Opening Up The Wounds

I have been putting off this post for a VERY long time. And the original reason it started bothering me infuriates me even more but I really can’t get into that very much. So if it seems like some of this post is a little disconnected….well, it will be.

I have continued to ignore it but I think I’m just gonna feel better if I just say it and get it out of my head so I can move on. Who knows – I may type it all and end up not even posting it. A lot of people will be happy about that one.

About 18 months ago – after 3 years of being on Facebook – I suddenly disappeared. I was gone for a year. If you know anything about me at all you know that I am a transparent person. I deal with invisible illnesses but I feel my ministry is to bring them to the light to provide support and information for education. I live with Chronic Depression and Fibromyalgia. Those conditions may be easy for some people to hide but they aren’t for everyone. That comes into play in the reason for a lot of what I share in the realm of social media. Am I TOO open? Maybe for some people. Should that be MY problem? NO! I am ME! If you don’t like what I do or say – that is not my problem. It really doesn’t have to be ANYONE’S problem. A better explanation is that it’s probably just none of your business if it bothers you. I don’t make your business MY business so please grant me the same courtesy.

There are people in my life who have personalities completely different than mine who would prefer I wasn’t so transparent but they have graciously not expected me to abide according to their personality. I really can’t explain how much I appreciate that. I am a stay at home mom. I started out being a SAHM because it was the right thing for our family. However, since becoming ill, it has become a necessity because of my medical problems. So the online world has become, for the most part, my only contact or influence with the outside world. It has not been an easy transition. But I have now settled into a routine with it. I have this blog (which is a place I can, for the most part, be open and honest). I have Twitter. I HAD Facebook. That’s when the problem began.

Someone stepped up and voiced to those around me that THEY thought I was TOO OPEN on Facebook. This person (who has NEVER had a FB) told me, to my face, that they have looked at my Facebook and “it seems to all be all about you”. Honestly, my blood pressure went through the roof, my chin hit the floor and I was speechless (for a few seconds). EXCUSE ME? THAT’S WHAT FACEBOOK IS!!!!! It’s MY profile with MY information with MY thoughts with MY likes/dislikes. I’m not sure where this person, who had never had a FB got off telling ME how to run my FB profile! And 18 months later I, honestly, still don’t get it. I was infuriated. I don’t think I have ever been madder in my life. And the pace of my heartbeat right now tells me that it still really makes me mad. So, to keep the peace, I deactivated my account. Some of you may know when that happened and I disappeared.

I took a year to rethink the entire thing. I refocused some of my priorities. I spent some time away from social media. It was hard in the beginning. Then I began feeling like it was time to go back. I really missed the contact I had with people thru my accounts. I missed the ministry I had. I realized I needed that outlet in my walk thru my illness and the seclusion it brings. So, I stripped down my friends list to a group of people I knew I could trust to not judge me. In actuality if you search for me you won’t even be able to find me. I have certain accounts blocked from spying eyes who look for opportunities to find fault.. I find myself thinking twice before saying things, which is probably a good idea. I have just maintained more control over those who I let into my circle. I do confirm some people who send me friend requests. However, 90% of the people who send me a request I do not confirm. It may not be because of them personally but because of who I might find myself opened up to by “being their friend” on FB.

So I suppose that person did me a favor in a round about way. And I suppose I still have a lot of anger toward them – which I need to deal with. My relationship with them will never be what it was before. But I think this confrontation did teach me to be even less judgmental than I was before. I’ve never thought of myself as being a judgmental person because I don’t like to be judged. I’ve become more sensitive to it in other people – especially those around me. I snap my mouth shut a lot more. And believe it or not I am not easily offended. I kind of think this situation was an exception to that because I believe it was MEANT to be offensive. I must say I find myself even more guarded about what I say and share. I suppose that’s not a bad thing. I’m struggling with finding the balance between being transparent and over sharing. I’ve learned a number of lessons thru this experience. I know some people have wondered about why I’ve not friended them or let them in. Who knows – I may in time. But right now I’m a little tentative. And I’m still very raw. My spirit is bruised. My heart is wounded but healing over.

