All posts by monica

And Yet, I Sobbed

Last night I cried myself to sleep. Nothing bad had happened. Nothing bad is going on in my life, and yet I cried myself to sleep. I sobbed, actually.

I have a godly, loving, hardworking husband. I have kids who love Jesus and are fun to be around. I have good friends and a good relationship with all of my siblings. But I sobbed.

I have a personal relationship with God. With GOD! I love Him very much and want to bring Him glory by how I live my life. And yet I cried myself to sleep.

I have a big, warm house. I have a healthy family. We have enough money. I had just gotten out of the hot tub. I have a hot tub! And yet, I sobbed.

Nothing on the outside was wrong. Nothing in my heart was wrong. But I have a mental illness, and sometimes that means my brain doesn’t work and it makes me think I’m very sad. It doesn’t tell my why I’m sad. I can’t choose to not be sad. So I cried myself to sleep. And when I woke up, my eyes were puffy but I wasn’t crying anymore and something had broken and I was able to move forward again.


I was on a mountain trail last week, on a bike, near a ravine, trying to pretend for my kids that I wasn’t scared. Eric and I had taken the kids out to ride some trails on Boggs Mountain. Eric is a seasoned cyclist; the kids and I are not. The first half of the ride was littered with crying and walking some bikes and falling (not down the ravine) and frustrated words. The second half of the trip, however, was lovely. We rode hard and fast and laughed and encouraged. But the second half of the trip didn’t have a ravine. And riding the second half was when I had my aha moment about the first half…anytime I was looking at the ravine I’d steer closer to it. Super dumb, I know. It wasn’t on purpose for sure. But Every. Single. Time. when I’d focus on that stupid ravine I’d ride wobbly and closer to it.

And that reminded me of a time when I was a firefighter. I was riding up front as my Captain drove one night. I turned on the spotlight and was pointing it on the side of the mountain as we drove down a windy road. My Captain asked me to turn it off immediately. He said he kept wanting to drive the engine in the direction I had the light pointed, even when he knew it would have a bad outcome.

What do these stories have in common? Focus. Each time I focused on the ravine, I turned towards it. Each time my Captain focused on the spotlight he wanted to drive in that direction.

I started thinking about what I’ve been focusing on lately. And since I’m a list-maker I found these things to be my focus.
* Mornings are terrible
* The summer is long and difficult
* Everything will be better in the fall
* Life is hard for me
* Exercising sucks
* Reading my Bible and praying won’t do much good
* Eric probably can’t stand being around me

This list is a bunch of bull. (My mother would have freaked out that I wrote “bull.”) It is total bull. These are lies I tell myself. Focusing on them drills them in to me even more and I live as though they are true.

Earlier this year my sweet friend, Gabbie Sloan posted a photo on Instagram of a list she had made for herself. It was a list entitled “10 Things I Know To Be True.” She then listed out 11 things (yeah, I know) that she knows are true. I thought long and hard about what I know to be true and I too made a list. I’ve since transferred that list to a map that I can hang on my wall as well as a 3×5 card that is placed above my bathroom sink. I read the entire list at least twice a day. Because when life gets messier and my head is filled with the lies again I need to have that list already in my head, or at least easily accessible. It’s a reminder that there are just some things that will never change, even if my head tries to tell me differently. And that will help keep my focus on what’s true. I will work to believe these things. I will work to focus on truth.

What do you need to focus on, and how are you going to remind yourself? Please share!8 things i know to be true

Offering Who You Are




I saw this on Instagram recently and was so motivated and convicted by it that I’m pretty sure a literal light bulb came on over my head. I often struggle with taking care of myself, but this makes sense. I’ve decided I’m going to put this into practice this week. Will you do the same? Will you also be intentional to take care of yourself this week so you can offer who you are from a place of strength rather than exhaustion? If so, let me know. I’d like to hear from you!

Inspired by a Kid!

