Category: anxiety

anxiety and depression

When there is no encouragement and no “good”word

(If you read this post yesterday, I apologize. It wasn’t supposed to go out until today. Does that tell you how overwhelmed I am? But much good has come my way since yesterday. I’ve made some progress on the legal side and some discussions with friends and family have enlightened me and solidified my thinking. Sometimes we get so intent on being “fair”, we’re not very smart. But that’s when God steps in and encourages you to take stock of not only everyone else but yourself as well. Satan likes to make us second-guess God’s clear wisdom. If we stay focused though and don’t rush ahead of ourselves, it all eventually becomes clear. That’s how God shows us mercy. So I am publishing this post again in case you missed it yesterday.

 I am reposting it under another title with some changes.  I most certainly would’ve re-read it last night and edited it. I always do. So today’s version includes some of those minor changes.)

I have a lot of versions of Proverbs 12:25 for you to read. But before you do, let me warn you.

This is a brutally honest post and I’m writing it as a long-time follower of Christ.

New International Version
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
New Living Translation
Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.
English Standard Version
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad
New American Standard Bible
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.
King James Bible
Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.
Aren’t these great verses? I mean they’re some of my favorite.
But guess what?
Sometimes there are no “good” words to say.
Sometimes there are no words of encouragement.
Sometimes there is nothing that can cheer us up.
inactivity-and-depression
Have you ever been there? When there can be no “good” outcome?
I sure hate to start your day off this way but if you’re struggling as I am with a similar situation, maybe this will help.
You all know my mom has been diagnosed with dementia. I’ve tried hard not to believe this. I’ve explained away all her symptoms as something else. But the confusion is increasing. My brother and I are pretty discouraged as we see the future and it doesn’t look good.
Is there any “good” word that anyone can say?
Nope.
Before you judge my faith, this is truly a case of  “unless you’ve had this horrible disease impact your life”, you have no clue.
Where my faith does come in is not what “good” words anyone might say but only the promise that somehow, some way, God will keep his promise to me, “that he will never give me more than I can handle”. Right now I don’t see how that can be but I trust God because I know he sees the big picture.

God sees the big picture

 I only see this little microscopic and miserable part of my current situation. There is nothing “good” about dementia. There is no good “word” anyone can say. And everyone who’s experienced this with a loved one knows what I’m talking about.
There is no mention of dementia anywhere in scripture. I will be honest and say, “This really bothers me.” I mean at least if I had some specific story I could relate to, some “words” I could quote from scripture that says “Here’s what you do when someone is diagnosed with dementia”, that would help. But there’s nothing.
Many people experience situations every day for which there is no corresponding example in the Bible.
So what are we to do?
I’d like to think my faith will be strengthened. But I think it’s likely to be challenged instead.
I’d like to think I’ll have an inspirational story to tell someday, but there’s nothing inspirational about dementia.
I’d like to think I’ll come out on the other side of all this a better person but I worry that I won’t. I could go on……
But what it really boils down to is one word that I’m clinging to:

Mercy

(Yesterday, as I wrote in the first paragraph, mercy showed up through conversations and insights.  Tomorrow mercy might present itself in a book or a song. Mercy has no limitations. God can use whatever vehicle he wants to send mercy our way. The only thing we have to do is recognize it.  

I am counting on God’s mercy showering me time and again in God’s most creative ways.  I am thankful today that we do indeed serve a merciful God who leads us when we are tired, angry, confused, directionless, flailing about, etc.  I’m glad we serve a merciful God that looks past our failings, real or imagined. )

I hope this helped and God bless you today.
stones

Socialness is essential for mental health

For the last couple of days, I’ve addressed the importance of “movement” in battling depression.

Tuesday I talked about the importance of movement.

Wednesday I posted ninety-seven steps you could take to make sure you did move.

Today I want to expand on those ninety-seven steps. While all those were good alternatives, they were pretty much solitary in execution.

But depression will never be defeated by keeping to yourself.

In fact, a person could do everything on that list and still suffer depression. Why? Because we need people and especially when we’re depressed.

friends1

For example, yesterday. I’m not clinically depressed at all now and haven’t been for about fifteen years but I have been a little “down” lately because of my mother’s health. It’s been tough. And the sciatica pain doesn’t help. I could stay home each day and nurse my wounds; I could follow my own list and that would help. But in the long run, I need to be around other people.

So no matter how I feel, I make it a point to be with family and friends. During cold weather, I would just as soon curl up with a good book and some hot tea, get under my electric blanket, and read all day. (Of course, I would get bored pretty quick.)

So now I’ll give you some ideas for ways to step into the world that will also help you manage your depression.

I found some of these particularly effective.  However, I do have a warning.

When I was severely depressed, going out in public was really hard. I felt like everyone was looking at me and judging me. For what, I didn’t know.

I would feel very confused if I had to make a decision, especially shopping for groceries. What to fix for dinner? Way too many choices.

If I went to a department store, I couldn’t really enjoy myself because I thought I looked terrible in everything I tried on.

