A Glimmer of Clarity

“A friend called to say she was going crazy once, and I said, ‘Who’s noticing that?’ You want to get next to that quiet, noticer self as a starting place.”
                          from Mary Karr’s “The Art of Memoir

This quote floored me the first time I read it. I wanted to shout to the world, “YES! THIS!!! Oh my word, THIS!” Sometimes you see something so clearly and want everyone else to see it as well. That’s this quote for me. Now that I’m not in the mire day in and day out I can see things like this better.

So do you know what this is saying? Here it is again.

“A friend called to say she was going crazy once, and I said, ‘Who’s noticing that?’ You want to get next to that quiet, noticer self as a starting place.”
                          from Mary Karr’s “The Art of Memoir

When you KNOW you’re crazy, that means a part of you ISN’T crazy. There’s a part of you that can see and think clearly. It may be the smallest part, the smallest glimmer of clarity. Some part of you that knows that something isn’t right about what you’re thinking or feeling. That part is IN you. And you know what that means? You’re not completely lost or gone. You won’t be like this forever.

And so what do you do now? You hear that part of yourself and you try to stay with it longer. Maybe that crazy part of you came out at someone who didn’t deserve it and you didn’t have the noticer self telling you to stop during it. But you realized afterwards and you regretted your actions. Choose to see that as a sign of good. And try to see that quiet, noticer self sooner. During the freak out. During the bad moment. During the down time when you’re cradling your head in your hands. And listen to it. It’s your friend. Force yourself to take action. Even the smallest action.

And remember too, that if you have committed your life to the Lord He’s given you the Holy Spirit to help you. And often times when we’re in a battle of depression it’s so very hard to see and hear Truth. Truth from the Word, truth from our friends, Truth from the Holy Spirit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t hear or won’t hear again. So you listen and pray and ask that God opens your ears. You listen and pray and when you hear that little tiny squeak of a sound of Truth you grab on! That’s your starting place.

Be intentional about the quiet, noticer self. That’s where the crazy isn’t.

Cluttered House / Cluttered Mind

Growing up, my Mom called herself a “messy,” based on a book she read about organization and clean homes. As a kid I was a “messy” too. Our entire family kept everything, except for maybe my sister who somehow knew that keeping stuff wasn’t always best. If we were compulsive messys you could call my sister a compulsive tosser. (not in the way the Brits refer to a tosser, of course!)

We didn’t have much money so I wonder if we kept stuff so that we felt like we had more money. I don’t know. We also had a lot of love and a lot of fun, so having “stuff” everywhere wasn’t really on my radar.

Fast-forward to these days of struggling with depression and the “messy” and the “stuff” are really beginning to drive me batty! The more stuff I have, the more stuff I have to manage, organize, put away, keep clean. But realizing this after I’ve already collected the stuff makes it tough to deal with. It’s overwhelming to know how to change it all.

But doing nothing just makes matters worse, so I’ve slowly been getting rid of the stuff in my house. I think it’s time now though to really, really purge.

But first, I wanted to see what the interwebs say about clutter in the house relating to clutter in the brain. There’s a LOT on the subject! Here are small excerpts on the subject, with many others writing similar things.

In an article on Psychology Today, Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. says:

Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.

Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.

Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.


On FastCompany.com, Stephanie Vozza writes a list of what else, besides depression, clutter does:

  1. It steals your focus.

  2. It increases stress.

  3. It contributes to procrastination.

  4. It costs you time and money.

  5. It aggravates allergies.

  6. It makes you fat.

  7. It keeps you from living in the present.

Wait! Did you read that? It costs me time and money and makes me fat?!?! Mercy! And she’s not the only one saying this. It’s on medical web sites and there are studies on it!

Well, what now? I live in a home with 3 other people whom I love so I can’t just get rid of anything and everything. And we spent money on some of the crap in this house, so what about that? And do I just throw things out, or try to sell them, or give them away?

I’ll be working on a plan and will write about it. In the meantime, what has worked for YOU? Any tips you can give me on how to go from full house of stuff to bare minimum?

And which of you will join me? I know one family who is already on this journey and I’m excited to be a part of it! Want to purge even one area of your house? Just the junk drawer even?

