I Have This Hope – Dealing With Change

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I am a very sensitive person…

Change is an inevitable part of life, and it can be hard to deal with.  I am a very sensitive person. Living with tough changes can make a person with depression cry a lot more than people who don’t have depression. This includes people who are already very emotional.  I’ve probably cried 10 million tears in this lifetime and will probably cry 10 million more. 

For me, this is difficult because it is so embarrassing. Too many times I have cried during inappropriate moments. Though for the longest time, I kept all my feelings to myself. I held all the pain and tears in, because that is what I thought I was supposed to do.  I didn’t want to upset or burden other people.

I hated crying in front of my Dad. He had too many other younger children than me, and I am sure he got tired of hearing all the crying. As I got older, about high school age, I still tried to hold in all my emotions. Everything felt tight in my chest all the time. When I did cry during these times, it was usually at night when I cried myself to sleep.

I Have This Hope…

I recently heard this beautiful song and I felt like it spoke to me and gave me a lot of comfort.  I want to share a few of the lyrics.  This post has an affiliate link.  Check it  The song is called I Have This Hope  by Tenth Avenue North.

As I walk this great unknown

Questions come and questions go

Was there purpose for the pain?

Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don’t want to live in fear

I want to trust that You are near

Trust Your grace can be seen

In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope

In the depth of my soul

In the flood or the fire

You’re with me and You won’t let go

Obviously, this song refers to the Lord being with us in our time of need.  I like the lines “Was there purpose for the pain? Did I cry these tears in vain?”  I believe now that all my tears were not cried in vain, and writing this blog now is my purpose for the pain.

 I am positive that my soul has had to learn this lesson in order to help others.  Whether I am helping my own family or friends, or whether I am helping total strangers, I want to help any and everyone to learn how to understand and cope with their struggles in order to lead their best possible life.

I Didn’t Know That Depression Was An Actual Illness…

It wasn’t until college, and at that time, which I realize now, I was becoming clinically depressed, that I started to keep a journal. Leaving home to come to college was the beginning of my life with depression.

People say there are all sorts of life events that can be triggers for depression: a death in the family, a new marriage or divorce, a move to a new city, or even starting a new job. Why is this so?  I believe that it is change that we are just not mentally or emotionally prepared for.

Change Is Inevitable…

Tomorrow is a new day, and change is inevitable. Everyone knows that. Sometimes, we welcome it with open arms and other times it happens so fast it makes our heads spin!  But, sadly, an unexpected change, or turn of events, can make our lives completely upend themselves. It can often lead us down a lonely road that makes it very difficult to find our way back home.

This is what happened to me when I moved away to college. I only moved 30 minutes away from my home and family, but it might as well have been a thousand miles. I remember thinking at the time that it was completely unnatural for me to leave my parents behind the way I did. It just never felt like the right thing to do. One wonderful thing that came out of this separation though, I finally started really liking my younger siblings for the first time ever. They truly became my best friends at this time, and I cherished the time when we did have the chance to be together. I didn’t take that time of my life for granted.

So, I am Depressed…

So, how do we get out of a funk like the one I was in during my college years?  I honestly do not know how I even graduated from college being in the condition I was in. The funny thing is, at this time, I still didn’t know I suffered from a disease called depression. I didn’t know I needed medical help.

One thing that helped me get through my day to day struggle was that I wrote in my journal many nights before bed. Honestly, my journal was my best friend when I was in college.  Writing was a type of therapy for me. It was my only opportunity where I could be completely honest with myself.

I wrote about the loneliness in missing my family, and the many weekends I spent with my family. I wrote about the crushes I had on boys and how fearful I was of ever letting a boy know that I actually liked him for fear of rejection. Then, I wrote about the fear of losing my loved ones. These were the main themes of my journal entries: rejection, loneliness, and fear. I intend to write more about all of these things in future posts.

Fast Forward…

Just last weekend, I was lucky enough to have the time to go spend the weekend with my children, sister, her children, and my mom and dad at my parents’ home where I grew up. I had the opportunity, as well, to visit with my grandma.

My mom, sister, grandma, and I were sitting around visiting and had a wonderful conversation. We decided that the best way to live this life is to accept your life the way it is. For me, this means accepting that I have to work everyday dealing with and helping myself cope with anxiety and depression.

So what should you do right now?

