Posted in Anxiety, Depression, happiness, longreads, Mantras, motherhood, sad, selfcare

When You Can’t Choose Joy – SheProclaims.com

Choose joy. 

You’ve seen it plastered around the world and on your screens. I know I have. It’s a novel idea. An idea which aims to empower us and make us happy. Everyone wants to be in control of their life and feelings. They want to be happy and love their life. We would all love to choose joy, but it isn’t as easy as the quotes want us to believe. 

I Can’t Choose Just One Feeling

Life is full of complex emotions. They very rarely come to us in an orderly single-file fashion. Instead, situations we face are filled with conflicting and smooshed-up emotions. We feel happy, sad, and mad but we also feel emotions like nervcited (nervously exicted) and angity (angry pity). We experience glarrow (glad sorrow), desohope (hope in a desolate place), charenity (serenity in chaos), and thousands of other nameless compound feelings I haven’t made up names for yet. 

Shoving them all aside so we can simply choose joy robs us of the tapestry of the human experience. Also, it’s impossible for many people, myself included.

Is joy all that great if we don’t have moments of despair as contrast in our life? I am not sure we actually enjoy joy if we don’t know what the opposite feels like. Does joy alone help us to process great loss in a healthy manner? Can joy single handedly cure depression and mend broken hearts? If choosing joy, and only joy, were really possible I suppose it could do all those things in a very monotone manner. 

Of course, if you’re someone who struggles with finding happiness, failing to choose joy as easily as everyone else feels like just one more failure in your life. The exact opposite of what the sentiment means. I’m like that. I can try so hard to choose to be filled with joy and gratefulness and all the good feels in spite of difficult circumstances but it doesn’t actually change things. Then I am sure I am doing it wrong. Which leads me further into my shame and depression. Which then leads to me eating way too much ice cream and needing new pants. The absolute opposite of joy.

Stop Choosing, Start Looking

Instead of “choosing” joy, let’s start looking for joy. Just a tiny little bit each day.  

Looking implies we may not find it easily or right away. I’m still looking for a set of car keys I lost when we moved back in 2014. I haven’t found them yet, but I might. I look for hair ties at least four times per day. It shouldn’t be as hard as it is since I own 4.7 billion of them but I always have to hunt for them. I always find one eventually. Looking is so much better than choosing. It’s less pressure. 

In theory, you should see one joy per day. I really think that is generally an achievable thing. We had a terrible night last weekend filled with nightmares for our daughter and little sleep for me. At the end of the night, we saw a sunrise so bright and colorful it filled the whole sky out our window. It was full or purple, our favorite color. I could not choose joy in that moment as a tired, overworked, worried mom but I found a moment to smile about. 

Some days I find a huge joy or multiple joys. A cozy fire and happy family on Christmas. Everything at Disney World which makes my heart want to explode with joy. My favorite meal surrounded by my favorite people. Spending a whole day reading a book. Warm baths, good beer, long naps, salon day, game nights, owls, my people, my kids and zillions of little things. 

Some days, I find very few. Some days joy is celebrating the end of a very difficult day. Making it through something you thought would destroy you can be a strange joy but it still counts. 

Choosing Joy is Hard

I cannot choose joy and it is ok. I am ok. You are ok. We are doing our best to get through the strange journey of life. We may be on top of the world one day then lost in our lowest lows the next but we are doing our best. You are doing your best. Choosing joy is not a fair expectation for everyday living. 

Just remember to look for joy each day. 

Posted in Anxiety, books, Christian, Depression, healthy, longreads, Mantras, Meditation, moms, motherhood

Mirror Mantras

Update Feb 10, 2020: a lot of people are asking me about positive thoughts and mirror work. Here’s a piece dear to my heart!

I live with anxiety and depression.

I used to hate thinking or saying that out loud. Its not like its something that I’m proud of, but its part of me. I also live with red hair, lots of freckles, and about 20 extra pounds I wish I could lose. Its all just a part of what makes me, me.

It took me a long time to get to a somewhat comfortable place with that. I think its hard for a lot of people to talk about because its been kept in the dark so long. We’re all just supposed to be “ok” (whatever that means) when lots of us just aren’t. But just because you’re not meeting someone else’s definition of “ok”, it doesn’t mean you’re failing at life. Which is exactly how I have felt in the past.

I would tell myself that people who make more money, take more trips, do more work, or have more things are more valuable to society and successful in the world than me. The same went for anyone taller, thinner, tanner, sportier, or with less wrinkles than me. They had clearly figured out some easy way to have everything while I felt I was barely treading water.

I was literally telling myself every day that I was the problem. I wasn’t good enough. I was my own worst critic and enemy. Some days I still am. The nagging, negative words in my head became how I saw myself, no matter how many people tried to tell me otherwise.