Well, thank you for reading if you made it this far. I expect some  hand slapping in the comments. But I hope you’ll understand if your comment doesn’t get approved. Sometimes a person just needs to protect themselves. Thank you for your patience with me.

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I’ve Got Good News and I’ve Got Bad News

Today’s post on JOY covers the story of a man in the Bible that I can relate to more than I want to. But I have also learned more about myself through his life. It lays out a perfect prescription for depression. I’m talking about Elijah. If ever there was a person who shouted victory from the mountaintop one minute and fell at warp speed into the valley the next it was Elijah. I’m going to try to stay on task though This part of  his life is a How-To story on overcoming depression. but that’s another post entirely.

Elijah’s ministry is found over 3 chapters in I Kings. Just to refresh your memory Elijah is the prophet of God that battled it out on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal (chapter 18). He is also the prophet who raised the widow woman’s son from the dead and whose jar of oil stayed full (chapter 17). After these great mountaintop experiences he caught the rage of Jezebel who sought him out to kill him (chapter 19). Elijah allowed fear to overtake him so much that he ended up in the wilderness having lost his JOY.

Have you ever felt so defeated that you feel like you have lost your joy? I know I have. Unfortunately I’ve been there more than one, more than twice, more than three times…you get the idea. How does that even happen? So there is good news and there is bad news. The bad news is you can lose your joy. The good news is you can find it again.

There are five ways we can lose our JOY. I’m going to use Beth’s words for each one because nobody can put things quite like she can. We can lose our joy:

1. When our outpour exceeds our intake. I think all of us moms are familiar with this concept. It doesn’t take long till a person can crash after giving and giving and giving some more. The same goes for one’s spiritual life. Spiritual burnout leads to a depleted supply of JOY.

2. When our talk exceeds our walk. This is closely related to the first one. And I dare say this is recognizable by the individual before it is anyone else. It usually manifests itself by the lack of passion in our voice when we are trying to minister to someone else.

3. When we become “wonder junkies”. It’s easy to be joyful when good things are happening all around us and TO us. But what happens when life returns to the mundane? One example is how we feel after attending a Christian conference of some kind. We get our cups filled and return home to normal life again. We continue riding the high for a little while. But have you noticed after the spiritual high we suddenly start experiencing temptations, spiritual attacks or other life challenges? What happened? Satan is what happened. We know how to ride the high but when Satan sneaks in we notice our joy meter is dropping. John 10:10 tells us that Satan’s job is to steal, kill and destroy. We need to hang on to the JOY high. We need to understand that the mundane moments of life are normal. Not every day can be an exciting mountaintop day. Stay aware. Guard your heart. Guard your JOY.

4. When we are exhausted. When we are physically weak depression is not far behind. This was part of Elijah’s problem in I Kings 19. We can’t neglect ourselves long before it takes a toll on all areas of life. Those of us w/chronic pain understand that all too well.

5. When we feel alone. I understand this all too well. When we start believing Satan’s lies that we are alone in what we are dealing with we turn inward. Before long we have convinced ourselves we are alone and our JOY is gone.

Now for that good news! Our JOY is right where we left it – in his presence. Return to the cross. God is the source of JOY and he’s been there all along.

Next week’s fruit of the Spirit we are discussing is Peace. Who needs some peace in their life? What happens when there is a lack of peace in the life of a person? Here’s a hint: it’s not pretty.

Cheers to September

August’s 3 in 30 goals have rounded out pretty well. It wasn’t a huge success. But you know what….I’m human! I am working on accepting that a little more every day. Today is the first day of September and time for a new set of goals. I’m looking forward to it cooling off some so I might get motivated to get outside more often. If I’m feeling up to it the sunshine makes me feel so much better. Depression has been sneaking up on me this week. I’m working on that. So for that reason my first goal for September is:

1 – Get outside for some amount of time each day. I love being home. I’m a homebody and sometimes go days without stepping foot outside. I want that to change this month. This is the time that my seasonal depression starts getting cranked up. So hopefully this goal will help to hold it off as long as possible.

