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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Women and Depression ~ Part 1

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." - Isaiah 61:3

I'd venture to say that the spirit of heaviness mentioned in Isaiah 61:3 would clinically be referred to as depression. Although women and girls are more likely to struggle with depression than men, it seems that it is often a topic that goes unaddressed in many settings - especially in the church (National Institute of Mental Health).

I guess there is a reproach in exposing some level of depression. Still, I know I've had to fight a spirit of heaviness, especially after having a new baby. Many may get the "baby blues" during a postpartum season. However, sometimes one can sink into something much deeper and end up having to battle feelings of hopelessness, weariness, fear, and anxiety over the course of months or years.

While I was pregnant with and after I had Halle, I struggled with a severe case of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (also referred to as Pelvic Girdle Pain) as well as 3 bulging disc in my lower back, and pregnancy-related arthritis in the pubic bone. As you can imagine, my life pretty much turned into a daily battle with a intolerable level of chronic pain. I could hear and feel my pelvic bones clicking I felt severe pain in my legs, back, feet, and hips. It hurt to lie down. It hurt to stand up. It hurt to turn over. It hurt. Period!

I wasn't really able to really go many places or do much of anything. My husband took over most of the  errands, shopping, etc. I was taking 4-5 warm showers a day to try and get relief and cope with pain. I had burning and aching in my joints. As a result, I was sleeping with ice backs on my back, knees, and hips at night trying to get relief. To top it all off, I had 4 children under the age of 6 who had no idea how I felt and needed me constantly! I honestly felt like I was in a living nightmare.

I think its safe to say that I definitely wrestled constantly with a spirit of heaviness during this time. I had many doctor, chiropractic, and physical therapy appointments to attend and it seemed as though I was always given some kind of questionnaire that assessed my symptoms. After I would explain all of the pain I was in, we'd get to the "Do you feel depressed?" question. I would chuckle to myself and think, "Ummmmm, ya think?"

I would try to explain to people what I was going through, but it seemed like no one could really understand. I have found that many people who are part of the invisible pain community often feel misunderstood by doctors and others because they "look" fine, but feel terrible. It is a very sensitive situation. I have grew so much more in empathy for those people are living with chronic invisible pain such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.

It took about a year before I became closer to "normal."  I still have a degree of chronic pain and am still doing regular chiropractic care and physical therapy. However, I am doing much better. I am absolutely in a better place emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But, I learned through that experience what it feels like to seriously be depressed and to have to fight constantly to not be overtaken by it. Here some of what I learned...

When you are struggling with depression:

1.) Remember no matter what is happening or how you feel, God is with you and God loves you. I know you may be a situation that is unreal and you can't see how you will make it through. God said he will never leave you or forsake you. He said he loves you with an everlasting love (Hebrew 13:5-6, Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:16).

2.) Prayer will help you make it though. I will keep thee in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on me.    When I was at the height of chronic pain, it was hard to pray. For one, I was always distracted and agitated by pain. So whether I was praying or doing anything I could barely concentrate. I felt like I was in a fog. But, still talking to God was very helpful.

I also tried to write how I felt in a journal, which helped me process what was going on. Sometimes your feelings are multi layered and complex. You can't understand yourself as well as God can. But, in prayer he helps you sort through things. He comforts, encourages, strengthens, heals, and counsels you in prayer! (Isaiah 26:3, Isaiah 9:6).

3.) Remember that things change. I know that there are some things that we can't see how can change. We feel trapped. I felt trapped in chronic pain. I didn't know how or when it would end. When you feel trapped in painful circumstances in this life, the natural response is to want the pain to end. This can lead to thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with death. These are among other symptoms of depression (National Institute of Mental Health).

But, the bible says 2 things that helped me with this. First, "With man its impossible, but with God nothing shall be impossible" (Mark 10:27). That means that no matter what your situation may be, you may be powerless to change. But, God is amazing, all-powerful, and able to deliver you! Second, "Weeping may endure for night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).

4) Speak what you want. I wrote out alot of scriptures and promises about illness, sickness, prayers, etc and quoted them daily! Then, I would praise God for doing it! This helped me fight during moments of serious despair. The word of God is also powerful and there is power in our words! "Life and death is in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21).

5.) Find a support system. I tried to talk alot about what was going on with me to those closest to me. Although it was difficult to feel "comforted" or "understood." But, I knew that being isolated wasn't healthy. You might have to find a professional. There is no shame in that at all.

I also was encouraged to hear success stories from others who had been through or where going through similar things. I found books and an online community called Rest Ministries by searching the internet. Perhaps you are going through illness, loss of a loved one, betrayal, abuse, rejection, loss of a job, a troubled marriage, etc. The internet provides a wealth of information and there are online support groups for people who need it (Proverbs 11:14).

If you are reading this and struggling with depression, I hope something I shared will help. Please be encouraged. God is with you and for you!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fabulous Friday

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Happy Friday friends!

I am giving myself a pat on the back this week for finally organizing my bedroom closet, creating a bag of clothes to donate, and for catching up on laundry!

Hubby and I are looking forward to a week of celebration! We are celebrating, in part because we found out that 2 of hubby's students are recipients of the Gates Millennium Scholarship! This is a great accomplishment and I couldn't be more proud hubby and his students.

We will also be celebrating by birthday party-hopping with friends this weekend. It doesn't get much better than good friends and good food, now does it?

Here are my Friday Finds:

Web Finds...

- Are you in need of a cute pair of flats for the Spring? This post might help!

- I added some kick to my green beans this week by trying this recipe. My family enjoyed it. Yours might as well!

What I am finding about mothering ...

- I am finding that the shopping trips I take with the kids by myself to be more smooth. Could this merely be because they are getting older? Have I found new grace? I'm not sure.

Don't get me wrong, I can't go at a shopping trip for a long period of time or without much preparation. Everyone must first be properly fed, changed, rested, and threatened instructed beforehand. Still, these trips are becoming more peaceful and enjoyable. If you have small children, you know being able to have a peaceful shopping trip by myself with all the kids is a BIG DEAL. Are you thinking you might need more on that subject? I actually found an article called Tackling the Town with Kids in Tow.

Book Find...

I have finally ordered and received my copy of Managers of Their Homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell.
I have friends who have had much success with it and I have been thinking about buying it for years. So, I can't wait to get started with it! Have you read it? Have you found it helpful?

Wishing you an wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I didn't include a full update or picture of Halle in this post, when I described what each of my children had been up to lately. So, here is an update of Halle's new developments: 

 - Halle is blowing kisses now. However, she puts her hand on her cheek instead of her lips and says, "mmmwah!"  Its the cutest thing. Also, if I am holding her, she puts her hand on my lips and says, "mmmwah!" 

 - "Hal," as I like to call her, is getting up and down the stairs all by herself! She sometimes slides down on her belly! 

 - I recently moved Halle's bed into the bedroom with the other 3 children, so she could be with them when she woke up. Everyone was excited about this. They like to be together and I hope it stays that way!

Here is Halle dozed off and slumped over after her lunch. Actually, she does this often.

I like to think of this as an indication that I am a good mother because my child is obviously well fed and will go to sleep without resistance. See, everything's under control;)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter 2012

I've been taking a little bit of a break from blogging.

The week before last was hubby's spring break. Hence, I didn't do any blogging or much of anything because we were both determined to take a "break" from as much we could! Last week was a busy one, so I am trying to return to a more regular schedule this week!

Easter was awesome! We attended church and had dinner with hubby's parents. We enjoyed both of those things and were even able to fit in some picture-taking time. Here are some of the pictures...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ Baby Swag

This guy is just too cute to resist.

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