This was a major argument I had with my therapist. She would tell me, “just change how you talk to yourself. say nice things.” Uh, yeah, if it was that easy I wouldn’t have been paying her out the nose to try and help me get there. We debated this for weeks, with me leaving her office in tears and frustrated at times. I could not “just do it”. So I decided to really start looking for HOW I could try to do it.

Then, something I had rolled my eyes at (and that you may be rolling your eyes at right now) fell into my lap in all my searching: mantras.

When I first thought of mantras, all I thought of were hippies and bald monks reciting uplifting words while meditating in the woods somewhere (no disrespect to hippies, bald monks, or woods intended). Or, someone staring at themselves in the mirror saying it over and over to get pumped up for the day. It felt too weird and forced for me. Fake even. I mean, I’m pretty good at telling when someone is lying to my face – especially when its me. Faking it to “trick myself” into believing the words wouldn’t cut it.

So instead of saying them in the mirror, I took a dry erase marker and wrote my mantra across the bathroom mirror. I didn’t have to say it or recite. I just had to see while I was brushing my teeth, doing my hair, applying make up, taking a shower, or just using the bathroom. And instead of telling myself how great I already was, I decided to talk to myself like I would to a friend. Build me up slowly and support me. On the mirror.

Are your eyes rolling yet?

I started with a very simple one to start: “You’re doing your best and that’s enough.” I knew I couldn’t fix all of this overnight, but trying was at least a good start. And at that moment, about all I could do. That was up on the mirror for a few weeks. Until I got comfortable with seeing words up there. Then, they started to sink in. I felt calmer and a little kinder to myself – even though I still had a long way to go.

Over the last 12 months I’ve rotated through quite a few “pep talk mantras”. I change them when I feel I need to, to suit where I am in life, and they range from quotes to thoughts to Bible verses or notes from other books I’ve read. There are no rules.Here are a few examples I’ve used or love that you can try:

  • You are enough.

  • Its ok to not be ok.

  • Keep going.

  • Live in the Upside Down (a reference to the piece by Lysa TerKeurst in her book Its Not Supposed to be This Way)

  • You are loved

  • You are clothed in strength and dignity (a twist on Proverbs 31:25)

  • All good things take time

  • “Its been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will” (Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables)

Have you ever tried a mantra? Got one to share? I’m working on a running list and would love YOUR input. Need a mantra? For a specific place? Share that too. Together, we can all build back up.

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Mantras, motherhood, Uncategorized

Taking my time…

I’m as guilty as anyone else when I pickup a book or read a blog of someone I am interested in. I always seem to think they have life figured out and life without problems. I am well aware there is no truth in the previous sentence, but I still do it. 

I’ve been working on my book intently lately. So intently the blog is slacking a bit (look me up on Instagram @She.Proclaims where I’m more active). There are a ton of things in my mind and happening in my life I want to share but it just isn’t time yet. Some things I am still figuring out and some things are such fragile situations I need to get through them before I can share them. 

Just know, I’m here and still around. More updates are coming, I am just working through them right now so I can share them in the best most honest way I know how in the end. A few random thoughts:

  • I updated my mirror mantra the other day. I’m reminding myself “One day at a time.” My anxiety and depression have been trying to run the show here but I’m not letting them. What mantra are you focusing on right now?
  • I think parents should get to walk across the stage at graduation with their kids if they choose to. I’ve lost more hours and tears than I can count this week doing math homework. I’m actually better at the 8th grade stuff than the 3rd grade stuff, but we’re all collectively getting through this. I know I’m not alone. Hats off parents!
  • Valentine’s Day is coming up and I don’t care if you think it’s a Hallmark holiday, I’m freaking excited. Romance is easy to lose in the busyness of everyday life. If you don’t need it and you’re that low-key, good for you. I am not low-key and I need it so I’m pumped there is one day per year RESERVED for love and signs of it. Look at your spouse, if it matters to them, don’t drop the ball. A $10 bouquet from the grocery store will do fine (although florist trucks are extra special). But just be fully completely lost in love for one day. Even if you don’t buy cards and give into corporate pressure. 
  • I wish people worried as much about homeless people, lack of medicine for the poor, and all of the other actual problems in the world as much as they are about the Super Bowl halftime show. Oh the problems we could fix if we put that rage toward something meaningful.

That’s it!! Seriously, email me, follow me on IG or Facebook and stay tuned. SO many big things are happening right now. I’m beyond excited to share them with you at the right time!

