Love Letter From Depression Part 2

Hello Ashley,

This is Depression. How are you? Well, don’t answer that. You know I really don’t care. You know what I do care about is why we haven’t been spending time together like we used to? I mean, I see you every once in a while. Every time I think we are going to get back together, you leave me for a guy name Jesus. Like, why? What does he have that I don’t?

You cannot deny it, Ashley. We were so good together. You loved me, I loved you. All we needed was each other. And then this Jesus character came along and told you that you would be better without me. I was shocked! I never thought you would see me for who I really am. I honestly thought we would be together forever.

Remember, we used to have the best times together. I miss your tears of loneliness and hopelessness. I miss how we used to stay in bed together for days, even weeks at a time. I miss how you used to put me ahead of your family. Now you act like you never had such a wonderful, miserable history. You used to tell me how I was the only consistent entity in your life. Now I feel like I am nothing to you.

It’s pretty obvious that whoever this Jesus is that he means more to you than I ever have. That’s how I know he’s powerful because I used to be your whole world. Now all of a sudden he is. I’m angry and hurt because now I know I’ve lost my best victim.

I will never let you go. I will always come back and visit to see if you’ll take me back, I will never stop loving you. But because I see that you are stronger than you have ever been, I’ll have to bring my A game.

Love,

Depression

Click here to read Love Letter from Depression Part One

Learning Life’s Journey

journey

Turning 30 has given me a different perspective on life. The amount of awareness that I’ve experienced has been a little overwhelming. A small example; I used to be one of those people who hated the idea of having insurance. Any kind of insurance; car insurance, renters insurance, medical insurance. I thought, why pay for something that might NOT happen to you. Then I turned 30. Now the idea of insurance is a necessity, something I refuse to live without. I remember last month our car insurance lapsed for 30 hours and I was in a panic. All I could think about was how it would just be my luck that I would get into a car accident on the ONE day I didn’t have insurance. I blame this fear on life experience (being in an accident without car insurance and dealing with that hell) and turning 30.

There are a lot of other things that I was used to doing and saying, that now hold a different meaning, a different value. Take love for instance. I thought love was kissing someone and being filled with unexplainable emotion (lust). I thought love was “feeling” like you would do anything for that person, no matter the circumstance. I honestly thought that wedding vow was just something romantic to say to get people teary-eyed and “awwww” mode. When in fact, it is a warning. It is a warning that life is going to get hard, really hard. And the person standing in front of you is supposed to be there no matter what. They even ask you if you’re sure if you can keep the commitment. Honestly, my first marriage, I didn’t understand that. When people told my ex-husband and I that we should wait to get married, I didn’t see why. I was forced to grow up quicker than the average kid. So, I thought I had everything figured out. I thought if I knew what I wanted and did everything to accomplish it, then my life would be great, right? Wrong! Double wrong! Triple wrong! Life is a journey, it develops in stages. Just because I was more “mature”  than the average 21-year-old, I definitely didn’t know about marriage. My life’s journey hadn’t come to the part where it taught me how to love my husband and conquer life’s challenges. Eventually, getting through my 20’s and a shit load of mistakes, I now know what it takes. I know what love truly is and I know what it isn’t.

I love my husband. I love my mother. Both are two very different people that I’ve had to learn to love despite who they are without judgment. We say we want unconditional love until you find out he/she has the ability to hurt you like no other person walking this earth. Or that the person you love has some weird fetus that you knew nothing about. (Not me, of course, just saying 🙂 )

I like to read comments on Instagram about celebrities breaking up for whatever reason. It’s funny to read what others think about love and marriage. You see comments like, “I would never put up with that.” or “He/she wouldn’t be able to treat me like that” or my favorite “I would leave if he/she ever did that.” If you love someone unconditionally and they show you a side of themselves that you didn’t know anything about (I’m talking something like a porn addiction, not spousal abuse) and you leave them without helping them through it, then why did you marry them? Why did you repeat those vows to your partner? Now I know that love is waking up next to the same person every day, not wanting to kill them. It’s waking up next to them being just as committed to them as you were on your first date, hell, even your wedding day. It’s learning something new about them every day and love them despite how it may annoy you, hurt you, or disappoint you. Love is working through the tough crap, the really tough crap! The “I don’t know if I can do this anymore” crap and loving them despite. Love is accepting any change that life throws your way and working through it together; mad, sad, whatever. You do it together, for the sake of your love, your marriage, and your family. It’s realizing that your relationship is bigger than what you want or need. It’s about someone else’s needs. My husband and I have been through a lot, but I would trade it in for anything in the world. Our trials were hard, but they taught us how to love each other so much more and appreciate each other so much more. So when we say “I love you”, it’s not just something we say out of habit. We’re really saying, “Thank you for sticking around and appreciating me. Thank you for loving me despite my flaws and secrets.” We know the worst parts of each other and that is what makes our love so strong. We know that whatever we face from here on out, we got this, cause we’ve been through worse.

