Depression is like…

A snake. Hiding in the grass, ready to strike when I’m not alert. Or even if I’m watching for it, it bites me. And I’m surprised. Why am I surprised?

A dark cloud. Bringing shadows to my everyday. Everything looks gray. Sounds are muffled. My focus is inward and downcast, and I can’t see the sun.

An old frenemy. Familiar in its symptoms, luring me into a false sense of security. I’ve been here before. It’s so subtle that I don’t even feel it creep into my life. It somehow feels comfortable.

A heavy blanket. Pulling me downward. I feel like I’m hunched over, under the weight, the heaviness, of loneliness and hopelessness. I want to crawl under the blanket and not come out.

An anchor. Gripping the depths of the deep and pulling me under. I can’t get enough air in my lungs. I might drown.

A liar. Telling me I’m all alone. I’m worthless. I will always feel this way. These are not truths, but they feel real.

A deep well.  I try to climb up but the walls are slippery and I can’t get a good grip. Medicine and therapy and time will help me reach a ledge, but the climb out is slow.

Every transition in my life brings the possibility of another depressive episode. I was alert, I thought, but it still caught me by surprise.  I’m mad at myself about that. I thought I was on guard.

When will I learn that depression lurks in my life, waiting to sneak in and take over? How many times must I go through this before I can beat it?

That’s the thing. I don’t think I’ll ever beat it. I’ll always have it, waiting on the fringes of my life to jump in and make a mess of me. So I need to learn to roll with it, get help when I need it, and live fully when I’m in remission.

And I need to remember to pray. God knows what I’m going through. He’s with me in the depths. He loves me even in my mess. He could choose to heal me today, or He can use this in my life to help others.

Father God, help me to be content with Your plan for depression in my life. Help me to be a light to others. To speak out. To fight with Your strength. To seek help. To bring You my pain and sadness, and let You heal me as You choose.

 

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Something to look foward to

I had an epiphany yesterday: I have very little that I am looking forward to.

This is a rude realization – it reeks of hopelessness and hints at depression. It leaves me feeling empty and sad.

And I see that it needs to be remedied.

I’m not talking about planning a vacation, or what museums to explore on the weekends. It’s not about looking forward to a trip, even a trip to see my kids.

What I crave is people. Interactions with others. Social relationships. Fellowship, as discussed in today’s sermon, where you give yourself to others, and they give themselves to you. I miss the opportunity to be in ministry, to be in leadership. To serve others. To be with others.

My job is not filling the need I had hoped – to connect with co-workers and to forge relationships. Instead, I work with an individual, do the paperwork, and go home. Very little to no interaction with anyone other than my student. Not what I was looking for in a job.

I could turn my attention to volunteering. Perhaps I should register with the local hospital, and find some hours that fill my days with people.

I am enjoying my Bible Study and look forward to Thursdays,  I also look expectantly to lunch dates, or chiropractic appointments, or anything else that gets me out of the house during the otherwise long days.

I need to find hope in my day-to-day. To have things that make getting out of bed worth it. I admit that I stay in bed many mornings because I have nothing I need to get up for.

What if I joined a gym? Would I look forward to walking on the treadmill, next to others walking too? I know I appreciated and even looked forward to my physical therapy – maybe it would be the same. Maybe I would even make a friend or two.

How can I become more eager to get out of bed to meet with Jesus? My Bible Study helps with that, definitely. I am excited to see what God will teach me. But how do I translate that to daily living? To jumping out of bed so that I can meet with God in my quiet time? Is that enough to bolt me from my bed every morning? I reluctantly admit that it is not, at least not yet. Maybe that is an area where I am growing.

And as I keep saying, these things – relationships – take time.

So I’ll be excited to do my daily Bible Study. I’ll anticipate lunch with a friend. I’ll look into volunteering. And I’ll pray for God to bring me the enthusiasm to get going each day, to expect what and who He has for me.  Perhaps those friendships are coming, and can be something to look forward to!

Missing my kids…

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My 20-something kids left this morning after two weeks of vacation. Our daughter arrived a week earlier, our son on his 21st birthday a few days before Christmas, and we’ve enjoyed a wonderful long visit. We shopped, read books, watched movies and Netflix (have you seen The Crown?!), took a two-day history tour that included Harper’s Ferry, Gettysburg, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum.  We played with the cat, shared opening presents and making meals, and really enjoyed each other’s company.

And now the house is very quiet.

When we lived in WI, we could get up to visit them at school pretty easily. We didn’t hover, but could pop up for an event (concert, shopping). And being closer, even though we didn’t see them except every few months, somehow made it easier to be absent from them.

When we lived in Florida, I knew they would come for the beach and sun and escape from the winter cold of the upper Midwest.

