Tag Archives: depression

Me versus Mental Illness

10 Oct

Today is World Mental Health Day-a day to raise awareness for the monsters of mental illness we who suffer battle every single day.

It doesn’t make me less than.

Or crazy. (Most of the time.)

It makes me cleave to God all the more because I desperately need Him to function with the appearance of a somewhat normal person.

But I also think living with anxiety and depression makes me more compassionate, more thoughtful, and maybe a little more interesting than I would be without it.

Oh, I’ve railed at God for creating me like this, begged Him for healing, and groaned prayers that only the Spirit could understand.

I’ve been ashamed to talk about it because I don’t want to face scorn. I don’t want people to see me as incapable, yet I desperately want to be understood in spite of it.

I am me, not in spite of my mental illness, but because of it. It’s a gift that keeps me in the folds of God’s love. I don’t understand it; I accept it.

Like the aspostle Paul wrote, I choose to see it as a gift to cause me to constantly and wholly rely on God. It’s not a gift I would’ve picked, but it has and is shaping me, molding me, changing me.

Maybe there will be a day without daily medications, therapists, panic attacks, and days I just can’t make it out my front door. Maybe not.

I just trust God to shine through all the broken places so people can see His love in my eyes.

I choose to live because of it, not in spite of it.

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A Deafening Silence

13 Aug

Silence can be deafening.

It can fill a whole room, a whole body, a whole heart.

It’s a lonely, depressing ache that goes on and on.  How I wish for the breath to say something, to find words, to hear my voice.

The silence is emptiness and emptiness is deadly, dark and meaningless.

Silence, for me, was a way of coping.  As long as I remained quiet, as long as I pretended I had it all together, then maybe I would be OK.  Or at least people would think I was OK.

But I wasn’t OK.  I was falling apart.

My secrets ripped me apart, caused me to hide in the shadows, and question my existence.  Did I deserve to take up space, resources, air?  The thoughts were loud and angry.  The train whistle cut through the silence several times a day.  There was life somewhere outside of my apartment.

It’s hard to imagine someone like Robin Williams, who has the resources to access the best doctors, best medicines, and best therapy could fall into the deafening silence.  There’s a cruel irony in entertaining the masses, yet dying inside.  Tears of a clown or something like that.

Those of us who have been there or are there or live with constant battle against the darkness know what it’s like.  The silence only makes the illness more pronounced because the angry thoughts swirl around, the clichés become tormenting (“Why don’t you…?” “Someone has it worse.” “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” “Trust in the Lord”), and it’s a sad, lonely place.

If someone like Robin Williams couldn’t make it through the pestilence of mental illness, specifically depression, what hope is there for the rest of us?  We swallow our pills, see our therapists, practice using our coping skills, and hope against hope we’ll make it.

We hope and pray that we won’t end up like Robin Williams all the while wondering if we will.

There’s a choice in suicide.  There’s always a choice.  It’s just hard to make sense of what’s up and what’s down in mental illness, which doesn’t make sense at all.  Yet everyone seems to have an opinion on depression, anxiety, PTSD, and so forth.  Just like week someone told me I couldn’t possibly have PTSD because I’ve never been in combat.  Oh, yes, I’ve seen combat, just not in the military.  The world is its own battlefield.

The reason why I’m alive, the reason why I didn’t tighten the noose around my neck or jump in front of that train was this—hope.  No matter how small, God placed that hope in my heart when I was a little girl.  Though I had run away, battered and bruised from the Church, His hope kept me alive.

It may sound overly simplistic, but maybe it is that simple.  Maybe hope really is an anchor to my soul—an anchor firmly rooted in Christ Himself.  Christ died every possible death so that I could live.  Through the brokenness of my life, He shines forth.  Into the deafening silence, His voice speaks.

Into the deafening silence, His voice speaks the words of hope I desperately need to hear.  His soft whisper drowns out the angry thoughts.  His truth slices through well-intentioned, but ill-timed clichés.

In a world that judges, God accepts me just as I am and uses me despite my weakness.  Because of God, I have meaning and I don’t have to be silent anymore.  I can speak out of my weakness because He has made me a display of splendor.

