Category Archives: Depression

Here’s to you. Yes, you.

Here’s to you, the one who got out of bed this morning. Who put on her big girl panties and drove to work. Who stayed home and made another. blessed. PB&J. Who got outside and ran one more mile. Who cleaned up somebody’s mess. Literally or figuratively. Again.

Here’s to you, the one who thinks she’s not making progress. That if she were, then things would feel easier by now. That she wouldn’t be so tired. Still. That she would just be somehow, some way, better.

Here’s to you, the one who forgets how far she’s actually come. That she has moved forward. That she’s still tired, NOT because she’s still so weak, but because she’s RUNNING FURTHER.

Here’s to you. The one who’s still showing up.

You’ve come further than you think.

Here's to you, the one who got out of bed this morning. The one who thinks she's not making progress. The one who forgets how far she's come.

Flashback Friday: The Wisest Words I Received as a New Mom (and as a human in general)

I wrote this post a year ago about something I learned when I was a new mom – and it’s as freeing to me today as it was then. Buckle up, friends. It might be hard to hear – but I think you’ll be glad you did.

Originally published March 17, 2014.

I received the wisest advice as a new mom - & it's as freeing for me today as it was then. Buckle up. It might be hard to hear - but you'll be glad you did.Confession time.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, ladies. I’ve said, “My kids are SO HARD right now,” more times than I can count. I walk around at a constant 8 or 9 on the “had it up to here” scale. (So, I boil past 10 over nearly EVERYTHING.) My breathing is a fancy blend of dramatic sighs, huffs & puffs.

I’m tired of the fussing, the complaining, the arguing, the why Mom? Can I Mommy? Mom I need, Mom I want, MommywhyMomcanIpleaseprettypleasebutwhynotMomMommyMomMomMommyyyyyyAHHHHHHH.

I’m weary. I’m angry. I’m over it.

Are my kids really being that much more irritating? Or am I just that much more irritable? I don’t know the answer. Maybe both. But something has to change.

Now this just popped into my head:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)

There’s that blessed verse again. And by “blessed,” I mean I really want to cuss, but that feels especially inappropriate in reference to the Bible. But seriously, didn’t I ask for a re-do on that the first time around? Now here it’s popping back in for an encore.

I know God is showing me something. But I don’t really like it. Here’s the thing: Sometimes I say my KIDS are so hard when in reality, I AM THE ONE STRUGGLING.

What’s the difference? And does it really matter?

In one scenario, the unrest in our home is all my kids’ doing – not mine – which may sound like a relief. But in reality, it sucks, because what can I do except grieve the fact that I have really difficult children and a perpetually stressful home?

When we brought our firstborn home, I had a really hard time. This newborn gig was WAY harder than I expected, so my first conclusion was that my baby was a Really Hard Baby.

By the time Owen was 5 weeks old, I was in a pretty desperate state. A dear friend stepped into my misery and spoke some unexpected words:

“Amanda,” she said. “Owen is not easy. No first-born baby is easy for a first-time mom. But he’s not BAD. He’s a BABY. It seems to me that you are struggling.”

Her words weren’t harsh. They were tender and kind.

And true.

I was struggling. AND THAT WAS OKAY. And it was a very important distinction from “My baby is just so hard.”

Sometimes, I wonder if we call our kids hard – or spouse or friend or boss or co-worker – when really the situation or relationship is hard because WE are struggling in some area.

Now, don’t get me wrong – maybe the baby is colicky and the kids have bad attitudes – and that IS hard. I’m not saying my kids are easy right now. But if I can OWN that I’M struggling… that means something important.

Let’s clarify something foundational here: Ownership is not blame. Ownership is empowerment.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

How far does it depend on me?

Well, not at all if I’m utterly convinced my children are the entire problem, and my children’s attitudes are the only issue.

The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. (Acts 27:15)

Have I given way? Am I driven along by the attitudes of my children, or the temperament of my baby? I needn’t be. I have an Anchor. Can I own that? What does it look like to do that?

I am so freed up right now to admit that for the past week I’ve basically said, “MY KIDS SUCK” – and the truth is, my kids may be having an off-week, but I. AM. STRUGGLING. And once I can say, “I am struggling,” it’s a blessedly short hop to “I need help.”

Back when Owen was a newborn, that dear friend gave me permission to be the one struggling. And this gave me room to recognize (with help from friends and my husband) that I actually had severe postpartum depression. This should not have been a surprise to me – I’d already been diagnosed with & treated for clinical depression years earlier – I knew I was at greater risk of PPD. But I was so focused on my baby being hard — and so afraid of the problem being me — that I couldn’t go there. There was fear. There was shame.

But remember what we agreed on? Ownership is NOT BLAME. Ownership is EMPOWERMENT.