As I’ve embraced my depression more in the last few months I’ve found inspiration to deal with it in some of the coolest places. One such place was on a visit to a dear friend’s house. Her young daughter has been struggling greatly with OCD tendencies. When I’d been at the house for a while this little friend of mine invited me to play Barbies. We were figuring out a storyline and dressing the Barbies up when I noticed a sign on the wall next to her bed, written in her handwriting. It was precious! It said “What to do when OCD tries to get me.” Then it listed out 7 different things she will do and examples of how to do them. I was impressed! She’d taken the things she knows that help her and then put a list in a visual place! I was immediately inspired to write a list for myself!

Now, I’ve mentioned before that when I’m in the middle of severe times of depression making decisions is not a good idea for me. I cannot trust my own thoughts. And I definitely cannot give in to any of the actions (or lack of action) that seem like a good idea during this crazy-brain time. On the flip side, when I’m not severely depressed I can see what I need to do during the bad times. Not that I have some magical cure, but more so I have ways to cope.

So, I waited it out and made the list below when I was feeling positive, motivated, happy, strong. I then checked it with my husband (whom I trust implicitly) to see if there was anything I should add or remove from the list. Now, the plan is to use the list, choosing as many of the things on it as I can muster. Except for number seven and number eight. Those must happen the entire time I’m at my worst!

My list:

“To Do When Down (even when I don’t feel like it)”
1. Cry out to God first.
2. Drink tons of water.
3. Do yoga.
4. Warn Eric.
5. Eat as best as I can, even if it means getting a salad from the local restaurant.
6. Take a walk.
7. Don’t believe anything I tell myself.
8. Don’t make any major decisions.

That’s it! Now I’ll just sit back and wait for the moment when I’m doing less traversing through the mire and more sinking in it and I’ll test this list out. I think the accountability of knowing I’ll have to report back about it all will force me to do more than I usually am willing to do.

If you’d like to try this I’m happy for you to use my list, but I’d also like you to consider making one of your own. Start with mine if you want, modify it for yourself, and then ask a trusted friend who will speak the truth to you if there’s anything you need to add or remove.

Update—I waited. And there I finally stood in a glob of swampy goo again. I wasn’t traversing. I was sinking. And I wanted to be successful with my list above through the sinking, but the mire kept me from it. I can’t even explain it. I always try to figure it out, but it’s difficult to really put it to words. People who have dealt with depression in their own lives know what I mean, but those who don’t often times don’t get it.

So during this standing in the mire I purposely ignored #1-6 of my list. And I confronted a friend about an issue, thereby also not doing #8. Thank God for loving friends who don’t hurt easily! This is all proof that I’m not a superhero. I’ll try it again next time.  Sigh.

The Struggle Is Real

The following is something I wrote on a day that was pretty rough for me. It’s unedited. Raw. I hope that if you are dealing with depression as well you may be able to relate, thereby feeling less alone. If you’ve never been depressed though, this may help you to see a little of the struggle that people with depression go through. I’d also like to add that often times in the worst of my depression it’s hard to express feelings so this post is actually not even the worst of the crazy.

“Today isn’t good. Well it might be good, but I’m slogging through mire so it feels all bad. Although when I say I’m slogging through mire it sounds like I’m making some sort of forward momentum but I’m not. And I ate all the bad foods in the house today. And I’m mad, but I have no good reason to be mad. But I can’t stop being mad. And I feel gross, which is probably because of the food. And it’s 10:14 at night and I should just go to bed but I just want to eat all of the bad stuff some more, even though it will make me feel worse. And I don’t care. And I don’t want to use punctuation anymore because it’s annoying. And I want everyone reading this to think I’m amazing even in my brokenness, but at the same time I want pity. Is it possible to be amazing and pitiful at the same time? I don’t even know. I’m going now to eat a cookie. Why did my husband and daughter make cookies? Because I hid my pain well enough today so that they didn’t know I couldn’t handle the cookies in the house. My poor family.”

