Ok. So, here’s the thing. I struggle with depression, I have for most of my life. It’s not a new thing to me, or for those closest to me. Lately, depression for me, has come in waves. I have a couple of days of real positive, productive days where I truly enjoy my life. Followed by a few days where I am more irritable and struggle to focus. Those days, are followed by a stretch of minimal self care, barely making it through the day, days. Tears usually flow on these days, and I have been known to yell at my kids, followed by crying and asking for their forgiveness. It’s not a good cycle to be in, I realize that. But how do I get out of it? Well, gosh, if I had the answer to that question I’m pretty sure my blogs would look at taaaaaaaad different. 🙂
Today, I am obviously writing to you on a good day. I have a slight sense of humor today and a fair amount of motivation. Gosh, I feel like I’m writing to you as Dr Jekel and Mr Hyde, like at any moment I could change from good Aubrey to bad Aubrey, and who knows who or what you’ll see tomorrow or the next day. Beware, readers. Beware.
In all seriousness, I have had a pretty good few days. I’ve gotten my chores done, I haven’t gotten irritated with my kids, I’ve had good conversations with my husband and have thoroughly been enjoying my life. I have been able to look at my kids and be so grateful that I have them. I can see the good in them and the raw beauty that exists in their innocence and who God is molding them to be. I can see them growing up and I am not missing it due to busyness or selfishness. I don’t see that on the other days. Maybe if I could, those days wouldn’t be as dark. One major thing I have noticed about the last few days is that my food choices have been very smart ones. Salads, beans, hot tea over my usual 5 cups of coffee, and lots of fruit and nuts. I haven’t had much sugar, or energy sucking foods. And my mood has been great! Could food be part of the reason I feel so down and depressed so much of the time? Obviously, I haven’t eaten first thing in the morning when I wake up and just feel this weight on my shoulders. But today, for example, I was doing a trial run for a cake I’m making for a baby shower this weekend, and I used a store bought box cake to practice, as the actual cake costs too many nickels to use it for a trial run. I was planning on using the test cake to make traditional cake pops for my hubby (traditional meaning full sugar and fat), nothing like the cake I will be making for the baby shower (oh gosh so much to share about that!!! Blog TBD). As someone who cooks a lot you learn to taste the food your making, and as I was making the chocolate buttercream frosting, I tasted it. And as I was rolling the cake batter into balls, I tasted those. And within a matter of minutes, my mood went from the ceiling to the floor. I felt heavy and tired. I felt like I just wanted to crawl into bed and not be seen. It happened that fast.
As I have shared in previous posts (oh gosh, in multiple posts) I tend to obsess over food. What I’m putting in my mouth, what my kids put in their mouths, you know, like all moms do. And yes, it causes conflict in my house. Some days, when I try to be more lenient about what my kids eat, someone will get a runny nose and immediately I think to myself (out loud, eyes glaring at my husband) “yep I let you have sugar of course you have a runny nose!” And back to being food nazi mom. It really sucks to be so anxious and paranoid about food. And the irony in all of this is, the more paranoid and anxious food makes me, the poorer my food choices are, and the more I beat myself up about how I’m not as good as other people when it comes to food or exercise, and the feeling of failure I endure adds to the depressed mood I’m in. And the cycle continues like that until I can snap out of it.
I do see the biggest problem in what I have just expressed to you: I am trying to control my life and my body instead of trusting God with it. I do believe that God created our bodies to thrive and heal themselves when we eat the foods that He created: fruits, vegetables, grains, and plant based proteins like nuts, seeds and legumes. I also believe that the food man created (all the yummy tasting, genetically modified foods), along with a lot of the meat in our country, can cause our bodies to decay faster, and actually make us tired and yes, affect our mood because of the chemicals inside of the food are reacting to our bodies. It’s very common for someone to experience fatigue after eating, especially if they ate a lot of food. But that drop of energy should only last a short time. For me, my energy never goes back up. And I know what you’re thinking, and no, I don’t have type 2 diabetes or blood sugar issues. My body just doesn’t react very well to certain foods. And I beat myself up inside when I’m not eating the way I feel like I should be, and I feel terrible emotionally and physically.
