The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

Do you feel like you can't get things finished and finalized? Always in the middle of things? Here are hope and help. It's grace for the unfinished.

**This is the final post of a series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.

 

I’m notorious for running head first into anything—I love new beginnings.

The end? Yeah, not so much. I’m not really a goodbye kinda girl.

I’ve never been a closer and I’m not what you would call a strong finisher. Wrapping anything up (*aside from gift wrapping, I’m actually known for being a killer gift wrapper) is a struggle for me.

So, although my gift wrapping skills are epic, my wrapping-up skills are left lacking. I’m not sure how to end this series without just leaving you hanging.

But in my defense;

How do you end something on paper that could never be wrapped up this side of heaven?

 

The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

I am not complete and therefore, my story is not wrapped up in a neat and tidy bow. I’m betting that neither is yours and let’s be honest, some days that leaves us hurting.

When we’ve been in the trenches for longer than we care to be, we become weary and battle worn and expect some type of resolution. Quite often they don’t come or at least not in the way we’d like.

Maybe it’s just me, but endings seem sad when you can’t wrap them up neatly with a bow. Oh, the abundance of gift wrapping references.

The end better than the beginning?

The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, (aside from Jesus) thinks differently on that matter. He said the day of one’s death is better than the day of birth and the end of a thing is better than the beginning. (Ecclesiastes 7:1, 8)

It seems too counterintuitive to be true.

We celebrate babies and weddings with smiles and laughter, showering mothers and newlyweds with well wishes and hope. And in turn, we grieve the death of anything, pounding our fists on the fresh dirt of the grave, whether it be of our loved one or some long-held dream.

The end clearly can’t be better than a beginning.

Or is it?

On a spiritual level, where Jesus resides and I believe what He has done, I know my death will be better than my birth. But my finite mind grapples with understanding how the giver could be so much greater than the gift.

In the same way, I wrestle with how right now isn’t perfect and how there seems to be no tidy end. The same message is often on replay in my mind; “shouldn’t I be over everything now? Shouldn’t I be “fixed?” I mean, after all, I have Jesus and I’ve worked so hard.

The answer to these questions is simple really;

We weren’t meant to be perfectly happy here.

We were never meant to feel completely content on this swirling ball that hangs perilously amidst an unending black void.

For now, there really is no perfect ending, there’s “to be continued…”

We’re just in the midway.

I find we are in the middle here, processing, not so much paused—our pain certainly does not pause—the hard we experience here is not put on hiatus. Until we come face to face with the One that put us here in the first place, the struggles we face may have no real ending.

It’s okay to feel unfinished because truth is, we are.

Do you feel like you can't get things finished and finalized? Always in the middle of things? Here are hope and help. It's grace for the unfinished.

 

Friend, grace finds us where we’re at and not a minute after.

We will not be all tidied up this side of heaven. It’s just not how the story goes. I have come to believe we are meant to feel slightly unsettled with where we’re at.

My point to all of this is that if you’re wrestling with your anxiety and depression—or whatever you grapple repeatedly with—you are right where you’re supposed to be.

Don’t wait for tomorrow when your anxiety has stopped or when the depression finally ceases to do that thing you long to do.

If you’re waiting for perfect, chances are, you’ll wait a lifetime and it’ll never arrive.

We can search all day long for how to heal the broken spaces within us but without gazing directly into the face of the Holy, some broken spaces will stay… for now.

I still wrestle with my fears and doubts and long to tame the anxious beast that resides inside of me. I am not perfectly whole just yet and the same goes for you.

These truths may make you sad and a little unsettled, but Friend, I pray you’ll find comfort in being unfinished. It is here in the middle where He shapes, refines and perfects. There is SO MUCH unbelievable beauty in a God that died for our sins and imperfections and yet leaves them with us to shape us.

Beauty in the ugly

I have a love for flowers and I cherish that I can plant an ugly little seed in a bunch of gross, worm-ridden dirt and over time the most stunning, vividly bright and fragrant wildflowers will grow. I also adore the fact that it takes equal parts bright sunny days and gray, rainy ones to make them appear. Gorgeous little poppies or foxgloves will attract every type of curious little pollinator, they can’t help but be drawn to the fragrance and beauty.