Dealing With My Junk

November 14, 2013 was a very pivotal time in my depression journey. But let’s start with 3 years prior. November 14, 2010 was the day my mother died. She battled cancer for 7 long years. We weren’t particularly close, but I believe her death triggered my depression. Don’t read that wrong. I’m not blaming her. It was just a traumatic and stressful time for me. I am the second oldest of 5 kids.  All 5 of us kids were very much involved in our own ways with Mom and Dad’s care during and after those 7 years, but often many of the responsibilities of holding the family together fell on me. I’m the one who wrote regular updates on a blog for seven years to keep family and friends in the know. I’m the one who called Dad’s doctor when he was making grunts about being suicidal. I’m the one who held my tongue when someone blamed me for something I didn’t do, so as to keep the peace. I’m the one who went with my parents to my Mom’s last oncology appointment as my Mom sat confused because her brain cancer was taking over. I’m the one who was next to my Dad as Mom took her last, horrifically difficult breath. The one who sat with him on one side of Mom’s body while he was on the other side calling my siblings and the funeral home. I’m the one who planned much of the funeral and made sure the obit and funeral home were taken care of. I’m the one who moved my Dad in with me and my family because he was so severely depressed and couldn’t live alone anymore.

And somewhere in all of that, things were coming to a head. I have little idea as to what I could have done differently to prevent the depression and really, now it doesn’t matter. I can honestly say it was an honor to do the things I mentioned above. I’m not complaining. They just are what they are.

So back to the 3 year anniversary of my Mom’s death….with the help of the Pastor that was counseling me, along with the encouragement of my husband I decided I needed to take the entire day off from being a Mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister and just be alone to feel. I drove around to various places we lived growing up. I took pictures. I remembered. I pined. I took myself out to lunch and thought. And then I went to a park my parents had taken us to when we were little and I read through old letters and looked through old pictures and I remembered more. I remembered good and I remembered bad. I cried and I smiled. I felt.

And I wrote. First, I wrote my Mom a letter. I thanked her for many things, and then told her what she had done that made me mad. And then I forgave her for those things. Things I was ashamed of holding on to. Things I felt guilt over. I put it in the letter, wished her well and signed it. I know she won’t actually read the letter, but it was a HUGE burden to release a lot of that junk.

Next I wrote down every detail of the moments surrounding my Mom’s last breath. I often had nightmares, even 3 years later where I could again see in great detail that last minute or so. I’d wake up sweating and crying and couldn’t sleep again. I desperately wanted to forget but in a way, I couldn’t let go. So it felt like if I wrote it all down I’d still have it to refer back to someday, but I wouldn’t have to store it in my memory. And you know what? It worked. In the last 19 months I’ve only relived it once. That’s huge for me!

When the 4 year anniversary of Mom’s death came I was relieved to find that I no longer felt any guilt on that day. I could truly look back on her life and her death with peace. And I still feel that way. Even during the times when I’m at my worst I know that I have dealt with the junk surrounding her illness and death and it doesn’t pain me anymore to reminisce.

Whether you are dealing with depression or not, I strongly urge you to deal with your junk . Whether it’s difficult stuff you’re dealing with, or sweet memories that still pain you, DEAL with it! It’s sweet relief when you do! It is desperately painful as you deal with it, but so worth it in the grand scheme of things. What is it that pains you to think back on? Go deal with that!

Vital Mental Medicine

Sir Ernest Shackleton, the great British Explorer once said “We must have that banjo! It’s vital mental medicine!” While I do LOVE the banjo I definitely don’t consider it vital mental medicine for me (although I’d take it over bagpipes or the accordion). But the quote got me to thinking…what is MY vital mental medicine? What is it that, when I’m severely down, I turn to to bring me back up?

You know what I came up with? Nothing. Not one single thing. I need to look at this “vital mental medicine” differently. The word “vital” means “necessary to the existence.” It seems this “vital mental medicine” is something you’d take BEFORE you got down. Especially since when you’re down you don’t really feel like you exist.

I would say reading the Word would be my vital mental medicine. And so would meditating. Deep, slow, focused breathing. And so would exercise. Like a brisk walk outside, or Holy Yoga. But these are all things I have to do BEFORE I get down. But why do they all have to be things that don’t come easily to me? Things I’m not naturally drawn to? I have no answer for that.

