You Are Not Alone

“Life is slippery. Here, take my hand.”  

-H. Jackson Brown Jr.

*I feel like I’ve written this before. Have I? I have, haven’t I. Welp, even if I have, it feels timely to hit this up again.*

Hitting rock bottom hurts. Have you ever been there? How many times? Am I the only one who seems to carry a frequent flier card to this destination?

I wish we could pull our feet up under us and sit staring at each other across a couch and have this conversation. Face to face. There are so many of us. There have to be.

I refuse to believe that I’m the only one who sits in a pit so often.

Time can drag on, too, until I remember the only way out is up. Then again, I can wallow at the bottom like I was born to.

Tell me I’m not alone. Because I can confidently state that you are not. Alone.

And when the pit is deep, it can feel bleak. And when it feels dark and disheartening, I can get numb.

I don’t know about you, but once numbness creeps in on me, even music hits different. If I can even hear the music at all. The worst is when the music stops altogether. Sadness slides in. Depression deepens. And sometimes, the music just stops making its way to my ears.

Or worse, to my heart.

If I sit with the pain and the hopelessness of it all and allow myself to just feel all those feelings, one of two things happen. Positively, I will eventually, once again, realize rock bottom is not where I’m meant to stay. Negatively, I burrow down into the angst and allow it to snuff out joy.

When you feel like you are hovering with one step hanging right over the edge of that rock-bottom pit, what do you do? Especially this hot minute as routines have gone haywire and security seems out of reach.

I’m no therapist.

But, I have been fortunate enough to interact with a few amazing ones over the last two decades. Here’s a little something to work with when you feel like you haven’t got squat to work with. It’s a little of what has helped me in the past and is helping me right now:

  • Find something, anything,to be grateful for. Anything. Say out loud to anyone, or no one, what that thing is and how grateful you are for it. (The other day, for me, it was the ability cry. Seriously. I just needed to know I could still feel. And the crying felt cathartic. And I was grateful.)
  •  Look, really look, for something to laugh at or about. Anywhere. Then do it. Laugh. Whether it’s for 5 seconds or five minutes. (I was able to search through my phone for memes that made me laugh. Once I got started, I was able to feel like climbing a step or two up from the bottom of my latest.)
  • Tell yourself that you are not alone in this. Anytime. Say it. “I am not alone in this.” (I had to repeat this to myself a couple dozen times in the shower this past week.)
  • Call, or text, someone. Anyone. It doesn’t have to be someone you are related to or even close to. Just connect with a human to let them know you aren’t doing okay. And if you have no one to call, please call a hotline. Here’s one: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
    Here is another one: SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Helpline, 1-9-800-662-4357.

Most importantly, know that there are so many of us struggling. Isolation is the worst thing for a pit dweller. We struggle to keep hope near.

Please! Please remember…

You are not alone.

You are valuable. To me. To others you may not even know. To The One Who Created You.

You are worthy. Of love. And time. And attention.

You are able. To keep struggling. To climb up. To find joy.

You have help. From professionals and volunteers. From family, or friends, or even acquaintances.

You are not alone.

 

 

Good Enough

For the days that filling, refilling, and emptying the blow-up pool seems like an endless task; for the days that the string of pleas for another Popsicle bombard you like water balloons; for the moments of weakness when answering questions about why God made kids with allergies might do you in; and drumming up meals for distinctly different and picky palates turns into the carrot stick that broke the mama’s back… For those kinds of days?  I cling to the adage that I only have to be a “good enough parent”.

Back during the time that I was first told that depression and I were going to walk hand in hand for a while; back when I wasn’t sure I was cut out to be a parent, after all; back when I desperately needed to know that I was enough for this life I’d been given, I was reminded that on those particular days, I just needed to be good enough parent to get through the day. I don’t need to be a perfect parent.

That’s an important distinction.  One that I often miss when I set out to do this deeply difficult and important parenting thing.

And this good enough parenting thing? It isn’t for every day.  Just for those daysGod knows we all have them.  And we all know we give God lots of those parenting days, ourselves, don’t we?

But, I’d forgotten this whole principle in my desperate desire to get it right while I’m here. And I about ran myself ragged with All The Trying.

Good_Enough_Missindeedy

And now, I’d kind of liken it to my walk with God.  He doesn’t expect perfection.  His goal is to press us on toward Christ-likeness.

My goal is not to be Christ.

It’s to be more like Christ.

And He tells me that His power is made perfect in my weakness.

And oh, how I give him ample opportunity to perfect His power!

My job?  My job is to focus on doing All The Things as best I can manage.

filling, refilling, emptying, and refilling that pool
providing food one meal at a time
loving the questioner and accepting the questions that I have no answer for

If I do all of those things through Christ who strengthens me, they are all possible.

And I will find that I am, indeed, good enough for the job I’ve been given.

