The Zombie in My House

There is a zombie in my house. It is creeping along in a fog mumbling incoherent thoughts and bumping into things. Sometimes it lashes out for no apparent reason or lies in bed for hours and hours and hours. It is a lazy lump, quite useless and taking up valuable real estate and resources. It really deserves to be put out of its misery.

Yeah, yeah, the ‘zombie’ on our house is none other than good ole’ me – stuck in one of the most stubborn pits of depression I have ever been in.

dark zombie like figures on a dark background
Zombie Apocalypse

Billy has been obsessed with zombies for a couple of years now. He has zombie apocalypse kits stashed around the house in various places. When he hears sirens they aren’t warnings of natural disaster, they are warnings of impending brain eating zombies heading our way. He is certain he knows how to protect me – and the rest of us – should foamy mouthed crazy people start banging on our doors, and he will show almost anyone his ninja style moves to prove it.

How do I explain to him that the zombie is already in his house?

This depression low is different in so many ways. I have been through enough ‘ups and downs’ that I could feel the ‘down’ coming. I knew that I needed to talk to my doctor. I knew I needed to watch what I was eating and consider supplements as well as try my new hand at my newest weapon – my Young Living Essential Oils. I did all my research.

It started with the sleep as it always does. I could not get enough of it. No amount of going to bed early, not amount of sleeping in, no piles of cat naps could ever be enough. You see, when you sleep, it all goes away. Usually. No fear. No anxiety. No sadness. No hurt. So when someone is sleeping all of the time, you can be certain something is wrong.

My doctor gently suggested that a mix of medication and counseling was most effective, especially since we are running out of medication options, now that the latest increase has put me at the max dosage. Of course I thought, “What is wrong with me that even medication can’t fix?” But I said, “I have been seeing counselors almost the whole time I have been taking medication.” She simply nodded empathetically and said “Oh, good.”

With an increase in dosage I could feel the ‘fog’ in my head become thicker. It’s almost like I am surrounded by a clear plastic box filled with thick fog or cloudy water. Everything is dull and a bit more slow and less vibrant.

I decided to try to increase my energy with supplements, so I added a bunch of D and B vitamins, Omega 3s and a strong multivitamin to my daily routine as well as increasing my protein and water intake by a lot and decreasing my caffeine and sugar. This did help a little for a short time but after a few short weeks it seemed as if my body became used to the new routine and any energy I had gained seemed to disappear. I am still using the routine but I am not certain if it is still helping and it never helped with the foggy feeling.

I love my Young Living Essential Oils. Nightly I use Cedarwood on my feet to help me fall asleep, Lavender on my wrists and temples to help calm me down and push away anxiety. I also diffuse Lavender at night to help me sleep more soundly. At work I diffuse Peace & Calming to keep my anxiety down. However, my beloved oils, though soothing, are not as effective right now.

It’s the zombie in me. I don’t feel like myself at all.

There’s very little joy. And I have so much to be joyful for.

I’m so mean to those I love. And they are so kind to me. I don’t feel deserving.

I am missing out on so much. I want happy back.

I need the zombie out of my house.

Billy, mom needs your zombie apocalypse kit!

What You Can’t See. The Second Part of My Depression Story.

Divorce is tragic – no exaggeration. If you have been there you know what I mean. It is a pain of incredible loss. But the person that is lost isn’t truly gone. They are walking around and, in my case, happy to be free.

I spent at least two weeks in a blackout. I remember nothing of that time. I had a two-year old son at the time. I don’t know how he survived.

I get flashbacks of acting crazy. I chased my ex around in my minivan like we were on a movie set except we were in public and my son was strapped into the backseat. I traced the veins in my wrist with a broken razor, never brave enough to press harder. And those are the things I remember.

I was broken.

Colored broken glass bottles against a blue and cloudy sky
Broken Glass

By grace, I survived. And by grace I was pulled from that darkness.

One night I lay awake in my bed not daring to look at the empty pillow on the other side of the bed. I just knew I could not take another night like this one again. I just knew I had to do something different.

So I went back to the basics. I prayed.

I didn’t have the frame of mind to form an eloquent prayer. I only had raw, deep despair so I cried. Literally sobbed. I pleaded with God:

“Dear Lord, please help me. I am broken. I am alone. I am afraid. I cannot go on. I am at my lowest and I need you. Please God, I must know you are here with me tonight. I am going to put my hand on this pillow and close my eyes. Would you hold my hand and stay with me until I fall asleep? Please Lord, please, please, please. Amen.”

I turned my face on my tear-soaked pillow to watch as I lay my hand on the pillow next to mine. Taking one last glance I closed my eyes. And held my breath.