Posted in Christian, Depression, God, longreads, Mantras, prayer, selfcare, Uncategorized

Bible Verses for Depression: My top 5 favorites – SheProclaims.com

I want to share some of my favorite Bible verses for depression with you today. Living with and working through depression is hard no matter who you are. I know from first hand experience. You can see and acknowledge good things going on all around you but you cannot feel them. You are numb to the warmth and peace the good parts bring, which is both frustrating and infuriating at the same time. It certainly doesn’t help you to feel “better” (whatever that term means). 

Living as a Chistian mom with depression comes with its own unique challenges. Our religion is cemented in the faith that someone good (God/Jesus/Holy Spirit) loves us and is taking care of us, even when life doesn’t appear that way. Short of the Bibles containing the words that remind us, though, we have nothing concrete to cling to in order to feel that love and keep our faith. Christiantiy is a religion of feelings – love, trust, faith, gratefulness,mercy, forgiveness – but what happens when we can’t feel all our feelings? 

Bible verses for Depression

These Bible verses for depression help me through my darkest times. Are they perfect? No. Do I feel better as soon as I read them over once? Not even close. But they do give me something to focus on that is constant and unchanging. The are promises made thousands of years ago and to billions of people. Surely, they apply to you and me too. 

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. 

Normally, when someone’s well-meaning but overly simple advice to “look on the bright side” is given to me, it makes me want to puke. I get that its well meaning, but it’s not that simple. Sometimes, there is no bright side to a situation. Sometimes the only bright side is that the struggle will end, but there’s no guarantee it will be a good ending.

Thankfully, Paul isn’t telling us to look for the bright side. He just wants us to think about anything from any time to keep our minds and actions pure. That is doable. Today may be hard, but at some point in life, there was a good day or place. Think about it quietly for a few minutes. Write about it. Draw it. Tell a friend about it. Look at pictures of it. You will not be removed from your difficult situation, but you can get a little break from it. Little breaks and reminders life is good are invaluable gifts. 

Psalm 40:1-2

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard me cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to go through difficult times. David reminds us that there is no time limit on how short or long a cold season in life will last in this verse. We just need to remember we must be patient and talk to God. When it is time, He will take us from the most disgusting, deep, dark, and difficult places and get us back on our feet. We are not being left in the pit forever. 

The world is full of normal people like you and I overcoming huge obstacles and very deep pits in their lives. They are not Prophets from the Bible, they are real people existing in our real world who have lived Psalm 40 completely. Google some for inspiration (you know how much I love Google). They were all pulled from the pits and placed back on solid ground. They were not alone. It happens. All the time. It will happen for you when the time is right. Just be patient. 

If that’s not enough or a little hard, read a little farther into Psalm 40:11-17 for an honest prayer you can say or remember in your pit.

Matthew 11:28 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This is my go-to, easy to remember Bible verse for depression for those late nights when the gears in my mind are turning at record speed and sleep evades me at every turn. My brain likes to replay my day at bedtime, but not as a highlight reel of everything good that happened. Somehow, those things never make the cut and instead I end up watching the world’s longest blooper reel looping through my mind. It’s like the worst Blockbuster store ever, playing the same awful movie on replay until every bit of the movie lodges into memory forever. 

It’s easy to get lost in these thoughts and let them take over, I know because I’ve done that more times that I care to admit, but it’s also in those times when Matthew’s words comfort me. I am tired, I am worried, I want rest – so I start talking. My prayers are not pretty, they’re somewhat informal, like we’re best friends almost, but I think that’s ok. As I talk to God, my worries fade and the next thing I know – I have found my rest and it is morning.

Deuteronomy 31:8 

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

This has been one of my all time favorite verses for many situations; but these words feel like a verse about depression to help keep us going. I feel alone a lot, like no one understands how I feel (myself included). It is a scary place to feel so lost and unsure, but I find a lot of comfort in knowing that I am not alone. 

The author hints life can be scary or hard, but we should not be afraid or discouraged. Easier said than done? Absolutely. However, keeping this around to read or repeat to myself in the hardest times has been a life saver for me. I recommend keeping this nearby in your purse or on your phone. Something you can peek at when you’re feeling down easily.

Isaiah 41:10 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”

Teaching my kids how to ride two-wheel bikes without training wheels was no simple task. The looks of terror on their faces communicated they thought they were not ready, struggling with the concept, and certain great bodily harm was in their future. I knew they were big enough, strong enough, and ready for this big step. They just needed hear I would stay by them, to feel my hand on their backs, and see me running next to them at first; until they got the hang of it. I am proud to say they both ride bikes brilliantly today. 

I think that’s exactly what this Bible verse for depression says for us all. We may not feel we are capable or ready to face whatever is pulling us down, but we are not alone. God will stay by us, with his hand on our backs even if we can’t feel it, and run beside us. Or walk if we’re talking about me, because as God or anyone I know will tell you – I don’t do running. The point is, He will meet you where you are, stay by you, and give you the strength you need to move on. The only thing you need to do is show up and believe in his loving words. 

