Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Will To Engage - My Journey Through Depression

If we never identify the lies and replace them with the truth, we'll forever crave a healthy life on a diet of poison and always wonder why we are sick. Author Craig Groeschel - Soul Detox

I am angry. I am frustrated. I feel stuck. Yes, I try to stay positive, but my thoughts take a journey without my permission. Depression pops up and anxiety kicks in and in the pit I go. Yes, depression is a pit. A pit of despair one cannot understand unless they have travelled the journey. There are days when I want to sleep the week away or I want to crawl under a boulder. Lately, I have been in a good space, not that the stabbing of depression does not cut, I am trying to do my part in healing. Even though I know that in Christ I am healed, I do know as a flesh being, I must take action.

As I look back over my life, I have always struggled with stress in some form. Everyday was a struggle to just keep living for my sons. I honestly think that if I did not have my children, I may have ended my life as a teenager. Though I have very fond memories of my childhood, I do have very sad and dark memories of my childhood. I was not molested or abused physically and I praise God. The fear of abandonment is a constant reminder after losing my mother when I was 16 years old. I honestly feel as if I lost more than I have ever gained, but the reality is, I know that I have gained so much due to the mighty grace of God. The fears of not being pretty enough, good enough, wanted or needed, oh yes, I admit that. The fear of failure is powerful. As a child I held everything in. As an adult I hold everything to a lesser degree. No wonder I crashed mentally in that wall with nowhere to go.

My journey with depression has caused me to take giant steps back to really see this process for what it is. I am reading books, going to counseling and taking medication. I am doing research. I talk about depression with those who care to listen and for that I am thankful because I have learned that others close to me are struggling too. As I sit here and do my best to bring you another post I find it difficult to really express how I feel. My emotions go up and down. As I will myself to engage, I remind myself that this journey is not about me. It is about someone who could use whatever it is that I can share to give them hope and encouragement. To say if nothing else, that I truly understand. To shout that we will make it.

As I experience this process, I am exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically. The effects of depression takes a catastrophic toll on the whole body. Yes, I can smile and laugh, but on the inside I want to scream. It is hard to focus on the many things that I truly enjoy like, reading, writing, or listening to old school R&B and gospel. I just want silence. Like today, my house has been silent except for the sirens and motorcycles whizzing by. The anxiety that creeps up inside of me is so overwhelming, I want to run away screaming like a maniac. The anxiety itself seems to be a bigger struggle for me as it happens for no apparent reason. I am not in danger and there is no danger lurking. So, why? I go to a scripture that is a reminder in so many ways.  Ephesians 6:12 NLT says, "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places". Now lets look at it from the King James version that says, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places". Do you see what Paul is telling believers? Paul said this to remind them what powers are against the Church and the attempts made on turning them away from God. Not only is depression a mental warfare, it is a spiritual one too.

Mental illness is more than just some chemical imbalance. It is more than the brain producing more serotonin then needed. Though this is the root cause of mental illness along with tragedies left uncheck, satan is the author of confusion and lies, satan is the creator of dysfunction and chaos. And if you are a Christ believing man or woman you know this to be true. With that being said, I want to encourage you to stay connected to the true source of peace, God. Stay connected to those who want to see you at your best. Stay connected to all things positive and do your best to address the negatives in a way that moves you past the pit that leads to depression, codependency, and anxiety. Don't try to be all to everyone, YOU CAN'T. Don't force yourself to engage in anything that serves you no good.  Don't allow yourself to be a people pleaser. Say no and offer no explanations. The will to engage rests on you and what you are capable of and comfortable with. No, everyday will not be a good day. Everyday will be a new experience in your walk through depression. 

My brothers and sisters, I cannot say it enough that depression and anxiety are real killers mentally and physically. I want to encourage you who are struggling, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  You must take action in getting healthy. Seek counseling, try the medication. Change your eating habits and get active, as in physical activity. I thank God for my son, Marcus for encouraging me to get more active. He is a weight lifter so, if you know any serious weight lifters, you know what I am talking about. I am not lifting yet, but I am doing more walking, 3 to 5 miles each walk, and a little running. Back to you. Mental illness is a subject not being discussed and many are living and breathing but dead while living and breathing. Many men and women are locked up and not being diagnosed. Don't let this be you. If you don't know where to start, start with talking to God and asking Him to help you. He will do it.

Here are a few books that I have read and found very helpful:

Healing from Depression - 12 Weeks To A Better Mood - by Douglas Bloch, M.A.
Willow Weep For Me - by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah "I loved this one"
Understanding Depression - by J. Raymond DePaulo Jr. M.D
Get Out Of The Pit - by Beth Moore
Hope in the Midst of Depression - by Mary Southerland
Soul Detox - by Craig Groeschel "I loved this one"

You are needed. Your family and friends need you. Your gifts are needed. Have the will to engage.

Be Blessed

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Mental State Of Mind- My Journey through Depression

As I journey through clinical depression, I am seeing clearly the areas in my life that I have magnified unnecessarily. I unintentionally allowed my thoughts to become laser focused on where I think I should be in my life and on the goals that I have never been able to achieve. I have not allowed myself to morn the death of those closest to me. I have learned to become a sponge, taking in all manner of other peoples issues. The codependency behavior wants to rise up and fix everything, make it all better. The only thing is, the sponge never got wrung out and I know that I cannot fix anything for anyone. Though I have accomplished many things, there are many goals that have seemed to get pushed back into a dark hole. Feelings of being unworthy of anything good. I have placed a priority note on areas that are of no real use in accomplishing what needs to be accomplished, for me. My life has become what I read in a book about clinical depression, an emotional toothache.

