I have been coaching and counseling for the past ten years, so recognizing the symptom of depression in others has become second nature. Why it took so long to recognize them in my own life is beyond me. Writing about it in my blog Fifty became the basis for this series of blogs entitled Turning the Corner. Call it mid-life crisis, melancholy, under the weather, or whatever you want to mask the fact you are depressed, basically I was lying to myself. I realized that God was moving me into something else, asking me to give up Eyes of the Heart Ministries, but I wasn’t sure what the next step was for me. He really wasn’t giving me a lot of answers either. I became isolated, without community for the first time in 15 years, and allowing old addictions to creep back into my life. I was never suicidal, more just existing, and living flat-lined. I had allowed myself to slip into depression. Not a comfortable spot to realize you are in, especially for a trained counselor.
It was time for me to establish baseline.
I finally recognized that I had not grieved the loss of friends and support through the closing of Eyes of the Heart. Many times God will not allow you to move on until your grieve the loss and get to a place of letting go. I decided I needed to establish a baseline, a snapshot of where I was in all aspects of my life. If you have unsettled grief (unfinished business) you need to talk it through with someone. You need to recognize the loss, allow your soul to connect with your body and mind. Your soul usually has been grieving without you. This disconnect leads you down the path of depression.
One of the best ways to express grief is writing. Journaling through this grief has been an amazing process, and I highly recommend you take the time to write about your emotions. It helps you connect your thoughts with your feelings. That’s why I write this blog. I know you thought it was for everyone else, but nothing could be further from the truth. Loving yourself well shines light for others. That is why I write.
Physically (Body and Mind)
So many people think that depression is just a mental problem. It is not. I decided it was time for a thorough physical (including prostate exam), scheduling a colonoscopy and having a battery of blood tests run. I am now recommending that everyone that I meet with who claims to be depressed to have their cholesterol tested, estrogen/testosterone levels tested and their thyroid tested. My doctor put me on Niacin for my cholesterol and a fish oil supplement. My testosterone levels were a little low and we have worked out a plan to elevate my numbers naturally through diet.This sounds like a lot of work, and a lot more money, but the benefits I have seen since my birthday have been amazing. I have much more energy, and have started working out three times of week just to burn off the extra energy I have.
Another thing that needed to change after my doctor’s appointment was my diet. I have been working with a wonderful young man named Sean who is a cross-fit expert. The diet I am using with great results is the Paleo Diet. Just dropping 15 lbs in the last month I can tell I am feeling better about myself.
One of the hardest things to admit to myself was that my oldest son may be struggling with ADHD. When something is wrong with one of your children you somehow feel responsible, so I decided to find some online tests to see if they could be helpful. I decided to take the test myself. When I came back with a score of 13 out of seventeen I realized I might have a problem as well. I have scheduled a session with a therapist who is going to test me for Adult ADHD. I will let everyone know the results, but there is no shame in admitting that you may have a problem. All of us become chemically unbalanced at times mentally. If you are facing depression, anxiety or some other disorder the most important thing to do is seek real help.
I was pissed off at God, plain and simple. I blamed him for Eyes of the Heart. I blamed him for me moving to Colorado and leaving everyone that I loved so dearly. I despised the church (institution, not the people). So I quit talking to him, I quit reading his word, and I got pissed at anybody that asked me anything spiritually. I was tired of reading Christian books and listening to Christian music. If you think this sounds like a three-year old then you would be correct. I realized that I was acting like a child spiritually.
Some people might not be able to relate to the paragraph above, but that is where I was over the past year, and you have probably never worked in the ministry world. You may just be going through the paces: Sunday school, church service or small group time, but have no relationship with the Father at all. The point is to admit where you are; be honest with yourself. You can’t improve if you are not honest with yourself. Improving your spiritual life can relieve many of the stresses of the hustle and bustle of daily living. I will talk more about this in a blog in this series.
Nothing can increase anxiety more than living in a bad financial situation. I have been a huge Dave Ramsey fan over the years, and have been debt free once in my life, but I find myself with too much debt again and living above my means. I own two house, four cars and the debt from those items has piled up.
One of the things I have already done is to sell one of my cars and drop the insurance. I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s book Total Money Makeover. The debt snowball method has a proven track record, and I personally have used it before and we are using it now to get out of debt.
The most important part of establishing baseline relationally is to decide what relationships are the most important to you. I started this process about nine months ago. You can’t be everything for everyone. I was allowing people who have no real place in my life to affect me personally. My list will sound cliché, but it was important to establish.
Relationally Important List
- Inner Circle (You know who you are)
- People with positive mental attitudes
- People who can help me grow
- People with Vision.
If Facebook is where you have your deepest relationships you are probably in trouble.
SO take the time this week to write down these four words (aspects of life) on a piece of paper: Emotionally, Physically (Mind and Body), Spiritually ad Relationally. Now answer the following questions for each aspect of your life.
- Where am I now in my life _____________? (Emotionally, Spiritually, Relationally etc…)
- Am I where I want to be?
- What do I need to change personally to get there?
- What is my plan to get started?
- When will I get started?
- Who will I get to help me with my plan?
Over the next eight weeks on Thursday there will be a new blog in this series helping people to turn the corner. The second half of our lives can be more rewarding than the first half if we learn to focus on what’s important. If you find yourself where I found myself on my birthday I hope you will follow this series of blogs and take the steps toward living a better life.