Posted in Anxiety, Depression, happiness, longreads, wtf

Who Will You Be When This is All Over? – SheProclaims.com

Who will you be when this is all over? This question got lodged in my head somehow this week. Here in Michigan, we are “sheltering in place” for three weeks. It sounds like a long time and feels even longer, but in the grand scheme of life it isn’t. It’s only three weeks (for now…who knows what’s next). 

Caterpillars spend 5 to 21 days inside their chrysalises turning into beautiful butterflies. Three weeks for even the slowest of caterpillars to go from fancy worm to magical butterfly. If they can do that, we certainly can learn a few things in the coming weeks. The question “who will you be when this is all over” deserves a little extra thought. 

The way I see it, we have two choices. We can come out exactly how we went in – which I guess would be a caterpillar fail – or we can turn inward and see new things about ourselves. We can make a few changes and learn a few new things to make us better than we were before. Enhanced versions of ourselves. 

A Change of Plans

If life had gone to plan this Spring, we would be ferrying one child to ballet, theater class, and softball while the other needed rides to vocal coaching and extra choir rehearsals. Matt and I would still be working a lot of hours because we should be getting ready to load up the family truckster to head to Disney World next week. We should be packing and planning while living our busy, chaotic, beautiful life. 

Instead, I am working from home with the kids running around. Matt’s role, classified as essential right now, requires him to still go to work every day. Aside from that, we’re here. We’re reading more books, playing more games, watching more tv, and going for more hikes than usual. We’re disappointed in the things we’re missing out on but it is what it is at this point. We are cozied up in our home for the next three weeks. 

Our home has become our chrysalis. We can ride it out and stay the same or choose to be better. [Spoiler alert: I’m choosing to be better. Pretty sure you saw that coming.] 

Be Bitter or Be Better

I could be mad the store didn’t have the Cheez-Its I like (we’re all a little hooked on the white cheddar Grooves) but I choose to see how lucky I am for everything they did have. Things of actual sustenance.

Being upset with the hoarders and complaining about them openly is understandable but I choose to use my energy instead to help those in my community who need things right now instead.

I could point fingers and debate the politics of this situation with the rest of the world but I’m going to be really honest right now: I don’t care. Does it really matter who’s fault it is it started or what party someone with an idea belongs to? I don’t care about any of those stupid details everyone keeps screaming about all day long. Mistakes were made and are being made, I think we can all agree on that, I am focused on doing my part not to spread anything and loving on the people around me right now. Honestly, that’s what really matters. Everyone should be looking out for each other, taking the steps to prevent spreading it, and reminding each other we’re all in this together. No one is alone. 

I also want to learn the ukulele, finish a few books I’m reading, memorize Psalm 23, clean out this house, do some painting, clean the yard, and take a lot of naps.  

Who will you be when this is all over?

When I come out of my chrysalis, I want to keep giving. I want to keep giving food and medicine to people in need. I am spreading love and friendship to people feeling sad and alone. I’m giving more time to my friends and family. I will do one less chore per day so I can color one more picture with my daughter. Staying up just a little later so I can play one game with my son will be a priority. I want to sit on the sofa next to my husband instead of lounging in my favorite chair when we talk at night. 

I want to be a happier, more living, more peaceful person when I come out. Leaning into my life and my people like never before will be my new normal. I’m going to be a butterfly. 

Who will YOU be when this is all over?

Posted in Depression, longreads, selfcare, Uncategorized

This is important: learn to step out of your comfort zone.

It can be scary to step out of your comfort zone. I like volunteering at my kids’ schools. I wish I loved it, but the idea of having a weekly commitment makes me itchy and takes the joy out of it for me. I’ve done the weekly commitments but sporadic volunteering is by far my strength. That is what I like. Specifically, the book fair. I like the book fair because I love books. And shopping. This combines the two for a good cause! Plus, I can score some great deals on Christmas gifts. It’s literally the perfect gig for me.

A few weeks back, was the fall book fair. I’m sure you’ve seen a similar set up before. Large metal bookshelf carts form a large horseshoe in the center of the school library. Brightly colored tables display books for every age. It’s a visual reminder to me of my children sitting on my lap with plump board books, now curled onto the sofa with chapter books I’m not a part of. Some books have memories and some I wish I had a child small enough to buy it for.