My life may be crazy, and I might even be crazy, but I am happy and there is no reason why all of us can’t be happy too. But, you have to make a conscious decision to make your life better. You have to have a plan, and then put that plan into action.  This may mean confiding in friends and family, seeing a therapist or your doctor, or even taking medication. The main point is you have to be willing to change something that is not working in your life to make it better for you. This is something you deserve and need to make time to do.

Change is inevitable. Good changes that help us become better people are the best changes to make!  I have so many more experiences and ideas to share with you to help us all become better people and feel better about ourselves. If there is anything specific that you would like to see in a post that you are interested in learning about, please shoot me an email and I will be more than happy to address it. Until then, take care of yourself!

God bless,

Marji

 

Spiritual Health and It’s Importance in Our Lives!

Spiritual Health 

Spiritual Health

In order to be happy we must have balance in our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual lives.

For several months now. I have felt much better in many aspects of my life. However, something had been missing.  I have been lacking in my spiritual health.  This is difficult for me to talk and write about, because I have always kept my relationship with God to myself.  

It is something I rarely ever spoke about in the past.  But, thanks to my husband, who grew up not knowing God or Jesus,  found a church through a good friend.  This man has taught my husband a lot about the love of God and how He works in our lives.  I wasn’t ready to attend church for many different reasons.  But after several months of my husband attending church by himself, I decided to go with him.  

What an amazing experience…

Attending this church was such a wonderful experience from anything I had known before.  Everyone was so kind.  Stranger after stranger came up to me and introduced themselves.  They were all so welcoming. 

One of the first few times I had attended, the band was singing a beautiful song. The lyrics moved me so much that I started sobbing and had to sit down.  Overcome with emotion. I cried because the lyrics made me feel as if I had wasted much of my life due to depression.  Also, I feared that I would never be able to completely recover.  

Recently, I shared this belief with the women of my Bible study group.  Our leader, who is 27, and seems so wise for someone so young, read a scripture that proved otherwise. I would like to share it. It is from 1 Peter 1:6-7.  “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  

After contemplating  this scripture, I realized that my trials have not been in vain.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, I feel that it is my job now to teach and help others understand and deal with their own mental health

I am not religious…  

As far as my new church is concerned, I love it. Also, I love the preacher, who doesn’t really preach, but rather teaches. I relate to this so well, because I am a teacher too. There is no judgement or pressure to be baptized or even to attend church. He said what mattered most was our own personal relationship with Jesus.  

This was so refreshing to hear, because so many religions tell you that you have to do or believe certain things or you will not go to heaven.   So, I actually started praying for the first time in quite a while.  It seemed like I had forgotten how to do that.  Now, I feel like I have a relationship with Jesus again. This is something that has been missing in my life for an incredibly long time.

I don’t consider myself religious, because I do not belong or practice a specific religion.  Instead, I simply am a Christian and follow Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Bible.

I can discuss my faith.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I can share my faith with others.  I enjoy Bible study and learning new things about Jesus.  In turn, I gain new insights into my own life.  I think about God almost all the time now.  

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I am at peace.  Nothing can shake my spirit as I give all my pain and joys to God to handle.  He has started to bless me in ways that I cannot explain.  Even though I am dealing with difficulties professionally, I feel remarkably well.  I am under a lot of stress.  Though somehow, I am not affected by it emotionally and mentally.  I only have God to thank for this amazing peace in my heart.  Spiritually, I am healthy.

I respect everyone’s spiritual beliefs.

I begrudge no one for belonging to a certain religion or for not believing in any higher being at all.  Therefore, I respect everyone’s beliefs, as it is not my obligation to judge others.  However, if you choose not to believe in a higher deity there are other ways to find spiritual peace.

One absolutely amazing way to find peace is through meditation.  This is something that I have practiced in the past but recently have not made the time for the way I would like. I have done some research on it, and there are many people who believe that meditation can actually cure anxiety and depression.  

What is the purpose of meditating for our spiritual health?

 

The purpose of meditation is to help you to live in the moment. Let go of your troubles. Don’t worry about your future or your past.  These are all things that are out of our control anyway.  Why should we worry about something we have no control over? Meditation helps relieve stress and keeps you focused on what is happening right now.  Right now is the only thing that really matters.

This post contains an affiliate link, and I highly recommend it.  It is a book that a dear family member gave me as he knew I was struggling with depression.  It is called The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.  He teaches us how to stay focused in the here and now, which we call being grounded.  

