Positive affirmations to combat depression: Your Character Vs. Your Identity

Working definitions

Character: the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

Identity: the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.

Thanks Google.

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Living in your head, I think, is one of the primary causes of depression. The opposite is not avoiding deep reflection. The opposite is a balance between understanding oneself and still being present. If you’re like me, you will spend HOURS in your mind. And Google.

Here is what my mind has churned out over the years; these are accurate and not merely some way to beat up my self-esteem.

  • I have anger issues
  • I am still looking at my mustard seed-sized self-esteem like- “bloom baby, bloom!”
  • Erm… What are boundaries?
  • Cut me, I gut you

You get my point.

I was in a state of one of these episodes but I caught myself this time.

Sure, these are all things currently coming off, but who does God say I am?

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If you have grown up in a Christian setting, that question is rather out of flavor. However, may I offer a different perspective?

There is who God says we are- the head and not the tail, co-heirs with Christ, His beloved… these are all things we’ve heard, and know.

Now, if Jesus came and sat on your bed, and being a Friend, what would he tell you? If you said you are ____ (insert a shortcoming), what would he say?

What I think we’ve done is used scripture to band-aid our pains. I could sit here and say that I am the righteousness of God in Christ, but if I still feel dirty for what I said, did or thought, what use is that? His truth remains, but my posture is what makes it hard for me to accept it.

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Suggested way forward?

Let me use the thought that sparked this post. I was reading an article on co-dependency. The article talked about how it’s generational and something we learn from observations. As I was sitting in the truth of my actions (and marinading in it being a solid cause-but one of the many-reasons behind my many failed relationships), a different thought *hello there Holy Spirit!* came to mind.

“Sure, this is your present character, but who does God say you are?”

After the initial biblical affirmations, I realize that my identity is not co-dependent. My identity is in Christ; I am Christ-like. Everything else is an add-on that is unnecessary and can be shake off. I don’t know about you, but that makes working my issues through so much easier.

I am not changing my identity from being codependent to being Codependent No More, because, identity wise, that’s not who I am.

They are thoughts turned words, turned actions, turned habit, turned character and are now shaping my destiny. But they are not who I am. The work to remaining true to my identity is the same- I need tools to learn how to NOT be codependent. The difference is it’s no longer this thing attached to my essence; it’s a passing cloud. Gloomy, and makes me feel sad, but nonetheless, a passing cloud.

To new way of looking at things in 2019,

Cheers.

Oh look! You made it to 2019!

Well hello my beloveds!

After my previous post I’d like to insist that therapy works. I am not a ray of sunshine, but we are pushing through. What sticks with me and something A Course in Miracles insists upon, is that you ought to accept that your thoughts are a singular narrative. There is more than one way of looking at things. The answers won’t walk in with trumpets and your celebrity crush in tow with a placard, but it’ll come- eventually. They always come in a delightful manner, and it is in seeing things differently that you know a miracle has occurred.

One Shahisa Mutali asked in November for tips and tricks surviving hard days on a comment on this post. I can mostly talk about what not to do. And that is drink. Apart from the hangover, aching esophagus and guilt from the abuse to your body, alcohol is not your friend when depressed. That’s one. Another thing is not to remain in your head for too long. I work from home and the silence is not entirely helpful. I’m learning to watch movies, YouTube until the dark cloud passes, treat myself- basically do anything not to think when I’m down. Because the voices in my mind get dark VERY fast.

What has also helped is having a spiritual practice. It helps me to know even when it’s hard, I’m not by myself in the struggle. Belief in God doesn’t automatically mean that the depression will lift and you’ll be bright eyed like nothing happen. Nope. Things will still be trash, but the awareness of a Higher Power gives you hope that’s crucial to survival. Quite literally. 😅

Of quiet days and nature

No seriously…
Which brings me to, “what do normal people think about?” I was explaining to a friend that mental health is the mind working against itself. It’s hard because there is no tangible evidence as to where it hurts. It’s just your emotions are in turmoil, you can’t shut your thoughts up and you still have to shower. Like why? 😂

What do normal people think about anyway? Comment below, it’ll be super helpful tihihihihi!

Moving forward

I realize that exercise is something I have to take up to fight off what’s left of the cloud. Or at least shirk it down to a manageable size. I’m considering signing up for a gym membership because jogging… And I need someone up my butt torturing me with weights and other things to remain committed. Yep. I am officially those January-new-beginning we-gotta-get-that-body people.

Other aspect I wanna take up are- I was gonna say meditation and mindfulness. Yea. Not there yet. Taking myself for lunches and movies sounds more solid. 😂

Your journey is probably different, but remember to do things that a loving friend would do for you, but for yourself. Nothing kicks self-loathing harder than doing nice loving things for yourself. If you’re in the pits, start small. Get a shower gel you’ve always liked. Buy that snack you crave and reminds you of childhood.

