Category Archives: Depression

Take Action!

“Choose to be happy!”
“Read your Bible more.”
“Just don’t believe the things in your head!”

There are so many pieces of unhelpful advice that people with depression receive all the time! Toxic pieces of advice that make us feel worse. I’ve tried the things above, many times. Telling me to do them makes me feel like more of a failure. It also makes me want to punch someone in the face.

Depression can’t just be willed away. It’s an actual sickness. Would you tell someone with cancer to choose not to have it? Would you tell someone with a cold to read their Bible so it’ll go away? I would think not. Clinical depression is a sickness. Making your mind up about it isn’t what gets rid of it.

But because it’s a sickness I need to take action. What do I do when I have a severe sore throat? I may take medications, call a doctor, talk to a friend about it, google it. And if one of those doesn’t take the pain away, I try more solutions. If my doctor didn’t help, I find a new one. If the medication didn’t help, I find a new one. If my friend told me to quit being a baby I’d talk to a different friend. The point is, I need to keep looking for answers and help.

It’s the same with depression, friends. If what you’re doing isn’t helping, do something else. Keep fighting for health! For the love, if you haven’t done so, call your Doctor!

Take action! Please!
(if you need help to know what action to take, see this article)

Describing Depression

I had a super crap 4 days last week! Horrible, horrible depression. And I tried to figure out how to describe the feelings I was having (or, at times, the lack thereof). I couldn’t. But I started reading a book that I won’t recommend because it has a lot of the F word in it, which I’m not a fan of. It’s a hilarious book but also can be serious. It’s Jenny Lawson’s book “Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things” and you’ve been warned, it’s crass. Anyway, here’s what she says about depression for her:

“There’s something about depression that allows you (or sometimes forces you) to explore depths of emotion that most “normal” people could never conceive of. Imagine having a disease so overwhelming that your mind causes you to want to murder yourself. Imagine having a malignant disorder that no one understands. Imagine having a dangerous affliction that even you can’t control or suppress. Imagine all the people living life in peace. Imagine the estate of John Lennon not suing me for using that last line. Then imagine that same (often fatal) disease being one of the most misunderstood disorders…one that so few want to talk about and one that so many of us can never completely escape from.”

This made me wonder how others try to describe depression, so here’s what I’ve found.

–“Having depression is like being trapped in a really bad thunderstorm. You don’t know when it’s going to hit, you never know how long it’s going to last, and when it finally passes, you’re left to survey the damages and pick up the pieces.” — Tiffany Johnson
–“Depression is frustrating. It’s knowing there’s so much to be grateful for and happy about and to enjoy, but you just can’t get there.” — Allie Griffin
–“It’s an inability to feel anything at all.” — Miriam McCallum
–“It’s like having a bully in your head.” — Nicky Limmer

From this Huffington Post article:
–Depression is seeing no future, and no answer for any of the problems in your life.
–Depression to me is like having your mind replaced by another one that makes me feel worthless and numb to life—even to my own husband and son. It deprives me of feeling anything other than a sense of perpetual sadness, never quite knowing the source of it but knowing that feeling well. Depression has stolen my confidence and now I no longer feel I am worthy of anyone’s love. Depression calls me names and makes me have awful thoughts, and there have been times when depression has won and I’ve taken an overdose.
–Multiple emotions: fear, despair, emptiness, numbness, shame, embarrassment and an inability to recognize the fun, happy person you used to be.
— Like mourning the death of someone you once loved—you. When you look in the mirror you see only dead eyes. There is no spark. No joy. No hope. You wonder how you will manage to exist another day.

“I’ll never forget how the depression and loneliness felt good and bad at the same time. Still does.” – Henry Rollins, The Portable Henry Rollins

“I was drawn to all the wrong things: I liked to drink, I was lazy, I didn’t have a god, politics, ideas, ideals. I was settled into nothingness; a kind of non-being, and I accepted it. I didn’t make for an interesting person. I didn’t want to be interesting, it was too hard. What I really wanted was only a soft, hazy space to live in, and to be left alone.” – Charles Bukowski

And then there’s this insanely great spoken poetry by Sabrina Benaim – “Explaining My Depression to My Mother”!

And this essay, called “This is What Depression Feels Like – In The Words of Sufferers.”

And now that I’ve read through all of this I feel kind of yucky. Not In-The-Mire yucky, but just feeling down because I can feel all the same things I just read about other people.

And now I’ve completely lost why I started this particular blog post in the first place. And I need a nap. Stupid depression.

