Category Archives: depression

Mental Health month

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It has been almost a year, and I feel like I am in a place that I can write about it. I mostly want to write about it for me, I strangely feel that if I put it on paper maybe I can prevent it from happening again. I also hope it might help someone traveling a similar road.

When I think back on memories of the past, I see colors as well as the memory. August is usually golden, May – green, November – shades of brown, January is usually sky blue. I don’t know why, I don’t really know how to adequately explain it, but it is, and it has been for as long as I can remember.

When I think back on last July, it is black. Pitch black, no flicker of light. I had never been in this place before, I was unsure how to navigate through. I couldn’t find a map, who am I kidding, I could not even look for a map.

Since Jason passed, July and August are typically tough months for me. In the beginning I thought that was it, just another little bit of a sad time. Before I really knew what was happening my mind had spiraled out of control. Scarier than the sadness was the anxiety, I did not know where it came from, or recognize it until it was big and scary. I could not grocery shop without my heart racing, several times I couldn’t finish. I raced to the check out, I raced home and shut the door like I was being chased. I did not want to go anywhere; I didn’t want to do anything. I struggled to articulate it to my husband. He struggled to know how to help.

I cried often, I was angry, I was scared, I was all the dark emotions. The only thing that got me to work most days was the fact that Tim and I work in the same place. I spent most of the month with my office door closed because I could not do people. I wanted my home, my room, my bed, my quilt, my pillow, my sleep, my silence. It was a black month, I couldn’t even pray.

I saw my oncologist late in the month, toward the end of the appointment I casually mentioned I was feeling anxious. She spun her chair towards me, pulled up close and asked me to tell her about it. I did, I told her all of it. I told her about the black hole I was in and that I did not know how to get out. I told her how tired I was of feeling sad, and how I hated feeling anxious. I told her I was scared. I told her the depth of it that I had been afraid to utter, as if speaking it might make it more true or more real. She listened. Then she talked about some options, about how trauma can build up. She told me how common PTSD is in cancer patients. She did not tell me to snap out of it or get over it. She told me to give myself a break, not to be hard on myself, she told me I was going to be okay.

So, something happened, instead of making it more real, it was already as real as it was going to get, speaking it lifted a dark veil. Speaking it made it less scary, speaking it began the healing.

I am almost a year away from the blackest of it. I take medicine and supplements to support my health, all of my health. I talk as openly about my anxiety as I do my cancer. I want to help move mental health out of the shadows until we just say health, and don’t feel like we must qualify it as mental or physical.

Do I still have moments? Yep. Are they black? Nope. I have tools now to recognize it before it overtakes me. I am not foolish enough to think that it can’t happen again, but I am on my guard. I’m not ashamed to ask for help, I have a support group who now knows this struggle is part of me.

If any part of this is you, talk to someone, please.  It get’s less scary every time you say it out loud. For me every time I say it out loud I feel like I am feeding the “light” and starving the “dark”. What I feed grows.

May is mental health month, let’s take this stuff out of the shadows and the dark. Let’s make a mental check up as common as a physical or a teeth cleaning. Let’s take the stigma out of asking for help. Let’s give the gift of this freedom to the next generation. What if we could say, “I’m feeling anxious, I need to stop and take a few deep breaths” as easily as we say “I’m getting a headache, I need to rest my eyes for a few minutes”? What if . . .

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Time. Grief. God’s Goodness.

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Today I am sitting in Jason’s garden.  I have not done that much this year, it has made me too sad. This has been a difficult season for me, I am still trying to put my finger on why. Maybe I need to stop trying to figure out why and just let it be. The sadness is deeper this year, harder to shake off. Maybe there is no why maybe it just is.

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Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds

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Psalms 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Tomorrow is the 4 year anniversary of the day my world changed forever.

Time is a funny thing, it can seem like forever while feeling like it just happened yesterday.

Grief is a strange companion, mostly polite and staying in a distance so as not to bother life’s everyday. But some days it is demanding and will not be pushed away. (Read more about my thoughts on grief here)

But this truth I hang on to, God is good all the time.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.   Psa 27:11

Jason

 

I remain grateful and feeling blessed for the privilege of mothering this boy turned man. I thank God for the time we were given the last month of his life.  I praise God knowing I will see him again.

And then I smile at the mental picture of Jason, praising God for eternity.

