Fall Down and Get Back Up

I’ve been thinking a lot about the struggles I’ve had in the past with panic attacks and depression, and while I’ve shared small snippets over the years, it wasn’t always easy to come clean about what I was in the midst of.

Now, a couple of years beyond it, I’m able to reflect back on them with some clarity (something that can feel sorely lacking in the midst of that cycle…)

Writing down my stories to share makes me feel vulnerable, and yet, I also feel driven by the sense that there are so many of us affected by these same struggles. Knowing I was not alone was one of the greatest things in the process and in taking steps in my recovery.

As I work through my stories, I struggle for words. I struggle with the memories of what it feels like to go back to that place. I see a person in paralyzing fear and anguish.

Yet, as I continue searching, and wipe the mud and muck from my view, I see someone who fought through it. Who found a Way to understand what was happening.

I no longer suffer from regular panic attacks.

Oh, I feel them knock on my door.
Whisper in my ear.
There are triggers, and I know them well.
They sit waiting for me to be overly tired or stressed.

But they no longer hold me captive.

And that is where I want this chapter of my story to begin.
Because it is worth celebrating.

But the past can’t be forgotten, because there are many others who have fallen and fear that it’s that last time before they can no longer get up.

Don’t believe it.
Don’t listen to those whispers.

_____________

linked up to Just Write

I’m an Immature Agitator with a Questionable Heart

Okay, so that might sound a bit harsh. So let me explain.

Sometimes you can hear something over and over and nod your head in agreement, and then forget about it before the sun sets on the day. Or maybe you hear it, agree to do something about it, but never really get your heart behind it. Same result – any change is only short-lived.

Then there are times where something smacks you in the face so hard, that the imprint is left for weeks afterwards. And you hope and pray that it stays with you. Because that smack in the face was pretty painful.

Yeah – see that big fat red imprint on my face? I think I have had such an encounter.

When I come on this blog each day, I have edited and rewritten any words that I post. I can put my best face forward for all of you to appreciate and applaud for any fine thoughts I might have. I can sound so sweet and flowery – the picture of calm and together-ness.

But I’ve got to level with you.

At the same time I am sounding sweet and flowery, I have probably just turned from yelling at my 2 year old, rolling my eyes at my 5 year old and kicked the cat. Okay – maybe not that last part. (But isn’t that a sad commentary, that we all probably gasped harder about that last bit than the bit about the yelling and eye-rolling directed at the kids?)

The truth is, I am not always nice with my tongue. My tongue has spewed out some hurtful things in the past. I have said things that if someone were recording my every word, I would hide in shame during the playback. Words spoken to my husband, an ugly tone to my children…

I say things to my children at home that I would never say when others were around.

This is hard and painful to admit, but it’s the truth. And I don’t want to pretend that I am someone that I am not.

And yesterday I was convicted of this issue. Even though it is something that I have been aware of, I hadn’t forced myself to make the change. Because of the depression that I have long suffered from, it was easy to hold on to that as a reason. “Ooooh, someone hasn’t taken their meds today. (chuckle chuckle chuckle…)”

But frankly, it’s not a worthy excuse anymore. (not that it ever was).

Our pastor just started a series on James 3, 4 and 5. The series is entitled Faith in Action. Sunday’s sermon was on chapter 3, which focuses on the tongue.

Three things are shown about the tongue in this chapter of James:

Verses 1 -2 show that the tongue reveals our maturity, or lack thereof.
The Greek word used for perfect in this verse actually means mature.
The words we choose and speak reveal our maturity. Were you to walk around and listen to others as they speak, you’d be able to get a sense of that persons maturity.

Last week, I threw a temper tantrum at my kids. I apologized and put myself in the naughty spot when we got back home. It was humbling and, I dare say, embarrassing, but a lesson for us all.

So, I openly admit that I am immature. Temper tantrums don’t sit well with the mature crowd.

Verses 3 -8 reveal that the tongue is an agitator in relationships
Eye rolls, tone of voice, sarcastic and biting comebacks etc. — all are agitators and forms of verbal abuse (though, I recognize that eye rolls are not verbal… they convey a lot).

This type of abuse is prevalent in our world. James’ advice is to not be that person. Don’t go there.

and
Verses 9 – 12 show that the tongue reveals our heart.
From good, flows good. If I am filled with good (the Holy Spirit), then through that, good can flow forth. If I read scripture and memorize it and fill my heart with the fragrant and good that comes from the Lord, then that will show up in my words and actions.

The good person brings good things (words) out of the good that is stored up within him. (Matthew 12:35a)

(*to read the sermon in its entirety, click here)

So, there you have it. ME. But hopefully, God-willing, I can soon say that this was the Past Me, not the Present Me. I want my words to build up and not tear down.

Now where’s that cat? (I’m KIDDING!!!!)

Wearing masks

I don’t usually talk about the depression that I’ve suffered from long before I started having panic attacks. In fact, the reason I had medicine for my panic attacks was because I was already on medicine for my depression.

It’s not an easy thing to talk about because it’s not an easy thing to understand. I think that there is more compassion from society as more people admit to struggling with depression… But it is still a hard thing to admit.

Back when I was realizing that I was dealing with something bigger than I could handle on my own, I went to a Women of Faith conference. It was the one that my 90 year old grandmother had her wallet stolen from her purse as we walked over to the arena from the hotel. It was the one that I had looked so forward to because I attended with my mom, sister-in-law and grandmother, but didn’t get to sit with my mom because they had to sit W.A.Y. up where they could wheel my grandmother’s wheel chair. It was the one that Bug attended because he was 5 months old and I was still nursing him.

But it was also the one where the Lord spoke so clearly to me.

I knew, from attending other WoF conferences, that Shelia Walsh suffered from depression. But she spoke something at that conference, in 2003, that cut right to my heart. I still didn’t want to admit what I knew was true: that I was in the midst of depression and had been for years. I wanted God to heal me from it. I wanted it to just go away. I didn’t want to take medicine for something that would stop if I just prayed hard enough.

What I didn’t count on was God’s answer.

Sheila was discussing her depression and how she wanted to be free of her medicines. She felt that she had to have been healed from her depression and that if she stopped taking her medicines, everyone would be amazed by the amazing changes.

By dinner, her husband asked her if she had forgotten to take her medicine that day.

Distraught, she went to her bedroom and sobbed and cried out to the Lord. Why hadn’t He healed her? Why hadn’t He taken away her thorn?

As she quieted herself, she heard God’s answer. “I did heal you, through your medicine.”

I knew then and there, that God could certainly completely remove my depression in an instant. But I also realized, that sometimes God chooses to keep things there and walk with us through them.

And that is what He has done with me. My depression keeps me closer to Him, because it makes me aware of the fact that I am broken and need Him. It reminds me that He is there at all times. Some people might think that by taking medicine I don’t have enough faith that the Lord can heal me. And that the meds are my crutch. But I have no crutch other than the Lord.

I don’t always understand the Lord’s ways. But I DO trust Him.

Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
Psalm 119:49-50

“I discovered that our brokenness is a far greater bridge to other people than our pretend wholeness ever is. I still take medication for depression. I probably will all my life. I know God could heal me like that, but so far He hasn’t. But I remember that the Good News is not me. The Good News is Jesus.”
~ Shelia Walsh

(for more information on depression, please check out Shelia’s book: The Heartache No One Sees)