Seems all I do is wait anymore. Wait for test results that could shake my world. Wait for financial provision. Wait for paperwork. Wait for the day I can live a "normal life" again - whatever that means. Waiting is hard. And through all of this waiting I cry out as many of you do. When will this end? What will happen if...? How will I make it?
When these thoughts get too overwhelming, I go to a quiet place. There, away from the world, I give myself a pep talk. My anxious mind doesn't want to listen, but I tell it the truth I don't always feel in my heart. "It's normal to feel upset and anxious. Times are hard, but these times won't last forever. I've been through trauma before, and I know that after each event there came a time of peace and happiness. I can do this. I am strong."
I'd love to be able to tell you that this little time out makes me feel instantly at peace, but I can't. It's just a step in the right direction. It helps me take my thoughts captive so they don't run amok. That's the first step. I also set boundaries, have a little fun each day, reach out for connection, exercise, and do something kind for others. All of these things help my emotional health.
But the one thing that helps me the most is prayer. It brings me the most peace, and it's something I can't explain to you adequately. If you want to stop reading now, you may. But if you're curious, I pray the same thing I'll pray over you now:
God give them all they need to get through the day — the strength to endure, a wisdom to make sound decisions, the ability to discover joy in the chaos. Give them an overwhelming sense of peace, one that comforts them to the very depths of their being. I pray today that as they read this, they will feel your presence in a tangible way and will discover the incredible love you have for them, a love so deep it can get them through their loneliest hours. Today I pray hope over them, God, as they wait. As we all wait. Together.
Cynthia Downing Finlay
I can’t sleep tonight. I keep getting the nudge to share this photo and my story with you.
Today was a hard day. Chaos. Frustrations. Tears.
I found myself crying in my parked car. Nowhere to go. Just needing to be alone for a minute and get it out. Our lives have been turned upside down, and everything looks different now. We are living in the unknown.
I find myself living in the pendulum of grief and gratitude. They are existing together and that metal ball is swinging so fast I don’t know who has the upper hand right now.
And I’m here to just acknowledge that. To share from both sides. To say that we all exist in a word of “and”.
I’m grieving and I’m grateful.
I’m blessed and this is hard.
I’m capable and overwhelmed.
All the emotions, all the hard and all the simple - exist together. We don’t live on one side or the other of that pendulum. And no matter where you find yourself swinging today, you are safe to acknowledge it.
What two emotions are currently co-existing in your pendulum?
Someone I love recently told me she was just taking up space. In a quiet, shaky voice she tried to convince me she had no real purpose in life because she wasn't contributing to her family or society in "any positive way." Then I heard her whisper under her breath that we'd be better off without her.
She couldn't have been more wrong. This person is a very important part of our family. She's the first person we call when we're struggling, because we can count on her to listen and help. She is selflessly generous with her resources and time, and she gives sound advice.
This lady is incredibly valuable and "useful," but she can't see it right now. Depression has wrapped its hands around her heart and eyes, and she is blind to the truth. This is how depression deceives. It takes negative feelings and weaves them into our thoughts, trying to convince us that these thoughts are reflecting facts instead of emotions. Just plain, negative emotion.
Emotions can be overwhelming. They can crash over us like waves, sometimes catching us off-guard with their power. The dark ones are the worst, making us feel as if we're drowning because we're suffering negative thoughts repeatedly.
My loved one is drowning in emotion right now. She is lost in a deep depression, and I am desperately trying to pull her out of this deep, dark place so she can breathe the air of hope again. How am I doing this? By loving her. By surrounding her with continuous words of affirmation, even when she dismisses them. By confirming her worthiness. By telling her she is loved. By pointing out the truth. By listening. By calling her daily and sending her notes and texts to remind her how valuable she is to me. By asking how she's doing, if she's taken her medicine, if she's talked with her doctor. I help by being there.
There are so many stories where one sole person made a difference. I want to be that person for my loved one. She's my mom. Her life is incredibly valuable to me. What things do you do to help the valued people in your life when they're struggling?
I am from journals.
From pages of dreams and scribbles of frustration.
I am from diagnoses on paper
(tangible proof of a hidden illness I desperately wish would heal.)
I am from pain and sleepless nights.
From pulling myself up by the boots and forging on.