In the deafening silence, His sure whisper can be heard.  Perhaps it’s in silence, God can be best heard.

Broken and Not So Broken

6 Jun

This is my walking boot. I decorate it, of course.

“God, I’m in the place again/I’m trying so hard not to fall/But everything keeps coming down with the rain.”–Everyday Sunday

I’ve always appreciated melancholy songs.  There’s something about the toned down, raw nature of a rock band that grips my heart and makes me pay attention, like KISS’s “Beth” or Five Iron Frenzy’s “Every New Day.”  (Yes, I just mentioned KISS and Five Iron Frenzy in the same sentence.  Incidentally, “Beth” is the only KISS song I know.)

Since lyrics and song melodies move me, it’s understandable why I’ve danced my way into the genre of singer/songwriter in my old(er) age (though I still enjoy Southern rock, like Credence Clearwater Revival and more recently, NeedToBreathe.)  Lately, it seems, I find comfort in the likes of Bebo Norman (surprise, surpise!), JJ Heller, Audrey Assad, Josh Wilson, and Andrew Peterson.

See, I haven’t had an easy go of things lately.  In mid-May, I broke my left foot. Yes, friends, another broken foot.  As you may recall, I broke my right foot about 15 months ago…and the healing process for the right foot has been excruciatingly slow.  After a couple tests, my foot doctor discovered my Vitamin D level to be pitifully low and started me on a regimen 50,000 units of Vitamin D weekly.  That’s the boring medical part.

This happened a week after I made some changes in my life, after all night prayer sessions, talks with my pastor, and weeping before the Lord, I felt Him saying to me, as He said to Elijah as he ran for his life from evil Queen Jezebel, “The journey has been too much for you.  Rest now, My child, I will take care of the details.”  Two weeks after resigning as lead of a ministry and falling into a more manageable role on the leadership team, I broke my foot simply by getting up from (or rather down) from one of our counter height dining room chairs.

This started a longer-than-I-anticipated journey of rest–no driving, walking around with a rollator (rolling walker), going down the stairs with a cane, needing assistance with normal tasks like showering, shopping, and getting here and there.  Oh, and of course, resting with my legs elevated to improve healing time.  Alone all day in my apartment.  It sounds perfectly lovely to harried people who could use a day off, but it’s house arrest for a social, relational woman like me.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to God and listening to music.  At first, I was struck with severe anxiety, which I believe was my anxiety disorder as well as a spiritual attack from the enemy.  I cried–wailed actually–and copied psalm after psalm from the Bible into my journal.  My fervency for God was strong and trust was a moment by moment walk.  While I don’t miss the panic attacks and tears, I wish I could maintain the level of urgency for God and His Holy Word when I’m not in the throes of fear.

I don’t always listen to music.  I like silence, too.  I can hear the birds singing merrily, the engine of the mail truck, laughter and screams from neighborhood children, the clink of my dog’s tags as she roams about the apartment, and my cockatiel’s own chirps.  So many ordinary sounds that make up the backdrop of this orchestra called life…and most of the time, I barely notice.

And I’m reading.  As much as I love to read, I don’t always make time for it.  Besides my Bible study reading (The Story and Crazy Love) and my daily devotional, Jesus Calling, I’m juggling three books right now–One Thousand Gifts, The Parable of Joy, and The Covenant Child.  My attention span seems to have increased as a result of my sitting in this stillness.

My writing life has been rich, though much of it has come alive in my journal–private conversations between God and me.  While this isn’t a measurable source of earthly wealth, it is the most important writing that I can do.  I call it “holy writing.”  If my purpose here on earth is to bring glory and honor to God, then my writing–for Him and Him alone–can have no higher calling.  Face down before the Throne of God, I write and write, like some ancient, inspired scribe.  Perhaps I will pick out thoughts to blog about here.  Or maybe write that book I’m always thinking about.

