“You are smart…you are enough.”

I was recently presented with an opportunity to work alongside a cohort of professionals on one of my organization’s internal projects. We’re in the very early stages of this project, where the foundation is being laid. Key questions are being asked and the work that is fundamental to the identity of this project is being executed.

As with any project, the work is being divvied. My friend drew the lucky straw of drafting a few statements to represent the groups purpose.

After reading these statements, I was left a bit perplexed. Thesaurus-laden buzzwords and corporate jargon had drowned out the message. I asked my friend to rewrite the statements in plain English. Though she knew I had good intentions, she was offended.

I wanted her to see that her message, the one she believed in, the one without the colorful language was enough. Adding colorful language not only took away from the message, but it made the reader work harder. In fact, I had to read the statements more than once to deduce what was being said. And in the end I was still confused and frankly, frustrated.

But this also created a great opportunity for feedback. While, my colleague wasn’t happy with my feedback, I had the opportunity to follow up with what was in my heart.

My feedback had less to do with the message and a million times more to do with what I believed, and what she needed to believe, about herself.

I had an opportunity to tell her that she was smart and that she didn’t need to rely on anyone else to tell her that. She didn’t need the “extras” to impress anyone. Simply being who she was was enough. And when she delivers her message from her heart, that would be enough.

I had an opportunity to tell her that she was, and is, enough.

 

 

Affirmation

Today, I repeat this message to you. You are enough. Give yourself the gift of relaxing the security of who you are. Stop trying to outfit yourself with the proverbial colorful layers — fancy clothes, an extensive vocabulary, multiple degrees, or the pursuit of the seemingly “perfect life” — to gain the approval of others or even yourself. Don’t water down the magnitude of who you are. Be you.

The Bible says that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. Who am I to disagree with God?

Take off those layers. Life is a lot lighter and much clearer without them.

Until next Wednesday,

RP

Tell someone they are enough.

Share this message and tag them in it. I can’t wait to hear how you’ve made a positive impact on their life. Be sure to add the hashtag #beaffirmed on IG, Twitter, and FB so I can see how you’re inspiring others.

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Wow! This is one of those topics many people talk about, but I’m not sure how many people really get it. And I’m okay not everyone gets it. Frankly, to get it, you kinda have to go through it or to even close to get it, you may have to be REALLY close to someone with clinical depression.

Before I go on, I’d like to say, I’m not a doctor or therapist and these and this post consists of only my opinions. If you have or think you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, you should see a doctor or therapist.

Many know my story; that I suffer from depression. So, I’m not going to go into many details about that. Instead, I’m going to go into details about my experience – my thoughts and feelings  that I don’t share with many – with the hope that this post helps you understand the complexity of the disorder and the goal of understand there’s a ton that someone who has this disorder (or any disorder to that fact) may not share.