I think it’s the same with our hard places;

Loveliness grows out of the most unlikely of dirty, worm-ridden spots and others are drawn to us because of them. Why? Because comfort, help, and hope have never come from perfect. Instead, it’s born from hard places in order to share with others.

There is no need for perfection and there is no need for getting it just right. Not here, not with Him.

There’s just heaping, endless amounts of grace for the really hard, crappy, useless days and likewise, for the sweet, simple, mostly perfect ones.

He didn’t come here for the fixed, He came for the sick, the sinner, the anxious, the depressed, the perfectionist, the addict, the prideful, the vain, and the (_____). Fill in the blank… (See Mark 2:17)

And you know what He calls them?

Chosen. Ephesians 1:4

Redeemed. Ephesians 1:7

Forgiven. Ephesians 1:7

Friend. John 15:15

Justified. Romans 3:24

We may be here in the middle, unfinished with broken places.

But not to Him.

He washed us, made us clean and calls us His own, even on our absolute worst days. We don’t have to tidy up to completion and have perfect endings and well-rounded stories. Because He already did all of that. He is the ultimate storyteller—His end is always SO much better than any of our beginnings.

In our battles, we find grace for today and that is all we need. Step by step, minute by minute, perfect, glorious, gritty, grace.

He is not finished with us yet

I’m ending this series, not because it’s complete, but because there’s not a perfect ending.

I want my blog to reflect the way I live my life; in the middle, a bit unfinished with equal parts rain and sun, making something beautiful from worm-ridden brown.

Here in this middle place of waiting to see the One that holds my heart and life in His hands, I long for the ending. I wait with a hope that honestly can’t be explained on an intellectual level, no matter how many well-placed words I string together.

My sweet friend, keep fighting the good fight and know that I fight it with you and so do a billion or more others. And one day soon we will meet Him face to face and He will tell us “well done.” Not because you got all perfected, but because you were bloodied and dirty and kept getting back up to fight.


The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

I’m linking up with some other fabulous bloggers this week:

Grace and Truth Link Up: Cultivating Wisdom
Tea And Word Link Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#LMMLinkup: Happy Indepence Day

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You are strong because you are imperfect…

These inner battles have prepared you for this moment. You are strong because you are imperfect. You are wise because you have doubts.”

(Darkest Hour)

 

I love history and I love nothing more than a good historical book or movie—know, wild and crazy, right?—I’m pretty sure you’re getting a really good view of what my Friday nights consist of.

My oldest son is just like me in this way. My greatest hope is not that he becomes a doctor or successful businessman, but rather, a history professor. He’d be amazing in this profession. I love that he searches for truth in history and longs to see what he can learn from it so he can share it with others.

We recently watched the movie, Darkest Hour, together. It’s an incredible movie for any of you history buffs out there.

The heading of this post is a line spoken by Winston Churchill’s wife to him when he is downtrodden and second-guessing himself. It honestly stopped me in my tracks because of the amazing truth it held.

You are strong because you are imperfect…

You are strong because of imperfection…

A few weeks ago I wrote about “hugging your cactus.” In simplified terms, it’s accepting your weakness and working within the parameters you’ve been given.

Contrary to the false belief I held for a very long time, every struggle is not neatly wrapped up this side of heaven. I lived in a fantasy world of a utopia at the end of every hard-earned, bloody battle.

Turns out I may have been slightly mistaken.

It is not our perfection that generates excellence after all, but our imperfections. They become the driving force which propels us to move forward and strive for more.

It is the constant beating down and getting back up again that produces substance, strength, and character.

I have an extremely obsessive brain, sensitive personality, and anxiety. I have learned it is a part of my brain that most likely will never entirely disappear. It’s obnoxious in the least, and crippling at its worst. Nonetheless, these obstacles have proven to build within me a tenacity and compassion that I believe I would lack otherwise.

It is the very weaknesses I hate that a loving God uses to chisel my form and build my character.

It is the very weaknesses I hate that a loving God uses to chisel my form and build my character.Click To Tweet

So, for this, I can thank Him and continue forward day-to-day. I still seek to overcome these struggles but also understand that this side of heaven they may stay with me.

And I can trust that in the staying, there is a purpose, a powerful God-given purpose.