Jesus took my hand. My sweet Jesus was there with me. And he knew I needed to know he was there. So he touched me. He placed His precious scarred hand in my own to give me comfort. My body filled with warmth and a lightness flooded all through me.

I wept with every emotion I had in me…but mostly I wept for joy. By His gentle touch I knew I was going to be ok. He spoke to me through holding my hand. He said, “My precious child I have greater things in store for you. Move forward. You will always have me. Sleep, now, and know that I will never leave you.”

And I did sleep. I fell asleep holding Jesus’ hand. And I had never slept better.

Sunrise over a farm
Sunrise over a farm

I woke to the sun shining. There was hope dancing in the sparkling dust motes that morning. The transformation was astounding.

I found a little bit of peace for a short time and I was able to move forward.

But the depression demons would not stay away.

The truth is you can have a transformative experience like mine and still fall into despair. Depression is a life-long struggle. There are ups and downs. These are not what most people consider normal ups and downs. These are the lowest-trenches-of-the-ocean anguish to the highest mountain top joys and they happen with dizzying change.

There are very rarely “even” times, at least for me there are not. I am either up or down or on the verge of one of the other. It is a constant battle. It is a disease. It is not in my mind. I fight it every day. Medication, counseling, self-help books, aromatherapy, but most of all, God.

Maybe my struggle is God’s big lesson in my life. It has taught me empathy, patience, and compassion without compare. This battle will never go away but I will never fight it on my own. My Jesus is with me every single day. He strengthens me, carries my load, enlightens me, teaches me…and holds my hand the whole time.

Lavendaaaaahhhhhh! Or, Why I Love Lavender

Lavendaaaaahhhhhh! Or, Why I Love Lavender

 Lavender

Just hearing the word evokes the sense of smell. Herbaceous and crisp, yet fresh and floral. At least that’s how it’s supposed to be

For many years companies have been using the lavender “smell” in products from soaps and shampoos to cleaning products and candles. I think we have become accustomed to an overly flowery, sweet smell that isn’t anything like true lavender. Yes, it smells good but the real stuff smells even better.

There is much more to lavender than smell, however. It has been used for thousands of years for things such as aches, insomnia, disinfecting, embalming, washing and cosmetics in areas such as Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Arabia. It gained popularity in the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Victorian eras and was commonly found in herb gardens and used as a  medicinal in addition to it’s beauty usages. It really was, and still is, an all purpose herb and oil.

Maybe you are wondering what exactly an essential oil is? An essential oil is extracted usually by steam distillation or cold pressing. It is the pure essence of the plant that contains health-promoting benefits that can be diffused, inhaled, applied topically, used in massage, or, in some cases,  taken internally.

My first experience with lavender essential oil was when my son was an infant. He was by no means a difficult baby but he never wanted to go to bed at night. I started using a popular lavender bath wash and lotion because it smelled so nice. After a few days it occurred to me that he was less fussy and calmer after his bath and lotion. The gears began to turn in my mind. I researched about lavender and learned about it’s benefits.

At that time it was not easy to find pure essential oils or products that were natural “enough” to contain them. I was able to find a local seller at a craft fair and began to use purer lavender on my son. The results were astounding. He looked forward to his bath and lotion (with lavender oil) massage. He slept better and longer with less waking during the night.

And the best part? So did I. I have been hooked on lavender ever since. My son’s baths lasted several years. Then he as he got older we started using it neat (or, directly from the bottle, undiluted) on his wrists and feet in times of anxiety of restlessness. Many nights we would end the day with a book, prayers, and a dab of lavender on our wrists. Even now he will come to me at times – and he’s a big boy now, at 11! – to ask for some lavender to calm down in times of stress or to help him sleep. Great memories for me 🙂

In the years since, I have increased my knowledge of lavender and the importance of a good quality essential oil. There are a lot of trade words that can be confusing so it is important to do your research on each brand before using. I had been looking for about 3 years to find a company that I could use exclusively. The one that kept popping up for me as reliable and trustworthy was Young Living. I had a couple of Facebook friends who had become distributors and I enjoyed reading their testimonials and seeing the info graphics they posted. When I had a chance to go to an introductory class on essential oils, more specifically, Young Living Essential Oils, I was excited to go and learn more.

I found out there is a whole big world of essential oils other than lavender! I will share them with you in the future but for now I want to focus on my beloved lavender.

 

photo of lavender field with list of benefits and uses of lavender listed
Lavender Benefits & Uses

 

Lavender is great for relaxation. You can inhale it. You can put it on your wrists and temples. You can add a few drops to your bath water. You can add a few drops to your favorite lotion. Place a drop on your pillow – I never sleep without a drop on my pillowcase. It smells great and just catching the scent of it is calming to me.