  1. I feel broken…literally. I feel like there’s something about me that needs to be fixed. I’m not talking about a cure. I feel like someone needs to reach inside my body and take something out or put something in to fix me.
  2. I’m afraid of being well. I have been like this for so long, I’m kind of afraid of being “normal” again. Like…what would that look like? Who would I be? Would I really be happier? I have to believe the answer to the latter is yes.
  3. I have generalized anxiety disorder, which is why I get depressed more than “I just feel depressed.” Sometimes, I get so frustrated that it makes me sad. There are other times that the anxiety just overwhelms me to a point of depression.
  4. I have A TON of fears and am embarrassed by them. This causes me to do a ton of irrational things.  I’ve become a germaphobe primarily because I don’t want to get other people sick. Sometimes I pray over my food multiple times. I avoid cracks in the sidewalk. I count a lot of things because I’m afraid of things in threes, as well as the number 6 and 18. I’m also afraid of the letter “F’ because it’s the 6th letter in the alphabet. I am scared A LOT! And I am totally embarrassed about this.
  5. I don’t want to be judged. I don’t want to talk about it too often because I don’t want to be judged as being a person who’s looking for sympathy.
  6. However, I do appreciate and maybe even look for private sympathy at times because it’s hard as heck! I get it. We all have problems. But feeling like you’re walking around with a bricks on your shoulders, a tense neck, and a cloudy brain flat-out sucks. Just knowing someone cares means SO MUCH! I mean so much.
  7. Just because a person doesn’t look depressed doesn’t mean they’re not. My grandma has said, “you don’t look depressed” at least 2 times after I’ve said I’m depressed. The latest time, I literally cried in the parking lot of an ice cream shop the same day…not because of what she said, but because I was, in fact, depressed.
  8. Just because a person doesn’t seem anxious doesn’t mean they aren’t. I have literally had “silent” anxiety attacks right in front of people.
  9. Support systems are super valuable. My support system has been one of the most valuable things People helping me in the hard times, encouraging them, giving hugs, shoulders to cry on, simply passing a tissue, being a listening ear, and so on. This along with God may have been what has literally saved my life a many a times.
  10. I hate when people tell me to pray it away. This is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves…right after someone telling me that it’s imagined. Believe me, I KNOW God can heal. I also know how he’s given me peace in some of my hardest times. However, I have prayed, and I have believed. I’ve questioned Him. I’ve done it all. Guess what. This is something He has allowed me to go through and though I don’t like the disease, I’m okay with it. I am okay with the fact that He allows me to go through it. I don’t like it, but I’m not going to let it stop me from loving Him or ultimately giving Him the praise. It may get me down at times and even take me out of my element, but I know that I’m gonna be okay.
  11. Everyone who has suicidal thoughts isn’t going to commit suicide. BUT YOU SHOULD TAKE EVERY COMMENT ABOUT SUICIDE AND SUICIDAL THOUGHTS SERIOUSLY. This is the hardest thing for me to talk about, but several clinically depressed people have suicidal thoughts – including myself. However, I appreciate my life too much to let this horrid disease get the best of me. I consider myself an overcomer. This is where I totally see God’s power coming through. He’s like, “No Regina. You’re too good for this. You’re an awesome person and you ARE going to do great things. I put you on this earth for a reason and you WILL NOT depart from it until I call you home…until you’ve fulfilled your GOD-GIVEN PURPOSE.” Writing this makes me want to cry because it shows me just how much God really loves me and how everything else that’s going on is just deception; things that are trying to get me off my game…because if I’m off my game, I can’t fulfill what He has for me. This is where my strength comes from. That is the power. That is the cure. Knowing He has something totally awesome in store for me…that He really wants to use me. And the devil is just mad because I’m saying, “God, I’m ready. Use me, Lord.” [Yep…I just got in tune with the Spirit there.]

God is amazing, guys. This started off very dreary. And though I’ve been going through a lot, I can’t help but to give Him praise simply because of who He is. He is amazing, and I must just give him praise. How He holds me through tough times. How He protects me in the hard times. And how He even shelters me from the rain. [And there’s the testimony. smile]

This place. It’s familiar; maybe even popular. But more infamous than the acclaimed stage of desired fame. Well
known, but not always sought after. It’s called loneliness. It’s also called despair. I’m sure there are a few other words that can be used to describe this place, though, I’m not sure any would be positive.lonely

That’s where I found myself this weekend.

I found myself lonely and in a place of despair. I found myself desperately wanting to do something with someone. A friend. A man. Anyone in whom I enjoyed their presence…and I was at a loss.

Saturday, I had a grand old time with my bestie. We laughed in a desolate town that has to be a retiree’s gold mine. So barren that it reminded me of an old western film, and I was the one looking on, only waiting for a lone piece of tumbleweed to pass by.

And even that trip was a stretch after a fight with a headache and a fight to simply leave the house and then the city. I made it, though. So, that was a success of its own.

Sunday was not successful.

After making it to church, I realized I was in a funk. During prayer was when I really felt the tears ready to come on…though I’m not even sure if my eyes totally welled up, let alone produced an all out cry. As the say went on, I continued to feel blue. I was talking. I was spending time with family. I was even laughing.

Then, after some people left, I commented, “I’m pretty sure I’m depressed.” I followed the statement by noting though I may not look or sound depressed, I felt depressed.

