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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Of Living…

One if the bravest acts is to live. To choose to exist beyond merely breathing can be terrifying to even consider.

If one thinks long enough, they see that choice means to willingly go into other worlds, entering into another brave soul’s existence knowing that there will be pain one day. Maybe it will be a tearing away by words or death, but one thing is certain that the heart will be wounded. Loving creates these beautiful connections on earth, that hurt when one is pulled so far away.

Depression is one of the Dark Ones. It creeps in ever so slowly, sometimes holding hands with it’s other family members, Anxiety and Fear. Whispering so quietly that it matches the sound of thought, saying that no one cares and that the pain will be too great to bear. Distracted by holding the weight of it, Fear is able to tie the heart off until it’s numb so we cannot fight the walls Depression and Anxiety build. All that’s left is a lie: that we are alone and others are not worth the
risk of hurting again. Empty and merely a breath, time passes by until the end.

One day, a new voice faintly rises above the sounds. This one different, like a splash of color, like light in a dark world. One that has been there all along, whispering Love.

Love cuts the thread around the heart and each heartbeat cracks the wall more. Love creates these vessels that connect to other’s hearts, preventing the Dark Ones from rebuilding. Those connections bring life and joy, while strengthening the heart to stand against the pain that will come one day.

All of this from one courageous moment when the choice is made
to step out and be fully alive and to believe the truth that you are more than a breath.

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Since my last blog post, I have been trying to emotionally recover from pulling out of school. I decided to go ahead and take some time off serving at church so I could regroup and figure out where to go from here.  While at peace with the decision, it was easy for me to feel lost with no clear idea of what my next step should be. Work was proving to be difficult too, as summer is totally different than the school year in my department at work. By the end of the first session, I was feeling a bit smothered by people in general, overwhelmed, and confused. I was pretty excited that things worked out where I was able to get a paid “vacation” after only being there 4 ½ months. I seriously needed the reset time.

I decided to spend part of it with my kids, and the other part concentrating on me. It’s difficult as a mom to do that because we tend to feel guilty or selfish, but I knew I had to do it. Deciding to take the kids to the library proved fruitful for me, as I found a book called Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe. I was just going to get fiction books at the time, but I figured I might as well read to help improve my understanding of myself.  I read that book and it had some great information. I had a little issue with the style of writing, not that it was bad, it was just not what I personally liked (still a good read overall). Then I set out on a journey to a couple of book stores (oh my goodness…how I LOVE bookstores!!!) and found the next books, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath and Quiet by Susan Cain. I read Strengths Finder pretty quick and took the test, and found it very helpful in learning more about me. I am still working my way through Quiet, which I LOVE so far (definitely something to look into if you are an introvert).

So in all this reading and time off I have finally been able to deeply process stuff, which I haven’t had the time to do since starting my new job. There is so much I am learning about myself and being an introvert. I can’t begin to tell you the relief it is to finally understand that I am “normal” (whatever that means! LOL) and there is nothing wrong with me!

I have spent most of my life, and even in recent years, feeling like I was “broken”.  There was strong pressure even at a very young age to talk to people and interact with people. I have a faded memory of when I was in about 2nd grade, and hearing a discussion about me needing to be in a speech or some other special class because I wasn’t talking much. I was a very intelligent child, teacher’s pet-type, but I hated talking in class and only had a couple of friends. That’s pretty much how I was through school, except add in a little weird to the mix by high school. Much to my mom’s dismay ( love ya, Momma 🙂  ) that meant dressing in a lot of baggy clothes, black, Converse, combat boots and lots of grunge rock…oh and don’t forget the strong desire to have purple hair (which sadly never happened….one day it will….even if I have to wait to be one of those crazy old ladies with too much of the “bluing” stuff in her gray hair lol)

In my adult years I have struggled so much with my social awkwardness. I always held this strong feeling of discontent about that part of my life.  In one of my relationships, I was accused of a lot of things (that looking back were actually tied into being a depressed introvert. I can’t really explain it here without coming across as bashing the other person or revealing details I would rather not discuss at the moment) and highly pressured to be more extroverted. After my battle with depression was over, I had other things to work through, like actually figuring out who I am!

