Friday, January 27, 2017

for when you can't just snap out of it

Wow you guys. Thanks for reading my last post ... the response was almost overwhelming to me. Your messages of "me too!" and "I'm praying for you" both helped me to remember that I am not alone, and people are caring about and praying for me.

Both matter to me, a lot.

So thank you for hearing, and for saying all the stuff I forget to remember.

I think I will go a little farther down that road today. I want you to know what I feel like, because maybe you do too and you feel guilty and shame and that your mind is your enemy. I want you to know because maybe you don't know what to do or say or how to care for the struggling ones around you.

First, though, I must make this disclaimer:

What I am about to tell you is what this season looks like for ME, and not everyone is like me and not everyone experiences these things and if yours looks a little different (or a lot different) it doesn't mean your struggle is not legit. But maybe there is still something relateable here for all of us no matter what world we're living in right now.

So here goes.

Sometimes I have to put "take a shower" on my to-do list for today.
Sometimes I still don't do it.
Sometimes I don't care if my house is even remotely clean.
Sometimes I forget to do laundry and I run out of underwear.
Sometimes I eat all day long.
Sometimes I don't eat all all.
Sometimes I sit in my recliner and Netflix binge and color all day long.
Sometimes I forget what I was going to say or I just can't find my words at all.

Sometimes I sleep and sleep.
Sometimes I don't sleep at all.

Yep. I'm an overthinker when I want to be sleeping. 

Sometimes I just can't take your phone call.
Sometimes I cancel plans with you.
Sometimes my social anxiety is so crippling that the thought of a gathering makes me cry.
Sometimes I am so so sad and I don't even know why.
Sometimes I do know why and I still just can't get over it.

Often I isolate. I'm so far up inside my head that I can't be anywhere else.

Sometimes I am busy and it makes me feel better for a little while but then I don't anymore and I thought I was better and I can't understand what just happened.

Sometimes life seems pointless because I can't see a second in front of me and time moves so slowly and I am blind to where I am going, and then hopelessness can engulf me.

Here's a good overall illustration:

Because sadness is there but all the other stuff is there too and at any given time one of these things may overwhelm all the others.

I said my mind is my enemy. A lot of those descriptive words, if not all of them, happen inside my brain. And I sit in the silence of guilt and shame and wish I could just "get on with it." Whatever it is. Whatever I'm avoiding. Whatever I'm doing or not doing. Guilty thoughts are my constant companion.

Sometimes my thoughts swirl in an endless circle that never accomplish anything and even though I MIGHT be aware of it I can't make it stop.

Sometimes, honestly, well-meaning folks, even those who love me, are not helpful. Sometimes they make me feel worse. 

If you don't know what to say, these are good.

But keep your expectations low, because even if you say all the right things I may still seem like I'm pulling away but trust me I heard you and what you said matters.

If you are reading this, if just one single person reads this and it makes them say "me too" or "there's something I never knew before," then it was worth it to tell you these often embarrassing things that happen to me. That are happening to me even now.

I yearn to "just get over it," and I think that by February or so this mess will lift and leave me alone, and in the meantime I will remember that no matter what I feel or don't feel, do or don't do, Jesus does NOT want me to live in shame and guilt. He wants me to live free in the light of his love for me. I will remember the past times when he showed up big and trust that he will show up again. That his mercy and grace can override my pain, that if (when) I can get out of my own destructive brain he is right there waiting for me.

Sometimes I just can't get this. I believe it to be true for you, and that helps me to understand that it MUST be true for me no matter how I feel right now.

He is the light at the end of this tunnel. Even in the darkness, He waits. He is for me. He has plans for me. And when this episode is over, He will be standing there and I will see that He was there all along. THAT's what keeps me moving through the tunnel.

Sometimes I forget this. But he is for me. Whether I remember or not, he is for me. He will not abandon me. He extends grace and mercy to me even when I can't extend it to myself. Maybe even more then, because he knows I need him to reorganize my brain and see myself as he sees me.

