Tag Archives: Depression

Pressing Through Lack of Motivation

Have you ever had the sense of what would be good for you to do but you lacked the motivation to do it? I experience this phenonmenon on and off, especially with my struggle with depression. Just this past week, I woke up and felt tired, unmotivated, and a little depressed. I knew if I pressed through that I could have a good day spent with God through doing things like jouraling, art, and worship. At this point I had a choice. Would I let my feelings keep me from pressing through, or would I press through my feelings?

We all have decision points like this one, probably on a regular basis at varying degrees. At the least severe, we just generally don’t feel like doing something (like going to the gym), but we do it anyway. At a more moderate level, we have a mental and perhaps physical resistance to doing what we know would be good for us (i.e., getting out of bed to starting the day), so we delay it. At a severe level, someone is so depressed than can hardly get themselves to do anything.  I would argue that there are times, at least in my experience, where I surrender to the fact that I am not going to get much (if anything) done that day. I give myself grace on those days, and I hope you do too.

However, a lot of the time we are in that middle ground, where we could move in the direction of a healthy decision if we pushed ourselves a bit. This space was where I found myself one day last week. I wanted to get up, go into my office and spend the day journaling, creating, and spending time with God. I laid in bed thinking about it, finally deciding to get up and make my tea. I got into my office, still very tired and a little depressed. I thought about going back to bed. But I decided to press through to see what happened. And as I pushed through, my energy and motivation increased. It turned out to be a great day!

So, on those hard days, give yourself some grace and press through that lack of motivation. It might just turn into a great day.

Copyright 2020 Marie Lorah

Grief During Covid-19

My heart has been grieving a lot during the pandemic lately. The first month, I really coped well and tapped into my creativity. I probably felt the best I felt in quite a while and was honestly shocked with how well I was thriving. The last few weeks however, I have become less motivated (see less blog posts?!) and hit some depths of depression I haven’t felt in a while. It seems strange to grieve my mental health, but I think that is what is happening. Grieving the loss of motivation, of creativity, of excitement and passion for life. Grieving the loss of connection and energy I get from being around friends and family – the “normalcy” of it all.

I’ve realized how much I crave structure and connection, and those aren’t bad things. I’ve seen some of my priorities shift as I’ve done some reflecting through this crisis, but I think it’s also a very valid feeling and desire to want “normal” back. The reality is, from what I undertand, it won’t be the same “normal” we are used to. People will be wearing masks and social distancing. Not everything is going to open up at once. The risk for illness will remain. Uncertainties still lie ahead. Life won’t be the same.

I wish I could say this will all get easier. And it may and will over time. But there’s also a need to accept where we are at, surrender to this process, and put our trust in the One who always stays the same. Let go of the timeline of how this will all play out and take it one day at a time. Be angry, be sad, allow yourself to feel, but do not give up. Sometimes, that’s all we can do.

May you embrace your grief during this time and find creative outlets to express it. God, I pray for your comfort, relief, and perspective over each person reading this blog today. Thank You that You are still on the throne and love your children very deeply. In Jesus name. Amen.

Copyright 2020 Marie Lorah

Refining Fire and Mental Health

Is God refining you in this season? I believe in this season God is doing a new work in each one of us to make us more like Him and to prepare us for what is to come.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

God is making all things new, and it starts with us. He is making a way for us through the valley and wilderness. Do you not perceive it? I know it may be hard to see if you are in the depths of depression or anxiety, but God is up to something new and different. It may not be super clear, but He is doing it. Part of what He is doing is refining and purifying us from things that are not of Him, including idols, sin, and the like. He is calling us back to Him as our First Love, and is making a way for the new things to come into our life by asking us to let go of the old. Has God been nudging you to let go of some things in this season? Is He calling you to let go of lesser things for the better thing? Is He calling you to a radical step of obedience that will put you outside of your comfort zone?  Is He rearranging your priorities right now?

If the answer is yes, perhaps He is refining you. Perhaps He is even calling you out of some false comforts that we can fall into when we have mental illness. For example, God is calling me out of the false comfort on leaning on people too much for encouragement and care. Let me be clear — it is extremely wise to have a support system; however, it is not wise to make them an idol and become emotionally dependent on them to feel okay. Mental illness often lies to us and tells us we aren’t capable of doing things that we actually are capable of. Perhaps in certain seasons, this may be true, but as we continue in our recovery, we need to learn to get our eyes off of ourselves and onto loving the Lord and others. We slowly have to step out of our comfort zone and grow up in the Lord. This process is not easy, but stepping out of false comforts causes us to be strengthened and empowered. We can step up and out and begin to serve. Let me give you some words of encouragement as you go through this process:

“The furnace may be hot, but not only can I trust the hand that lights the fire, I can also have the assurance the fire will not consume but only refine.” (Streams in the Desert, p. 166.)

