Depression During the Holidays

The songs of Christmas can cause most people to feel joy and look forward to the holidays. Songs like I’ll Be Home for Christmas or The Happiest Time of the Year. The problem with those songs is that they put the focus on the holiday as if there is something magical about the holiday.

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Toss on those overly romanticized movies where Christmas miracles happen such as finding true love and the whole thing is magnified.

The holidays can cause some short term sadness for some. But what about people who struggle with depression? When everyone around you is happy to celebrate holidays, it can make a person feel even more depressed.

As someone who has depression due to living with Chronic Illness, what has helped me the most is to focus on the person Christmas is about not about the holiday that is overly commercialized.

Christmas is a time to remember the birth of Jesus our Savior. That is what it is really all about. It is not some magical time of year where all problems are solved. The person Jesus said things like in John 16:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

That is so realistic. This world, this life, is full of problems. Jesus did not say he will wipe the problems away. Yes, he can do that, but what he said is to take heart because he has overcome the world.

Jesus also said in Matthew 11:

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

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He invites anyone who has struggles in life to come to him promising rest for weary souls. That would include those are feeling alone during a holiday, those who struggle with depression, and anyone who just plain is struggling in life.

So my only advice is to focus on the person Christmas is supposed to be about, Jesus, and not the holiday which has no power to do anything.

One more thing I would say is that if you are struggling, it is not only okay but important to ask for help.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

World Mental Health Day

Sunday was World Mental Health Day. As a follower of Jesus, it is my desire to show the compassion and love of Jesus to others. In Matthew 11, Jesus said:

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

When Jesus said-ALL- he meant ALL. If we struggle with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or any other mental health issue, that is included in the ALL.

Jesus wants us to come to him with all of our troubles, problems, and struggles. His arms are open wide to us.

I will never forget watching the film Brain On Fire and how it helped me. I was hesitant about taking medication for depression. Years of living with chronic illness meant depression as a symptom. As I watched the movie based on a true story, I realized it was okay to take medication. The story line of the movie is a young woman doctors thought was beyond help until a psychiatrist did a simple test. He realized she had an autoimmune problem affecting her brain and started her on medication.

Our brains are part of our physical bodies, so they are interconnected. In my case, autoimmune problems caused my depression. There is still much to learn. We who follow Jesus can show Jesus to those who wrestle with mental health issues.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

September 10th- Suicide Prevention Awareness Day

I will never forget going to the funeral of a 19 year old girl. She completed suicide only two weeks before she was supposed to start college. She had been in an emotionally abusive relationship and the young man abruptly broke up with her. Her family and friends were devastated. She had been in my mentoring group for young people from Vietnam. All of them went on to college except her. It was a tragedy.

Out of the group one became a doctor, several became pharmacists, a few became nurses, one is an architect, one is a CPA, others engineers, but I still think about her. I lost track of her during the year before she died. She had quit coming to our group.

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The emotional distress people who attempt or complete suicide is difficult for many to understand. There can be any number of underlying issues the person faces. When I went through suicide prevention training, I learned that someone just asking if a person is contemplating can make a difference.

As a Christian, my desire is to reflect the love of Jesus to those around me. A person may not be ready to hear the message, but could benefit from someone caring if we are open to caring for others.

If you happen across this post because you searched suicide and you are considering it, please know that God truly cares about you. There is no one and nothing worth throwing your life away. As the video I am sharing at the end of this post says- Stay Another Day.

People need others who care about them in these difficult times. It can as simple as reaching out when one feels prompted to do so.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Meet Me There by Lydia Laird

When I’m sure I’m forgotten and forsaken
When I find myself all alone and scared
When the chains of anxiety have brought me to my knees
Sweet Jesus, meet me there

I love the lyrics of Meet Me There by Lydia Laird. Jesus indeed meets us in our struggles, in our troubles, in our difficulties. There is never a moment Jesus is not with us. He has promised to always be with us, but we get bogged down in life and it is too easy for us to lose sight of the truth that Jesus is always with us.

This song is a reminder to look to Jesus in our struggles. He is waiting for us to do so.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays-I’ll Be Okay by Lydia Laird

When I read the about section for Lydia Laird’s site-lydialaird,com, three things got my attention. First she is a Christian. The other two things I related to, 1-she lived in Romania part of a missionary family, and 2- she has struggled with depression and anxiety which for me were side effects of chronic illness.

Whatever we go through in this life, we can know God is with us. We can look to God for help, comfort, and strength. Laird’s song I’ll Be Okay is a reflection of that borne out of her experience looking to God for help, comfort and strength.

May this song bless you as much or more than has me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Wellness Wednesday-What Ifs?

None of us really goes through this life unscathed, but for some there can be hurtful memories from the past whether from family issues, abuse, trauma, job loss, health issues etc.

It is so easy to fall into the pitfall of the What If thinking. I have to admit at times in my life What Ifs have dragged me down.

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What If my father had not lost his business and found our he was diabetic when I was 12. What If he had not retreated in his vodka.

What If I had not experienced a serious health crisis and had to leave the school where I was studying for the ministry.

I know the What Ifs all to well.

But two scripture verses raise me up.

Romans 8:28- And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

God is always at work in my life to bring everything together for my good.

Ephesians 2:10- For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God created me with abilities and talents to match what he is calling me to.

So how do I turn the What Ifs around when they try to raise their ugly heads?

What I do is change the What Ifs. Examples:

What If I had not had my health crisis 1993 to 1995. I would not have been led to what I do now.

What If I had not been through what I have been through. I would not have met the people Jesus has blessed me with meeting, sharing his love with, and helping.

