Posts filed under ‘Depression’

DAY 29: THE FIRST ORNAMENT

RED CHRISTMAS BALL with snowflake

Well, it’s happened.

We’ve opened up the Christmas decorations and taken the first one out of the box.

That’s it.

There’s no turning back.

Christmas season is officially upon us whether we like it or not.

And you know what?

I don’t mind it nearly as much as I expected.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas decorations. Yet this year the prospect of dipping my toe into the runaway train that is Christmas, on the heels of a seemingly endless stream of houseguests, travel, speaking events, and most recently Thanksgiving cooking…didn’t exactly leave me chomping at the bit.

Yet to my surprise, once my hubby pulled the gadzillion “red and green” boxes from the garage, put up a few decorations, and turned on the Christmas music channel, complete with fun factoids about quaint Christmas customs in obscure Scandanavian countries, I gotta admit: I was hooked.

Suddenly I was 5-year-old-with-hot-chocolate-and-marshmallows happy, with shining eyes, a glowing heart, and my feet dangled from the couch for sheer delight. I know that sounds incredibly sappy. Who knows, maybe it is.

Yet even that grown-up smirk on your face isn’t gonna slow me down…

Cuz I’ve rediscovered a life-giving truth I’d almost forgotten: A little childlike joy now and then can sure CURE what ails you. If you don’t believe me, give it a try. It’s positively liberating.

All of which got me thinking…

I wonder how many other simple JOYS I’ve missed because I was…

too tired

too stressed

or too grown up

…to stop and enjoy a happy moment?

It’s worth pondering.

Right after I get a second cup…

…of that amazing hot chocolate!

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November 29, 2014 at 2:02 PM Leave a comment

DAY 25: RELEASING AND RECEIVING

BOOTS walking thru leaves

For many, today’s the big day…before the big day…before the BIG DAY…

Cuz Thanksgiving is Turkey day…

The day before is cooking day…

And the day before the day before…?

For some it’s food shopping day, loose ends day, or the last day of work before the holidays. For me it’s all those combined.

Yet I’m also dubbing today “releasing and receiving” day.

I recently talked with a close friend who’s going through a tough season. She described her experience of pouring her heart out to God with tears and gut-level honesty — and how it freed up space in her heart for peace, comfort, and encouragement.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good.

Because I often get so wrapped up in responsibilities and concerns and “just one more thing” moments that I forget the simple principle of releasing and receiving.

RELEASING my frustrations, disappointments, and struggles

RELEASING my idea of how things “should’ve gone”

RELEASING my white knuckles of perfectionism and control

And making room for…

RECEIVING God’s comfort, encouragement, and provision

RECEIVING reassurance that God DIDN’T drop the ball after all

RECEIVING a fresh flow of the Spirit for TODAY’s challenges…

And I realize that my tendency to hunker down and just “get through it” may be the very thing that’s making life tougher than it needs to be.

Yes there’s still a lot on my plate today…yet a brief releasing and receiving walk just moved to the top of my list!

How about you?

Hope to see you out there…

WOMAN walking on autumn path

November 25, 2014 at 10:45 AM Leave a comment

DAY 24: GRATITUDE COUNTDOWN…

SAD GIRL IN LEAVES - thanksgiving colors (CROPPED)

Can I be really thankful…THIS year?

Just three days til Thanksgiving!

For some that’s happy news, while for others this Thanksgiving falls right in the middle of a challenging season.

  • Maybe you recently lost your job, experienced a painful break-up, or are battling serious health issues?
  • Or maybe you’re knee-deep in a season of disappointment that doesn’t fit neatly into polite Thanksgiving conversation?

If that’s how you feel this year, take heart – you’re not the only one.

In fact, I’m kind of in that boat myself…

Don’t worry, there’s no huge catastrophe going on in my life. Yet for a combo of reasons I’m just not feeling all that yippy-skippy about the holidays. Sometimes life just deals us challenging cards to play that don’t always fit neatly into our cheery “holiday calendar.” In those seasons, a day of mandatory gratitude can seem like like trying to lift a thousand pound weight up the side of a mountain.

Yet this year I’m starting to wonder…

Maybe starting our gratitude inventory EARLY could help us find some hidden treasures in the midst of our holiday blues?

I figure it’s worth a try. And I’m game if you are.

Here’s today’s gratitude countdown question…

What about your current situation is actually EASIER than your normal circumstances? 

EXAMPLE: Not near family this year  

WHAT’S EASIER: Don’t have to cook enough for an army – who knows, maybe you’ll go out?  

And what will you actually MISS when this season is over? 

EXAMPLE: Lost job / Out of work

WHAT YOU’LL MISS:  Don’t have to ask for time off for the holidays – and no grumpy boss on Monday!

(Okay, now it’s your turn…)

I look forward to hearing your answers…AND pondering mine!

