However

If we were to be honest with ourselves, most of us desire and direct our prayers towardgetting out of depression or any other unpleasant circumstance. We want out! And that is totally fair, that we want that.

However...Now that is not a word we like to hear when we are frustrated, and swallowed up in the mire of our pain. Nevertheless, if I may still use the word - "however." What if God desires for us to go through this trial for a season? What if this season is going to be used for a purpose in the future? What if we pray for strength to endure and walk through the pain, rather than wishing and praying the pain away?

It took me a couple of years into my struggle to realize that I could be praying for strength to go through this rather than draining my every last tear, and hoping for the pain to go away. I have to admit, this didn't make the struggle that much easier. But, it did somewhat take my focus off solely the struggle. My focus shifted toward writing down goals, declaring scripture out loud, learning music...anything I could to take my eyes off the problem, and onto the solution. 

So, you see the problem may still be there. However....we can shift our focus. I love the way pastor Mark Batterson puts it in his book, Draw the Circle -

"Sometimes the purpose of prayer is to get us out of circumstances, but more often than not, the purpose of prayer is to get us through them. I'm certainly not suggesting we shouldn't pray deliverance prayers, but there are times we need to pray prevailing prayers. We need to ask God to give us the grace to sustain, the strength to stand firm, and the willpower to keep on keeping on"                                                                                                                             Mark Batterson

In the middle of all your pain, what could be your "however" ?

Discouraging days

Discouraging days

 

 

Have you had days where you find yourself upset at yourself? Upset because you felt like you let yourself or someone else down. Or because you felt like you let God down?

 

I've had those days. Those days where depression would get the better of me and I take that frustration and anger out on those around me. Deep down in my heart I know that I didn't intend to, and I definitely didn't want to. But it happened. Then what do you do?

 

Two things. First, you can help yourself in preventing or reducing the frequency of those kind of incidents. And two, if and when it happens, you can forgive yourself and move on.

 

I've noticed that when something of this sort happens, I start to obsess over my wrongs. I brood over the wrong for hours, sometimes days. I forget about everything else around me and my wrong becomes the star of my next few days. Depression is notorious for that. The enemy is notorious for that. What a way to rob us of our daily peace and joy! What a way to rob us of God's forgiveness.

 

Don't let depression rob you of your everyday peace. If you slip, get back up, accept the forgiveness of God and move on.  If your slip caused hurt to anyone, then simply explain to them the truth of your struggle with depression. If the friend or family member is genuine and has your best interest at heart, they will understand. If not, you have to define within yourself that you will move on in the forgiveness of God, no matter what. 

 

And with regard to preventing these sort of scenarios in your already difficult days with depression - whenever you notice the provoking emotions rising within you, walk away. Withdraw yourself to a place where you can give yourself time to process the frustration. If you find that you are unable to do it yourself, call or text a good friend. Ask for prayer. Even pray yourself. But I totally understand that there may be days when you are unable to pray. 

 

And those days of not praying are also ok by God. Don't let condemnation beat you down. I have talked to many friends who struggle with days where depression and its close ally condemnation keeps them from talking to God. And we have all come to the conclusion that God knows our imperfect side even better than we do. Nothing is hidden from Him.

 

So the next time you find yourself dawdling with the discouraging days of depression remember these simple points - stop. Walk away. Or pray and push depression out of the way! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unwrap your Christmas gift

Christmas is my most favorite time of the year. There is none other to match the warmth and cheer of this season. A nice cup of hot chocolate, in my Christmas mug, the warmth of the fire place and just enough light from the Christmas tree...picture perfect shot.


This also however, turns into the season where expectations begin to overwhelm us. The expectations of others. The expectations of the season. Expectations that we ourselves, take on from the tone of this season of Christmas.


It is no doubt, a season that is rendered  warmth, coziness, Christmas colors, presents, hot chocolate. Everything happy. Words of Joy, Peace, Hope...Merry everywhere!


I'm talking about the tone that the season sets. Stores ringing with holly-jolly melodies. Everything around us sets the tone for "perfect joy."


