“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
-Corrie Ten Boom
Do you ever feel anxious, discouraged, or depressed? Me too.
I haven’t been able to focus at work. I haven’t felt like my recent posts have been connecting with you guys, and I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I need to lose about 25 pounds. Not to mention, I have switched meds twice in the past six weeks and that can take a toll on your mind and emotions.
“Is that why you’ve been in a funk all weekend?”
The question cut me to the core. But she was right. I thought I had hid it so well, but of course I can’t hide it from Lindsey.
Sometimes I can pinpoint the reasons, but sometimes I’m just…funky.
Do you ever find yourself in that spot? In a slump? Unusually uneasy? Discouraged? Or just feeling disengaged? Maybe unmotivated?
I contacted four friends about it today and I love the responses I received. I don’t know how anyone thinks they can make it without friends. One friend gave me a fresh perspective, a way to look at the drop in website views from my readers’ perspective. She challenged me to regroup and focus on connecting at a heart level, instead of writing on every website that offered me a guest slot. A change in perspective can make a world of difference.
I have another friend who always makes me laugh, so of course, I messaged him. Sometimes I don’t need earth-shattering advice, I just need a laugh. I need someone to snap me out of the vicious cycle of anxiety, to tell me to stop obsessing over the negative.
One person sent me a bulleted email list of things to do, in far greater detail than I expected, but it was all such valuable feedback that I read the email three times. I am grateful for my detailed friends.
Another friend said, “I can’t help with the writing but if you start working on the weight loss, I’ll help.” Sounds simple, right? But when I’m feeling depressed and disengaged from everyone and everything, just to hear someone say, “I’m here for you” makes me want to weep. It helps to know I’m not alone.
Today is one of those days for me.
I know people are here for me. I have a contact list full of people I could call or text at any given moment and ask for help. But I forget to do it. I forget to ask for help. I forget to say, I’m bummed and I’m not sure why.
Part of it is shame and part of it is that life teaches us to fend for ourselves, to get over it, to stop whining. As guys, we’re told if we have something to complain about, we’re just being “a little bitch.” Pardon my language, but it’s true.
But when I finally let go of what I think others expect of me and say, “Hey, today stinks for me” I’m almost always blown away by the love I receive.
It seems that hard days are a universal experience. We can’t survive on an island. Isolation is miserable, especially for someone who struggles with depression or anxiety or self-esteem issues. Finding the guts to say, “Today sucks. Can we talk?” sometimes changes everything.
I hate when I feel this way. I hate the semi-permanent knot in the back of my throat, the avoiding eye contact with co-workers and the constant urge to go home. But the feelings persist. I hate the shame that comes along with it, whispering, “What a loser. Get your shit together. What’s wrong with you?” I hate the shame that comes from years of being raised as a religious kid, the lies that tell me I’m not a real Christian or I wouldn’t have these struggles.
But then I remember the words our pastor spoke Sunday, “If it isn’t good yet, God isn’t finished.”
It took me back to that ICU room I talk about so often. Waking up in that place, with nothing to offer God except my mess, He told me, “I’m not finished with you yet.” It was a defining moment in my life. One I’ll never forget.
Sometimes we feel lost, stuck, frustrated, disconnected, depressed. Funky. Sometimes we feel anxiety because we believe the lie that says our stories don’t matter. Sometimes I think I’ve written all there is for me to write and I might as well find a new hobby. Mental health issues can really make life…interesting. But in those times when life feels heavy and hard, I hear God whispering, “I’m not finished yet.”
I hope you can hear Him, too.
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Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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