Don’t get me wrong.  I would never have chosen this path, but I am learning to be thankful for it.  I am grateful for the friends God has given to support me in this time.  It’s funny how my One Word for 2013 is LOVED and He is showing me how LOVED I really am! (Even when I start to believe the lie that no one cares, including God.)  Who would have thought the path to knowing I am LOVED would come with so much pain and brokenness–the actual physical breaking of another bone?  It seems all paths are littered with sorrow and suffering.  Is it any wonder that these are little Much Afraid’s guides to the high places in Hind’s Feet on High Places? (I plan to re-read the book as soon as I finish The Covenant Child.)

I am loved.  It rings loudly and clearly throughout my days, and it is revealed through so many ways and so many people.

If I hadn’t broken my left foot, my small group leader wouldn’t have moved our Bible study into her living room so I could attend showing me that I am LOVED.  (Thanks, Amanda!)

Nor would I have received a ride to the Bible study I lead from one of the attendees.  (Thanks, Patty!)

I would never have trusted God to help me make it up to the choir loft for praise team or give me strength to sing when my jaw ached with TMJD pain.  (Thanks to the Praise Team for their encouragement!)

I have moments of despair, when I feel God’s touch or receive a phone call or text or Facebook message.  These are precious things I gather into my heart.  Someone is praying or God is teaching me to trust Him more and more.  I hate the aloneness, and I love the intimacy with God.

If this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.  Perhaps I’d write something else, or maybe nothing at all.  I know not the path I would’ve taken and it hardly matters because this is where I am.  Everything around me is speaking to me–the book One Thousands Gifts, reading the book of Ruth this morning (I was struck that Naomi was so very bitter and yet so very blessed through Ruth in the end.  In the middle, it seemed she would never have joy again), and in watching The Fellowship of the Ring last week. (Frodo never CHOSE for the ring to come into his possession, yet it did.  Yet he carried the burden anyway.  He chose to do the right thing in the midst of his circumstances.)

It’s a conscious choice, this choosing to be thankful and grateful in the midst of this disappointment.  Perhaps it’s a divine appointment to receive greater joy.  That’s an encouraging thought, isn’t it?

Tell me, how has God taught you to be faithful or thankful in the midst of something hard or disappointing?  What have you been reading lately?  Do you miss the fervency of intimacy with God when you aren’t going through trials?

Friday Faves: Dealing with Bummed-Outness Edition

9 Sep

Since I’m going to a Women of Faith conference (full story) this weekend, you’d think I’d be in a great mood.  I mean, what a great opportunity to commune with the people of God, right?  Absolutely!  And I feel the need for it now more than ever.  Looking for a church in the area is taking its toll on me.  So is the pressure of leading a weekly small group.  I’m giving out, but not filling up.   The rainy weather doesn’t help.  Even the local schools are closed due to flooding.  (Is it even safe to go out there?  Should I invest in a house boat?)  Really, I’m just plain ol’ bummed out.

I don’t know what to do for this depression (and anxiety) except to walk through it and know it, too, will pass.  I spend more time praying, thinking, talking to God and less time social networking, hanging out, and uh, showering.  Hopefully, the Women of Faith weekend will kick start my spirit.  Until then, here are some “faves” that help me get through the murky times.

*Bebo Norman is my go-to guy for hard times.  Whether I’m about to have a panic attack or cry my eyes out, I pop in a Bebo album and I feel immediate relief.  It reminds me of when David played his harp for King Saul when Saul was overcome with bouts of madness.  Bebo’s music is a gentle reminder that someone’s been in the depths, made it out, and that God is still very much present.  Lately, I’ve also listened to Jason Gray and Andrew Peterson, and of course, my old stand-bys–Rich Mullins and Fernando Ortega.  I used have specific playlists on my iPod for “sad times” and “mad times” and “happy times,” but they somehow got deleted.  Another song that resonates with me is “Hold My Heart” by Tenth Avenue North.  While I enjoy artists like Tenth Avenue North and Josh Wilson, when I’m down and out, their upbeat songs feel like salt rubbed into an raging wound.

*The Book of Psalms is an inspiration for many, and when nothing else makes sense, the psalms usually do.  I particularly love Psalms 42 and 46.  I also turn to the book of Hosea, which may sound like a strange choice, until you consider this passage from Hosea 3: 19-20,

“I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.”

