Tuesday, May 31, 2016

getting in the ditches

This month, I've jumped in to the conversation on mental health, anxiety and depression.  A couple things I've read, listened to and pondered are listed below.  Feel free to download and enjoy yourself.
  1. Presentation on DEPRESSION by Dr. Gary Oliver - Fellowship (the church I work for) has hosted a 4 week class this spring on Emotions and Christian Maturity.  The 3rd session focused on Depression and the realistic look at what about our IQ, emotional quality and situational influences affect our emotional well being. He also reminds us that God calls us to something higher and has prepared a life for us that can be full and thriving.
  2. Tony Evans - Overcoming Anxiety, Part 1 and Part 2

Let me close with this challenge

- be the voice of truth when you need to be.  Sometimes we just need someone to notice we are not ok and gently, kindly (from a deep core friendship) say, "..hey what can we do together?"
                -get in the trenches with them and be support
                -this looks a lot like the conversations we had around Domestic Violence

I remember when and where I was sitting in 2013 when my dad looked at me and said, "Girl, you've gotta snap out of this."  He went on to tell me I was more than capable of doing the things I was doubting.  The things that had me down, depressed, and overwhelmed.  He filled me full of His wisdom, God's truth and a fresh reminder that I've usually been capable of doing anything I put my mind to do.

But, I needed the truth speaker.

I remember when and where I was sitting when my friend RJ, said "You aren't yourself." (several months after my dad said the same thing) It first takes a good friend to "know" who you are.  But it takes a great and brave friend to look you in the face and tell you, you've veered from that course. It wasn't judgement or condemnation.  It was truth followed with a brownie and some brainstorming.  And there, in that cafe, on the other side of the state, I began digging; putting on my big girl panties, pulling up my proverbial boot straps and reaching for the hands that were reaching towards me.

Get in the ditches, its ugly, but its life giving!

Monday, May 30, 2016

a day to remember

A year ago today, my love took a huge leap of faith and moved across the state, well really out of state, to take a promotion that was no small act of bravery. He filled a tough position that had been know to prey like a serpent. But with dogged determination he stayed after it and has made significant changes. His leadership has been proven and the culture in his workplace is shifting.

But that same drizzly morning when he pulled away from NWA to take a chance, I knew we were taking a chance too.

As an internal processor, we had had a tough month. He was pulling away and I had to let him go.

When he drove through the tunnel, my cell phone rang. With a crackled voice he shared in not so many words, that he was scared. He didn't have to say it, I could tell. Frankly, I was scared too. I was scared that the 2 years of investing in a friendship with this incredible man was all for not. I was scared for him and the seemingly piranhas that waited. I was scared what distance would do. And I too was scared of starting over with a new normal.

But that move might have just been the best thing that happened to our relationship. We talked about it last week at dinner. What a difference a year makes. But, what a difference a chance of a lifetime makes too.

We both needed the push. We both needed the gut wrenching reality check. We needed to know what walking away from something you love feels like; something you've poured your whole self in to.

Intention kicked in and the corner was turned.

I'm sure this weekend will involve some burgers, maybe even a family visit. But I'm almost certain we will laugh and giggle about those really hard days and talk about what we learned and what we can continue to remember about a sad, hard, rainy day where life took a turn and a path was made way clearer.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

mental health link up

This month the #NWArkCares bloggers have been tackling MENTAL HEALTH. 

This topic is raw and real. It means different things to different people. It's brought inward reflection, verbal processing over coffee and some real feelings and realizations expressed for the first time.

Link your posts, resources and reflections below so we can have all our posts in one place!

What stood out to you most this month?  What do these posts have you thinking about?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

what can you do: Mental Health

So this month, I've spent some time sharing my story with anxiety and how I've learned to cope with the issues I deal with, but what about the rest?

I'll tell you in researching and beginning conversation with some Northwest Arkansas Bloggers, I've realized that we like to think about this issue in terms of the big 3 or those people going to counseling or who don't have it bad enough to need it, but there are a lot of "diseases" and "disorders" that fall in to this arena.