Life is a journey. You can’t rush it, you can’t force it. No matter what you think you know, trust me, you don’t know the half of it. We may plan our journey, but God may have other plans. When He throws your plan out of the window and set His in place, it would be in your best interest to follow it. I thought my marriage to my ex-husband was a good idea, not knowing my current husband is what God wanted for me and I’m so grateful that His plan was way better than mine.

I now see insurance as something to have WHEN an event happens, not IF it’s going to happen. Life is one tricky bitch. The moment you think you have her all figured out, BAM! a curveball smacks in the face. Plus, life doesn’t discriminate. No matter who you are, life will happen! I never understood that until recently. I can admit to that. It makes it easier to not look at life’s challenges like something is happening to you when in fact, who isn’t it happening to? Everybody I know, right now, is going through something life-altering, but trust your journey, grow from your journey. You will notice your perspective has changed and that have you made progress, no matter how small you may think it is. 

“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.”  -Mandy Hale

 

 

Changing your Mindset; Becoming More Mindful

Imagine, for weeks at a time, you are unable to sleep, eat, or even function. Your mind is so heavy and so clouded, that you are unable to see the wonderful things in your life. Some time has passed and now you are able to see the beauty in things that you weren’t able to before. Spiritually, you feel hopeful and that every challenge is just one step closer to becoming who God wants you to be. Well, this is definitely me! I struggle with depression, but instead of seeing the glass half empty, I embrace the knowledge that every glass is half full. All because of I am learning about managing my stress and mindfulness, which is, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

What is Depression? A lot of people have a misconception of what depression is and how it can develop a life of its own. There are two main types of depression that you may be experiencing; reactive depression and clinical depression.

Reactive Depression

  • Medications, such as steroids, are known to make you more emotional and prone to depression.
  • Common in people with Lupus
  • Since Lupus directly involves our nervous system, it causes such symptoms like memory issues, difficulty concentrating, confusion, and mood swings.
  • Overall, sickness can cause more sickness

Symptoms of Clinical Depression

  • Feeling like a failure and that nobody loves you
  • Feelings of hopeless, empty, or lost
  • Losing interest in things you once enjoyed to do
  • Feeling like life is worthless and that you can’t go on

If you have Lupus or any other auto-immune disorder, you may be experiencing one of these or both. Personally, I’ve struggled with depression way before I was diagnosed with Lupus. Depression is a lifelong struggle for me. It is something that I’ve had to come to grips with and accept. It’s like any other illness, such as Lupus, that I have to manage, most times on a daily basis. Giving up is not an option and money is extremely tight, so I’ve had to research free ways to become healthier; meditation, maintain a healthy diet (which is hard!), prayer, and mindfulness.

I am mindful of my condition in this present moment while acknowledging my feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. I have Lupus, there I said it. But, Lupus doesn’t have me! I have accepted that stress is apart of everyday life. It’s how I choose to deal with stress that determines how I feel overall. Chronic stress is like kryptonite to lupus warriors. It makes our flare up so much more difficult. So we have to reduce our stress.