Tolle experienced enlightenment in his life when he was going through a severe depression.  He felt he became one with the earth and felt an incredible peace within himself.  It is hard for me to explain.  Tolle does a much better job. However, I have read the book twice and will most likely read it again.

Staying Grounded

Living in the “now” is necessary to help one stay grounded and to have comfort and peace in our lives. Enlightenment is not something that happens to everyone and may never happen to you. I definitely have not experienced it, but there is no reason why I cannot try to attain it.  

Once it happened to Tolle, he experienced an overwhelming sense of peacefulness.  He gives you the tools to work towards this goal, and part of that is living in the moment and not worrying about the past or the future.  He stresses staying focused and mindful, being grounded.

Many people swear by meditation, and use it to stay grounded.  It is kind of like a way that we are able to connect to our higher self or consciousness.  It is as if  our body, mind, and soul are all connected at the same time.

Please contact me!

If you are feeling down, remember to take care of yourself.  Do something nice just for you, or if you are willing, pray or try to reconnect with your God.

God bless you all.  Please feel free to comment or ask any questions that you may have.  I will do my best to help!

Marji     

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I am “Down”

Today has been a rough day.  It is 10:00 at night and I am finally starting to feel better.  I define my mood as “down”.  It feels like I am depressed and am very overwhelmed, yet I am not suffering through a major depressive episode.

So what does it mean to be down?  Last April, of 2016, I was experiencing this and decided to write down what I was feeling at that moment.  Here is my journal entry dated April 7, 2016:

“Down.  That is how I would describe myself today.  There is no reason.  It just happens.  I really don’t know why.  I ask myself why and I don’t really have an answer.  When I’m feeling anxious or nervous there is almost always a reason.  That can be comforting because I am able to help myself.  With this, I don’t have any strategies to get out of it.  So what does “down” mean?  I feel very subdued.  I don’t care about things that need to be done.  I’m very quiet and don’t want to talk to anybody.  I’m mellow and sad at the same time.  This can turn out in one of 2 ways.  The feeling will either dissipate or I will let it drag me down even further.  If it drags me down things can get bad.  I often, in this situation, start crying and have a hard time stopping.  I may become very emotional.  I might start panicking and completely flip out.  This is the worst, because it can hinder me from doing my job.  I have had to leave work and go home many times because of panic.  What is strange is that my mood can change at any moment.  I hope it changes.”

So, why does this happen?  Why is it that today I am down but I will wake up in the morning, hopefully, and feel completely normal again?  One reason is maybe just the nature of the disease.  It may be caused by anxiety or pressure I am putting on myself to get things done.  Today is Sunday, and I always feel a great amount of anxiety on Sunday evenings, the day before I have to go back to work.  I have always had a large amount of anxiety anytime I have a vacation, summer break, or just the weekend.  It has been this way for me since I was a child, and it has not changed as an adult.

One way I try to deal with this on Sunday evenings is to make sure I am as prepared as possible for Monday morning by having as much as I can ready to go for the morning.  This includes having my bags packed, clothes ready, and lunch made.  It just takes away some of that craziness in the morning when I am trying to get out of the house on time.

Another disorder that I have is Premensrtual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD.  I know right now, because of my menstrual cycle, that this is most likely why I am feeling down today.  Here is a link to some of the symptoms that you may experience if you too have PMDD from WebMD.  I experience almost all of these symptoms every month.

http://www.webmd.com/women/pms/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder#1    

So, if you believe that you have PMDD I would suggest talking to your doctor about your symptoms.

If you are having a rough day, like I did today, I would like to suggest doing something for yourself that makes you happy or gives you energy to help lift your spirits.  Unfortunately, we always have necessary obligations that might have to be done first.  But, when you get the chance,  do something for you.  Take a walk outside, even if it is only for 10 minutes.  Lie down and listen to some relaxing music, read a book, or watch a funny movie.  One thing I like to do on occasion, is watch funny videos on Facebook, Pinterest, or YouTube.  Find something you enjoy that is either energizing or relaxing and try doing it for a little while.  You will be surprised at how much better it can make you feel when you are down.

In the near future, I hope to write more about the symptoms of depression and different ways you can help keep it under control so you will be able to live your best life.  Please check back soon for more encouragement and advice.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.  I am always looking forward to hearing from you!  Thank you and God bless!