The Four Ways I Cut Down My Depression

I’ve recently cut down my bouts with depression. And here’s a long story about how!

When I first found out I had depression it was a daily thing. Every ding-dang day! Crying. Staring off. Just so tired I wanted to sleep around the clock. Unable to move forward except to pick my kids up from school. Absolutely NO progress in any area of my life.

Eric “forced” me to go see my doctor. She confirmed that I indeed have clinical depression. She said I needed to do three things to get a handle on it. 1) take medication, 2) exercise, 3) see a counselor.

These made sense to me, so I did what I think most people probably do (especially in the beginning), I took medication. That’s it. It was the one I felt I could do at that time, and it showed me enough results (after a couple of weeks) to make me feel like I could get a handle on it by just doing that.

Months went by, maybe even a year. The medication was fine and made it to where I was functional again. But I was barely functional.
So I thought I’d add another thing the doctor told me to do. I went to a counselor. This counselor was wise, but I needed a little something more. So I tried a different counselor. And wow! I made SO much progress because of our sessions. He would give me homework and I decided I wouldn’t waste his time by coming back empty-handed, so I always did what he said (which sometimes meant there was a whole month between sessions).

I was feeling so much better and my bouts with depression lessened, but still, I wasn’t fully functional. And I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I may always deal with depression, but I wanted to feel better more often.
During all of this time I would go on walks. Eric kind of forced me to. But in a loving, but sometimes firm way. He gave me goals, he encouraged me, he went with me, he cheered for me. It started slow and small. Sometimes when I walked it was more of a march of defiance. “I’ll walk but I won’t be happy about it!” Other times I got caught up in the fresh air and the sun and the smell of the lake that I’d walk longer.

But then last summer Eric bought me a mountain bike. He was helping me to really pursue that last connection to health that my doctor told me about…exercise. Eric had taken up cycling and thought I’d enjoy it too. It was okay. I got places a lot faster than walking, but I mainly rode because he wanted me to and it gave us a little something that we both liked. It started slow and short. 20-30 minute rides at about 12 mph. It was the most I could do without quitting.

And then I got bit by the cycling bug. I don’t know what the bug looks like but when it gets you, it gets you. Between enjoying the freedom of cycling, coupled with having to take care of no one but myself, plus enjoying people thinking I’m awesome because I ride (I’m just being real here, folks) I just wanted to ride more. So I bought a used road bike and started riding more. And farther and faster. Don’t get me wrong. I still have to FORCE myself to ride, but once I’m on the bike I really like being out there.

And finally I was doing all three things my doctor told me to do. But here’s what really changed things for me (good heavens, could it have taken me longer to get here?)… I started seeing a nutritionist. She tested me to see what nutrients I was in need of. I saw results immediately after taking those supplements. A plan tailored just for me. After a couple of months of seeing her my days of severe depression are down to around 3 a month. And they aren’t as severe. And the rest of the days aren’t perfect but I’m very functional!

So ALL of that to say….I think there are 4 things everyone who deals with depression needs to do.

1) take medication. Some people can take it for a short time to just get through to the next stage of life, while others may need it for the rest of their life like I probably will.
2) exercise. Start with 15 minutes a day. You DO have 15 minutes that you can walk, ride, swim, jump over a rope, or whatever. Do it. Even on the good days, and especially on the bad days. Then after a while, add 5 minutes. But don’t think about that now. Just schedule in 15 minutes a day and do it!
3) see a counselor. Find someone who can help you. If you see some weirdo you don’t like, switch. See someone regularly and DO the homework. You don’t like feeling crappy, right? Then do something more crappy so you can feel less crappy.
4) see a nutritionist or a holistic doctor. They can test you to see what supplements your body needs. And if you don’t like the first one you go to, go to someone else. If you can’t afford to see someone, find a way to afford it. Sell something. Quit buying things you don’t need. Ask someone if they’d consider helping you (but don’t take a loan, you don’t need debt on top of depression). If this just CAN’T happen then do your own research and start eating better. Like no processed food.

You are an amazing person for just reading all the way to here! Go drink a giant glass of water now and decide on one of the things above to go do! You’ve got this!

