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.

Teachers Need Support- Lost One This Week

Yesterday I heard some news that underscored the mental health aspects of this prolonged pandemic, shutdowns, and uncertainty. She was a woman I had never met nor heard of before yesterday. She was at a different school. In my city of almost 300,000 people, we only have one school district, so there are many teachers and staff I have never met.

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Yesterday I heard of the social worker at another school. She took her own life leaving three children and a husband wondering why. She completed suicide. Though I never met her and it is not a loss personally for me, it hit home a bit that a fellow educator would complete suicide at this time.

Teachers and staff in schools are on the front lines of this pandemic. We may not be treating patients like doctors and nurses in the hospitals, but we are at risk of exposure more so than most other professions. We are faced with trying to provide education with what amounts to having one arm tied behind our backs. It is so hard to get substitutes right now. Some teachers are choosing to retire a little early. In the USA, the vibe is Thanksgiving Break can’t come soon enough.

So please be kind to teachers. We have no say in decisions made by those above us. If you disagree with your school’s policy, please remember your child’s teacher did not make the policy. They are just trying to make the best of it.

Pray for the teachers you know and the ones you don’t know.

Small acts of kindness can help make a teacher’s day.

Please be kind to the teachers.

If you are struggling at this time, please remember there are people who want to help. God wants to help you. Jesus loves you and wants to walk beside you through the dark times and good times.

It is better to ask for help and stay another day. Remember your story isn’t over yet.

In the USA you can call- 800-273-8255

In the UK you can call- 0800 689 5652

In Canada you can call 1.833.456.4566

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

This week is invisible illness awareness week. Invisible illness covers a lot of illnesses that others may not see a person have. They include lupus, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, POTS, chronic fatigue syndrome, and many more.

The cartoon expresses the frustration people living with chronic illness feel when people say things like, ‘you don’t look sick’ ‘maybe you need to try yoga’ ‘do you take vitamins’ etc.

What people living with chronic illness wish friends would say are:

“Can I help you with anything?”

“I understand you can’t make it at times, but I like inviting you”

“Can I give you a ride to the doctor?”

“How about we chill out at your place and watch movies”

I am grateful that most of the time my chronic illnesses do not prevent me from doing what I want to do, but it has caused me to modify the things I do. For example, I used to love bicycling, but can’t anymore. I can, however, walk in an aqua track.

A special shoutout to my readers who live with chronic illness.

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-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.

Music Mondays- Same God by Hannah Kerr

God who created all we see is the same God who loves us and is always with us. There is never a moment God is not with us.

He is with us the middle of everything we go through, I have experience his presenced on days when chronic illness flares. I feel his presence by the songs in my spirit.

I have experienced that in down times through the little and big ways he lets me know he is with me.

Whatever you are going through, the same God who created everything you see, the stars at night, the trees, the birds,, is the same God who sees you, knows you. knows your struggles and loves you.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.