Monday, March 18, 2013

Confessions of Depression

Last year at around this time, I was sitting in a mental hospital because the anti-depressant medication I was taking had an adverse reaction (side effects: psychosis and well, you can guess). Rewind and you will find out I started suffering from depression and anxiety attacks a few months earlier after my father died suddenly in a car crash. You will also discover that it was greatly affecting my ability to study, so I had to leave college. 
The hospital was my rock bottom. I was ashamed. I couldn't believe I was there... with those people. I wasn't them. Rewind to the week before my dad passed. I was on the dean's list. I was taking 21 credits and kicking butt. I was on the fast track to graduate the following semester, and I had a fiance I was going to marry after we graduated. 
There I was coloring and watching Tarzan with other drowsy and drugged adults. I was being surveilled. The patients had all developed a sense of comradery, and I became a part of that for that week. Rewind to the night I was admitted, to the night my fiance held me and cried. He told me he was proud of me and reassured me that I was doing the right thing. I was so aware in that moment of the hurt that I had caused him and my family. 
I remember hearing a girl scream as she attempted to harm herself. I remember the nurses running to her aid, and I remember when she was transferred to a more intensive care unit. 
Rewind. Rewind. Rewind!

This incident and week became one of my best kept secrets. I remember checking my phone when I left and being angered by the lack of texts from any of my friends. I only had one friend who let me know how annoyed she was that I didn't respond. I remember constantly thinking, "If they only knew." But the fact was they didn't... many are finding out right now. My intention of this blog was not to heap guilt on anyone, but rather to alleviate the burden of this secret. Last night, the pastor preached about transparency in the light of God. When we are in His light, we need not be ashamed. He has completed His forgiveness in us. We are to live in freedom. 

What many don't understand is how one can be a Christian and still deal with depression. "Don't you understand that the joy of the Lord is your strength?" Because it is a tough subject for many to grapple with, the church has made depression a taboo subject-- or worse, simply a demonic oppression. Here are some Bible characters I believed had depression: Job & David. Job managed to continue to follow God although he was very evidently depressed and struggling with why God would allow such things. David was a man after God's own heart, yet a third of the psalms seem to say, "woe is me" and "where are you God?" God knew that as a result of a traumatic situation I would become overwhelmed and overcome by grief. God knew that the trauma would result in a lack of production of serotonin in my brain. God knew that like Job, I would not leave the fold, but I would struggle and I would feel sorry for myself. God knew that like David, I would feel very estranged at times.  

It has now been a year since my hospitalization. For the most part, I have consistently been doing better. I am no longer on medication, but that wasn't easy. I have now transferred to specific vitamins, exercise and healthy living, in hopes that I will continue to keep depression at bay. I am so thankful that I am doing markedly better on my journey... but sadly, I doubt everyone who spent with that week last year is. Depression robs our world of so many beautiful people. It robs some of their physical lives but others of their happiness and livelihood. Most who suffer through depression suffer silently. 

To the sufferer: you are not alone. There are so many of us who have been where you are. Start talking to someone you trust. & remember God wants to walk out this journey with you. He wants to ease the load. 
To the Christian who doesn't know how to handle depression: there are people all around you who need your comfort, compassion and help. If it makes you uncomfortable because cannot relate, deal with it. Christ did not come to this world to make the happy happier. 

Rewind to who I was before all of this and you will find a girl whose faith had only lightly been tested, who didn't know what it was like to experience death or loss, who had no idea the difficulty that would make her future marriage stronger... Fast forward and learn that battling with depression has grown this girl into a stronger and better me. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Time For A New Me

Resolutions are not only for January. You can resolve parts of your life whenever you want. 
Recently, I decided to make a few changes of my own. I really desire to be a well-rounded person; I want to be healthy in body, mind and spirit, and I truly feel that God wants us to be devoting time to all three. 

 Matt and I recently started at a church that we are loving. Community and fellowship with other believers is so pertinent to our own growth. I am so excited for our future at this church. Also, Matt and I have been praying together daily, and I believe that it has united us on a much deeper level. It is such a blessing to vulnerably share our relationship with God with each other.

We signed up for a gym membership. After 5 days of workouts, I can honestly say that I am already feeling quite a bit better about myself and am experiencing much more productive days. I look forward to the transformation process that results from this. 

As many of you have probably noticed, over the last year or two I have been struggling with my weight. Well, it is time for me to put that behind me. This is an extremely healthy alternative for one meal a day. You may not believe me, but look into the isagenix products!

These are just some of the items I bought at the grocery store the other day. Eating right is more than just eating to lose weight; it is eating towards better overall health. Changing from a non-existent diet to something more stringent is difficult, but here's to discipline!

A couple weeks ago, I jumped on the vitamin train. Honest to God, I have already noticed a change in how I feel. Here is my regiment. Mornings: Women's 1 a Day (although I take more than that haha), Vitamin C, Fish Oil (for mental health), Echinacea (for immunity boost), 5HTP (for serotonin), Biotin, Collagen & Keratin (for Hair, Skin & Nails), & Big 100 from GNC  (a B complex vitamin for metabolism and energy). Nights: Calcium with Magnesium (the Magnesium helps one sleep). 

Honestly, I have been struggling with my productivity, but I hope the life change in the other will trickle into the energy (and depression elimination) that I need to be a great employee. I have so many dreams for what I want to do at my job. I plan on getting better. 

Lastly, I love reading, but I never seem to make time for it. My final goal is to block out more time to read. These are the books I am in currently. 

I decided to post this in order to feel more accountable to my life changes. Now that I have written down my goals, they become a little more real. What are your goals?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Hair & Change & Insecurity

"She'd only loved two things. The first was her long, dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off and not feel a thing." - 500 Days of Summer

Today's adventure was chopping off my hair. I say adventure although it is an adventure I embark on every year or at least every other year. I love when I have grown it out long and I can do crazy things with it, but most of all I love growing it out to chop it off. Most girls have experienced the feeling of reinventing themselves through their hair. It is such a wonderful process in womanhood. Unlike, Summer in the movie, we always feel when we get a hair cut; we feel upset at a tragic one or beautiful after a great one. No matter how silly it may sound to a man, our hair feeds us so much of our identity. 
Many of you do not know that I have been diagnosed with signs of early hair loss. Two years ago, I went to a doctor to find out why my hair was thinning. My blood, thyroid and stress levels were tested, and it was said that there was nothing I could do to reverse the process. I still pray often that God would be merciful to me, since I get so much joy out of my hair. Needless to say, this process has made me appreciate my hair all the more. It has made me thankful for the moments I have with my hair. Today, I loved holding the wet hair in my left hand and taking the scissor to it in my right. On Valentines, I loved curling it special. On the honeymoon, I remember Matt complaining about how long I spent doing my hair. These are treasured moments. 
We are all given little battles and big battles in life. This is one of my little battles. For two years, I have carried this embarrassment  and shame. In all reality, we are all carrying these little battles-- as we all want to be the ideal woman. You might be waxing your upper lip or wearing shirts that make your boobs look bigger or smiling with your mouth closed because you don't like your teeth or constantly going to the bathroom to re-apply make up... or (this might be the winner) taking ten "selfies" until you get one you like enough to post. 
Ladies, we are all in this together. Rather than tearing one another apart when we learn each other's beauty secrets, take the high road. Commend your sister for their vulnerability. Encourage them and point out their beauty. You have the power of life in your hands, and you also have the opportunity to be free. Release the insecurity. Share your feelings of failure. Be brave. Stand firm in who you are. And stop comparing yourself to an ideal woman. You are beautiful.