The refining fire of the Lord may be upon you right now, but take heart that it will not consume you. Rather, you will be purified in God’s love to be more equipped to serve Him and build His kingdom. As you step outside of yourself, you will see the many needs around you and the opportunities the Lord is placing before you.

What opportunities is God placing before you right now? What is He asking of you? If you don’t know, I’d encourage you to ask. If nothing else, just do what is before you, until He shows you the next thing. Take heart, friend, He is doing something new in and through you. Trust His purpose and timing!

Copyright 2020 Marie Lorah

Having Compassion for Yourself During COVID-19

Having a hard time coping with the quarantine right now? If so, I get it. Yesterday, I ended up being hard on myself for struggling, and that spilled over into today a bit. I was beating myself up for areas of struggle I still have, in spite of the fact that I have made a lot of progress recently. Our tendency seems to always go to the negative, doesn’t it?

In fact, research shows that we are hard wired to go toward the negative. Kristen Neff, in her book “Self Compassion” discusses this tendency and for our need to be kind to ourselves when we are suffering. She explains the importance of supporting and loving yourself in difficult times as you would support and love a friend. Sound selfish? Actually, Scripture discusses that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And how can we love our neighbor if we don’t love ourselves? It first starts in receiving God’s love for ourselves, then we can love Him and others.

Are you feeling less productive during this time? Are you dealing with depression or anxiety right now? Be encouraged that’s it’s okay to feel this way. We are facing many new challenges in different ways right now. Personally, I am used to getting out of the house regularly to help ward off depression and anxiety. So, I have had to adapt and find new ways to cope. But, not every day is perfect – and that is okay. I am making myself a note to put in my office, “I give myself permission to be where I am.” I usually get myself into trouble when I start ruminating on thoughts about how I should be further along than I am. If you’re struggling right now with those feelings of “not enough” or “failure,” try to show yourself some grace and kindness. God is patient with you; so you can be patient with yourself too. I know, easier said then done. Here’s another way to look at it: how would you treat a friend that was struggling with something? Would you say sternly to try harder and suck it up, or would you show compassion and listen with kindness? I’m sure you would listen and love with compassion. We are all on a journey of learning to show this same kindness to ourselves.

We all have a relationship with one person we can’t get away from, and that is ourselves! So work on your self-talk today. Try to think of a bigger perspective of what’s going on right now. Tell yourself that you are doing the best you can and that you accept yourself just the way you are. After all, God accepts you just the way you are. But take heart, that He is not done with you and is going to complete the work He began in you! Good things are coming, friend. Reach out to God and ask Him for His help right now. He is with you, and He will help you! Receive His love and compassion for you, because you are DEEPLY LOVED.

Copyright 2020 Marie Lorah

Praise or Plummet

Are you praising or complaining through this time of crisis? Now, I totally understand if you’re struggling – this is an unprecedented time, and God is oh so gracious and gentle with us. Might I then gently encourage you though to press into praise right now?

In a previous difficult season, the Lord told me that I needed to “praise or plummet.” It wasn’t meant to be a discouraging thing, but rather an invitation of obedience to Him. He always gives us a choice. And in this case, He was showing me the cost of not praising Him. If I didn’t take time to worship and praise Him, I knew He was telling me that my mental health would deteriorate over time. I have held on to this word and have felt it extremely purposeful in this current crisis. Praise is the antidote to worry, fear, depression, stress, etc. Worship changes your focus and mindset. It has had to be, at times, a radical choice I make in spite of my feelings. What would it take to make that radical choice today?

Philippians 4:4 says: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Paul reminds us to always rejoice in the Lord. Not when we feel like it, but always. I’m not saying every day you’ll feel goosebumps as you worship, but this obedient act glorifies God and helps you shift perspective, even if for a little bit. So give it a try today, and see if it doesn’t change things!

Copyright 2020 Marie Lorah

How to Take Care of Yourself During COVID-19

Here we are in the Philadelphia suburbs, ordered to stay in our homes for an unnamed amount of time. Well, this change has inspired me to write more. Today I want to encourage you in different ways you may want to care for yourself during this time, especially if you are stuck at home. Let me cover 5 areas:

Physically: We can still go outside during this time. I strongly encourage you to go outside at least once a day for a walk or at least for a little fresh air. If you can’t go outside, try some YouTube workouts to get you moving – or you could always have a dance/worship party!

Mentally: Try to do things that keep your mind busy and sharp. I recently bought a word search puzzle to do to pass the time. You can also find Sudoko, dot to dot puzzles, and crossword puzzles as well, whether in paper or on your phone apps (try your local dollar store or Amazon). You may be able to find free courses or Bible studies online during this time as well.

For example, check out this link for a free online Bible study with Max Lucado about anxiety: https://www.faithgateway.com/anxious-for-nothing-obs-registration/.

