Society treats depression like a bad word, as if people who have it are broken. Heaven forbid if you make any reference to possibly suffering from it!
About 5 years ago, following way too many days of crying I realized my world was in the midst of a storm and I couldn’t deal with it on my own.
I remember the day clearly, sitting in my doctor’s office. “It’s like having this dark storm cloud hovering over my head all the time. I just can’t seem to see the sun anymore. I have anxiety attacks in the middle of the night that wake me up. I find myself sitting straight up in bed thinking to myself, ‘Oh no! I forgot to turn on the dishwasher before bed.’ I find myself in a cold sweat, shaking from head to toe, ready to go into fight or flight mode. It’s awful!”
“If I am not stressing about messing something up, during the day I feel so low and worthless I can hardly function. Going into public to run errands, I wished I was invisible. That way, I wouldn’t have to put words together and sound like a normal human being.”
This anxiety/depression combo resulted in me being a highly reactionary and impatient mother and wife. I hated myself for it, too. I wanted to be free of my own company. I loathed having to continue being me.
My doctor inquired about my relatives and mental health issues. “Well yes, dementia on dad’s side and depression–that kept the person from speaking for days at a time–on mom’s side.” The doc’s face turned to a look of, “ahaa!” on her face. She then informed me that, at no fault of mine, I was struggling with anxiety and depression. She then explained that they are like two sides of a coin and something that can be passed down genetically. She clarified, ”You have done nothing wrong, there is just a slight imbalance in your brain chemistry.”
In my situation a mild anti-depressant for a period of time was all I needed to see the sun again. I rediscovered my enthusiasm and passion for music plus the guts I needed to get in front of people again.
Now, of course, everyone is different. Sometimes the chemistry in your brain needs balancing out permanently. Again, you didn’t do anything wrong. Getting your brain chemistry balanced just helps the true you shine through!
My world is not perfect now, my anxiety pops up occasionally and I am aware when clouds are threatening to cover my blue sky again. Once in a great while my anxiety will get the best of me and a few thoughtless words will pour out of my mouth, like Harry Potter when he tried to smile at Cho with a mouth full of pumpkin juice.
I am always striving to do better at apologizing as soon as possible and then just moving forward instead of caring my mistakes on my back like a cross I must forever bear. We all screw up. We are human. Forgiveness is not just something we are to give to others. It’s something we need to give to ourselves.
What about you? Do you, or someone you know, deal with depression? Are there tools you’ve heard about, or discovered, that are helpful?
Add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did. Check out this song for a little encouragement. For deeper resources (books, magazines, support groups), check these out.
Now as I mentioned in my last blog I had two, count them, two, incidents when I managed to turn my cook book into my “cooked book.” I could have gotten really frustrated with myself over that, bashed myself over all the “what ifs” and pretty much been very negative inside, and thus very much un-fun to be around. It’s important to recognize, “Oh, wow! That could have gone really bad, but thank God it didn’t!” and then tuck that little nugget of knowledge in your noggin for next time. As long as you do that at some point in the day, then let go, move on and possibly laugh at the ridiculous situation you managed to create all by yourself!
Laughter triggers a key chemical that is important for all of us. However, an individual with ADHD truly needs a good dose of laughter every day to help balance out the chemicals in their brain. Folks with ADHD are low in the chemical, serotonin. This chemical helps keep spirits up, clears our minds for thinking, and gives us the enthusiasm and energy to keep moving forward. When we get disgusted with ourselves we have more trouble thinking clearly and often make more mistakes in the process.
As a family, it is important to talk about the frustrations and let the one with ADHD know about how they are impacting the rest of the family. However, yelling at the one with ADHD will only make them feel worse. What they do is not on purpose and often isn’t even conscious in their decision-making. Yelling at them may or may not help them remember your feelings but it will definitely leave a painful memory that isn’t forgotten. Often, they will be more likely to make the mistakes again because they are so concerned about not having you get so mad again. If you can make it clear how much the ADHDers behavior hurts or frustrates you, while also in the back of your head acknowledging that it wasn’t done maliciously, there is a better chance that you will get to say what you need to say and also actually be heard.
On the other side of the equation, it is important that the one with ADHD is dialed in enough to know that we can be a little too inwardly focused and not see how we impact those around us. For the health of the family, we must choose to listen to the experiences of our families and then strive to keep the family members feelings at the surface of our conscience as we make choices throughout the day.
Our feelings count…and so do theirs! If you are interested in learning more about ADHD click the word support. You will find a page with some excellent books that deal specifically with ADHD for all ages in the family.
Do you, or someone in your circle of family or friends, deal with a chronic issue, like ADHD? What resources have you found helpful? Are there communication tips you’d like to share?
So, last time we palpitated over my recurring nightmare of the Terminator chasing me down with unrelenting and mindless determination as if I was Sarah Connor. Frazzled after three nocturnal rounds with the nightmare, and at a loss of how to understand it, I sought out a licensed counselor, specializing in dreams. Yes, there are such people. I didn’t know. Quickly, the professional dismissed the theories that I came armed with for explaining the meaning of the evening visits with the Terminator.
The theories included:
I was feeling threatened by the conflict that was thrust upon me.
I was feeling overwhelmed by the pressure I was under.
I was losing my mind.
I was losing my faith.
The terminator represented the person most toxic to me in the conflict.
The counselor acknowledged that each of these ideas could be present in the nature of the dream but, ultimately, had nothing to do with the primary “teachable moment” buried within the nightmare. None of them answered the vexing question:
Why is the Terminator chasing…me?