The second part of this is knowing how to keep with your vital mental medicine even when you’re having a crap day. Eric keeps telling me, mostly on my worst days that I need to “work my plan.” When I was feeling good I had made a plan for each day of the week. The plans always include reading my Bible, exercise and meditating, along with all of my housewife and Mom duties. So when I’m feeling poorly I need to work my plan (plan your work, work your plan).

It makes sense. When I’m thinking clearly I made a good daily schedule. When I’m not thinking clearly the one decision I have to make is to do the next thing on my schedule.

I also give myself more grace on those bad days. If I’m not able to do everything on the plan at least I’ve done SOMETHING (which is a whole lot more than if I didn’t have a plan at all).

So there you go. I’ve got my vital mental medicine worked into my plan. Sticking to the plan I made when I felt happy and sane is what will keep me from complete nuts-ville on the really bad days. Now figure out what YOUR vital mental medicine is and then make a plan. If you only have depression-filled days right now then ask someone you trust to make a plan for you, even if it’s a temporary one. And then work your plan.

Oh, and for the record….I know that vital mental medicine is never alcohol or shopping. Don’t put those into your plan.



Don’t Always Believe Everything You Think

I often find myself wondering “Is what I’m thinking reality?” It’s one of the scariest things I deal with because I very much value truth. To not know if my own thoughts are true freaks me out! People who deal with depression often have a ridiculous amount of lies floating through their head.

An example from my own life…a few weeks ago the black cloud of depression was lingering over me for several days in a row. About 6 hours into it (literally, 6 hours!) I couldn’t shake the thought that this is how my life has ALWAYS been. That every moment of every day of my life has been spent under this dark cloud and that it will never let up.

Over the next few days I made it through those lies without building on them or acting on them. The black cloud lifted and I began thinking rationally again.

The only way I got through those days without making those lies my new truth is because of what I chose to do BEFORE the cloud came: I choose ahead of time to be aware of my mood and believe almost nothing in my head. Yes, you read that right. I believe almost nothing in my head. If it wasn’t a true thought when I was doing well then it’s not a true thought now. And I get people who know me and love me to tell me what to believe. I do have a mind of my own and I’m intelligent, but I have too many lies in my head off and on and so I choose to believe people I trust during that time. If I am believing something negative (“My kids would thrive if it weren’t for my depression.” “I’m good at nothing.”) and especially if it’s an absolute (“I can’t make ANY good food.” “My life is NEVER going to be good.”) I choose to not listen. It’s so hard to do though, and that’s why I have to decide to make those choices BEFORE I am in that bad place.

But I hate it. I hate that I can’t trust my own thoughts at times. They are in my head. It’s MY head!

Maybe someday I’ll have my brain back. Until then:

  • I Ask God to fill my head with His Truths
  • I try to memorize Bible verses (I got this idea from Beth Moore’s “Breaking Free”)
  • I keep myself in the Word
  • I do a lot of apologizing to people who feel the ripple of my acting on the falsehoods in my head

Silent No More

I’m a “just yank the Band-Aid off” type of a person so I’m just going to start my entire blogging/writing journey by saying this: I am a 39-year-old Christian woman who suffers from depression. Not like “Man, I’m so depressed and the only thing that will cure it is chocolate.” More like I’m sitting on the couch for hours on end crying and staring and I’m desperately tired and I have no way of moving forward.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression; meaning something is physically wrong with my body. I say this here and now because I think often in the church depression isn’t talked about openly and therefore most people don’t understand it. I personally didn’t understand it until I saw a godly family member suffer in the saddest of ways from depression. I had always thought that all forms of depression could be cured by being a “better Christian.” I was wrong.

This blog is my way of getting the word out there. I am a woman who loves Jesus dearly and is clinically depressed. There’s nothing wrong with that. It is what it is. Hopefully others suffering similarly can feel some relief knowing they are not alone.

If you are also a Christian woman suffering from depression I hope you’ll take this journey with me.