Fill your well. People around you can try and help, but only you’ll get it right. There’s more in you than you think. You just need to remember to be willing to look at things differently. Be kind to yourself, you’re still breathing- and that’s a pretty huge deal beloved.

Smile. You made it to 2019.

Happy New Year to you, warrior.

Things fall apart and quiet seasons

Joseph and Moses

Somewhere in the corner of my mind, I found it humorous that I can relate to these two characters in the bible. When you have a big mouth and are out here looking like you want to save the world, the Lord will humble you so hard. By the time you’re getting back up, He’s the only person you will give credit to.

I don’t take this platform lightly, that’s why I will take days, weeks and months before I post something. I am of the opinion that if it’s not my life, I have no business writing about it. In the space I am in, things are falling apart (they probably already have, there’s the odd rock sliding down the debris) and there’s now a silence. Joseph in a pit. Moses in the wilderness.

I might need to take issue with my high school (International School of Uganda) for using holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and an existentialist book as part of our set books. When I think back, there’s a phrase that comes to mind that the atomic bomb survivors talk about- the silence that followed the bombing.

People, these were my set books.

When I was meant to be focusing on who was bulling me, why I was in a rubbish relationship and why I couldn’t get above my average-ness-ness, I had a set book about people’s aches in pages to read, understand and analyze.

But again; the silence that followed.

Before the tears, agony, fear and all expressions of despair, there is a silence. It is almost like you’re listening to see if you’re still alive before you can assess the carnage. If you’ve seen footage of war survivors before the tears come, grieving what they’ve lost, there is a moment of silence; a moment of taking it in.

The mourning for what you’ve lost in your life is eventual but take stock first so that you know what you’re truly crying for.

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I had a moment last evening with friends where I called Christians who plaster scripture over things stupid aka “having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense”. It’s especially for those who throw scripture at you with the aim of conviction, only to bring judgment. Remember Job’s friends? I’ve done it, foolishly so, for a while, but after seeing how the only result it yields is a rift, I’ve come to follow Christ cue. Have you noticed how you feel no judgment over his interactions with sinners?

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If everything has crumbled all around you, take time to make an assessment. You won’t know what to rebuild if you don’t know what’s in rabbles.

Cheers my friends.

Finding peace in midst of the nightmare

I’ve been to Kakuma once, and in my ignorance when talking to a few girls asking their ages, I mentioned that schools would be open at some point. A woman, not sure who her kids were in the group, looked at me as I spoke to the girls, giving me a cold stare.

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If you’ve grown up in comfort, the idea of things getting better when it’s consistently been bad is almost offensive to someone who’s been through the SI unit of hard times: rape, witnessing a murder or having a near-death experience whether through starvation, by someone else, disease, nature or an animal. In Dadaab, some people I spoke to have been there for over 25 years, their going back out of the question.

If you went to the camp as a child, gave birth there, and now you see your kids future taking the same shape, what does “things getting better” look like?

What does “things getting better” look like for people going through a chronic illness? What about those in a cycle of abuse with no way to get out? What about for the person who helplessly watches someone drink their life away? What does it look like when nothing has changed for decades?

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I was having a conversation with a friend, and I realized that telling children life is hard from early on should be something all parents do. Pain doesn’t leave anyone untouched, no matter the level of comfort that you’ve grown up in. I wouldn’t expose my offspring (should I choose to and actually be able to bear them), to Disney movies only. I’d thrown in stories of Jesus disciples being executed despite doing good.

So yes, life is hard.

More of us need to sit in this truth longer. Money and keeping yourself occupied don’t make it any less true, and we need to stop telling our children and those around us that those two are the answers to happily ever after. Don’t let them go through the trauma of experiencing their livelihood burn to the grown, or something of that nature, and they think it’s the end of life because even money and hard work weren’t enough to protect them.

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Next time you’re in a rubbish space, sit in it for longer. Jamie Grace talked about it in the pregnancy context, but we do need to look at rough times differently. We shouldn’t long for better days; what if they don’t come, or not in the expected timeframe, then what happens? As you might tell by now, I’ve been through quite an experience recently, and with a lot of help from God and close friends, it has me looking at my now differently.

My offer to you is this; find peace in God.

Girl, that’s so cliché! Yea, well, it seems your life is either overall fair weather, or your heart grew cold.

Friend, find so much peace that when your rock bottom gives way, and you’re falling again, though scared and angry and frantic and questioning, you’re freaking out in God. That you’re screaming out His name because you know He’s there and no one has “got you” as He does.

