Walking Out Depression

It has been hard to get out of the house and I finally had to admit that I have been struggling with depression. I knew something was off when I no longer had interest in the things that delight me–mostly being around other people and taking those walks that I had committed to for this blog.

I know what depression feels like. I have experienced it before. I know many of you have too, or someone close to you has. For me,

  • Depression isn’t just feeling a bit down. It is feeling like no matter what you do you can’t get up.
  • Depression isn’t just feeling grief after the loss of a loved one. It is feeling as if life will never be whole again, and you don’t care. You just don’t care.
  • Depression isn’t being tired and staying in bed. It is wanting desperately to get up and yet the best you can do is make it to the bathroom and back to your bed.
  • Depression isn’t just skipping events to which you committed to attending. It is wanting so much to see people and yet being so sad that you can’t imagine getting dressed and putting on your happy face.
  • Depression isn’t about feeing sad and overly emotional. It is sitting on the edge of the bed and crying and you don’t know why because all you did was wake up.

It can take some courage to recognize the symptoms and ask for help. Unlike other illnesses, there is a conflict between shame and pride associated with depression. Sometimes well meaning friends try to cheer you up and get you past a down period. Religious leaders are often ill-equipped to diagnose or treat depression. And the communities in which we live frequently don’t have the patience to support someone with a ‘hidden’ illness. And more often, our pride stops us from sharing with others that we are living with depression, even if we are undergoing counseling or taking medication.

My life is better this week. I have the support of my closest friends and family. I’m doing what I need to get better and each day I feel a little more like myself. And I finally got out the door and into nature. I have to take the steps back to normal living and make the most of my treatment plan to find my center again. 

img_9336

Lewinsville House, 1659 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean, VA

I was amazed by the simple beauty of the world just a mile away from my home. I found a touch of God out there as I walked with a friend and our dog. I found that my inner spirit was renewed in the midst of God’s creation.

img_9322

I walked in gardens planted and felt a new being breaking through. The bright colors of flowers coming into bloom. The promise of second chances and renewed life.

img_9326

Take the walk. Let the wonder of the world open your heart and lighten your journey into healing.

Sit. Rest. Be.

img_9332

If you think something might not be quite right in our life, I encourage you to seek professional help–start with your family physician. Let people close to you know that you are grappling with depression so they can encourage you and walk in your recovery journey. Be brave enough to ask for prayer and to seek out spiritual healing and direction.

img_9337

And remember to keep walking. One foot in front of the other. Out the door. Down the street. Around and over the rocky parts. Into the garden of new life.

Walking with the Light,

Maggie

Advertisements

Navigating the Wave of Change

Change is to alter, make different, transform, to switch, and to break from the old. Change can be difficult when we first realize we must do something differently in our lives. Change can be even more traumatic when thrust upon us and outside of our control. 

If we have made the decision to change something in our lives,  it is likely that we are moving toward or away from something. Angela Dunbar writes that we move away from that which we don’t like or  toward something beginning–often with goals set. If we make a decision to change things in our lives and in our environment, we need to consider the actions we should take and then commit to those actions. Through the process of reaching a new state of being,  we may discover areas that require healing or we may come upon new information that causes us to re-evaluate the steps we are taking. It is important to remember that this is a journey and while the path may take unexpected turns, we need to stay with the journey to the end. In the pain of change comes true transformation.

And then there is change beyond our control. Some event may occur that knocks us off our feet. This usually happens in relationships. Perhaps the person you thought you would have a long-term relationship with isn’t on the same page as you and your friendship suddenly ends. Perhaps you have unexpectedly lost a loved one–a parent or a spouse/partner. Maybe you lost a job you loved or were forced into retirement when you still wanted to work. This sort of change is much more traumatic because we frequently don’t have the time to process the change; it just happens and we are left without a plan.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

I know for me that without my faith and trust in God to guide me through change, planned or unplanned, I would most likely curl up into a little ball. I have actually done that on occasion; however, I am fortunate that some wonderful women of faith reached out to me and reminded me that I am loved, I have value, and I have worth in the eyes of God. And when I think I am alone, I must remind myself that God will never desert me. I can pick up my bible or a spiritually-influenced book and let the words guide me through my times of uncertainty. Some times its a short process of getting on with the changes while other times I dig my heels in and it takes enormous pain (hitting bottom) before I will do what I need to do. No matter what, the commitment is to embrace the change, to grow, and to become better than I was the day before.