You are wise because you have doubts…

I have struggled with doubts all of my life, whether it be about my Christian faith or about whether or not someone is telling me the truth.

I’m skeptical.

I never saw this as wisdom and truthfully, I see it mostly as a flaw. But when I chew a bit on the above statement, I realize that there is wisdom in doubts.

Why?

Because I can use the doubt to propel me forward to seek out further answers. It also forces me to check myself and my motives frequently.

I have two simple choices when it comes to doubts; I can either allow the doubt to cripple me or I can move forward in discovery and belief. I can only teeter on the tightrope of in-between for so long.

Every doubt I have ever had has led me to the eventual position of having to take a stand. Wrestling through the anxiety and confusion in the process has made me stronger.

You may fear you are the only one, but let me reassure you that you are not. I have had gut-wrenching, anxiety producing doubts about faith, life, and yes, even God. But these doubts and these fears, they are precisely what prompts us to dig deeper and lean into the only One that ultimately has the answer.

Doubts remind us that we are human and that we do not have all of the answers. They drive us to seek out wise counsel, which will either reaffirm our belief or shed light on our misconceptions.

These inner battles have prepared you for this moment…

The inner battles we struggle with are simply opportunities to grow, prepare and ultimately trust an infinite God.

Our imperfections and struggles are prime real estate where resilience, character, and the power of God grow best.


“I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do.” 

Corrie Ten Boom


You are strong because you are imperfect…

Linking up with some fellow bloggers at these sites, come over and check it out!

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Anxiety and Depression Series – 9 Practical Self-Care Tips

With anxiety and/or depression steering the rudder, it's the everyday things that are the most difficult. Therefore, every day is where we need to begin. As a part of the Anxiety and Depression Series, here are 9 Practical Self-Care Tips.

**This is an ongoing series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.

When I began struggling with anxiety and depression I often heard about the importance of self-care. The ideas I read at the time seemed frivolous, silly and unhelpful to me. Activities such as taking a bubble bath, getting my nails done or a night out was often suggested.

That’s fine in theory –

However, when you’re in a battle for your mind, taking a bubble bath isn’t an answer, it’s an unnecessary to-do that you don’t have the energy for.

I desperately wanted someone to take my hand and walk me through the strange, fogged out mental state I found myself in. Thinking straight was difficult enough, let alone actually DOING anything productive. I was constantly forgetting everyday things and at my worst, felt incapable of taking care of myself or my family.

I would love to tell the person that is deep in an anxious or depressed season—I seemed to go from one to the other in rapid succession—to take a vacation or go for a night out on the town. But in reality, this may not be possible or even desired.

With anxiety and/or depression steering the rudder, it’s the everyday things that are the most difficult. Therefore, every day is where we need to begin.

Anxiety and Depression Series – 9 Practical Self-Care Tips

Every Day To-Dos:

  1. Get up and make your bed.

    As I’ve mentioned before one of the main symptoms of my anxiety was insomnia. For a long time, the easy thing to do was lay around and not make my bed or do barely anything when I was so exhausted. At some point during my struggles, I decided to make my bed every day, no matter what. Even on days I barely slept I would force myself to get up out of bed and make it. Something about the act of putting all of the pillows and blankets back on my bed each morning made me feel as though I had a do-over, a fresh start. Over time I made my bedroom into a soothing sanctuary rather than a place where I felt anxious about sleeping… or lack thereof. Maybe it’s not your bed for you, but I would encourage you to find that one thing that you can do each day that says to yourself, “Today is new, yesterday is gone.”

  2. Brush your teeth, wash your face, shower and do your hair. 

    Some days of depression can leave you feeling as though brushing your hair is the most exhausting task in the world. Cleaning up and caring for your body each day sends a signal to your brain that you are still living and you are worth it. I’m not talking about getting dressed up and doing a full face of makeup. (If you can, great!) I’m talking, clean teeth, clean face, clean hair, clean clothes. If only one out of all of these is accomplished – that’s ok. But when you’ve done it, you’ve accomplished something and this sends an affirming signal to your brain.