KEEP CALM & GIVE THANKS (orange)

November 24, 2014 at 11:16 AM Leave a comment

DAY 23: WHAT TO SAY WHEN A LOVED ONE IS DEPRESSED – part 2

SPEAK LIFE - woman and man

“The tongue can bring death or life…” Proverbs 18:21

This is the second of two guests posts from my friend Dr. Michelle Bengtson, a neuropsychologist who writes extensively on the subject of depression. If you missed it, check out yesterday’s post called “What NOT to Say When a Loved One is Depressed.”

Scripture tells us that the words we speak can produce life or death. As a practicing psychologist, I find this to be true with respect to mental illness as well.

The words we speak over our loved ones can built them up or tear them down. Just because we haven’t experienced the same suffering, doesn’t mean that their suffering isn’t real. Yet what we say may communicate just that.

In my practice, I often hear people saying things to or about depressed loved ones that only serves to knock them down further. Often I don’t believe that is the intent, but comments are made because they don’t know better. Even the Bible says “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

If you aren’t sure what is inappropriate to say to a depressed loved one, read my post entitled “What Not to Say When a Loved One is Depressed.”

People who suffer from depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses often struggle with self-esteem, guilt, and shame. What they long for is to know that regardless of their suffering, they are loved, accepted, and not alone.

As you wonder what to say to help a depressed loved one, let scripture be your guide: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

The Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue

Here are a few things TO say to someone struggling with depression, anxiety, or some other mental illness:

-I love you. You may have said this 1000 times before, but to the depressed individual, there is no better time to hear such words than when they are struggling to love themselves and wonder if others will give up on them and stop loving them too.

-I’m here for you. This sounds like such a little thing, but to the depressed individual who feels alone in their pain, this can be amazingly comforting.

-You are important to me. It’s vital to the depressed person to know that they are still acceptable, accepted, and loved.

-I’m sorry that you are going through such a painful time. It is frequently communicated to the person with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness that they should be able to just get over it. But expressing your sorrow for their pain communicates that you really do care, even if you don’t fully understand.

-Is there something I can do for you? This communicates your willingness to help. Sometimes a depressed loved one won’t be able to think of anything specific you can do to help, but just your offer will lend comfort and encouragement. On the other hand, often the little things weigh heavy on the depressed person’s mind. Your offer to help may really lighten their load. But as an aside, don’t offer if you don’t intend to see it through. That would make things much worse.

-Depression doesn’t mean you are losing your mind. When you suffer from depression, you can be more susceptible to believing that something is “wrong with you” and that you are the only one who suffers. Depression often has chemical roots just like a thyroid disorder. Having depression makes someone no more crazy than does having hypothyroidism or diabetes.

-You may not believe this now, but you won’t always feel this way. This might seem obvious to the nondepressed loved one, but to the depressed individual, they often need reminding that there is hope. The Bible tells us that “joy comes in the morning” and that’s a reminder that the depressed need to hear.

-What do you think might help you feel better? Asking this question helps reorient the depressed individual to think about those things that help them feel better rather than focusing on the negative.

-Who do you have as a support system? Asking this question helps the depressed individual think about who they have to lean on through this difficult time. It also lets you know to what degree they are really alone or perceive themselves to be alone.

-Is there anything that might be making your depression worse? This question can help the depressed individual begin to think about those thoughts, attitudes, or behaviors that perpetuate their depression that they may not otherwise be aware of.

-Is there a time when your depression is worse? This question will clue you in to when they are most likely to need your support more. For some, mornings are difficult when it entails facing the whole day ahead with no change in their condition. For others, night time is the loneliest time.

-We will get through this together. This communicates your acceptance, and your love.

-Nothing. In this case, it isn’t just a cliché. Actions often do speaker louder than words. I’m reminded of the passage in the Bible when Job encountered great hardship. In Job 2:13 it says that his friends came and sat with him for seven days and nights. During that time, they didn’t speak a word because they saw how great his pain was. Words could do nothing to help his misery, but their company spoke volumes.

Remember, when you are speaking to a depressed loved one, your goal is to encourage and uplift them. “But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief” (Job 16:5 NLT).

Keep Calm and Speak Life

How can you encourage a loved one today?

To read more practical insight and advice, be sure to follow Dr. Bengtson’s blog at www.Dr.MichelleBengtson.com. 

November 23, 2014 at 12:29 PM Leave a comment

DAY 22: WHAT NOT TO SAY WHEN A LOVED ONE IS DEPRESSED – part 1

WOMAN SIDE VIEW - michelle bengtson blog pic (1 of 2)

“The tongue can bring death or life…” Proverbs 18:21

The holiday season can be a tough time for those struggling with depression, and for those who love them. Today’s guest post is from a dear friend of mine, neuropsychologist Dr. Michelle Bengtson who writes extensively on the subject of depression. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for PART 2: “What to Say When a Loved One is Depressed.”

Scripture tells us that the words we speak can produce life or death. As a practicing psychologist, I find this to be true with respect to mental illness as well.

The words we speak over our loved ones can build them up or tear them down. Just because we haven’t experienced the same suffering, doesn’t mean that their suffering isn’t real. Yet what we say may communicate just that.