 It was a difficult trying to figure out why I struggled in that area so much, but when I was reading Introvert Power, I read a section where it talked about shyness being different that being introverted, and that the 2 often overlap! It was one of those things I knew, but could never put in words. There has been a shift in me internally over the past year and a half or so. A kind of growing out of the shyness and growing into my introverted-ness.  God has been helping me in overcoming my fears (which intensified my shyness and awkwardness), and in embracing how He created me.  I love how He is using books to help show me that being an introvert has great strength in it, especially when fear and anxiety are removed from it. I am learning so much, and there is a freedom in knowing that I am not “broken”, I don’t need to be “fixed”.

It is also helping me be a better parent, as I can recognize my children’s introverted traits, and encourage them. At the same time I have to be careful with one who is more extroverted so I don’t try to “fix” her. I have to remind myself that even though I may need my down time, she needs her time with her friends to feel charged. I am also learning that she may not be as extroverted as I once believed! Every day, I am seeing that she could very well just be a healthier introvert that I was at her age 🙂

Overall, I feel like all this learning has been a relief! Between all this mentioned and some other things I have learned about my personality , spiritual gifts and insights from various friends in my life, I am seeing myself in a way I hadn’t before.  So much of who I am had been tied up in who I was hanging around, what I thought would please those whom I loved or masked by depression… it was no wonder that I didn’t know who I was! God has been faithful to answer my prayers for help in this part of my journey, and I know there is so much more He will help me with as I go along. There is peace that comes from finding the missing pieces or in my case discovering the pieces that were hidden underneath. I can’t wait to see where He leads me to next!

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It seems like the past couple of months God has been bringing to my attention certain things I needed to address, and the past few weeks have really solidified that in my mind. Looking at it, I see that repeatedly God had been whispering to me about, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. But tonight is when I feel that a new start has been made it my heart, and now to figure out what to do to change things in myself so that I can make sure not to make the same mistake again. I am so thankful for all the people in my life that have been honest with me, and so thankful for God softening my heart to listen without overreacting.

I have been reflecting on all these recent happenings, and reflecting on some things my counselor had brought to my attention a couple of years ago. The more I think on it, the more I realize that I had not dealt with some things very effectively or I put them on hold while I dealt with life in general. I have put up so many walls and didn’t realize how thick or high they really were. By the time I had landed in counseling, I had built up such a wall that no one was allowed in. Not family, not friends, not God, and it was killing me from the inside out. I had been hurt so many times I was fed up with people. I was so sick of being used, abused and cast aside, that I wasn’t going to take any chance of letting it happen again. I found myself in a very lonely place with no one else, and it was no one else’s fault but my own.

Through counseling and prayer, God had begun to break down some of those walls. I was starting to choose to interact with people, build and rebuild relationships and slowly letting people get know me. I was slowly letting God in too. God then healed me of my depression, and then I was left being able to feel again. To feel emotion in a more normal state can be terrifying if you have lived in depression your whole life. Its raw and can feel somewhat untamed. There are so many ups and downs, but overall it’s a wonderful feeling, its vibrant and alive…just to be able to feel.

Things were going great, I was pluggin’ along, pulling out a brick here and a brick there and God was helping me take down my wall. Then it seemed like a huge wave was heading my way. Things weren’t going right in so many areas of my life, and there was so much change happening all around. (and for me change throws me way off).  Internally there was a panic mode I went into, and I perceived that I was in danger again, and started trying to put bricks back! Externally I didn’t hide it well, and I tend to wear my emotions on my face way too much (or sometimes it’s just me getting lost in thought, but that’s a whole other blog post). I was being too reserved in areas I shouldn’t have been, and wasn’t trying to be honest with people with what was going on inside me. I knew I would be ok if I could just work through my feelings of being overwhelmed and I could fix things later… but I failed to see that those outside of me could not see my heart and mind. In all of that I was being incredibly rude and hurtful all because I didn’t want to be hurt again.

