Category: DEPRESSION

Posts that focus on depression.

naivete

An alphabet of thanks “N”

(In case you’re doing the math, these posts are one day off. This should really be posting on the 14th. But “D” and “E” posted the same day because I didn’t wait for one of those posts to update before I turned off my computer, and I didn’t catch it till the next day. Just sayin’)

Today I’m thankful for my naiveté.

naivete

My family is always kidding me about how naïve I am about some things. For example, if a family member tells me something outlandish, (like there’s such a thing as a Michigan peacock) I’m very apt to believe them because of course, they wouldn’t lie. I easily fall for practical jokes, therefore, people love to pick on me.

The first definition for naïve in the dictionary is “inexperienced”. That’s not me, though.  I’ve experienced enough of life to know its reality.

Another definition is “youthful”. Young people are generally considered naïve. Young people generally trust and believe in people. Young people believe in possibilities. Think, I’ll take this definition.

I trust and believe in people, to my detriment at times. I often walk into situations where I can’t win no matter what because I always believe people can change. I’m naïve enough to believe most people like me. I’m always surprised when people don’t play fair. I guess I really am naïve.

But that’s o.k. I rather be the one picked on than the one that does the picking. I’d rather be easy to play a joke on than so unfriendly and distant that no one would dare. I rather be naïve and see the wonder of life, than so jaded I can only see the ugly.

I’ll admit it. I’m naïve. I’m naïve enough to believe that God still performs miracles. I’m naïve enough to believe that my prayers really matter. I’m naïve enough to believe that God is who He says He is, that He can do what He says He can do, that I am who God says I am, and that I can handle anything God allows in my life. Call me naïve want. I call myself smart.

God bless and have a good day.

grace

an alphabet of thanks “G”

(My originally scheduled post follows these remarks in italics.)

How do I even submit this post today after the horrific events of yesterday’s church shooting? How do I talk about God’s grace when, frankly, it seems like it wasn’t evidenced yesterday?  And yet I still believe God’s grace is real.

No, I know it’s real. 

I also know that this tragedy reflects a world that needs God’s love. And the only ways that anyone can know God’s love is when they see it in the lives of those who are already experiencing it.  It isn’t enough to pray. It isn’t enough to read our Bibles. It certainly isn’t enough to show up at church every Sunday.

We have to love. I’m not talking about sloppy sentimentality.

You know what I mean.

People who “say” the words but whose life doesn’t reflect it. And I’m not talking about overlooking situations that should be addressed. I’m not talking about lack of consequences for criminal activity. In fact, it’s when we don’t address these problems early on out of a false sense of what love is, that situations like this escalate. 

I’m talking about the smallest “little” acts of kindness: manners, smiling, offers of help, genuine attention to the needs of others, etc. There are all kinds of ways to show love. And these all reflect grace.

There are all kinds of “hurting” people we run into every day. People whose lives are in chaos. People who are depressed. People who are grieving. Etc.

Think about the last time you had a bad day. You went about your day feeling miserable. But you ran into someone who smiled at you.  How did you feel? I’ll bet it helped and I’ll bet you felt a little hope.

Now think of that same day. You went about your day and everyone you ran into ignored you. No one smiled at you. How did that make you feel? It made you feel worse, didn’t it?

We should never underestimate the power of a smile or a kind word. It can save somebody’s life.

And if we engage in a conversation, it’s even better. And there’s always a way to open a door to a conversation. 

Remember, grace is ours to give, as much as receive. 

And I’m not suggesting for one minute that such simple acts can stop all the violence. Or that things will change overnight. But don’t you agree that it’s a place to start? That’s it’s the one place we all can start? 

I have been praying for many years that I live my life as someone who is part of the solution, not part of the problem. If we all would work harder at permeating our little part of the world with love, then our little part of the world would be safe. If everyone everywhere did the same thing, then the entire world would be safe.

 There was a song from the seventies that is truly “schmaltzy”. It’s trite and simplistic but I think it reflects how we all would like to world to be.”

Today is easy. Grace, indescribable, undeserved, and unending. 

When I think of all the ways God has “graced” me, I am humbled. And not just me. I read Scripture and see God’s grace to the Israelites time and time again. I see God’s grace extended to others every day.  But the one thing about grace that needs to be said is this:

While God’s grace is free, it isn’t cheap. It was paid with a price. A big one.

When God extends His grace, we need to remember the price that was paid for it and to make sure we don’t just accept the gift too casually.

I don’t understand God’s grace.  I’m just grateful for it.

I wonder how many times God’s grace showers us and we aren’t even aware of it. The times, for example, when we say something we shouldn’t but we don’t suffer the consequences. The times we act foolishly and yet are spared the fallout. The times we miss asking for God’s blessing and yet He gives it anyway.

We all probably experience more grace every day than we ever recognize. Maybe that’s why it’s called, “grace”, and not something else.

