(If you missed Part 1 of this series, click here to catch up and join me back here to continue reading.)
My mom was the queen of a cheerful attitude. From earliest memories my siblings and I were expected to choose a good attitude regardless of our circumstances or feelings. As I grew into adulthood, this discipline of choosing one’s attitude wove itself indelibly into my value system as well. In fact, a few years ago I transferred one of my favorite quotes onto an index card to keep near my Bible study chair as a reminder:
Mood cannot be prayed away. It must be battled head on.
From the moment you rise in the morning your brain will talk to you.
Don’t let it! You determine what you will think, and then let your feelings follow that decision.
~ Ravi Zacharias
So given this upbringing and personal conviction about attitude, how had I reached this dark place of negativity regarding my circumstances, my parenting, my faith, my creativity, my role as a wife, and my abilities? Believe me, this question plagued me more than any other on those long drives to and from work last fall. In spite of my strong value system, in spite of my foundational belief that nothing happens in my life that God does not allow or ordain for my ultimate good, in spite of my prayers for mental relief, in spite of my daily devotions and inspirational podcasts, I simply could NOT shake the heaviness. I contemplated and explored hormonal imbalance, eating habits, depression symptoms, spiritual attacks, and what theologians call the “dark places of the soul” futilely searching for answers and relief. In spite of days and weeks of attempting to eradicate myself from what I can only describe as my poisonous mental state, most mornings I awakened with dread in my heart and a lack of inspiration for the day. I would force myself to go through the motions and daily routines because, really, what other choice is there?, all the while suppressing frustration (anger?) at myself, my husband, my circumstances, and ~ deep, deep down ~ maybe even at God for this dark place in which I found myself.
But this attitude series is not about remaining in that dark place. Oh, I could waste several hundred more words describing the depressive condition and poisonous mindset in which I found myself simply because it was such a foreign, unexpected and significant place for me. I guess there are many of you who can wholeheartedly relate. However, my intent for these posts are about Hope and Decision, about the actual steps I took to heal my heart and mind.
So what changed?
As I mentioned in my last post, our family cruise turned out to be a significant turning point for me. The forced slowing of schedule and routine created needed space for uninterrupted conversation, deep guttural authenticity checks, and a re-evaluation of priorities. Fireman and I spent many hours on the ship’s deck in adirondack chairs while I talked on and on and on. Although he had recognized the unhealthy place we were in, I don’t think he fully appreciated the depth of my darkness until that trip. Given my normally upbeat personality, positive values, and solid faith, it proved to be extremely difficult to be completely honest with him about where I really was in life. I felt like a child throwing a tantrum, tremendously peeved that my life wasn’t turning out the way I expected. Even as the words flowed, there were times I wished I could immediately retrieve them because they sounded immature and unreasonable even to me. But I kept talking. And he kept listening. And eventually there were simply no more words.
It wasn’t until Christmas break, however, that I set my plan into action. It would take a few more weeks to work through the reality of my condition, re-evaluate what I was truly after, and ultimately create a battle plan to win back my mind.
In this process I discovered two specific resources (among many others) that became paramount in helping me re-program my mind and establish a plan for climbing out of my depressive pit. The first is the book High Performance Habits by motivational speaker and life coach Brendon Burchard.The second is a series of goal-setting videos by blogger, author and life mentor Edie Wadsworth. I have read Edie’s blog for years but had not followed up with her for quite some time. Re-discovering her precious ministry to women, and specifically stumbling across her live video series on goal-setting and lifestyle choices was one of those serendipitous circumstances I can only credit to a loving God who knew precisely what I needed.
Thank you so much for following along on this journey today! Next post I will share how I identified the weak spots in my life, ways I strategized to strengthen my purpose, intention, and energy, and the actions I took to implement those strategies into my life.
Don’t lose heart! My intent in these posts is not to tease the reader or drag out this process, but I felt it was important to accurately describe my starting point and mental condition first so I could effectively walk you through my journey toward health. To write all these steps in one post would have been too comprehensive. Next post I’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of my process and trust you will be inspired and encouraged at its simplicity in focus, if not implementation. Until then,