I couldn’t put my finger on what it was at that moment. And, even worse, I couldn’t cry.

But once I made it to a quiet place on my own, it hit me. The tears fell, and soon thereafter, I identified the issue. I was lonely.

I realized how no one calls me very often to do things. And I realized how I hadn’t talked to a guy of my interest the entire weekend.

I felt rejected.

Now that I write, the feeling is clear. I’m feeling an overwhelming feeling of both loneliness and rejection. Whether perceived or real, I feel rejected.

I feel rejected by the guy who I’m interested in. Though I know he’s interested in me, I having issues adjusting to our relationship.

I feel rejected by my peers. No one hardly ever calls or even texts to say “how are you” or “do you want to go out” and even if they do, they have no clue how social anxieties makes it so hard to go out. It’s so much easier to stay home…yet, I crave interacting with my peers. It’s such a catch 22, and frankly, I’m tired of it.

I’m tired of this person I’ve become due to depression and anxiety.

I used to be the life of the party. Now I avoid many of them.

I used to talk to several men at one time. Now my biological clock that tells me I should be settled down has me all discombobulated.

Forget that. I want my life back.me

Depression is a sneaky little creature. It often creeps up out of no where and what you thought depression looked like is totally different than what you, a friend, or a loved one is experiencing. And that makes it even harder to determine.

Round 1: My aunt’s passing

My depression story started years ago. It was the summer between my 7th and 8th grade year, and I lost the first close person to me, my aunt. This was REALLY hard. Initially, I didn’t think I was affected at all. But then the symptoms began to arise. I began to cry all the time. I didn’t want to hang with my friends. And I was super afraid of dying. This had become my number one fear. I’m sure being the recipient of the call stating she died and suppressing my feelings didn’t help. Add to that hearing the details of her final moments at the age of 12 wasn’t easy either.

Her final moments passed through my head constantly, and at night I was sure I was having shortness of breath and about to see my last day. I often stood at the brink of my parents’ bedroom door telling my mom how scared I was and how I thought I was having shortness of breath. It was a very traumatizing experience.

I remember my dad coming to offer me comfort, but nothing really worked. He offered to take me to her grave site. I didn’t want to go. And yet, I just couldn’t snap out of it.

Then one day my mom suggested I go visit my best friend. She was my next door neighbor. She had no clue what was going on, but it was the best medicine ever. Simply being with someone – and in this case faking like there was nothing wrong was the beginning of a cure. In fact, it was almost an instant cure.

The pain and depression didn’t go away instantly. The beginning of my eight grade year still saw sorrow, but somehow, I snapped out of it. It was like the time heals all things thing. But did it?

Round 2: College days

My days at Michigan State were great. Fake the funk. Showtime at the Aud. Gospel choir. Great roommates and floormates. And yes, even the partied. And on top of this, I was at the top of the class. I pulled a 3.89 my first semester, and didn’t drop below a 3.5 GPA per semester. Well, that was until depression reared it’s ugly head again.

It all started with a thought that freaked me out. I mean seriously freaked me out.

It was during Winter break. I think I was in the shower when I had the thought. And even though I knew it wasn’t true, I couldn’t shake it.

That was the beginning of my anxiety. It scared me. I would be an outcast if anyone ever knew that I had this thought. I told one person – my mom, my one and only confidante to that degree. She was there for me. Patient with me. That was the moment that I knew that if I didn’t trust anyone else in life, I could trust my mom – and that was for anything. We may not always agree, but she would ALWAYS have my best interest in mind (even if that’s slightly obscured with what she THINKs may be my best interest, but I digress.)

Though my mom was there and would be there consistently – and we knew my thoughts were a lie, it didn’t go away. Instead, the anxiety got worse, resulting in OCD, panic and anxiety attacks, and loss of focus. I couldn’t focus on my work. Getting out of bed was hard at days. In fact, making decisions was just downright painful. And with this dreadful sickness came a quick plummet to my grades to the point that simply by looking at my report cards, you can tell the EXACT semester the depression kicked in.