As cliche as it sounds, the Bible is an amazing source of comfort in its prose, stories (Elijah, for one), and guidance.

*One day someone who is very dear to me gave me a copy of Henri Nouwen’s The Inner Voice of Love as a present.  She told me to read it, but not all at once, just bit by bit.  So I did, and still do.  In Nouwen’s most personal work, he shares his journal entries from a time when he underwent extreme hardship (some may call it a “nervous breakdown”).  At the urging of his friends, Nouwen published this book.  I rarely read an entry without bursting into tears. I also read Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (read review), which is great for use in small groups or for personal devotions.

*It may sound silly, but online games like Gnome Town and Words With Friends (both on Facebook) provide needed distraction.  I cannot always live in the pain, focus on the hurt, feel the depression, deal with the anxiety.  So, instead, I build a world of friendly forest creatures and get my butt kicked by high school kids who know more words than me.

*Since I’m a writer, it should come as no surprise that words at a healing balm to my soul.  In his song “The Cure for Pain,” Jon Foreman sings, “So blood is fire pulsing through our veins.  We’re either writers or fools behind the reigns.  I’ve spent ten years trying to sing it all away.  But the water keeps on falling from my tries.”  Like Foreman, I keep trying to write, not sing, it all away.  Still, I keep my journal close by and consider my notebooks full of scribbles among my most treasured possessions.  One of these days, I’m going to get a nice leather or mole skin journal (usually, I get them for 50% off at Barnes & Noble or as gifts from friends).

*Dogs, not diamonds, are a girl’s best friend.  Lonely days seem a little less lonely because of my two dogs–Cassie the Peekapoo (left) and Maddy the Shih Tzu (right).  They sense my mood and cuddle with me more often when I am down.  My bird, Kylie the Cockatiel, chirps praises to God when my spirit feels faint.  Animals are truly a gift from God.  And so are friends and family, who are willing to listen, even they don’t understand or don’t know what to do.

I’m not going to apologize for my less-than-chipper mood because it is my goal to be real, rather than entertaining.  Ideally, I like to be both, but real trumps entertaining.  Pray for me and I will pray for you!

How can I be praying for you right now?  What do you do when you feel bummed out?  Do you suffer from clinical depression and/or anxiety?  What kind of pets do you have?  Do you journal and/or blog to relieve your stress?

Imagine… A Women of Faith Weekend

8 Sep

On Friday morning, BFF Sarah and I will be heading to Philadelphia to attend the two-day Women of Faith weekend (WoF).  Thanks to BookSneeze, I received two free passes in exchange for telling y’all about my experience.  Sounds good to me!  Ah, the perks of being a blogger.

I’ve never been to a Women of Faith weekend, so I don’t really know what to expect.  According to the WoF website, outside food and drinks will be confiscated—does that mean I can’t shove a pack of Mentos into my purse?  Will I be forced to pay $4 for a small soda?  I know that Jesus is the living water, but will He be handing out Deer Park at the event?  Keeping us dehydrated could cut down on those infamously long lines at the women’s restroom I suppose.

Anyway, the theme of the weekend is “Imagine,” and I will, “be refreshed, encouraged and inspired. Because the God who loves you can do far more than you can ever Imagine.”  (Refreshed = free water, I’m sure of it.) Lately, I’ve been feeling parched, discouraged, and vacant.

I’m so thirsty for something more.  (More of God?  Definitely more than just slogging through the day.)

I don’t feel like I can make it through another minute.  My strength is failing me.  Not only do I need courage, but I need to be encouraged.

I have so many thoughts running through my head.  I want to do this and that, but I get so tired—I’m too tired to start, too depressed to even try. I ache for inspiration (and motivation).

And I think, I can’t go to Women of Faith this weekend.  I’m too weak, too depressed, too me.  My anxiety is kicking up at the thought of being closed into a stadium with thousands of women.  The thought of being touched or hugged by a stranger gives me knots in my stomach.  O, God, please don’t make me go.

His response? “I love you far more than you can ever imagine.”

I won’t let my fear control me.  I will bask in refreshment, encouragement, and inspiration.  I will let it fill me up and surround me like a warm bubble bath, and seep into my dry soul like aloe vera. 