Unless It’s Not
The jaw-dropping diagnosis? The Terminator, that most horrific vision of the Tin-Man gone wrong, was me.
“Uh, what?” I asked, stupefied.
“It’s you. You’re chasing you. Your subconscious is trying to get your attention. It appears that it has. That’s why you’re here, right?”
Wow. Rinse, repeat. Didn’t see that coming.
Short story: the conflict within the church that I was serving at the time–with its severely troubled, highly dysfunctional and toxic leadership, that was virtually unseen by the congregation and militantly protected by the pastoral staff–was damaging me. The stress, the hurt, the sense of betrayal…all angered me. Frightened me. At a very deep level. But I was plodding along, doing my best to “deal with it” and be a good, onward-marching, soldier. The counselor helped me see that, oddly enough, God was using a culturally ubiquitous image to reveal to me that I needed to utilize a different response to what was happening in my work-life…within my ministry. Going on, with my head low, was only supporting the status quo….which was easiest. But not what was best.
In what areas of your ministry or career do you think you might be settling for a head-low approach? Is it the best or just supporting the status quo? What needs to change? Who will benefit? Do you need an evening with your Terminator?
This is a love song I wrote for my hubby several years ago. It was either an anniversary gift or a valentine, I can’t quite remember. Anyway, although it is a “love song,” it wasn’t written during a time when we were really feeling especially connected or even romantic. Things were actually very difficult!
The chronic pain in my hands was at its worst. It forced me to end my Youth Ministry career. It was only then that I realized how much of my identity was tied in my job. Rediscovering my value as a person and a stay-at-home mom was a challenge. Especially since some of my job required me to do things I couldn’t do very well anymore. I felt useless.
Living with me was like riding a roller coaster, moment to moment. I would be exceptionally depressed and then become overjoyed when I would write part of a new song. Poor guy never knew what I was going to be like. Frankly, I didn’t either.
Joel also had to carry the great burden of being the sole bread winner after almost 7 years of sharing it. Plus, I was spending money on doctors appointments often, trying to figure what was wrong with me.
To top it off our precious little lady, whom we love and adore, saved her terrible two’s for the thrashing threes. She was very big and strong and I was not! Oi!
In the midst of all this, I felt compelled to write Joel a love song. Somehow, in the midst of all the stress and tears I was able to see what was still good and true about our relationship.
Even in the Midst of Pain
The first verse is about how I experience his love at its finest. When we would have a brief break from parenting and enjoy a shared giggle…or if we were really lucky, when we would go on an actual “date”! Thank goodness, we had those moments often enough to weather the tough stuff.
The second verse is about how I long for him to experience me at my finest. Every day it is my hope that I can cheer Joel on into his new day feeling supported and loved. He’s the love of my life, why wouldn’t I want to cheer him on? Unfortunately, my own pain and resentment about the pain would often spill into my interactions with Joel, tainting all that was good. It was difficult.
In the midst of all this I chose to find hope, truth and love.
Singing this song helps me remember how much we’ve been through and I thank God for helping us make it to the other side…together! More than once.
Have you and your spouse experienced some painful times? Where did you go to find strength and encouragement? What helped you two make it through? Prayer can make a difference. Give it a whirl sometime. You just might be surprised.
Add to the conversation below. We’ll be glad you did.
In this final piece on why boundaries in youth ministry are essential, we look at a realistic perspective and healthy approach to boundaries.
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Boundaries Are Like Gates
There are plenty of war stories out there. You need only peruse one of the many professional journals available to find them, assuming you don’t have some of your own.
So what is one to do in youth ministry? There are countless books, journals, seminars, conventions, videos, magazines, etc., that address anything from the methodology, philosophy and theology of youth ministry, to the mechanics of how to do a decent job of Shaving Cream Wars. Resources for youth ministry are truly excellent and seem limitless. Until you get creamed. Then the pickings are slim. But plan on getting creamed. It will happen. It is only a matter of time before something painful comes alongside you and snuggles up close in for a spell. And know that it will happen more than once, unless you are very fortunate, or you jump ship frequently.
The history of primarily calling inexperienced and inadequately trained young people to do youth ministry reflects the myth that youth ministry is a beginner’s job that does not require much education, experience or skill. Nothing could be further from the truth. Youth ministry is one of the most demanding ministries—so demanding and frustrating that many pastors and congregational leaders don’t know what to do….
Excellence in youth ministry requires persons of lively faith, solid theological understandings, substantial relational skills considerable organizational ability, and maturity. Youth ministry requires competence. It is a challenging task that can be learned. It is worthy of aspiration and thorough preparation by our best youth and adult lay leadership as well as our best pastors. [Roland D. Martinson, Effective Youth Ministry: A Congregational Approach, 16-17].
Boundaries Protect Us…All of Us
In other words, youth ministry is much more difficult than “regular” ministry (read “adult”). The reasons include the nature of ministry, the radical changes of adolescence and the challenges that it brings to you and your kids, the broad expectations that you bring to ministry and everyone else brings to you, the long hours, the lack of affirmation, inadequate support networks (especially compared to those available to clergy), generally poor salaries…. Well, you get the point.
For too many youth ministers (and “regular” ministers), not recognizing the need for establishing and maintaining boundaries has brought them to the utter brink of a major faith-crisis. And for too many of these, the pain and stress of living with insufficient boundaries have pushed them to the brink. Not only do they leave their ministry, but they also leave the church altogether.