Today We’re Doing One Thing

I’m reading a post (with swearing in it, gasp!) written about Chris Cornell and his suicide and am reminded of the lengths depression goes to  and the people it hits. In the post the author Rich Larson (who I know nothing about) hit the nail on the head when he said:

“[Depression and cynicism] go hand-in-hand, along with their nasty little sister, anxiety. When the three of them get going, they just eat hope as quickly as it can be summoned. That leaves despair and despair is exhausting, not just for those who experience it, but for the people around it as well. So we keep it to ourselves because we don’t want to be a burden. And then it gets to be too much. Doesn’t matter if you’re a student, a mom, an accountant or a rock star. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written about it your entire life as a means of keeping it at bay. It doesn’t matter if the music you made about it brought in fame, respect and millions of dollars. It doesn’t matter if your entire generation has suffered from it. Depression makes you feel totally alone. You hit the breaking point, and then, like Chris Cornell, you die alone in the bathroom.

This was a well-respected member of his community; a beloved musical hero who seemed to have it all together. This could have been any of us. And brothers and sisters, if it’s you, don’t mess around with it. Please find some help.”

Yes, this! Please find some help!

Do you know how to find help? You ask someone you trust to tell you what the one thing is that you need to make sure you do today. And then you do that thing. Even if you have to nearly sleepwalk through it. Even if it means making a phone call that brings you anxiety. Even if it means walking around the block 4 times and that seems pointless. Do that one thing!

Don’t know anyone who can tell you what the next thing is? Ask me. I can’t fix you, heck I can’t even fix myself, but I can probably tell you what the next thing is.

Today, you’re not joining Chris Cornell. You’re doing the next thing. E-mail me at  mmisc (at) bitsculptor (dot) com or comment on here if you want me to help you figure out what your one thing is.

Rethinking everything…

On days like today I’m reminded that I’ve come a long way in the depression journey. I recently checked in on a friend who I knew had been struggling with depression and found out they are REALLY down deep. Like “call in the professionals” deep. The fact that they are willing to see this and have called in the professionals (psychologist, psychiatrist, GP, etc) is huge in the process. But sitting here trying to figure out how I can also help has been overwhelming.

Granted, many things in life seem to be overwhelming to me. I want to ride my bike outside. Overwhelming. I need to get rid of some clutter in my house. Overwhelming. My daughter is graduating. Overwhelming.

Fixing my friend is overwhelming.

I know it’s not my job. But I also know I’ve been there and can see the journey and the end. Not all of our journeys are the same, but there are enough similarities.

Why can’t I just have a farm with rooms for people to come stay in when they are depressed? I’ll send them through a rigorous program that they’ll hate and then they’ll be all better and can go home again. Yeah, good plan! Remove people from those they love, and put them all in a secluded place with me. What could go wrong?

So I looked through my web site to see what answers I’ve given. I don’t know. (is this a poor-me post, or what?) I wonder if I’ve turned this blog into a “how to manage your depression” type of place. But what about those who are in the very worst of it? Those you wonder if they’ll make it through the night? Those who are falling, falling, falling apart? Those who are calling in the big guns, and those who should call in the big guns but haven’t or can’t?

And this is what I’m going to mull over. Stay tuned.
(and now I want to live on a farm!)

Light and Darkness

Recently I shared a story about cycling and depression over at ZwiftBlog.com. In the weeks that followed my world blew up a bit. People began contacting me left and right saying that they too deal with depression or another chronic illness. Some have said my writing has helped them understand depression a bit better. Person after person from the UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, near and far have been incredibly encouraging. “Ride On!” “Keep it up!” “Keep sharing!”

It got me thinking about the time I was spelunking in high school. We all turned our headlamps off and it was so incredibly dark you literally couldn’t see your hand just an inch from your nose. But then one little lamp came on further down the line and everything changed. You could see. It wasn’t bright, but it was no longer completely dark. I believe it’s like this for depression too. When you don’t talk about depression it stays in the dark and so do you. When you shine even just a little bit of light on it, it’s not as dark. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt as bad, or that it doesn’t hit as hard, but for me shining a light on it means it’s less daunting. It means I feel less alone. It means I can push through and make better choices through it.

Knowing there are many places in the Bible that talk about light and darkness I decided to look some up. One of my favorites is Psalm 139:7-12– “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,’ Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” Can you even picture that? In that dark, dark cave where I couldn’t see my own hand He could see perfectly as though it was day. And in that dark, dark place my head goes to when I’m slumped on the floor wishing the depression would go away? He can see in and through me as though there is no darkness. I can’t run away from him! I can’t be too dark for Him! So thankful for that! So thankful!

So what is your story? Today you should share the part that needs some light shone on it. I started small. I started with one person. You can do that too. Share with someone safe and share it with God. Even though He already knows your story it makes a world of difference to speak it back to Him, acknowledging what’s going on.

