Friday, December 21, 2012

My depression story...

Okay, I'm going to start off this whole depression talk with the following statement: I am NOT an expert. Just because mine happened this way doesn't mean it happens this way for everyone. And my "advice" on the topic is NOT the same as getting PROFESSIONAL HELP, which I super highly encourage you to do, if you think you might be suffering from depression. End of rant.

I guess I'll kick off this shindig by starting at the beginning.

I have always been a "deep feeler." In my teen years, I was affectionately known as Katie Kaboom around the home front.

But I never would have labeled those emotions as "depression."

I had "low self-esteem" or "self-doubt," or I "felt isolated" (all signs of depression, by the way). But I NEVER would have called it depression. I was in student government. I made good grades. I had close friends. I was on homecoming court. As I said in my last post, I wasn't one of those people.

Looking back now, I realize that I have been battling depression for most of my life, but never more than January of this year.

I injured my back while visiting family over the Christmas break. Then I took an 8-hour car ride home. Then I REALLY injured my back about five minutes after walking through my own front door.

Forget New Year's resolutions, I couldn't even get off the couch. For two weeks, I lay there and watched Netflix. My husband was teaching and coaching and doing his best to run the household. Laundry began to pile up. Dishes went unwashed. Dinner consisted of PB&J or leftover pizza. And all I could see were the many, many ways in which I was failing as a wife and mother.

And those thoughts led to other thoughts... memories of past failures (and boy, I've had some doozies). Damaged relationships. Wrecked cars. Poor financial decisions. Lost jobs. Messy houses. Tempers. Weight gain. Regret. Regret. Regret.

And then my back started feeling better. But I didn't tell anyone. Because getting off that couch meant facing the world again... the world that contained all. those. failures.

And so I stayed there. And I watched TV. And the laundry and the dishes kept piling up. And I slept in the day. And I couldn't sleep at night. And then one awful evening, when everyone else was in bed, and I lay on the couch wrapped in the torment of all my many failures... I had a single moment of clarity... I think I'm depressed... and then... I don't know how to fix it.

The next morning, I called my mom and asked her to make the 8-hour trek to my house. I texted my Sweet Hubby, who was at school teaching, and simply wrote this: "I think I'm really depressed. Mom is coming into town tomorrow. I'm calling a counselor." And I did. I called everyone in the yellow pages.  Only one called me back, and he said he could see me that afternoon.

Thus began my journey to discovery and recovery. And in the next few posts, I'd like to share with you some of the most important things I learned (and continue to learn) about depression...

To be continued... 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Welcome Back, my friend!

Well... here it is... the end of 2012... and I have written exactly FOUR posts this year.  I'd like to give you a host of reasons why this blog has been thus neglected. I could say that I have writer's block. I could tell you that my year has been so full of changes and ups and downs and craziness that I haven't had time to write. I could sigh and look forlornly at my dying dinosaur of a computer and tell you that, sigh, the machine freezes up every single time I have attempted to write a blog.

But none of those would be true. While I do have a monster of a computer that hates blogspot, I occasionally have access to Sweet Hubby's computer, and therefore could type a little sumpin' sumpin' every now and then. And since my year has been so full of changes, one would think such changes would at least create a few readable anecdotes.

And I do not have writer's block.

I have writer's hesitation.

Because every. single. time. I sit down to write, I am prompted to write about one subject. If I try to stumble through a light-hearted, "welcome back" post, I just freeze and think, "This isn't what I'm supposed to be writing about."

But I hesitate. And close the computer. And walk away. And say to myelf: "Self, not today."

And the subject that has possessed my writing faculties for almost a full year? The thing I have hesitated to make known in such a public arena? This mental roadblock on my path to blogging?


Almost a year ago today, depression hit me in a way that I have never experienced before. And it has changed my life... at first, for the worse... now, for far far better than I could have imagined sitting on my couch this time last year.

And the thing about depression is that it's a secret illness. People don't send flowers. They don't fix meals and bring them to your family. They don't sit by your bedside and hold your hand. People don't know about it. 

And because people don't know about it, you might not know about it. I didn't.

I knew the symptoms I had seen on commercials. But those people were cast in gray lighting, holding their foreheads, and wincing. Those people suddenly lost interest in things they once loved. They couldn't get out of bed. Those people constantly had suicidal thoughts.

But I wasn't one of those people. I didn't wake up one morning with a sudden pang of gray lighting and think, "Oh man, I'm depressed."