2 – Work diligently on my Bible study with Ron. The study is going really well but the lessons are so long that it discourages me. I just need to discipline myself to do some each day so it’s not so overwhelming. When I start getting overwhelmed by anything it doesn’t usually end well for me or anyone around me. So this is one area I need to get a grip on.

3 – Hmmmmmmmm seems like there was something else I was gonna include in the goals for September……Hmmmmmmmmmmm…..what could it be???????????? AHHHHHHHHH YES!!!!!! The laundry! SIGH…….do at least one load of laundry a day. Yeah, THAT!

So, here’s to September – CHEERS!! Off to link up! Come join us!

Please Tell Me I’m Not The Only One

If you read my blog somewhat regularly you know that one of my 3 in 30 goals for June is to declutter. The decluttering is just about done actually. Michael and I will be loading up my vehicle this weekend with all the stuff we are shedding around here and heading North with it all. We are going to Ohio next week and Mom and I are going to have a garage sale. Why yes – I have lost my mind! Thank you for asking. When we moved about 5 years ago we had the biggest garage sale of our lives. It just so happens that we also sold our house at that sale but I don’t count that in the total profits. Without selling the house we made $700 and STILL had to haul away ONE TON of junk to the county dump. I know it was a ton because you have to pay by weight. So from that day till now I have sworn off all yard sales. TOO MUCH WORK! SInce that time I have just been donating everything. I never wanted to be in that position again to be so overrun with stuff. So we have kept the clutter to a minimum around here.

Donating all this stuff was exactly what I had in mind to do. Then a couple of things came up. Michael’s car A/C went out. That will cost $600 to fix. We are requiring him to pay a portion of it. He doesn’t have a job and doesn’t have time to get one right now (too busy). And there is a lot of things I want to do to get my Advocare business up and rolling but need money for that. So, I figured we were sitting on a gold mine of clutter. My mom is a professional garage saler – going to them and having them. Michael and I were already planning to go up there this coming week. So, there you have it – we are lugging all our stuff to another state and selling it. Just so you know I will NOT be lugging any of it back to this house. What doesn’t sell up there will go to charity up there.

So I currently have boxes and garbage bags sitting in piles all over the house that somehow is eventually gonna have to fit in my Santa Fe. The thing about me and clutter though is that it depresses me. So while I know it is all going to be gone in a week right now it is starting to drag me down. I also get depressed when some big event is coming up – that is really weird, I know. Not only is the garage sale next week IN OHIO but Ron will not be with us. Not only those things but Lauren also leaves Sunday for a two week leadership program at JH Ranch in Northern California. So, while I’m working at keeping myself calm I can feel some of the strings breaking inside.

Am I the only one who is like this? Please tell me I’m not.

Fibromyalgia and Sleep – Two Systems That Have Got To Work Together

May 12th Fibro Awareness Day

Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. Once again I had big plans for this week for Fibromyalgia Awareness Week. But once again Fibromyalgia had a different plan in mind for me. How typical! It started Sunday night at bedtime when I realized I was out of Ambien. I grabbed a handful of Benadryl and Zanaflex and headed to bed to make the most of it. The most of it lasted for 2 1/2 hours of sleep for that night. Needless to say there was no stages 3 & 4 sleep in those 2 1/2 hours so my body did not get the proper amount of rest it needed to refresh itself for the next day. So the next day I managed as best I could to get through the day, knowing that I would have my Ambien back for Monday night. However, Ron got to the pharmacy after they closed Monday evening so I had a second night without my Ambien. I loaded my hands up with more Zanaflex and some Sominex. So I was tired, sleepy, near tears, took too much medicine and got nauseous and just to make things extra fun I got a nice helping of RLS too. However, I did sleep better. Yesterday I convinced Ron to go to Target pharmacy at LUNCHTIME to give them plenty of time to have it all ready. Thankfully last night I got a full night of sleep with lots of time in stages 3 & 4 so I woke up much more refreshed this morning.

IF you are at all familiar with Fibromyalgia you probably know the very basics about it – the pain and the fatigue. Those are the most common complaints associated with the condition. The most common means of treatment are medication and exercise. But other than those the most natural form of treatment is a full night of sleep involving all 5 stages of sleep. It is in levels 3 and 4 that our bodies slow down enough to restore and recharge our body systems. Our bodies produce hormones during these stages that encourage tissue repair and recharge our immune system. Without those two levels our bodies do not fully rest – we do not get the proper level of recharging or the correct amount of hormones to repair tissues and muscles needed to give our Fibromyalgia bodies/muscles a fresh start the next day. Without proper sleep (all 5 stages) your body is basically giving up on itself. Another problem for those with Fibro is a lacking of the serotonin level. Serotonin levels effect our moods (why most of us with Fibro are also clinically depressed) but it also aids in our body reaching those deeper levels of sleep.

So Fibro isn’t just about pain and fatigue it really starts in the brain. And no I’m not saying it’s “all in the head” like some doctors believe it is. But I am saying “it’s all in your head” because that’s where the chemical reactions take place that affect our sleep patterns. A little medicine can correct that though and you can live a somewhat normal life in the means that something is available to try to correct those chemical malfunctions. Don’t be afraid of medicine. We need it. It can make our lives easier and less stressful on our bodies. It can do a body good! Medicine is not the enemy. It is our friend. Finding the right combination is the key for each person’s body.

I don’t recommend running out of Ambien though…..EVER!!!!! BEcause just because it’s not all “in your head” doesn’t mean it’s not all “in your head”.

Fibro and Goals….A Good Combination

WOW! It’s amazing how much a person can get done when they aren’t in Fibro-Flare. I have kept up with my 3 in 30 goals all week. It’s been really nice to have something to think about other than pain and fatigue. The pain and fatigue take over your mind and it’s so hard to pull yourself thru it. You just have to wait till it eases enough so you can use what little energy you can find to pull yourself up and get on with some semblance of normalcy. The key is to not put so much pressure on yourself so that guilt eventually plays a role. I’m so bad about saying I’m gonna do something, which ends up getting canceled, and then allowing the feelings of guilt to creep in and take over. Guilt only leads to negative self talk. Negative self talk leads to depression. Depression puts me back in bed and the ugly cycle begins all over again. So the goal is to control your thoughts at the beginning so that the downward spiral isn’t even in the picture.

For example, I have had the laundry on my 3 in 30 goals list for months now. The goal is simply to do ONE load a day. That seems to be something that I can manage even if I’m in a flare. And accomplishing that on bad days makes me feel like I have done something productive. Just doing that one thing helps me to hold the guilt at bay so that I’m nowhere even close to the spiral. I am a housewife and a stay at home mom. My job is my home and family. If I can accomplish one task required in my job description then I feel better about myself as a person. It’s easy to allow ourselves to just give up and lay in bed and beat ourselves up. That’s the easy part. The hard part is to get up and make ourselves do something – just one thing (in my case it is one load of laundry a day). I notice that I feel better about myself  mentally. So that one load of laundry can change my whole day. I may go straight back to bed after putting it in the washing machine. But I go back to bed feeling better about myself.

The second goal is also healthy for me mentally. The second goal is to get out of the house and visit with a friend IN PERSON at least once a week. This week I visited with Suzy after she got off work one day. I’ve mentioned Suzy here numerous times. This week when we met it was so I could pick up these bracelets that she made for me through her Etsy shop, That’s 2 Darn Cute.

She made this one just for me - It's a Seminole bracelet - with the NOLES colors, garnet and gold!