Also, a more involved course related to happiness and mental health through Yale University is also offered for free right now:https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being?action=enroll&utm_campaign=opencourse.welcome.the-science-of-well-being.~opencourse.welcome.rUHfSakHEeeQ3gpuC4Fs_g.&utm_medium=email&utm_source=other

Emotionally: Try a meditation app. There are so many, including Calm, Headspace, Simple Habit, and Soultime. I specifically like Soultime because it is Christian-based and includes scripture readings as well. It might be helpful if you’re having a bout of anxiety or if you need help falling asleep. Also, creativity is proven to help your mental health. Try coloring (I just got an adult coloring book at the Dollar Tree – and as far as I know, they are still open!), painting, drawing, or simply doodling.

Socially: Keep in touch with friends and family over the Internet or phone. Make sure to check in with the most isolated family members. Perhaps give them a word of encouragement you found recently in a book, or offer to pray for them. Also, be sure to reach out for help and connection if you need support. Try to be proactive and plan to make at least one contact a day. You can use free programs like Skype, Face Time, Google Hangouts, and also Free Conference Calls for groups.

Spiritually: Probably most importantly, use this time to draw closer to the Lord. It’s a good time to listen to podcasts and sermons on YouTube to stay encouraged and focused on God. Personally, I enjoy journaling a lot. I write my prayers to God, and I listen for and record His response. I recently heard a great way to spend quiet time with God – pick a short passage from Scripture and read it. Ask God what He wants you to know about it, and then write a response back to Him. The next day, you can go back to that Scripture and ask God if He has anything else to tell you. Then, go on to the next part of that Scripture or pick a new one.

Things to Avoid:

Numbing out on social media and TV: I know it’s so easy to distract yourself and pass time these ways, but in longer amounts of times, they wear on your mental health and you end up numbing yourself instead of being in the present. Instead, use social media and TV in moderation and stay present with other people and things around you (physically or virtually).

Staying in bed all day: This is a sure fire way to get depressed. If you’re still tired when you wake up, try at least to move yourself to your couch to read or listen to music.

Catastrophizing about the future: This one is hard, I know, with all the uncertainty about how long you may be staying home or perhaps your finances. Remember, each day has enough worry of it’s own (Matthew 6:34), and it’s best to take it one day at time.

Being Real About Your Feelings for the New Year

At this time of year, we often are focusing on our goals and New Year’s resolutions. Many have new hope, excitement, and motivation for the coming year. That is all well and good, but what if you are facing deep fears about the coming year? What if all you can see is darkness and have no hope?

Maybe you are facing a looming diagnosis or a strained relationship. Perhaps there are just some circumstances that you don’t know will ever get better (at least that’s how it feels). You’re feeling doubt and worry, and then, on top of that, guilt for feeling doubt and worry.

Well, friend, take heart. You are not the only one going through this. I think through all the glimmer and glammer of the holidays, we place this expectation on ourselves that we should be happy, excited, and hopeful for our New Year. But, what if it’s been a really hard year and there’s not one single piece of hope in your heart? What if depression is heavy upon you, and you are just out of steam?

I want to encourage you, whatever you may be facing, that God is still good, and God is still with you. He’s not mad at you that you aren’t feeling all the good things that others around you may feel. He’s not looking at you as a failure for having some doubts and fears about the coming New Year. If nothing else, you can hold on to who God is no matter what you are feeling or experiencing. Don’t give up on the One who does truly hold it all together, even when it doesn’t make sense. Perhaps find a song that brings you some hope or solace. Practice gratitude – I know gratitude is a hard one when you’re overwhelmed by circumstances, but even just the act of trying to think of some good things is helpful for your mental health.

No New Year’s resolutions? That’s okay. But maybe one might be to trust God with the unknown and the hurting places of your heart this year. Remember to keep Him in the center of it all, no matter how difficult the circumstance. Don’t give up on Your God – He will not give up on you. May God lift any burdens on your heart and give you eyes to see from His perspective.

Copyright 2019 Marie Lorah

How To Grow and Heal From Sufferring

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When we have negative experiences, they are opportunities to grow and heal, if we will allow ourselves to step back and find new perspective. Personally, my mental illness and accompanying difficult experiences have really helped me grow – but it was choice. Was I going to accept where I’m at and learn from it? Or would I let myself get bitter and shut down? I had (and still do have) moments where I’m all in to grow from the pain of it all, and other days where I’d rather do nothing but hide and escape from my problems. I’ve learned to let myself have both days, while slowly moving toward growing and learning instead of avoiding and hiding.