(Despite the fatigue,
Despite the looks from those who couldn't possibly understand,
Despite the words from those who choose not to.)
I am from faith.
From choosing to be kind and choosing to be humble.
I am from a mind and a heart that believes
the best days of my life have not yet been realized.
(So I'm strengthened,
and very, very grateful for another day and another opportunity
to live my best life.)
I am from hope.
"Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery."
Trying to understand what your depressed teen or family member is experiencing? We
polled the teens at our Armed with Hope Conferences this Fall, and here is what they shared:
What does depression feel like?
Feeling sad and not knowing why.
A weight in my chest
Constantly tearful or irritable
Unsteady sleep and eating habits
Dark and overwhelming
Like being in a hole and I have no way out
A heavy weight
What does it mean to have bipolar disorder?
I like mania because I’m on top of the world
The depression piece that comes after the highs means I can’t make myself get out of bed
Your world changes in a minutes and irrational thoughts become your reality
What does anxiety look like?
Racing mind and thoughts
My mind shuts down and I am uncontrollably crying
Rushed, insecure, unbalanced, unprepared
Fluttering in my chest
How do you quiet the negative thoughts or voices? Or If your mind doesn’t shut off, what do you do?
Redirect to preferred activities
Use tools like puzzles, rings spinners to help distract in the moment
Listen closely to lyrics in music
Take a walk
Play some word games
Listen to music
Positive mantras and affirmations
Find a friend to talk to who helps me know what’s accurate
Turn the negative thoughts to positive thoughts like I suck at math to this was only one test. I can learn
Music to help me through the emotions
Listen to podcast
Take a walk
I play my drums
What do you do when you can’t sleep?
Progressive relaxation exercise
Deep breathing or guided meditation
Cuddle my animals
Slow down and try to watch something low key like discovery channel
Try to stop the negative voices
Listen to music
Experts tell us that If we get to know one another we will find we have more in common than we think. So the story I’m telling myself right now is that you struggle with self-esteem as much as I do, and that by putting me down you somehow find the validation you’re lacking. I guess subconsciously you believe that if you can get others to focus on me, they won’t notice the weaknesses in you.However, we both know this isn’t true because people are experts at finding weaknesses in one another,
Since we all have weaknesses and struggle with self-doubt (a very human condition,) I’m deciding to forgive you. Yes, I forgive you for the comments over my appearance; the eye rolls over my opinions; the snickers at my errors, and the half-truths you’ve spread. Obviously, you must be hurting terribly in order to do such hateful things to another.
And don’t worry. You won’t see me repeating these things for revenge. I know what it feels like to receive such treatment, and I don’t think it’s right to treat others this way.
I am not going to lecture you either. Heaven knows I have just as many issues as you do that need to be dealt with. Instead, I am choosing to distance myself from you, but not before I give you a piece of advice: Rise up and know your worth.
You’re worth is not determined by the opinion of others – nor by the position you have on the scale of beauty, talent, popularity and wealth. My worth isn’t determined by these scales either. You see, our worth comes from being human and having a unique take on the world. No one has our same story or insight- same set of talents and perspectives. We are uniquely us. I think we will all be happier when we start to realize the value of ourselves and others.
I heard a story yesterday that made me proud of you. After hearing a health discussion on the topic of suicide, a boy confessed to his friend that he had tried committing suicide twice in the past. The friend, after arriving home later that day, proceeded to tell his mother. "I know from our health discussion I need to tell a trusted adult," he explained, "so that's what I'm doing."
His mom nodded, and then this young man did something great. He checked to make sure his mother was going to do something. "You're going to do something, right?" he inquired, "I need to make sure; because if you aren't, I'm going to find someone else." His mom assured him she would talk to the school counselor the next day. When she warned him of a possible fallout with his friend, he said, "That's okay, because the option of not doing anything would have a worse ending."
At school the next day, this friend was confronted by the depressed teen who asked if he was the one who had told. The friend shook his head yes. Then the hurting teen said it was okay. "It's for the best," he said, "I think it's going to help me."
