Anxiety, Depression and Help

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If you or anyone you know has expressed suicidal thoughts or actions please call the National Helpline SAMHSA: 1-800-622-HELP (4357).

Know that you are not alone! “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

My Last Months

The month of May for me was one of incredible procrastination.  In fact June, as it is almost over, is not going so great either!  Every time, I sat down to write, I was filled with nothing and even worse I had no motivation to try to sit down and write!  There has been a blankness in my mind and my heart.  My life has seemingly been taken over and filled with distractions and anxiety.  Does this sound like something you perhaps yourself has gone through?

Many people suffer from depression, anxiety or a combination of the two.  During this time of isolation. fear and everyday bringing a knew unknown, the reality is more and more people are succumbing to these intense emotions then ever before.

What is Depression vs Anxiety?

According to Mayoclinc, anxiety and depression are both very different conditions, but many times manifest together and are usually treated similarly.  While they may have similar characteristics they can manifest in a variety of ways for a variety of people.  The World Health Organization states: “Depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors. People who have gone through adverse life events (unemployment, bereavement, psychological trauma) are more likely to develop depression. Depression can, in turn, lead to more stress and dysfunction and worsen the affected person’s life situation and depression itself” (WHO).  They also state that depression affects more women then men which leaves us mamas and our ever changing hormones at even greater risk (WHO).    

My Struggle with Anxiety/Depression

I have experienced some form of depression and anxiety for most of my life.  I have both been on medication and have dealt with it on my own.  My pregnancy brought on terrible depression and I was so worried that because of this I would have terrible postpartum depression.  However, I was graciously spared this!  In fact, I had never felt better!  I loved being a mom and it was very rare for me to feel sad let alone depressed or anxious!

That was until last summer.  During the summer, I experienced incredible waves of depression.  After having my LO I was involved in all sorts of things, MOPs, a moms fitness group, a women’s Bible study, music classes.  Because I was not working I was able to do all kinds of things!  But during the summer, many of these activities stopped or the friends I did them with, would go off on vacation and trips and then I wouldn’t return even if they did.  For many who have depression, you know that there is often a cycle involved.  This could be triggered by hormones, seasons or just life in general.

This summer I made a plan so that I could beat my summer depression and anxiety.  And then, before we could even reach summer, Covid-19 hit!  What a blow to everyone! No plans were safe!  Those crafted by all of us type As were smashed to bits and those who rarely had plans even felt their worlds turned upside down.  Many people have become depressed or anxious over their and the future of the world as we know it and for those of us that already struggled we are even more at risk.

Personally, I had been ready to experience some sort of depression with summer coming on but because plans became so erratic months before I was ready I was taken off guard.  I then experienced depression without even knowing it.  I did not want to write.  I did not want to go anywhere, not that I could go anywhere and it then became such a chore to even meet for Zoom meetings for the things I loved and missed.  Then anxiety hit.  I was anxious about getting sick, getting my loved ones sick or having no one to take care of my child if I had to go back to work.  I was anxious about doing things and how my LO would react to newly imposed restrictions or wearing a mask or not being able to touch anything if I did overcome my anxiety to take her out in public.  All of these feelings and emotions, that I had planned for, suck in and bombarded me.

So, here I sit almost 2 months later finally able to realize why I have been so tired, moody and restless.  What am I to do?

What the Bible says?

There are so many coping strategies for anyone struggling with any number of big feelings right now.   The big ticket scriptural verse that I think everyone should have somewhere around their house to read is, 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV).  This does not mean just us that have anxiety but everyone who worries (which is everyone at some point in life).  This means if you are worried about what to have for dinner, or if the purple shoes don’t match the pink dress, or about the next TV show you are going to watch you should give it to the Lord.  Purging ourselves of even are most smallest and silliest of worries can be therapeutic.  If you don’t feel like confessing the big anxieties to the Lord start off small!  Or you may be the opposite, you may be fine lifting up your family and health to Him but dinner seems too trivial.  I promise that the more you pour yourself in Him the easier it will become to give over every worry!

If you are a mom, or like me, a single mom it can be a real struggle to think about how you will live your daily life.  What if I can’t pay my bills?  What if I get sick? What if my child gets sick and I can’t work?  But Luke 12:22-26 (NIV) tells us exactly what we should do when we have worries about making it in our day to day lives:

  Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body,    what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

This is so powerful!  God is telling us that He has our back no matter what!  He feeds the and provides for the birds in the sky so surely He will also provide for us.  We just have to pour ourselves into Him!  Whenever we recognize (for sometimes we don’t) that we are in the midst of anxieties or depression we can take it out of ourselves and then give it to Him.

Luke 12:27-31 goes on to state:

Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Wow!  I mean as a woman and a mom there are days that I do not feel beautiful or like there is room for me to lift myself up.  In the midst of depression, these feelings really take hold!!!! But reading this passage in Luke really makes me reassess all these feelings.  Think of the most beautiful field of wildflowers…those are the clothes of the field and Jesus tells us that God, will clothe us with even more if we just have a little faith in him!  How beautiful and loved do you feel now knowing you will be clothed in flowers? God will provide us with that when we are faithful.  Therefore, give Him your anxieties and feel beautiful no matter if you have on a pair of dirty sweat pants and no makeup because the thoughts of getting dressed this morning were just too much to handle!

What Can I do?

Kristen Hewitt’s article  on how anxiety has effect her life in a wonderful read and I would encourage any mom who is struggling right now to read it!  She is real about how you can be broken but not beat and her website gives some wonderful tips on coping strategies.

Pray!  Prayer can work so many wonders! It is not only a way to get your feelings of fear and hopelessness off your chest but can be a way to start you having daily interactions and eventual conversations with God.

Make a daily routine.  Even if it is just something small as in the morning you will get up wash your face and brush your teeth.  It gives you something to strive for.  It gives you a purpose and it serves to counteract the negativity depression can leave us with.  When we push aside the depression to accomplish even one more task today that depression stole from us the day before we start to heal.

I have taken to, especially during the time of quarantine, writing my daily agenda on the mirror in my kitchen.  I started this mainly because I went some weeks not even knowing what day it was let alone what i should be accomplishing that day!  It helped me find my way back to a routine.  I now write the day of the week and what, if any appointments I have plus 1 or 2 goals I want to accomplish that day…clean the bathroom, fold laundry, etc.  While it is just me and my LO in the house, if you have a house full of people this is a great accountability tool.  Of course not everyone has a mirror in their kitchen.  Perhaps you use a bathroom mirror or you invest in a dry erase board that you put in a central location.

Finally, make sure to check in with those people close to you even if you are no longer meeting every week.  If you have a Bible study, small group or MOPs group I encourage you to install a weekly check in time.  Text a friend once a week if you still are unable to meet in person.  If you are the type of person who is still busy doing things and enjoying this summer check in with those friends you may have not heard from just to see how they are doing.  God made us people of community!  My final though is always seek help if you need it.  Not everybody can overcome these thoughts or feelings on their own and no one should ever feel like they have to.  The SAMHSA hotline is there for anyone 24/7 365 1-800-622-HELP (4357). Reach out if you need it! 

Prayers and Blessings,

KARA

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