Thursday, November 19, 2020

Is Loneliness your Friend or Your Friend's Friend?


I have much to be thankful for this year.  But as you and I approach Thanksgiving some of us may not feel or be all that thankful. The Pandemic, murder hornets, fires, hurricanes divisiveness around everything from racism, masks, police officers, politics, abortion, immigration, social media, and a long list of other things going on in the world today is good reason to feel this way. No matter how you voted or what you believe, this year has probably hit you hard. Sometimes, when we can’t see an end in sight, we get stuck in that “woe is me” place. Sometimes, or even often, we start getting into a bad but comfortable place of isolation. It takes effort and creativity to not stay in that place and frankly it’s hard at times.

In the beginning of this pandemic I was a trooper with creative ways to interact with others. But as time went on I got weary of it all. The summer gave a bit of a reprieve as we could at least hang out with others outside. But now the cold is coming again and I am dreading what the new normal is going to look like for the foreseeable future. While some of my friends and relatives are doing life as usual with few exceptions, I am not. It’s not that I’m afraid; it’s just I see it differently. So going into Thanksgiving is just another thing that we had to evaluate and decide what we were going to do.

Whether your Thanksgiving is going to be with you or several others, isolation may be a part of it, especially if it’s going to look and be different than in years past. So what are we to do to keep loneliness at bay whether this is a new thing or has been a part of our life for some time? Of course theirs the usual answers to this question like acknowledge it, pray, stay connected, etc. But what does that really look like? We can all get ideas off the internet and think of them ourselves too. The trick is doing them.

For me it has been helpful to keep in mind one word. A few years ago a friend of mine told me how she picked a word each year. Almost everything was filtered through that word. I took her word and made it my life word. This year it has been especially helpful. My word is intentional. When I’m not intentional I can get into that rut of sitting around doing things like binge watching a show or you fill in the blank. Granted sometimes we need a break. When I’m intentional I’ll stay on my schedule of reading my Bible, praying, sending encouraging notes to others, dropping off a small package at friends, calling them, sending them a package in the mail, sending a text, video chat, or other things that let them know they aren’t alone. I know it’s one word and you might be thinking that keeping it at the forefront every day isn’t really going to do much and maybe it won’t. All I can say is that it has really helped me. It’s worth a shot at least.

My challenge to you whether you’re not lonely, you’ve been feeling lonely for years, or if this is a relatively new thing is to be intentional about letting others know they’re not alone.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

When Empathy Grew

Isolation, Anxiety, Grief, Lonliness, Fatigue, and Sadness are all words common to someone living with chronic depression day in and day out. Thankfully I don't live with chronic depression but I've had my fair share of living with situational depression. Even then I don't have to deal with chronic depression to try and keep it in-check every day. I don't need meds for it and only need to seek wise counsel from a professional on an occasional basis. 

The year 2020 has brought a new level of understanding to many people of what living with depression can be like. Sometimes we feed the depression and sometimes it just takes over and we can't control it. Depression is this big cloud over everything. 
The nice thing for us is we will break free over time and the cloud will dissipate but for those that have to deal with it all the time it's way more complicated. 

They can have a marked level of stability but it's always lurking there ready to pounce when something in life throws a curve ball or randomly for no apparent reason at all. Depression is like that. 
They can become isolated because they can't bring themselves to get out and do things. Depression is like that.
They'll have anxiety about random things that really don't seem to be a big deal to others. Depression is like that.
They grieve lost dreams and missed events along with what seem to be unattainable goals. Depression is like that.
Lonliness can sometimes be their constant friend. Depression is like that.
They get fatigued even when they don't appear to be doing anything. Depression is like that.
And sadness may be an everyday term for them. Depression is like that.

Hopefully whatever you've tasted of depression this year will help you be more understanding and empathetic to those that live with this year round. And just maybe you and I will see the strentgh they have to live each day.