Just let go of the fear and imagine…

(The video makes the Women of Faith weekend look pretty fun!)

Have you been to a Women of Faith weekend?  What was it like?  Think my Mentos are contraband?  Are you going to Philly this weekend for WoF or another stop on the Imagine tour?

Fat Dogs and Fat Women

31 Aug

My mom's "fat" dog, Katie.

Whenever people encounter my mom’s one dog, Katie, it seems they cannot help but comment on her weight.

“Wow, she’s a little butterball, isn’t she?”

“What a beautiful dog!  She’d be gorgeous if she lost a few pounds.”

“Your dog is fat!  Why is she so fat?” (That’s my favorite tactless statement.)

Sure, Katie is a bit tubby, but why do close friends and even perfect strangers mention it when they encounter her (and of course, my mom, since Katie doesn’t wander the streets alone)?  It just doesn’t seem to be good etiquette to comment on a new acquaintance’s fat dog.

My mom's "fat" daughter (me) . Yes, my family loves dogs.

Not only that, but for people like my mom and me, it drives our suspicions about our own struggles with weight deeper—that when people look at us all they see is a big ball of fat.  They don’t see a person with a name and a history and a personality and a love of books and the outdoors, just fat.  Each of the statements people make about Katie can easily be said to me.  In fact, they have been said to me.

“You have such a pretty face.  If you lose some weight, you would be beautiful.”  (Because apparently I can only date the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man right now.  I mean, he doesn’t seem to be much for conversation, but I guess he’ll do.)

“Do you really need two cookies?”  (No, I don’t.  But I had a bad day and I’m cramming the extra cookie down my throat to make myself feel better.)

“Lose weight and you’ll find a husband. (Uhhh…who says I want a husband?  Maybe that’s just not part of God’s plan for me.  I am painfully aware of how many guys view fat chicks, especially those who sport “No Fat Chicks” t-shirts.  I am told that confidence is sexy to guys, but haven’t actually found that to be the case.)

And I know people are just dying to say, “You’re fat!  Why are you so fat?”  I don’t know!  Because I ate two cookies?  Because I don’t exercise enough?  Because I’ve only been able to effectively lose weight by eating grass (it was salad, but it tasted like grass) and chicken noodle soup?

I know I need to lose weight, not so I can nab a husband, but so I can feel better and be healthier person.  But I do not need to be reminded of the fact I need to lose weight by well-meaning friends and family members.  It’s not like I woke up one morning and “forgot” I’m fat.  I am aware of it all the time—when I don’t sit on flimsy lawn furniture for fear my girth will break it, when a store doesn’t have clothes in my size, when I look in the mirror (or avoid looking in the mirror), when I don’t pretend it bothers me.  Believe me, I know better than anyone that I’m fat.

Then why don’t you do something about it?  (Another fun question.)

It takes time, lots of time.  It took a lifetime to get like this, but it won’t take a lifetime to undo it.  There are physiological, psychological, physical, mental, and personal issues at play.  Sadly, eating salad and exercising isn’t as easy as it sounds due to financial limitations (healthy foods cost more), emotional issues (food is comforting), mental health issues (depression and anxiety suck the energy right out of you.  Plus, my fear of open spaces and crowds doesn’t help at all), and medical issues (my medications make it hard to lose weight.)

But I know this woman/man/horse/what who (fill in the blank with weight loss tip) and lost 80-100 pounds!

Everyone knows someone who lost a massive amount of weight and that’s great for that person.  I am not getting weight loss surgery (as it could *kill* me), trying a fad diet, joining Weight Watchers (can’t afford it), signing up for Jenny Craig (can’t afford it and their commercials are incredibly annoying.  Their commercials alone make me want to stay fat.  Sometimes people who have successfully lose weight are most annoying) or Curves (can’t afford that either). 

I am going to do this thing my own way—slowly as I learn to enjoy food, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.   I am not going to trade one problem for another.  I am going to trust my therapist and my doctor to treat my eating disorder, those close to me (who someone don’t even see my fat), and my God to make it through.