It may feel awkward, but finding support for your friend is one of the most heroic, kind things you can do. And accepting that help is one of the bravest. Bravo to these two boys and all the rest of you who are reaching out and supporting one another. You make us proud.
by Emily Krueger
Today marks the day of the end of my challenge. This challenge was to go one month without social media, meaning: no Snapchat, no Instagram, no Facebook, no Twitter, and even no Pinterest. Some of you may be wondering why Pinterest or what’s so wrong with Pinterest? Well, I wanted to challenge myself to deleting all of the ‘time consuming’ apps from my smart- phone. I wanted to test out all of the negative rumors that follow social media. Most likely, many of you have heard the complaints on how social media negatively affects our relationships or how it is time consuming and even the talk of how it is so called addicting. So I put it to the test.
The first day was easy. It was the start of the challenge, so this called for deleting the apps and setting an alarm on the calendar for one month from that day. Luckily, a good friend joined in too. This helped immensely because we often talked about what we did with our time or how our bodies were reacting to it. We even came up with a ‘consequence’ if we gave in before our challenge was up and a reward at the end of the challenge. This made it fun be- cause neither of us wanted to be ‘losers.’
As few days passed and the realization of how social media affected me started to occur. Every time I sat down whether it be at my work desk, couch, dinner table, bed, nearly every ‘relaxing’ moment, my hand reached for the phone automatically and my mind subconsciously went straight to a social media app out of habit. However, because they were no longer on my phone, it hit me how often I ‘automatically’ relied on social media to occupy my time. This was a little alarming especially because after that moment this thought crossed my mind, “Oh, well what shall I do now?”
That’s when ‘plan b’ came into play. When this happened, I need something to do to occupy my time. This came pretty easy given that I am in school full-time and have children, so I have a truckload of things to do. When the to-do list was caught up, all of a sudden there was all this free time whereas before my “no social media” challenge, there was no such things as ‘free-time.’ This is when the hunt for hobbies came next. So I downloaded ‘audible’ and started listening to books and found a some new favorites. Then every other day an hour was spent at the gym. Next, my spiritual life; praying, reading, going to church grew stronger and family activities were happening more often than they used to.
Last but not least, my most favorite part about this challenge is the reward at the end of it. This realization didn’t happen till the very end; every single day for a month, my self-esteem went from being at its lowest point to head- ing in the right direction of being comfortable with myself. There was no more scrolling through watching idols or acquaintances live an exotic life anymore and no more comparing my life to theirs. Since I wasn’t doing that anymore, I was living my own life and enjoying it more. There was no focus on what I don’t have and if I had that I would be happier.
After this challenge it took me a few days before I went on social media again. In all honesty, fear of feeling low again from looking at the glamorous lives of others worried me. I didn’t want to go back. There wasn’t even the slightest desire. But because I felt so strongly about sharing my experience with others, I wanted to be able to write about the experience I had with ‘plugging back in’ after the challenge was over. When I say this, I mean it with every ounce of energy I have, I absolutely hated it. In result, those apps are deleted once again and I wont ever go back.
Social media isn’t a terrible thing if you are able to find a fine and healthy balance with it, but if you do this challenge and you realize that you had some problems with it, that’s when it’s a problem. Today, I challenge you to go one month without it and see what you learn about yourself.
I don’t own a scale, and I’m not going to buy one in 2019. I’m not going to purchase a gym membership, begin a skin regimen that’s supposed to make me look like a Hollywood Starlet, or strive to make more money.
I guess you could say I’m a resolution rebel, and you’d be right. After all, I’m not choosing one of the common resolutions for my new year. Instead, I’m choosing to work on being the best me I can be ─ and by “best me” I mean the person I am on the inside.
I’ll begin by determining what I value. I’ll look at a list of values and pick three or four that really resonate with me, and then I’ll write them down as follows:
Integrity, Love, Faith, Generosity
Next, I’ll use this list to guide me in every situation. I’ll ask myself, “Am I acting with integrity? Am I demonstrating love? Do my actions fit with my faith? Is there a way I can be more generous?
Yes, 2019 will not be a year of “cutting out” for me. Instead, it will be a year of adding more of what I value. Maybe you’ll also want a year of "adding more." In that case, rebel, I’ll attached a list of values to help you in your quest.
May we both become the best version of ourselves this year, and may we find a year of happiness waiting for us. Blessings, my friend.
- Get Help Now