Mental Illness aren’t the Same as Physical, Right?

I didn’t want to go to the doctor. I didn’t want to see what was wrong with me. I thought it was against God’s will. Mental issues aren’t the same as physical, right? You know if you don’t feel good physically to go to the doctor. But if you are potentially suffering from a mental illness, many often discourage going to the doctor. This can be one of biggest mistakes and can truly mean the different between life and death.

Mental illnesses can kill you just as much as high blood pressure can. In fact, stress can lead to high blood pressure, cancer, and suicide – all things that can lead to death. People don’t cut just for the sake of it. People don’t jump off buildings because they thought they could fly. And they don’t slit wrists because they want to sport a war wound.

No. They want the pain and agony to go away. If they thought they had another option, maybe they would think again, but they feel hopeless. Anxiety day after day, month after month, and year after year is not the life I envisioned. If you’ve never had a panic attack before, you’d never know how debilitating something like that can be. In fact, I got so good at them, I had the ability have silent attacks right in front of people and they had no clue it was happening.

…But I Survived

The diagnosis & Prescriptions

Though I didn’t want to go to the doctor, there was a point it became a bit too much. The school therapist was a flop. My trip to a different doctor was almost a joke, mainly because on that day I didn’t “look” like I was depressed. Then she gave me the test. To her surprise only, the results stated I was in fact depressed.

Now what?

Pills. The ones that zoned me out. Not like Xanax or anything. I can’t really describe how I felt. All I know is that one day I didn’t take them, and I felt better. I felt happy. So I said to heck with these pills. But just like other times, the happiness was only temporary.

The depression read it’s head again, and I really needed hep.

It took a while for me to see a doc again, but during the summer after my senior year, I walked back into the doctor’s office ready to get better. And he diagnosed me with what I thought was the cure all to everything, Paxil.

You Have to Work with Your Doctor

Paxil worked great for years. However, due to side effects, I chose to try different meds. Many didn’t work. I became sick from some. One gave me the hiccups and zoned me out. One even had a side effect of anxiousness. Ummm….isn’t that what I was being treated for. Duh?!I’ve had a diagnosis that I didn’t agree with and more. (Please know yourself before you just tell the doctor, “no I don’t agree with this).
While I know I’m not perfect today I’ve found a treatment that sustains. Add that to the will to not let the disease overcome me, and I do pretty good. Not as good as on Paxil, but since I don’t want that Paxil weight (a 60 lb. gain)…I’ll make the sacrifice.

Having the Will to Live & Taking Control

Living with and surviving depression is not an easy thing. In fact, I live with it AND survive it every day. Anxiety is present often. I get tired A LOT. And there are days where the alternative seems like it may be better. However, I have the will to live.

I know depression, anxiety, fear and panic are all lies from Satan. And though I may be on meds, I know where my REAL strength comes from. I know who will never leave me nor forsake me. I know who blesses me with wisdom telling me it’s time to sit/slow down, ensuring I don’t become too overwhlemed.

God has blessed me to have this story. To tell it to others. And to inspire those who may feel downtrodden. I’m confident this journey wasn’t just for me. I know there are others who have been and will continue to be blessed by my words…but not my words, but by the words of the One who lives in me.

While I’m not thankful for the sickness (being real), I am thankful for the opportunity to help, to inspire and to use my story to draw others closer to Christ. While some may say it’s brutal He allows me to go through it, I’ll say His grace is sufficient. He DIED for me. DIED…stabbed, ridiculed, whipped, crowned with thorns. I only have a little mental distress in comparison. So even in the midst, I thank and appreciate God for this challenge, growth, and the ability to use it for HIS good. I am and will continue to be HIS child. And for that I praise him. (Praise break…lol)

Conclusion

Depression sucks. It really does. However, having a relationship with Christ and taking appropriate steps to manage/alleviate it are both essential for survival. The Bible says we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against power and principalities in high places. While medicine is a physical step for me, I NEVER forget the spiritual medicine and strength either.

Until next time, I wish you much spiritual prosperity.