Ways I’m Learning To Reduce Stress

  • Eliminate triggers- I’ve had to think long and hard about what and who stresses me out. Example, Facebook stresses me out. The only thing that I get when I walk away from scrolling down my timeliness is stress, worry, anger, and frustration. So, I deactivated my profile. Right now, I am unable to separate those feelings. When I close the app, I still have the world’s destruction and everyone’s opinion about it, on my mind. It is so unhealthy.  
  • Exercise
    • You don’t have to exercise, exactly. You can do yoga, walk around the block, or simply walk to the mailbox. There are days that we can’t or won’t move due to pain, but being proactive helps you feel better, more accomplished.
    • You can do this 2-3 times a week. Pace yourself and know your limits.
  • Eat Healthier Foods
    • For lupus warriors, it would be best if we ate more anti-inflammatory foods.
    • Foods That Fight Inflammation
    • Avoid foods that worsen inflammation, such as, soda, pastries, margarine, lard, white bread, and red meat.
  • Mindfulness Meditation
    • Mindfulness Meditation is all about directing your attention to the current moment and accepting that things are the way that they are. In regards to lupus warriors, we have to accept that this is what we are dealing with and calmly regain a sense of control over our lives and this disease.
    • Make time to meditate, even if for a few minutes, every day.
    • Find a quiet space
    • Sit up straight with your legs and upper body relaxed. Good posture helps you breath easier.
    • Be aware of each body part, and try to become completely relaxed.
    • Focus on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose (extending your belly outwards) and slowly out through your mouth.
    • Start in slow increments; meditate for 5 minutes and increase daily or weekly.
    • Personally, I like to have mediation music playing in the background to help me focus.
    • How to Guide to Mindful Meditation

Being a lupus warrior is exactly that, I am a warrior. I fight battles every day. Some caused by everyday life and some caused this illness. There are some circumstances that I am unable to change, but how I choose to deal with them is half the battle.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from any of the symptoms above, please talk to somebody about them and/or your doctor. Depression is life-altering and should be taken seriously. Be your own advocate. You simply may be dealing with receptive depression, but there is a fine line between that and clinical depression. Also, here is a Stress Test that helps you determine how stressed you are. There are others like it online.

   “In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility.” ~Victoria Moran

Resources
Dr. Therese Tryniecki, Phd
Lupus Foundation of America Heartland Chapter

Trust The Process: What Choosing Life Looks Like

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Live for Today. Choose life. The mantra that I repeat to myself everyday, every hour, and sometimes every second. Chronic illness will try to trick you into thinking that your life is over after diagnosis. We aren’t the same people that we once were. We aren’t able to do the same things that we once did. It can be devastating, if you let it.

Two simple words with so much meaning. Choose Life. I feel as though God has given me sign after sign to stand still. I’m so used to moving and grooving. I was on a fast track to finally becoming financially stable. I had just finished school and after 10 long years, received a college degree. I was working at my dream job as a registered medical assistant at a prestigious hospital, and I loved the day-to-day interactions that I had with my patients. I really felt like I was making a difference. But then, I became ill. After going through the “woe is me”, “my life sucks” phase, I began to notice that God is trying to tell me to be still during this storm.

“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (NLT) (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Now when I think about my battle with Lupus and Fibromyalgia , my perspective has completely changed. After reading His word, I was reminded that God will break you to position you, to put you in the right place, and to promote you. Lucky for us, He is a just God and a loving God, so when he breaks you, it will not hurt you or destroy you because He is also a graceful God. Trust the process that God has set before you. We may not always know why things are happening to us, but honestly, it’s not for us to know. When God wants it revealed, it will be revealed. Until then, trust the process.

Trusting His process is hard, at least it was for me. But then, after nine long days of going through a lupus flare I noticed something different about my husband. It’s not that he did anything different, it’s just God changed my perspective. When I’m in pain, everything that he does is annoying. Everything he says I take offensive and sometimes everything he does is wrong. Well, at least that’s how I felt when my mind is so engulfed in my own pain, that I am unable to see how blessed I really am. Until today. Today, my husband woke up, got our three children feed, clothed and ready for school and then went to school himself. Immediately afterwards, grabbed lunch for me, then went to his first day at his new job, only to come home, cook dinner, feed the kids, entertain them!, put them to bed, and still have the energy to give me a deep-muscle massage to relieve my body ache.

I immediately asked my husband to forgive me. He has been a ROCK throughout this entire process and I’ve taken him for granted. He effortlessly makes me laugh and smile everyday so I wont think about the pain. He tries so hard to make me happy, even when I’m working his last nerves. And most importantly, he is an amazing father to our kids; helping them understand and cope with what mommy is going through. Thank you Jesus for sending me this man! He is proof that You have not forsaken me, nor forgotten about me. You’ve sent the perfect person to stand with me and push me to beat this.

God has placed the tools that I need in my life to get through what I used to call a tragedy. I would be lying if I said wonderful things haven’t blossomed during my illness; I’ve grown closer to my husband, kids, and family members. I’m able to be more attentive to my families needs and wants. I’ve even been able to build a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ.

Remember, trust the process. Trust Him. Thank you to EVERYONE who has prayed for me, helped me, blessed me, and has been supportive of me. I love you more than I can express.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6