So, instead of focusing on whether or not I take one or two cookies, how my fat has ruined my chances at love, and why I’m fat, maybe you should take a look at that plank of condemnation in your own eye.  Hear that rattle?  The skeletons in your closet are calling.  You just don’t wear them on your physique for all to see and judge.

And while you’re at it, stop calling my mom’s dog “fat”!  Animals don’t like it either.

(Note:  All thoughtless remarks, insulting comments, and diet tips will be deleted.  Remember, I am Backseat Writer’s benevolent dictator.)

What is something you wish you could hide? (It doesn’t have to be physical.)  What thoughtless remarks are repeated to you by people “just trying to help”? (And how are you dying to respond?)  Do you think my mom’s dog is *that* fat? (I think she’s cute. By the way, I groomed her myself.)  Do you have a fat pet?  Do people comment on your fat pet?

Emma on “Glee” and Mentally Ill Me

26 Apr

In Tuesday’s extended episode (“Born This Way”), “Glee” tackled self-image, including appearance, sexual orientation, and mental illness. While this made for an interesting mish-mash of self-awareness, I found myself relating most to Emma Pillsbury, McKinley High’s neurotic guidance counselor. Since the beginning of the show, Emma’s been a bit (OK, a lot) of a “neat freak.” Early on, I got the joke, “The guidance counselor needs guidance.” Hilarious. I find it especially funny given that I’m a gal with a Master’s degree in counseling who suffers from mental illness.

In episode after episode, Emma frantically sterilizes her environment, and the audience laughs. Ha, that smartly dressed redhead! Each week I pretended to laugh along thinking that “Glee” just makes fun of everyone (especially Christians and virgins.) But last week, the show took a major turn—it started to address the issues associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Though an imperfect representation of mental illness, at least “Glee” is bringing the issue into the public eye, and not in the “funny” and endearing way that shows like “Monk” and “House” and movies like As Good As It Gets and Matchstick Men have addressed mental illness. “Glee” shows that Emma suffers from mental illness, that she suffers.

Mental illness is a strange beast—either it is portrayed as “not a big deal” (“Everyone gets a little down sometimes”) or as a monstrous disease that overtakes the lives of its sufferers (think sociopathic killers on crime dramas or the aforementioned dramatizations of characters with OCD.) Then there are celebrities like Catherine Zeta-Jones and Demi Lovato, who are willing to admit they struggle with mental illness, but they’re OK now. And, of course, Charlie Sheen who clearly has a mental problem, which he won’t admit. But where are the people like “Glee’s” Emma who live in spite of mental illness? Few and far between.

No one wants the stigma of mental illness. I certainly don’t want it to plague me my whole life. I am keenly aware about how much I say, wonder if I revealed too much, and ponder if I should just shut up about my severe depression and anxiety. I don’t enjoy the sideways glances I get from acquaintances that read my blog or hear a rumor about me. They wonder if I’m in my right mind, if I’m OK, but no one dares to ask what is really going on or how they can help me. I know the stigma; I live it every day. And like Emma, it keeps me sick. Someone rightly told me that secrets keep you sick. What if the secrets are about how you are sick…mentally?

Towards the end of “Glee,” Emma finally seeks professional help and is given a prescription for a SSRI, which she takes in her office (because who doesn’t want to down her first psychiatric medication at work?) With that swallow, Emma spoke for a lot of mentally ill people who have been kept silent. Yes, we suffer. Yes, we go to weekly therapy. Yes, we know we are mentally ill. But like Emma, we are not our illness. Emma does not equal OCD anymore than Amy equals depression, anxiety and the rest of the stuff my therapist writes on my diagnostic sheet. Emma is a person with OCD, not an illness, just like Amy (that’s me) is a woman who lives with depression.

And I bet you thought “Glee” was just a show about a bunch of underdog kids who sing and dance. In reality, “Glee” is becoming more of a phenomenon that is making outsiders (homosexuals, fat girls, the mentally ill, and more) insiders, which encourages all of us to be a little more honest about who we are.

For an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the Glee episode “Born This Way,” head on over to the Glee homepage (link).

Will you hold my balloon?