Even when they tell you there’s no going back home, that your children might grow up illiterate, the medicine will not work, when you get the call that a loved one died, when you lose your job, a threat of starvation, someone might kill you- whatever your nightmare is, choose to freak out and finding peace in God. The pain might not go away, but at least you know you’ll never be alone.

Don’t let the nightmare you’re in push you away from God. Once you’re in the peace headspace, it becomes easier to get why Jesus was quiet on his way to the cross. He didn’t fuss, curse, and he didn’t cry ‘crew you morons!’ He knew there was something greater up ahead.

For you.

Yes. Your nightmare isn’t about you. It’s so that you can change hearts and save lives, whether you’re around to see it or not. The reward isn’t always tangible. Think of the most peaceful you’ve been. Now think it more profound, and attainable for much longer. And now think that you made the world a better place for one or more people by merely being at peace.

Cheers.

Finding a home for your voice

“That’s all I want… to have a voice” Journal entry: 14th November 2018

This post is to those who wish to share their hearts but haven’t found a home for it because they feel too different or too scared. For those who life has told you feel “too much” and you should “just chill out”. There’s nothing wrong with you. 

Alone and lonely- these are the two words that characterize my life. It’s a mix of loving my time alone and feeling lonely when I do want company. Very few people have waded into my heart and consistently known my whole truth; they are all of two people. These two are aware of and know in great detail my journey as a Christian woman trying to shed her ratchet edges. They are aware of the fight within me; the struggle to break away from the past that molded me, into becoming the amazing woman I intuitively know I can be.

That number is low, and it’s not anyone’s fault really. I can actually say it’s mine but to a lesser degree. I learned and made peace with the fact that it’s my personality. If you’re yet to know yours, click here to take a test. It adds clarity to the person you think you are. That’s a suggestion though because I realize many people won’t reach for resources they don’t think they need, myself included.

As Wambaire, remaining sane requires that I take a few days to recharge. On top of that, I am usually aware I am withholding information especially in contexts that don’t feel like a safe space. With just that to go on, it becomes increasingly clear getting to know me is like tilling a rocky field. In this rocky field, add thorns because of the isolation I grew up feeling and experiencing. Behold, you have a woman that only speaks cream and keeps the milk that you’d like to dip your cookie into to herself.

Before you feel cheated, know that it’s changing so hold on to your cookies!

Keeping the milk for me has been predominantly because I didn’t, as a human being, feel valued. That then extended to what I thought I had to offer, including my thoughts and feelings. But that’s change- you don’t go .com if you think you’ve got nothing of value to say! Even before that, blogging has been the one place I can put my thoughts and feelings out since high school because, unless you hack my account, you couldn’t make me take my words back. That rubbed a lot of people the wrong way because they couldn’t understand why they were learning about a part of me on the blog sphere and not in person.

Er, well, perhaps because I am intense and you’re not? If you’ve read this far then you’re more likely to be the type that’s more interested in the human journey than who did what and went where and why they said and did what they did.

So imagine being surrounded by people who, when you go into your intense mode, grow quiet, and watch you talk. After, they do one of two things: change the topic and for the most part gracelessly or give you advice that has almost nothing to do with the purpose of your sharing in the first place. Ah yes, there’s the third type; they compare their life to yours to show you just how much harder they have it.

In short, they manage to dismiss everything you’ve just said. It’s not because they are bad people, it’s just who they are, albeit it being a weakness. It’s the reason why we have a personality tool that says there are 16 different types. Being surrounded by everyone who thinks like you is almost impossible especially if you have a type that makes up less than one percent of the human population.

I guess where I am going with this is, if you’re like me, your inner circle will be super small. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It will, however, mean learning who to lend your voice to and who to withhold from. Not in a bad way though; not everyone should know about your intimate parts. It’s why in Proverbs 4:23 we are told to guard our hearts because everything we do flows from it. Now imagine what’s flowing out of wrecked hearts!

If you’ve experienced a lot of false starts with friendships and relationships where you reveal too much too soon only for it to fizzle, it means you should be keener and become purposeful about spotting your tribe. There really isn’t another way, you just have to be smarter about the bonds you make.

That will take a while. Until then, there will be times you scroll your phone and come up empty as to whom to call in your moment of distress. In as much as it hurts, I want you to remember this: there’s nothing wrong with you.

From that space, look again. Who do you need to stop opening up to? Who do you need to trust more? Most of all, ask yourself, who accepts my voice in its truest form?

And yes, that process sucks. Something about pain accompanying growth…  But that’s just my experience. What has your journey been like? Let me know in the comments section.

Cheers.

 

Letter to the depressed self: Believing that you’re still loved

I’d open with scripture but even we Christians have to admit that side-eyes all around are sometimes the order of the day when things are rough.