What I have learned about grief

flowerGrief is sneaky. Out of the blue grief sneaks up on me. I do my best to prepare for the anniversaries, the times I know it will be hard. But it pops up, unwanted and unexpected.

Grief is strong. When grief hits it can take me down to the ground. Swiftly, I am out of breath and drowning.

Grief does not play fair. I make deals with grief, it can come when I am prepared, when I am ready to take it on, we have an agreement. Grief does not always abide by that agreement.

Grief is a thief. It sneaks in, uninvited, like a bull in a china shop, breaking our agreement and tries to steal my joy.

This is what I have learned about my grief. I say “my grief”, because everyone has a different grief visiting them, not all griefs are the same.

I have learned to give grief a time limit, especially when it shows up unannounced and bullies me into a puddle of tears. I give my grief  time and attention but with limits. I give myself permission to cry, a lot if I need to. I give myself permission to be sad, very, very sad, if I need to.

And then I invite grief to leave.

These are some ways I encourage my grief to leave; I go outside and soak up some nature. I listen to praise music, I read the psalms. I take a walk/run to get some good brain chemicals active. I count my blessings. I do something creative. I feed my soul. I pray.

I don’t always feel like I want to do these things, but I do them. I am persistent, I keep at it until grief finally gives in. Until it packs up it’s baggage and leaves.

So today, I am being persistent, grief swooped in yesterday and knocked me to my knees, but today I am standing. I am inviting grief to leave without taking my joy with it. Having cried myself to sleep last night in the wonderful arms of my understanding husband, I am sitting in my garden this morning. Worship is music playing, I watch the birds drink from the sprinkler, and the momma and poppa swallows try to keep up with the feeding of the littles. I am preparing for a prayerful walk/run with psalms of praise running through my mind.

I will not let grief overtake me. I have so much to be grateful for, I love my life, I will not let grief rob me of my joy.

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Ps 23

The day before THE Day – Revisited

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Good Morning – On this day before “The Day” I want to revisit my blog from last year. On this day especially since the death of my son, I think of how Jesus’ closest friends and family must felt, how sad and hopeless. And then there was Sunday!

We celebrate Good Friday, we worship in eternal gratefulness Resurrection Sunday, but there is a day in between. This morning I was thinking of this day in between. What was that day like?

We often give Jesus’ followers a bad rap, we talk about how they did not believe, how they hid away. This day in between must have been so confusing. Their King, friend, teacher, Shepard had died before their very eyes. I’m sure they all had stories in their heads about how Jesus’ capture and crucifixion would go. Think about it, if you walked with him every day and saw the incredible miracles how would you imagine the end? I think I would imagine Jesus’ saving himself, or God’s army of angels giving those soldiers what they rightfully deserved. I know I would have been in that room with all the others trying to make sense of what I just saw. How can you make sense of that with our earthly bound, finite minds. We often can’t make sense of the death of a loved one who was not God, how could you make sense of God in human form dying?

I don’t blame them for hiding out, for being confused. At the very least taking time to re-group. Grief is a strong powerful thing to our human minds, sometimes it takes hiding out, returning to the familiar to get our bearings.

On this day in between I wonder, what was happening? Was Martha making sure everyone was fed? Was Mary sitting in a corner of the room weeping? What were the disciples thinking? Were the discussions amid their grief centered around what’s next? Were they feeling left behind, a little betrayed? Were they wondering if the last few years were real? This just did not happen like they thought it might.

If we are honest would not we have reacted in the same manner? I know I would have gone to the familiar to re-group, maybe even hide. I know I would have been wondering if I had just given the last few years of my life to a dream that just blew up. I think about the things of so much less magnitude that shake our faith, make us doubt, Jesus’ followers were human with feelings like ours. Let’s give them a little grace this season, understand how confused and grief stricken they were.

Take a minute, try to imagine what this day in between held, what you would be feeling and doing. Then celebrate with all of creation for the next day, the day that brought unbelievable, uncontainable joy to all.

Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

Broken

 

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I entered this new year with great dreams of running a few 5ks this summer. My foot repaired and healing well, my husband willing to give running a good try. Big dreams. Big goals.

I sit here this morning a little broken, physically for sure, and fighting the mental brokenness that often comes with physical. Looking for the lessons that are sure to be lurking in the corners of broken.