Back On The Writing Wagon

Mildly humorous is the fact that “Silent No More” is the name of my first blog post, and yet I’ve written almost nothing over the last several months. That’s the funny thing about writing about depression…you have to have a bit of a functioning mind to write, and yet depression keeps your mind from functioning well. I liken it to God calling someone with only one leg to run a marathon. It’s possible, for sure. Just going to have some major things to overcome during the process.

I’ll slowly work my way back to writing regularly. I have a sign up next to my computer that says “I feel God’s pleasure when I write!” And it’s true. I do. And I long to spread the word some more of the very normal mental illness called depression.

I’m learning great things right now and I want to just spew them all over this page, but I think it’ll be too much, too fast. So I’ll leave you with this one saying that has resonated in me. A saying that my dear mentor Kathy spoke to me on our first meeting. A saying I want you to consider. What does it mean for you? How would it look in your life? Here’s what she said (and oh, how right she is!) —

“Let nothing, NOTHING, come between you and our Lord!”



Ticking Off Your Daily Goals

I like to make goals (NOT resolutions) at the beginning of each year so that I can work towards something. One thing I know I need help with is being consistent with these goals. I’m in a monthly goal group where we all have our own goals and we all hold each other accountable to do them. I highly recommend YOU start something like this too, if you’re needing some accountability.

I also like visual helps in getting my goals done and I enjoy being able to check things off of a list. So I made a consecutive sheet of all the days in the year so I can watch it fill up. I made it generic so if any of you has goals (especially if you’re trying to do them daily) you can use it too. It’ll be cool to see an unbroken line of days marked off!

In the coming weeks I’ll really be figuring out what my goals are for the entire year. I’m never ready for January 1st because there’s too much going on in December for me to truly plot out an entire year. So my journey to be a better me will be put together in the next couple of weeks. I’ll share my plan then.

If you’d like to use the goal sheets I made, feel free. Pass them on to others. And give yourself grace if you don’t fill in all of the bubbles. I set them up so you can write what goal you have at the top (ie. Workout 4 days/week; Pray every day), and then cross off the bubble corresponding with the day you did the goal. Ideally you’ll see a string of checked off goals and be motivated to keep that chain unbroken!

Click here for the pdf:

Feeding the Soul Through Music

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In times of the darker depressions in my life I gravitate towards listening to darker, sadder music. It feeds my soul in a comforting and dark way to hear with my ears what I’m feeling inside. The confusion, the sadness, the paralysis enjoys a soundtrack that confirms and validates it all. It’s not actually helpful. I know that. It’s feeding a difficulty in me and keeping me where I know I don’t want to be.

So I try to force myself to listen to songs I can claim truth in. Songs that even though I can’t feel the peace or joy of I know I’ll really relate to someday. It might be tomorrow, it might be next month. But I need to listen to songs that mean more than just stagnant death and wallowing in my own filth. But man, it’s so much easier to wallow. At least at the time.

Below are some of the songs I enjoy. I need to listen to and claim the truth in them. These are the songs I need to play while I’m alone…so I can just be me and cry through, raise my hands through, be angry at, or do whatever else I need to do. Sometimes I don’t believe the words in these with my head, but I sing them asking God to please let me believe them.

What songs do you listen to that help you, even if you have a hard time believing them?






How to Handle a Depressed Person

“Do you want encouragement, or do you need me to slap you?” This is what my friend just asked me after knowing I’m struggling like all get out. And she was right to ask me. Because she didn’t know which I needed. Although, when I’m in the throws of this suffocating depression I don’t even know what I need. But the question made me laugh so I suppose I just needed a small bit of humor.

But what does a depressed person need? Let’s actually start with what you SHOULDN’T do–

don’t judge them. having depression doesn’t mean they’ve done anything wrong. it doesn’t mean they don’t believe in God. it doesn’t mean they are sad. it doesn’t mean they haven’t read their Bible enough. it doesn’t mean there’s unconfessed sin in their life. do not judge them!

don’t do to them what makes you feel better for you. you know, like hugging the person who hates hugs, or getting together with the person who needs quiet, or talking about the people you know who are dealing with depression or about that one time you were so sad. what do THEY need? it could be different than what YOU need. and it probably is.

don’t tell them how to “fix” themselves unless either a) you have been through it already and are giving them some ideas on relief, b) you’ve done a ton of your own research and are willing to walk with them through all of the ideas you’ve found, or c) you are willing to pay for them to get medical treatment. “you need to read your Bible,” “you need to think positive.” these are not helpful.

don’t tell them the logical reason why they shouldn’t feel bad. they know in their head all of the good that’s around them. they know they have a nice house, a good family, that the sun is out, that the coffee tastes good. don’t forget, they aren’t sad. they have a medical illness. just as soon as you can think your way out of a bout with pneumonia then you can expect them to think their way out of mental illness.

don’t tell them about the other depressed person you know in an effort to have them go through it together. depressed people can hardly help themselves, let alone someone else.