That night, I stood near a table of posters and books, watching families weave through the maze of shelves. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an older man with a young boy walk into the library. Grandparents and grand kids aren’t an unusual sight at these events, but something about these two caught my attention. 

Most kids jog into the book fair. Or at the very least power walk. This boy walked in slowly, almost unsure if he should even be there. He paused next to the first metal cart, briefly inspecting the chocolate calculators no child can resist touching, before his eyes fell on a table full of his favorite books. 

Silently, he approached the table and began flipping through the pages of each book. I wasn’t the only one who took notice and soon his grandpa was by his side asking him questions about the books. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation:

“Do you like these books? Have you read them”

“My teacher has them. She lets me read hers. I read this one, but she doesn’t have all the other ones.”

“You can read them though? The words make sense and you like the stories?”

“Yeah, I like them a lot.”

“We should get you one. Everyone should have a book to read. Which one do you need next?”

“Are you sure? How much are these?” the boy held up the book and the man looked around the table for a price sign.

“I don’t know. I don’t see a sign and I don’t really know how books work,” he took the book from the boy, flipping through the pages and spinning it in his hands trying to spot a price to no avail. 

“Its ok grandpa, I can get it at the library,” he reached for the book to place it back on the table, but his grandpa pulled in back.

“No. This is important. I might not know how this works but I know its important, we’re finding someone to help.”

It took all my self-restraint not to buy every book on the table for the boy. When grandpa and I made eye contact, I stepped in to tell them the price of the book they were holding. He asked if I could show him and his grandson “how books work”. I gave them a quick crash course on where to find book prices, what the book is about, and what number it is if it’s part of a series. Things I take for granted that my children and I know, were totally new info for the two standing before me. They paid for the book and left. I returned to where I was watching the book browsers but I couldn’t quite shake the older man’s words. 

“This is important. I might not know how this works but I know its important. We’ll find someone to help.”

They could have said nothing and walked away. The grandpa could have been so ashamed about his lack of book knowledge he directed his grandson back out into the hallway. He could have just thrown the book on the counter and prayed the cost wasn’t going to be something out of his budget when it was rung up. Instead, he admitted he was not an expert, did not shy away from asking for help, and made sure they got what they needed before heading out that evening. Not only did he step out of his comfort zone – he bravely long jumped himself into the unknown.

That’s kind of how I feel about my journey in life and wherever this is going. I do not know it all. I am actively still in the middle of figuring things out. The only thing I am really sure of is how important it is to share, even if I need help along the way. I am not an expert on many things. I hold no fancy degrees in psychology, social work, Christian studies, writing, the Bible, marketing, or depression. I can still know those things are important. Instead of hiding away, I can find the help I need to get the outcome I want and share what I learn with anyone else in need. 

I think that’s something a lot of people allow to hold them back. I am totally guilty of it. I see people doing or achieving things I want to, then I quickly assess my progress toward those goals. If I am not on par with them or at least catching up, I immediately believe I am not as good as them. The idea of working through those feelings or getting help doesn’t cross my mind. You’ve either got “it” or you don’t, right? I know I’m not the only one carrying these ridiculously high standards with me.  

I wonder how many amazing things I have missed out on because I didn’t feel I was an expert at it soon enough. How many things have we all missed out on which could have helped improve our lives or the lives of others? Why do we let doubt and fear take the wheel so often? Why do we act like we can only do the things we already know? When you step out of your comfort zone, you take back control. 

If a man in his 70s can wander into an elementary school library and admit to his grandson, then a woman he never met before, he doesn’t know how books work – we can chase after our dreams. If he can stand there, surrounded by Captain Underpants, Dogman, and Baby Shark books while he learns where to find information on a book sleeve without an ounce of embarrassment – we can ask questions and allow others to guide us too. You just need to step out of your comfort zone.

If you don’t know how, but know its important – do it. Do it scared, unsure, shaky, and uncertain – but do it.

Posted in Anxiety, Christian, Depression, guest writer, happiness, longreads, Meditation, moms, motherhood, sad, selfcare, suicide, Uncategorized

Sorry My Depression Makes You Uncomfortable – SheProclaims.com

“It’s just difficult for us when we don’t what your mood will be today. Your depression makes us uncomfortable.”

I am sorry my depression makes you uncomfortable. Want to know why people suffer in silence? Don’t get help? Get lost in the darkness, leaving everyone shaking their heads saying “I had no idea…”? It’s because too often, others make your depression about them. They shame people into feeling small, bothersome, and crazy for struggling when they don’t feel we should.