This is the Pam bracelet made for me - you can find it in her Etsy shop

So by scheduling a visit with Suzy I had to get up and get myself ready and leave the house. It’s so easy with Fibro to stay locked up in the house all day. But I’ve discovered if I am able to get a shower and get dressed sometimes it energizes me to be able to go out. Now sometimes showering has the opposite effect and forces me back to bed. But if I’m able to get out of the house it does so much  for my emotional state. Then visiting with a friend allows me to touch base with someone who means something to me. It takes my mind off of myself. Besides that it’s just fun to spend time with a friend. It’s easy for us with fibro to feel like we have no friends. A lot of times our friends are our saddest loss that comes along with our illness. Friends like Suzy help me to know I’m not alone. I also have other friends that love me as well. They help me to feel less alone. through the month of May you will meet them because of this 3 in 30 goal to meet with a friend once a week.

Lastly, I’m working on finding ways to transition my blog from a personal diary to more of a marketing tool along WITH the personal diary part. That is a learning process. Learning something new isn’t easy when your brain is all foggy. But I’m doing it. And it’s making me actually FEEL smarter. Not sure that’s something that someone without Fibro could understand. But if you click on this link you can see what it’s like to use my brain to learn something new. It ain’t easy, darlin’!

So overall week one of May’s 3 in 30 goals is going well. It’s not only changing things around the house for my family but it’s changing me. It’s changing how I handle my illness. It’s changing how much I allow my illness to control me. That is my favorite benefit of all. I wanna be in control again. I’m fighting for that. That is the 4th goal! And that one is going well too.

The Problem of Depression Part 3

The Problem of Depression:

Part 3

By: Mike Stokes

 

We have examined the medical files of two of Gods’ most well known prophets; Moses and Elijah. In the wake of a miraculous escape from Egypt, Moses slumped into depression; in the wake of an amazing display of the power of God over the prophets off Baal, Elijah fell into a state of depression. Our third patient is an unusual character; in the wake of the greatest evangelistic campaign ever, Jonah became a victim of depression.

Jonah’s successful campaign is recorded in (Jonah 3: 5-10), all of Nineveh was saved. Yet, he said, “I wish I were dead” (4: 3, 8), same words, different man. Why did Jonah battle depression?

Physically (3: 1-4)

He had fought hard agains God, experienced the ordeal with the fish, preached his way through Nineveh (a city so large it took three days to walk through it), his success began in the first day of his trek through the city (3: 4). Again, we have a physically exhausted man.

Emotionally (4: 1-2)

Because God reconsidered his threat to destroy Nineveh, Jonah was angry and a bitter man. Some background will help us understand Jonah’s reaction; Nineveh was the capitol city of the Assyrian Empire, an enemy of Israel. Jonah was angry with God for sparing Israel’s enemy. We would say today he was a bigoted racist, not exactly an ideal paragon of an evangelist. Emotionally he was quite disturbed.

Spiritually (4: 2-3)

It is difficult to get the mind around Jonah’s attitude; after a revival meeting where perhaps, 600,000 people were saved [120,000 children lived in Ninevah], he was angry and depressed. He apparently wanted to preach without results? His anger and carnality indicates a deep spiritual problem.

I think one of the most interesting things about the story of Jonah is, the way God reasoned with him about his reaction (4: 4-11). How would you talk to someone who is; angry, frustrated, bitter, exhausted, and in a state of utter despair? A daunting task. God’s approach to Jonah seems gentle and quiet, note his question; Jonah, do you have good reason to be angry about this? Jonah’s answer is abrupt and firm; Yes! I do have good reason to be angry. God’s second question; Am I not to have mercy on the children, Jonah? He does not respond to this question, which may be a good sign that Jonah begin to see God’s point of view. Seems to me there is good reason to believe that Jonah begin to emerge from-The Problem of Depression.

 

 

Disclaimer: The men mentioned in this particular series of articles are battling depression due to environmental and/or spiritual struggles. While this is the case for some people in other people depression is a clinical problem that needs to be treated by a medical professional. That is a completely different category of depression.