middle-Class Christian Upbringing
  • Living Life on My Terms
  • Infertility Woes and God’s Blessings
  • The Call to Pastor, Complete with Roadblocks
  • My Relationship with Food and Fitness

These are all good stories to tell, and there are more as well, but this is the story I need to tell today.

  • Depression: Hiding in Plain Sight

For years I noticed that by February, I was in trouble. Life was hard. I was tired. I was cranky. I could barely get out of bed, much less face life in the way I was used to – taking it by the horns and going hard.

There were other things; a huge slump after a big weekend with friends, getting quickly frustrated with something I shouldn’t be frustrated about at all, that pointed to the fact that something just wasn’t right.

I assumed I had some kind of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but really I just thought I needed to buck up and deal with life.

When I got pregnant with my son, it was a total shock. We had tried so hard to have our daughter, going through infertility tests and treatments, we assumed we couldn’t get pregnant on our own and would be a one child family. Not that we didn’t want another baby, but we had grown used to the idea of not having anymore. And the pregnancy, although healthy, wasn’t easy. He was huge and caused me all kinds of pain to just carry him. And then he was late. I was miserable. I just wanted him out.

Once he was born, the stress of working full-time, having a three-year-old, nursing a baby, and trying to keep order was significant. I remember just crying night after night while I fed him.

Fast-forward a few years. I was determined I was not going to be a mom who yelled. My mom could be a yeller at times and I didn’t want to do that. That would not be me.

One day I saw it. I was a yeller. It didn’t take much for me to lose it. You know how you aren’t supposed to cry over spilled milk? Well, I yelled over it and made my kids cry. It wasn’t all the time, but it was enough that I saw it and didn’t like it.

In the meantime, I was again struggling to get out of bed. I was always tired. I could lie down at any point and fall asleep.

I talked to my doctor. She asked if I thought I was depressed. I assured her I wasn’t, but in the back of my mind I wondered. We ran tests. Nothing showed up.

Time marched on.

I started exercising more regularly. I lost some weight. I ran my first half-marathon.

But nothing changed.

My husband bore the brunt of my frustration with life. I yelled at him. I fought with him. I tried to tell him all the things that he was doing wrong that were contributing to my meltdowns. And then I would cry for hours.

One day I even threw a good old-fashioned hissy fit at work in the presence of one of my co-workers because I was so upset about something that had happened. I jumped up and down in anger and frustration.

In the midst of a particularly bad day, I was sitting in my bathroom and noticed that I had some pain-killers and muscle relaxers sitting on my sink from a neck injury earlier in the year, and in that moment I thought, “I wonder how many it would take…” I wouldn’t finish the sentence. I knew I meant to finish it with “to end my life,” but I was sure I wasn’t suicidal.

That was enough to scare me and scare me good.

I told my husband what I had experienced. He told me that I hadn’t been the same since our son was born, eight years prior, and that every year it just got worse and worse.

I knew I needed to talk to someone, but I was so scared.

I am called to be a Pastor. I should have my stuff together. I am supposed to lead people. I can’t tell my doctor – she goes to my church. I will never be ordained now. These are just a few of the excuses I had for not admitting I had a problem.

I put out a fleece. If I was supposed to talk to my doctor (and friend), then she would be by herself while we were at Family Camp.

One morning, there she was. And I walked on by. I got back to my cabin and felt so strongly that the Lord was telling me that was my chance so I went back out and sat by her.

As we talked she eased my fears. She reminded me of the many times that she had asked if I was depressed, but I was determined I was not. She asked if I was truly ready to try something. I was.

For over two years now I have been regularly taking an anti-depressant. We have tried different kinds. I even went off of them for a month at one point after making a change that didn’t work (which resulted in thinking one day that I understood why someone would drive their car into a lake– so I immediately called my doctor.) We finally have a medication and supplement plan that is working well enough that I am level.

It’s not gone. There are days that the old familiar heaviness covers my chest.

But it is better.

And it wouldn’t be better if I hadn’t said something and asked for help.

The amazing thing to me is when I started talking about it, so many people came out of the woodwork who struggle with the same thing. I found friends, articles, and bloggers who have told their stories that have helped me and continue to encourage me through this thing called depression.

If you find yourself struggling with depression, find someone to talk to about it. Send me a message. Don’t let your life spin out of control like mine did before I was willing to ask for help, because there is help.

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