So here I am left with bricks in my hand. I am sitting and looking at them, and now a decision has to be made. I don’t want to build a wall again even though that is what is comfortable. I could just set it down, only to pick back up later, or I can let God help me find a way to start destroying the bricks I have taken down so I can’t pick them back up. Yeah, its uncomfortable and going to leave me vulnerable…but I don’t need a wall to protect me. Even as I type this, I am recognizing more and more that the enemy wants me to have that wall, because when it’s all said and done the wall will be so tight that it would leave no room for God and eventually take my life.  And I am realizing that more and more, that God can do a better job than any wall. He would protect me from the things that truly hurt and destroy, all while allowing the things that will help me love and grow through. He would allow a freedom that no wall could ever allow.

Lord, Help me break down these walls, and destroy the bricks and stones that make it. Help me be more aware of how I treat others and how my emotions impact them. Help me to be humble enough to apologize to those I need to apologize to, and help me move forward.  Change me, Lord, because I don’t want to be the same…

 

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Tonight I am just thinking a lot. Don’t worry I promise I am not overdoing it lol.

I read a post from TWLOHA and was reminded once again about my journey and healing from depression. Here it is, closing in on October. In October I am have 2 milestones. The first is 1 year since the divorce. I have not dated, I have not gone into despair from being “alone”. I am focusing on God and He is doing far more in me than I could EVER do alone. The second is very special to me, I will also be celebrating 1 year healed from depression and anxiety (I can’t tell you an exact date on that because it took a while for me to realize I was healed, and it was after the divorce. There was also a significant event prior that God used as a starting point to healing.) That’s a HUGE deal! I can hardly believe it!

A year later, and its still hard for me to see myself detached from depression. I had been depressed and/or anxious for as long as I can remember. Even in some of my earliest memories I sense the anxiety. Depression had seemed to be such a friend, such a comfort. I would curl up in it, and feel more secure in it than I would around people. People failed me constantly, and depression was the only thing there. Much like the Icon for Hire song, “Iodine” , depression was like a fur coat…made of dead things and keeping me warm. There was that little part of me that screamed out, because for all the comfort I thought I was feeling, I felt like I was dying inside. I felt like I was losing my mind at times. I wanted something more than that friendship, but God had seemed so distant. There were days I begged for healing, and I felt like God was holding back, so I wouldn’t even try to do anything to get better.

I say this frequently when talking about this part of my testimony: My depression was a choice. There was a time in my life where it wasn’t, but when Christ came into the picture it was. Even when I was on medication for a short time, that alone was not what healed me. I had to make a choice to deal with my own sin, my own issues. I had to choose to believe God when He gave me the vision of the love He had for me. I had to choose to trust God with my everything. It was no easy choice, because depression wanted control. I had to look at myself, and see how self-centered it made me. Nearly every thought was centered on poor me, how awful my life was, how bad of a mom and wife I was, how every one hated me, no one loved me, and on and on. When I started to realize that and saw how my life had been crumbling around me, I saw my need to trust God and get the focus off of me. To me that meant throwing myself into serving God and serving others. That was the start of my healing.

In addition to the weirdness of seeing myself separate from depression, I still feel strange about sharing my testimony about this journey. Yes, its all very personal, and very special to me. I love just uttering the words of the healing aloud even if no one is listening. But its a little weird to me to watch people’s reactions to it and hear them say what a blessing it is to hear what God has done. I guess I think of it as a big deal for myself, but don’t think others would think much of it. I usually end up accidentally sharing it, or, well, I guess the Holy Spirit prompts me to share it before I even realize what I have said. I usually end up thinking for a few moments, I have just bored them to death with all my drama. Then God lets me know that there is probably a reason why I shared, even if the other person doesn’t say anything. I may never know the impact of my testimony, but God does, and I have to trust that He is using it for His glory.