I wonder how many times we confuse grace with good luck.

I only know that without grace, that undeserved gift from God, I wouldn’t make it through the day.

God bless and have a good day.

Thankful for angels

Today is Nov 1st. I’m going to try and list one thing I’m thankful for each day until Thanksgiving.

They will run the gamut from serious to funny.

Today I’m thankful for Angels. I believe in them but I don’t know enough about them.

When my husband was traveling I always prayed that God would surround him with angels and keep him safe.

I’m writing this while in the car as we went to my daughter’s for Halloween. I can not figure out how to link to a site from this app , so it looks like I’ll just be able to give you the link to the general site and then you can go from there.

Biblestudytools.com (All about angels)

God bless and have a good day.

Healthy reflection leads to a really healthy life

A couple of weeks ago someone posted the quote below on Facebook. That person really got some feedback, a lot of it negative. (I think some people were having a bad day.) I really couldn’t understand the reactions of some people. I find this quote actually true because “things” (more of them or less of them) has never been proven to equate with happiness.

gratefulness

Then a few days ago, I was feeling “down” but was crawling out of it when someone made a remark that stopped my progress in its tracks. I realized later though that my reaction to her was just that, my reaction. She wasn’t having a problem, was. She couldn’t possibly plummet my mood, only I could do that.

That got me to thinking back about people, people who offend us, people who try to help us with trite euphemisms and silly little sayings.  If you’ve followed me very long, you know that I’m not a fan of many of the little “hip, hip hooray “sweet” inspirational sayings. For example, I hate the phrase, “It is what it is”.


it is what it is

But just because many of these little “Pinterisms” are trite and overstated, they sometimes contain a bit of truth. And if it helps some people, good.  Lots of things “hit a nerve” and when I’m feeling “down” it’s certainly true for me as well.  But at least these little “pollyanna” phrases are meant to lift our spirits and:

If anyone can prove to me how jumping in the pit with someone, helps them get out of the pit, I’d love for them to tell me.

It’s certainly better than the “pull yourself up” kind of remarks from a person who’s never experienced depression. (Or perhaps it makes more sense to say, never “admitted” to depression.)

 

And maybe the best question we should ask ourselves is,

“What if what is being said contains some truth?”

Or,”Can I learn something from this”?

For example,  “It is what it is”. I don’t like this one at all and I hear it all the time. I hate it because it reeks of hopelessness, not acquiescence.

(On second thought, maybe I would be better off sometimes by buying into “It is what is” ((maybe more, “They are who they are.”)) thana feeling as though I have to single-handedly change the world.

I like this better though; it offers more hope.

It is what it is but

Often people who are depressed will receive all kinds of well-intentioned advice. Sometimes it is not received well. Often because we feel no one else has ever felt this way so how can anyone else help? But as I wrote the other day,

Our depression is not unique.

Why do you think there is a “standardized” list of symptoms that determines when one’s mental health can officially be classified as depression?  That’s because when depressed people describe their symptoms, they pretty much describe the same symptoms. The causes may be different, the manifestations of those symptoms may look different but the illness and its symptoms are pretty consistent across all reported cases.

Depression feels pretty much the same for everyone.

I’ve yet to read a post by someone who is clinically depressed that sounds any different from anyone else, including me. As long as we think our depression is somehow unique, we are never going to listen to any advice. We are sure these strategies that have worked for untold numbers of others, couldn’t possibly work for us. Our depression is “so much worse”. (I don’t mean to sound crass.)

Also, all well-researched books, doctors, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals suggest the same basic methods to manage depression, with or without medication. For example, exercise is suggested by every mental health professional as one of the most important tools for managing depression, especially if there is accompanying anxiety.

The  symptoms and the management tools for dealing with depression are amazingly consistent.

I think the harder question is why some people recover from depression and seldom deal with it again, while others struggle throughout their entire lives. This is especially hard for those who’ve worked hard at getting better and just can’t seem to get there.

At various times in my own recovery process, I asked the same thing, “Why can’t I get beat this?” Eventually, I did. But others have done the same things I’ve done and not got better. Did I work harder? Did I have more support? Did I hate depression more? Did the fact that I’ve never used alcohol or drugs make a difference? Did it just “run its course? Did I pray more?

I wish I knew.

But for the life of me, I can’t understand why there is so much anger on social media about just about everything.

overreation

Can’t we just all be generous enough to agree that for the most part, people are trying to help? Can’t we allow for a “well-intentioned although ignorant” remarks sometimes? Besides, haven’t we all done that?

After all, we all know depression is one of those illnesses that is hard to explain to someone who has never been there. Instead of reacting maybe we should be educating.

I sometimes think people have a hard time understanding my personal recovery.  They assume I was ever only mildly depressed. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was where many of you are now. I have the journal notes to prove it and every once in a while, to remind me of where I used to be, I read them. It’s very painful.