Walking through my own mental illness has made me strong in the midst of chaotic and painful emotions. Also, my struggles have given me compassion for people who go through similar difficult things. I have learned the art of being aware of my emotions, paying attention to what they might be telling me, and responding appropriately. This awareness has allowed me to notice the individuals who hurt the most, sit with them in their pain, and encourage them that, they too, will grow from their pain. We can allow mental illness (or other struggles) to define us in a negative, victimizing way (like “I will always be this way” or “nothing will ever change”), or we can allow it to grow us and change us to become stronger, more compassionate people.

I also have found my faith in Jesus through my battle with mental illness. So, in reality, mental illness is a gift that has kept giving – giving me opportunities to wrestle with God and my beliefs, to find answers (or to accept I won’t have answers!), to feel deeply, and to accept myself more fully. I have discovered my gifts and who I am – my struggles do not define me as weak, but they have allowed me to find God and my purpose in the midst of it. I would not be the kind, caring, compassionate person I am without all that I have gone through.

I share these beautiful things, but they have come from the depths of my pain, anger, shame, disillusionment, severe instability, and fears. They have come from the breaking of me – of life falling to pieces and God and I somehow slowly putting those pieces back together. I have found meaning and purpose through my breakdowns, which has created a deep well of hope and wisdom that I pray shines to others.

Mental illness has been a shaping factor in my life that has brought chaos, disaster, and healing. This cycle of pain and healing will, in some ways, always continue on this side of heaven. Jesus promises us both hope and pain on Earth. We must carry our crosses, learning to fellowship with Him in the power of His resurrection AND in His suffering (Philippians 3:10).

He cares. He understands. He’s been there. Let your pain move in you in a way that heals you instead of holds you back. Take courage that this struggle you are going through is not wasted.

Bring Your Pain Into His Presence

Pain sometimes feels like a scary monster waiting to devour me. I often run from my pain, when in actuality, if I just started to tell God about my pain, relief would come.

Pain doesn’t have to be as scary as we make it out to be. I’m in no way discounting the deep pain we go through. I certainly know through experiencing times of deep depression and despair myself. If you are in that place today, I pray God breathes new hope, life, and comfort over you.

Today, I want to bring a fresh perspective to dealing with our pain and the purpose of our pain.

In Laura Story’s book, “When God Doesn’t Fix it” she shares how pain and trials are actually an opportunity – and not a curse. Trials are opportunities for us to turn to God and find God in the midst of it.

I know when I face trials, I have a tendency to shut down, numb out, and distract myself with Facebook, Netflix, or even cleaning my apartment. It feels as if the trial is greater than God. It feels like nothing will change. It feels like God may have left me alone. Thus, it feels safer to run to these other things. And while these things may bring temporarily relief, we know the Lord is our ultimate source of comfort and strength (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

We must remember our feelings are not facts, but that God’s truth is real. So ask Him to come into your pain. Bring your pain into His presence. Something that helps me is to turn on gentle worship music. I breathe in His love, and I exhale fear. I receive His love in that moment and surrender my pain to Him. It doesn’t mean I still won’t feel pain, but God wants to take off that heavy weight over us. I also write in my journal or go over comforting scriptures. In addition, I must remember to reach out for support and encouragement to others, who can bring God’s comfort and truth into my situation.

I invite you to bring your pain into God’s presence today and find practical ways to surrender it to Him. Trust me, it will bring a load off. And if you feel stuck, reach out to a friend to help recenter you back into Truth. May God bless you today to bring your hurt into His presence that you may find comfort, hope, and peace.

Copyright 2018 Marie Lorah

 

Copyright 2018 Marie Lorah

There is Hope Even if You Feel Hopeless

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I have the above saying on an index card on my bathroom mirror. When I get thrown some negative experience or I am struggling with depression, I sometimes feel hopelessness creep in. When I start to feel hopeless, I start to believe that my situation is, in fact, hopeless. We must remember in our life and recovery that feelings are not facts.

All individuals, whether or not they have a mental health diagnosis, will struggle with cognitive distortions at some point. Cognitive distortions are negative, distorted ways we tend to think about the world and what is going on in our life. Our thoughts are not in line with the reality about what is going on (or what God says about us, in fact). Those suffering from mental illnesses tend face cognitive distortions more often. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help aid in re-framing these negative ways of thinking. Here is an example of re-framing a cognitive distortion.

Emotional reasoning is a common cognitive distortion that says “if it feels true, then it must be true.” So, “if I feel hopeless, then my situation must feel hopeless.” For me, hopelessness is a place that I can still sometimes default to after a negative experience or during a depressive episode. Simply having the statement on my bathroom mirror that there IS hope even if I feel hopeless reminds me in those difficult moments that there is, and always will be, hope. That hope is anchored deeply and securely in Jesus Christ. Nothing is too difficult to handle. Nothing that has happened to us cannot be redeemed and used for God’s good.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

May you experience God’s hope today no matter what you are facing.