Morning Glories

My daughter wrote a story about someone who sinks into deep depression and then slowly, slowly, pulls out of it. And the story uses the Morning Glory flower as a symbol of hope. When I read the story I found myself sobbing, recognizing myself in the main character. Finally acknowledging the numbness that had taken over my life, which I had grimly tried to ignore as I pushed through each day, determined to not let my family down. And I was filled with a tiny spark of hope. Yes, you can pull yourself through. Depression does go away. Life returns. 

Since I’ve read that story I have been seeing Morning Glories everywhere. As I was driving down the road to take my kids to school, there, look, Morning Glories covering a fence. Hope. As I took a walk, there, look, Morning Glories in the neighbor’s yard. Hope. And yesterday when I found myself actually having the motivation to get out into my yard with my kids, play with them, plant some things, I found Morning Glories in the very back corner of the yard, a place I usually don’t go. And I laughed and took a picture and I knew that it was no longer a spark, but a full blown flame. Hope. 

I went on a retreat several weeks ago. During the retreat I dealt with some old wounds. Or at least, started dealing. And I found myself feeling emotions again. Sure, it was anger and pain, but I was feeling again. I read somewhere that in order to feel joy and happiness we have to allow ourselves to feel anger and pain. When we stuff the bad emotions we end up in a place where all our emotions are flat. We can’t have the good without letting ourselves feel the bad too. As I have allowed myself to process the hard emotions, I have found the lighter ones returning. 

After the retreat I felt myself going silent. I needed a break from words, from thoughts, from interacting with people. I needed to just sit and feel and mourn and heal. And that’s why there haven’t been any new blogs in a while. I didn’t let it bother me. I knew the words would come back when I was ready. And this morning I felt the familiar itch to put my thoughts down where I could see them. And it’s good to be writing again. 

We’ve had a lot going on in the family the last couple months. Made some big decisions about our kids’ schooling. My third child graduated high school. We got to have a mini family reunion as I had all my kids in one place for the graduation. And now summer is going full force as I try to keep track of everyone’s summer plans with kids going in all directions. I am living one day at a time. Welcoming joy back into my life. Keeping an eye out for Morning Glories. And, as always, resting in the fact that God is good. 

Fat Fridays: NonDepressed Me Doesn’t Understand Depressed Me

Happy Fat Friday everyone. I’ve been gone a bit. Almost didn’t write today, but it’s stll Friday, I’ve still got a chance at this! 

This past month my exercise has diminished down to a brisk walk when it’s not too cold outside. I finally canceled my membership with the KICKOFF app that monitors your diet, gives you daily workouts and checks in with you every day. I canceled because I was no longer using the services and it’s too much money to just let it keep going when I’m not using it. I actually felt better when I canceled though. I know what I want to focus on with exercise and I feel like I can do it just using free resources. I also know that I need a different eating plan than what I was doing, so I’m still trying to figure out that one. 

What I wanted to write about today was the fact that Non-depressed Me has no understanding of Depressed Me. This past year as I was exercising and eating healthy, and the weight was coming off, and I was feeling great, I had these niggling memories. Memories of times in the past when I would lose weight, do well, and then somehow, it all came creeping back on. And I was always a little disappointed with that Old Esther who failed her diet and exercise plans so often. What was wrong with me? Why would I exchange this wonderful feeling of health and accomplishment for one of gluttany and sloth? I really had no idea why I had failed so often in the past. But I knew that, THIS TIME, I would accomplish my goals and stay on the path. 

And then Depressed Me showed up. And it was like someone took a big plank of wood and smacked me upside the head. And when I came to, Non-Depressed Me was gone, Depressed Me had taken up residence and I had the “AH HA!” moment when I remembered, very clearly, why I had failed so many times in the past. Depression. 

It sucks the life out of you. My emotions feel flat. My ambition is gone. Nothing is enjoyable. 

I am a bookworm, I have probably read close to a book a day since I was eight years old. This past month I have read one book. And it was one I’d read a million times before and I picked it because it had a happy ending with low-levels of crisis. I find myself zoning out with solitaire and flipping through Facebook and wishing I could find a book I actually wanted to read. I am still taking walks, but only when the weather gets at least into the 40s (F). We are having a cold winter (for us) and it’s no fun. 

These past couple days I have felt marginally better. I started writing my blog again. I’ve been sitting down at the piano, playing Bach. Angry Bach. Agitated Bach. But at least it’s been a good outlet for whatever is going on inside me. I’ve still managed to stay focused on getting the family to eat healthier. I have been baking our bread, about every two or three days, and that has been satisfying. Every week this month I have sat down and found new recipes for the week, made a menu, made a grocery list and tried to stick to it. It’s been cost effective and I’ve been making the kids eat new things which has made meal times more interesting for me, perhaps a little more stressful for them, but they’ve been doing pretty good with it. 

I also gave up paper plates. I’ve been using paper plates for my kids for several years. It meant that I only had to wash dishes once a day. Now I have to wash dishes two or three times a day, so I don’t know if I am actually saving anything, but it has been nice to have everyone eating off of pretty plates and my home has felt more homey. So, it’s not all negative. And I’m starting to try to have patience and compassion for Depressed-Me. Get to know this person again. See what diet and weight loss are going to look like while this alterego is hanging around. I’ll let you know how this goes.