I have gone over this before, remember this post? But that’s fine. I’m will not going away. I’ll address it until I die.

I’m done with the mask. I will not going to tell you I’m fine, when I’m not. I also won’t breakdown sobbing and unleashing all my problems on you. Instead, I’m going to be quieter than usual when you see me while I work things out. It’s going to get uncomfortable, but I’m ok with that. Uncomfortable is where change begins.

I’m so sorry if my depression is inconvenient for you. Clearly, I am doing this to make you uncomfortable and cause as much disruption to your life as possible. It’s a well known fact that people choose depression and other mental illnesses out of spite most of the time. And for the fame and admiration which comes with being labeled. Right?

I realize that even though it takes a 30 minute pep talk and prayer meeting to will myself out of bed, I am making life your life hard by not being perkier in the mornings.

Even though I am often exhausted from insomnia and constantly talking my anxiety down to a manageable level, you’re right. It’s my responsibility to make sure everyone else is completely at ease around me at all times. Instead of a simple polite smile when you say good morning, I will try to light up like the Griswold family’s Christmas lights and enthusiastically greet you. That won’t feel fake or awkward for anyone.

Its great when you ask what will make me happy. Obviously, I withhold that one thing from myself just to ruin your day. I am thinking of a number between 1 and 100 billion, as soon as we reach that number with the question, I will spill it and we’ll all have a good laugh at this game.

You get bonus points by demanding I tell you what is making me sad. That is definitely going to help – especially if you can raise your voice during the conversation. Maybe…just maybe, you’ll be the one to “set me straight”. Worst case, we’ll be closer to the secret number.

Please keep inviting me to things only to get offended if I politely decline. If I do go, get ready to be irritated when I don’t have as much fun as you think I do. Probably a good time to interrogate me more too. Maybe in front of a group? That might help.

Thank you for telling me about 10 people you know who are in worse positions than me. Nothing pulls one out of depression faster than knowing things can get worse. Make sure to use lots of shame and guilt to hammer that point home. People with depression and mental illness are known for having large amounts of self esteem. Good idea pointing those faults out to bring us all back down to Earth.

Clearly, I choose to struggle with food, sleep, chores, work, socializing, and productivity. All because I want to annoy and inconvenience those around me. I’m a very selfish person as I wake up every day and decide “I’m going to be sad today. Again.”

Actually, I’m sorry I’m not sorry at all.

I’m sorry if me speaking up, speaking out, and asking for help is uncomfortable for you. I’m sorry if its frustrating you or inconvenient for you. I know I’m supposed to suffer in silence out of respect for your comfort level and desired ignorance.

Wait, no I’m not. Not sorry at all. My job isn’t to make you feel good about the world. Your happiness and level of comfort are not my responsibility. Stop trying to make it so. I will not apologize if my depression makes you feel uncomfortable.

Requests that I just be happy, just be fun, smile more, and make others comfortable is ridiculous. I’m going to admit when I’m struggling and need help until everyone can start thinking about how we can help people, instead of how we can try to convince people they should be fine – then hope they hide their pain.

Posted in Anxiety, books, Christian, coffee, Depression, God, kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, nature, parenting, selfcare

When you look at me, I know what you see.

When you look at me, I know what you see. Your face and words say it all clearly: “you’re so fun! So crazy. So funny/strong/smart/organized/put together!”

