Yesterday I was asked a very good question by someone I have been mentoring through her anxieties and fears. She said that she has made incredible headway in overcoming some of her once-debilitating fears. In fact, the difference is so profound that a recent experience that she and her husband had would have put their relationship in serious trouble a few months ago, but because of the tools she is using to eradicate from the core her anxieties, they are doing well.
Her question was, “When you start going in the right direction, do sometimes things start going really wrong?”
Yes, yes, and yes! I cannot begin to tell you how many times this has happened to me in the past four years!! Why? Because if our peace can be robbed, who has the power? Not us.
So, HOLD THE LINE! That means to not give in to the belief that what you are doing to move out of depression, anxiety, false beliefs…whatever it is, is not working or won’t work. If you take this belief now, chances are you’ve taken it many, many times in the past. YOU are more powerful than the voices that want to break you. It’s up to you.
Hold the line. If you are taking the invitations I give with each of these posts seriously, find one invitation that resonates with you and complete it again. It’s how to HOLD THE LINE!
Here is a glimpse into another real day before healing began for me. Whether or not you have a Higher Power, my invitation to you today is to recognize that there is a power larger than you…and He has a message…
Late Saturday afternoon I began to feel the cloud of depression descend
upon me. I had been doing well for several days and even that morning.
The monster wanted to envelop me and I was extremely weepy and began to
feel irritable and cranky. I plowed through dinner and then the kids
wanted to watch a movie, so I decided to watch it with them (Steve went to the
airport). About 5 minutes into it, I just about went to bed because all I
wanted to do was cry and I felt angry–and there was no good reason, which
always makes it doubly hard. For some reason I decided to stick it out and watch the entire movie.
By the time the movie was over I was really a mess because it was a
tear-jerker! (The Last Song)
I was trying to hold it together and
everyone headed to bed. I began to get ready and the thought came,
“Gather your children for prayer.” I thought, “I’m not
going to gather them for prayer. I’m a mess. All I’ll do is cry.
I don’t want to.” So I ignored the prompting. I began to
take off my makeup. Again the prompting came. I justified it away.
Then I decided to say my personal prayers because in this personal setting no one would be able to
see how difficult it was to feel so rotten. At the end of my prayer, the
thought came to ask to be able to feel Heavenly Father’s love for me. And
so I asked for this and closed the prayer. Immediately the prompting came
again: “Gather your children for prayer.” Okay, I got the
message, I’ll call them. I also knew who to ask to pray–Britney.
so we prayed. Britney has an amazing gift for prayer. She talks
just like she is talking to someone in the room. She is thoughtful and
introspective and grateful. This prayer was all of that and more.
There was something else. And it was the overwhelming feeling and
knowledge that Heavenly Father was putting His arms around me and telling me
that He loves me. It was just what I had prayed for not five minutes
earlier. I remember her saying how grateful, “we are to have parents
that care about us and that create a good environment where we can learn how to
be good people.” I began to cry for the umpteenth time that
night. I gave each child a hug and Crandall hung on for awhile; then
Britney wrapped her arms around me and I told her what had just happened for me
and thanked her for being in tune. I went back to my room and wrote it
all down. When Steve got home he went in to the girl’s room and asked how
the evening went. Britney said, “I gave a good prayer.”
What is the Power that is larger than you trying to say to you? Write it down. And, with a virtual hug I say, “Hold on!!”
I had listened to the general ideas behind depression during the first ten years of battling it. I heard, “It’s incurable…it’s a chemical deficiency…embrace it just like you would if you had cancer…it’s not going to go away…”
My personal favorite was that it was a chemical deficiency. This meant that I didn’t have to be responsible for any part of it. It was just how I was. It was just how my brain was working–how the chemicals were acting and reacting. It was no different than if I had cancer or diabetes. Right?
I bought into this belief for years. For me, it meant that I had no control over what was happening and therefore, no control over changing anything. The problem was, I wasn’t getting any better on prozac. In fact, things were getting worse. I remember one particular experience as if it happened yesterday. It was about nine years into this.
I was standing in front of our home, the sunshine was bright, and I was undeniably suffering. I was in a sour mood, to say the least. There was no good reason for the sour mood, it just was. I remember looking straight ahead and saying, “Am I really going to have to endure this the rest of my life? Am I really going to feel sad and hopeless all the time? I hate this. It’s getting worse. It feels so hopeless. It’s so dark.”
Hopeless is the best word to describe what I was feeling. The anguish over this lasting the rest of my mortal life was almost unbearable. The thought of it was overwhelming, to stay the least. Those of you who are fighting the monster can probably relate. It’s a bit difficult to put into words what I was feeling that day–and many such days.
I’ve never had cancer or diabetes. So I can’t talk about these diseases and possible root causes. I can, however, say that a gradual change began to come to me. I became willing to look deep and see if there was a root cause to the depression that was just being masked by Prozac. I subconsciously decided to look into the possibility that maybe there was something else there. Then this idea moved into my consciousness and I acted.
Meridian Magazine writer Carolyn Allen interviewed me last week and wrote the following article that describes the first puzzle piece to my healing. She beautifully describes this first leg of my journey to healing…
Is there a connection for you? It matters!
I woke up this morning with this post on my mind.