Fill your war chest

There are a million other Bible verses for depression worth reading but these are my absolute favorites. My “war chest” of verses for the really big battle days. Reading these verses about depression reminds me these feelings are not new or only known to me. People have struggled with similar feelings since we left Eden. Feeling less alone makes it so much easier to keep going. 

Do you have any favorite Bible verses for depression or books that help you through? Feel free to share them! I would love to check them out and build up the war chest!

Posted in Anxiety, coffee, Depression, diet, exercise, happiness, healthy, longreads, Mantras, Meditation, moms, motherhood, selfcare

Stop telling me to take a bath and be happy.

I’m calling out every blog, magazine, and person who keeps telling me that The Secret to happiness is a long list of pampering disguised as self-care. I’m literally starting to get stressed out trying to fit in and afford all of these things people keep claiming I need to do.

If your calendar looks anything like mine it is difficult to even find time to paint your own toenails some days. I definitely can’t run all over making sure I spoiled myself constantly. I don’t think most people can.

I looked up the definition of self-care and found this:

Self care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

It says nothing about manicures, pedicures, expensive purses, spy days, or long candlelit baths will just the right blend of lavender/eucalyptus/hemp calming a oils and mood music to boost brain waves.

The way I see it? Self care is basically hygiene for your brain and happiness. Everyday we brush our teeth, wash, and generally try to make good choices. We want to take care of our bodies. Why don’t we do daily hygiene for our happiness? Wouldn’t that be better self-care then getting some sort of gold foil body wrap once a year, under a waning moon, on a pygmy goat farm in the Himalayas? Just seems like we’re being told to do extraordinary things for happiness, when happiness shouldn’t be a rare, fleeting feeling.

I’m no expert, just a really busy and tired mom who feels sad and lost sometimes but is trying to do her best. So here are my topu for ways to actually practice self care like a normal person:

Take 10 minutes. I don’t have the time or budget for pygmy farm or dsily spa treatments. However, I do have at least 10 minutes each day I can set aside for me. Personally, I get up early for my time but you can just as easily stay up late, hide away for 10 minutes of your lunch hour, DVR your show at night (you can also skip the commercials later than so that’s really a win-win), take a long shower, go for a walk, or just straight up look at everyone around you and tell them that you are about to lose your crap and you need 10 minutes of being left alone before you end up in a straight jacket. It seems extreme but trust me, that one definitely works.

Don’t set a budget. I don’t say this because I feel no amount of money is too much for your happiness. I say this because who actually can afford to go out and spoil themselves all the time? If you can, congratulations and you keep doing you. If not, realize that you don’t need to spend money to be happy. Read a book, drink coffee or tea quietly, talk to a friend, meditate, practice yoga, lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling, think about all you have to be grateful for, plan a random act of kindness you can do, or just set an alarm and take a 10 or 20 minute nap in the middle of the day. I don’t think most people understand how much better their lives are on the days that I get a nap. That’s everyone-care.

Quit putting crap in. I can literally think of some people who manage to bring me down when I am around them for real long. I can’t avoid them all but I can do everything in my power to not let their negativity bring down my happiness. Limit how much time you spend talking with those people, stop gossiping ( I’m working on that, this is a judgment free space so just move along here), think about all the good things in life instead of the bad, think about what could go right instead of what could go wrong. Take in positive messages, quotes, movies, books, shows, articles, or anything else. Remember that whatever you put in is what you were going to get out. We know what happens if we fill our bodies full of Cheetos, icecream, and prime rib four times per day. The same thing happens if you constantly allow negative people, pettiness, and a negative outlook into your mind.

Don’t Be Crazy. I would love to tell you that I eat nothing but healthy foods, practice yoga daily, and read a minimum of 17 inspirational quotes before I get out of bed each day. But none of that is realistic. Don’t set crazy goals and make this another huge thing you need to do each day – that kind of defeats the purpose. Some days my self care is laying in bed, lost in thought, and hitting snooze for half an hour before I get up. Some days it’s yoga. Some days it’s beer in the evening on the porch. Some days it’s Drinking a cup of coffee before it gets cold and I have to microwave it again. Some days its going to bed at early. Basically, just take 10 minutes every day to chill the F out and just be you for a little bit.

Self care does not need to be expensive or monumental. Are spa days, pedicures, and long baths wonderful? Of course! I recommend them whenever you have the time or the budget (feel free to send gift cards!) Are they something practical that we can do every day? I sure can’t. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t find other ways to still take care of myself I bring my best self to the table.

Stop telling me otherwise.