Go ahead. Scroll my Facebook page. I’ve got all the “required” pics. Smiley, happy, spouse selfie? Check. Happy, well behaved kids displaying equal parts good behavior and precocious curiosity? Check. Yummy meals? Successful workouts? Got ’em.
Home based business? Got it. Great job? Sharing those company posts often! Pets? Theo the cat almost needs her own page. Don’t forget the amazing cakes, birthday parties, vacations, pretty house, DIY projects, make up looks, and amazing weight loss goals – I’ve got all that too!
What don’t you see? I am currently on the highest dose of Prozac a woman can take. This hair? Shoutout to dry shampoo and Bobby pins for the win! Cereal for dinner is a weekly occurrence here. I loathe the days my daughter DOESN’T want hot lunch. I got two separate emails at work today pointing out the areas I’m failing at. If I had one wish in life, it would be to stay in bed. For at least a month.
I regularly Google and price vacations I could take by myself. Just for a break from my life (which I am actually very happy for – even though I struggle to really share that everyday). Then, I check my bank account and remmember I am not a Kardashian and have a budget that doesn’t allow for such things.
I am a mom living with chronic, clinical, depression. I am a full-time employee, friend, daughter, sister, church-going, school volunteering woman who struggles to get out of bed some days. And honestly? I’m sick of it.
Why is this something we hide? Why are we ashamed of this? Why aren’t there more resources? Why do we spend so much time feeling alone and hiding our truth – when its so much more common than we could ever guess?
According to a 2016 study published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 16 million American adults (roughly 7% of our population for you number junkies) had a depressive episode within the past year.
That’s roughly 7 of every 100 people you know, struggling THIS YEAR ALONE. Look around your office, PTO meeting, church service, your gym, or merely on your Facebook feed.
Can you spot them?
Can you see their calls for help?
Or do they master blending into society while craving help so loudly on the inside that their needs and thoughts are all they hear?
I’ll give you a moment to take inventory. Though, if we know each other in real life or through social media, I bet you pegged me wrong. To quote a favorite show from my youth: “You think you know, but you have no idea.”
My alarm sounds at 5am. Why? Because I know that I feel better if I get up with time to myself, a cup of coffee, time with God, and time for my yoga practice. However, most days I just hit snooze for about an hour and a half.
I would love to tell you that every day starts with a nice warm shower for me, but most days it’s layers of make up and dry shampoo that get me looking presentable for the day.
I wake up my kids and devote every bit of energy that I have for the next hour and a half to making sure they are ready, have everything they need, and know just how much I love them before I drive them to school each morning.
I go to work each morning to a job that I have wanted for nearly a decade and finally managed to get. Then, I think about how badly I wish I were a stay-at-home mom. I propose selling everything and living in a cabin in the woods to my husband at least once a week. No joke.
Outlook reminders, to-do lists, and calendars are my secret weapons to presenting a very put together and organized front that manages to get 90% of my job done well each week. The other 10%? Well, it’s a mix of praying that I get good luck, my coworkers cover, or that the boss understands that I am seriously doing the best I can.
My lunch hours? They rotate between therapy sessions, volunteering at my kids’ schools, and running errands to keep our family aloat. There is no time and there are no resources for a mom to take a mental vacation. That is when things start getting real.
Why is there a stigma? Why are we expected to work like we do not have children and have children like we do not work? It is literally more than anyone should take on and a serious struggle for me, personally, on a regular basis. Why do we act like this is not a problem, not a national crisis, and not something we should be addressing as a society?
I know I have a good life. I know I am fortunate. I have amazing kids, a strong husband, a deep support system, and wonderful friends, but some days are still more than my heart can handle for no obvious reason.
I am tired of living in secrecy and shame. Those things which we cannot, will not, and do not name will continue to be our scariest demons until we stand up to them and say: no more.
I am done hiding from my truth. I am done with the “mom game”. I am done posting things portraying me as having everything figured out, when in reality I am one unscheduled softball practice away from everything falling apart.
We are absolutely all doing our best. I don’t care what your pinterest board says, you are just as messy as me. I am through hiding this any longer. I am coming clean to my kids, friends, and life that mom cannot do everything. And that’s OK. Life is a team sport. And we, as a family especially, are all in this together to make everything work.
I refuse to pass in legacy of burnout, over whelmed feelings, and inadequacies to my daughter. I also refuse to raise a son who thinks that women are invincible. That we can do all of the professional work, all of the children work, and all of the household work on our own.
There is no shame in needing a break. There is no shame in needing help. There is no shame in not being able or wanting to do it all.
My kids come first. Always. Whether or not the baseboards have been cleaned? Not even on my radar. Did I forget to work out this week? Well, my pants still fit so I don’t care. If our profit margins go down a percent or two over a month’s time? Nothing I’m going to lose sleep over. And yes, the Domino’s pizza app has saved our favorite order. That’s how I know everyone gets their favorite from time to time.
The ages of 25 to 44? Those are the most likely ages for any woman to experience depression. Smack dab in the middle of raisinsg kids. If that is you, like it is me, please know that you are not alone in this battle. We are in the trenches, mamas. Torn between raising babies, building amazing marriages, and forging successful long-lasting careers. No wonder we feel that we are falling short and find ourselves battling depressing thoughts.
But until we start being honest with each other and sharing our truths, this cycle will continue. Our daughters will be in the same spot that we are, which is exactly where our mothers were. But we have the opportunity today to be brave and stand up for what we need.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is the ultimate sign of strength. As Elizabeth Dehn said best ” You don’t have to do it all by yourself.”
So don’t. Don’t rob yourself or your family of the strongest version of you. Don’t hide the truest version of yourself to make sure everyone’s needs are met. You are more than accessory to everyone else’s life. You are a powerful being that deserves to be seen in all your mess and beauty.
Instead, remember that it takes an entire village to raise babies, grow families, and achieve a full life. Asking for help is nothing weak; if anything it is the ultimate sign of strength because you have looked deep within your self and seen what you can or cannot do on your own. That is where the real power of life lies.
I am a mom, wife, sister, friend, volunteer, and employee. I live with depression but it does not define me. I am calling it out, removing its power, and fighting to make sure future generations know that everyone has a struggle and that doesn’t make you weaker.
Please, love each other fiercely and completely. You never know what someone else is battling and how your kindness can help their fight.
If you need help, PLEASE contact one of these amazing groups:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression
http://www.ifred.org/

