Thursday, March 29, 2018

Loving My Spouse

Marriages can be great and very rewarding, but they can also be hard.  Too hard sometimes.  Throw mental illness into the mix, and it can seem like it’s not worth the effort.
To be honest, there are periods when I don’t want to work on our relationship.  I want him to do all the work and meet my needs and understand that I just can’t meet his right now because I have so much on my plate!  He needs to appreciate that I’m at least giving him my leftover time!  So many others need me, and I’m being torn in so many directions with so many emotions!
During one season, I tried to be super volunteer, super friend, and super mom—all of which made me a not-so-super wife.  Volunteering is good, but I was overdoing it.  My friendships were important, too, but they took precedence over my husband.  As for being “super mom”, I was certain that I was the only one that could ___________________ for my children.  Sure, I probably could help them better than others could, but others could also help them if only I’d let them.  Finally, I needed to make better choices about “self-care”.  Yes, some things—many things—had to give.
In the end, I needed to make my husband a priority.  It wasn’t hard to do, but it took focus…
Taking short but meaningful walks in the neighborhood.  Sending him encouraging texts for no reason or slipping notes into his lunch.  Going for an ice-cream cone at McDonald’s (think “cheap date”) and sitting and talking about our dreams or hopes.  Intentionally asking how we can pray for each other.  Choosing to not talk about our kids.  Knowing his love language and loving him in that way.
Intentional.  Proactive.  Focused.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Got Depression?

Does this sound familiar?...

You’re talking with one of your church friends, and you tell them that you deal with chronic depression. Instantly, you sense that they view you as ‘less of a Christian’ or think that you must have some unrepentant sin in your life. This happens more often than we Christians want to admit. Because of this, many who struggle with depression begin to doubt the truth of their diagnosis, almost trivializing it. They minimize it because that’s what they hear from people they know, trust, and love.

I know a number of people who live with chronic depression. I was recently talking with a friend, and she started apologizing that she was diagnosed with JUST depression instead of bipolar, as if to say depression wasn’t as legitimate or difficult to live with.

It’s true that depression is different from many other mental health conditions, but let’s stop comparing it in terms of what it takes to live with it on a day-to-day basis. Ask anyone who has chronic depression, and you’ll learn that it’s anything but easy. On top of that, it’s a diagnosis that many people don’t think is legitimate. They think that all a person needs to do is to eat differently, pray more, get closer to God, or exercise more, and “presto!” the depression’s gone. Now, I’m not saying that those things don’t help, but chronic depression does have a biological component to it. Barring a miracle, none of those things will “cure” depression.

Chronic depression is defined as depression that lasts more than six months. I got a taste of that when David passed away. The experience helped me to understand what it's like to live with depression on a daily basis. I'm so thankful that I didn't have to live with it the rest of my life! If I did, I know that I would've needed regular treatment of therapy or medication or both. Today, whenever I hear a friend say they "just" have depression, I instinctively, lovingly correct them.

If you live with chronic depression, I encourage you to stop apologizing for it. What you have is as real and as difficult as any other malady. When you trivialize it, you only hurt yourself.

And if someone you love lives with chronic depression, please keep in mind that theirs is a difficult walk. Listen to them. Feel for them. Love on them.