Turns out, the season may not bring so much jolly for many of us who struggle with depression. The pressures of prepping for the season overwhelms. People that we possibly have to be with during the season, may squeeze any remaining joy out of us. It may make us nervous, and jittery and sometimes sick to the stomach. Speaking from experience here.



However, with all the "yucky" we feel, the season says, we need to be happy, need to smile, need to shop, and bake and...basically be jolly!


Sadly, Christmas has been turned into an avenue for commercialized MERRY.


And somehow getting through the season just seems harder than even just our regular struggle period. Doesn't it?


Some of the things I wish I had done for myself during the Christmas season, I share here with you.


🎄Make your mental and physical health a priority during this time. Please do not walk deeper than you need to, into anything that you know will cause you emotional trauma. You need your mind, you have to live with it for much longer than the short unpleasant period of appeasing someone else's fancy.


🎄Your mental health is worth investing into. You are worth investing into. Take time aside for yourself. Maybe go out for coffee with a good friend. Or maybe a movie. Don't let anybody or anything put more miles on your tender mind than it needs at this time.


🎄Christmas Day will come. And you will most likely get together with family and friends. Don't go out of your way to try and be happy. Avoid pushing yourself to a point of exerted happiness, just to convince everyone that you are as happy as they are. Simply be happy enough for yourself that you were able to be there and have a nice time with everyone.


🎄And last and utmost, focus on the reason for the season. That is what we are celebrating anyway. His birth. Jesus. Put your burdens on him and draw from Him the Peace, the Joy, the Hope and the Merry for the season.


Unwrap the Gift of Christmas! 🎁

Step up

Have you ever wondered if you will stay entrenched in the wallow of depression, and not be able to make progress? That is a genuine concern, with all the why's and how's to back it up. But I believe that it is possible to grow even as we still endure what appears to be an irreversible circumstance.

Growth

God has planted Joy in our hearts. And even as our minds are warring off the depression, there is much we can do with the joy He has planted within us. We just need to able to retrieve it, from within the clutter that has filled our minds in the form of sadness, shame, confusion, and all their other relatives.

The hurdles that we face, even as we go through daily life with depression on our shoulders, are many. We may have to pick and choose wisely. But...What if we were to choose some of the smaller obstacles we face? Smaller, only in comparison to the several others we face. And what if we were to brave them? With each small hurdle we face up to, we develop endurance within us. Each small mountain we conquer, will fortify us to scale the bigger mountains.
Pushing forward through depression is very hard, no doubt. However, if we could bring ourselves to direct our mind and heart towards a cause that stirs our hearts, a compassionate cause perhaps. Find a direction to send your compassion toward. Explore a purpose for your pain. Serving in the community, spending time with those that are struggling in the body and mind. Sometimes just our presence is enough to bring comfort to the hurting.

"To ease another's heartache is to forget ones own"

Abraham Lincoln

As much as our hurting hearts believe, that we may never find reprieve from the strains of depression, there is always the next level waiting for us. The waiting time to get to that level, for some of us, maybe longer than shorter. But we can get there. Here are a few steps that I found to be beneficial to climb towards that.

- Writing down your goals and desires for the future of healing that you envision for yourself
- Finding avenues that would further nurture your strengths, in enabling you to achieve these goals
- Allowing into your inner circle close friends, mentors, and credible support groups, who will be willing to invest support and provide sound counsel for you
- Not allowing anyone, or anything to tell you that you cannot move forward
- Inching forward one step at a time with God, God's word and the support of those who genuinely love you.

"You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step"

Martin Luther King Jr.

Save a starfish

 

 

 

 At some point in our lives, at least some of us have heard, or read, had read to us as kids, the story of the starfish thrower by Loren Eiseley. The story of the young girl who was walking along the long stretch of a seashore one morning, where thousands of starfish had been washed ashore, after a terrible storm. The striking aspect of the young girl's walk, was that, as she walked along the beach, she would pick up one starfish art a time and gently throw it back into the ocean. An older gentleman observing this, approaches her. And out of curiousity asked her why she was throwing the starfish into the ocean. The girl replies with urgency in her voice that, with the sun up and the tide declining, she needed to get these starfish in the water, or they would die. 