11 Apr

I feel like a little girl who lost her balloon.  The string is just out of reach, so she stands on her tip toes reaching, grasping at air, and ultimately failing.  But the balloon is so red and round and beautiful, so she tries day after day.  Reaching, grasping, failing.  Another day passes.  She reaches; her hand brushes against the string tied to the balloon, and she fails.  Other times, she snags that pesky balloon, and the string slips through her fingers. (The imagery filled my mind as I listened to “The Girl with the Red Balloon” by The Civil Wars. I highly recommend their album, Barton Hallow.)

I’m this fatigued version of myself scurrying around between naps trying to make ends meet.  My interest in the things I love has been gradually declining since December.  I am now at an all-time low.  The problem has to do with a prescription medication that is making me overly tired which has not only caused my depression to peak, but a slew of other side effects including bad headaches and bouts of dizziness.

I thought I wasn’t trying hard enough.  If only I push through my depression, I can make it.  I’m only tired because I’m depressed.  I’m only tired because I don’t get enough sleep. I don’t get enough sleep because I’m anxious.  I’m only anxious because I don’t do enough deep breathing.  On and on and on.  My mental reasoning itself is exhausting.

But, no, I’m actually physically ill from my medication.  When a prescription drug malfunctions, it really malfunctions.  While I’m not in imminent danger, I will continue to experience these unpleasantries until I can get an appointment with my specialist.

I considered whether or not this warranted an entire blog post, but I know that you are an understanding audience.  You are all in this with me and you understand why I need to go take a nap instead of writing a book review.  You will pray for me, encourage me, and stand with me.  Really, I have the best readers in the world.

Please be patient with me when it comes to posting content in the next couple of weeks.  I’ve really had to rally to write and work on Backseat Writer.  Thank you for your understanding!

I guess what I’m asking is this–will you hold my balloon for me?  I simply don’t have the energy reach or grasp for it anymore.  But I will.  Soon.

Update 4/14: I saw my doctor on Tuesday morning and he took me off the bad medicine completely.  Great, I guess.  Unfortunately, he failed to mention that I would have withdrawal symptoms like bad headaches, extreme fatigue (wasn’t that the problem in the first place?), and a general feeling of being out of sorts.  Today I am really starting to feel the effects of withdrawal.  So, I’m taking half a dose of the medication until next week, which is what I think he should have done in the first place.  I mean, honestly, what is up with these doctors?  The only doctor I really trust is my family doctor, even though I get paranoid beyond belief when I have an appointment with her.  Please continue to pray for me because this is not fun, but it should last 1-8 days and then another 1-8 days when I go off the medicine completely. Ugh.  I hate this.

Book Review:: So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore

27 Apr

Beloved women’s speaker and author Beth Moore’s latest book, So Long, Insecurity (Tyndale), is her most personal book to date.  Moore, who has helped countless ladies break free, get out of pits, and dive deep into Scripture with studies on Jesus, Paul, David, and Esther, is now combating a stronghold in the lives of many women—insecurity.

Moore describes So Long, Insecurity as “one woman’s quest for a real, lasting, soul-changing security” in God, instead of finding that security in self or others.  The first part of the book identifies insecurity by its roots stemming from instability in the home, a significant loss, rejection, dramatic change, personal limitations, personal disposition, our culture, and pride.  Moore further explains these “roots of insecurity” and like always uses a ton of Scripture to build her case.

While the book magnifies a woman’s vulnerabilities, particularly involving image, Moore urges women to “press through the discomfort” so that the reader no longer has to “live in denial and bondage.” Being a woman who battles a ton of insecurity, I didn’t just read So Long, Insecurity objectively; I took Moore’s advice to heart.  I saw myself in so many of her illustrations; I knew my heart was ready for a revolution.

Fortunately, Moore doesn’t just identify and define all areas of insecurity she’s also givse us a look at a man’s insecurities.  She also offers practical advice saturated in Scripture that allows women to immediately begin their journeys toward freedom.  I cannot more highly recommend this book for every woman out there who hates her reflection in the mirror, who is exhausted from the illusion of perfectionism, who thinks she is unworthy of love, who was born on planet Earth.