Fanning the Flames of Thankfulness

Jar_Candles_Kelly _Sikkema_@creationswap


““Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.””  –
A.W. Tozer

I was first diagnosed with Depression toward the end of 2005.  It was a devastating diagnosis to me.  Not because I was ashamed to be touched by the word “depression”, but because I was shocked to find out that these were words that could possibly ever describe me! Natural born sunny disposition aside, I usually choose to look at things through rose-colored glasses, find the silver lining in every possible situation, and see the best in people.

However, I also consider myself practical, and more of a realist than a dreamer.

So, back in the fall of 2005, when Sweetman and I first received Sweetboy’s Autism diagnosis, I wasn’t completely taken by surprise.

But, you can bet your bippy that I was surprised to hear The Counselor utter the word “Depression”. To describe me! And this, just months after receiving Sweetboy’s diagnosis.

God and I? We were tight at the time.  I wasn’t asking Him “Why?”.  I was begging him to show me how to parent this child He’d decided Sweetman and I could handle.  Because, clearly, I didn’t feel like I could handle this kind of parenting.

As evidenced by my, you know, sitting in the chair facing The Counselor.

Thanks to the encouragement and Godly wisdom that this Christian Counselor poured into me that year, I learned some important things.  Things that carried me through then, and continue to carry me through, even now.

1) “I can do all things through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Oh, indeed I can.  Maybe not immediately; but, if I am faithful to pray and commit my way, my plans, my hopes to Him, I most certainly can. I am blessed to be called Mama, and some days, I just needed to start the day by crying out in thankfulness for that one thing.  Anything else that I am to take on for the day, I needed (and still need) to remember will be accomplished through Christ. Amen?

2) Take note of the kindling.  Oh, how I must take note of any kindling that’s going on. Kindling is a metaphorical term used to describe those little tiny embers of suffering that can can be fanned into a full-on Five Alarm Fire, if not tended to. In Psychology, it is often used to describe one who is going through nothing big and everything small.  That seemingly endless pile of Everything Small grows until, finally, your body decides it’s had enough and begins to show symptoms of deep stress.

I feel some kindling going on, lately, my friends.  And it could become an arsonists dream, if I don’t get on my knees about it. I need to focus on God. Here. Right here, in the midst of all of this potential kindling.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

(Deuteronomy 31:8)

I can fan the flames of thankfulness by remembering that God is not a Firestarter, but The Fire Quencher. 

“For I will pour out water to quench your thirst
and to irrigate your parched fields.”

(Isaiah 44:3)

I’m resting in the Hope that I have.  Hope that springs to life at the thought of unrealized blessings.  I choose not to fan the flames of death by a thousand cuts, but to fan the flames of a thankful heart, catching fire at the thought of all that there can be or even could be, to be thankful for.

“What am I doing in the meantime, Lord?
Hoping, that’s what I’m doing—hoping”

(Psalm 39:7)

Glittery Grace

 
I’m not a fan of glitter. No. That’s not true. I abhor glitter, usually. More because of the fact that it’s a never-ending round of 52,000 pick-up. When I taught Second Grade, my colleagues would relentlessly tease me anytime the glitter needed to be taken out. The panic attacks that would ensue as I calculated in my head how many glitter particles 24 students were going to generate in a 20 X 20 foot room. Stopping to consider, for even a moment, how long it would take for each last errant piece of glitter to make its way out of the classroom… sorry, I need to go hyperventilate into a paper bag for moment…
 
 
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The Floridian in me has officially hit The Winter Wall. The all-too-short days and lack of ability to get out and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air for long periods of time, is about to do me in. The Blues have been singing their sad woe-is-me song a little too often for my liking.The mornings have reached the point where I wake up and immediately want to lay right back down on the couch and wave the wintry white flag of surrender. My heart simply feels too heavy to try to move my body around with it. Depression, even mild depression in any form, can be irksome like that. Making your “get up and go”, lay down and stop.  And that’s just not me.  I’m usually a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and carry on” kind of girl.
 
That, I’m finding, is precisely when the glitter should make its grand entrance. Allowing the glitter to come out and play instantly takes my mind off of feeling blue. Now, instead of focusing on how dull and dreary the day is, I can focus on how in the blue blazes I’m going to contain the glitter explosion that’s coming.  And, it does. Explode.  (Why does it always have to explode?)
 
And when it does?
 
The day suddenly looks much brighter.  Sparkly, in fact.  Whether it’s simply because I’m now inundated with copious amounts of glitter, or my focus is no longer on myself and my troubles, or because I’m now in a cleaning frenzy, I find that my spirits are lifted.
 
Glitterati1
 
It would seem to me that glitter is a lot like grace that way. It can take even the most dreadful-feeling day and make it all sparkly. Grace takes our most dreadful acts and covers them over like so much glitter; making us seem sparkly – when what’s underneath is still a sticky, (or worse yet, a hardened) mess.
 
Before I know what’s coming out of my mouth, I find myself saying things like, “Thank you, God, for glitter… and grace.”. Oh, yes I do.
 
And it sparkles! Oooh, how it sparkles!