For anyone who is struggling or knows someone who is. I wrote this post for you. Climbing out of my pit has FINALLY allowed me to enjoy life.
As someone who had spent many years struggling with anxiety and depression and now Ulcerative Colitis, I feel your pain. I really do. I know what it is like to wake up and wonder how you are going to make it through the day. I remember a time I dreaded fall because it meant winter was around the corner and that invariably meant more struggle. And frankly I just didn’t know how much fight I had left in me. I was soooo exhausted.
I used to live waiting for the rainbow around the corner. I was convinced that perfect circumstances (or perfect health or really perfect anything) were the key to being happy and content. Although it was probably subconscious. I wouldn’t have said that in a million years (I was a Christian gal, after all). But it’s how I lived and this was a horrible way to exist. It sucked every bit of joy out of living. Meditating on the negative or what isn’t going as planned in life has a way of doing that. And there is ample opportunity to focus on what’s wrong, right!? Because, let’s face it, perfect circumstances just don’t exist.
But, a miracle happened, and things finally turned around for me. It wasn’t over night and it did require some work on my part (it still does). But, slowly, bit-by-bit, I finally grasped the tools I needed to climb out of the pit I had found myself in. And, to the surprise of some religious people, it wasn’t all “faith”-related—although there certainly was some of that. And to the surprise of others, it wasn’t all health-related either—but there was a good deal of that. And it wasn’t all thought-related, like some would have us believe—although addressing poor thought-patterns was part of it. To get out of this pit required a major tune-up in body, soul, and mind—it required a 360 in many areas of my life.
I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of my husband. We all need cheerleaders to encourage us and help us when we’re stuck. (So, if you don’t have that, let A Life Enjoyed be that for you. Reach out in the comments or you can send me a private message. It would be a great honor to walk with you.)
There is hope; I promise. There is ALWAYS hope. Even if joy and transformation seem distant and impossible to grasp at the moment. Cling to that hope that things CAN change. Having hope that God could help me out of the pit is what carried me through the darkest moments of my struggle.
Here are some of the tools I used to climb out of my pit…
- I stopped waiting for perfect circumstances and began to give thanks for the good things in my life. There is ALWAYS something we can be grateful for. A warm meal, clean clothes (even if they aren’t in the drawers :), the beauty of nature, a kind friend or loving spouse or pet etc. (This required that I stop the negative thought patterns and replace them with thankful ones. It gets easier with practice over time. I promise!)
- I started addressing health imbalances. For me this meant supplementing with vitamin D and magnesium (helped a lot with my anxiety and depression!!), among others I was deficient in (more in this post and this post). I began exercising several days a week and I worked really hard to spend at least 20 minutes a day outdoors (a little tricky for a homeschooling city mom without a yard). I also began consistently sleeping at least 7-8 hours a night (something I had never done in my adult life. I was perpetually sleep deprived!). I began to give myself, with the help of my sweet hubby, a little time each week to pursue interests (like writing!). In the past I felt incredibly guilty if I wasn’t busy working around the clock. Oh, and I focused on eating a healthy diet with less processed food and sugar.
- Last, but not least, I finally began to let go (aka trust God) and stopped fretting about or attempting to control things that were not mine to control or worry about. I had a long-learned patterns of obsessive, anxious thoughts and they consumed so, so much of my time and emotional energy (just ask Brance!). I was constantly worried about what people thought or how I had been received or about what might happen in the future. I would replay conversations and possible outcomes over and over in my mind. Ugh…just writing this is exhausting! I can’t even tell you how freeing it has been to leave this behind. Now I have SO much more energy and time for the things that really matter in life! (I should also mention here that addressing some health imbalances that were causing anxiety made this possible.)
Anyway, these are some of the things that helped me emerge from my pit. I talk about them and others in my free e-book, if you’re interested. And know that I really am praying and rooting for you!!
With love, Lauren
p.s. The picture I shared with this post makes me happy, because it’s winter and I am not struggling (and no my life isn’t perfect). There’s hope you guys!