  3. Family Care.

    It’s hard enough taking care of yourself, throw a bunch of kids into the mix and you’re left feeling incapable. I’m going to pause here and tell you mom-to-mom (or dad, if this is you) It’s ok to not give them their perfect nightly bedtime routine, I promise THEY WILL LIVE! We are so darn hard on ourselves – throw in anxiety and depression and every mistake becomes a”10,” when in reality, it’s not a big deal at all. Write out a reminder to do those important things for your kids and family, whether that be brushing teeth, bathing or homework. Maybe put a pop-up on your phone or a note where you look every day.

  4. Eat. 

    Anxiety especially can wreak havoc on a digestive system. There were times I could not physically keep food down because of the anxiety I felt. I had to learn how and what to eat during these times. I would suggest having healthy, easy to eat options around. No sugar added applesauce was a go-to for me. I love that now they have little squeeze packs. Yes, they’re for kids, but they should totally be marketed to people with anxiety! There are great options that contain veggies and fruits now. Other foods I found helpful were oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes. Making sure to get protein is important. Smoothies that have protein in them are a great option as well. Try your best to steer clear of unnecessary sugar and caffeine.

  5. Talk to your doctor.

    Whether it’s getting on an anti-depressant or getting blood tests for deficiencies, this step is an absolute necessity. It’s also a great idea to bring a loved one with you to the appointment, they can be your voice when you can’t find your own. Which brings me to #6:

  6. Ask for help. 

    It’s so hard going through anxiety and depression alone. You are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and still need to take care of yourself, family and possibly a job as well. Do not be afraid to reach out to family or friends that you trust to help.  If you have the money to do so, hire a house cleaner or get a service that delivers meals. Anything that relieves the pressure. *On the flip side, if you have a friend or family member suffering in this way, PLEASE help them. Bring a meal, watch their kids, hang out with them. DO NOT shy away. 

  7. Exercise. 

    I know, I know… who wants to exercise when you are anxious or depressed? Trust me, your body and your mind NEED this. Even if it is only a walk; strap on your shoes and go outside. It is proven to stimulate all of the feel goods inside your body. Even on days I struggle with sleep or feel really down, I force myself to do my workout and without fail, I feel better. So go out and walk, run, swim, bike, swing or take your dog out for a walk – speaking of:

  8. Spend time with pets/kids/family & friends. 

    Our greatest problem is that we forget to get out of our own heads. Begin that process of stepping outside of yourself for a moment and really listen to someone or something else. I love sitting with my dog and just petting her when I’m anxious or talking with one of my kids and listening to their day. It’s a win/win because I feel lighter and they are happy because they are getting my undivided attention.

  9. Get rid of all unnecessary to-dos with a brain dump. 

    I remember one particular day, I was having a really anxious time and my mind wouldn’t shut up, I was sure I had failed at life. I decided to write out my to-do’s to organize my thoughts. When I did, I realized that really only 2 of the things on the list needed to be done and the rest were unrealistic expectations I was putting on myself. There are days you will not have it in you to do the big things. Be okay with that and let it go for a day when you do have the energy. When the unnecessary to-do’s pop up again, remind yourself that you wrote it down and it’s not for today.

And last but never least: The most important self-care tip I can give you is to trust in Jesus and what He says about you. He knows you better than you know yourself.

Remember, you are going through something very real, Give yourself time to heal and give yourself grace…

Your body is reacting to everything going on in your mind. Taking care of yourself is your job right now.

Put your to-do list somewhere where you can see it every day and congratulate yourself for everything you accomplish.

It may seem silly to be proud of brushing your teeth, but it’s not. You are taking care of yourself and your family, against all odds. You overcome a little more every day when you choose to actively participate in your life, in spite of the anxiety and/or depression you feel.


To read the final post in this series click HERE!

A necessary disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am not a professional with letters after my name. I am someone who has lived with anxiety and depression for over 20 years. Read about me here. I may have life experience and insight… But I would suggest you seek professional help if you feel you need it.

 

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Anxiety and Depression -(9) Two Peas in a Pod and the Power of Words

**this is an ongoing series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.

 

Two Peas in a Pod and the Power of Words

I have a superpower.

Yep, it’s true. Prepare yourself; for you will surely be amazed.

I have the uncanny ability to feel “up” and “down” all at the same time.

Amazed yet?

Confused?

Me too.

