The Last Two Months (Or What I Learned From A Break)


I blinked and two months had past since I had written a blog post.  This summer seems to have flown by (as it always does).  But I intentionally took a little break from social media not realizing that I would also take such a long break from blogging.

We kept busy with celebrating our son's first birthday (lots more to come on that!).  As well as hosted both of our families over three weeks in July.

We are enduring our first southern summer full of humidity and summer thunderstorms.  Though back home in Sacramento they have been dealing with some serious heat waves so I will count this first summer in Virginia lucky.  I am just in a constant state of moistness.  It is gross but I am dealing with it.


As I shared in my last post before my long break, I was struggling with depression again.  It was a low point that I had not gotten to in years.  Since around last December I had been struggling with moving away from all our friends and family.  I would go through seasons of sadness but then would find something to distract myself or keep busy.  It has been a lot of fighting with my inner self and I think I finally just cracked.  I was tired of being strong.  Especially without the accountability of friends and family right physically in front of me.

I went back to a book that has helped me in the past.  I reread all those underlined and highlighted reminders that I needed to hear.  I surrendered all my troubles unto the Lord and prayed specifically for attacks I felt against our family.  I openly shared what I was going through with a few people and while I did not receive what I thought I was looking for, I think the act of asking for help was a big step in the right direction for me.

After rereading my book I realized that a lot of my struggles that have lead me into depression were the same.  It is when I am struggling with certain insecurities about myself as well as with relationships with others that I am more prone to depression.  Being able to pinpoint these triggers has been a huge help.

I found that social media played a large role in this.  Unintentionally I was often comparing myself to others.  I also left feeling dissatisfied with relationships in my life - feeling like I was missing out or even being forgotten.  It was a terrible place to be and I needed to stop letting it rule my thoughts.


Being able to step away allowed for some clarity.  It reminded me of a friend of mine who had also moved out of state years ago.  We did not keep in touch much but I did always see her when she was visiting.  I cherished our friendship and looked forward to seeing her.  But my life went on and I was plenty busy so I did not make much effort to stay in touch.

I realized I was expecting too much of my now far away friends and family.  It was not a reflection of their feelings but rather was a natural part of our busy lives (plus a three hour time difference doesn't help).  My life has slown down in many ways (while others have kept busy) and I simply started to get lonely.

As for social media I logged off of Facebook entirely.  And I slowed down my time on Instagram.  Since I can't quit my Instagram habit (and I was finishing up my monthly and weekly photos of our son) I decided to cut back on how many people I followed.  I ruthlessly unfollowed and it felt terrible.

So many friends or acquaintances that I have cared about sometime in my life.  Yet many of them were no longer friends today.  I worried about what they would think if I unfollowed them.  It is really kind of ridiculous.  But I had to decide that my mental health had to be more important than whether or not I hurt someone's feelings.

The criteria was we had to be legitimate real life friends or it had to be an online friend that felt like a real friend.  And then there were about a handful (like probably under five) of accounts that were bloggers or designers that I really admire.

And suddenly I started gaining back so much time.  Even if I happened to binge a little Instagram, following a smaller amount meant I eventually ran out of new photos to look at.  Life changing.

If I had some time to read or veg out I would read blogs.  I looked forward to them so much more and enjoyed the task of actually reading something of substantial thought and length.


Then once I started gaining more of my day back I started being more productive at home.  I stayed on top of daily household tasks while also getting other projects that I had been putting off done.  I found that when I was busy at home and wasn't letting the outside influences of social media cloud my day, I wasn't so lonely.  I was actually quite happy to be productive at home, hanging with my sweet baby, and enjoying the quiet that comes with living in the country.

If I got lonely we would go run an errand, go see if our neighbors were around, or I would write a note to a friend.  I realized the weight social media was having on my life and I was very grateful to be able to lift it off.

Life will never be perfect and dealing with living so far from what we consider home still continues to be hard.  But I can at least be at a place where I know where my sadness comes from and ways I can deal with it.  We knew that this move wasn't going to be easy and I believe that all that we are going through is only going to better us.  Learning how to manage my time, my thought life, and the triggers that attack my self worth are all for the better!  It has been a long ten months since we moved but we are making the most of this season we have been given.