Depression is NOT a friend. It does NOT love you. It has done nothing for you but chain you up. It is slowly killing you and what life you have left. It is NOT there for you. Its NOT who you are. Its NOT what you have become. You are loved beyond your comprehension by a God who is there. He is not distant, He is closer than your own skin. I have this picture in my mind. He is the One holding on, caressing your head in His lap. I see Him crying over you, as you lay there unconscious (by the grip of depression). He is pleading for you to see Him, to hear Him. He is telling you He’s right there and not to listen to the lies. He tells you not to give up, just to keep holding on and to trust Him. Yes, the Creator has that love for YOU. I can say that because of what He has done for me.

Just take that first step, to step out and get help or serve or whatever He has been telling you to do. Yes, He will heal you, but you have to be willing to be obedient and do what work you have to get better. For me, my healing required work. Not that we have to earn our healing, but because you have to deal with the triggers and other issues…and honestly those do take work. I can also say every moment has been worth it. It is my prayer to see others on the other side of depression and anxiety. There are so many who are suffering that need us who have made it through, to cheer them on and give them hope…

That’s it for my thoughts on depression and anxiety for tonight. Here are a few of songs that have resonated with me the past couple of years. Check them out if you have time!

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I have been wanted to write a post on serving for several weeks and after all the reflecting I have done this past week, it’s high time I write it lol  My mind has been going in several directions on this topic, so hopefully I won’t jump around too much.

This week, while emotionally challenging (for various reasons), has brought about an awakening inside me that I wasn’t sure ever would happen. My battle with depression and anxiety had taken such a toll on me mentally, that even after God healed me, I was left with a feeling that I had lingering “damage” from it. I cannot do the situation justice in my description, but I felt “slow”, numb, and having to re-learn how to deal with emotions in a non-depressed state. I felt wholly inadequate in my job and serving, and felt guilty for not having a passion for something.

A few weeks ago, I was serving in Toon Town, and had to FIGHT with all I had not to run out in tears (which honestly may have been because I was sick that day lol). There I was trying to lead a discussion with some little girls, and it was going nowhere fast. I felt like such a failure! I used to work so well with children in classroom settings and the like, and I couldn’t even get the tiniest bit of interest out of these kids! I was so frustrated and felt like maybe I shouldn’t be helping. My prayer since then has been for God to restore my mental/emotional capacity, and I hadn’t really paid attention to what He was doing in that aspect until now.

Conversations with various  friends  and fighting through a week where I was STRONGLY tempted to isolate and give in to depression knocking on my door has helped bring in clarity (which will be fine-tuned even more when I go through Chazown and actually finish it lol) The one passion I have is serving/helping in any way I can. Serving has played a HUGE role in my healing from depression and divorce.  It helped me get my butt up off the couch and get the focus off myself.

The more I serve, the more I see people for who they are and more aware of those in need.  There are so many people going through things I can’t even imagine, and there are far more people who share in my struggles that I thought.  God has done so much for me in the past couple of years (and my life!!!) that the least I can do is give back to Him by showing others His love.  My prayer now is for God to refine that vision further. I have no clear direction (career-wise)  and I am believing for provision so I can go back to school (if that is the path He wants for me!)

Along with all that “processing”, I have given some thought about relationships and serving. I have been a follower of Christ for quite a while now, and have seen things that just bother the heck out of me (and in almost every church I have been to!) Time and time again I have seen people get involved at church and everything seems great….well until they get involved with “Mr. or Miss New Relationship”.  Then suddenly serving and ultimately their relationship with God gets put on the back burner. I am not saying everyone who has a boyfriend or girlfriend does this, and there are times when they maybe choosing to go to the other’s church or whatever. All I am saying is if you are single, be aware that you could find yourself in a similar situation. Set your standards NOW before all that lovey-dovey stuff blinds you! lol I should add the following to my “dating standards” blog post (If I haven’t already lol) : —–> Serving God and going to church is important to me…I will not stop those things just because we are dating. I have no problem serving alongside you or going to church together, but I will not stop everything and put you before my commitments to God. If you have issues with that, then don’t bother asking me out  😉

To sum it up, my faith in God is my life…He is the reason I press on.  Serving is something that pours out of me because of how much I love Him. He has done so much for me, and I see what He is doing in those around me…I can’t help but do all I can. My life is so much more than sitting around and doing what I want. If I am going to be on this earth, I might as well do everything I can to give love and hope to those hurting…because God has sent others in my life when I needed.