Marji

Grief and Depression – Part 3

“The mightiest power of death is not that it can make people die, but it can make the people left behind want to stop living…”

Fredrick Backman

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

 

By far, the most emotional issue I have had to deal with to date is not suffering through depression but dealing with the loss of my dear Grandfather while suffering through a depression.  

Today is a special day in my life because it is the 3 year anniversary of his passing.  Now,  I don’t want you to think that I am morbid.  I feel like in just the last couple of months I have learned to handle and understand the situation in a much more positive way.  Which is also, so much healthier.

I grew up in a Catholic family and attended Catholic grade school.  I have received 5 of the 7 Holy Sacraments, but somewhere along the way of my life, I lost my religion, and somehow forgot to understand how to talk to God and pray.  Today, I do not consider myself a religious person but instead a Christ follower, a Christian.  I don’t want to turn this blog into a Christian blog, but I think it is important to understand how much my life has recently changed and it does involve the fact that I found, not my religion, but my faith in general. I have re-learned how to pray and I have learned to ask other people for help by praying for me.  I find this to be very comforting.  I don’t feel like this is being selfish in any way, for I would do the same for anyone who asked the same favor of me.

It’s kind of interesting and a bit ironic how it all came about too, finding my faith in Jesus again.  My husband grew up not knowing God at all.  He never knew how to go about praying and did not know the first thing about the stories of Jesus’ life.  Within the last year he was influenced by a wonderful Christian man who answered a lot of questions my husband had about God.  He never judged my husband for not knowing God, instead he showed him the way to peace and Jesus.  Never once did my husband feel pressure to even attend church on Sunday, he just one day decided to attend when my children and I were out of town visiting family.

He fell in love with it and, eventually, it took several months, I decided to attend with him.  I fell in love with it too.  Now we are slowly learning again, or in his case, for the first time about Jesus and our Holy Father.  I cannot explain the amount of peace I feel in my heart now that wasn’t there just a couple of months before.  In fact, I am going through what should be the most stressful time in my professional career as a teacher and I am still truly at peace.  I know that whatever happens, happens for a reason.  Maybe a new door is opening up for me.  I am willing to wait to find out too.  I don’t have to know today what is in store for me tomorrow.  I have this amazing faith that God will reveal His plan in His time.

One thing that has recently been revealed to me is that I feel deep down in my heart and soul that I am supposed to write this blog.  I will do absolutely anything to make sure that other people who suffer from anxiety and depression will understand more about this disease, either to help themselves or their loved ones in any way they possibly can.  I feel that this is now my true purpose in my life.  I pray that in some way I can make a living doing this.  The most important thing though, is that now I pray.  

As far as losing my Grandpa 3 years ago today, it was the most difficult occurrence that has ever happened to me.  But, like I said before, there is a certain peace I feel now, and it is providing me with an incredible amount of happiness and comfort.  Thank God for this peace.  I pray that all my loved ones who miss Grandpa as much as I do, and boy there are a lot of people out their who loved him so much, feel some of that peace as well.

In future blogs, of course, I will speak more of how much I have overcome my mental illness and the lessons I have learned, the theories I have tried, the medication I have taken.  But today, I want to say a few more things about my Grandfather.  Yes.  I have grieved his loss and suffered through a serious depression at the same time, and sometimes it was hard to tell where one ended and the other began.  But, at this moment in my life, I am  finally  happier than I have been since I was running around bases on the softball field at 16 years of age.  That was a really, really long time ago.  It was also a really long time to be sick with very little relief.

Today, in honor of all my family and friends of my family who lost such a wonderful person in their lives, I want to honor the memory of  my Grandpa Merlin.  It is so hard to put in to words just exactly how I feel about him, and it is hard to explain exactly what made him so very special.  But, he was the type of person who always made you feel special.  He loved his family.  He worked very hard everyday.  He loved history and sports, especially baseball and KU basketball.  I was so lucky to have had the chance to go to some of those events with him throughout my  lifetime.  Those were very special times.  He also loved telling stories about the Cardinals and KU basketball.  I remember sitting and just listening to him talk, story after story.  I will never forget his eyes.  He had the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen on any other person.  He had a deep, deep baritone voice and one of my favorite sounds in the whole world was hearing him say, “Hi, Marji.” anytime I greeted him.  I would do anything to be able to hear that sound just one more time.