Thank you for your kind support and encouragement.  It has meant a lot during a time of stretching for our family.  I look forward to sharing more about what we have been up to over the past few months but as it pertains to our home and our son's first birthday very soon!



The Mark of Time


On the eve of our son's first birthday I sat holding him after his last feeding of the day as he fell fast asleep in my arms.  Falling asleep being held is a rarity around here so I took advantage of this sweet moment - holding my sweet baby who was on his way to growing up. 

We had been working on weaning off his milk feedings.  The days leading up to his birthday were filled with feedings where he was crawling all over me.  It was time.  I needed to be done.  He needed to be done.  And we were getting there.


But as I sat there holding my sweet boy I wasn't ready to let him grow up.  I wasn't ready for his big first birthday.  And I wasn't ready to let go of a nursing connection we have had together for the past year.  Just me and him.  

Yet time wasn't going to stop.  He would turn one and we would both move on together.

While so much of me felt sadness over my son growing up another part of me was grateful for this mark of time.  Without this acknowledgment of a year past, I would just continue to go through the motions.  I would get irritated over another feeding.  Days would quickly pass.  Daily tasks would continue to pile up.  It would just be another day in this unending job of being a parent.


Yet this emotional milestone of turning one forced me to pause.  To hold my baby with a different set of eyes and heart.  Without it, I may so easily forget to be grateful.

It is hard to let go of things.  Especially when they are good.  But without change, without moving on, and without the growth that comes with it, I am afraid I might just take advantage of it all.  

So as we start to close this baby chapter of our lives, we open a new one.  Many more milestones to come and I am sure plenty more heartache.  But a new chapter, nonetheless, that I will surely look back on fondly. 
 

Today


Today I spent my morning reading articles on worry and anxiety.  I stumbled upon encouraging thoughts that lead me down the path to some truths I needed to hear.

The thing is, I have been dealing with depression again (off and on).  This move has been hard on me and my husband's new job has been very demanding.  I have made some good progress at acknowledging how I was feeling and healthy habits I have learned to cope with them but even still I couldn't completely shake the gloom.

For the past few months I have been blaming this move and job change for my feelings of sadness.  Yet after some reading this morning I realized that though this move has controlled some of my happiness, it is actually a lot of ongoing pressures that I have had in my life for years that is eating away at me.

I am extra sensitive right now.  So every little thing that hurts my feelings, makes me anxious, or questions an aspect of myself seems to be intensified.  I feel so weak in my abilities, question my every word, and have lost so much of the confidence I once had.  I cave into weaknesses - isolating myself so I don't get hurt, eating so I don't have to feel my feelings, and zoning out instead of choosing to find the strength to be productive. 

I have about twenty drafts of blog posts that I just can't get myself to publish.  I sit in front of my computer wanting to find my voice, to have a purpose, and to articulate my thoughts in a clear and hopefully beneficial way. 

But instead I just save it for later.  Walking away.  Feeling like I wasted my time and that I have nothing to offer. 

After my little bit of "research" this morning, I have a feeling that a lot of my insecurities, fears, and anxieties are heightened when I spend too much time on social media.  So I will be doing a little digital detox to figure out a better balance.

I hope to throw it back to some old but good habits I used to have: reading books, journaling, working on small creative projects that I can take places with me, and hopefully building back the confidence I had to actually publish some of those blog posts I write. 

My heart and mind need a space to breathe.  So this is a step for me in the right direction.

I crave a smaller community - but a more intimate one.  And I hope to find that through real and authentic relationships.

Other Resources on Depression, Anxiety, and Social Media:

What I'm Reminding Myself This Morning by Allison Fallon
Depression, Creativity and the Dangers of Being Constantly Plugged In by Allison Fallon
How to Overcome Fear, Anxiety and Worry, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The Cause and Cure for Worry by Joyce Meyer



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