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1 Peter 4:10-11  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  (11)  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Galatians 5:13  For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

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For it was not even written by me. Every moment, every experience intentional. It may even have been written just for you! For the Author has something He wants you to know…and maybe by linking my “story” to yours you will see.

What does mine say? I often wonder, and pray that it is clear: That God loves you, more than you can comprehend (no matter how cliche that sounds!)

Even in those moments when you are sure no one understands. In those moments where you fear for your life. Maybe you are held captive by depression and you can’t see the way out. Or maybe you have been tossed aside and given up on…even in those moments He is there and He is love.

I am not great at quoting Scripture and or even remembering where certain ones are at. I don’t know much, but His Word is in my heart and I have my “story” that He wrote. Day by day, another chapter of the testimony of what He has done and is doing is added. I am awestruck at where I was and how far He has brought me.

As I learn of others’ stories, I see that their stories are for me too. A great reminder that I am not alone on this earth and I see His hand writing their chapters.

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Now that we got that out of the way, time to dive into this blog post. lol! It seems that this has been something that has been in my heart lately, probably because I both love and that I am that way. A couple of years ago I wrote a post about hating that I am shy. I didn’t think much has changed since then (as far as the frustration of that part of me) but I know God has been causing me to think on it more and more.

For as long as I can remember, I have been shy, and anxious around people. The problem is that you can’t avoid being around them unless you want to be seriously messed up. I end up feeling torn  because I feel that way but I also have the intense need for fellowship with other people. I used to accept it just who I was, and I can’t change that…but I am pretty sure God called me on my crap lol. I have went through part of my life not caring what others think and speaking my mind. Then the more I got hurt by others, the more I pulled back. The more I pulled back, the more depressed I got.

I know without a doubt and believe that God has healed me of my depression. I am so thankful for that!!! But I also know that there is always a possibility I could fall back into depression, if I don’t learn to deal with triggers.  One of my triggers happens to be fear (anxiety). Fear can be healthy in truly dangerous situations, but in everyday life, it takes the focus off of what reality is. My social anxiety causes me to over analyze each situation.  There are many reasons why: I don’t want to embarrass myself, I want other people to like/accept me, sometimes for reasons I can’t figure out.  I get so worked up, I can hardly talk straight and I think I won’t make it through.

When I look at this side of me logically, I kind of laugh at it.  It seems so silly for those who don’t struggle with it…but it’s a very real problem. I see how absurd it is…to be fearful of talking with people I don’t know…to be scared of some new situation. I struggle to make friends… I don’t get it. This is probably the one area of my life that the enemy routinely attacks from, and I have got to stop it.

God has already done so much  in my life in the past year and a half.  Before that, I was withdrawn, depressed…just letting life happen… waiting to die. I was so deep into depression and anxiety, I really believe it messed up my brain function (it’s tough to describe, but things are just different than what they were) I had pushed away any and everybody I had ever cared about, convinced nobody could every really care for me. Over this time period, I have been healed (thank you,Jesus!!!!) of the depression. The healing from the anxiety has been slower. I continue to push myself by serving in different areas at church. I love helping others, and doing what I can.

I had been doing alright for a while, but there have been a couple of situations over the last couple of weeks that reminded me that I still have a long way to go. God has also been reminding me over and over, that He wants ALL of me…not just little bits. By letting this fear run my life, I am not trusting God to take care of those situations and I am not giving Him everything.  And that ties into a fear of completely letting go….ugh! lol  I know that as I let go, then God can fill those areas where fear tends to take over.

I used to pray that God would make me different…that I would be bold and outspoken. I have had dreams/visions of speaking in front of crowds sharing my story of how God has changed me. I still want those things, just not in the same degree. I want to embrace myself for who God has created me to be. I may not be overly bold or outspoken. I may never speak in front of crowds,but my reason should not be based out of fear

Psalms 27:1  Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

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