Because depression is sneaky. And secret. And slow moving... until it's not. And then, you become one of those people.

So over the next few days... or weeks... or months... or years... or however long it takes me to process all this into bloggable words... I am going to talk to you about depression.

Because we're old friends, you and I. We have been through a lot together. I think our friendship can handle this, don't you?

And who knows, maybe you're on the road to becoming one of those people. Or maybe you're the other people, the ones who don't really know about this illness.

Either way, I hope you're changed, as I was changed. Knowledge is power, my friend. See you soon.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A different kind of hope

2008. Twenty oh eight. The year of our Lord, two thousand and eight. That was the last year I worked outside of the home without my children. I have had jobs since that time, but one was so flexible it was very much like staying home, and the other hired a nanny to watch my girls in a playroom down the hall from my office.

But today, well, today marked a day of firsts. First day of work without my children. First day of preschool for Maple Anne. First day daddy was home, and not mommy, when Chloe got off the bus.

And while those firsts alone made today a challenging sort of day, that is only the beginning of today's story.

Today's story also includes a sick little girl who had to be picked up from school at 8:15am. It includes a court hearing in which Brandon was legally required to testify and legally required to NOT pick up Chloe until the hearing was finished. It also includes a trip-and-fall on the playground, and a two-year-old's swollen, bloody nose and two black eyes. It includes grocery shopping and forgotten coupons, a VERY messy house, and more traffic than this mom has seen in a looooong time.

Today's story looked a lot less like hope and peace, and a lot more like stress and scheduling conflicts.

Today ends with me sitting on my couch, exhausted, debating whether I should do dishes tonight or at 5 o'clock in the morning. Today ends with a few tears and a lot of second guessing.

But today's story ends with something  else - something unexpected. Today's story ends with familiarity, and hope.

Because if I have learned one thing from our past few months in Damascus Road, it has been this:

Sometimes hope for our future doesn't feel like hope. Sometimes it feels like being stretched in all directions, like being spread too thin, like adding yet another yolk to our aching shoulders. 

But then the Lord begins to do something wonderful.

Slowly, and almost undetectably, the stretch starts to feel normal as it makes room for more blessings. The thin places become filled with fruit, like patience, joy, and faithfulness. Our shoulders are strengthened so the burden feels normal, and even light.

That's when it feels like hope.

And when it happens enough times - even the stretch, the thinness, the weight - those start to feel like hope in and of themselves.

So today's story is one of tears and traffic. Of illness and conflict. Of exhaustion and frustration.

But today's story is also one of hope. A hope for our family. A hope for our future.


Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 
Romans 5:3-4

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Goodbye to 2011.

Throughout 2011, my mom said a phrase to me over and over again: "And wipe your feet on your way out the door."

It's a silly phrase, really. Per our Korean tradition, our girls wipe their feet and take off their shoes when they come into our home. On today's rainy Sunday morning, I watched person after person wipe their feet on the large black floor mats, put their umbrellas into the plastic bags that were available, shake the rain out of their hair, and walk into the church. My daughter often reminds me when we walk into a store, "Please be sweet and wipe your feet."

But... Who wipes their feet on their way out of a place?

I do. That's who.

Difficult things happened in 2011. Wonderful things happened too.

I got fired.
I lost friendships.
I lost hope.
I lost perspective.
I struggled through a bout of depression.
I sent my first child to kindergarten.
I served my husband after his painful knee injury.
I gained new friends.
I continued to mourn the loss of old friends.
I served at church.
I fell in love with my church. 
I walked through healing and restoration.
I gained weight.
I gained knowledge.
I gained self-forgiveness.
I gained perspective.
I gained a dog. 
I learned what I really want from life.
I learned that what I want doesn't matter nearly as much as what I'm willing to work for.
I learned to hope.

There are lessons that I hope to pick up and carry with me as I leave the year 2011.

Lessons about forgiveness.
About being planted in God's house.
About accepting what is.
About loving what isn't. 
About the mark of a true friend.
About emotional boundaries.

But there are things I have walked through in 2011 that should be left schmeared on its doormat as I leave. Things that should be recognized as the [enter expletive here] that it is.

Lies that I believed about myself.
Cruel words - from my own lips and the lips of others.
Leased out mental space.
Those things will have no place in 2012. They have taken up enough of my time and energy.

So if you'll pardon my mom's silly phrase, I'm excited - and deliberate - when I say: I'm wiping my feet on the way out the door.

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood