depression

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No Words

Lately I have been thinking about times when there are no words.

I have opened this page up to write a blog almost daily for the last couple of weeks, but there have been no words.

I mean, sure there are words running around in my head, but nothing coherent or formed that I could put down.

Life is busy. Life is crazy. Life is wonderful and hard all at once.

I have been re-watching Dawson’s Creek. Yes, I know how pathetic that sounds. Mike and I watched the entire series when it aired on television (don’t take away his man-card, we were newlyweds and I wanted to watch it) and while scrolling through Hulu a few weeks back I saw that it was among the offerings of shows available to me with the touch of a button. In a moment of weakness, I pushed play.

One of the things that I have (again) noticed about this show is the massive amount of words that pour out of these (supposedly) teenage kids. Always talking, analyzing and waxing eloquent about this, that, and the other circumstances in their lives. Rarely do you see any of them in a place where they have no words.

And while part of me thinks that is no where close to reality, another part of me realizes that we often talk too much. But the difference is we talk about nothing, because we have no words to really talk about the hard stuff. We can find lots of words to talk about the stuff that doesn’t much matter. We can talk about the weather, how busy we are in general terms, how we don’t like this or that about home/work/school/church/community, and what our plans our for the weekend. But when it really comes down to it, the words that we need to speak stay unspoken.

When struggling with yet another bout of depression, we don’t speak the words, “help,” to anyone.

When experiencing deep pain and sorrow, we put on a happy face and answer, “fine” when asked how we are doing.

When watching friends go through the pain of divorce, we don’t know what to say, so we say nothing.

When seeing others grieving loss of one kind or another, we allow them to suffer in silence for one reason or another.

When witnessing the downward spiral and loss of faith of a community member, we stay silent.

When observing someone making poor choices, we choose not to talk with them about it.

The thing is, in those times that there are no words, sometimes words are exactly what is needed. Not surface conversation. Not platitudes that make empty promises. But words that acknowledge the truth. Because, you see, something happens when you acknowledge the truth and speak it out.

Healing can begin.

Help can arise.

Hope can be proclaimed.

Comfort can be given.

Faith can be renewed.

Love can be shown.

Let’s work on learning how to speak the words that need to be spoken, the hard words, the words that don’t want to come, and the ones that bring truth, healing, help, hope, comfort, faith and love into our lives and the lives of those around us.

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I have been turning this idea over and over in my head lately, mostly because I can’t seem to create any.

Balance.

Work. Kids. Kids’ activities. Kids’ activities for which I need to be present. Husband. Home. Bills. Business. Fitness. Health. Cooking. Friends. Facebook. (We have to be honest, Facebook is a thing on the balance list.) Sleeping. Laundry. Netflix. (Yes, Netflix is a thing, too.) Running. Social life. (Wait – do I have a social life?) Hebrew. Did I mention Hebrew?

There’s probably more. I am sure I am forgetting something. I can’t keep all those plates spinning all the time. Some of them come crashing to the floor. Hard. And often. And when that happens, I tend to beat myself up. Hard. And often.

I like what Jen Hatmaker says about balance in her most recent book, For the Love:

If I had to recite the top questions I’m asked in interviews, conversations, and e-mails, certainly included would be this one: How do you balance work and family and community? And every time, I think: Do you even know me? Balance. It’s like a unicorn; we’ve heard about it, everyone talks about it and makes airbrushed T-shirts celebrating it, it seems super rad, but we haven’t actually seen one. I’m beginning to think it isn’t a thing. Here is part of the problem, girls: we’ve been sold a bill of goods. Back in the day, women didn’t run themselves ragged trying to achieve some impressively developed life in eight different categories. No one constructed fairy-tale childhoods for their spawn, developed an innate set of personal talents, fostered a stimulating and world-changing career, created stunning homes and yardscapes, provided homemade food for every meal (locally sourced, of course), kept all marriage fires burning, sustained meaningful relationships in various environments, carved out plenty of time for “self care,” served neighbors/ church/ world, and maintained a fulfilling, active relationship with Jesus our Lord and Savior. You can’t balance that job description.

unicorn

She’s right, you know. Balance is like that mythical unicorn. It doesn’t exist. There will be times in our lives when we are more attentive to one or two areas of our lives and less attentive to others. And those areas will naturally change as our lives progress.

The problem comes when we start the ugly comparison game. This game was a losing one before social media, but has become downright destructive in the current online culture. We see everyone’s best posted on Facebook. We see all the great ways to be a wonderful parent, sexy wife, efficient worker, gourmet chef and bikini model all over Pinterest. We see everyone else’s selfies of girls nights out on Instagram. And when we do, we start comparing our lives to everyone else’s and assuming we fall short. But what we don’t realize is that we are only seeing a small sliver of everyone else’s life through a filtered lens. Sure, they may be doing a great job homeschooling their children, but behind closed doors could be suffering a severe bout of depression. Maybe they have a fantastic relationship with their husband, but they are struggling with an enormous debt load.