Let me clarify, I have the ability to be both anxious and depressed all at the same time. I get completely wound up with my brain racing all while feeling hopeless and utterly defeated.

Amazing, right?!

I knew you’d be super impressed.

Two Peas In a Pod

This series is labeled the Anxiety and Depression Series for a reason: According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website, one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

In short, anxiety and depression tend to hang out together.

They’re old pals that go way back and love to conspire in disrupting your entire life.

Just when you think you have anxiety under control, it will tag team its partner, depression so that it jumps in and disables you with a body slam.

Let’s be honest, they suck, but they make awesome teammates.

Anxiety and its Best Friend, Depression

One of my first experiences with depression was after I began having panic attacks and severe anxiety. I wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me I had depression. But sure enough, flipping to the other side of the frantic coin, sat despair.

There was a hopelessness and confusion during this time in my life that is hard to explain. I constantly felt as though something terrible was about to happen and I desperately needed a solution, and yet, I was left feeling incapable of finding one.

In my experience, anxiety seems to demand instantaneous attention, it’s loud and immediately aggressive. Meanwhile, depression can be a chameleon, a shape-shifter and is often insidious in its attack.

But because they are so similar in other ways, it makes me think of that old saying, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

When you’re deep in it, it can be hard to tell.

Think, think, think…

A key symptom of both depression and anxiety is rumination. This simply means the sufferer obsessively goes over a thought or worry, thinking they’ll eventually come to a solution. In reality, they end up exhausting themselves while wasting precious time and mental energy.

This whole rumination thing is really a wrestling match of words.

I’ve spent many, many, … (there just aren’t enough many’s for this) days ruminating and wrestling.

The thoughts we find ourselves entertaining are a rabbit trail of frightening scenarios and doubts.

The average person has thoughts like this but their brain either problem solves or eventually moves on. The brain that struggles with anxiety and depression is like a needle stuck in the same groove of a record, going round and round.

Being in such a heightened state of anxiety for so long is sure to cause a drop. Medically speaking, we know it’s terrible for your body to be wound up with adrenaline and cortisol.

Depression, therefore, is a natural result of anxiety.

Anxiety in the heart causes depression…

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25 NKJV

Well, isn’t that interesting. Even in the word of God, they are paired together.

I love this verse because it feels like an answer I’ve been searching for. It makes sense to this over-thinking brain.

Sort of like an equation that I can file away:

An anxious mind over what might be or what was = Melancholy due to lack of control.

Even more interesting to me was the second half of the verse.

A good word makes it glad

The word glad that is used here means to brighten up, to cause to rejoice and cheer up.

You know what I think is a pretty good word for the anxious and depressed?

“You are okay just as you are and you don’t have to fix this right now.”

It can feel imperative that you get rid of all of these awful emotions RIGHT NOW which is partly what can cause anxiety and depression to worsen.

A good word is one that lifts and encourages you to understand that it’s okay to not be over this overnight.

It takes time.

There is nothing more encouraging than being given permission to just accept who you are and where you are at this moment.

Am I saying that every mental illness and issue will be resolved when given a good word?

No, of course not.

But I do know first hand what a word of truth and kindness can do to an overly anxious and hopeless heart.

Life is hard.

Living life with anxiety and depression is even harder.

So, no matter what treatments you are implementing, a kind and understanding word will always bring hope, life, and encouragement.

Be kind to yourself with your own words and fill your mind up with God’s words. Work on replacing those painful, ruminating thoughts with words that lift up and trust in God.

Whatever battle you are fighting, remember that Jesus fights with you. He is not condemning you and His words are there for you to battle with.

Regardless of which came first or why you are going through a time of anxiousness and depression, words have power.

Which brings me back full circle…

I think we do have a superpower after all: it’s the power of our words.


To read the next post in this series go HERE

A necessary disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am not a professional with letters after my name. I am someone who has lived with anxiety and depression for over 20 years. Read about me here. I may have life experience and insight… But I would suggest you seek professional help if you feel you need it.

***If you came upon this site and are not sure about this whole Jesus thing, let me just say, welcome! I hope you’ll stick around and maybe enter the conversation about Him and who He claims He is.


Be sure to stop by where I am linked up with fellow bloggers at the following link-ups:

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