Speaking Life: Persevering through Anxiety & Depression

For the past few weeks, I’ve been visiting Central Baptist Church in Northwest Detroit.

During church today, the pastor taught about depression while referring to a Biblical story in 1 Kings 19: 3-18. He said something like,

Being depressed is not a sin. It does not mean that I’m spiritually disconnected or a bad Christian. There are times in life when you have to deal with being overwhelmed in a broken world.

According to his message, some of the most faithful people in the Bible faced times of depression. These individuals included Elijah, Jonah, Job, Jeremiah, David, and perhaps, even Jesus when he felt anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane. Even still, God is not afraid to find us and be present in the darkness. Though we may feel worthless or defeated, He can remind us of our purpose to strengthen us forward. The pastor also affirmed that there is no shame in praying and seeking professional support.

While reflecting on this sermon, I thought about my own struggles with mental health. It has always been somewhat easier for me to share that I have anxiety. However, I have felt more ashamed about experiencing depression. I feared that God could not use my feelings of sadness, loneliness, and inadequacy. What if my imperfections and internal battles compromised His good plan for me?

Early last week, I challenged myself to do one thing: speak life. I came across a Bible passage where David encourages himself with a reminder.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and salvation, my fortress where I cannot be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me (Psalm 62: 5-7).

Reciting this verse has renewed my mind. Though my challenging circumstances have not yet changed, my perspective is broadening. I acknowledge my pain, but I also recognize my Hope. I am convinced that the bruises of my life are meaningful. Even if I never fully understand my obstacles, I can help others by how I am overcoming them – breath by breath.

Here are a few examples of how I’m trying to speak life (words that are kind, victorious, and honest):

  • When I look in the mirror and feel unsatisfied: “I don’t feel good about how I look right now, but God loves it. He gave me this smile, this skin, this hair, this stature, and this body. Beyond my appearance, He gave me my heart and my life. I am way more beautiful than I how feel right now.”
  • When I look at my bank account and feel anxious: “I don’t exactly know when things will turn around, but I really need them to. God will provide all my needs. Let me pray for direction in how to move forward. It won’t be like this always.”
  • When I feel lonely: “Nothing can separate me from God’s love. He completes me in ways that no human can. I also have some good people in my life even if I can’t see them all the time. I am a great friend, too.”

Do you ever struggle with anxiety and/or depression? What are little (big) routines that you practice to help you persevere?

If You’ve Felt Like a Failure in 2018, This Message is for You

Shivering in the driver’s seat of my parked hatchback, I called one of my best friends who picked up after the first ring. I confessed to her that I was struggling in every area of my life. I was afraid of not only becoming a failure but also looking like one to everyone else. Encouraging me, she later sent me this photo.

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**

2018 began beautifully. In January, I had just finished a “self-love project”. I celebrated my 24th birthday by spending quality time with friends and family. I felt so loved, blessed, and hopeful about life!

As the year went on though, every day became a battle. I lost peace, sleep, and resources. I felt more depressed than I had in years. My anxiety was at an all-time high. I lost my first dating relationship, too.

Burned out by everything, I literally lacked the strength to stand at times. I didn’t feel whole.

My perspective shifted from that of hope to defeat. Some days, I wanted to ask God, “What’s next?”. I just knew that I was going to experience another setback.

Yet, I am so grateful that my year and my story are not over. I can be proud of my perseverance. I can believe that God is changing my life for the better. I can thank Him for all the gifts that I definitely received in 2018. In my times of struggle, amazing supporters uplifted me time and time again. Every letter, postcard, ice cream party, hangout, check-in, and prayer helped me carry on. That’s love!

I lived a lot of 2018 believing that I wasn’t good enough. I believed that temporary hardships permanently defined me.

To move forward, I have no choice but to stop living in mental defeat. I can’t just write about it or talk about it. I have to prioritize healing and encourage myself daily. It won’t be easy, but maybe, there is huge power in taking small steps.

Before the new year even begins, I am committing to regularly exercising again, speaking kind words to myself every morning, and laughing whenever possible.

If 2018’s been challenging for you, what’s something kind that you can do for yourself moving forward?

 

 

 

When It’s Difficult to Trust the Process

In this age of social media, we often see the accomplishment but not the process. Beautiful posts of highlights about career advances, graduations, relationship milestones, and vacations may decorate our newsfeeds. It can seem inevitable to measure ourselves against these accessible snippets of others’ experiences. Yet, what if the heavy feeling of comparison could weigh less with the perspective of trusting our own process?

To illustrate, I will share some of my own story.

Since graduating from college three years ago, there have been two areas of my life that I’ve worried about most: finances and people.

Most recently, I have lost some sleep due to uncertainty about affording graduate school next year. By faith, I applied to a Master of Social Work program that feels purposeful and exciting. Now, following through on that faith and trusting that everything will work out, financially and otherwise, is a challenge. It is also my opportunity for amazing growth!

Consistently since college, too, I have prayed to have a loving support system in Detroit in addition to my family. Though this area of my life is still in development, God has blessed me with some great people already. I’m choosing to believe that seeds are being planted and will blossom eventually. In the meantime, I will strive to embody the kindness, vulnerability, and uplift that I seek to receive.

It is vital for me to remember that none of my ambitions and heartfelt dreams will manifest on their own. They come along with a process that is often times hidden from public view, difficult, uncertain, and seemingly delayed. Yet, every step counts.

When I believe in the process of my own journey, I mourn my losses, learn some lessons, and celebrate all wins. I am better able to honor others’ victories because I know that they are also living through their own steps. There is a much bigger, beautiful picture incapable of being fully shared on our profiles.

Day 21: Moving Forward

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Being encouraged doesn’t come automatically. It requires a real push of intentionality. Thank you so much for joining this journey with me. ❤

Day 20: I Can Do This

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Today, I am nervous about what’s on my to-do list. To get out of bed, I had to tell myself that things are going to work out. “I can do this.” ❤

Day 19: I Will Be Present

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I can spend so much time in my head, imagining and over thinking. I want to be more intentional about living in the present moment: being attentive to the beauty and intricacies of my surroundings, actively listening to others, meaningfully doing one thing at a time rather than trying to do everything at once, and the list continues. I want to focus on being here today rather than dwelling on the past and worrying about tomorrow. I am present most often when I’m doing something enjoyable, like eating ice cream (of course) or laughing like no one is watching. Yet, I am striving to also show up fully for myself in moments besides happiness. When I have a discouraging thought, for example, I want to validate what I am experiencing. Yet, I want to remember, too, that just because it’s invading my mind doesn’t mean that it is true. This process won’t come easy, surely. Still, knowing myself, I realize that it’s worth it.

Day 18: Gifted and Talented

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While waiting for seating in a crowded restaurant, I talked to a friend about my dormant talent. Poetry. It seems like I haven’t written a poem in forever. Though it was an activity that once brought me joy, it’s been to put to rest in the past. So it seems. I’ve blamed writer’s block, not having the time anymore, and just wondering if my talent isn’t there. Yet, I think I’ve been operating out of fear that it’s too late to craft new material and that what I produce won’t be good enough. I automatically fast forward to a worst case scenario: performing my poetry and the audience not getting or embracing my words. What if I wrote, though, just out of enjoyment, passion, and bravery for myself? What if I disciplined myself to strengthen my talent just like I tend to current priorities? I don’t want to one day reflect and realize that I failed to maximize my gifts and talents. Instead, I want to cultivate and embody them, not out of a desire to please people, but to live and love fully with all I have been uniquely given.