September 16, 2013 by Beth Hess
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the courage it takes to say “I’m Not Ok.” A lot of readers found themselves in my story. Because it’s hard to admit being out of control.
Sometimes, though, it’s even harder to see when it’s happening.
At times, my “I’m not Ok” is a fleeting set of moments that corrects itself fairly quickly with a new circumstance or a good night’s sleep or the right song on the radio. Sometimes, it’s a “funk” — a lingering cloud that overshadows my joy, hope, and peace. And in some seasons of my life, there’s been no other word but depression to give an honest name to the state of my spirit.
But, over time, I’m becoming more discerning of the signals that I’m sliding in a direction I don’t want. That a moment of disappointment is becoming a pattern of discouragement. And I’m learning to wave a white flag when the red flags appear, so I can get help more quickly and get back on the path of fulfilling all God has for me.
My Warning Signs include…
- I procrastinate. As a journalist, I’m a deadline kind of girl anyway. But here I’m talking about things like not putting gas in the car until it’s really, REALLY on empty. Or not doing laundry until we absolutely have NO clean underwear. Or feeding the dogs leftovers instead of stopping for dog food. Or having to pick up dinner AGAIN because I haven’t really done a good grocery shopping in a couple of weeks.
- I neglect self-care. Sometimes I skip washing off my make-up before bed. I skip brushing my hair and just run my fingers through it (or default to the ponytail). I wear my contacts too long and make my showers too short.
- I stay up too late. Add that to the self-care neglect category. I substitute sleep for bad TV. Because “you” can’t stop me.
- I stop reading anything remotely inspiring. Those blogs I usually love and the books on my nightstand. The ones I usually devour and nod my head at and repost and comment on. I just scroll right on by. The inspirational quotes and status updates — skipped. And I read instead (if anything at all) the comments that are full of complaints. After all, misery loves company.
- I forget to look for everyday blessings. I know they aren’t gone. I just don’t see them.
- I eat when I’m not hungry. And eat junk. And eat in secret. And eat stuff that doesn’t even taste good.
- I’d rather be sitting still. Anything requiring more energy then it takes to click a remote or play a computer game becomes VERY unappealing. And my couch becomes imprinted with my outline. Because I feel like a shell of a human. And shells don’t play catch. Or write blogs. Or go to the movies. Or invite people over. Because shells might break if they move off the couch.
- I let my inner monologue get mean. So I bite my tongue a lot because my default setting says other people are the problem with my mood. And sometimes my tongue-biting doesn’t work, and I don’t just think ugly things — I say them.
No one of these items means I’m in a downward spiral all on its own, and they rarely all manifest at the same time. But the common thread in many of these is “I don’t feel like it.” And that’s my depression in a nutshell — living based on how I FEEL and forgetting that God is, and always will be, more concerned with my holiness than my happiness.
Some of these things may hit home for you. Perhaps others aren’t trigger points for you at all. But we all have our own signals — warning signs that we are living less than the abundant life we have been promised.
Consider yours. Then pay attention. Heed the red flags and be brave enough to admit it when it’s true for you — I Am Not Ok.
And know you’re not alone.