In 2006, I left Washington State and headed to Charlotte, North Carolina. It was to be my starting over point. I sold everything. I packed up the Toyota, picked up my girlfriend, and we were off like Thelma and Louise, without going over the cliff. Many people thought I absolutely lost my mind. Little did they know, I found my mind, well a piece of it. Driving over 3000 miles to a city I knew nothing about, accept what I learned from the internet and conversations from a few people who lived there. It was one of the best decisions I could have made at the point in my life. The experience alone is my story to remember. I learned a lot about myself. Though I relocated, my thoughts went with me. I dragged my emotions kicking and screaming. As I began to settle in, I felt as if a massive Silver Backed Gorilla was pushed off of my back somewhere along Highway 40 headed east. Though some turn of events caused me to return back to Washington State, I am grateful for the ability to see beyond my landscape. I returned no longer the person I was when I left. My ideals changed. My thoughts changed. My desire changed. Then, tragedy hit like an atomic bomb, my oldest sister Leslie passed away from a massive stroke. This was the turning point in my life, the break down. The realization of shear emptiness, abandonment, and anger. I felt lost, at times I still feel lost.

My sister's passing brought back every death I had experienced and every relationship that ended. It brought back the dread of abandonment, causing me to turn inward and not allow another person to get close. It brought back every, "I love you" that was said that turned into a dagger straight to my juggler. I learned to not believe any of what I see or hear. I learned to understand clearly the lack of consistency in others and myself. I have been lied too and lied on. I have been labeled and judged. I have been misunderstood, and truthfully, I am still misunderstood. Though none of it really bothered me on the surface, somewhere in the recesses of my psyche, it mattered. I held value and placed value, but I was never truly valued, so I felt. And to be honest I still feel that lack of value. Maybe I don't recognize it. Processing that as I reply the words in my mind.

Often times we in our unconscious state, make situations more chaotic than what is needed or required. I hear it often, "I am so busy", or the famous, "I just don't have time". When I hear this, I cringe. Most people have filled their lives with so much, they have failed to see the most important things and people. And then, some do exactly what they want to do, ignoring the most important things and people. I have a quote that sits on my desk that says, "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone". This quote is in a place on my desk where I see it all day, so I ask myself the question. I repeat it. I meditate on it. At this point on this journey of depression, I have not formulated a solid answer. I can say that I have missed the mark.

What does a depressed person look like? Can you spot them in crowd? Can you see the cuts on their arms? Can you see their thoughts of suicide? Can you really know if he or she is being mentally or physically abused? When you see a homeless person, are you judging them? Depression has no one face, but many faces. Depression has a smile on the outside, but screams of terror inside. Knowledge is power when gained and used. Look at Robin Williams, prolific actor and comedian, a father, a husband. Robin Williams suffered from depression and his journey he could not live with, and he ended his life to escape. I personally have talked with many who are suffers, it is humbling. Many label a person crazy and this ignites rage within me. Depressed does not equate to crazy. What is crazy anyway?

Depression, anxiety, and panic attacks are not signs of weakness. They are signs of trying to remain strong for far too long. Depression has no set rule or time. The darkness can come in the brightest of light. Depression to me is that mask marauder lurking in the shadows positioning itself, preparing itself for the right time to pounce on the mind. In the past few months, I am learning to truly recognize its presence. I am learning to not ignore its pounding. I stand firm in my fight to be aware and bring awareness even though I can not understand it fully myself. As a woman, a daughter, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, an aunt, and friend, I know that every step that I take towards healing is not so much about me, but about those who see me and are suffering in silence themselves.

As I read God's word, I am comforted in knowing that He has set the ground work for my life. You see, our humanity is not tied to our destiny. Our destiny is tied to Who God is and His unconditional love for us. He calls us by name. He knows the number of hairs on our heads. He knows our comings and goings. He spoke the world into existence, but He created each and every one of us. God is our manufacturer. Many are broken and confused. Many are settling for less than they need or want. Some do not have a clue as to what they want or need.  Many are afraid of change thus making excuse after excuse. Many cast the blame on others rather than take personal responsibility. Many are looking to outside sources for happiness, peace and validation. It is time to get real, up close and personal with ourselves and others. We must take inventory of who we are and most importantly, Who's we are.

My brothers and sisters, God is our source and until He is placed first, all that we do will fail. Oh sure, we will have a good time, for a short time. Maybe. But that thing will not last and it will be devastating when it comes to an end. Remember, all GOOD things come from God. As I write this post, I am in a state of peace knowing that no matter what I go through, no matter how long I have to go through it, I will come out okay. We cannot ignore mental health or the lack of mental health. We cannot ignore the signs in others who are suffering and spinning out of control. As I travel this journey, I can not give you any more than I have and that is, depression is real and it does not discriminate. I can only share with you my road and the bumps I hit and try to dodge. The tears will fall. The darkness will penetrate the soul. The sadness and fear will consume anyone not in position, and that position is awareness and acknowledgement. Be aware. Be ready in season and out of season. United we can stand and heal mental health and the devastation that takes the voices of the millions of the broken hearted.  I love you and stand with you, united.

Be Blessed