Ownership meant I could tell my baby I was sorry for saying horrible things about him. Ownership meant I could – and needed to – speak up to my husband about what I needed, (namely, the need to figure out what I needed). For me, it also meant a visit to my doctor and a prescription for anti-depressants.

This week, ownership means I need to keep getting my face in the Word of God. I need to run. And I need to ask for help.

Lord, please help us live at peace with our kids and in our homes. Show us what depends on us. And show us there’s no shame in being the one struggling. Lift our heads, Jesus.

Are you being driven along in some area of your life? Without shame, without blame, what might you need to own right now?

Throwback Thursday: Refuel (because I’m running out of gas in more ways than one) (You, too?)

Originally published March 3, 2014.

Running on empty? Feeling anxious and on the verge of a breakdown? Discover one practice you can implement TODAY to avoid breakdowns and reduce anxiety in your life.I hate stopping for gas. I will drive as far as possible on “E” before stopping at a gas station. (Sorry, Mom & Dad – I know, you taught me better.) I hate the anxiety of wondering if I’ll make it to my destination before I run out – but I hate stopping for gas even more than that. It’s such an inconvenience – who has time to stop for gas? The whole concept of STOPPING before I can GO just frustrates me.

Today, this habit finally caught up with me. I load the kids, their snacks, and my bags in the car to go get groceries for the week. Everyone is buckled in, ready to be on our way, and I turn the key.

Nothing.

The lights and radio work fine, so I know it’s not the battery. I call Matt to complain that the stupid car won’t start AGAIN, and what can possibly be wrong THIS time.

Then I notice the gas gauge. And THEN I remember swinging into the driveway yesterday, doing a small arm-pump for making it home without running out of gas… never considering I’d just left myself a completely empty tank.

Didn’t exactly set myself up for a win today, did I?

Obviously we didn’t get to run our errands. Even though stopping for gas would’ve momentarily slowed me down, running out of gas slowed me down immeasurably more. By refusing to PAUSE to refill the tank yesterday, I forced myself into a complete HALT.

I know there’s a lesson in this — and it extends further than filling up my car (although I could stand to just learn THAT lesson). How do we practice the “Refuel Principle” in the rest of life? I believe we can implement this one practice in 3 essential places even TODAY:

Physical: The other day, I really didn’t feel like exercising. (Correction – almost every day I really don’t feel like exercising.) What made the other day DIFFERENT was that I made myself exercise for 20 minutes ANYWAY. I popped in a workout DVD while the kids were occupied with something (okay, that something was the iPad) and I JUST DID IT. And it’s like it re-booted my brain. Just from 20 minutes of sweating. Carving out those TWENTY MINUTES resulted in greater effectiveness & enjoyment throughout the REST OF MY DAY. It was a re-fueling for my body.

Mental: My brain and my body need rest. And I don’t just mean a minute to prop my feet up. I mean ACTUAL SLEEP. I very rarely get good, adequate sleep, which makes no sense because I LOVE TO SLEEP. But with a night-owl husband it’s very tempting to stay up too late too often. (He is not to blame. My love of sitting on the couch and watching TV with him is the real culprit. We are very exciting people, I tell you.) I know good, consistent sleep would really make a difference in my day. So why is it so hard to make this choice consistently?? (I hear you baby-mommas — I know you have to be up at all hours of the night to tend to your little one. So, I hereby grant you permission to TAKE A GUILT-FREE NAP while your baby naps and your non-napping toddler watches Dora. Get some sleep, woman.)

Spiritual: I often think of “stopping for gas” in the context of my spiritual life — taking time to read the Bible, sitting in God’s presence, letting Jesus fill me anew. I absolutely need that fueling, that filling up, as well. It’s so counter-intuitive… stop so I can go. There’s so much to do — and even the noblest woman could say she doesn’t have time to read about Jesus because she’s too busy going out there to actually serve Him. She doesn’t have time to pause and pray about the hurt in the world because she’s too busy getting out there and DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I don’t hate that mindset. But the truth is, YOU CAN’T GIVE AWAY WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE. You want to give away love, hope, peace, joy? Then you better pause long enough to fill up at the Source.

As I write this, I’m already thinking, “This is so basic. Everyone knows you need to do that. You can’t just keep going going going, pouring out and pouring out and pouring out without being refilled yourself.”

But if it’s so basic, WHY DON’T I DO IT?

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s my deep-down denial of how this whole gas tank thing works. As long as the car is still running, I’m good, right? I’ll just stop for gas when I run out – or when the anxiety about running low finally drives me to fill up just in time.

The truth is, I falter when I fail to care for and respect how I was made. We are physical, emotional, and spiritual creations. If I’m living life on Empty – in any of those areas – I shouldn’t be surprised by the anxiety and the frequent breakdowns.

Jesus said:

“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

– John 10:10b

Life wasn’t meant to be lived on Empty. Let’s encourage one another – share how you “refuel” in the comments!