 

"But young lady, do you not realize that there are many miles of beach and thousands of starfish? You cannot possibly make a difference." 

 

The girl, listened. But then, she bends down and picks up another starfish and throws it into the sea. And she said, 

 

"It made a difference for that one"

 

Who is the starfish ? Is it a loved one in your life, is it your friend, is it your child, or is it you?  You, me, and, every single one of those souls are worth saving. When we understand that the power to change a  person's life could be in our hands, it could motivate you to action. If not for everyone you know that is struggling, at the least for one. "what can I do to make a difference?," you may think. 

 

We can ascribe our inability to do anything to our busy lives. We may move on, thinking that someone else is probably already doing it. Or it could just be a relinquishing thought of "it is too late." Maybe, you are the washed ashore starfish, and you think it is too late for you. You don't see hope. 

 

You matter. The person next door matters. Your family needs you. Your friends need you. Depression may have washed you ashore. But you are not without hope. If no one else is reaching out to you, and you are the one struggling with depression, they may not even be aware of your struggle. Tell your friend. Just over a cup of coffee. That alone will, start your swim toward the life-giving waters.  

 

If there is a friend in your life, that's been missing in action, check on them. Your call, or text, or visit could be the difference between her or him, deciding to give staying alive another chance. You could be the difference that withholds a young mother from taking her life. You could be the difference that allows her kids to have their mommy for longer. 

 

Your call, your text, your visit, your smile, ...it could save one starfish

 

You could be the difference... for ONE.

Face in the Mirror

IMG_0088.JPG

 What is wrong with me?

 

Does this sound like a question you may have asked yourself during your battle with depression? Depression wages war against your mind, your body. It is basically at war with ‘you.’

 

I realized then that I had asked myself this question and others before. Outloud and in my conscious mind. What I failed to realize was that it had taken root in my subconscious. Occupying real estate in the mind. Gearing the wheels of my thinking to doubt my adequacy. Doubt my worth. 

 

What is your question? What have you asked yourself out loud, or in musing?

 

When you look into your mirror. Who do you see? Amusingly, the mirror has become such an indispensable part of our lives. And if not the first thing, what is one of the first things you look at first thing in the morning? The mirror! Right?

 

Over the past 5 years of my depression , I reached a point of such low self-worth, that I shied away from myself. I didn't think the person staring back at me was worth sharing eye-contact with. A fog of 'fear' had clouded my eyes. I had actually figured out how to locate something wrong, with everything aboutme.  I shied away from sitting too close to anyone because I didn't want them to notice everything that I thought was weird about me. I didn't want them to see the lost look in my eyes, or see the defects I found in ...to cut it short and say...'all' of me!

 

And as though that stack of insecurity wasn't enough, I happened to get myself one of those countertop magnifying mirrors that comes with an inbuilt light. If you're not familiar with these mirrors. It has two sides. One works like a regular mirror and the other side a magnifying mirror, that 'magnifies' every tiny pore on your face! Now that one haunted me for weeks!!!

 

My mirror also brought me face to face with 'me.' And I did NOT want to live with 'me.' I did not want to live this way. There was a stirring in my heart. Something stirring my mind. A stirring that left me questioning my very being. 

 

I also came face to face with the creator of the reflection in the mirror. I was angry with Him for what I was going through. Didn't He see the fear, the suffering, the many sleepless tormenting nights?

 

The encounter with the mirror is real. And so is our battle with depression. But the mirror cannot win. It should not. Because, you and I are bigger than our battle with depression. We were created for a purpose and that is all the enemy wants to destroy.

 

For me, one of the most powerful tools I used was verbalizing my way out of the depression. What I verbalized was the Word - an effective oratory tool. Let the Word be your mirror.

 

"..because we continued to behold in the Word of God, as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image..." (II Corinthians 3:18, AMPC).

 

If you cannot gather the strength to speak it, write it down. That's what I did. I would tape scripture written on note cards to the mirror. So that on days when I woke up to see the worst in myself, I had a promise to turn my eyes to, instead of the despair in my eyes. I used note cards because I happened to have some extra. But you can always write yours down on decorative paper and embellish it. Or maybe just sticky notes. Or even simply lipstick your mirror. Whatever you fancy!