Jumping Out Of My Teacup

I’ve been putting off writing on here, mainly because hello, I have depression. I put everything off. And then when I put whatever it is off it’s just a little too long since I’ve done that thing so it’s harder to start doing it again, so I put it off more. And that makes it even harder to start doing that thing again, so I put it off more. And then one day, I just realize that I basically gave that thing up and I have to live with the guilt and the wishful thinking of doing that thing again….and, well, it’s a vicious cycle. And one I’ve learned that if I’m going to get out of it I just have to jump out randomly (think of a spinning teacup at Disneyland where you suddenly jump out while hoping for the best). So here’s me jumping out of my teacup! SPLAT!

I’m going to write more. And it’s probably going to be mostly unedited, because that holds me back. Unedited means not only will sentences be a little annoying, but I’ll probably be a bit more crass. But then, is that really a bad thing?

Building Character One Right Choice at a Time

I’ve been thinking about you all a lot lately as I’ve been reading a new book. When I say “reading” I really mean devouring. Picture someone who hasn’t eaten in a long time with a giant plate of gooey ribs in front of them. Grabbing two in each hand, chewing off every little bit of goodness, not caring how messy their face, hands, clothes, table get. That’s me with this book. I’ve got so much to say about what I’ve been learning. Here’s a nugget…or one gooey rib.

John Maxwell’s “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth”
Law #3: The Law of the Mirror
You must see value in yourself to add value to yourself

Point #5: “One of the best ways to build self-esteem is to do what’s right.
What happens when you don’t do the right thing? Either you feel guilt, which makes you feel bad about yourself, or you lie to yourself to try to convince yourself that your actions weren’t wrong or weren’t that important.
Every time you take action that builds your character, you become stronger as a person – the harder the task, the greater the character builder. You can actually ‘act yourself’ into feeling good about yourself, because positive character expands into every area of your life, giving you confidence and positive feelings about everything you do.”

I’ve found this to be EXACTLY spot on with my depression journey. On the days when I do drum up enough inside me to do something I should do I feel so accomplished at the end of the day. It doesn’t have to be the entire day that I’m doing whatever this thing is, it can be something small…making those phone calls I’ve been putting off, or finally cleaning that one corner of the room that always gets filled with junk, or pushing myself to work out (and then working out longer than 20 minutes!). On the flip side, when I don’t do the right thing that day, I go to bed feeling terrible about who I am as a person. Much negative self-talk runs through my head and I wake up the next morning still feeling it.

I don’t believe that depression comes from low self-esteem but I do believe that the longer I’m dealing with depression the worse my self-esteem gets. And I’m finding that the more I work to build my character the easier it is to make choices that help me, instead of making me worse.

So I ask you, what one thing can YOU do today that will allow you to go to bed tonight feeling the satisfaction that you did the right thing?

Doing Difficult Things. But Not That Difficult.

God gave me the worst New Year’s resolution for 2016! Usually I look forward to starting something in the new year. Even if it’s tough and I don’t stick to it to the end. But this year God clearly gave me a pretty bad one! He said I need to quit watching TV by myself. I can watch TV or movies with Eric (which is usually about 40 minutes each evening), but if Eric isn’t around and isn’t watching then I’m not watching anything either. The Whole Stinking Year! So I’ll fold laundry without TV. I’ll workout without TV. I’ll work in the kitchen for hours on end without TV. I’ll have NO way to give mental energy to shows. AND, because Eric will be watching the shows as well there will be no more “Survivor” or “Biggest Loser” or “Hawaii Five-O.” I know they are dumb shows, but they let me escape my own thoughts and they entertain me. And I’m not watching any of them for a year.

At first I felt like this was too much of God to ask of me. I’m home all day long almost completely by myself. Plus, I’m usually doing something productive while watching. But then I realized two things: The first is that when my kids have had a lot of screen time (video games, movies, texting, etc) they have poor attitudes afterwards. It made me realize I do too. The second is that God isn’t calling me to move to some hot, dusty, dangerous place to share the gospel with people who are about to kill me. He’s calling me to quit watching TV. I’ll survive.

Deep down I’ve always known that TV has been making my depression worse. I don’t know how or why, it just has. And there are other things that are making it worse. Like eating sugar, not exercising regularly, drinking coffee, and allowing clutter to build up in our house. So this year, even though I don’t think these things will get rid of the depression, I’m going to do hard things so that at least I’m not making myself feel worse than I already am. And it won’t kill me to stop watching TV. Truly it won’t. Even on days when my depression is the worst and I want to just sit around and veg-out in front of the TV I will survive without it. And I’ll probably need to come read this for the added inspiration to forge ahead.

I’d like to hear from you. What is it that you know makes your depression worse, but you do it anyway?

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.