Something I am learning about living with depression is that it’s something you manage, especially when chemical imbalance is at play. When I say manage it means becoming familiar with it to the point that you know how to help yourself or get help when you feel things are getting out of hand. Michelle Williams has a new show Chad loves Michelle where, in the first episode, she talked about checking herself into a facility after a bout of depression and taking meds to manage it.

Full disclosure: I found me a therapist after I saw that I couldn’t handle my internal battles alone. And even after that, I had three episodes of near suicide that thankfully I had another voice urging me to ask for help from friends. If you’ve been here or are going through this, let it be enough to know that you’re not alone and that you can soldier on, despite how crappy things look. 

Just watching how Michelle’s depression is affecting her relationship (and Chad’s frustration), I could see a lot of my life too. Among other things she talked about her room being her safe space because she wasn’t able to feel safe anywhere else, especially to be honest about her feelings. When I was watching I was all around saying “YEP!” because that’s something I can attest to.

If you followed my blog before you can possibly tell that I was, to a degree, censoring certain aspects of my life. It wasn’t intentional. I just didn’t feel safe. And I still don’t. Something that has been a constant in all my relationship is my inability to find a safe space to open up. While I had due reason to be skeptical about the space provided- I have dated some guys with the emotional capacity of a white wall- I still think that even when a fantastic guy is to roll up (like the one in the vicinity), I could still keep my walls up.

And that’s the thing about depression.

Even the most amazing things feel threatening. If you’re in a relationship with someone and they say stuff like “I am not good enough for you” or “I will hurt you, just go find someone else” I am not expecting you to stay and understand. Sometimes it’s not your portion to be a doctor and love someone to health. Leave that to people whose natural disposition has them loving someone back to health. I’m saying that so that you never feel bad about leaving someone who was difficult to love especially if you now have the awareness that depression was the cause.

I guess this post is for the person who’s depressed and has if they dared even hope it was true, love around them. That could be a spouse, friend or family. I’m realizing retreating when you’re super depressed is easy when wondering why you’re alive in the first place. But even when (as a family friend put it) you’re looking at the bottom side of the bottomless pit, choose courage to believe that you’re loved.

That’s my pompom word for you today. Choose to believe that the essence of you is worthy of love. If you’re finding that hard, then consider this; you can’t possibly be surrounded by morons who choose to love you as you are!

Choose courage.

 

Cheers.

Simplifying the Purpose of Romantic Relationships

Matthew 22:36-40 Amplified Bible (AMP)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others].’ 40 The whole Law and the [writings of the] Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Relationships are tricky, or so I thought until an entire sermon took place in the course of a mental discussion I was having with myself on the topic. I keep making jokes I am officially “those Christians” making bible jokes and thoughts randomly get back up by scripture. The reason I roll my eyes is that I know myself. There are days “demonic” is the word for my thought-life.

That aside, I am those people that need a reason for everything. My mother truly hates this because I’m ‘insubordinate’ if I can use that word, because, hierarchy. Don’t tell me “I feel” or “God talked to me and said-“without a logical explanation or scripture. I will challenge you. I am not about to do things, look dumb in the end and when someone asks me, “And why did you do that Maureen?” “Because XYZ told me” is the last reason I want to give.

I’m only a sheep to Jesus; the rest of you better roll up with facts and sound arguments.

As you can tell by now, I like structure, and I am methodical. If something doesn’t have a purpose, it doesn’t have room in my life. That applies to my career and relationships of any nature. If you make me do something I don’t see the point of, I will drop balls so hard, you’ll first fire me in your dreams before you get round to doing it in person. With relationships nowadays, I will disappear from your life. I won’t even blink; the one thing I like about getting older.

Now picture a man telling me “let’s see where this goes” and later “We’ve just started dating, relax, we’ll figure out that out later.”

incredulous excuse me GIF

That silence is their absence from my life.

If you, male or female, have been in such a situation, be like me, exit. Did I take months to move on? Yes, and despite my hesitation, I knew I had to leave eventually.

Now that I am all about the “new woman, new life” vibe, I was about to draft a list of things that should qualify as purposeful before issuing them out to a potential suitor. It’s in this state of foolishness (stay with me) that Matthew 22:36-40 came to mind. If a man or woman doesn’t have the above as their sole purpose, they seeing themselves building a mansion with you don’t matter.

This part is for the ladies: If a man doesn’t speak of his intention to love you as commanded, get out. He doesn’t have to use those exact words, but you will know the source of his love when you see it. Anything less, and girl, those tears you cry after won’t be worth the singlehood you’ve given up.

Same applies to you fellas. Get a woman that loves you commandment style.

Cheers