If we were to look through the bible we find it full of stories of individuals who were thrown into circumstances beyond their control and came through the fire, changed for the better. Look at Moses who walked away from a charmed life to live in the desert and ultimately became the voice of the Lord and a leader of change for a nation. David, who made extraordinarily wrong choices that cost people, including his own child, their lives. He became willing to embrace change and altered the course of history. What about a young woman who had a plan for her life only to have the angels tell her nothing she was planning was a great as what God had in mind. And in her obedience, the world was changed.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.(Jeremiah 29:11)

No matter what is happening in your world today, change is going to occur. How we navigate the waters of change will determine our ability to find joy in the change. If we take the perspective that change is an awful painful thing against which we should fight, it is likely that we will drown in depression and anger or sadness. If we can accept or even embrace, the change (planned or not) and seek God’s will for our lives, we will ultimately find peace and maybe even joy.

I pray that you will seek out the positive aspects of change, ask the Lord to reveal his new plan for you, and trust that a new day is coming. I pray that your heart and mind will be transformed and that you will be challenged to share what God has done for you with others who suffer. May you find blessings in your trials and courage to take action.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:6-8)

 

Letting Go of Resentments with Mercy

Holding on to our resentments does less to the person we are angry with and more to hurt ourselves. Learning to release the person who offended us from our hate list may take real effort on our part, especially if they have been on the list for some time. Did you know that resentment is just another word for jealous? Did you know that mercy is the greatest gift you can offer another and yourself at the same time?

Offering mercy may take a deliberate effort on your part. It means offering forgiveness and meaning it. It means treating the other person with God’s love when your love isn’t there. It means being kind and treating the other person with understanding that we too are not perfect and we may have some responsibility for the situation. It means being compassionate when they hurt instead of laughing. And it does mean celebrating when good things come their way, even when we would like to think the good fortune should be ours. Mercy is sincere—it can’t be faked because above all, mercy means that we pray for all things God would have in their lives. We especially pray that they know the Lord and are transformed by his love and mercy. We ask that we too are transformed as we pray for them.

My daughter is one the greatest examples of a mercy-giver that I know. Even as a teenager she could find a way to forgive or overlook a person’s misdeeds toward her. She always seems to take the high road in relationships and give it one—or seven times seven— more chances. I have seen her rekindle relationships that I would never have gone back to and I have seen her grow more as she let go of her resentment. I have seen the freedom that comes from her mercy. She is the kid whose friends turned away from her when she wouldn’t go down the path they were heading, and still she managed to re-establish friendships with some of those people years later because she was willing to let the past be in the past. Like many young women, she has been hurt in relationships, and yet she has found a way to forgive and accept rich friendships on new terms. She has even shown her old mom mercy from time to time, understanding that I make mistakes and sometimes my problems have caused rather uncomfortable circumstances for us. She keeps moving forward and she inspires me to be all those things Jesus told us to be. She is one of the best examples I have of living a life in the image of Jesus.

As we ask for God’s mercy when we are in distress or have acted in a way that does not honor him, let us ask that he show us to whom we need to extend the same kind of mercy. We ask that he change our hearts and save us from carrying a burning coal that eats through our own heart. We ask for all things good for those we resent or envy and that we can be happy for their success. We ask to see them as God does, knowing he loves them. We ask that he inspire us to get on a path that takes us forward and frees us of the burden of disdain we carry.

Do you have a way you approach others with mercy? Do you have a success story of a time you gave or received mercy? I would love to hear your story. Please share it in the comments below.

“Turn to me and have mercy on me, for I am alone and in deep distress.” Psalm 25:16
© maggiemarcum.com