The words we speak can help another ease their suffering, or they can dig a pit just a little deeper. The words of Toby Mac’s song, “Speak Life” ring true. For all of us, some days are wonderful, while others bring so much despair we can hardly imagine. But the words that are spoken over us can magnify our current condition.

Here are a few things NOT to say to someone struggling with depression, anxiety, or some other mental illness:

-It’s all in your head.

-Snap out of it.

-This too shall pass.

-What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

-You can always find someone worse off than you.

-I know how you feel (unless you really do know how they feel, and they know it)

These comments are derogatory to a person suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. You wouldn’t say these things to someone who has cancer, epilepsy, or paralysis.

By and large, these comments have become cliché in our society, and really reflect a lack of understanding, empathy, and acceptance. But even more importantly, they do not build one another up (“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

These comments can leave a person with mental illness feeling worthless, unvalidated, and minimized. Such comments communicate that their pain isn’t serious or isn’t important, or that you believe they choose to suffer. People who suffer from depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses already often struggle with self-esteem, guilt, and shame.

What can you say to speak life over a depressed one? If you’re unsure, read my post entitled “Things to Say to a Depressed Loved One.”

To read more practical insight and advice, be sure to follow Dr. Bengtson’s blog at www.Dr.MichelleBengtson.com. 

SPEAK LIFE - michelle bengtson blog pic (2 of 2)

November 22, 2014 at 3:48 PM 1 comment

DAY 15: LIFE IN THE GAP

 

GAP in freeway (with skyline)

Life in the gap…

 

I started this poem in 2009 and finished it in 2014. Funny how some things never change: Like our utter dependence on the Author of the story…to help us live out our particular chapter.

 

IGNORANT I’m not

Though in truth wish I were

Cuz then I’d have an alibi

For why my life’s a blur

 

A waterloo of follow-through that never quite completes

A host of good intentions never ever quite set free

 

INSIGHTFUL yet unable

To apprehend the how

Of letting things I understand

Inhabit here and now

 

An undertow of “I don’t know” that dulls my aching mind

Til in the end I comprehend my clever sight’s gone blind

 

My ERRATIC GPS

has left me broken-hearted

From jumping off high cliffs

And landing where I started

 

It’s time that I surrendered and found a source of strength

Beyond myself and my own will to get me past the brink

 

IGNORANT He’s not

Of how the pieces fit

He knows just when to start

And when it’s time to quit

 

He knows which tangents slow me up and which ones spur me on

And patiently He whispers until on me it dawns

 

INSIGHTFUL of the plan

The one that’s in His heart

He focuses my flailing

So I can play my part

 

So unafraid of twists and turns is my intrepid Guide

That He can work it all for good while I enjoy the ride

 

EMPOWERED by the freedom

To pick and choose within

The path that I have chosen

In partnership with Him

 

woman leaping across cliff (blue background)

“Suddenly God, your light floods my path . . . I vault the high fences.
 What a God!” 2 Samuel 22:29

November 15, 2014 at 1:32 PM 2 comments

DAY 12: WHAT ARE YOU IN THE MIDDLE OF?

in the middle maze - with red question mark

 

Are you in the middle of a…

 

difficult project

 

troubled relationship

 

painful emotional struggle?

 

 

Do you find yourself …

 

out of solutions

 

hanging on by a thread

 

wondering how it’s all gonna turn out?

 

 

Believe me, I’ve been there more times than I care to count.

 

Let’s face it, we all have.

 

Yet when it’s happening to you, the fact that it happens to “everyone” doesn’t help much, does it?

 

What helps is knowing God has a way of meeting us IN THE MIDST of our challenging circumstances. It also helps to know that others can truly empathize with what we’re going through.

 

Today I find myself wondering…

 

What kind of challenges are YOU in the middle of?

 

If you’re feeling brave today, I invite you to leave a comment…

 

Feel free to be as general or specific as you like. Whatever it is you’re going through, there’s probably someone else who’s been there. And God is there with you even now.

 

Yet sometimes the first step toward moving through a challenging season is simply admitting you’re there.

 

And reaching out to someone else who’s been there…

 

IN THE MIDDLE

 

November 12, 2014 at 12:12 PM Leave a comment

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KIM ALDRICH

Writer... speaker..."growing edge" seeker

ABOUT ME

Each new day offers a fresh opportunity to learn or languish, stagnate or grow. Like all sincere Christians, I face the ongoing challenge of finding THE GROWING EDGE.

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WORDS TO GROW BY

TEN WAYS TO LOVE

1. LISTEN without interrupting
(Proverbs 1:8)

2. SPEAK without accusing
(James 1:19)

3. GIVE without sparing
(Proverbs 21:26)

4. PRAY without ceasing
(Colossians 1:9)

5. ANSWER without arguing
(Proverbs 17:1)

6. SHARE without pretending
(Ephesians 4:15)

7. ENJOY without complaint
(Philippians 2:14)

8. TRUST without wavering
(I Corinthians 13:7)

9. FORGIVE without punishing
(Colossians 3:13)

10. PROMISE without forgetting
(Proverbs 13:12)

2014 NaBloPoMo!

NaBloPoMo November 2014