So Long, Insecurity has tremendously impacted my life, the way I think about myself, and the way I know that God relates to me.  Because of the life-changing content and prayer exercises, the book can take a while to read.  But, remember, insecurity took years to take hold, so it won’t just magically disappear overnight.  Reading this book changed my life and had emboldened me to live a life secure in the love of God.  If you are a captive in the prison of insecurity, then So Long, Insecurity is your key to freedom.

[FTC Disclosure:: Thank you to my fine friends at Tyndale House Publishers for hooking me up with a review copy of this marvelous book!]

Take 5 with The Glorious Unseen

24 Aug

On a day of heavily anticipated new releases, The Glorious Unseen’s sophomore project, The Hope That Lies In You (BEC Recordings) could easily be overlooked, which is precisely why Backseat Writer is choosing to highlight this amazing album.  The Glorious Unseen’s music can technically be defined as worship, but it doesn’t let loose with the same lame hooks and rhythms.  Lead singer Ben Crist makes sure to provide original material with heartfelt lyrics that rightly reflect upon God’s glory.  Plus, The Glorious Unseen’s musical component is intriguing, sometimes melancholy, but always fresh. Because he’s awesome, Ben kindly agreed to “Take 5” with Backseat Writer.

The Glorious Unseen isn’t like most worship bands I’ve heard.  What makes your band fresh and unique?

The thing I always hear from people is that it’s the lyrics that primarily set it apart from other stuff.  There’s just a real vulnerability and honesty in the lyrics. I’m just writing from my personal experiences. I’m not exactly trying to write worship songs – but that’s usually how it turns out. I’m just putting myself into my art, and wanting to convey what’s on my heart. The lyrics definitely set it apart from most modern worship. The music does as well for sure; it’s all around pretty unique. For this reason, it has taken a bit longer to really “catch on” in that Christian market – because it is so unique. But it is definitely filling the void in the Christian music scene, so I feel that it will continue to gain momentum.

Tell me about the album’s title track, “The Hope That Lies In You.” What’s the underlying message of this song?  And is it the message that runs through the entire album? (Side note: Whenever I listen to this song, tears well up in my eyes. I love it.)

Yes, this is the overall message of the whole album – that despite what is going on in the world around us, there is a hope that lies within each one of us – and mainly in God. We don’t have any hope in ourselves apart from God. So, with God, there is a hope that lies within us – through God. This is kind of a “battle-cry” to modern day Christians that may be struggling with apathy and depression. We need to get up and go out and have an impact. We need to be reminded of this hope we have in Christ.  No more sitting around and being depressed – time for action.

The album’s first single, “Heavyhearted,” talks about God’s grace in the midst of wandering and shame. Would you please share about a time when you’ve felt heavyhearted and how you worked through it?

Ummm – today? Yesterday?  Every day?  Haha. Yeah, I mean there are times every day where I’m struggling with some feelings of being disconnected from God’s presence. Certainly, there are times when I feel this more than other times, but really, the deal is that God wants to pour our His love for me at every moment. He always wants to take me back in the midst of my struggle – in the midst of my shame – He wants to call me back to him right now!!! Even as I am typing this, He is calling me to his heart!! He is constant; he has no end. His love is totally huge and bigger than anything we have ever experienced.

There are so many amazing songs on The Hope That Lies In You.  Tell me about a couple of your faves, please!

It’s hard to pull one out right now because they’re all so new and exciting to sing right now!! I’m so stoked to start playing “Falling Into You,” “We Can Be Renewed,” and “Awakening.”  Man, I can’t wait to sing those lyrics.  They’re even more honest than the lyrics on the last record.  People have told me that the new lyrics are more serious even then the last record. I’m so stoked to get into those songs. It’s gonna be intense. There are some hardcore issues that we are dealing with in these new lyric–depression, separation, addiction, hope, pain, spiritual warfare. I expect these shows coming up to be intense.

Let’s move on to a lighter question—what’s one of the funniest things that happened while you were recording this album?

Hmmm… Probably the appearance of Trevor “The Phoenix” Mitchell. If you don’t know what that is – go watch our studio video blog.  That’s one of our producer’s pseudo personalities.

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