May 17, 2013

Five Fast Facts on Friday...

1) I had a friend recommend that I put in the gadget that lets people subscribe to receive bloggy updates via email, and I was all "Huh, I didn't even know that wasn't already an option," so I was glad for the recommendation. If you are so inclined, the email thingy is over there on the right. Also, I had thought they were called widgets, not gadgets. When I am 70 I will probably be one who goes around calling everything "whatsits" and "thingamajigs"...

2) While I was nosing around for the email gadget, I found there are options for posting via email and mobile, and again I thought "technology is amazing!" Most of my posts are at least started via my phone while I'm waiting for the car line at preschool pickup. Blogger and my phone don't always get along so sometimes I have to reload pages, or write a note and email it to myself or something. I used to have a blogging app but I found it useless, and I kept thinking "maybe someday they'll get more slick about these mobile platforms." And it was right there--all sorts of widgets and whatsits to explore. Have I activated them? No. Not because I don't want to, but because my three little supervisors are bossy and start yelling at me and destroying the house when I'm on the computer during waking hours...

3) On the recommendation of Addie, I ordered a nifty devotional called Making Manifest. I'm just a few days into it, but I just might love it. If you're a creative-type, it's a really cool break from the common fill-in-the-blanks format. I'm still debating if it's too touchy-feely, but that's probably more about me than the devotional book. Did I mention I don't normally do devotionals? I actually kind of let myself off the hook of devotionals back in high school. And then again a few times in college.  But this one is good. I think. More on it as things develop...

4) I am one week into a schedule shift. I'm now doing my workouts early each morning. I did this before kids and it worked well, but schedules have been sketchy for the past several years. So far so good. For me, anyway; the kidlets are still mixed on their reviews of mom having her own things that are important to her...

5) I wrote this whole thing in 20 minutes and I'm kind of proud of that...

May 10, 2013

Just Admit the Fish are Dead...

I have a link to Hyperbole and a Half over there on the right somewhere. Allie hadn't posted in a loooooong time--something like a year and a half, which in blog years is probably 4 generations of blogs living and dying.

But this week she came back, and offered up what I think is a brilliant look at depression from the inside of things (language alert: some f-bombs). I make vague references on here because I'm afraid of stigmas and assumptions and how people might think of me, but the plain truth is that I deal with depression and anxiety in my life. I've had times on meds and off, in therapy and not, and I've been fortunate to have a ton of good help from both Christian and 'secular' sources.

At this moment I'm meds-free and in a good place, keeping in mind that "in a good place" doesn't mean "everything is always only good," but that I can get out of bed in the morning and face both the good and difficult, and I'm eating and bathing and getting through each day reasonably (and often very) well. I have good habits that help me to be healthy, and while I've only recently started to be more specific about it, my faith is a huge part of that. Not the only part, mind you (and I will kick the shins of anyone who starts ranting that depression is only ever a spiritual issue, because while that could be part of it, there are approximately 57 other issues that can play into depression, and saying, implying, or insinuating that someone just needs to get it together with God is not helpful), but for me a big part.

Still, it's something I'll always have to sort of look after, maybe somewhat akin to a bum knee, or the gout, or something. I'm good at managing it, and I'm getting better all the time at asking for help when I need it.

I've had a pinky toe in some discussions about Allie's post, and one thought that struck me as really important is "if my friend is depressed or [insert most any struggle here] and needs my help but nothing I say helps, what can I do?" I think that's really valid, and I know such thoughts have caused me to back away from hard situations with friends. Not necessarily on purpose, but when you don't know what to do or say, oftentimes you fall to a default of nothing.

I've read enough rants on either side of ''nothing" to know that sometimes the wrong things can seem worse than nothing. And I do think there's some truth to that, especially if you don't know the struggling person well or at all. But assuming you have good and humble intentions--and if you're in my circle and/or taking time to read this (thank you), that is my assumption--then the wrong thing will likely be more klutzy than damaging, and klutzy can be part of healing.

I get nervous about lots of things, but one of the biggest reasons for not speaking up when I should is that I'm afraid of feeling dumb. And I think a great challenge for me has been to shift my perspective a bit when it comes to dealing with a struggling friend. Maybe I'll be a klutz and maybe not, but the point is being willing to feel a little dumb if it means helping my friend know I'm there for them.

I had in mind a few suggestions to offer of helpful things to say or do/not do for a struggling friend, but as I type them out I'm struck by how individual the healing process is.  Oftentimes a big part of depression is self-isolating, so it can be a really hard balance between pursuing the struggling friend while still giving them space to process. I think the most you can do is to be there for your friend, and by being there I mean to let them know what you are available to do, and offer to do it.  Or if there is truly nothing to be done, being able and willing to be there even though things can be awkward and uncomfortable. Most of all, please remember that you can't fix it, and to try would be codependent, and codependency leads to greater wounding instead of healing. So don't be codependent.

--Maybe you can handle listening to their hardest struggles, without making them feel the need to comfort you about their struggles.  Maybe you're really good at compartmentalizing, and helping them let out those hard things, and have a good support network of your own for when you get overwhelmed. But maybe not.

--Maybe you can handle sitting with them in a coffee shop for 45 minutes.  Or 20. Or 120. But maybe not.