And this:

He is a mighty Savior. He will rejoice over you with great gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will exult over you by singing a happy song.

Can you imagine?? He is rejoicing over YOU. He is singing a happy song about YOU.

Hang in there, dear ones.


Friday, January 20, 2017

for when you've fallen apart

Well, here I am again. Finally, huh? It's been six months since I went dark, about five months longer than I intended to. You may remember that I had a hip replacement in July and then signed off til I recovered. Expecting that to be in about four weeks, as it had gone when I had my first one done three years ago.

But sometimes things just don't go as planned, as expected, as hoped for.

Without needless detail, the deal is that because my "new hip" leg is now over an inch longer than my other one, I never fully recovered. I still haven't. I will most likely have to have revision surgery, and start that recovery process all over again, hoping against hope that it will go well and that THIS time, I WILL recover. Constant pain is my companion, and that just plain stinks.

Then came November. November is never my friend, nor are December and January. Seasonal Affective Disorder ... depression ... anxiety ... sadness ... lack of motivation ... isolation ... all of it.  ALL.OF.IT. hit at once and combine that with pain and discouragement made for a falling apart. I have, you see, gone to pieces.

You might not realize it, because I can still post the funny stuff on Facebook. And sometimes that's the reality of where I am, taking joy in the funnies, but sometimes I am hiding my real face.

It's still January, and I am still in the throes of my November December January depression, and I'm hoping February will be better, but honestly, I'm not REALLY all that hopeful.

This stuff is for real. If you are like me, depression seems always to lurk around the corner, dread precedes what seems like the inevitable every darn year.

If you've never experienced this level of bummed-out-ness, good. It's pretty awful, and I'm glad you don't have to deal with it.

But because so so many of us will struggle with depression at some time or another during our lives, many of you have been (or are now in) the boat that feels like it is sinking in a storm, and you feel helpless to steer let alone keep your head above water.

Symptoms vary, and you can't put depression and anxiety in a box. There is no "right or wrong" way to be depressed. We need each other, we need all kinds of each other. We need medical help to correct brain chemistry. We need to not be ashamed or guilty because we are struggling.

We need to GIVE OURSELVES A BREAK. Depression is not a choice. Ever. Who in this wide world would choose all this?

We need Jesus. We need to know that He is a man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief. Yes indeed, He is God, but He is also man. He sympathizes with us, He loves us, He stays with us in the darkness, He lights the way when we're climbing out of the pit.

Remembering this is the hard part. Remembering that God is compassionate, gracious, comforting, and extends never-ending lovingkindness to us. These are FACTS, people, whether we feel them or not.

If you're like me, meds are necessary to climb out of my own head enough to trust in the truth about God, about Jesus, about the Holy Spirit that lives in the heart and soul of all who believe.

I must be diligent to stay in the Word, to hang on tight to this understanding companion that is Jesus, even when I feel the most alone.

A man of sorrows? This is an identifying character quality of Jesus, and when we are sorrowful, sad, depressed, anxious, Jesus knows. He gets it. Even if our people don't, He does. We can cling to His promises in this darkness, trusting that He will bring us through it, back into the light.

I'm trusting hard, but I'm still in the darkness. Just being honest.

It took real effort to sit down here this morning and share my heart, my difficulties, my pain. It is hard to be vulnerable even with safe people when I am isolating.

We need Jesus. We need each other. We need kindness, understanding and grace. We need help seeing the forest of joy when we can only see trees of despair.

Love your depressed ones. Fellow strugglers, trust in Jesus. If you can, FORCE yourself to engage with the people who bring joy and love and all that stuff you feel like is missing right now. For me, this is my husband, a few friends, and my kiddos and littles. Sometimes I can't. Sometimes I do anyway.

I need a push now and then, a loving push from a kind friend to lift my head. Be brave and search out those folks. Take courage and be vulnerable. Ask for help. Go see your doctor.

Mostly, hang on. The night does not last forever, and joy comes in the morning. God says so. I choose to believe it, and I'm hanging on for dear life.

All my love, to the depressed and the ones who love the depressed,