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
1-800-826-3632
http://www.dbsalliance.org/

National Institute of Mental Health
866-615-6464
www.nimh.nih.gov

American Psychiatric Association
703-907-7300
www.psychiatry.org/

Anxiety and Depression Association of America
240-485-1001
www.adaa.org

Posted in Anxiety, books, Depression, kids, longreads, motherhood, selfcare

The top six books to read when you’re depressed

When life is hard, I like to disappear into a book. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes self-help, religious, or motivational. The point is, I need an escape and books provide that to me. I meant to only write about 5, but I couldn’t narrow it down that much. So here’s my top 6 books for when you’re feeling down or overwhelmed.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I know, not exactly the most thought provoking writing of all time – but that’s exactly why its easily one of my top books to just disappear into when I’m really feeling low and can’t tolerate anything heavy.
Did you wake up today an orphan? Only to hear how sad everyone was you weren’t a boy when you arrived because that’s what they ordered? That your hair is ugly? Your manners are terrible? Then you’re doing better than her and she makes it out alright. Even ends up marrying a doctor.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I only bought this book because I think Beyonce the metal chicken is hilarious and I re-read it every few months on her blog (Google it, you’re welcome) then I saw she wrote a book. And the raccoon on the cover looked exactly what I’d look like if I were a raccoon. Then I started reading, checked with my parents to make sure I have no other siblings I was not aware of out there, and realized I am not alone. I may be depressed and totally nuts sometimes, but I’m still not completely crazy because I’m not the only one and there are books and support groups dedicated to people like me. You are NEVER completely crazy if there’s books and support groups. You’re good enough.
That is NOT a Good Idea by Mo Willems. Kids books are great when you’re down. They’re short, they’re pretty direct, and you can read it to your kid while also letting the words help you. Bonus points if, like me, your kid is big enough to read it to you! This one is a good reminder that no matter how evil a plan is someone is plotting against you, you can always get through it and out smart it. And have a full belly. I like eating.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Any book about the holocaust kind of puts things into perspective for me, personally. I have problems, but no where NEAR these problems. This book had me re-evaluating my situations with every page. Then *spoiler alert* you find out its a true freaking story? Nope. I’m good. Maybe not perfect or where I want to be, but good. I’ll get through this.
You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I think its just healthy for you to have something around you that is screaming how great you are, so this is pretty much the best book title ever. I also love this book because its the complete pep talk you would want someone to give you, if they knew you, to help you start to see yourself in a better life. If you’re an introvert like me, you know we don’t have those people in our lives but we can still use the boost. Even if you don’t read it, just get it and stand it up on your counter and look at it daily as a reminder.
Its Not Supposed to be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst. Sometimes I swear and I don’t always do things the most proper way, but this book (and really all her books) are staples in my house. Filled with bookmarks, sticky notes, my handwriting, and highlighted parts (I need to own books because I just have to write all over them and make the good parts look pretty for next time). My guess is, if you’re struggling like me, this is NOT what you had planned for life. But here you are. Now what? Another good girlfriend book.
I am an AVID reader, my interests span the library – no topic is really too weird, too boring, too old, too new, or too anything for me. If you need more recommendations, comment below! And if you’ve got a good book to share (whether is makes you feel good or just makes you feel good enough for now) PLEASE share! I’m always adding to my reading list!