I share this with yo because depression is as much about timing as it is anything else. Seriously. It’s the timing of much of these activities that makes us or breaks us. Only you know if being around people will unnerve you or make you anxious. But at the same time, don’t give in to your first instinct. I used to do a lot of that and one of the steps I used to defeat depression was to do what was right for me, in the long run, no matter how I felt in the present.

I’m still very cognizant of the importance of timing in my life.

So, here goes.

  1. Take a walk outside.
  2. If you have a lake you can walk to, all the better.
  3. Nice weather? Ride a bike.
  4. Go to a coffee shop. Drink your special coffee drink and read a book or a magazine.
  5. Go to a bookstore and do the above.
  6. Go window-shopping at the mall. Don’t actually try on anything unless you’re very happy with your appearance that day.
  7. Go to a furniture store and browse.
  8. How about a flower shop? Maybe you could buy yourself a flower.
  9. Small specialty shops are great. They’re less stressful because there’s fewer people.
  10. Go to a store like Home Depot and gather up some paint chips in your favorite colors. You might get inspired to plan on painting a room.
  11. Fabric and craft stores are a great place to browse as well as it inspires lots of new ideas. Even if you’re not “crafty” you will enjoy the color.
  12. For me, Goodwill and thrift stores have always been good for me to browse.
  13. Take a drive. Bring something (do I really need to say no alcohol?) to drink and no matter how cold, find a place to sit outside for a few minutes and enjoy your hot drink.
  14. Visit a friend. (You don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to talk about.)
  15. If you live in a big city, you have lots of options, museums, art galleries, etc.
  16. Call someone to meet you for coffee (Can you tell, I like my coffee?)
  17. Ask someone over. (don’t make this more complicate than it needs to be. I used to do that, too.)
  18. Go to a movie.
  19. Go to the library.
  20. Bake something and take it to someone.

I found all the above difficult to do when I felt so bad but I did them anyway. Not every day, of course. And not for long.

Let’s face it, it’s really hard to keep up a cheerful disposition when you don’t feel like it. But the more people you come into contact with, and the more you smile, the better it is for you even if it doesn’t feel that way.

That’s the hard part about depression. So much of the recovery demands great effort at a time when you have no effort to give.

stones

But you can do this. I’m no saint and I’m not Wonder Woman so if I did it you can, too.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 12:25/2017

How to live with a chronic brokenness, four steps

I must admit that I don’t like living with any brokenness but there are times we just can’t avoid it. I”m not talking about physical pain;  that’s another topic for another day.

I”m talking about hose ongoing situations from which we absolutely cannot escape until the situation is resolved. And it’s not a resolution we can accomplish. It’s out of our hands.

Those are tough times because we so want the situation to get better or go away but to know we are going to continue to deal with it a long time is unimaginable to us. I like things to be resolved. I hate ambiguity.

As a child I could never be sure of anything and so I lived day by day fearfully anticipating the next explosion. While it never surprised me when it did come, I still, because I was a child, hoped it wouldn’t. And it didn’t take long before this unsettled childhood led to anxiety which became a pretty permanent state of being for many years.

So even today when I’m faced with something negative that just might be a long-term negative, my first reaction is to feel anxious. Thank goodness I’ve learned to quickly identify it and take immediate steps to relieve it.

Like yesterday

Yesterday was such a day. My husband recognized it immediately and suggested we do somewhere. He suggested Barnes and Noble. That sounded good but once we were out I mentioned Hobby Lobby and that I’d like to look around as there are usually good sales in their home goods department at this time of year. This is the time of year I got those adorable Christmas mugs I shared with you a few weeks ago.

Then because it was so unusually warm, and kinda’, sorta’ sunny, sitting inside just wasn’t going to cut it. So I suggested we walk in our local state park. We ended up walking for almost an hour and the fresh air and exercise was exactly what I needed. I came home refreshed and relaxed.

Today it’s dark and gloomy but I am ready to tackle my day. I found these great chairs at Hobby Lobby yesterday and am thinking about going back and buying just one to see how it looks in my kitchen. They can order more.

Isn’t it adorable?

chair/hobby lobby/2017

And then I found these bowls that I’m going to hang on a wall in our sunroom.

image

image

 

turquoise bowls./2017

But most importantly I will remember this:

Proverbs 12:25/2017

 

So how do you live with a certain level of brokenness?

  1. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you cling to him for wisdom. You continue with your prayer life and Bible study time. (Although with the praying, you may find that there are times you will simply pray, “Holy Spirit, pray for me today. You know my needs and concerns. I don’t have the words.”

2. You get up, make the bed, and put on your best appearance. In other words, show up.

3. You engage in some sort of physical activity.

4. You do something creative. This is a must for me and I believe it is for most people. It doesn’t mean you have to be an artist, or do “arty” things. It might just mean re-arranging something in a room or moving something from one room another. It might mean fixing something you’ve been putting off. What matters is that your mind is fully engaged.

Do the things that bring a level of distraction. As I’ve said before and will repeat often:

Distraction is a wonderful thing.