The more I have thought about this hurdle in my life, one of many hurdles, the more I come to this realization: I can eat all the right things, exercise every day, and get enough sleep and God could still let me have cancer or some other horrible disease. There is no kryptonite to death. We are all going to die. There is no kryptonite to disease, because we are not in control of our bodies. Not really, anyway. We can be good stewards of our bodies and treat them the way we believe God designed them to be treated by giving them good, wholesome fuel and exercise for our hearts, and sleep and rest for our minds. Some of the healthiest people can end up with cancer, and that’s frustrating! Isn’t the point of being healthy so that we can avoid/prevent our bodies from disease? But God decides what happens to this earthly body, and if it’s His will for me to die of cancer, no kale field in the world is going to save me! And that lack of control, I believe, is a big reason why I am so anxious about food. I will eat meat or dairy, and immediately have this fear of doom looming for me because of all the studies out there that show meat and dairy to be linked to cancer and heart disease. “I just gave myself cancer and now my kids are going to grow up without a mom”. Yep, those are just a fraction of the thoughts and fears I have a daily basis. A psychiatrist may diagnose me as mentally insane. I’ve come to terms with that.
Some days, I wish I could just be “normal”, and eat the way the majority of our country eats. No more chopping veggies, meal planning, recipe hunting/creating, grocery budgets…because believe me, I get exhausted. But, again, it’s my conviction that food should be pure, clean and gosh “healing” if you will, not hurtful for our bodies. The foods of the earth were made to coincide with our bodies and strengthen our immune systems (I warned you of a soap box!). And yes, I believe they were created by a God whose intent was to protect our health, and fuel us in a very powerful way! There is a TON of science behind the power of the foods God created, that show how amazing they are for our bodies, how they truly feed us, and I don’t mean they just fill us up. 😉
This post may seem like a bit of a downer, but it gets better, I promise!!! I have heard 2 very wise things lately from 2 very wise people. The first is, when dealing with something that is out of our control, we need to pray, give it to God and do our darnedest not to think about it! And trust that He will take care of it. Easier said than done, right? The second, to go along with the first, is to trust God with my thoughts, by arming my thoughts with His word. My thoughts, when I am depressed, are literally poison to my body. The anxiety and depression I feel towards my life and food is very destructive. I need to find a balance in my life. A balance that allows for my kids to have french fries (gosh even writing this I’m not sure I can do that!) once in a while and not freak out about it, because their health is ultimately in God’s hands. A balance that allows for us to enjoy those man made foods on occasion, and not feel guilty about how I measure up with those around me, or feel like I have to hide the fact that I ate a cheeseburger today (I actually haven’t had a cheeseburger today, but you get the point). And to find a way to not be so afraid of food, and afraid of what others in my life think of the ingredients I use in my meals. I wondered how I would raise my children having had an eating disorder. I thought I would be consumed by the calories that they ate, but my eating disorder was not about calories, but with pleasing others, and showing myself and others how disciplined I could be. I need to stop worrying about pleasing others with how I eat, and be more concerned about pleasing God. Praying for my kids, relying on God’s faithfulness and His grace and mercy to take care of my kids and their health, as well as my health, that’s what I should focus on, because that’s more powerful than any cruciferous vegetable. That doesn’t mean I can feed my kids french fries and cheeseburgers for every meal and just expect nothing negative to happen to them. That would be ignorant of me. But the power of prayer, and having that communicative relationship with God, pleases Him. Truly accepting that He is in control of my life and my kids’ lives, is hard for me. It absolutely terrifies me. Control is a hard thing for me to relinquish.
The point to all of this is, that although I can’t just snap my fingers and have all of the messes in my life fixed (oh wouldn’t that be great!?), I am slowly realizing that I really can do something about my depression, anxiety and fears. I can choose to fully let God have control over my life. He already does have control of it, but that outward acknowledgment of it can bring a real peace to your soul, and bring you close to Him. It doesn’t mean that days are going to be perfect or that I’m never going to struggle with anxiety or depression, because 30+ years of feeling this way, is going to take a lot of effort on my part to overcome. But it does mean that, maybe I can find a balance in my life where I can live without fear, without worry, without condemnation of myself for not living up to what I think I should be. And truly knowing and accepting that God is in control of it, whatever it may be. And that I no longer need to worry about it.
Until next time….
Have a fabulous day!