I am positive that my whole family also has special memories of Grandpa.  One time, a very long time ago, when I was just starting my new career as a teacher, I was sad and depressed and going through a difficult time.  I feel like I was prematurely mourning his loss because I specifically remember thinking about him as I wrote this down in my journal.  I found this writing again a little over a year ago when I was suffering through a tough depressive episode, and it was almost 16 years or so from the time I originally wrote it.  I don’t know what made me write it then, but I feel that it was something very spiritual deep within my soul. It was dated January 24, 1999.  I believe this explains everything perfectly about my beliefs now, especially since Grandpa is gone.  It is the same for all of the loved ones I have lost as well.  I find it to be extremely comforting.  It deals both with my fear of death of my loved ones and my depression.  I hope it may help others find some comfort as well.  Here it is:

 

From now on, I’ll always be everywhere,

and everyone will be with me.  I will not

give up just because it hurts to lose.

It’s better to cherish every living moment,

that way it will never leave you even when

they are gone.  They’ll always be with me.

Every single one will be in my heart

with me forever.  Even when I’m gone, I will

have them.  I have lived so that I may love.

I will die so that I may live.

 

God bless all of you.  

God bless the soul of M.B.M.

 

Marji

 

Grief and Depression – Part 2

“The whole world can’t lick us but we can lick ourselves by longing too hard for things we haven’t got anymore – and by remembering too much.”

 

Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind

 

I read Mitchell’s novel when I was in college and this  quote immediately stood out to me.  I related to it so much for some important reasons.  Depression started to really take over my life in college when life as I had always known it changed so drastically.  I had a very difficult time adjusting to the changes.  

 

One such change was my livelihood of playing and being extremely active, and successful in sports. My time was over too soon, and I wasn’t ready to give it up.  But even though, I chose to run on the cross country and track teams in college, it was just not the same as high school.  Being involved in collegiate athletics was one of the most difficult things I ever did voluntarily.  I started to deal with the anxiety and depression that I was beginning to experience by sleeping any time I had the opportunity.  It was my way of disappearing from the world and not having to live with an uncomfortable and very difficult “chore”.  That is how I saw practice and collegiate competition.  It was more like a tough chore or even a job that I did not get paid for.  I had made the commitment to do it so there was no way I was going to quit even though I really wanted to.  

 

The biggest and most traumatic change in my life was leaving my home and family to go off to college.  I lived in the dorm my freshman year and in a small house off campus every year after that.  And, even though my college was only about 30 minutes from my hometown, it felt like it was more like half way across the country.  It almost felt completely unnatural to me to have to leave my mother and father and brothers and sister to go away to college.  It is embarrassing to say, but I went home almost every single weekend to spend it with my family.  I also moved back home for the entire duration of both winter and summer breaks.

 

I kept a journal throughout most of my college career and I found an entry I wrote on one particular day.  One day, I miserably failed a test in my major and went to visit with my professor about it.  It turned into more of a counseling session and I spent nearly two hours discussing my fears as to why I couldn’t leave the country to study the language that I was planning on teaching.  I remember telling him about my Grandpa and the fear I had that something bad would happen to him if I chose to leave the country.  The journal entry I am referring to was from a discussion I had on another occasion with my tutor who I practiced speaking in the foreign language to every week.  Here is a section of that entry dated April 2, 1997.  I was 23 years old and would be graduating in May of 1998.

 

“I feel that if I ever left here I would just die.  I need my family.  I have to be able  to see them and laugh with them or else I’ll die.  Fito doesn’t understand.  I’ll miss everything if I leave.  I’m so afraid something will happen if I’m not there.  Or that I’ll miss out on something important that would happen if I were there.

 

Just only about a month ago I was crying one Sunday evening at home because I didn’t want to come back here.  I’m not sure if it’s coming to Pitt or being in Pitt, or if it’s leaving home that is so  upsetting.  Maybe I’m fooling myself.  I don’t know.  It’s just that I feel such guilt when I”m not at home.  I’m not sure why.  My unprofessional conclusion is that I’m just all messed up.  I wish I was 100% sure of everything and that I knew all the answers.

 

I am sick of being so dang timid.  I don’t know how to be any different than this.  Not true.  I know.  I just don’t believe I can do it.”