I’ve also witnessed serious depression in a number of people I love. I can tell you unequivocally, that in every case, these people got better. And they started to get better when they realized they had a part in either causing their depression or exacerbating it. Once they admitted to one or the other or both, they started to heal because they knew they could do something about it.

As I said earlier, a few days ago, I found myself very defensive with someone’s remarks even though what she said deserved some thought.

On this blog, you can share your honest opinions, whatever they are. You can disagree with me. You can offer help when I need it. That’s how we learn from each other, through honest conversation.

As long as your motive is to help, as long as you use decent language, as long as you are not just reacting and have given thoughtful consideration to my point of view, I would love to hear from you.

For me, I never comment on someone else’s post unless I think I’m helping. And I don’t comment haphazardly. I think before I write. But I have also offered a dissenting opinion if I think it adds to the conversation. I speak from my heart. I urge you to do the same.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

 

 

 

Psalm 40

Depression isn’t for “sissies

I see I posted twice yesterday.

But the whole “thought my kitten was lost” really had me frazzled. I thought I had everything in order and the post entitled “why overreacting doesn’t help depression” hadn’t even been edited. I’ve since corrected it.  It was a post from a few years ago that I thought bared repeating. I hope you found it helpful.

So because it did publish I felt I should continue the theme. The truth is that depression isn’t for “sissies”. What is interesting about those that suffer from depression is that it’s almost never the “bad”, “mean” or “shallow” person that experiences depression. You have to be kind of a “deep-thinking” person, a sensitive person to suffer this mental illness. And “mental illness” doesn’t always mean what we think it means. Depression is an “illness” that involves the  “mind”, therefore it’s a mental illness.  What is the matter with our society that we still don’t understand this?

My heart aches for anyone who suffers depression and/or anxiety. It’s horrible. And I think more people suffer from the disorder than don’t. But there is still such a stigma that many people never talk about it. Instead, they stand at the edge of a precipice never knowing when they are going to fall in the pit. That feeling of impending doom clouds their very existence and life becomes shrouded with fear and dread.

You would almost prefer to fall in the pit rather than standing at the edge worried that any minute you might drop into the dark hole and disappear.

(I realize this isn’t a photo of a “pit” but they were all too scary-looking so I chose this cliff instead. Same concept though, right?)

edge of a cliff

It’s like feeling dead inside but pretending to be alive. The effort of trying to act like everyone else is almost more than you can bear.

I get it.

If I thought I was heading there again, honestly, I would be terrified.

For a little while.

“Why for only a little while?” you ask.

Because while I have a history of depression, I also have a longer history of recovery. I’ve learned a lot from my battles. Mostly, that God will get me through if I cooperate.

Would he get me to the other side anyway? Probably. But it would take a lot longer and if I were rescued every time, I don’t develop the skill set necessary to keep me from succumbing the next time.

Psalm 40

I’m never one to tell anyone that all one has to do when faced with depression is to trust God and just like a magic Genie, everything will get better. While God can heal instantly and he often does, it’s no guarantee.

Besides, we develop a great deal of resilience when we cooperate with God instead of letting God do all the work.

My understanding of God’s dealings with people throughout Scripture is that cooperating with God is always God’s first choice. It’s kind of like God wants us to have a stake in our own growth. It has been proven time and again that people who have a vested interest in something appreciate it more.  I think God created in us the desire to claim some responsibility for our own lives.

When Moses balked at God’s command to speak to Pharoah because he didn’t think he could (for whatever reason and the jury is out on that reason), God said that Aaron could be his mouthpiece. How much personal growth did Moses give up right then? I would say, a lot.

So if you are on that precipice, you don’t have to fall in. I have no idea the faith walk of any of my “followers” so I can’t really give you steps 1-10 to keep you afloat. I can only tell you what I do.

I will try to share more tomorrow but here’s a preliminary list (in no order) without much detail:

  1. I pray and read Scripture.
  2. I exercise. If I’m struggling with a current depressive episode, I might walk longer and/or more than once a day.
  3. I stay distracted. If you are employed, this is easier. If not, just start moving and doing something, anything, and that will spur you on some more. This is very hard when you’re feeling down. Do it anyway.
  4. I should’ve started with this: Make your bed. I’ve been saying that much longer than the recent hype over the commencement speech of the same title and the subsequent book.
  5. Talk to someone today with your “voice” not your fingers.
  6. Avoid negative people.
  7. Don’t go to bed tonight without having accomplished something. (See # 3)
  8. Keep up with your personal grooming. You should look in the mirror and feel somewhat better by the image you see.)

That was a very cursory list.

Apparently, I’m on a roll, so I’ll try to keep this up for the rest of the week.

It’s hard for me to write about depression when I’m not actively experiencing an episode. But it’s also hard if I am.

Anyway, God bless and have a good day.

(PS. You can always check out my menu under the heading “depression”.  I have lots of material there that you might find helpful.)

 

 

 

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