What DOES a depressed person need when they’re in the worst of the muck? Here are some things I’ve come up with (choose something that works for you and start there):

do an everyday task for them. make them a healthy meal. mow their lawn. do their laundry at your house and then return it clean and folded. if you’re close enough to the person, clean their house. pick the kids up from school (with their permission). everyday tasks seem like giant mountains to them that you can climb for them.

pray for them. don’t even worry about asking how to pray. just pray. pray for healing. pray for relief. pray for the people living with them who are in the trenches with them. pray that they make good choices even when it’s hard. pray. and if you are able to pray over them in person, do so.

be understanding. if they cancel their meeting with you, be okay with it. if you see them acting silly and happy, don’t question it. take your cues from them. remember the verse Romans 12:15? it says “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” they may not want to be around people, and that’s okay. just send them texts of encouragement so they can look at them on their own time. understand that they have an illness and work with it.

help their caregiver. most people already have a caregiver like a spouse or close friend. ask that person how you can help THEM. it can have nothing to do with the person dealing with depression. you could wash the caregiver’s car. you could take a load of garbage to the dump for them. you could take their car in to have the oil cleaned. you could clean their gutters. you could send them away to have lunch out while you watch the kids. if they don’t have a caregiver, check in regularly with them asking two simple questions.

go on walks with them. make them small at first, and convenient for them. walk for 10 minutes. even if it’s just a slow trudge. then add two more minutes every few walks. even if it’s raining. they need to be outside for a bit and they definitely need their blood pumping. be careful though. if you’re not someone they know well and trust completely you could turn into more of a nag each time you beg them to walk with you.

read up about depression on medical web sites. learn about it from a medical perspective so you can understand more. if all you know is from what you’ve heard or seen over the years then you’re doing your friend AND you a disservice. become educated.

send them notes of encouragement. whether through facebook or e-mail, texting or *gasp* snail mail, a word of encouragement can be powerful (just keep in mind the other tips above as you’re writing it).

As a depressed person it can be SUPER awkward to share the information above with friends and family. It’s like you’re saying “you’re not helping me right!” So if you could do the world a favor and share this post with YOUR friends and family so that it’s less awkward for the rest of us, that would be awesome!

Two Magic Questions

I have a really smart, upbeat and motivated friend who isn’t crazy. I mean, she’s crazy, but more of a “likes to have fun and make you laugh” crazy and less of a “diagnosed with a mental illness” crazy. Don’t get me wrong, she’s human and has struggles, but she and I struggle with different things and don’t expect each other to fix the other person, so it works out well. Recently she was telling me she has another mentally ill friend (we’re all over the place!) and she asked a wise and godly nurse how she can help this person. The nurse gave two questions to ask consistently. Two questions that anyone with any mental illness should be asked.

If you’re a person with a mental illness, or you’re the loved one of a person with a mental illness, you need to ask these questions regularly:

1. Is it time to re-evaluate my/your medication?

2. Am I/Are you seeing a counselor regularly?

Whether you take medication or not, your body is changing. You’re getting older, you may be gaining or losing weight, your hormones (even you men) are changing, your body could be tolerating your medications differently. Your body will not be the same every month or year. Your medication may need to be changed and you should be evaluating that regularly. But check with your doctor before doing ANY medication changes on your own!

Whatever your mental illness is it’s always going to be easier to go through if you’re able to sort things out with a counselor. Some of us will need more counsel more often than others, but all people with mental illness need to be seeing a counselor. If you don’t like yours, find it too inconvenient to get to, they cost too much, etc then change counselors. I live in a small town and there aren’t a lot of options for counseling, but that won’t stop me from finding a good fit. Be sure you’re not just shopping around or avoiding them because you don’t want to dig into your messed up insides. That’s not helpful. Go see a counselor.

That’s it. Two magic questions. Medication and Counseling. Go ask yourself if you need to add more or less of those. If you don’t know the answer, go ask your “likes to have fun and make you laugh” crazy friend and see what they say.

my journey through depression