 

I guess my biggest fear at this time was fear of the unknown, but especially the death of a loved one.  I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving home for a foreign country, because I was just positive that someone would die.  For some reason, the person I had the greatest fear of losing was my grandfather, even though it would be another 16 years until he passed away, and I would be 39 years old.  

 

I truly believe that this fear of mine was so traumatic for me that it inevidently became part of the reason I continued to suffer from depression for the remaining of my adult life.  

 

I will say, though, that at this moment I am in the best place I have ever been in all aspects of my life, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  For this, I am truly grateful.  However, it has taken me more than 25 years to get to this place in my life.  If I, who have suffered as much and intensely as I have can get to this amazing place, then I truly believe anyone who also suffers can find their way out and make their lives better.  This is what I hope for everyone who works hard day after day, as well as those who suffer in silence.  

 

In my next post, I want to discuss the loss of my grandpa and how it has effected me and my depression in the last 3 years.  Tomorrow will be the 3 year anniversary of his death.  I hope you continue reading my story and I hope you can somehow relate your own life to my struggles.  But most of all, I hope that in some way through this blog, I can help you improve your quality of life.  It can happen for you.  I know it can, because it happened to me and I had all but given up on ever improving my mental state.  

 

I hope you continue reading about my journey.  God bless you!

 

Marji

Grief and Depression – Part 1

March 7, 2017

I believe that I was destined to live with anxiety and depression because as I grew up as a child, as a high school and college student, and even as a young adult before I married, I was constantly dealing with certain themes in my everyday life.  These “themes” seemed to reoccur day after day, year after year.  It seems to me, that these things lead to my depression and anxiety.   One very troubling thing that I dealt with and truly did not understand from the time I was in high school until well into adulthood  was death.   Or maybe, it is more accurate to say my fear of death helped lead to depression as an adult.

 

I understand that the loss of a loved one, for many people can cause depression, but not all the time.  My first experience with loss did lead to my first true experience with depression. It was the summer before my senior year of high school.  However, the people who died were not particularly close to me.  In a span of 2 weeks, my 1 month old cousin, my next door neighbor who was a young college woman only 2 years older than me, and my elderly, great uncle who had been sick.  Those 2 weeks were difficult because they passed by so quickly and there were three funerals to attend in a very short amount of time.  It was so shocking, maybe because of the amount of time it all occurred in and, the thought immediately crossed my mind that it was 3 completely different generations of ages of people who passed away.  It made me see, for the very first time that absolutely anyone, at any age, could die at any moment.  This had a profound effect on me.  Once I realized this, my first real experience with depression started.  

 

I guess the first thing that happened was that I started having nightmares.  One night I dreamed that my youngest brother died.  He was my little buddy and as his big sister I protected him from everything I could, including my other brother who liked to rough house with him from time to time.  I was always making sure that he didn’t get hurt when Mom and Dad were not around.  Secondly, I dreamed my grandpa passed away.  This was hard as well, because my grandpa was one of those people that everyone loved and admired.  He was a very special person to me and played a very influential part in my life.  At that time, I was obsessed more with baseball than I was about a lot of things.  Grandpa used to take me to Kansas City Royals games quite often as he had season tickets.  He loved baseball too and taught me a lot about the game.  It was more than a game to both of us and we bonded over it.   He loved telling stories about his favorite players and teams, and I used to sit next to him for hours and just listen to his stories.   Finally, my third and most disturbing dream was that I walked into this big room full of caskets and was told to pick out my own.  Wow!

 

Obviously death was on my mind.  It was summer, and my main job then was to watch my younger siblings during the day while my parents were at work.  I remember for a few weeks or so, waking up earlier than was actually necessary so that I could sit with my parents while they ate their breakfast.  Then, I remember thinking as my Dad left for his day’s work that this was the last time I would ever see him alive again.  For some reason I started to truly believe this.  

 

I also started waking up every morning with an upset stomach and feeling like I needed to vomit.  I would have a bowel movement and just felt sick for hours at a time.  As the day went on, I would start to feel better.  But, every morning I felt physically ill.  This lasted for a month or so when my mom obviously started noticing something different about me.  I don’t remember if I ever talked to her about how I felt, but she knew something was wrong.  She knew I wasn’t handling theses deaths very well.

 

The issue was finally addressed one Sunday afternoon when I went up to my grandparents’ home for dinner.  Grandma made fried chicken for the family almost every weekend.  I will always remember that and how delicious it was.  My mom had her sister go on a walk with me.  It was just the two of us and she asked me questions about how I was feeling so I told her.  She then went on to explain to me her situation of losing her best friend to cancer just a few short years before that.  