The point is that we all struggle with balance and none of us achieve it, or if we think we have, it lasts a millisecond and is gone. The real problem isn’t balance, but rather giving ourselves permission to focus on what is the most important and, to quote a song I am sure we are all tired of hearing, say “Let it go” to what isn’t on the top of the priority list right now.

For me right now that might mean that I have to study Hebrew instead of watching an episode (or 10) of House on Netflix. It might mean that I don’t get to go to the 50,000 in-home parties that my friends have because I have a volleyball game to watch or a PiYo class to teach. The important thing to remember is that we can’t do it all, and we shouldn’t put that kind of pressure on ourselves. Living a busy life with many commitments is hard. Living that same life under the shadow of constant guilt for not doing or being enough is impossible and eventually will take its toll.

So, take heart and remember that while the picture of the unicorn is beautiful, it is in fact fictional, just like the idea of balance in the life of a busy human being. Give yourself grace, stop with the guilt, and do your best at what is most important today. Tomorrow you can re-evaluate what needs to be most important then.

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One of my favorite bloggers, Jenny Lawson of thebloggess.com, released her second book yesterday. It is called Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things. In it, Jenny talks about her lifelong battle with mental illness. Humorously. Sounds like an interesting combination, doesn’t it?

Jenny says that, “We all get our share of tragedy or insanity or drama, but what we do with that horror is what makes all the difference.”

We are all broken. For some of us it takes the form of mental illness. For others it is physical. Sometimes it is in our relationships with others. Sometimes it is in our relationships with ourselves.

But the thing that Jenny encourages us all to do is to choose to be Furiously Happy. To be irrationally joyful and vehemently happy. This is sometimes easier said than done, but when we can’t pull that off on our own, we can always read a chapter of Jenny’s book. Because it will make you laugh.* I promise.

Jenny’s first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir made me laugh out loud. Often. Her blog and book have been a source of (edited) readings to my family and friends. So if you like humor, she is a good source for it.

But what has really drawn me to Jenny’s work is the fact that she taught me this: depression lies. Over and over again when I am in the midst of a rough patch, I remind myself that depression lies. It says things to me like:

  • You aren’t good enough.
  • You are a terrible wife/mother/health & fitness coach/pastor/housekeeper/[insert lots of other things here].
  • The best thing for you to do is just give up and lay on the couch binge-watching Netflix.
  • You loser, you just spent the entire evening on the couch binge-watching Netflix!
  • You will never get better.
  • You are going to fight me the rest of your life.

But when I remind myself that depression lies, eventually I can get to a place where I replace the lies of depression with the TRUTH of who I am.

  • I am good enough.
  • I am a good wife/mother/health & fitness coach/pastor/housekeeper/[insert lots of other things here].
  • Sometimes it is okay to rest on the couch and binge-watch Netflix. But today, I can binge-watch while I clean up the living room.
  • I am not a loser for letting the couch call me in to its warmth. I am not a loser for binge-watching Netflix. Sometimes a busy woman needs some down time.
  • I will get better.
  • Even when it puts up a fight, I will win over the depression.

Sometimes it is hard to get to this place of speaking TRUTH over the lies of depression, but the more I remind myself of the lies, the more the truth is able to be heard.

I have been walking through this journey for a long time now, and recently have walked through it with a friend who doesn’t yet recognize the lies of depression. I am trying to help her learn this very important lesson. One that I was able to learn because Jenny shared her story.

I am not saying that simply by reading a book you can conquer your own mental illness battle, but I am saying that you get to choose how you will overcome. I choose to be Furiously Happy.

I am broken because depression lies.

I am Furiously Happy because I am a Daughter of the King.

Will you share your broken and happy stories with me today?

*Disclaimer: If you are easily offended by bad language, find a different book or blog to read that makes you laugh. Because Jenny isn’t afraid to throw out strong language.

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2014 Top 10

Happy New Year! We made it to 2015! It seems impossible to be 15 years in to the 2000’s!

Looking back over the year, there are so many things I have to be thankful for, but here are 10 of the many:

  • My husband, Mike.
  • My daughter, Anne.
  • My son, Ty.
  • My parents moving in just 5 blocks from us.
  • A new job crafted just for me, provided by the Lord.
  • More time with my family.
  • God’s provision in multiple areas of our lives.
  • New epically uplifting friends.
  • Ending the year over 20 pounds lighter and 17 inches smaller, despite losing running as an outlet.
  • And God, who has blessed me abundantly.

Here are the 10 blog posts that you liked the best during 2014:

Why don’t you take a moment and make a list of at least 10 things that you have to be thankful for from the last year. And look forward to all the potential 2015 holds!

 

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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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