This summer has been lovely…for the bugs. Gnats that get in your eyes and mouth, those tiny little ants that you can’t ever figure out where they are coming from, daddy long legs everywhere, mosquitoes that suck the life from you, and, shudder,  spiders. I had a major run in with chiggers. Disgusting little critters. I came home from camping trip with over 120 bites from those little buggers! Lavender saved the summer. I keep it in a glass bottle with a roller tip in my purse. When we are outdoors and someone gets an itchy bite I roll it on and it provides instant relief. To top it off, lavender is antibacterial which can help with healing and protect against scarring.  I have made believers out of my son, fiancé, his kids, and many others. They all rolled their eyes at me until one bad night when they were bitten up after chatting with neighbors outside. I rolled lavender on their bites and the itch never came back. They now ask for the lavender for most itchy bites. No more eye rolling.

Red hair is great. Except for in the summer. Redheads have notoriously sensitive skin and mine is no different. I am light haired, light eyed, and light skinned with freckles. I burn. A LOT. And easily. I have tried so many remedies over the years to ease the sting of a sun burn but nothing has worked as thoroughly or consistently as lavender. It helps take away the sting and keep it away. It works wonderfully for any burn. I burned my hand on a pan. Normally it would burn for several hours. Not so with lavender. It takes the heat out and the sting away nearly instantly (for me).

You may have heard of a condition called Restless Leg Syndrome. It causes your legs to have a tingly, creepy-crawly feeling that forces you to constantly move your legs, typically while in bed at night. It’s nearly impossible to sleep when you notice the twitchiness. Sometimes you twitch your legs at night and it interferes with your sleep. If you are waking up tired or your bed partner mentions that you kick  a lot, it may be worth talking to your doctor about. I began using lavender and Peace & Calming in combination on my calves at night and instantly slept better. When I ran out of Peace & Calming I continued to use the lavender and still had great results.

My 11 year old son has moderate to severe seasonal allergies. Some seasons are worse than others and this one had been difficult. He has taken prescription eye drops and nose sprays along with countless other over the counter meds. It worries me to put so  many medicines into his still growing body. After a particularly tough day when even the Claritin didn’t work, we tried a mix of lavender, lemon, and peppermint oils in a bit of coconut oil on the back of his neck, his back and feet. From experience we need to keep it on his back and feet because the fumes make his eyes water. They don’t bother everyone but it can happen so be prepared to try different locations for application. Within ten minutes he was feeling much better. He often comes to me to ask for mixture when he is having a bad allergy day.

These are my personal experiences with lavender but it is by no means a complete list of the many, many uses of it. Lavender is also great for:

  • acne
  • cold sores
  • eczema
  • moisturization
  • bruises
  • ear infections
  • pink eye
  • and many, many more
single lavender bloom against an out of focus floral background
Lavender Bloom

Whew! That was a lot to say! But now you can see why lavender is my favorite oil. I love the Young Living brand because I feel like I can trust the company to give me the highest quality, purest oils that are safe for whatever method I choose to use it.

If you want to learn more about essential oils or Young Living Contact Me!

Praising You!

woman with upraised arms in a sunset
Praise Be to God

 

“Heavenly Father, I come to You today and humbly ask Your forgiveness for all of the times that I’ve taken my burdens to others instead of bringing them to You. Help me to turn to You first when problems come my way. Please blanket my heart with your peace and give me strength for today.”                    ~Girlfriends in God

 

Oh, how I have been there! The deep, dark despair when you can barely lift your head from your pillow. I have cried out to God. My heart ached with remembered pain as I read this devotion and prayer today.

But, praise God, there is no despair today. This prayer reminded me that I not only need to pray to God during times of fear and anxiety but also during times of praise!

I have a new job!
Thank you Jesus!

I have been searching for months. It has been heart breaking to apply, interview, hope, hope, hope, and be told no. I knew there was a door waiting somewhere. I have been praying. Friends and family have been praying.

And the door opened. Just like I knew it would. Just like I prayed for it to.

All the praise to my Jesus. I don’t ever want to forget who has been with me every step of the way and who was quietly whispering, “Be patient my sweet girl. I have something in store for you.”

After reading about struggles this morning, I also realized I had so much to be thankful for. I raised my hands and repeated over and over “Thank you, thank you, thank you” until tears were streaming down my cheeks and I felt my Savior speak to my heart again, “See my child? You are so very loved. I had this planned for you all along.”

For the Love of Quotes: A Day in the Life Project

We were given a task to create a project inspired by something we did every day. The project was titled “A Day in the Life”

I struggled for a long while because I didn’t want to create the same ole’, same ole’ thing and I wanted it to reflect who I was. I thought long and hard about something I did every single day. As I was thinking I was browsing Pinterest for inspiration when it hit me: quotes. I love quotes. I really love quotes. Especially those beautiful quote pictures. They lift me up when I am feeling down, they make me tear up when someone else “gets it”, they make me laugh, make me think, they introduce me to new thoughts and ideas.