Now, they just feel so far away and time stretches so long between visits.

And this is the way of things. We raised our kids to know Jesus, to be strong and independent, to be able to tackle problems with heads on straight. To grow to need us less. So we did it right. And it’s hard, because they’re great people and I really like spending time with them.

So I’ll choose to focus on the fun we had together and I’ll plan for our next visit northward. Who knows when, but we’ll be visiting great people!

 

Settling in

My last post was awhile ago. I haven’t had much to say.

In fact, I stopped writing completely. Between living in the apartment and then moving into our house, I put my journal in a drawer. I just got it out again last week when I realized I hadn’t been writing at all. I’ve found that my daily journaling helps my blogging – so I’m here again.

I wrote before about back pain – my back seized up again the day before we were moving into our new house. Not great timing, but God worked a miracle. After two days flat in bed in tremendous pain, I walked out of our apartment and into our new home, where I promptly laid down on our much-more-firm mattress. I recently started physical therapy to strengthen my back muscles and keep it from happening again. My back is still quite sore, but hasn’t locked up again. Thank You, Lord!

We’re all unpacked, except for the books – we need bookshelves. Our Florida house had a large built-in, so we need a place to put them. But everything else is put away, complete with pictures in the walls. It feels like a home.

I joined a Bible study, but was only able to attend once due to a work conflict. Yes, I’m working very part-time. But it gets me out of the house and around other people. I’m a brain trainer – teaching cognitive skills like memory and visual processing – the pieces that make up IQ. It’s a good job, and I like it.

In general, my days are long. I’m lonely, but that just goes with the situation. It takes time to get to know people and be able to call an area “home.” I always know that, going into any move, but I’m always surprised by it too.  I feel like I should be “further along” in making friends. I have to regularly remind myself that it hasn’t been a year yet, only 5 months, and the solution here is time. Time to learn my way around without GPS. Time to meet others and make friends. Time for people to get to know me.

We haven’t done a lot of exploring of our area since we moved – making our house into our home has occupied our time. But I’m looking forward to the leaves changing and taking a color drive, seeing the trees on the mountains in their brilliance of reds, oranges and golds. They’re just starting to change, so maybe we can take that drive as soon as next weekend.

Time to go to church. I’ll write more later!

Unsettled versus contented

I’m not lonely or bored.

Except when I’m lonely or bored.

I wake up and think that I should stay in bed as long as possible, to keep a long day from starting. And I go to bed as early as reasonable, so as to end the long day.

And in the middle, I try to put structure to a day with hours alone while my husband is at work. It’s just me and the cat.

I go to the grocery store. I go to the drug store. I get a haircut. I’ve made appointments for a chiropractor and doctor and psych doc. I plan to join a Bible study that starts in July. I’ve emailed a woman about the local Moms In Prayer group (now on break, but hey, maybe she’ll talk to me anyway). I read. I knit. I do Bible study. I do laundry. I color. I flip TV channels. I call my mom. I call a friend.

I try to do something every day, but I need to add more to my very limited routine. I should be able to get on a treadmill most days per week. Maybe I can alternate it with hiking along the neighborhood walking path, or driving to Shenandoah National Park and hiking there. But it’s difficult to leave the apartment. Inertia: a body at rest tends to stay at rest…

I say I’ll write, but I’m having a hard time being disciplined about it – whether it’s to blog or work on chapters for a book. Can I even write a book? I’ve been told I have one in me, but getting it “on paper” has me intimidated.

I should write. I should exercise. I should go to a coffee shop and strike up a conversation. I should, but I don’t.

I know I wrote about stuff, and not having my stuff around me. But it seems like if I had my stuff, if I was in a house and not this temporary apartment, I might feel less unsettled. At least I’d have something to do – put everything away. Find a home for all the stuff in the boxes. Or get rid of the stuff in the boxes.

Meet the neighbors. Sit outside on my deck. Sleep in my own bed.

But I don’t want my stuff to be what brings me comfort. I want Jesus to be enough. So I’m trying, through prayer and study, to get there. To let go of being unsettled, and to settle into Him. To draw closer. Even closer. Closer still.

It’s okay to talk to Him all the time, so I do. It’s what He wants anyway. And He welcomes me bringing everything to Him. All of these thoughts of discontent that float through my head. I give Him all of my long days, and ask Him to do something with them, something that is good, something that brings Him glory.

I’ll put aside my unsettled self. I’ll rest in His perfect timing. I’ll tell Him about my day, throughout my day. I’ll trust Him to bring the relationships, the activities. And I’ll try to be content in the present moment.

I want to learn to live Philippians 4:11b-13:

…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.