--Maybe you know people or places to connect them with, and you have the permission to do so. But maybe not.

--Maybe you're good at treating struggling people normally, instead of tiptoeing around them as if they have the plague or something. But maybe not. (this one is not my strong point. I get weird)

--Maybe you're good at not being freaked out when they get weird. But maybe not.

--Maybe you have a gift for giving them a break from their troubles with healthy distractions, funny stories, ice cream, something light you need help with, or anything to give a moment of normal. But maybe not.

--Maybe you know them well enough to suggest activities they might tolerate well.  "Enjoy" could very well be too much to ask, but "be OK with" could be doable. But maybe not.

--Maybe you are really good at telling by asking: "Would you let me take you for coffee right now?" "Would you let me come over and just hang for an hour?" "Would you let me treat you to a mani-pedi?" (Please don't offer Skerrib a mani-pedi) "Would you come sit with me at the park and watch my kiddos be goofy?"  But maybe not.

--Maybe you are good at truly praying well.  Maybe you are discerning about things you can ask God for, or you're just really good at saying "God, I have no idea what my friend needs, but you do." But maybe not.

--Maybe you don't do anything.  Maybe you just say simple, truthful things:  "I'm sorry it is so hard right now." "Yikes, that's the pits." "I care about you." "You are important to me."

In my experience, even my closest and most trusted friends haven't "fixed" anything for me.  A few have been the big counselor-type listeners and the ones to tell me hard things and challenge me. Some have shared similar struggles.  Mostly though, they've been there by laughing, even when my humor gets dark.  They've sent me quick little "I'm thinking of you" types of blurbs, and dared to speak even though they felt klutzy about it. They've been themselves. They let me know I wasn't alone, and that my depression wasn't more powerful than their love for me. 

And somehow, all those little and big things together add up to healing...

May 2, 2013

Thursday Deep Breathing...

Contrary Kerri is being a butt today, so I'm deliberately shutting out a lot of external cues and random thoughts.

It is Freak-Out Thursday after all, so I am taking a deep breath and choosing to believe myself as I pat my arm soothingly and say "It's really going to be OK. Your life is not falling apart, and the children--while their motives can never be fully understood--will not succeed in driving you off the cliffs of insanity and/or burning down the house. The younger two were little turkeys, staying up until friggin' 1130 last night, but their lifetime sleep patterns are not in jeopardy, and neither are your yours. I know it sucks that you gave up Coke, but remember that the last time you caved it didn't even taste very good, and you felt like poo the next day. I promise, you will feel way better if you skip the soda and junk for now. Also, you will survive the fact that you completely forgot about yesterday's preschool conference amid the terrible day from Hades. You'll make it up and they will still like you even though you flaked out. Plus, you're fit and pretty. Just hang on until tomorrow and re-evaluate, OK?"

So in the spirit of this post, here is what I have done today:

-Made sure the boys were dressed & groomed before they ate breakfast & watched Mythbusters. It wasn't anything magical, but one less thing to worry about once school time grew closer.
-Got His Highness to kindergarten. On time, no less, and with his teacher gifts. So now said gifts are off my counter--even better.
-Emailed preschool teacher to apologize for flaking out on the conference. Requested a reschedule.
-Did the Wegmans run with Captain America and Tiny E. Decided to let both keep napping in their carseats upon returning home, thereby creating a little breathing space until His Highness got out of school. They slept, I got a little blogging in on my phone; it works. (Smart thinking, Skerrib)
-Fed everyone two of the day's three meals.
-Kept everyone wiped-down and freshly diapered where applicable.
-Made a chocolate glaze for the Bundt cake we're bringing to our church small group tonight. The cake looked a little, um, rough, but tastes awesome.  And now with the glaze it looks mostly passable.  Plus I like saying "Bundt cake."
-Kept everyone inside on a beautiful day. A sad choice, but sometimes some of us forget certain social graces or how to tell Mom where we're going before we go. So instead we play in our room and talk with our friends through the window screens.  Or so I've heard.  

And here is what I will do in the hours to come:

-Grab a change of clothes for the Cat Daddy so he doesn't have to wear his uniform all evening at our small group cookout.
-Buckle the children into the car and meet the Cat Daddy at the cookout.
-Eat, drink, and connect with folks.
-Eat dessert.
-Try to leave at a reasonable hour, so we can get the kids to bed at a reasonable hour, so I can get myself to bed at a reasonable hour, because tomorrow is a jogging morning and while I HATE getting out of bed, I LOVE being up early once I'm awake. And we all know how I feel about jogging.  And in case I haven't mentioned it before, Friday is my favorite day of the week, so there's a lot to look forward to about Friday mornings.

It seems like I'm seeing a whole lot of posts lately about parents (moms in particular) being gentle with themselves, remembering that it's a hard job, refusing to join the compare and compete game, and just being kinder to everyone in general.  I'm not sure if it's the next trend, or just a "thing" or what...but I will go on record as saying I'm a firm believer in kindness and letting people be who they are, strengths and weaknesses included.

There is probably another blog post buried in the above ideas, but I really do need to go gather my children.  I have a feeling Tiny E has found her way to the top of the bunk beds again.

Carry on, friends. Carry on...