It’s not easy knowing some situations are never going to get better. But don’t say, “It is what it is”.

Why?

Because God doesn’t.

Not once.

Not ever.

If God had a middle name it would be “hope”.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

 

the week in review/depression, anxiety, prayer

Boy, is May a busy month for us. Yardwork, graduations, open houses, birthdays, mother’s day, a few trips……

Whew!

I’ll bet I’m not alone though. May is a busy month for a lot of people. But it’s a busy month filled with people I love and that’s always a good thing, right?

I usually don’t post on Sundays but last week I did. It was about Mother’s Day gifts and the best one you can give.

gifts for mom

Monday I posted about how I make decisions and how:

Peace is a state of being, not necessarily an emotion.

Tuesday I wrote about depression and how our depression can control us if we let it.

Wednesday was a great day for me because I exhausted myself in my gardens. Now you may wonder why exhaustion was good but you’ll just have to read about it here.

greenhouse

Thursday was about anxiety and one way I handle anxiety attacks.

prayerbox/anxiety

Friday was a tip about caring for elderly parents suffering from memory loss.

memory loss

God bless and for all of you women out there, Happy Mother’s Day.

Anxiety attacks don’t need an invitation

A true story today.

She was returning from her weekly therapy session for her youngest child, Matthew (not his real name).  Matthew was born with Down Syndrome. She educates all who need it, “It’s Down Syndrome without a “s”. He is not a “Down’s kid” either.” She gets furious with the “r” word.

Matthew was eighteen months old and still not crawling. His older brother was only three. She works full-time, takes him to therapy twice a week (only one is covered by insurance) and has recently signed up for a sign language class. She hasn’t missed a beat since he was born meeting each new challenge head-on.

Matthew has changed her life…..in ways only a few people know. As a teen-ager, Jennifer (not her real name either)  suffered from anorexia, depression and severe anxiety attacks.  Anyone that knew her couldn’t understand why.  She was pretty, extremely intelligent, and everyone who met her loved her.  So how could she suffer so?

As my readers know, this blog will often feature posts about depression. I’m not a doctor but I’ve done my research plus I’ve lived it. I’ve come out the other side and am completing a book about the tools I developed in my own recovery process. So it was never hard for me to understand how Jennifer could suffer from depression. My research had shown that depression is no respecter of persons.

dark-woods

Jennifer had already come a long way as a result of the birth of her first child. His birth had taken place when she had become strong enough to quit taking anti-depressants. Her courage was something to see. Her happiness overshadowed any lingering depression and she embraced motherhood as if she’d been given a gift no one else had ever received.

But when Matthew was born, the few that knew her history worried-would she revert to previous coping patterns? Everyone was cheering her on, silently and in their prayers.

Who knows what she went through during those early weeks. What mental gymnastics she had to employ to keep her mental feet solidly planted. What prayers she prayed. Only Jennifer knew what she had done to keep her anxiety at bay at a time when experts would’ve predicted a free fall. But she did. And everyone that knew her breathed a collective sigh.

She stopped at the stop sign, slowly applying the brakes as the winter storm was getting worse. A sudden bump. She tightened her grip on the wheel and held her breath. No sliding into traffic. Her heart resumed its beating. It was just the one bump.

She quickly turned to check on Matthew. He was playing with his toy and smiling with that smile that melted every heart that saw it. He was fine. Hadn’t noticed a thing. She could feel the beats of her heart in her throat. Her stomach was churning. She was afraid, for the first time in years. Her car showed no damage. Her and Matthew were fine.

So why did she continue to shake so?

She drove home carefully, every nerve in her body on high alert. She carried Matthew in the house, fixed dinner for the four of them and then succumbed to the fear that was enveloping her. That was when she called me.

She told me she was terrified that her anxiety attacks were returning. I listened as she shared her fears. I reminded her she wasn’t the same insecure young woman she once was. I reminded her how hard she’d worked to overcome her anxiety and depression. She had fought her demons and won the battle. She had a great husband, two wonderful boys and all in all a great life.

The accident was like an exclamation point on the last year and a half.  Matthew’s diagnosis, the accident that she knew could have been much worse, the physical fatigue, all melded together to produce one major anxiety attack. We talked about some coping strategies. In a few hours, she was doing much better.

The reason for today’s post is this: depression/anxiety can deal us a blow when we least expect it. In can take a single anxiety attack, no matter how small, that propesl us into a state of panic. “Oh, no, our depression is returning”. Like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, we run in circles, wringing our hands and moaning, “What to do? What to do?”

That’s the hideous nature of depression. It can creep up on us insidiously or can jump out from the shadows.

demon in the shadow

Jennifer had learned over the years that if she practiced certain coping skills, and if she implemented them immediately, she could quickly turn it around. She faced her enemy head on and gave it no space in her mind or her life. She got busy with her wonderful little “men” and soon fear was no more her nemesis.

Jennifer and her story are real. If she can win her battle after a lifetime of being a wounded soldier, so can you.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

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