 

I am not sure why, but from that moment on, for a very long time, I woke up and did not feel sick to my stomach anymore.  

 

Of course, I did not know it at the time that I was experiencing depression or that there was even such a thing as depression.  But as I got older, things became worse as I developed an almost irrational fear of losing loved ones and did everything I could to stay as close to them as possible for as long as possible.

 

Before I close this post, I want to say one more thing about this.  Yes, at that moment in my life, I experienced depression due to grief. But I have learned too, that grief doesn’t always lead to depression.  Unfortunately the first time I experienced the death of a loved one to whom I was very close, I was already in the midst of a serious depression.  My story about my experience with losing a dear, loved one does not end here.  There is more to come  soon.  

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Marji

Overwhelmed with Anxiety

“When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better. “

 

Maya Angelou

 

Overwhelmed. This gets me in so much trouble sometimes. Feeling overwhelmed causes panic attacks and emotional breakdowns. It causes me to say things out of anger or sadness that I always immediately wish I could take back. Unfortunately the damage occurs and I cannot take it back.  I have messed up so many times in both my personal and professional life.  I cannot begin to count the number of times that I have hurt way too many people.  

 

The hardest part for me is, once I screw up, usually by saying something inappropriate, I have such a difficult time being able to move on, learn from my mistake, and most importantly, forgive myself.  This almost always leads to a big hit on my self-esteem.  I always assume the people I do hurt never forgive me either, and maybe that is why I am so hard on myself. Since I was very young, I struggled with the idea of ever hurting, angering, or letting another person down, especially my parents and loved ones.  But I have learned as an adult and through therapy, that I will never be able to please everyone and I will always go through life hurting someone, whether it is intentional or not.

 

But, let’s go back to being overwhelmed.  To me, this is basically having so many things to do that I just suffer from an incredible amount of anxiety.  When this occurs, like I said, I am not able to control many of my emotions.  And, unfortunately, for me, I tend to break down during the least opportune times.  For example, there have been times when I have broken down at my job in tears or panic attacks where I can’t breathe and just sob. As a teacher, this is very unprofessional.  What student does not feel uncomfortable seeing their teacher cry?  

 

A few months after my husband and I got married, I was going through a severe depressive episode and having panic attacks quite regularly during the middle of the day at school.  Luckily, I had some wonderful people I was working with who got me the desperate help I needed.  I was allowed to take 6 weeks off of school, and for those first two weeks I was admitted to an outpatient mental facility to help myself get better.  

 

After visiting with the psychologist first thing every morning, I went to a special counselor.  Each morning she made out a schedule for me from hour to hour so that I would know what I had to do that day while I was at the hospital.  Then, she required that I make another schedule for myself that was to start as soon as I made it back home until I went to bed for the night.  Going through a horrible depression, I found this schedule to be extremely helpful for my day to day life.  

 

In the recent weeks, as I have struggled greatly with anxiety, I have made it an important part of my day, whether it be at school or home, and even on the weekends, to make a list of things I want to accomplish.  Saturdays always seem to be a day where I have a difficult time becoming motivated to do anything.  Thank God for my husband who gets me moving and simply won’t allow me to lie around all day!  He is very encouraging.  Just yesterday, he got me up and moving out of bed, when all I wanted to do was lie down and sleep or simply do nothing.  So, before I got out of bed, it was almost noon, I took out my phone and made a list of the things or goals I had to do that day or just wanted to attempt to accomplish.  I did not complete everything on my list, but oh how satisfying it was to be able to erase the things off my list that I did finish.  

 

I know it sounds almost too simple, but I believe to help myself from getting too overwhelmed and to help keep me from losing it emotionally during the day, this is a great strategy to get me moving and keep me moving as well.  

 

I think it is important to prioritize your list.  Do the things that have to be done no matter what.  Or maybe, just to get you get started and really moving and feeling good, do a few easy things first and then cross them off your list.  No matter how many times I do this task each day, it always gives me such a feeling of accomplishment to cross something off of my list.  

 

Give this idea a try for a week or two and see if it helps calm some of your overwhelming anxieties.  Feel free to leave a comment for me or ask me any questions that you may have.  I will do my best to answer them.  

 

Make it a great week!

 

Marji