I remember when I was at my first cancer appointment with my doctor and he asked me, "have you had any mood swings or changes in your mental health?" Evidently mood swings and changes in mental feelings are a Stage 4 sign of Hodgkins.  But, my response that day was, "well, nothing worse than the way I normally feel in winter."  While undiagnosed, I know I deal with some layer/form/version of SAD, seasonal affect disorder.

That's the kind of thing I'm talking about...there are all kids of feelings, moods, behaviors that we lump in this cause and focus on this month, May, Mental Health Awareness month.

What is Mental Illness and what falls in that category?
  • So as to not insult or underinform, let me challenge you to check out this list of mental health conditions.  These are not crazy, tyrannical, movie-esque type people that we are talking about.  These are disorders that our neighbors, sisters, bosses, community group leader and the face in the mirror all deal with! 
  • There are categories and subcategories of the conditions we think of off the top of our head.  Research, educate, and inform yourself.
  • Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders.  They cannot be overcome through "will power" and are not related to a person's "character" or intelligence.
  • Between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
  • Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; By getting people the treatment they need early, recovery is accelerated and the brain is protected from further harm related to the course of illness. (these facts from NAMI website
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN KNOW AND WALK AWAY FROM THIS POST WITH IS: The National HopeLine Network has trained counselors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).  If you are in an influencing position personally or professionally, I implore you to keep this handy and use it when necessary. Don't ever assume someone doesn't need your help...these are often "follow your gut" moments.

In Northwest Arkansas, there are a few non-profit organizations doing something about mental health:
A couple other organizations to mention:
We all have a place in the conversation.  Defending and understanding the ones we love.  Protecting and providing for the ones we may not.  Participate and get involved!

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

cope with hope

Last week, I tried to be pretty candid and share about my own struggle with anxiety and previously,

I must have been pretty spot on because my husband had shared this Tony Evans sermon on anxiety with me over the weekend.  No, I didn't take offense to it because I'm learning part of us growing together as a couple is learning how to be real and raw with myself and recognize my flaws. (getting married will do that to you!) I guess I still need to go back and dig through part 1. And because I think you can't have enough Tony Evans in your life, here's another message on Slaying the Giants in your Life.

So, If the challenge last week was to know ourselves, I ask you the question: when the giants come, how do you cope?

Some of the things I do to keep myself from falling off the wagon include:
  • writing - yep that's how @bigpittstop got started!
  • shut everything down - sometimes I just have to stop and walk away.  Its how I can take the deep breath, think about something else and just get my mind around all that is in front of me.
  • get away - like physically move to a new location.  But, you know a vacation, windshield time or new scenery really do my heart good.  I can process, get real with myself and develop a better plan of attack.
  • find a rock of a husband who just doesn't get mixed up or messed up by the things that overwhelm me. Follow his lead, learn from his example and observe what makes him let things roll off his {proverbial} back.
  • sometimes, I eat an oatmeal creme pie.  I'm sure it has something to do with that hidden magic ingredient in the creme and the cookie, but nothing can make me feel better like a fresh...gas station oatmeal creme pie.  I say gas station because I cannnot be trusted alone with a whole box! (being real with myself)
  • clean - sometimes scrubbing away dirt does something.  Maybe its the cleaning products but it can be as simple as putting on a load of clothes or loading the dishwasher.  Some days are bad enough that its a throw on Beyonce and open the windows because nothing is getting left behind kind of scrub!
  • fight for a cause (volunteer) - I LOVE volunteering.  And, I think one of the reasons is that I can redirect my energy and focus to making someone or something better.  When I take the things that are making me anxious and pour them in to a cause, I find that I'm channeling change in just a different way.
  • windshield time - I do my best thinking in the car.  Open road. Sometimes silence. Sometimes podcast.  But, just the open road.  I do recommend if you are a dreamer and thinker like me that you find a way to write things down or better yet a dictation method so you keep yourself safe while driving.
  • take a bath - I think its the same thing as cleaning.  Sometime you just need water to wash away the worries and sorrows.  You need to shut the door and hide in the bubbles. (in not under!) Close your eyes. Take in the quiet and just for a moment forget that anything else exists.  Then go to bed.  Don't ruin the moment and get busy again.
  • pray and read the Bible - its terrible but this often does get this spot, the last one on my list.  But its where my mind should go first.  The root of my anxiety, fear, worry or depression usually stems to a lack of feeling loved, respected or control. God's Word, His love letter to me, reminds me that I'm loved more than I know, respected because I bear His image and don't need to be in control because he is.  
That my friends is all I need. Sometimes is takes a combination or just one of the things above.  Its never the same prescription for me.  Different times of year make one or more of these more feasible or not at all.