There it was. My project would be to take those quotes that lifted me up and turn them into my own quote pictures and make a big collage with them.

I was determined to use only photos I had taken and that is what I did. Every photo was lovingly retouched and I thought carefully about what the image was saying to me before I decided on one of my favorite quotes or phrases. I didn’t have a photo for every quote I wanted to use so I went about setting up several of them. It was a joy to use old keys and glitter and rhinestones!

[foogallery id=”161″]

 

Once I had all my quote pictures finished I painstakingly began to arrange them into a collage. It took quite some time to place them just right: to get them to flow together from color to subject to the “feel” of the image.

To finish the project off I wanted to make a bold statement. I found a gorgeous, bold frame with an antique finish to display it in.

I was quite happy with the result and have had, and still have, may compliments on it. It is displayed in my house today and I often pause to be inspired my favorite quotes and places.

a collage of pictures with quotes on them in an antique style frame
A Day in the Life Project

 

If you want me to create something like this for you Contact Me!

What You Don’t Know. The Beginning of My Depression Story.

I was diagnosed with depression nearly 12 years ago. That’s how long I tell people I have dealt with depression.

Realistically, however, it has been much, much longer. I suspect I have suffered with some form of anxiety or depression since I was 12, maybe even as young as 10. In fifth grade I remember the crushing feeling as the older girls bounced basketballs off of my head during basketball camp. They thought it was hilarious. My heart still hurts and pounds when I think of it.

It wasn’t the embarrassment that was so paralyzing. It was the thoughts. “What is wrong with me that they think it’s so funny to bounce balls off of my head?”

What is wrong with me? There was something wrong, but it wasn’t with me.

Certainly those girls have long forgotten what they did to that funny, looking (wrong with me again??) red-headed girl. But for me, those thoughts of worthlessness, of hopelessness, of deep despair grew and persisted.

I could list countless times as a tween or teen that added to my “low self-esteem.” That’s what it was called then. Even I could diagnose myself with that. Somehow I always thought I would grow out of it. Then, I decided it was just because I was “shy.” So, I did everything I could to fit in. A long list of horrible life choices followed.

I felt so alone.

Lone yellow leaf on bare branch
Lonely Leaf

 

I decided to get help just before I got married in 2002. I had no idea at the time I was pregnant. The doctor and I chalked it up to wedding planning jitters and he sent me on my way with my first prescription. By the time the medication had a chance to get to work in my system, I found out I was pregnant and knew I needed to stop taking the medicine. Along came the wedding and I then I immediately went right into the crazy hormones of pregnancy.

My pregnancy was a breeze. I was never sick. I barely gained any weight. My belly stayed relatively tiny. I felt beautiful, perhaps more beautiful than I ever had in my entire life. Labor began right on cue – I labored mostly at home. We went to the hospital and my beautiful son was born at 11:15 pm on August 7, 2003 in a huge whirlpool birthing tub. I had given birth naturally. I was proud and I felt strong.

Then we went home. I remember thinking, “Seriously?! These people are going to let me take this tiny baby home? How do I keep it alive??”

We lived on a small acreage at the end of a long gravel road. Never one to like lots of people around, I was looking forward to having lots of uninterrupted time with my new son. My husband at the time had taken a few days off of work to help us settle in. The first couple of days I was sore and recovering from a minor infection so I didn’t feel well. But in the back of my mind I felt fear. A fear like I had never known before. It made no sense. Everything was perfect. Wasn’t it?

When my husband went back to work I noticed the panic attacks for the first time. I was gripped by terror. Of what, I didn’t know. I just knew my heart pounded and I couldn’t breathe. And the worst time was always sun down. That 5 – 7 pm time was horrendous. I needed to get supper ready. I needed to get the baby a quick meal. I needed to prepare for the next day.

But I couldn’t stop crying. And I couldn’t stop shaking. I thought my heart was going to give out. My husband never understood it.

Now I know that I had Post-Partum depression. It is different for all women. For me it was a very fearful time, full of dark thoughts and intense panic.

As my hormones settled I realized that that “sundown” time never did get better – even now, I still hate this time of day. I began to think about and research depression. It was not unheard of in my family. But it was…not talked about either. I was always the dramatic one, the sensitive one. I didn’t want to cause trouble so I learned and stayed quiet.

Then, divorce. It was tragic. It shoved me down a hole so deep I was sure I was never going to climb out. I wanted to die. I thought about how I might be able to die. I quite literally have blocked out weeks of time around that part of my life. I am not sure how I took care of my son. I’m not even sure how I survived the shredding pain in my heart and head and body.

That is when the depression became very real.

Please watch for the second part of my depression story, coming soon.