What If my family life had not been so messed up. I would not have the empathy for others that I have now.

By changing my What Ifs, it keeps my focus on Jesus and his calling on my life. It helps to keep things like despair, self pity, etc out of my life.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

How Jesus Would View Simone Biles

Negative reactions to Simone Biles withdrawing from the Olympics has much more to do with how messed up values are in our culture than Simone Biles withdrawing. The one question I ask myself is how would Jesus view her?

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Here is a 24 year old woman who has spent the majority of her life training. She has already captured six medals in previous Olympics. But she is also a young woman who is a sexual assault survivor. She was victimized along with other young women by someone teen girls should be able to trust, a team doctor. She had the courage to come forward along with some of the other victims. That kind of trauma stays with a person. She pursued her love of gymnastics even while carrying that trauma in her spirit.

As a Christian, I am mindful of how even Jesus experienced being praised by people and then rejected and scoffed at by some of the same people during his Passion Week when he was crucified. Jesus views Simone Biles the same as he would any woman who has been victimized as Biles was. He views her as a young woman in need of healing for her soul and spirit and in need of his compassion.

That is the only way Christians should view her, as a young woman who has suffered at the hands of not only the man who assaulted her, but also at the hands of those in Team USA who sought to cover it up. She owes us nothing. She deserves compassion, understanding, and respect for having achieved as much as she has while dealing with trauma.

Thank you for reading God Bless.

Wellness Wednesday- Jesus Understands Scars

When we think of scars. we tend to think of physical scars. I have many of those. But there are also psychological and emotional scars. Jesus understands scars. He suffered for us and still has those scars. He also faced rejection and betrayal. I would like to share the following from an old post of mine from three years ago when I first got going with blogging.

12 scars on my body tell stories of my life. Some are from surgeries like the  scar from an appendectomy when I was 21. Some are small like the small scar next to my left eye from a freak accident while setting up an outdoor activity for kids at church. The tiny scars from arthroscopic surgery on my right shoulder in 1990. The scar on my stomach when I was attacked by a dog when I was 12 is symbolic of the upheaval in my youth. The two inch scar on my left hand from a surgery to repair damage when I had a hand injury in 1996 represents my health struggles of the 1990s.

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Scars represent our wounds that have healed. Some heal over correctly but some wounds that ‘heal’ over leave places that will never be the same and sometimes not work well.

But what of the scars from wounds no one can see? The scars from being abused. Scars left from struggling with addiction. Scars left from being victimized. Scars from broken relationships. Some wounds go so deep into our souls that we wonder if they will ever scar over the way physical wounds do when they heal.

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One day Jesus told Thomas to reach out and touch His scars from the nails that pierced his wrists and the scar from the soldiers spear that pierced his side. His scars are still there to show us His love. Having all power, he could have stopped his crucifixion, but His love for us made Him lay down His life for us.

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He says to all of us, “Look at the scars on my wrists and feet. Look at the scar in my side. My scars are for your scars.”

His scars are there because he wants to bring healing to our souls and spirits. His scarred wrists reach out to us saying, “Come to me all who are weary and find rest for your souls”

One day I reached back to his hands extended. I reached back to find rest and healing from my past as the son of an alcoholic father and mother with mental illness. Rest, oh yes rest, from the anger, confusion, doubt caused by my own sinful reactions to life.

The hands on his scarred wrists long to hold our hand and walk in this life with us. Jesus is reaching out to you. Will we take the hand offered in love and friendship offering healing for our souls?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Peace Be Still Featuring Lauren Daigle with The Belonging Company

I don’t want to be afraid
Every time I face the waves
I don’t want to be afraid
I don’t want to be afraid
I don’t want to fear the storm
Just because I hear it roar
I don’t want to fear the storm
I don’t want to fear the storm

I love this recording by Lauren Daigle. When I listen to it, it reminds me to look to Jesus in while going through difficult times such as waking up with pain wondering how I will make it through a day.

There are two times recorded in the bible involving Jesus and his disciples. followers, being in a storm while in a boat. There was the time Jesus walked on the water through the storm and the time Jesus was sleeping in the boat when the storm came.

In Mark 4 we read about Jesus sleeping in the boat in the midst of the storm. The disciples were freaking out and woke him up. Jesus simple said 3 words, “Peace, be still,” and the storm stopped and the waters calmed.

In Matthew 14 we about Jesus walking on the water in the midst of a rough waters and says to his disciples who thought he was a ghost. “Take Courage, It is I. Do not be afraid.”.

Storms come and go in our lives. We face difficult times. In the difficult times, Jesus comes to us just as he did the disciples. Our worst problems he can quiet with a few words.

When Peter tried to walk out to Jesus on the water and faltered, Jesus didn’t let him drown. Jesus picked him up out of the water.

What so easily overwhelms us, Jesus has power over it.

I live with chronic illness. Jesus comes to me in the mornings as I pray to give me strength for the day.

We might live with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, yet Jesus will come to us.

Sometimes Jesus calms the storms in our lives and sometimes he joins in the midst of the storms and tells us to take courage because he is with us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- I’m Not Alone by Riley Clemmons

I thought my worth was lost but my worth was not lost on you

If we ever wonder if God thinks we are worthwhile, we only need to stop and think about Jesus. Jesus on the cross was God reaching out to show how much he loves us.

Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Out of all creation, we are what he values most. No matter what pit we are in, depression, divorce, family problems, health problems, financial problems, memories of past trauma or abuse, we are worth so much to God that he sent Jesus.

God loves you. That means you are worth so much to God.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.