What do you do to cope?  Do you have something you always do?  Is it a built strategy or just a default mode?  I've heard from several of you that you scoot back to this place too.  What can we do to redeem our feelings and work through this together?

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

know thyself

"you know yourself"

It's what I say every time the anxiety kicks in. 

"You know why you do this. Its all in your head."

I often find myself, much like I did last week, overwhelmed, oober anxious and sick. I don't even know its coming and it smacks me right in the middle of the face. And, I'm pretty convinced I do it to myself. 

Using my current situation as an example (because its the perfect one).  I have a deadline, that I've given myself.  Its the one the makes the most sense to me. If a project is launching and you are working on the website for it, then the website probably needs to launch before the project...or at least simultaneously. Hence the deadline placement.

I'm anxious about it.  I can't find enough hours in the day (and yes I've resorted to getting up when
my husband leaves for work at 5:30am).  The anxiety clouds my mind.  It keeps me from thinking properly, lineral-ly, and strategically.  All important things when you're designing, building content and launching a new website with many layers and pages.

But, anxiety is not a new thing for me.  I had stomach ulcers in high school that led to lots and lots of tests.  I had a "pass out on the side walk" anxiety attack my first finals week in college that led to and EKG and more tests over Christmas Break that year.  At certain times of the year or tied to certain projects, I find myself drinking "the pink stuff" and I'm not referring to Plexus.

Tests always come back normal and show no signs of any damage, deterioration or problem. Its anxiety and I do it to myself.

I know my triggers, well most of them, and I manage them most of the time.

But, its why my brain works overtime.  I'm trying to keep my boundaries, the mustard and mayonnaise if you will of the highways in my brain. I try to work ahead and keep on top of these deadlines.

And, then there comes moments like last night when I had an open road drive where I got to thinking...and usually that's where I do my best thinking (other than the toilet and shower!).  Where I realized this deadline I was up against was/is self inflicted.  So as to not look foolish or make the organization I'm working on the project for look foolish, I set a deadline to have it completed by.  And because I've not met the deadline, I'm a FAILURE. Hence the stomach pains on Monday night.

I do it to myself, but I know its real.  I'm being raw.  And, in doing so, I'm helping myself cope. I'm hopefully opening a door for others to self discovery.  And, for those who do not experience this to understand the mental process that gets us "there."

Mental illness is serious.  There are all kids of common term "diseases" or "experiences" that people deal with every day.  Its not fair to think that one is more healthy than another.  The best thing is that there are healthier days than others.  

This month, my #NWArkCares group is focusing on mental illness.  Its serious and real.  As I pondered the topic for several days, my feelings were similar to our month that we focused on Domestic Violence.  Mental Illness is a silent killer.  The mind is a dangerous place when it is unhealthy.  Its can be torturous, violent, exposing, entangling, captivating and prison like. 

For me, anxiety is the thing that can get the best of me. Its a snare and snarl of entanglement that can take me down when its not kept at bay. And, most often, its performance based.  Its why I couldn't eat and lost 50 lbs the first year I moved to NWA.  Its why I couldn't stand up and clean my kitchen last Monday night. Its why I have to pause, take a breath, walk away, cook dinner, go for a drive or just "shut 'er down" from time to time. 

Its a beast. And, I have to pay attention to myself enough to watch it come on.  Invite accountability.  And just realize I can't put the pressure of performance and deadlines where they do not really exist.

What about you? What are you learning about yourself these days? Do you struggle with anxiety? Do you know your triggers?  What do you do to cope?

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.