I am drawn to broken seashells, there is beauty inside the shells that can not bee seen until they are broken enough to reveal what is inside.

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Colors and patterns hidden inside. Beauty missed if left intact. I want to be like that in this season. I want light to shine into my corners and reveal gratitude instead of bitterness. Broken with grace is hard work, it is easy for me to fall into the habit complaining.

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If I am honest, I am a little jealous when I see people jogging. I am missing walking on the sand by the sea. I am not fond of crutches, (I tamed that down a lot 🙂 ). I am an active person that finds it extremely hard to sit still for too long. This season of stillness has been difficult but there are lessons to be learned. I want to learn them, I want to use my broken to find beauty hidden in my corners.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:17

 

I had a day

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I had a day last week that I have been pondering, still unsure of where it came from and what to think of it. Maybe if I write it down I can process it a little better.

This day I wanted to take a break, it was more than that, but I am even having a hard time explaining how I felt. I wanted to not be a mom whose son was dead, I wanted to not be a manager, I did not want to knit, I did not want to not knit. I did not want to take a run, I did not want to not take a run. I did not want to sit out in Jason’s garden, I did not want the reason for it. I did not want to cry, I did not want to feel, I did not want to be sad, I did not want to be happy. I did not want to do anything, I did not want to be idle.

Does any of that make sense? I have heard the expression “stop the world and get off” but have never felt it like I felt it that day. I was at a loss with what to do with myself, I was restless and lifeless all at the same time.

So, I put on my favorite Christian praise station, put on my headphones and made myself take a run. I really did not want to, and I really did not want to not want to.(Hope that makes any kind of sense.)

This is what I sorted out on my run, the fireworks tents started going up this week, these mark the beginning of Jason’s end. I also realized that my favorite season will forever hold some sadness, I am a summer gal, but it holds some darkness now. (I don’t really like that.)

By the end of the run, I felt like I had run to the arms of my heavenly father and he held me close. I cried, we had a long talk. Then I sat in the arms of my husband and he held me close.The world was okay again.

I am a blessed woman, my amazing daughter is just that, amazing. My two step children remind me every day of the love between siblings, and they make me smile. I cannot say enough about my wonderful husband, he makes sure I live the most carefree life possible. He makes sure I feel loved and cherished. And last but certainly not least, my heavenly father who is never more than a breath away.

Yes, the world is okay again, I have regained my balance. I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Is. 43:1-2, 4
Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to Me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
MSG

The Day In Between

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We celebrate Good Friday, we worship in eternal gratefulness Resurrection Sunday, but there is a day in between. This morning I was thinking of this day in between. What was that day like?

We often give Jesus’ followers a bad rap, we talk about how they did not believe, how they hid away. This day in between must have been so confusing. Their King, friend, teacher, Shepard had died before their very eyes. I’m sure they all had stories in their heads about how Jesus’ capture and crucifixion would go. Think about it, if you walked with him every day and saw the incredible miracles how would you imagine the end? I think I would imagine Jesus’ saving himself, or God’s army of angels giving those soldiers what they rightfully deserved. I know I would have been in that room with all the others trying to make sense of what I just saw. How can you make sense of that with our earthly bound, finite minds. We often can’t make sense of the death of a loved one who was not God, how could you make sense of God in human form dying?

I don’t blame them for hiding out, for being confused. At the very least taking time to re-group. Grief is a strong powerful thing to our human minds, sometimes it takes hiding out, returning to the familiar to get our bearings.

On this day in between I wonder, what was happening? Was Martha making sure everyone was fed? Was Mary sitting in a corner of the room weeping? What were the disciples thinking? Were the discussions amid their grief centered around what’s next? Were they feeling left behind, a little betrayed? Were they wondering if the last few years were real? This just did not happen like they thought it might.

If we are honest would not we have reacted in the same manner? I know I would have gone to the familiar to re-group, maybe even hide. I know I would have been wondering if I had just given the last few years of my life to a dream that just blew up. I think about the things of so much less magnitude that shake our faith, make us doubt, Jesus’ followers were human with feelings like ours. Let’s give them a little grace this season, understand how confused and grief stricken they were.

Take a minute, try to imagine what this day in between held, what you would be feeling and doing. Then celebrate with all of creation for the next day, the day that brought unbelievable, uncontainable joy to all.

Have a blessed Resurrection Day!