I have been writing this blog for a mere 2.5 months. Readership is now in the thousands. Most of you are silent readers. Some of you have said something to me and encouraged me to keep posting. And I will…because depression is not only real and ugly, it has found its way into the lives of 350 million people globally*.
According to the Center for Disease Control** 1 in 5 people are affected by depression and 1 in 10 are reporting it. This last statistic was taken in 2008. Since current statistics for depression are difficult to determine because it often takes so long for science to gather the information, we can just assume that numbers have risen dramatically in the past six years. It isn’t rocket science. The fact is, walk down your street and open up a conversation with someone; either they are struggling with depression or anxiety or they know someone who is. My experience has shown me exactly this.
Depression and anxiety are silent heart breakers. You are not alone. Nor do you need to suffer in silence.
Here is one man’s way to unite with something he loves. Perhaps you are saying, “There isn’t anything I love. I’m numb. I don’t care. I don’t even want to get out of bed. There is no hope. It’s too dark and ugly. I can never be anything different. I’m not who I used to be. It doesn’t matter.” If these or any other dark thoughts are milling inside of you, hold on. Take my hope and hold tight. It can get better–much better. Watch this video and connect with something–anything of light–today…even for a few moments.
My last post talked about anxiety. I’ve learned a lot in the past three years about obliterating anxiety in my life…about not having it enter into the picture at all. My oldest daughter calls it my “Bread List.”
Perhaps I am the only one whose brain operates this way:
1) create a mental list of literally 100 things that need my attention
2) create a mental list of dozens of projects I want to accomplish
3) think about these lists for weeks and months, while moving in and out of getting them done or letting them “just sit.”
4) get filled to the brim with how in the world I can keep everything in order and enjoy life at the same time!
5) spill it all out to my husband and/or children and begin going down the “bread list” with them as I talk about all of the details that need attention…and how can we plan this activity and create this or that and make this or that happen…
6) realize a little too late that while I have been thinking through the details for weeks or months, my family has not. They have no idea any of these thoughts are going through my mind! I am ready for action and they are just learning about the idea.
7) get to the final item on my list that is really something not so overwhelming but because I have tried to figure out everything on my own, it’s literally the straw that breaks the camel’s back. This is what my daughter calls the final words on my list: “make bread.”
I like to make bread. It’s a gift from my mother. Wonderful, delicious, whole wheat goodness full of soft middle and crunchy crust when it’s hot! It’s a good thing that our children can become our greatest teachers because as I have relearned this pattern in me just this past week through my daughter’s help, I see what needs to change. And thankfully I know how to change it.
I have often made the comment, “I just want to go back to pioneer times when life was not as hectic and filled as mine is now.” I realize they had challenges with just staying alive that I don’t have to worry about now. But there is a principle that spans time, age, and circumstance. It is this:
Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof. In other words, I can do just what today requires. I can be happy in the moments that make up my day when nothing I have written down gets accomplished because I spend time with my child or a neighbor…I can listen for, watch for, and act upon the Bread that I am given. I can take the bread that comes today and rejoice in it, not thinking about the long- term list I need to accomplish. It is enough for today.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, if you’re moving towards anxiety, if life seems too much, if today feels hopeless, if depression has a grip on you, if all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and roll out of bed, the following video may hold an answer just for you. It matters!
Daily Bread Video
I stand at the island in my kitchen. Something is happening. My heart is beating very fast. My breathing comes in sharp, quick gasps. Some of my children are in the same room. I hold a piece of paper in my hand. I set it down. I just stand there in complete disbelief. What is happening? Why do I feel like I am about to hyperventilate or something worse? It feels like I am about to loose it. My brain swirls with what this could possibly be. It dawns on me that I am probably feeling anxiety. I know that if I go to a doctor, he will put me on anti-anxiety medication. I do not want this. Not at all. There has to be another answer.
The thought comes to me to start a list–actually writing down–the things that I want to and need to do the rest of the day..and then create a list every day. That sounded somewhat strange. How in the world could that help? I wonder. I breathe deeply. My pounding heart slows down, my breathing becomes more regular.
I ponder on this experience for several days and continue to get the thought to make a physical list instead of trying to keep everything in my head. And so, after several days, I stop making excuses and do it! And the pressure that was building up inside of me begins to subside.
Anxiety is nothing more than practicing failure in advance. For me, the failure sounded like this: “I have so many things to do…and I just don’t know how I am going to get them all done. I’m sure I’m going to forget something that is really important. I have so many irons in the fire…no one can really appreciate everything I am doing and the commitment and energy required to raise children. No one understands how much I am taking care of all the time.”
The anxiety I was experiencing in my kitchen that day over three years ago is still extremely vivid in my mind. I was practicing not having enough time, energy, or resources to accomplish all I needed to and wanted to. Truly a failure, projected for my future. (I had two more attacks before the final puzzle piece came into place…but that is getting ahead of the story.)
The question today is: “What are you practicing failure in advance for?” It’s an easy trap to fall into. There isn’t one person with whom, when we are discussing their experience of depression, has not also dealt with anxiety. It is very real. It can be scary and debilitating. It can feel like a loss of control.
So, now that you have asked this question of yourself, I invite you to acknowledge the answer by rewriting the story (Old and New Stories). If the advance failure you are planning could turn into success, what would it specifically look like, feel like, be like?