 

Also, when the enemy kept echoing lies in my ears, and plugging my ears didn't drown it out, I started to plug my ears with the word of God. I would have sermons or the audio Bible playing constantly in my ears, especially during the night. Depression hits hard in the night watch and I fought months of sleeplessness. So, if he wasn't going to let me sleep, I figured I'd drown him out with the Word. Thank God for technology and headphones!

 

 

Why? When? Where?

 

How did you wake up this morning? Feeling sad? Or empty? Or weak?

If you struggle with depression, you probably woke up feeling sad, or empty or weak. Or possibly all of those! Do you wake up in fear?

Could you imagine every minute of your life in the anticipation that something dreadful is about to happen. How could one live with constantly watching for the arrival of a dreadful event? This was another one of the reflexes of a depression.

Several times I thought to myself, "I cannot help feeling this way." And, this feeling is and was real! I did not lock myself up in a thinking lab and conjure up a chemical prescription to adopt fear. I tried, time and time again to convince myself of the contrary..."I don't have to be sad. I don't have to be afraid." Sadly, I failed, time and time again.

I saw no reprieve for today and no hope for tomorrow. That is a hard place to be. Depression can do that to you. Bring you to the point of utter hopelessness. I prayed everyday for this feeling to pass. Sometimes, I was too afraid to hope. What if I didn't get my answers tomorrow? What if the sadness continues and there is no end to this depressed state of mind?

I know these are a lot of questions. But, when we struggle with depression, we wake up to questions everyday. Questions that question our healing, that question our hope. And most important, of all the questions we ask ourselves, 'Why?'

Doctors sometimes can't answer our 'why.' Family and friends can't seem to answer our 'why.' We may 'never' find the answers to our 'why.' And every single minute we spend pursuing the answer to the 'why' is a minute unredeemable. One thing I've gathered over the lifespan of my depression battle is we don't need, the answers to our 'why.' We don't need to know 'when’ - When, our answers will come. What we can do, is redeem our today.

But, when things seem hopeless? How can we? There may be many alternate ways toward this. But, the answers to all our "why's" and "when's" can be found in one place and that is the word of God. I know that I know, that the reason I exist today is the redeeming power of the Word. The numbing effects of a depressed mind, took it's toll on my body making me too weak to even speak somedays. On those days, with weak trembling hands, I would write, write scripture down.  Here's what the prophet Habbakuk  says,

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,”

Habakkuk 3:17 NLT

Does your life seem like it's failing and empty? The prophet posed many questions to God too. The book is essentially a question-answer dialogue between Habbakuk and God. At the end of all his questioning, Habbakuk comes to one conclusion. He realized 'where' his answer could be found. Everything before him was empty and hopeless, and he says "yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Now if you are like me, this may seem like a what I call a "cliche" verse to you. You'll probably think, that this verse has been done over and over. It has plateaued. Right? I was told many times to speak scripture over my struggle. And, that would upset me even more. I thought people made this suggestion only to sound more spiritual themselves.

Here's something I've learned. It is not in the struggling to struggle with the Word that we find hope. It is in knowing that your struggle is safe in the hands of the one who is capable of dangling the entire universe at the tip of His finger, like a Christmas ornament. It is not in struggling against the feebleness of your power. It is in placing your struggle on the invincible power of your God.

He will make you as "sure footed as a deer." Give you feet that will enable you to tread the heights. The heights of suffering. The heights of sadness. The heights of depression. As painful as it is, I encourage you. Climb that height.

Don't let fear stupefy you or keep you paralyzed in your misery. God is your "personal bravery" and He will enable you to stand on the heights of depression. You will stand on top of it, not be overcome by it. You will plant your stake in the ground, on those heights, and wave your victory flag. Declare your deliverance atop those heights. So that others that are staring up the presumably unconquerable heights of depression, will know - someone made it up there. So can I!

I hope and pray that every one of your 'Why's', 'When's', 'Where's' and 'What's' find their answers in the Word.